Did you know that more than 15 million children in the United States have been reported as living with domestic violence? These Children are at great risk of repeating the cycle and entering into an abusive relationship in their adult years. A cycle SHERO Marie Pizano is all too familiar with, but through hard work and dedication she rose above it all.
Me: Marie what were the dynamics in your home like growing up as a child?
Marie: My Mother was a single mom on food stamps and my real father denied being my father so I call him the sperm donor; we grew up on the South side of Chicago. My grandparents were active in my life and they took care of me and my grandfather was strict.
My mother got remarried to a very abusive man who was an alcoholic; he screamed uncontrollably and he hit her. There were many times when my stepfather would come after me and I would run; my Mom blocked him and took the brunt. Then one day on my birthday, my stepfather dumped a can of beer in my fish tank, my mother who had been beaten, took one of the beer bottles and she hit him in the head.
After that we moved out on our own with my ½ sister.
There wasn’t a lot of help with domestic violence back then. My stepfather would find us wherever we went because he wanted my sister, which is his daughter. I remember coming home one day from grocery shopping and it looked like someone had gone crazy, the couches were ripped, the windows were broken, and stuff was all over the floor; it was my stepfather, this of course was tough on my mother because the landlord didn’t want us staying in their property. But things came to a holt when I went to stay with my grandparents and my sister went to stay with hers; we were torn apart. Loosing my sister left a big void in me, I missed her and I wanted to protect her from the abuse. My mother tried to fight but the way the court systems operated back then, she was at a loss, it tore up the relationship with my sister. Mom later went on to remarry again but this time it was to a wonderful man whom I call my father; I was six years old.
Me: How did witnessing domestic violence affect you later in your dating years?
Marie: During high school I was a volleyball player so I hung around the jocks; dating in school was pretty normal. Things didn’t really take a sharp turn until I graduated from high school. I was at the top of my game; an aerobic instructor, a beauty pageant queen, and I was just offered a modeling contract, I had plans to move to Hollywood. Until, on June 21, 1988, the first day of summer, I was on the back end of my boyfriend’s motorcycle when we got struck by a car; I ended up with over 280 stitches, my leg got cut just centimeters away from the main artery ; I could have died. I had to learn to get back up again.
I didn’t move out of the house until I was 23 years old.
Me: What was your recovery like?
Marie: Doctors had to wait a year so they could take fat from one of my body areas to fill my leg; I felt pretty ugly for a while and wondered how anyone could love me. The paramedics said I flew 120 feet and my face was positioned to hit the pavement but I stuck my arms out and my elbows protected my face; I didn’t have a helmet on. I remember saying in the midst of it all, “God please let me live.” I wrestled with how I lived but eventually I accepted it and of course I have immense amount of gratitude. I had to accept that I wasn’t going to be a model so several years later I joined the financial industry. I ended up working for Richard Sandor who later went on to sell the Chicago Climate Exchange for a large sum of money, after that he started up Environmental Financial Products LLC; he was my mentor and he still is.
Me: After that experience what followed next as far as the big turn of events in your life?
Marie: I moved to Memphis, TN, in 1999, I was 29 years old and I ended up meeting my husband, we got married and lived on a golf course in a high end gated community. From the outside looking in, it appeared that I had it all, the perfect life with a dog clean up crew, a chef, nanny and much more. I didn’t have my own checking account and I was given an allowance, my life on the inside of my walls was like the movie Sleeping With The Enemy. When my husband got home I had to have dinner on the table, when he got stressed there was lots of yelling and I found myself trying to make him happy. Turns out he was abused as a child and he never healed from it, he was lacking love and it transferred over onto me.
I was like a Stepford housewife; everything had to be perfect. I remember him putting the laundry basket in front of me to tell me he wanted the laundry done. He would poke fun at me and call me names. Our nanny witnessed a lot; I suffered extreme emotional and financial abuse. I ended up in the hospital several times thinking I was having a heart attack but it turned out I was having a panic attack from the abuse. I knew at that point I had to get out, after 15 years of living together it was time to leave.
I took my son and daughter with me and in 2008 I filed for a divorce, which didn’t go final until 2011. I have dealt with many things post divorce; I wish I could have left it all behind. I had one woman say to me, “Why don’t you just suck up the relationship and instead of getting divorced, get a Mercedes?” Another woman said, “I like my mani-pedis and wine and if I have to blow my man once in a while then so be it.”
I just can’t believe that women stand for this. Once I left my husband I felt very alone; I had to overcome a lot!
