Hello, I’m Chelsey.

When I was in my teens, I didn’t think I’d make it to 20 years old. There was absolutely no way I thought I could come out the other side of everything I had been through alive. Now, nearly 30 years old, I’m still surprised but glad I did. Well, I shouldn’t say that. Every day is still a struggle, though some more than others. The last two years specifically have been the absolute hardest and those ones I experienced as a teenager are a far, distant memory.

Do you recall your first memory? Was it happy? Mine unfortunately is and will forever be the one where we were having a backyard barbecue with some family back in Regina, where I was born. I was 5 years old, and a fight broke out and I remember running inside with my brother and cousins to stay away from all the fists and yelling. The police came that day, and that was one of the many times I had the police at my home.

As I grew older, my insecurities grew larger and the abuse grew with it. The fights with family members that were no longer there were taken out on me. Hair was pulled. Punches were thrown. Running to get inside a room with a lock so that I could maybe get there in time before I was hurt physically. Then the verbal abuse came with it later where they told me I was fat and that they wish I never existed. When I attempted suicide for the first time when I was 17, I was told I didn’t try hard enough and my mother threw more pills at me to take to try again.

It was after this point with everything prior accumulated into one giant ball of pain, I decided I needed to move out and get away. I couldn’t protect my bother and dog anymore. I couldn’t be that people to separate my parents when they were hurting each other. I had to put myself first.

After many years, things were okay between my relationship with them. I rarely saw them, so that helped. I still allowed them into my life, at least with one arm outstretched to leave some space. It wasn’t until my husband and I got married that things ended up getting worse. I would much prefer managing physical abuse over mental abuse, but this wasn’t an option. After my parents came for our wedding in Nelson, British Columbia, I was shocked. They had been complaining for an entire year leading up because they didn’t want to travel. They made it about them, primarily my mother, and in this single instance in my life couldn’t show up for me. After my shock of them actually driving all the way to Nelson from Calgary, they didn’t come on the wedding day. They didn’t call or explain why. They didn’t say anything until a few days later when I was told many not-so-kind things like I should kill myself and that no one loves me, not even my new husband.

There are very few times in your life when you can pinpoint exactly when you changed as a person. I knew after going through this and going no contact with my parents, that I had changed. Sure, there were many, MANY tears after what happened and it took a long time for me to sort through everything. Let’s be honest, I still am dealing with it and managing those feelings. I know that through everything, I have become the person I needed to be. I’ve become so much stronger, and that blood does not make a family. My friends are my family, and I love that. I’ve chosen my tribe. I don’t have everything figured out and never will, but I know who I can count on and I know what I need to do when things get tough.

So far, this year has been an amazing step in the right direction. I know that if I continue to put one foot in front of the other, that I’ll be showing up and that is sometimes all that matters. It’s a choice to keep living and looking for those little silver linings, even if it’s just the smell of coffee in the morning or the feel of a new book. I’m trying to remember that I write my own story, and my parents and trauma aren’t the authors. They are merely a chapter in amongst all the other wonderful ones.