In my life, I am blessed to have an incredible partner, Sam Petrin, a thriving diverse community, a loving connection to my family, and a life where I have the opportunities to grow and connect with inspiring people whom I deeply respect and care about. I am cultivating a business that is in alignment with my values and that comes directly from a place of purpose and service. And I am showing up in the world in a way that surprises me, challenges me, and fulfils me every day.
I recognize that I will always continue to be learning and growing.
And… There was a time when my life looked much different than it does now.
I grew up with physical and emotional abuse
I am genuinely grateful to have a loving, resourceful, resilient mother whom I attribute a great part of what has made me the man I am today. I also had a father who struggled with substance use, alcoholism, and outbursts of anger that resulted in both myself and my mother experiencing physical violence. Most of my days were spent in a state of fear, confusion, and hypervigilance learning to do whatever I could to avoid the possibility of upsetting my father. I was shut down, scared, and alone. My mother had me when she was 18 and worked multiple part-time jobs to provide. My father would be present for periods of time and would be gone for others, leaving me in a state of abandonment and relief. We lived a life of poverty, getting our food from the Food Bank, living in camper vans, tents in the woods, and other people’s homes for extended periods of time. I also had the generosity and love of my grandparents on my mother’s side who often took care of me.
It is important to express that I loved my father and that he loved me. He simply didn’t have the tools and capacity to self-regulate and navigate his own unprocessed trauma. After years of my own therapy and processing, I am aware that he came from a history of devastating abuse, including death, prison, and living on his own in the woods at a young age. I have love, compassion and understanding for my father and clear boundaries around how we show up in each other’s lives to this day.
As I continued through my young life, I continuously found myself as an outsider. I moved numerous times to new cities and new schools over the course of my childhood and teenage years. I began to learn how to listen, watch, and connect with a variety of groups and communities. Before I knew what I was doing, I was holding space for and creating safety for others. I knew how to do this as I desperately craved this safety for myself. This is how I created my own sense of belonging and connection. I was the timid nice guy who would do anything to feel a sense of love and attention from others.
Between the ages of 16 – 17, I moved out on my own
This marked a distinct shift in my life… I began to find my voice in high school by attending the drama department and discovering my passion for dance and theatre. Through the drama program, I began to come into my body, which previously was a terrifying place to be. I found a safe space to explore what it meant for me to be playful and take risks. To be in a relationship with other students in a way that felt empowering and connected.
After graduation, I left for Toronto to attend The School of Toronto Dance Theatre which sent me flying into a whole new world immersed in the arts. It was a demanding, rigorous three years of intensive training, and looking back at my experience, it was the proving ground on countless occasions where I met the felt impact of my own childhood trauma stored in my body. The number of occasions that I was cast as a dominating aggressive character on stage was uncanny and brought me into a relationship with the deep anger that had been festering in me for years. It was during this time that I also became aware of the chronic pain that I carry in my body and still navigate to this day. There were days after school when my body would go into complete paralysis that paralleled the freeze states I would experience as a child, afraid for my life from the threat of my father. The psychosomatic experiences that came through me during my time as a dancer have greatly informed the way I show up as a professional counsellor to this day.
Since then, I have performed and travelled across Canada and Europe, building a life in Germany and then watching it crumble to the ground. I have been married and separated, had dreams come true and felt the utter despair of lifelong aspirations completely thwarted. I have worked for years on the downtown eastside of Vancouver and met the true face of human suffering, as well as encountering my own triggers and demons when it comes to addiction. And I have learned to trust that as one door closes, many more open. I have learned to listen to my body, my intuition, and the world around me. I have found community and perhaps for the first time in my life, a sense of home.
There is so much more ahead and I am grateful for all of the opportunities and connections to come. I have found my purpose, my passion, and my true sense of service through the work I do as a counsellor. It brings me such a deep sense of fulfilment to meet my clients where they are in their trauma and challenging life experiences. To be able to genuinely emphasize as well as offer tools, interventions, and programs to support my clients moving towards more fulfilling and integrated lives.
This is a piece of my story and I look forward to hearing yours!