Can you hear me now?

Richard MezaI hate airing dirty laundry, especially on social media. I need to get something out, though. There are a few members in my audience who are not into reading and only look at the pretty pictures, so I will get to the point. I will continue to fight like hell to maintain the sane and peaceful life that I’ve worked so hard to obtain.

Picture this: you’re a 12-year-old girl. It’s a Saturday morning. The birds are singing and the morning sun is peeking through your window. You look forward to a relaxing weekend of sleeping in and being lazy after spending a few days with your mom’s family … who doesn’t interact with you much except to pray for you. As you’re enjoying your cozy bed and blankets, you feel the blankets gently lift and your 300-pound father slip into your twin-size bed with you. He pulls you close, smothers you with his enormous body, and breaths his rancid morning breath in your face. You can’t breathe. You feel dizzy. You know you can’t say or do anything because he will fly into a rage. A survival reflex kicks in and you push away, tears streaming down your face. The inevitable happens: he pulls you by the hair and drags you over the hamster cage that is on the floor next to your bed and rakes your back. You feel blood ooze through your pajamas and the warm searing pain the metal bars left behind, but you cower covering your face as he demeans and berates you. He is in a rage.

This is what every interaction feels like with my father, Richard Meza.

I’m no angel. I’ve had a pretty fucked up childhood. I spent my early adult life acting out and living life the only way I knew how. Then I learned a better way. I worked hard in therapy to stop creating drama. I learned about self awareness. I learned kindness and compassion. I learned how to communicate more effectively. I was creating a life I never knew was possible. I’m happy and the world is full of potential!

Enter Mr. Richard Meza … crawling into bed with me.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s a part of me that feels jealous on Father’s Day or when I see the amazing men with their little girls. There are times I wish I had a dad. He went with me to therapy a few times, but after every cathartic session (and in secret) he would “remind” me that none of what I experienced or remembered was true … thus nullifying each session. It was a sucker punch to the … I don’t even know where he hit me. I wanted so badly to have a relationship with him, but he bullied me, mind fucked me, and guilt tripped me so badly I would be reduced to a non-functioning mess of sobbing and snot. I couldn’t get out of bed. I couldn’t help myself, let alone my very young daughter. It wasn’t easy at first to just ignore him and push him away. The battered little girl inside of me still wanted her daddy.

I wanted so badly to end it then. I didn’t want any more drama in my life. When my therapist requested that I give him a chance, I reluctantly complied. “Dad,” I said to him on the phone one day, “When you bully me, guilt trip me, demean me, devalue me, and destroy me, I do not want to be around you. Please stop.”

Time went by. Things weren’t perfect, but they weren’t … well, I still had a pulse, so that’s good, right? In March of 2012, he wanted to give my daughter a gift: underwear. As I heard him utter the words over the phone, my stomach jumped in my throat, but I had to pretend it was as normal as could be. Underwear? I told my husband, who was appalled. I told my friends, who were gobsmacked. I told my therapist, who was shocked. It wasn’t that I wanted to talk shit to everyone I met. I had to check my own sanity! I felt creeped out, but I wasn’t sure if I was having the “right” reaction. Perhaps I was being crazy and a grandfather a million miles away is perfectly within his right to buy his granddaughter special gifts … of underwear. Right?

I responded to his request via email on April 7, 2012:


I love that you love KC and want to give her something. I think that the only person who should buy her underwear is me, her husband when she is married, and if she wants a lingerie bridal shower, her girlfriends when she is going to get married.

Call me old fashioned, but I would prefer you get her something else. Thank you so much for loving her.

Val Smith

His response came two days later:

When you were both over the other night Angela noticed how KC enjoyed the softness of John’s blanket when they were playing the piano.  I found a very soft luxurious blanket at Costco for her bed.  Nice lavender color. The Barbie underwear was Angela’s idea which we were both going to present to her in a bundle of other gifts. I understand “old fashion”. I made it a point to avoid the traps of being an “old fashion parent” when it came to raising girls. That is why I spent so much time taking you shopping, dining, trips to Grandmas when Mom needed a break from you two and she would stay home to sleep/rest. The old fashion typical Hispanic Father would not do a fraction of what I did for my daughters which includes changing diapers and bathing you. Going to the office to defend my daughters against false accusers. I could have easily had your Mom deal with these issues and more. You are my daughter and I chose to have an active role in your life. Yes I made my mistakes but the spirit of my intentions were all good and never meant to harm you in anyway. Now I am made to feel like I have no identity as a Father or Grandfather.  
On a separate note. Our financial situation has changed drastically without notice, therefore, I will not be able to continue with my monthly support for your sessions. Our original agreement was that I would commit to 6 months at $100.00 per month and then have a progress meeting in February. I never did hear from you or your counselor regarding any progress. I fulfilled my commitment. I will let you know when things get back on track again.

A memory about underwear haunts me to this day and I remember it vividly. I remember wrestling sessions with Richard Meza when my sister and I were small. Sometimes our pajamas would fly up exposing our underwear. I had holes in my underwear very often from wearing jeans or washing too much. To this day I get holes in one place: my crotch. Was it neglect from my mom because it was her job to make sure our clothes weren’t tattered? She was as warm as a block of ice and just as nurturing, but the holes represented poverty to my dad. They were a reflection on his identity as a bread-winner. Sure, I can forgive him for being angry and having his ego damaged. What I find hard to forgive is when he saw my hole-riddled crotch, he put his finger into a hole touching my vagina and ripped my underwear off my little body. As he berated me for having holes, I ran into my room and hid under my bed in shame. I felt violated.

