Life Journey

Cristina L.

If I could describe my life up until 2012 I would say I was trying to connect with the little girl inside me who was lost inside a dark deep hole screaming for help.

My struggle began when I was raped at 15 years old by a guy that I knew for a short time. I had been a virgin and this was my first sexual experience. I didn’t open up about it until a few years later mostly due to the fact that these things were not to be spoken about. A part of me knew that if I opened up at the time I may have been criticized by my peers and or really hurt my parents. I went on living with this secret festering inside me until I had my first mental breakdown at 20 years old. Which led me to a series of detrimental behavior. Anger, pain, sadness and confusion attracted the wrong people in my life. I like to say that I was attracting broken pieces of myself. I had met an old acquaintance of mine and developed a relationship in a hurry. I was looking for comfort and someone to runaway to.

With this new found love I felt on top of the world, in no time it turned into a vicious cycle of abuse. At that point in my life I felt that I deserved it because I had been so promiscuous in the past due to repercussions of my rape, which I felt I deserved as well. I felt that God was punishing me and I had to do the time. During that time I didn’t eat properly, I neglected to take care of myself. My family thought I was just exhausted from work. Until one day my boss/mentor asked me if he had ever laid a hand on me, the look on my face gave it away. She said “Get out tonight!” Later that evening I went to our apartment and packed up everything and called my brother. My ex came home and was apologetic and crying. I was brave enough to overlook the same old pattern and walked out with no hesitation. Up until a few months ago I summoned the courage to block him on Facebook, mainly because a part of me was still healing (5 Years)

That night I moved back in with my parents, which was a complete shock because I left an abusive environment to a loving environment. The difference scared me and I didn’t know how to cope with it. A few months down the line I lost plenty hours of precious sleep and developed mixed episodes of mania and depression. I was dealing with this unaware of what was going on in my brain and how my body was deteriorating. I had lost 40lbs, I didn’t eat, sleep and barely stepped foot outside my bedroom door. I was lost in my own mind. A year later in 2012 I had a complete mental breakdown. I locked myself in the bathroom and told my mom that if I stay in here I will kill myself and if I go outside I will hurt someone. I called my best friend who came to my rescue and my doctors were contacted and luckily I was seen by a psychiatrist who put me on a low dose medication and followed up with me every week until some improvement was shown. Since then I have been thriving. It took some time to gain my confidence back and feel whole again. It was a long time coming but here I am!

I now work as a special events coordinator and I feel so blessed to be alive. I feel like I’m gaining the Cristina I was before all of the hardships I’ve gone through.

My mission in life is to help young kids and adults deal with their past pain and confront their demons with the power of music, art, poetry and therapy to help reach their true potential just like I did.

Before >>> After…



Share your story of Re-Invention… SHARE


Connie First

My Re-Invention Story – Overcoming Phobia

Growing up an Italian American with five brothers and the eldest and only girl, I was a disappointment to my parents. I wasn’t a boy who could carry on the family name.

I tried so hard to please my Dad.  I acted tough, I played ball and was very athletic.  After six years of being an only child and getting all the attention, my mom had 4 boys. Each one year apart and then one more boy when I was 17 years old, boy was I embarrassed. When my brothers were born, my grades went from 100 on every exam to being left back in the 4th grade and almost being left back in the 7th grade.  I attended Catholic School.   I was devastated. I felt so alone and stupid.  I managed to study over the summer and pass the 7th grade.

We grew up with nothing so I always had to fend for myself. At the age of 16 I dropped out of High School.   I was so anxious that I could not sit in class, let alone concentrate on studying.

I started dating.  I met my husband when I was 18 and was working in Manhattan at various jobs, including modeling.  I got married at 20 and divorced the next year.  I guess I needed to get out of the very crowded household. When I got divorced I moved back home and became very depressed.

I met someone who I had a lot of fun with and was working in Dentistry. He had a massive heart attack and passed away.  I was to phobic at this point to travel by public transportation. That sent me over the edge.  I stayed in my room for two years and thought if I went out I would pass out and die.  My very dear and close friend told me I needed to see someone to get help.  I had no money, no job and was living with my parents. I could not go out of the house because I feared I would pass out and die.  My friend suggested I see her therapist.  I took car service 2 times a week and paid this Social Worker $15 dollars a session. She was amazing.  Her and I worked very hard together.  I never missed a session.  When she went away in the summer, I had major separation anxiety.

I always wanted to go to law school. Being a high school dropout, I felt I could not go to College.  My therapist told me that Brooklyn Collage had open admission.  I could receive 24 collage credits and automatically get my high school diploma.  I went to the school for an interview and had to write an essay.   I was accepted! I worked 3 jobs in dentistry and went to school mornings and Sunday nights.  It took 7 years to get my degree, with honors. I Re-Invented myself through therapy.  Without therapy and my amazing friend, I would have never been able to achieve all this.

I did get married again and I have one son.  When he was 3, I went back to school, Adelphi University in Long Island, where I live today, to become a Social Worker. I am still working in Dentistry and still learning, growing and keeping an open mind.  People ask me why I still go to therapy. My answer is, it saved my life.  It doesn’t matter how long you go, as long as you  feel good about yourself and you grow. In my opinion, everyone can benefit from therapy.


Violette Tonuzi

After a 5 year struggle at the academy of hard knocks for business I knew I had to further sharpen my skills. Losing my business after


Nikki Pallotta

Ever since I could remember I wanted to become a professional to help people. However, coming from immigrant parents and being born in Italy, it was difficult to overcome

Life Journey

Rosemary Bova

As a kid in school I couldn’t wait to get out of my neighborhood. I had dreams of traveling the world, living in a beautiful Manhattan apartment, becoming

Life Journey


My Reinvention

After having two very difficult deliveries and two life threatening newborn experiences, I started to relax and enjoy being a mom. So much so that my husband and I decided to have another baby.