To say I had a good childhood would be true…until I was 12 that is. Then shit hit the fan. To protect my family who may read this and for those who know them, I’ll leave it to your imagination to understand how a young girl with a bright future chose victimhood, resentment, booze, sex and drugs and started down a dark path of self-destruction.
Since I started blogging, I’ve kept my past just that: in the past. But I feel it’s time to give voice to the Darkness that fuelled me to where I am now. Because looking back at the girl I used to be, there’s no way I could say she’d be where she is today. So if I can grow and evolve and change into the best version of myself, you certainly can too.
“Our wounds are our wisdom” -Gabby Bernstein
I’ve let fear of judgement hold me back from sharing my dark past but as my mentor Gabby Bernstein says, “our wounds are our wisdom”. There’s lessons to be taken from my story and I can only hope they will inspire you to live your best life too.
After my parents split, my mom moved out and I with her a few months later. I started at a junior high school population 300 mid semester so to say I stuck out is an understatement. Everyone knew there was a new girl immediately. Thankfully, or perhaps, unfortunately, I was a cute girl so the attention I received was welcomed especially since I wasn’t getting it from the people I needed it most from: my parents who were both trying to deal with their own boatload of issues while simultaneously raising three young girls. I had a victim mentality over everything that had happened (even the things outside of my control) and refused to take ownership for my behaviours and reactions. I had a chip on my shoulder and was desperate for love, acceptance and attention.
On the brink of puberty, in a town large enough to boast the highest teen pregnancy rates in Ontario, I was headed for disaster.
I believe that because of my looks I was instantly thrust into the popular group where everything you did was talked about and you had automatic invisible labels placed upon your chest. Being popular is not that great, trust me. My need for attention, any kind of attention, put me in situations I hope my daughter is never in. In my need for love and acceptance, I said yes when I should have said no way too many times. I let boys I barely knew touch me and I put myself in a lot of dangerous situations.
So many young girls are lacking in so many areas: self-love, self-esteem, self-confidence etc. that they are searching for value and worth in something external to themselves. I was the exact same: I sought mine in boys, booze and in my late teens, drugs.
I had ZERO self-worth. My relationship with my parents was non-existent; my dad was too strict and judgmental to ever confide in and my mom was too lenient and absent. I could leave for days and she wouldn’t care where I was. She just assumed I was safe with my best friend. I had no moral compass. With the weight of my pain and anger and resentment fully on my shoulders, my compass pointed to wherever best served me and what I wanted, when I wanted it. I was selfish and self-absorbed 80% of the time. When I wasn’t doing whatever I wanted, I was vying for the acceptance of my peers. My fear of never fitting in and not being liked overrode basic morality and I sacrificed a lot of my essence to fit in and be liked. I was easily manipulated and like I said, I could barely say no.
If you asked me to walk through a blizzard to go find your dog for you, I would. If a cute boy looked twice at me, I was suddenly interested. Who cares what his personality was like!
I showed off my body and closed off my soul with booze. I emotionally detached from dealing with anything that had happened and was happening with my family. I shut many people out. I hid behind the popular girl façade and thought good grades would get me the value and attention I needed from home. It didn’t.
So in high school, my grades slipped. I moved in with my best friend and her family. I serial dated boys. I partied every weekend. After high school, I somehow managed to get into college. After my two years in college where it was school, party, sleep, repeat I moved to Ottawa to be closer to my friends, many of whom were going to school there. This began the steep decline into a serious problem with drinking and drugs.
Not even my family knows the extent of how bad those two years in Ottawa were. Yes, they were fun. But it was also unsafe, unhealthy and unacceptable to abuse my body the way I did. I joked I was a ‘loser hippy bullshitting my way through life” and I was but I thought it was funny. I worked at a restaurant during the day hostessing and by night I was recklessly spending money I shouldn’t have with my roommates and other people who didn’t even know me drinking whatever was given to me in bars I can’t even remember. Looking back, it was a recipe for disaster but of course, I laughed it off as, “these are the years to get it out of our system” and “live a little” and “we’re young, we’re supposed to party in college!”
