“I always had a lot respect for my parents and I was always scared to disappoint them. When my dad said something, it was law for me! When I had bad grades, I would run into the corn fields to hide (laughs)! And if I got home late, I got beaten. But I always understood it came out of love and worry. They didn’t know how to show affection, but they loved me a lot. All they knew was to work to make sure we always had food on the table. But I felt there was no place for me to grow in this village. It had one main road with houses on both sides, the city hall and the local police. That’s it. Over there everyone knows everyone, and I hated that.
One time, I went out and I came home too late, and the next day the whole village new about it. Even my parents knew before I could tell them ! So my dream was to live in a big city where no one knew me. And that’s what happened! In my last year of university, I met my ex-husband. We moved together in Bucarest and I found a job at a big European company. After just 1 year, we got married. How stupid was that! We were just kids. He was very good and very smart, but he was addicted to online gaming. He was literally non stop. At first I thought : okay give him some time. 1, 2, 3 years passed, and I was like : hello! Then he got fired because he was also playing at work. And things got worse and worse.
I was living at his apartment, and as soon as we got divorced, he told me to leave immediately. He would yell: « Go back to your parents! » He was even threatening me. How can you just throw someone out like that? I promised myself one thing: no one will throw me out ever again! At that moment I felt trapped. I had no money, no job, nothing. But I knew one thing : I will not go back home. I had chosen to live in Bucarest, so I needed to find a way out of this mess. How? I don’t care! And that’s when I came across an ad about doing online video sex chat. The business was actually run from an apartment by a couple with a kid. They lent some money and I moved in with them.
I know it was safe to do this online. My only fear was that my family and friends find out. But back then it was quite hidden because it was illegal. Officially my job was « PC operator ». I had to appear on the camera on different websites, like 20 or 30 at the same time. And you have to do some stuff so that people start talking to you. And then they take you in private, with a button and that’s when they pay. And I used to stay hours and hours talking with them. They’d ask different stuff, all their fantasies : changing outfits, dancing, playing with toys… But I never did extreme stuff. You’re not forced to do anything you don’t want. And I discovered a side of myself: I’m good at listening. I could be a great psychotherapist (laughs)!
But it worked both ways. They’d also ask about myself. And I would tell them my story for real! One question they often asked: how I didn’t get a depression after the divorce? You know, divorce is a big trauma. And talking about it with them for sure was a therapy for me. You need to externalize and express how you feel. Don’t keep it inside! You see, even though it might look like it, this work is not everything about sex. I found people were actually listening to me. And then they would ask me to change outfits (laughs)! Actually, I enjoyed this experience. And I made so much money. After a few months I was able to move into my own place and things started to get better.
When I was in this big impasse, I had no one to help me. It’s true I didn’t ask for help. But it’s good that it happened like this. Because if you always take the hand that helps you, you get into a comfort zone. I wouldn’t have been hard on myself in order to find a way out. If I look back now, I’m proud of myself. Because I worked to get out of my own shit. Of course no one has to know how I did it. Everyone has there own skeleton in the closet ! In some way, I do identify as a sex worker. But I don’t need that label. It was always only a supplementary income. And I know I can do better than that! But I don’t regret anything, because I am where I am to today thanks to this work.
Once I was stable enough, I decided to study at a beauty institute. I had worked in offices before but I have too much energy for that. I need to move! I found a seasonal job that paid well. With that I could pay for the institute and save some money. In the end I even managed to buy a studio in Bucarest. That was my big achievement. From that moment I knew no one would ever kick me out again. I got so much confidence from it! Now I’m the one who can kick people out (laughs)! I finished the beauty institute but I couldn’t find a job in the industry. But I always kept hoping that one day I’d work in this industry.
Then recently I met a man who lived in Switzerland. He asked me to move in with him, and he had found a job for me in cosmetics. So I moved here last year, but the job didn’t work out…I thought : what the hell am I going to do? Start from 0 again? I told myself : deal with it girl! So I started again from zero, learning French, doing the CV., etc. I’m kind of an extremist, isn’t it (laughs)? While I was searching for a job, I started again the video chat. I do it when my boyfriend is not at home. He knows something but he doesn’t know all the details. And he understood I need the money. Recently, I finally found the job I wanted in Geneva, in cosmetics. A full time job! Now I applied for a permit and I’m waiting for my papers. I’m almost there!
A friend asked me : how do you not loose hope? We have a saying : slap yourself twice, take a cold shower and move on! There’s no time to complain! Get up and do things! I’m not saying it’s easy, I deal with a lot of shit! And I’m still not very happy with the image of myself now. But I have to keep my eyes on the prize: to become independent again and to get deeper into the beauty industry. The big lessons, I’m telling you, are in the pains. If you’re staying at home watching Netflix and eating popcorn, you think you’re gonna give a damn? No! Hit your head against the wall and learn your lesson. Life is not easy! If you’re not born with a silver spoon in your life, you struggle.”
Published as part of the mini-series “90’000 things in my head“, produced in partnership with Aspasie. | Original English