I created this blog as I saw a need for people to connect on a human-to-human level more than ever and I am human. I want you to know who I am and what communities I belong to.
Who I am:
- I am queer and came out as queer when I was 14 years of age during a time that this was not acceptable within the community I grew up in. As a result, I have experienced significant and sometimes near death incidents of trauma. Being queer for me is more than who I’m with, it is who I am. It’s not just an orientation (I think labelling it as sexual orientation is offensive and reductive), it is a way of being. It’s my community, it’s who I surround myself with, it’s my chosen family, my way of thinking about things, and it’s a political stance. It’s a lot more than an identity to me.
- I am non-binary but I tend to identify more with genderqueer. Non-binary is something that most people recognize now but wasn’t always recognized. What does it mean for me? I have the spirit, soul, and personality of both a man and a woman as well as genders in between. For example, sometimes I wake up and feel like a man completely. Other days I feel half and half. Other days I feel like both as well as other variations, some days I feel like neither. Somedays I feel like a transman. Somedays I feel like I’m in drag, especially if I am dressing feminine. It’s quite confusing if you don’t experience it. Just know this, the way I am, behave, dress, etc. can change every day. I will say I lean mostly into masculine and feel much less comfortable being feminine. My pronouns are they/them. I am okay if you mess up with my pronouns, please apologize and move on.
- I am AFAB (Assigned Female at Birth) and even though I have not always identified as a woman, I am generally treated as a woman. Therefore, I have been oppressed and sexually harassed much like AFABs who do identify as women. I also have not been respected as a trans person because I have appeared to look like a woman (I have always done this when I’m not sure if it’s safe space for me).
- I am neurodiverse and proud! I have many mental health conditions but I’m okay with that. Sometimes I have really hard days where I wish things were different. Other days, I feel that mental health can be such a strength and that I can use it to my advantage. I try to focus on the strengths of it even through the hard times and this has been helpful. Although I have faced a ridiculous amount of barriers to crawl to where I am today, I have faced substantial trauma which is a huge part of my healing journey.
- I am polyamorous. Similar to my queer identity, I don’t feel that it is just a way of living. Being polyam for me is my community, my friends, my chosen family, a political identity, and how I look at the world. This part of me has always been and can be a source of stress for me. I have attempted to build safe space for queer polyam folx within a community that tends to be very hetero/cis normative in majority and have faced some scrutiny for that.
- I don’t drink alcohol. I have a problem with addiction and not just to alcohol. Often counsellors don’t talk about this but I think it’s important that we stop experiencing shame about this because it does not show people how strong recovered addicts really are. I have overcome many addictions in my life such as my alcohol addiction which was one of the hardest for me, addiction to prescription medication, addiction to stimulants, addiction to cigarettes, addiction to food, addiction to working out, addiction to online shopping, and many more! I am still completely dependent on coffee in the mornings and I just can’t quit it. I do feel that everyone in this world will have a problematic relationship with something similar to addiction at some point in their life.
- I have many physical health conditions that cause me chronic pain or completely take me out somedays. It can really suck. However, the good days are REALLY GOOD.
- I have lived in poverty most of my life. I’m still not quite as comfortable as I would like to be. Having this experience was really hard but I find it has really helped to inform my work in social work.
- I am a white settler on unceded Algonquin territory which is located in Ottawa, ON. I recognize that I have privilege as a white person and a settler. I benefit from systems of oppression.
- I am not certain of my heritage but I believe that I have linkages to Irish and Scottish communities. I am more certain about my Irish ancestry as we have a Code of Arms attached to our last name. Part of my healing journey is to learn more about this. It is so important to learn about who we are. I will be tracking my experience with understanding this in this blog. I grew up and have lived most of my life in Nova Scotia (particularly in Halifax, NS). I have also lived in Montreal, QC for five years, Gatineau, QC for four years, and Ottawa, ON for one year with my amazing partner.
I have been a counsellor for six years now. I graduated from McGill University in 2015. I hit the ground running and started work in social work right away. My first real social work job was in Kahnawake, QC where I got the lovely privilege of working with the Mohawk community there. I really loved the job as my ultimate goal was to work with Indigenous communities and specifically I was drawn to work around mental health and addiction(s). Perhaps my own lived experience brought me to this goal but ultimately, my goal hasn’t changed in the past six years as mental health and addiction(s) is still my focus. I worked in various types of settings where I got to work with different populations over those six years and that was meaningful to me. At a couple of points, I have had two to three jobs. Social services doesn’t pay all the bills sometimes, I’ll be honest about that.
I did not work much with queer and non-monogamous communities over those six years in social services and I realized that was something that I need to do (or at least that is what my spirit tells me). I have done a lot of work over the past couple of years within the community in Ottawa as a volunteer I guess you could say, creating safe spaces and events for folx who are queer and polyam; or queer folx who are living or attempting to live a sober from from their substance of choice. I do a group through Kind Space once a month called Polybilities for queer polyam folx. My goal over the past couple of years with these communities has been to create safe spaces and build community.
I am in alternative practice now which means I am no longer having to do things that I find are unethical. I can protect confidentiality more and have more meaningful therapeutic relationships. I also am able to choose who I work with and queer and non-monogamous folx are communities that I feel I could do great work with due to my lived experience and consulting with these communities on a regular basis. Of course, I will always work with Indigenous communities as I feel greatly connected to the amazing people I have been privileged to work with.