During the pandemic, when seeing clients was not an option, I started reaching out on Instagram. It was the only way to deal with COVID-19’s impact on mental health. Since then, I have developed a love of sharing; and this blog is a natural progression of my new passion to spread what I know (and I know a lot) about making life worth living. It is my hope that the resources you find here will enhance the quality of your relationship with yourself and others, and will help you to be an active life-maker.
“Why should I listen to you?” one might ask. Well, besides regular schooling, I am a scholar of life’s lessons. There is a story behind this blogger!
Looking back at my life, it’s clear I was being prepared to be in the helping profession. I have risen through challenges, traumas and transitions of tremendous proportions and acquired knowledge you won’t find in a classroom. I do have those credentials as well though. I am a registered psychotherapist (RP) with the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario, and a graduate of psychotherapy program at the Toronto Transformational Arts College.
I grew up in Soviet Ukraine. This was a challenge, especially for someone with a serious dislike for conformity. My father, son of a coal-miner, drowned his sorrows in alcohol. Growing up with chaos, control and abuse formed part of my personality: being detached from my feelings, hypervigilant, defensive, overly independent, and controlling were issues I had to overcome in therapy.
His harsh and disruptive nature was in stark contrast to my mother who was selfless and non-confrontational. Most of her relatives were teachers and professors and so she valued education, propriety, and sensibility. I often wonder how such opposites ended up together. I have a picture of my drunken father on a bench next to my mother’s photograph on the city’s Honorable Citizens Wall. I was proud of my mother yet embarrassed for my father. But I was also proud of my father’s ability to tell people off and embarrassed by my mother’s inability to set boundaries when people (including my father) would take advantage of her. As a result, I ended up disliking both extremes – irresponsible, rude, anarchistic rebels and forfeiting and spineless conformists.
I left my dysfunctional home at the age of 16, getting a job at the bank – courtesy of my mother’s connections. I also enrolled in university in a part-time program, which I finished with a degree in economics.
When I was 20, I married my high school sweetheart. By the age of 21 I had completed my education, had a relatively good job, my own place that my parents bought for me, and was married to the man I thought was the love of my life. Not bad, according to our ridiculous society, right? Well, in a few months I was very confused about marriage, commitment, and responsibility. After all, at the age of 21 I was still a child! The adults forgot to tell me that I was too young to make such life-changing decisions.
I did learn though that following the standard university-job-marriage route is not a formula for happiness. I did not feel accomplished by checking off all the boxes and it did not provide fulfillment.
A few months into the marriage I ended up in Canada, leaving behind my apartment, my husband, my family and Ukraine. Shortly after, I fell in love with my soon-to-be second husband. He was a successful businessman but unbeknownst to me also a criminal. We had a passionate, toxic and dysfunctional relationship that lasted 10 years. The ups and downs ranged from feeling on top of the world to plummeting into an abyss.
I learned a lot in those dark times. There was the pain of codependency and enmeshment, the grip of a trauma bond, the powerlessness of dealing with an addict, betrayal, depression, anxiety, agoraphobia, gaslighting followed by destroyed self-esteem, parenting alone, the grieving process, and abandonment.
After my son was born, the relationship fell apart, and finally ended with the confession that he had been having an affair for two years. This admission came during the most excruciatingly painful time of my life. My two-year-old son Mark and his nanny died in a drowning accident. There are no words to describe the pain that began in the year 2006. I felt as if a big part of me died with my young son.
Then, I was deported (another gift from my ex-husband), and had to finish the immigration process in Ukraine. This took almost a year and then came bankruptcy and divorce.
That is when I had to ask myself about the true meaning and purpose of life. This question began my metamorphosis. This gave me resilience and the ability to let go of blame, and take responsibility for my life. I also learned a lot about the lies I was telling myself, how to not give my power away, and about thinking outside-the-box and societal frames. Then, I learned forgiveness.
In March 2009, I graduated from Toronto Transformational Arts College as a psychotherapist, and within months I opened the Holistic Healthcare Centre in Vaughan, Ontario. We provide alternative health services such as naturopathy, acupuncture, chiropractic, homeopathy, and psychotherapy.
I have been practicing as a registered psychotherapist ever since, helping people cope with life’s transitions and challenges, dysfunctional relationships, parenting, anxiety, depression, lack of confidence, and other mental and emotional health issues. I also mentor and supervise other psychotherapists and social workers.
This has been my passion, my calling and my contribution. The blog is a creative extension of this work. I have another goal on my bucket list – which is to become a published author.
In 2010, I met my present husband. He is my true love and best friend. We have been co-creating our lives, raising two beautiful daughters and supporting each other’s dreams and aspirations (not without challenges, of course – life is not about perfection).
Living life consciously and with intentionality taught me about the concept of conscious relationship, healthy boundaries, creation and co-creation, authenticity, conscious parenting, being true to myself, courage, responsibility and independence, spirituality, aliveness, healthy anger, letting go, the importance of personal growth, being of service, compassion, kindness, and the power of vulnerability.
I truly hope you find tools and resources on this site that help you find the courage to step into your light and shine!