Let me tell you about my experiences talking to counselors and psychologists. So when I was considered terminal by the medical profession, I was sent off to talk to people about dealing with this and all other sorts of things.
We talked about how to deal with my feelings, and how to cope with the overwhelming problem of constant pain and my impending death. When talking about terminal, I said my usual line of “I am terminal, but I don’t look like a bus stop”. So I was told that I was in denial. I disagree with this, I just have to deal with it as a joke. I know I am going to die, I know it could be at any time. I have made my peace with that. I have had years of doing that. I have had many horrid hospital visits when it didn’t look like I would survive. So I know all of this I have my will I have my beliefs and I have prepared myself and my children for this. I am not scared of death, we are all going to die at some point.
The other problem with these wonderful people is that they all seem to have done a unit on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. But this doesn’t prepare them for the differences between all the different nations. I have my customs, they don’t understand them, as they didn’t learn about it, so they deflect their inadequacy and lack of knowledge on me as if I didn’t read the text-book and fit in the mold they have on what I should be. They find it strange that how my people deal with death is different to my joking about it. No room for individuality there.
I have had to explain to them about why I kept my head covered long after hair grew back (this is my culture that I have to protect my head from evil spirits, and have to wait till all my hair came back). They didn’t understand why I won’t have some males deal with me alone. They don’t understand when I talk about my Aunties and Uncles, nieces and nephews, I had to explain the whole extended family to them.
They were perplexed at the fact that my kids have different shades, yet have the same father, I had to explain genetics to them. Oh my what a world of fun that was.
They get confused that I speak so well (insert rolled eyes), yet I am not a full on english speaker. I am a person with two degrees have had jobs in the media Public Service, Health and in Community, this doesn’t sit well with their idea’s on what I should be. It just does not compute. I have been told that I am not a real Aboriginal, I guess I am just a card board cut out, because I live in the urban environment and know a bit about a lot of things.
I have recommended that these people speak to one of the Aboriginal counselling services to learn that we are really all very different. We can still have our culture while living in a brick veneer. We are still Aboriginal even if we have an education (which I might add a lot of us have). They are set in their idea that we all live in missions or something. Yes I have trouble navigating the health system, yes I have problems with the constant racism in society. What I don’t need is some highly educated white person telling me how I should feel and how I don’t fit in with their idea of what I should be.
So I have organised for when I have appointments that I take one of the mental health workers in with me so that person can translate for me. Oh how the wheels just keep turning around and around.