"The American Dream is the fundamental story of this country, and my life is a grateful reflection of its reality."
When Rosario was fourteen years old she moved from Mexico to California with no grasp of the English language and few resources. She has since become a trailblazer in every sense: from becoming the first in her family to graduate from college to having her signature appear on the U.S. dollar bill as the treasurer of the United States, and the first Latina in California to run for the U.S. Senate.
Leading Between Two Worlds is the story of this incredible journey. Rosario exposes her most personal secrets and impressive achievements as she divulges what she has sacrificed and what she has gained in politics. She takes us through a deeply felt betrayal, her struggle through depression, the creation of her family, her devotion to advocating for the rights of people with disabilities, and her joyous return to Mexico. Rosario's story is the story of every immigrant who in the face of unbelievable adversity seeks to make it in the United States. Her journey is one of tragedy and triumph, one from which readers will draw inspiration.
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.43(h) x 0.90(d)|
About the Author
Rosario Marín was the forty-first treasurer of the United States and the highest-ranking Latina to serve in President George W. Bush's administration. She currently lives in California with her family.
Read an Excerpt
Leading Between Two WorldsLessons from the First Mexican-Born Treasurer of the United States
By Rosario Marin
AtriaCopyright © 2007 Rosario Marin
All right reserved.
1. Articulating Darkness
Lean in close, I need to share a secret with you. To fully understand it,
I'll need to take you back to 1963, to the root of the darkness: a place
where one of the most painful experiences in my life once festered. I was a
bubbling five-year-old in Mexico City and, like many children, I was afraid
of the dark. Nightfall unfurled itself like a vast canvas on which I painted
my troubling thoughts. I'd nudge awake my younger sister Margarita, already
soundly sleeping next to me, and ask her to accompany me to the bathroom.
I'd pray and pray for the fears to go away, but they remained my constant
companions. I didn't fear some unidentifiable bogeyman lurking in the
shadows; no, he was a lot more real than that. While I struggled to fall
asleep, the source of my fears was most likely roaming the streets. Night
after night, I'd consume the darkness of my secret like a vial of poison,
waking up with an acrid taste still stinging my tongue. The morning sunlight
would play on my face -- signaling the start of another school day -- and
the sweet smell of my mother's cooking would waft through our small house.
The spell would be suspended until the following night when the vicious
cycle began again like a deeply scratched record that only I could hear.
My grandmother was eighty-seven years old when she passed away in 1996; she
would never know the secret that swelled inside me, her beloved nieta. At
the time, I believed the revelation would have been too heavy for her to
bear -- crushing not only her, but also my entire family. It was a cross
that, unfortunately, didn't become lighter with the years. I dragged it
around so that no one else would have to. Now I know that some crosses were
never meant to be carried alone, especially not through darkness. It would
be eighteen years before I would gather enough courage to share the secret
for the first time, tearing through the dark canvas of the night to set
down my cross. It was only then that the healing would begin.
Casting Off the Cross
His beautiful mustache twitched to life as articulate words flowed from his
mouth. To my nineteen-year-old heart, this was not only love at first sight,
but I was certain I'd marry this man. Alex didn't know it at the time, but
he had captured my heart during the closing ceremony of Encuentros
(Encounters), a religious retreat.
Flash forward four years: it's a week before our wedding, a time when I
should've been a carefree twenty-three-year-old about to marry her first
love. The darkness that had plagued me since I was a child began to come to
life in my dreams. I'd wake up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat,
feeling as though someone was suffocating me with a pillow. These weren't
prewedding jitters, I couldn't be surer of anything. My body was telling me
it could no longer carry on with the weight that had grown on me like a
tumor. If I was going to live the rest of my life with Alex, I'd have to
find the words to share my darkest secret. He was the first person I'd tell
and no amount of rehearsing could've helped. I was plagued with doubts about
how he would handle the news. I worried about how I'd change in his eyes. I
knew I could lose him.
It ended up coming out in one long monologue, punctuated by guttural sobs. I
took a deep breath and...
