I was talking to my friend today on Snapchat, and somehow ended up on the subject of when I traveled to Texas to record my first (and so far, only) CD. As I was telling him the memory, it was all coming back to me now, and honestly, I can say that I wish I could go back to that time in my life and change almost everything of what happened during that trip.

Then again, all things happen to us for a reason, and if this hadn’t happened to me, I wouldn’t be who I am today. So in retrospect, I’m glad that happened; I just don’t like remembering the whole experience. But I’m going to share with you what I learned so that others, and not just me, can learn from my mistakes.

First off, you have get a little bit of the story. I have been blessed with a strong singing voice, and people always would ask me if I’d done a CD or some kind of recording. So one day, a close friend who I considered to be a part of my family said she was going to help me raise the funds to record a CD. I was excited, but at the same time I wasn’t sure if this could even happen, since recording a CD in the early 2000’s wasn’t something that can now be done from the comfort of your living room. There was no such thing as Garage Band back then. Anyway, the doors opened and I met a man who produced his own CD’s and would then travel around the country and sell them. He found out I wanted to do my own CD, so he offered to produce it for me. I was so happy. The only problem was that his recording studio was in Texas, and I’m in California. But again, my sweet family friend came to the rescue and raised funds for me to be able to fly to Texas and also to pay for the CD recording, which ended up costing almost 10 thousand dollars.

Well, during this time, I was kind of a loner. I guess I am still a kind of a loner, but I’ve embraced it now that I’m older and wiser, and have realized that some of us just prefer to do things alone, or with one or two people at the most, than be in a group of friends all the time. But back then, I didn’t like being a loner, I didn’t understand it, and I was looking for friends. I was also confused about many other things, but we won’t go into that subject now. I’m just going to say I only had one good friend, and I don’t want to go off and say his real name, so in this blog I’m going to call him Brian. (Although those of you who know me personally will be able to identify him)

Anyway, Brian was my only friend, and I was so happy he was my friend. My mom got along with his mom and his family, we always hung out, and we’d even have sleep overs at his house. I remember his Dad was kind enough to literally give me my first car after I got my license. A Toyota Celica. Those cars are now classics, and I wish I still had it. Anyway, long story short, his family was sweet, and they still are.

Brian knew how I felt. He knew that I had no other “real” friends besides him, and that I felt happy and safe and “normal” by having him as a friend. He knew all that, and instead of seeing me as a friend or a confidant, like I saw him, he saw instead someone he could use to get whatever he wanted. He saw a young man who seemed happy and confident on the outside, but was afraid and confused on the inside. He knew he could manipulate me, and manipulate me he did.

Brian also liked to sing. When he found out I was getting to go record my CD, he immediately jumped in and said he needed to go with me so he could be my backup singer. I agreed, because I thought having my friend with me during this trip would be amazing, and a dream come true.

And so we set the date, I got asked to write 9 original songs for the CD, and before I knew it, the day came for us to leave to Texas. My mom, who has always been really overprotective of me, also seemed to trust Brian, and she was happy he was coming along with me, since my mother couldn’t come along too, due to her job.

And so we left California and arrived in Houston. And it was from the very beginning of the trip that things started to go wrong. I now realize that my main goal during this trip was to keep my friend happy, and the whole recording of my CD took a back seat. I sometimes get mad at myself when I think about this, but then realize that I was a teenager, and I didn’t know any better. The moment we arrived, we began the process of recording the album. I got great news from my producer. He said he was friends with another producer who produced songs for an Artist who I knew and who’s songs I loved, and that producer had heard my sample tracks and had told my original producer that he wanted to produce my album instead. That was amazing news. We got to go to a major professional studio in Houston, and to another one in San Antonio.

When Brian saw all these good things happening, he decided he didn’t want to just be a back up singer. He started telling me and pushing me into letting him sing certain parts in his favorite songs by himself, as if he was the recording artist. And me, trying to keep Brian happy at all times, would agree immediately. Thankfully, my new producer stopped him and said, Is this “LQ’s” Album, or are you guys a “Duo” team? Well, the answer was that it was MY album, so the producer limited the parts Brian could collaborate on.

Brian was mad. Furious. And since he couldn’t take it out on the producer, he took it out on me. I still remember one day, when we had a break from recording, Brian wouldn’t talk to me, he’d slam everything around…. He was a total bully. And he knew how to play mind games. Anyway, that one day that we had a break, I remember sitting in the chairs outside on the balcony of our room, and just crying and crying. I didn’t want Brian mad at me, and I just wanted the whole trip to end, I was ready to just dump the whole Album project and leave. I cried for hours. That’s how much manipulation and control Brian had over me.

Then, he seemed to figure out a way to make me “pay” for not standing up to the producer like he had wanted me to. When we where done recording for the day, he’d make me take him to the best restaurants, and then he’d make me go with him shopping, and just to keep him happy and talking to me again, I’d buy him everything he wanted.

Sad. If I’d go back in time to those moments, I wouldn’t recognize myself.

