I never knew how strong I had to be till my whole world changed. My name is Colette and this is my story. Growing up in Saskatchewan, Canada I was from a small town. My dad was my whole world and that came crashing down when I was fifteen! I am the youngest of eight and I had to grow up fast. From housework to babysitting, I never had any fun. My dad died from a heart attack when I was just starting high school. I had to be brave, but watching my dad pass away was a lot. So myself, my older sister and brother had no choice but to live with my older siblings. We got separated and little did I know I was just a maid, housecleaner and babysitter. My older sister just told me one day, "Why should we pay you? You're living here for free" I ended up being sent to an all girls school or Academy when I turned 16. I cried for a week, but this was the best time as I didn't have to babysit anymore! I failed to mention when I was growing up, I was overweight, bullied and picked on in school and even by my family. This all changed when I started high school. I lost the weight and gained a voice because of my dad. However, when I started grade 12 at the Academy things were crazy busy. My older sister sent me documents to be signed. I looked them over and was so busy with studying, groups I was in and other things I signed them and sent them back home. Little did I know when I graduated I found out what these documents were. When my father passed, he left an inheritance for the three youngest kids. This was myself, my sister and brother. The only reason I found out was my older brother and I were talking about cameras one day when I returned home for good. He said, "You can afford it. What about the money Dad left you?" I had this blank stare on my face and all I could say was, "What money?". This started a huge roller coaster of lies, betrayal and finding out what my family was really like! I got duplicates of the documents and saw my sister and brother-in-law forged my signature and got the rest of the money mailed to them! This was almost $20,000 I had left over from going to school! I was not even able to speak up about this. My brother confronted them and these documents magically disappeared. I was living with my other sister at the time and she was using me the same way as my other sister did. A live in housekeeper, maid, and babysitter. I ended up leaving Saskatchewan and moving to Calgary, Alberta in 1995 with a suitcase and $20 in my pocket. I got away from this back home and the guys who I dated that were abusive too mentally, physically and verbally. The road I was on was a mess. I wanted a fresh start and needed counseling as well. I ended up working in Retail for 13 years, being strong, standing up for myself and keeping busy. I haven't talked to my family in years. I never got the money back, but in my heart I forgave them because carrying grudges makes you negative and sick. I didn't want that. I also went back to school in 2008 and graduated in 2009 as a Healthcare Aide. I work in Palliative Care and have been in the same company for 13 years. I am a Beautiful Disaster because I have also survived having no money, nowhere to live while going to school, and survived abuse. My life has its ups and downs, however I recently went casual at my job in September of this year and it's been great! Working during the pandemic has had its challenges with bullying in our workplace, between coworkers and management. I stick up for myself and I love the hoodie you created that says, "Hating Me Won't Make You Pretty" - how I could have used that in High School. There's my story and we are all Beautiful Disasters! 

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December 22, 2022