"I was five years old. I had already learned my letters and numbers, so my
mother was able to get me into the first grade by telling the school that my
birth certificate had been lost. It seemed to do the trick. At our school,
first graders were released an hour earlier than other students. My mother
didn't want me to cross the busy main boulevard to reach our house, so I
waited for her at my grandmother's place near the school. One day my
grandmother's brother -- a slovenly, perpetually unshaved man in his late
forties -- came out of the cramped room that connected to the house and told
me that my grandmother wouldn't be home for some time. I didn't know much
about him other than he'd always leave early in the morning and return late
at night. Anyway, he told me to come and sit on his lap, but I said no, that
I'd just wait for my mother. He insisted, grabbing me by the shoulder. Then,
Alex held me close, sensing how difficult this was for me. He waited calmly
for me to continue.
"Then, he started to touch me down there and all I could do was shout no,
no. I cried and cried. It didn't make a difference to him. Sometimes at
night, I could still feel his breath on my ear, whispering that this was
our secret. I was confused, but each time I resisted more. He then tried to
lure me with chocolates or a few cents. I told him that I didn't want them.
It didn't matter; his hands would creep down again. One time I went to the
bathroom and through a small crack in the window, I could see his feet
pacing, waiting. I began to fabricate any excuse possible for my mother to
pick me up at school. Then I started to stay at my aunt's house that was
even closer to the school. I felt like this was somehow my fault. I was
I looked up from my knotted hands into Alex's eyes and prepared myself for
the worst. Although it was probably only a few seconds of silence, it felt
like an eternity. My mind raced with the concerns that had weighed on me
since our engagement: What if I wasn't a virgin and he didn't want to marry
me? What if he'd look down on me? What if he was angry that I hadn't told
him sooner? What if he did marry me out of pity, then divorce me? Oh my God!
"You have the right to leave me, I might not be a virgin," I said, breaking
the silence, while attempting to steady my breathing. Tears continued to
drench my cheeks.
With gentleness and caring true to his nature, Alex wiped my warm tears
away, reassuring me that none of this had been my fault. He was sorry that
I had lived with this burden for so long. He held me close, telling me that
he loved me for who I was; something horrible that had happened to me when I
was a mere child could not change that.
I realized then that I would forever be in love with this gentle soul. I
felt an indescribable, almost physical lightness after sharing my secret for
the first time. It was one of the most painful, but ultimately cathartic
experiences of my life. It had taken years to gather the inner strength to
shed light on what I had believed would remain a repressed and inarticulate
darkness until the day I died.
A week later, on September 19, 1981, we were married in Saint Matthias
Catholic Church (our local church) in Huntington Park, California. It was a
beautiful ceremony that I will forever remember. I never felt more certain
about anything in my life as I did on that day. Nothing else seemed to
matter. I imagined creating a family with Alex. Although he was only
twenty-four at the time, I knew he'd be a wonderful father. The future it
turns out would be full of surprises -- some of them wonderful and others
devastating. At that moment, however, surrounded by the most important
people in my life and linked arm-in-arm with this wonderful man, I couldn't
imagine being any happier.
That night and for many nights that followed, we would not consummate our
marriage. Everything was smooth sailing up until a certain point when I'd
get too tense and couldn't go on. No amount of coaxing seemed to work. The
fact that I had the blessings of my family, the church, and the state didn't
make a difference: I could not share this wonderful experience with my
husband. One month passed, then another, and another. Three months had gone
by and we were both frustrated and upset. My husband tenderly suggested that
I see a doctor and I promptly made an appointment. The doctor said that,
physically, there was absolutely nothing wrong. His expert advice: a couple
of glasses of wine to relax me. Not surprisingly, the wine didn't have the
intended effect. I continued to freeze. The doctor suggested I see a
therapist. I couldn't have agreed more.
It was soon to be New Year's Eve -- the first one Alex and I would celebrate
as a married couple -- and I wanted that night to be "the" night. When we
returned home after bringing in 1982, I began to sob uncontrollably. I told
Alex how horrible it made me feel that I couldn't show him how much I loved
"Rosario, if all I wanted from you was sex, I would not have married you,"
he said, pushing a strand of hair behind my ear. "I love you for who you
Those words permanently engraved themselves into my heart; it felt as
though something deep inside me shifted. Alex had validated me with pure,
simple, and loving words. My fears dissolved as though a spell had been
broken. That night, I became Alex's wife. It turned out that despite my
worries, I gave my virginity to Alex.
Afterward, I turned off the bedroom light. I felt a sense of peace as I
wrapped the once-frightening darkness around me like a warm blanket. I
slept more soundly than I had in years.