Me: What are some steps that you took to heal yourself after the divorce?
Marie: I went holistic and focused on the mind-body-spirit connection. I created a documentary called, Finding Your Yes with Mind, Body and Soul featuring Jack Canfield which airs on Footprint TV, it’s my story on what I did to heal my life.
Me: Are you in a relationship today and how does it differ from the past?
Marie: Yes, I am engaged. We met each other just over a year ago, a friend introduced us and we started working together; we are getting married in October of this year and he is very kind plus he shares the same vision as me.
The biggest thing I would like readers to know is never give up on your dreams, find your YES and believe, take the right steps and when the timing is right all will fall into place and your YES will begin to flow.
Marie is a big inspiration to all demonstrating how when we heal our bodies from the inside out, all things are possible with the right mindset. She is all about creating positive change and Marie is a published author endorsed by Morgan Freeman through her book From Barefoot To Stilettos, It’s Not For Sissies and her new release scheduled for 2020 From Barefoot To Stilettos, Finding My Yes, endorsed by Jack Canfield; it already won best memoir at red city review. She is the host of Finding My Yes radio show and a spokesperson for AmandasWay.org which helps survivors of domestic violence.
Marie extends encouragement that no matter what you are going through in life there is always a way if you look for it; it’s time to find your YES!
To follow the success of the SHEROS follow us on Facebook by clicking here.
The #SHEROproject will include stories of SHEROS from around the world throughout the rest of 2019. In an effort to support our thriving SHEROS, there is a panel that will be selecting the most inspirational story for the 2019 SHERO of the year award, which will be announced on 12/1/2019.
The SHERO of the year award winner will receive a 4-day/3-night retreat at Multiversity. An opportunity to explore their potential in an environment like no other; get away for rejuvenating downtime and immersion learning on their state-of-the-art campus in the redwoods of Scotts Valley, CA and experience the perfect blend of learning, vacation, and space for reflection.
1440 Multiversity is a place to experience time differently—exploring what matters, while surrounding yourself with fresh air, delicious food, many ways to unwind, and opportunities to connect with yourself and others. SHERO, during your stay, you can look forward to daily 1440 specialty classes such as yoga, meditation, qi gong and Pilates. Or enjoy hiking in the 75 acres of redwood forest surrounding the campus and finish off your day with a soak in their signature infinity tub.
The creation of 1440 Multiversity stemmed from a desire to establish a beautiful and nurturing physical location where people of all walks of life could come together in community—to explore, learn, reflect, connect, and reenergize.
Each featured SHERO will receive a private invitation to The B.E. A S.H.E.R.O. Foundation annual Gala in Las Vegas 2/8/2020 where they will be interviewed on the red carpet. B.E. A S.H.E.R.O. foundation’s mission is to provide resources needed to support, sustain and empower young girls and women under the age of 25 who have been abused, abandoned, and exploited. We intend to accomplish this mission by bringing other agencies with similar missions together and being a resource center for these organizations.
Also, each SHERO featured will receive a relaxing mix of Nectar Bath Treats’ most popular bath and body treats. Nectar Bath Treats is a cruelty free bath & body company that creates bakery inspired treats for deliciously smooth skin. Their delightful handmade treats range from adorable cupcake soaps and milkshake inspired coconut milk bath soaks to stress blasting bath bombs, all natural sugar body scrubs, ice cream shaped bubble bath scoops and so much more. If you need to relax after a long day or give yourself smoother more kissable skin, Nectar Bath Treats has you covered head to toe. Each treat is handmade with love by their team of professional soap artisans and skin care specialists for skin so soft and smooth you’ll swear you just left a luxury spa treatment.
Each featured SHERO will also receive a Rustic Cuff representing Joy & Courage. Celebrities such as Miranda Lambert, Giuliana Rancic, Kristin Chenoweth and Gayle King to name a few, wear founder Jill Donovan’s designs. Her bracelets have been featured on a multitude of national talk shows and in magazines including Elle, People, In Style, etc. For Jill it’s all about the inspired connection that is made between two people.
The SHEROs will also receive a candle by Sugarboo and Co…Dealers in Whimsy, reminding them that they are a light in the world. Sugarboo believes in putting good out into the world whenever possible. Their hope is that each Sugarboo piece sent out into the world will add a little good! Rebecca Puig’s (artist and owner) inspirations are family, nature, animals, old things, children’s art and folk art. She loves juxtaposing old and new, light and dark, serious subject matter with fluff and anything with a message! Sugarboo’s Motto is “Put Good Things into the World”