In actuality, I was setting myself up for a life of emotional immaturity, open wounds of my youth never healing and potentially serious addictions.
Thankfully and surprisingly, my saving grace came in the form of cocaine addict boyfriend and an ex-boyfriend who loved me so hard, it was ridiculous. The cocaine boyfriend was a tumultuous, short whirlwind of him attempting a fresh start after rehab but had actually just replaced cocaine with the other drugs I was using so we were pure toxicity to each other. When he broke up with me over text two months into the relationship and I was crying in the shower, my roommate walked in and said, “the Kelsey I know would NEVER cry over a guy like Mike*. What’s really going on here?” For some reason that was the question that needed answering. A ten year old question. I called my parents to come get me, gave two weeks’ notice at the restaurant and moved home 13 days later.
(*not his real name)
My ex-boyfriend (and now my husband) met me in the midst of this chaos (right after college and just before moving to Ottawa). But we fell in love immediately and hard. We attempted a relationship but I thought at 19, I was too young to settle down forever. I knew we’d be married someday and the state of my mind, body and soul wasn’t in a good place to be attached to such an amazing man. He actually moved to Ottawa with me. That lasted two months. We broke up but we remained good friends and I knew he was hurting watching me self-destruct the way I was. But he stood by me. I tear up thinking of him during that time now. He loved me enough to hold me while I cried, while I made sense of my behaviours, while I went to AA and counselling. He loved me enough to support me and on the days where I couldn’t see my worth, he reminded me. He wrote me songs and letters. He gave me tough love when my victim mentality creeped back in. He talked me off the ledge of the crazy emotions swirling inside. He helped me find compassion and understanding and non-judgemental love. He became my beacon of light in the hurricane of my healing.
A couple years later, after we had broken up once more and got back together after a cervical cancer scare, we moved across the country together. We landed in Saskatchewan and have been here ever since. I haven’t touched drugs in a decade (aside from pot which I gave up five years ago). I pledged sobriety to myself on December 22, 2017. I found out I was pregnant with our rainbow baby two days later. I feel like the Universe/God/Source was saying, “yes! Get sober. Here’s some help to get you started: nine months of mandatory sobriety.”
I’ve spent the last decade healing old wounds. I’ve forgiven trespasses done against me. I’ve finally forgiven myself for allowing myself to let certain people in my world and my body and for doing some of the terrible things I did. I’ve forgiven my parents for their lack when I know now they were doing the best they could with the tools they had. I’ve found my value and worth internally. I’ve found a faith in something bigger than myself or what my senses can perceive. I’ve found happiness and gratitude in everyday living. I’ve found a self-love that I never believed I’d possess.
The point of all this? Change can happen. If you’re given the opportunity to grow, you will grow if you want it. Human existence isn’t meant to be stagnant and mundane. We’re meant to morph and shift into different versions of ourselves. We’re meant to live lives that have meaning and purpose. The Universe is guiding us; I just couldn’t see the signs through the blurry beer goggles and resentment I constantly wore. When we make the choice to do better and I mean really commit to change, we light up a plethora of paths to greatness.
I found my path through journaling and meditation and reflection and by choosing a drug-free life. I found a love in myself that I never knew existed. I found a purpose. My past choices have led me to today and today, I’m pretty awesome. I have a compassion and empathy for others. I strive to inspire and heal and give hope to the people around me. I can almost say I have zero judgement against others now. We each have a story that will break your heart. My story is different than my high school story which is different than the story of my late 20’s. My essence is the same but my soul is awakened and my heart is lighter and brighter now.
It’s in the Darkness that we find the glimmer of hope for a new way of being. It’s in the struggles that we find our deepest strengths and resiliency. It’s in the hard times we learn the greatest lessons. It’s in the burning pain within that we ignite the fire to dance where the Devil walks. We persevere and we push onward and we emerge as phoenixes. There’s no shame in where you’ve danced. You are a beautiful being of the Universe who has been given the privilege and honour to walk in a divine and conscious human body. Use your divinity for greatness. Be better today than you were yesterday and let tomorrow’s potential inspire you to be your best self right this second. Choose your best self, in every thought and moment, and your path will come to you.
United, we RISE,