Mental Health

September 16, 2020

Rebuilding My Foundation

I'm WillowjakMama!

My blog started as a way to document my journey to wellness, but turned into a place to be inspired by others through our collective messy & authentic stories. Now it's my favourite place to be.

hey there

I am new to this platform of writing blogs. I will try my best to articulate my journey in mental wellness and the obstacles I face as I search for tools to heal. I am open in sharing my thoughts and feelings. The words I express are only my opinion and in no way am I a professional therapist/ counselor or doctor. I have being doing my own research through podcasts, TED talks, online videos, friends’ experiences and through my own therapy sessions.

Let’s start with some background on myself. I was born and raised in Toronto. My background is from South America, Colombia. I identify myself as an Afro-Latino. My parents moved to Canada to start a new life and family. Unfortunately the family idea didn’t last and my parents separated when I was 13 then later divorced. I remember the day my mom asked my dad to leave as if it was yesterday. It was very traumatic for me. It was a turning point in my emotional development because it made me very tough and insensitive to others’ feelings.

Fast forward to the present. Today I am a recent single father still pursuing his chef career. This year has been very special for me, as well as the contrary, because I had to rebuild my life from scratch during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown. One could say I hit rock bottom. So on a positive, it’s all uphill from here with all good things to come.

Where do I begin sharing my journey in rebuilding myself? Let’s start at the foundation. Our mind, soul, our spirit. When my ex-wife gave me the bad news that she wanted to separate from me and then later just end our relationship, I was devastated as anyone who cared should be.  I went from living in our 1 bedroom + den condo to a bedroom in my mother’s house. That only lasted four months because it was a toxic environment for me mentally. Then I was homeless.  I went from seeing my family everyday to weekends only with my three year old son and sometimes only twice a month depending on my work schedule. I went through as I describe it, withdrawal. I even had a mental breakdown on the phone with my ex-wife while arguing with my mother at the same time. I was going backwards – I was dismantling, not rebuilding. I was building a basement instead of a foundation. With the pandemic on us and the city on lockdown even my career was fragile. So how was I going to rebuild without a stable income to support my son and I?

So how did I begin rebuilding my foundation you ask? I made the choice to reflect on all the complaints and concerns my ex-wife had expressed to me and use it for good.  How? Well, for one, I searched for a counselor and started therapy. Why did I go this route? Well, I knew I would make progress quicker with a professional than by myself.  I knew through therapy I would have to face my issues head on.  Now stereotypically, Afro-Latin men don’t ask for help. Afro-Latin men don’t discuss their emotions with a stranger. Afro-Latin men don’t have mental problems. They man up and get over them.

So I focused on what my ex-wife said and worked my way back to the root of my issues. During my sessions and self-reflections, my counselor and I began the understandings of my childhood pains and how they affect me in the present. So here is where I begin sharing my discoveries and challenges on how I am working on turning them into forgiveness and healing. It’s been a very challenging year for me. I’ve lost it all and have been working my way back to a new stability for myself and my son. I know that if I truly want to change my outcome, I can’t walk, talk, and think the same way I did in the past. Yes – most of my old habits have been a part of my success today. But those habits are also a contribution to my failures. So it’s not so much about changing my whole self but adding some new, good habits and tools to ensure that these failures don’t repeat themselves. These new tools are what I plan to share with you in my future writings. There will be obstacles I must overcome in adding these new tools to the behavior-chest, and I plan to share that as well. I am creating my new normal. Or as I like to call it, the new me.  I am committed to sharing my discoveries and revelations on this blog. I will be open and honest with my opinions. And that is what they are, my opinions, my perspective, my version. My story.

Gracias y bienvenido

Andrés P.

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Hi, I'm Stacey.
Welcome to the
Willowjak Blog 

My blog started as a way to document my journey to wellness, but turned into a place to be inspired by others through our collective messy & authentic stories. We chat about themes that are often ignored and voices that aren't often given a chance at the mic. Now it's my favourite place to be. 

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