I expressed as much to him in a group session. He questioned in the group how anyone could touch a child so inappropriately? He pat himself on the back for doing things typical Hispanic fathers would never do like changing diapers. He then described in detail the intimate, magical experience of wiping his little baby girl’s vagina, cleaning it up, and replacing the diaper. I felt dizzy and excused myself to the bathroom. Is it really normal for dads to feel this way about the changing table? A friend met me in the bathroom and reassured me that it was very creepy.

In my next private therapy session, I had a body memory of being molested as a very young child. I could feel rough, calloused fingers touching my vagina. I remember panicking and wondering if what I was feeling (physically and emotionally) was normal. In my memory, I could say beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was my father, Richard Meza.

The survival reflex kicks in. Time to push away.

On April 23, 2012, I wrote:


I remember you tickling me until you molested me. I cannot imagine having a relationship with you unless you express sincere remorse and decide to go to therapy. Even then, I am not sure. I have no desire to press charges. I only want to feel safe and to keep KC safe. This memory explains a lot to me. I don’t know what else to say. I will not tell anyone why I am no longer in contact with you. I will just say we don’t get along.


His response:

Who are you?

So here is my problem: I’m living with dirty secrets. I’ve promised to keep them a secret, however, Mr. Richard Meza refuses to leave me alone. He has been sending nasty emails and occasionally he’ll say he’s going to stop by. He has stopped by my house while I was at work and then he came to my work and made a scene. I’ve installed cameras and extra locks. Lately, in his emails, he has been addressing my 10-year-old directly and saying creepy things like “I’ve been watching you grow up from afar.” The other day he said “I meant to tell you that you have a beautiful dog. She/he seems so friendly and kind just like you.” I’m pretty sure he’s watching from my blog. Richard Meza, if you’ve made it this far, I encourage you to read the whole damn article. My dog, my best friend died.

I’m currently faced with a dilemma. I can ignore this part of my life and pretend it never happened. I can run and hide. I can change my name. I can leave the country. I can flee the situation that ultimately drags me down into a deep, dark depression that has put me on the brink of suicide. But that’s not what I’m going to do.

This is the story of my life. These are the challenges that I have faced. Just because it is in my past, it does not have to define me. I will acknowledge it and I will grow wild and free.

I will no longer allow anyone to berate, belittle, bully, manipulate, mind-fuck, or otherwise abuse me emotionally behind closed doors.

8/9 UPDATE: He emailed me on 8/6, so I made this blog public. He wrote:

How can someone with so much bitterness and hatred toward her parents and family be capable of promoting a healthy loving environment for my granddaughter? I am very concerned as to what you are being fed by your “people”

KC my dear granddaughter I love you and have not nor ever will give up on you and your parents. I pray everyday your hearts will be filled with joy and love.

It’s funny you should ask that. I’ve never known a healthy loving environment growing up, so it’s funny that you would judge the environment I’m creating for my daughter. She is able to know a life of deep family love that I never knew. She is privy to the truth. She is allowed to express her truth. She is getting the kind of love that I never got as a child.

As far as your comment about my “people”, I’m not being fed anything. No one is controlling me as you seem to believe. I’m a fully functioning adult capable of making my own choices. You are toxic and I do not want you in my life or my daughter’s.

You sound like you will not stop and you will not leave us alone, so I have no choice but to be very public about your actions. As I mentioned before, your bullying will no longer happen behind closed doors.

Update 8/21

Message received from Richard Meza:


First, I am sorry to hear about your pet dog.  I had no idea.  My last experience with him/her was the day Angela and I dropped off $200.00 worth of school clothes and supplies at your back door since you were not at home then again that same afternoon after we had our brief encounter at the counselor’s office where you expressed your position.

Knowing you would not allow KC to accept our gifts and possibly throw everything in the trash so we went back to take back the packages.

About the blog.  I am not into blogs nor do I follow them our any other social media devices.  I will ask you to remove any mention of me and these falsehoods within 48 hours.

Confirm with me that you understand what I am asking of you.

It’s funny how you demand that I confirm that I understand what you are asking of me when you don’t understand what I am asking of you. I’ll be more specific so we’re on the same page: Leave me alone for 30 days and the blog will come down. Contact me again and it will all go back up for another 30 days in addition to our correspondence. Show up at my house and I’ll add the video recording and photos of your face in addition to calling the authorities.

Don’t even try to gaslight me. I know what happened to me and you’re lucky that all I’m asking is for you to leave me and my family alone.

April 7, 2018

So I got a strange follow today

Needless to say I’ve blocked him. I also checked my junk email like the idiot that I am.

So here we go for another 30 days.

I have absolutely no interest in being bullied by you or anyone else. Do not think for one moment you are entitled to me or my family.

You do not mention any self awareness or self reflection about how you created this. I am not interested in defending my decision or explaining for the millionth time.

You still can’t hear me, but I’ll say it again: leave me and my family alone and stay away.

April 8, 2018

And the stalking will begin again. I’m now posting to keep a record. I need to keep my family safe. This is how his bullying starts and will continue to be more aggressive.

I’m starting to have nightmares again about his verbal and sexual abuse. The more he contacts me, the worse they get. I wish he would leave me alone.

April 16, 2018

Received this threatening email:

To the attorney reviewing this blog, please know my only wish is to be left alone. I’m not asking for money or anything from my biological father. I want him to stop bullying me and my family.

Published by Val Smith

Artist, writer, dreamer.

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