It has been a busy busy year of growing my practice... and myself. I wrote in March about emergence from the stillness of winter and the wheel has turned to bring us back to winter. While my emergence was quite slow due to some health issues, over this year I have; established a successful practice as a psychotherapist, travelled to Nepal supporting international community-based research and worked with community groups and researchers to engage with various colonially-targeted communities.
An aside, I no longer use the term 'vulnerable populations' as we are not 'vulnerable', we are targeted by colonial, capitalistic and other oppressive systems and practices. Our 'vulnerability' is not accidental, and mostly out of our control. Therefore, I have coined the term 'colonially-targeted communities'. Perhaps I will write more about this another time.
As mentioned above, my main employment is working in my own practice as a psychotherapist. The majority of my clients are Queer, Trans* and very diverse. I find myself having regular discussions about racism, sexism, homo/transphobia and of course pain and trauma. My key reflection is how very much my clients teach me with every interaction. They teach me not only about their lived experience but also about real strength and... I hate to say it... resilience. They come into my office with often overwhelming pain, shame and fear - but enter in they do, demonstrating their courage with each engagement. My own therapist often says that we get the clients we need, not necessarily the ones we want... I am blessed that for the most part, I get both. It is an honour and a privilege to do this work. I am humbled by the trust my clients put into the work we do together.
My other employment has been and continues to be in Indigenous community-based research. I have long worked in the field of HIV, supporting individuals living with and affected by the virus. Educating anyone I can get to listen on the need for prevention, education, de-stigmatising sex and sexuality, and creating places of belonging. Once again, I find myself exceptionally grateful for what I have been taught by the people I serve. I have learned so much about the need for spaces where folx can experience unconditional love and acceptance. I have learned that unconditional love and acceptance is the true locus for healing and growth. I have learned about generosity from individuals who in an economic/capitalistic sense have nothing and yet share what they have.
Through all of this, I have realised the importance of decolonising not only the big wide world, but also, myself... To understand how I have been and continue to be impacted by the ongoing strategies and structures of colonialism which is inherently tangled in patriarchy and capitalism. To deconstruct the limiting, harmful barriers that impede our ability to be fully ourselves, in relationship with one another, with the Divine - however we perceive that one to be and most importantly with our own selves.