Writing Has Offered Me Catharsis After Trauma
To me, writing is sacred, given how it has provided a tool for psychoeducation regarding oppression. As a past therapist, and the daughter of a gambling addict, writing has offered me both closure and the ability to process my strong feelings regarding traumatic events with words enough to allow me to feel safer to re-open paths as I see fit. Back in 2016, when the white Executive Director of the North Durham Family Health Team served me with a disciplinary letter that stated I was hired "to practice social work, not social justice," I first channeled my feelings of frustration about his fuckery into poems on my phone in between the provision of therapy services to clients.
By the time I left a Wellness Counsellor and Coordinator role in Health and Wellness at Canada's largest university in 2018, I had accepted that my skills would be put to better use advocating on behalf of students directly with faculty than teaching them individual coping skills to survive inherently oppressive systems. And I still think so, but lost the opportunity to do that due to constructive dismissal from Jordan Peterson's old stomping grounds. Considering that this happened during the collective trauma of the pandemic, which disproportionately impacted Black and brown communities in Toronto, I may never quite recover from this second experience of white supremacist workplace trauma, as exploitation under the guise of allyship soon followed in the publishing industry.
As some of you may already know, based on my early and late 2021 essays for the CCF hub, my decision to leave the field of mental health counselling was not taken remotely lightly, especially given how many disabled students of all backgrounds from Canada's largest university continue to reach out to me on social media to thank me for the pivotal role I played in their survival of that institution. Despite my inability to get hired with decades of experience in such roles as Child Development Counsellor, Mental Health Therapist, and Accessibility Advisor, my wealth of knowledge remains. And yet, my earlier ability to code switch may never return, given how COVID-19 offered a hiatus of sorts from "professionalism," which operates like colonialism, racial capitalism, and other isms that align with xenophobia, queerantagonism, anti-fatness/fatphobia, etc.
While I am no longer willing to take on the role of therapist given how I now associate it with epic trauma from white supremacist colleagues in helping professions, I have settled nicely into my meticulously crafted role of writing coach, as it allows me to combine my therapeutic skills from over a decade as a mental health professional with the catharsis that writing has personally provided me. It also means I get to champion writing as a much more accessible path to move forward following trauma, especially when multiply marginalized, as attempting to navigate the medical-industrial complex with a critical mind can often result in additional trauma for some of us.
Having written one essay in 2020 that yielded $12,500 in grant funding from the Toronto Arts Council, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Art Canada Institute towards publishing my memoir essay collection, "They Colonized Even My Tongue," I know the value of my written word. That essay was also instrumental in my reconsideration of my father's request to reconnect during COVID-19, despite a nearly decade-long estrangement, thanks to processing my feelings about our separation on the page, with the support of a fellow BIPOC LGBTQIA+ writing mentor through Roots. Wounds. Words. during the pandemic. It is why I now offer individual services as a writing coach towards the collective liberation of my beloved BIPOC LGBTQIA+ disabled communities I continue to hold dear.