April: I've always wanted to have a mother around. My whole entire life, we didn't have a good relationship at all. I never really used to talk to her just because I would remember all the horrible things that happened, and I didn’t want it to reoccur again.
I was so angry; I had so much hatred. I was just anxious every time I had to go see her or if someone would bring her up. I grew up in the Philippines, and I had my own homelessness situation there. But when I also came to Toronto, I also did have several different times where I was homeless.
I used the Family and Natural Supports Program, and I met with a counsellor named Samson.
Samson: I remember my first meeting with April; I created a safer space for her to talk about her narrative. I mean, I just basically just listened to her, what was going on. This is their time so, I want to hear where they're coming from. For me, it was creating that space, building the foundation of trust, of understanding, of empathy, non-judgment, unconditional. Respecting her story and also respecting her mom’s story as well.
An interesting part about the program is a lot of interventions are so just focused on the young person, focused on the young person. Which is important and is what we do, but also family gets forgotten. A lot of studies have shown that families feel left out of this process. So giving them that support, I’ve worked with families who felt like, when I do the interventions, they’re like, “This is amazing that we’re getting support as well.” Young people do age out of our program. What happens next is important. So that’s where the family comes in and natural supports.
April: I liked working with Samson because dealing with me is just very difficult because I deal with a lot of emotions. And I felt like he dealt with the best way he could just because I knew after every session, I was looking forward to the next session. The things that I wanted to hear from her during our session with Samson was, “I’m sorry.” Just because it was very hard for my parents to admit that they were wrong.
So, hearing that for the first time was just, I guess, reassuring feeling for me just because I knew like, “Oh wow, she actually felt sorry.” I just needed to hear it. What didn't work in the past with counselling, the healing process takes time. He really waited until I was ready, I was comfortable in order to heal and grow and progress.
I had to grow up and be like, “You know what, it wasn't her. It was somebody else.” And I always thought that I always had to blame somebody and I didn't have to. My relationship today with my mom – I don't feel anxious, I don't feel overwhelmed. I'm so happy now that like, we just talk about things so freely.
You know, you have to take a leap of faith to just give it a try. Because who knows, you might end up like me and have a better relationship with your parents – especially my mom.