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Rising Stars: Meet Tawnya Davidson

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tawnya Davidson.

Tawnya, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
I grew up in a two-parent, middle income family in North St. Louis County. On the surface everything seemed good, but behind closed doors it was a completely different story. My father was a Vietnam Veteran who used and sold drugs. He was physically, verbally and emotionally abusive to my mom. At the age of five, I was sexually abused by an older cousin. I was the only child for seven years so I witnessed and internalized a lot.

I have always loved working with children and decided to go to college to get my associate’s degree to open a daycare in my home. Well, that turned into me getting my BS in Child Development from Southeast Missouri State University in 1996. My career goal changed to wanting to work with children who had been victims of family violence because I never wanted a child to feel like I felt growing up. I started working for St. Louis City at what was then called Division of Family Services as a caseworker in foster care and the Intensive In-Home Services program. In 2002, I received my MSW from University of Missouri-St. Louis as a part of their new MSW program and started working as a therapist at the YWCA-St. Louis Regional Sexual Assault Center as a therapist. One of my greatest career accomplishments is that I helped develop the curriculum and lead the adolescent sexual abuse survivor’s group.

From the age of 16, I have worked in a number of places from fast food, a factory to retail, schools, hospitals and even did some community education at the Medium Security Institution (The Work House). In the past, I have been a field instructor for social work students and a licensure supervisor. For the past 13 years, I have been working in managed behavioral health as a Case Manager. Over the years, I have met and worked with people from all backgrounds and different walks of life. Although I didn’t know it at the time, I have come to realize that it was all a necessary part of my journey to be able to educate others by meeting them where they are.

In 2019, I was able to combine my love of children and working with families and completed my birth and postpartum doula training. Unfortunately, with the pandemic I have only been able to complete one birth in the hospital. I continue to do birth plans and offer virtual support at this time. My hope is that I can help families and children get a better start on their journey together and make the world a better place one family at a time.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
My road has definitely been more like an obstacle course. I usually had two jobs at once. At one point, I was helping take care of my grandmother and functioning on a few hours of sleep. Let me tell you, shift work disorder is real. In 2015, I lost three people that were very close to me in just over a month’s time. The last one was the murder of my father. I was the one who had to handle all of his affairs since I was listed as the next of kin. I had no clue what I was doing. I just did what I’ve always done and figured it out as I went along and kept going. I was also dealing with a worker’s compensation case that resulted in surgeries in 2015 and 2017. I’ve always been the one everyone else counted on or turned to when something was wrong because I’m the social worker/therapist. After my grandmother passed away in 2017 and the murder trial was over, I shut down. I went into a depression and did some isolating. I was finally able to allow myself to grieve, take care of myself and figure out who I am. During that time, I was also diagnosed with fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis so I am still learning a new way of life-related to that. I know that God doesn’t put more on us than we can bear and regardless of what I might be going through, I know that someone else has it worse than me.

I definitely attribute my success to my support system: my brother (self-proclaimed #1 fan), my mom, my friends who are like family, and therapy.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
“To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world.” I don’t know who originally said it, but that’s the motto I live by. I’d been wanting to start a podcast for years but didn’t know how nor did I have the time. In the midst of the pandemic, I had nothing but time, so in October 2020, I started the T-Side Podcast where we have real and relatable conversations with guests about total health, life lessons and music. In the process of me doing some self-healing, I realized that I have been through a lot and had to learn a lot of things on my own. I am finding my voice and hopefully can help someone else to make their life’s journey a little easier or at the very least, let them know that they aren’t the only one going through things. I call it the T-Side because I feel like I offer a unique perspective. I see things from the perspective of a trauma survivor but also have the professional background and knowledge to provide a therapeutic take on the situation. Every episode has a theme song because music has always been my therapy and helped me when I couldn’t find the words to say for myself.

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Digital Memories Forever

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