When the recording schedule went over the two weeks we had planned to be there, I had to reschedule our plane tickets. Brian, of course, then saw an opportunity to use me. He made me change the original destination of Los Angeles to Las Vegas. He said he’d never been there, and he wanted to go visit.

And it cost me a lot more, but I did it, just to keep him happy. So after the recording process was over, we said goodbye to Texas and arrived at Las Vegas. He wasn’t old enough to go gambling, so I had no idea why he wanted to go there. We ended up staying in Las Vegas for 3 days, and I barely remember any of those days, because he’d leave at night, come back in the morning, sleep all day, and then leave again at night. Who knows where or what he was doing, but I spent 3 days in Vegas in my hotel room, and probably went down to the Lobby once or twice.

Finally, when he saw I was running low on cash, he let me rent a car, and we drove home. Or better said, I drove home, he slept the entire way.

Sadly, it took me a few more years to realize what this jerk was doing. Using me for whatever he needed. My mom soon realized the same thing, and his family and mine stopped talking. But he’d show up, once or twice a year, or he’d send me a message saying something like, “Hey you! Sorry I haven’t kept in touch, I’ve been meaning to and trying to…could you please do me a big favor and lend me $50?”

Yeah right. By this time, I think I’d learned my lesson.

The reason I’m writing all this again, even though I’d rather forget it than relive it as I am doing it now, its because there are young teenagers out there who might be passing through the same thing I went though. There are people out there that can see someone who is lonely, or wanting to make a friend, and they take advantage of that, and instantly become your friends… but at what price?

Friendship is something that shouldn’t cost a penny. Its something that’s given free. Just like love. Friendship and love are given unconditionally. The same way our parents or God loves us, with no conditions. But when people are lonely, people are confused, others jump on that present themselves as true friends who like or love you, but then after you’ve gave them your trust and you feel safe and happy and don’t want to lose their friendship or love, then…comes the price. The price you pay to keep their fake love and friendship.

After this happened to me, I build a wall. (like the one the man who is at the White House at the moment is trying to build. I’d use his official title, but that just makes me cringe a little.) Anyway, I built a wall, a high wall, around me. I lost trust in people. I didn’t want to let anyone in, because I was reminded of Brian and all his lies and his fake friendship. It took me a long time to finally learn how to trust people again. I learned that you should always let people in, but at the same time, keep your heart and feelings guarded at all times until you see that their friendship is real. That its the real thing, not just a mask so that they can take advantage of you.

I had to go through all that to finally learn that. Now, as I sit here, I look back at those moments in Texas, and I see me wasting an amazing opportunity. I was given the chance to go and record an Album. If I had had my head on straight, I could have focused on the Album, and not on the Jerk who was with me and was making me believe that the whole world revolved around him. In the end, the Album came out, I do honestly love it, It was great for a first album, but oh, there will always be that “What If?” question that I will always ask myself.

But now, I am someone new, someone who has learned things in life, sometimes the easy way, sometimes the hard way. I’m a happy person because of the lessons that I’ve learned. And as for Brian…. well, I don’t hold grudges, and I wish him all the best in the world. But I’ve always believed that if you do good things, good things will come to you. If you do bad things, bad things will come to you. The universe has a way of leveling itself out. Some people call this Karma.

I believe God sometimes lets us go through these things so we can learn from our experiences.

But if I did believe in Karma and if Karma really did exist, I think Brian has gotten his share of it. The last time I spoke to him was on his wedding day. I knew he was getting married, a few people I knew were going to be at his wedding. I didn’t get an invitation, and I wasn’t surprised, since we hadn’t spoken in years, and he knew that I didn’t believe his “I’m a true Friend” lie he had made me believe for a long time.

But my phone rang that evening, and when I answered it, I was surprised to hear Brian on the other side. Crying. I couldn’t understand anything he was saying at first, because he was literally wailing and blubbering. Finally, I heard what he was trying to say. “I don’t want to get married. I don’t want to get married. What am I going to do, I don’t want to get married.”

I had no idea what to say. And I still don’t know why out of everyone else he could have called, he calls me to tell me that. But like I said before, I don’t hold grudges. I told him to calm down, that everything would be fine, and that he was probably just nervous. Unfortunately, he kept crying. He calmed down a bit, but kept crying. And right when he had called me, I was on my way out to teach a lesson, and people were waiting for me in the car. I told him I couldn’t talk, but I did ask him why he didn’t want to get married. He then hung up on me, and I’ve never heard from him again.

All I know is this…

He DID get married; I saw wedding photos. He’s smiling in them, but I can only imagine what’s going inside his head.

I became a stronger person because of what he made me go through. I guess in a way, I can thank him for that.

If you have a “friend” or someone who is controlling, manipulating, and is just using you, get out of that relationship before your feelings and heart end up bruised. And whatever you do, don’t think that everyone else is like that, because not everyone is like that. There are genuine people out there who really care for you, and if you build a wall around your heart, you will miss out on the love a true friend can give you.

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