Each day was better than the last, or at least it seemed that way to me. Settling into my new place helped me feel more ‘normal’ and I soon found myself in need of a routine. I had decided now that I had a home I was going to throw myself into work. The only hic-up there was I needed to figure out what that work was going to be. I hadn’t had the functionality the last couple months to reconnect with all of my Los Angeles contacts; I knew that was just going to lead to questions that I didn’t want to answer. “How are you? What are you doing back in LA? How was your wedding?” You can see where this is going and it was a rabbit hole I avoided as much as possible. A week or two after moving into my new place I was asked to go to Hawaii with friends and had zero reasons to say no.
I loved the ocean and for someone living in California, I had spent a surprisingly small amount of time in Hawaii. My husband had lived there at one point, for some reason I felt I should tell him I was going and had given me advice on places to visit and activates to do while on the trip. Yes, this was nice of him to give me these pointers but it also made me want to smack him. Two years prior he had given me a trip to Hawaii for my birthday, a trip we never took. Though somehow he managed to take a trip to Hawaii in the past two years, it just wasn’t with me. I could only assume his tourist advice was solid because the photos of he and Katy swimming with dolphins, paddle boarding, and having romantic dinners, that she had posted on social media, all looked very fun! Basically, I could only assume he took her on my birthday trip, such an asshole!
My friends and I arrived and settled into the house, which had this great infinity pool facing the ocean. After unpacking I sat at the edge of the pool to watch the beautiful Hawaiian sunset. Maybe it was the jet lag or the mai-tai’s but I suddenly started to cry… again. This time it was an uncontrollable cry, heaving shoulders, snot running down my face type of cry. I know what you are thinking and yes, it was very attractive, I am sad I don’t have photos too!
That day I sat on the edge of the world and just let it all out let and when I was done I felt 100 pounds lighter. I slept like a baby that night and woke up the next morning knowing that everything was going to be ok. No doubt I have cried since then, heck I think I cried last week while I was writing, but not like that. That was the last time I let myself really cry over him.
While I was away enjoying paradise I got an email from my best friend and former business partner, he had suddenly become seriously ill. He was like me and rarely asked for help so the fact he knew I was traveling and was asking for help assured me it was serious. I did not only fear for his life but I realized the company we had built together had begun to suffer as well. He needed to focus on his health and being the type of friend I am, and some may say pushy broad, I had no problem telling him just that.
He and I were as close as two friends could be. We met judging a pageant over ten years prior, years before I even thought of moving to Los Angeles. He was one of the reasons I pushed my first husband to move to California. We had worked together for years (I had managed his talent agency when I first moved to LA), he stood up for me at my wedding, we had traveled the world together- it was safe to say we had a long history of love and friendship. When he needed me, I didn’t hesitate for a second and I know he would have done the same.
We had started the business together in 2005, then it was just the state of California, and I had departed the company in a full-time capacity in 2007 to focus on fashion. Though I hadn’t worked for the company full-time in years I knew exactly what needed to be done. I had been the first national title holder to be given a directorship and having been Miss Teen USA myself I understood exactly what the girls were going through. Before even leaving the islands I was on the phone with the employees, legal team, accounting team, public relations team, etc. informing everyone that I was headed back to LA and would be taking over. All matters needed to be directed to me moving forward, I wanted him to be able to fully focus on his health and know that I had everything under control. I was once again the Co-Executive director of Miss California USA, Miss California Teen USA, along with the respective titles in New York USA and New Hampshire USA. The Devil Wears Prada was a favorite movie among my friends and I and they soon began calling me Miranda (in reference to Meryl Streep’s’ wicked character). I wasn’t quite that bitchy but I didn’t mind the reference, there was a lot to be done in a short amount of time and I was in no mood for bullshit from anyone. I thought keeping myself busy was a genius idea. I soon figured out that those around me were happy that I was working but watched me a bit like a ticking time bomb, just waiting for the full breakdown. I was soon balancing, therapy, my new home, a new staff and three beauty queens. I, of course, thought this was no big deal!
When he and I applied for the franchise license so many years ago we wanted to change the face of pageantry, make it new and fresh! In a lot of ways we did, he did. Over a hundred other people had applied for this position and we were thrilled, yet shocked, they picked us. I was not your typical pageant girl but I saw the tremendous opportunities that came from competing in the Miss Universe system- at any level. Being Miss Teen USA honestly changed my life and I wanted to pass that along to other young women. I wanted to make a difference for these girls, and let’s be real, I wanted to make some money. If you are setting out in the world to make money take this advice; do not become a pageant director. The beauty pageant business is a lot fun, a lot of hard work and can be very inspiring, but all of those awful stories that are forever tattooed on the world of pageants are true on some level. Something inspired them and I the moment I started working in the office again I was quickly reminded of that!
Though it wasn’t my dream job, per say, I loved it on some level and working made me feel alive and gave me purpose. I was in a much better head space when I was working each day. It gave me confidence, purpose, and most of all a reason to get out of bed each morning. I was not used to feeling like I had no purpose in life and no motivation. That had been one of the hardest things about the last couple of months. I had moved out of the house I shared with my husband months ago, so in my mind, as irrational as it was, I felt I should be moving forward at a much quicker pace. The whole gray cloud I was living in made no sense to me and it was extremely frustrating. It all just made me angry. I was finally starting to get mad and I was being told it was a good thing- I was not so sure.
Not only was the team and I preparing our titleholders for Miss USA, my husband and I were in therapy, a lot of it. I realize that may sound crazy and I am sure you are asking why I even bothered; I know my family and friends were asking me that. So here is the reason, it was simple- I wanted answers. I wanted to know why this had happened and I needed to try to wrap my brain around what he had done. I was desperately trying to understand it. We agreed to go to a therapist in San Francisco. I would fly up and have a session with her, then we would have a session together, then I would have phone sessions, he would have sessions alone with her and then I would have sessions with my therapist in LA. Needless to say, it was way too much. Though he was pushing for “dates” with me I still had not been alone with him since the night in San Francisco a few weeks after I walked out and I still didn’t want to be. What I wanted was for him to walk into therapy and say, “this is why I did this to you” and for whatever that explanation was, I wanted it to make total sense and for him to give me the answers I needed. As you can guess that obviously didn’t happen. It was a lot of “I am sorry” and “I never meant to hurt you” and “I will spend the rest of my life making it up to you” and “I miss you” and so on and so on and blah blah blah! Again, he started to sound like the teacher from the Peanuts cartoon.
The one good thing that started to come out of all of this therapy was that I was starting to crack. The numbness was fading and I was starting to feel again. Though what I started feeling was unexpected. I soon feared I would need even more therapy to learn to deal with all of this. No one has ever accused me of being touchy feely or called me emotional, so this was a new Keylee that was someone I had never met and I sure hell had no idea what to do with her. I was weeks away from the three girls, I was responsible for, competing at a national competition, I was going to therapy more hours per month than I had collectively gone my entire life, I was partying my ass off to distract myself from all of it and then decided to start making major life decisions. Was this a recipe for success????? I will give you three guesses and the first two don’t count.