an advice column for BIPOC teens and adults
Welcome to Dear Addie!
What else is there to do in 2020 but start on all the things you never had time for when the world was, for lack of a better word, “normal”?
For as long as I can remember, which, more specifically, starts at about age 12, I’ve been one to whom people confide. People even came up with pet names for me: therapist, counselor, lifesaver, conscience aka Connie, Jiminy Cricket, etc. At the time, I didn’t think much about it, and didn’t assume this skill—holding space for another, and working with them, gently, thoughtfully, and sensitively, on a minor or large crisis in one’s life—was as rare as I do now.
I gave to others what I had always wanted myself—someone to listen, without judgment, and for another person to ping back and forth with in discovering what was the healthiest answer to the difficulty I was facing.
And then, at the age of 28, I began therapy.
I’m still in therapy, but when I needed it most intensely, I was seeing my therapist individually and in a group dynamic once a week each for a solid decade. I still see that same therapist, but the relationship has vastly changed from what it once was, and I feel largely that I now have a sense of the boundaries I need to form in my life, and how to move through this complex world. I wouldn’t be the person I am without those ten years, and it taught me a lot about how to offer space to another, but also to protect my own naturally empathic sensibility.
Just before I turned 40, I was accepted to a Master’s program in Mental Health Counseling. I wasn’t sure what the future would hold exactly, as I had been teaching full time in humanities for 15 years, but I wanted to offer support to queer, trans, Black, Indigenous, and other minoritized communities. I was fortunate in the fact that even though my therapist is white, she has always understood how whiteness informs her life, and that all white people must contend with their implicit and explicit bias and racism. But I’ve talked with enough people in my communities, and read articles by those I am not familiar with, that this is a rare occurrence for us. That is why I wanted to pursue a possible secondary career as a counselor for teens and adults who are queer, trans, and identify as Black, Indigenous, or a person of color.
But then, two months before I was to start coursework, my personal life drastically changed. I went through a heinous divorce, and the person I cherished most, showed himself to be the very opposite of the person I imagined him to be, in ways I will never be able to fully articulate to myself or to the world. I am still paying for it, literally and metaphorically.
I deferred for a semester, and then I let go of my admission status, because I ended up having to spend an exorbitant (for the kind of marriage I had) amount of money on an attorney for a divorce that could have been done cheaply, and inherited debts that were never mine, because I couldn’t afford to fight, and didn’t have the energy or bandwidth to stay in a toxically embroiled battle with someone who would stop at nothing to keep his white privilege and entitlement, and all the riches that come with it.
Now that my counselor journey is on hold, I’m thinking that this is the next best thing, at least for now.
This is my advice column! Ask me your questions! I have dedicated my life to helping others make sense out of the hardest moments of their lives, in an effort to help them be at peace with themselves and the world around them. I believe that in order to move through this world in the healthiest way possible, one must bring the unconscious conscious. I actively seek to listen without judgment and to think through what is behind our most prolonged confusion, heartache, grief, rage, and frustration.
I hope, if this builds enough, that I will even be able to bring guest columnists on board, who knows?
I will prioritize questions from the LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC communities, but all are welcome. Anonymity is always honored, and let’s find ways to support one another outside of patriarchy and this bullshit system that leaves so many without the resources one needs to get by, and to thrive.
As we’re getting set up, email me any questions at email@example.com!
In solidarity and with love,
In the meantime, tell your friends!