The secret to change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new ~ Socrates
I grew up in South Louisiana. We played in the woods, went to church, and there was always plenty of booze around. While my family was tolerant and accepting of a lot of parts of me, I got the message pretty early that this was not a safe place to be a queer kid. I did a lot of praying to “be normal” and just about any boy I had a crush on or had a crush on me grew up to be queer too. We just seemed to find each other. I was lucky to come out in college to minimal fanfare and moved to Asheville shortly after I graduated from LSU with a degree in psychology and political science.
I was suddenly in a world that was very different from the one I grew up in. I had to figure out how to create and embrace a new identity that was not defined by the values of my parents or my upbringing. Navigating and defining my own values and sense of self was an exciting and harrowing process. Oftentimes it got pretty messy.
Throughout my life I coped, knowingly or unknowingly, with my feelings of not belonging and internalized homophobia through drugs and alcohol. Asheville was a perfect place for my addiction to take off or in some ways simply resurface. After a series of unfortunate events, it became clear that my drinking was a problem that would not serve me in the future I wanted for myself.
So there I was again, figuring out who to be if I wasn’t a drinker, especially since the drinking and using helped mollify the parts of myself I liked the least.
What I’ve learned is that there is room for all the parts of myself, and there are ways to create belonging in a world that seems radically unsuited for a person like me. I’ve also learned that there is always more to do, and I find there are times when the programming of my past is not in alignment with the values of my present. And each time I dig in, refine my identity, anchor my belonging more deeply into myself so that I can show up to the world more fully.
I also have licenses, degrees, and training that further qualify me for this work. I earned my Masters in Social Work in 2010 and am licensed as both a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a Licensed Clinical Addiction Specialist in the state of North Carolina. I have worked in the mental health and substance abuse field since 2003. I started my career in a group home for at risk youth and moved to the locked unit within that facility. I have worked in inpatient and community based mental health and substance abuse in the non profit and for profit world. I spent several years working in wilderness therapy and have also worked in hospice. I have a holistic, attachment based approach to working with my clients and use a social justice lens.
I spend my time these days with my partner and our dog, Roux and love spending time outdoors in these beautiful mountains. I also love learning new ways to support my clients and my community. I am active in social justice issues and creating an equitable society where everyone belongs.