Hi, I'm Natasha. I strongly identify with Dorie from the movie Finding Nemo. When I was a kid, I wanted to grow up to be a talk show host like Oprah (back when she interviewed 'regular' people, not celebrities).
I am a creative, curious, playful, serious, super chill, super anxious, queer, nerdy, gendy blendy Russian Jewish weirdo who is almost always rooting for the underdog. I don't know how to explain in what ways I am weird, I just know that I am and I've come to accept and love this about myself rather than try to conform to colonial status quo ways of being and thinking, which I tried to do for half of my life. The more I let myself be myself, the more grounded and free I feel.
I was born in Leningrad (known today as Saint Petersburg) Russia in 1977. My mother and biological father divorced shortly thereafter and my mom left with me for Palestine "for a better life." I haven't seen my father since. We have connected a bit here and there over the years but we are strangers. My father wound is a deep one that I grieve when it needs tending to. This wound also experiences some healing here and there in the most unexpected ways.
I grew up in a small, working class immigrant family made up of my mother, stepfather, younger sister and me. My stepfather, who was also a Russian Jewish immigrant, came into my life when I was a toddler. He died when I was 16. Our relationship was fraught with conflict. I had a lot of rage towards him. I carry a very different kind of father wound from this relationship.
It's easier to understand and explain my father wounds than my mother wound. I have a lot of deep, unconditional love for my mother as well as pain. And she has her own mother wound, as generational trauma goes. One big difference between my parent wounds is that my mother has always been in my life and she's open and willing to try different, healthier ways of relating.
My relationship with my mother is complicated and ever evolving. We used to be enmeshed until I started going to therapy. Slowly, surely and messily over the years, we've been relating as two adult women who like, respect and appreciate eachother and who are figuring out how to do conflict better. It is a slow, transformative and slippery process. My mother is a beautiful, creative, funny, strong and sensitive woman. We are a lot alike. She is a trip and our relationship is quite a ride. I am grateful for my mom's courage, it is what allows us to repair our dysfunction, bit by bit (and which sometimes feels like one step forward two steps back).
There's all kinds of stuff that comes with growing up in an immigrant family that I have been slowly thinking, feeling and working my way through. This includes the Inconvenient Truth that no Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island invited my family to live here, which makes us complicit in colonial genocide by living on this land in the way that we do, regardless of when, why or how we arrived here. I believe the same to be true for settlers. Everyone but Indigenous people are immigrants to Turtle Island and through ongoing colonization, we are behaving as an invasive species.
I have no simple or easy answers to this other than guilt will get us nowhere. One thing I am certain of is that sensical, effective solutions can only come from centering, privileging and prioritizing Indigenous voices of the land that we live on. I do this whenever and however I can.
I became an auntie in 2016 and again in 2019. I love being an auntie and I'm also heartbroken because I've been missing out on some foundational relationship building with my niece and nephew (ages two and five) due to the last two years of COVID and needing to practice extreme caution because I have a disabled dependent. Playing it safe and erring on the side of caution is how I've had to live through the pandemic and which I continue to do because it's not over yet.
I married my best friend Shea in 2008. Prior to this I had developed some big intimacy and commitment fears which I began unpacking and processing in therapy in my early 30's and which I've been able to slowly heal through my marriage because it is the first safe, securely attached relationship that my nervous system has experienced.
I fell in love with Shea for many reasons; one major reason was the stories she would tell me about Congo, an Indian ringneck rescue parrot she had for 11+ years. The way she talked about Congo and the stories she told me painted a picture of an incredibly sweet, funny, loving, intelligent, attuned, kind, loyal and protective person. I was not wrong. Shea is 2-spirited. She is an incredibly talented musician, vocalist, lyricist, multi-instrumentalist and fierce Indigenous land and water protector and educator. She is my person and she makes me want to be a better person. We are each other's first longest term relationship.
I've been in and out of therapy since my late 20's. I wish we had therapy as a family when I was a child, and I wish I went to therapy when I was 18. But better late than never.
I strongly believe that therapists need to be actively, intentionally working on our own mental, emotional and spiritual growth in order to most effectively serve our clients. I also take big breaks in between my own therapy because I think there is a lot of life to be lived and learned from in between intentional personal growth endeavours.
I have been unmining and decolonizing my mind since my mid 20's. This has been a hard and liberating process. I had a lot to unlearn and I have a long way to go. The older I get, the more radical I become in my anti-colonial ways of understanding and moving through the world. I share some of my personal, professional and political learnings on my Instagram page.
In no particular order, I love: camping, campfires, cooking on a campfire, swimming, sloths, chipmunks, birds, dogs, horses, buffets, my best friend Mateo, group therapy, music and art of all kinds. I also love reading, playing with my niece and nephew and watching "reality" shows like Married At First Sight, 90 Day Fiance and Sister Wives. I have very mixed feelings about and a complicated relationship with Sister Wives - I love a big family (something I always yearned for) but I am not a fan of the heteronormativity, misogyny, hypocrisy, hierarchy and christianity in this show, all of which, in my opinion, are major reasons for the dysfunction in this family, but I digress! Shea lovingly tolerates these shows just like I lovingly tolerate American Dad and Family Guy.
There is some TV that is good for mental health. One of my my latest TV pleasures is the series LOL: Last One Laughing. I'm also a huge fan of RuPaul's Drag Race despite how much it has become over-produced over the years. I was a die hard fan since season one. I really love and appreciate the courage, strength, play and vast range of creative expression and performance that drag queens embody. I especially love alternative and androgynous artists. I am excited to indulge my long-time desire to dabble in the art of drag and male impersonation.
I recently did an improv workshop and absolutely loved it. I'm excited to further explore this delightful creative world of absurdity, silliness and play. I feel like improv was a spiritual enema for some emotional constipation I didn't realize I had!
I decided to share some of this personal information about me because I always appreciate when therapists I work with share about themselves, it fosters intimacy by letting me get to know them as the humans they are. I don't believe in the idea of therapist-as-blank-slate approach to therapy because we're not blank slates, so why pretend we are? It also feels unfair for clients to be expected to bare all while knowing nothing about me. I am a human being first and foremost, no better or worse or more or less intelligent or healed than my clients. We are all walking our own path.
I love being a therapist, it's where I learn the most about being human. Each person I work with is so different and I find this diversity so special, beautiful and remarkable. Our differences are our superpower and make us who we are versus a carbon copy of someone else.
It is a gift and an honor to be let into people's lives in such a personal way. I feel like this very on-purpose relationship that we call therapy is sacred work. I feel very lucky to get to be people's chosen therapist and help them figure out/remember/reconnect with who they are beneath the fears, doubts and insecurities, what kind of life they prefer to live and how to make that happen.