June 15, 2019

My Dad’s Death & the Monster in my Womb.


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My dad’s death was the first time I felt abandoned as a little girl.

I was abandoned by him, abandoned by God, abandoned by all the adults in my life that told me he would be okay, abandoned by my Mom, abandoned by myself, abandoned by the boyfriend my 14-year-old self clung to like a teddy bear.

My dad’s death made me close my heart. My dad’s death made me trust no one. My dad’s death made me invulnerable in a life where I preach vulnerability. My dad’s death made me angry. My dad’s death made me feel alone in every home I’ve ever been in. My dad’s death made me feel like an alien in a world where I looked, dressed, and acted just like the humans around me. I felt distant, far away, unable to connect.

My dad’s death made me focus on nothing but my own grief—grief that a 14-year-old girl doesn’t understand, so she writes the playbook her own way. My dad’s death made me latch on to hate. My dad’s death clouded my ability to love, and worse, receive love. My dad’s death put serpents on my tongue that would strike unannounced, unprovoked, and unintentionally.

My dad’s death planted a baby monster inside of my womb. Every moment I spent not nurturing it, loving it, protecting it, it grew two times the size—fed by neglect, abandonment, and emotional distress. It sucked the nutrients from my soul and dehydrated my heart. The monster grew and grew and grew, never once with an inclination to be birthed. Instead, it became as real to me as the person you all see.

At home, behind closed doors, I let the monster out. I let the monster play. I let the monster breathe and speak and become me. When I say let, I mean I couldn’t contain it any longer. When I say “monster,” I mean mental illness. When I say “play,” I mean wreak havoc on my life. When I say “birthed,” I mean attended to, processed, loved on, understood, released.

My dad’s death made me push away anyone who tried to love me, and instead, I collected men’s affections like tokens I could cash in at times of despair. My dad’s death made me do a dance between recoiling and then coiling every part of my being around the lover of the moment, day, or year. My dad’s death made me feel unworthy of love, undeserving of love, unsure of what love is, and fully committed to retreating from ever feeling what I felt the moment his soul left his body.

My dad’s death also made me compassionate beyond belief. It made me a strong woman made of bricks and beauty. It made me the independent and magical human I am today. My dad’s sudden death changed the trajectory of my life in a myriad of ways. I’m grateful for everything my dad’s death made me.

Today, I am giving love, gratitude, and acknowledgment to the parts of me that are sad, longing, and desperate for attention, love, and care from a partner who doesn’t exist. The reality is that a partner can never fill the void of my father’s death. So this Father’s Day I’m making a promise to myself to spend the whole day with my dad, however, my soul interprets that.


author: Kelsey Nicks

Image: @walkthetalkshow

Image: Author's Own

Editor: Michelle Gean

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Snhemmer Jun 21, 2019 2:26pm

This is so special, love this more and more every time I read it ❤️

Amanda Smith Jun 15, 2019 3:15pm

Grief is something that never goes away and shows up sometimes in the most unexpected of ways. It’s also so often pushed down and not talked about. I hope that in writing and sharing your story you continue to find healing and provide a journey of healing for others. Your writing is powerful.

svpshelly Jun 15, 2019 1:47pm

Wow, Chelsea! That was so powerful! I have tears pouring down my face. Thank you for sharing your pain. It is a reminder to all of us who still have our parents to show them how much we love and appreciate them. By the way, I miss your dad, too. He was one special man!

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Kelsey Nicks

Kelsey Nicks is an occupational therapist, a mental health advocate, a poet, and is sober. She began writing poetry at age 14 when her dad became ill with brain cancer and passed away shortly after. Writing has always been her go-to coping skill, her way to make sense of the world. She sometimes thinks she needs writing as much as she needs air. She is on a journey of building a blog, publishing poems, and writing a book. She is just taking the first step, trying to place one foot in front of the other, and follow the bread crumbs that her heart seeks. She is passionate about ending the stigma with mental health, self-help, vulnerability, sobriety, and conscious living. Elephant Journal has been a bright light in her journey, and hopefully a stepping stone for her to embrace her passion of writing, poetry, and spoken word. Connect with her on Instagram.