Half-life on the run: What it’s like to grow up the daughter of a con artist

Half hungry in shabby typical flat stock

After a short time, she was discovered by a model and moved to New York. At first, I thought it would be an emergency deliverance, but anyone who still believes there is some kind of magic associated with a modeling career would be best taught by Cheryl Diamond’s descriptions. She even lives half-baby with other kids in shabby flat shapes, sick with loneliness and neglect and half-hungry because she earns so little and the acting agencies never seem skinny enough. The only thing that warms up the cold city is her cat Tigger, who clings to her at night. It was only now that she was separated from her family that she realized how different her life experiences were from those of other girls. “I felt like an alien.”

“Sometimes you have to crack so you can get yourself back together again”

She writes a book about her experience as a model, puts it on talk shows and earns good money – her father takes it on the spot. She tries to apply for a passport – and knows that she is a stateless person who can be deported at any time because there is not a single document that proves her existence. At the age of 21 she fell ill, her body rebelled, and she could barely get out of bed for years.

Her father is increasingly losing interest in her, as in his eyes it is an investment that pays off the longer the time, the less. Her mom can’t help her either. Shattered and terminally ill, Cheryl Diamond is left to her own devices and completely exhausted. Only in retrospect did she realize this desperate situation was a fresh start for her, she says. “Sometimes you just have to fall into pieces to be able to put yourself back together again.”

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The day after the first interview, we met up for a second conversation at Giselda, a café owned by Massimo Arlechino in the trendy Trastevere district. We are joined by Derek and Evan, who is also one of Cheryl’s friends. He is about to get married and shows his friends the bridal suit jacket he just picked from the tailor. Massimo is coming soon, too. The mood is relaxed and cheerful. Massimo, who seems to have an inexhaustible stock of stories, tells everyone how his wife once met Federico Fellini on the bus. “Signora, you have really sexy boobs,” the famous director reportedly told Paula. Big laugh.

Cheryl Diamond was writing parts of her book at a table in the far corner of the coffee shop. Massimo says he wants to put a plaque on the square: “Il luogo della ragazza senza luogo” – the square of the young woman who came out of nowhere. He appears to be proud to contribute to Cheryl’s Diamond book in his restaurant.

Cheryl looks relaxed and happy with her friends. But it was a long way to get there. Most of the therapists I called did not understand it. The difference between their stark lives and the protected existence of the healers was too great. Then she found an Iranian who fled his homeland in tragic circumstances, but he understood. “He’s a big, strong guy,” she says, “but when I gave him my book to read, he started crying.” Her handler was acting as a police profiler. In a harsh and direct way, he explained to her that her father was mentally ill. He said: He never loved you. He cannot love. Get it. “I thought of something like that,” says Sheryl Diamond, “but it was still a shock to hear it from someone who knew her so well.”

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“I’m glad I’m still soft on the inside”

Sometimes you cry now. She just comes on her for no particular reason. “Then I say to myself: It’s great that everything is out now, and I can finally feel my feelings.” Before that, when she was an outlaw, she was never allowed to cry. Sometimes it still comes as a shock to her when she realizes that she is not only a former gangster and survivor, but also a woman with feelings. “I’m glad I’m still soft on the inside, and despite everything I’m still human,” she says.

She now has a Luxembourg passport. It took six years of trial to convince the authorities that it really existed and that it wasn’t her fault for lack of papers. Your work as an author and translator is profitable. And Crohn’s disease sleeps in her body silently. Once you have the disease, it will never go away, but as long as Cheryl Diamond follows a healthy diet and avoids stress, she will not have any symptoms. Yes, she does not even need medication. Doctors can’t explain this huge improvement for themselves, but they can: “By writing my book, I was finally able to get rid of the anger in my family.”

“It’s no longer about my father.”

Cheryl is on good terms with her mother today. The two could talk about everything, “including why she wasn’t there for me.” Her sister, Kiara, lives a bleak life full of lies in Washington, D.C. There she works as a waitress at a nasty dive bar. Not even her husband knows her past.

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And her father? Are you not afraid that he will suddenly stand at the door and destroy everything that she has built for her? Sheryl Diamond thinks for a long time. Then she said in a calm voice, “It’s no longer about my father.” The thought of him almost bore her, “Because there is nothing there. He has no heart. He is empty.” Your opponent is no longer your father. “My struggle is rather to trust that the life I have built for myself is right.” It is not easy. Because sometimes it seems Too good to be true.

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