April 12, 2015 - Gabriela (1st person I approached)
It was one of those weekends where the plans were all made, and then almost everything changed. Learning to let go and to run with the flow makes things easier and less frustrating for sure. It's an ongoing process. I’ve had a few low-energy days but knew I wanted to get out and find a story today. I was going to take care of a few errands and then walk around, to where, I wasn’t sure. Before even getting to my first errand, I saw Gabriela reading a book and having a coffee. She agreed to chat with and let me take her picture, before my phone had even loaded my website. Trust is such a gift.
Born in Mexico City, Gabriela is the second oldest of five children.
“My parents separated when I was still young, and my mother raised all five of us. She worked full-time in the Canadian Embassy as a book keeper. We had a woman at home to help my mother,” she said. Gabriela’s mother went on to become a published author, with three books of poetry.
At the age of fourteen, Gabriela started to attend theatre classes.
“It was a friend who was taking classes and told me I must go as well. I loved it. I wanted to be there more than at home, for various reasons. I was one of the youngest in the group, with everyone else being in their early twenties. They supported me, protected me and encouraged me. It felt safe and became a place where I felt at home,” Gabriela told me. She has a strong accent, with very clear diction when speaking.
“I went to university after completing high school. I didn’t pursue theatre though,” she said, shaking her head.
“My mother wanted me to be able to study for a profession. She didn’t feel theatre would be a good career choice. So I studied International Relations for two years. I wasn’t enjoying it, and after the two years, I switched my program and spent four years studying theatre. My mother wasn’t so happy, but I was getting paid work as an actress. She would come and see me in these plays, and my mother soon forgot about business studies,” she said, laughing.
Gabriela got her undergraduate degree in Theatre.
“I loved acting and theatre. I was doing okay with it too. I even worked on a few short films. But then I started to experience times when there wasn’t any work. You know it’s true when the season ends, and there isn’t any work. It can be a very unstable career,” she said.
“When I was about sixteen years old, I was seeing a therapist. I was experiencing some depression and not feeling so happy. I found therapy to be fascinating. I unfortunately started to develop feelings for my therapist. Emotionally I was become attached. And then he passed away. It was a very difficult time for me. My mother took me to see another therapist. His office called me one day to say the doctor wouldn’t be able to see me for my upcoming appointment. When I went the following week, they told me that he too, had died,” Gabriela said. We spoke about the challenges associated with having two therapists die while you’re seeing them for therapy.
With her thoughts of a career in acting changing, Gabriela decided to go back to school. She got her Master's degree in psychoanalysis.
“I loved it. I love therapy and especially psychoanalysis. It is incredible,” she said. After working as a therapist for a few years, Gabriela once again went back to school.
“I took a two year course in psycho-drama therapy. So combining theatre with therapy. It was the best of both worlds. During this time she had also given birth to her daughter.
“I was doing play-therapy with young children, who were at risk. They would be at the place I worked at for the week, and their mothers would take them home for the weekends.”
“My sister was living here in Vancouver, and I came here with my daughter for a vacation. We were to be here for two months,” she said. Gabriela met and feel in love with a Canadian man.
“I stayed here and we ended up getting married, and I had a son with my husband. We had applied for me to be allowed to stay in the country, but I was rejected. We went back to Mexico. It was funny because my husband fell in love with Mexico. He wanted to stay there, and I wanted to come back to Canada. He would go out and explore things in Mexico. He introduced me to places I had never been, in my own city!’ she exclaimed.
“There were restaurants and parts of town that I said he should avoid. He would come home and tell me he had eaten at one of these restaurants and how good the food was.” They spent three-and-a-half years in Mexico, waiting to be granted status to return to Vancouver.
“In order to find a home and get things established, my husband returned to Vancouver two months ahead of us,” said Gabriela. It was when Gabriela returned to Vancouver that she started to notice a difference in her husband.
“He didn’t seem at ease, and his mood would change suddenly. He would get so angry. Over a period of a few months, I watched him deteriorate,” she told me. Her husband was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
“I was still doing some acting, and I was offered a role in a film being shot in Mexico. I asked my husband if he would be okay if I took the part. He said yes, that it wasn’t a problem. The film company made arrangements for me, and I was bringing our son. We were going to be gone for a month,” she said.
Her husband took a turn for the worse while she was in Mexico and things became difficult.
“When I returned to Vancouver, he met us at the airport. My daughter, who had been living with her father while going to school in Mexico, was with my son and I. It was evident that my husband was not well. I took the children and we stayed in a women’s shelter house,” Gabriela said. It took some time and a lot of patience, but in time, her husband found treatment and was getting the help he needed.
“We went to therapy together, to try and repair our relationship. But so much had happened, the marriage was over,” she said.
“He’s doing very well now, and we’ve worked to maintain a good relationship, for the sake of our son. We work to communicate, and if I sense my son’s father isn’t doing so good, we talk about it. I have to make sure my son is going to be okay and to be able to have good time with his father.”
“I work now as a support worker for (a mental health organization), working with people with mental health issues. It doesn’t matter what I see, or what the issue is for the people I’m working with. It all seems to stem from a need for connection. I try to provide that connection. I work to maintain a relationship with my son’s father, not only for my son. But that his father knows he has the two of us with him. So that he knows he is not alone.” #notastranger