Now Is the Time
So now, at forty-eight, why have I chosen to publicly reveal such a private
part of my life? Maybe because the more we talk about such atrocities, the
less they will happen. Maybe it's so at night, when I wonder how many
children and now-adult victims are also awake at this moment, they will
have a bit more courage to tell someone their own dark secrets. Maybe it's
a reminder to others that no matter what traumatizing event they've had to
endure, time and support can help them move beyond it.
I have accepted that certain scars will always mark me and I've vowed that
I'll no longer go out of my way to hide them. That would be playing the
true victim. Healing takes time and love from the people in your life you
can trust. Until the moment I shared with Alex what happened, I had been
living a double life. Telling just one person made all the difference. I do
have one major regret: keeping it hidden for so long. To think that I
carried such a weight on my shoulders for nineteen years now seems
unfathomable. Once I conquered my fear of revealing my secret, it became
increasingly cathartic to share it with people. Each time I share my
experience with someone, I feel a bit lighter.
This will be the first time that most of my family, friends, and colleagues
will learn about what happened to me as a child. People whom I have known my
entire life will be reading about it at the same time as people I will never
meet. Many will be shocked, having never suspected a thing; this is a
testament to how hard I've tried my entire life to appear worry-free and
happy, especially when I was a child.
Everyone has always seen me as such a strong person that the last thing I
have ever wanted to do was let them down, or be seen as a victim, even if
that is exactly what I was. I never wanted people to pity me. Later, I
entered politics and did not want to risk politicizing something so
painful. I marched on as long as I could, head held high, trying hard to
never look back and to rationalize my continued silence.
My reasons for silence varied. Life seemed difficult enough for my family
and finding out that their daughter had been molested was the last thing
they needed. I was afraid that something bad would happen to my family, or
some sort of scandal would erupt. I wished death on the man who molested me
many times -- and then one day he did die. The pain of what he did to me
lived on, but I had been taught never to speak ill of the dead. Then I
convinced myself that it would just go away. It happened so long ago that
it would somehow fade into the recesses of memory. At the very least, I
predicted, the pain would diminish.
Now I know that such traumatizing events should not be forgotten. I also
know that it isn't just one thing that helps with the healing. It started
with my believing that what happened to me was nothing to be ashamed or
embarrassed about. There is a world of difference between saying something
isn't your fault and that you shouldn't be ashamed and truly feeling it
and moving on. It continued with my sharing my experience as a lesson for
others. After I initially talked about what happened with Alex, it was
another four years before I could bring myself to tell my mother what her
uncle did to me. The silence that surrounds these social taboos, especially
in the Latino community, is deafening and rests on the collective shoulders
of thousands of children and adults. I have met many people who have shared
their experiences with me and, unfortunately, their stories are variations
on the same theme. In almost all cases, it's a family member or someone
close to the family who abuses a child's trust. There is no way around it:
when something this devastating happens so early on in life, it
fundamentally alters the way a child will perceive the world. Often the
marks are even evident well into adulthood.
Not too long ago I met a voice coach who, upon hearing my voice, gently
suggested I had been molested. I was shocked. How could he know? It became
evident that the scars that wounded my spirit were recognizable to those
trained to see or hear them. All hope is obviously not lost. Millions, like
me, are proof that early adversity -- in any form -- can be overcome
successfully, but the burden should not be carried alone.
The memories of my childhood are otherwise pleasant. My family's abundance
of love was enough to carry me through the other comparatively mundane
pangs of growing up. I have always spoken about the two gifts my parents
gave me: work ethic and faith. My father's work ethic knew no bounds and
my mother's faith always gave the family hope. These were two gifts that
would need to keep on giving in order to meet the challenges of our voyage
to the United States.
Copyright © 2007 by Marín & Marín LLC
Excerpted from Leading Between Two Worlds by Rosario Marin Copyright © 2007 by Rosario Marin. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Part One: La Familia
1. Articulating Darkness
2. The Voyage
3. Life B.E. and A.E.
4. Spiraling Downward
5. A Family Is Born
6. Living with Purpose
Part Two: A Political Life
7. Bridging Two Worlds
8. Acting Locally
9. The Judas Kiss
10. Treasuring Opportunities
11. The Chance of a Lifetime
12. Mexican Homecoming
Part Three: Words to Live By
13. Blazing a Trail