Humiliating Mom Moment #1001…

The boys have started figuring out who are boys and who are girls. About 50% of the time they get it right. They’ve essentially got it that Mama and Mommy and girls, and that they are boys.

So we are at the playground today. Just the three of us, my two little white toddlers and I. It’s attached to a soccer field. A car pulls up and an African American gentleman gets out and starts to do laps around the soccer field. He has headphones in, and we waved at each other when he got there, as we are in a small town, and it seemed polite to do.

My boys started playing on the bleachers, and as he rounded the field again they started waving and saying “Hi Boy!” “Hi Boy!” They were thrilled that they recognized that he was a boy.

Major freaking facepalm and my jaw literally fell open.

My Uncle had been over the previous weekend and we had gendered him and my Aunt as boys and girls. I never even thought to then educate about the appropriateness or not of referring to people as boys and girls. Because it just never entered my head to prepare for that particular situation.

He had headphones in, and as I was running frantically toward the boys on the bleachers to say we don’t say “hi boy” we say “hi sir,” he just waved and smiled good-naturedly, I’m not sure/I pray that he did not hear the “hi Boy”. Because holy shit it was like my worst nightmare came true. I was raising two racist white boys.

So then I had to explain to two two-year olds why we don’t say Hi Boy. Without saying, we specifically don’t say Hi Boy to a Black man because of the degrading and racist connotation that it carries.

“Baby, we say Hi Sir, okay? No Hi Boy.” Declan- “but he’s boy” Me- “Yes I know he’s a boy, but he’s a grown-up, so we say Hi Sir,  Hi boy is not nice.” Dec- “Hi Boy not nice?!” he looked totally incredulous. I at this point am getting sweaty and my heart is racing and I realize I’m getting nervous explaining this. This Mom-ming thing is hard. “That’s right, Hi Boy not nice. Hi Sir is what we say.” He stares at me. Jackson has already lost interest and is back to banging on the bleachers.

The man rounds the field again, and I’m like good God could the boys just go on the damn slides way over there? Why do they want to clonk around on the bleachers? He runs by and the boys look up and say “Hi Guy,” “Hi Guy,” they both look at me for approval. I just shake my head and thank God he has headphones in. “Guy” was never part of the conversation. We will be practicing “Hi Sir,” a lot.

These are the moments that define us as Moms. It’s not how big the birthday party is or how many presents they get on Christmas. It’s handling a total shit moment with grace and explaining and being honest without being mean. It’s not their fault they didn’t know you can’t say Hi Boy. It was mine. It’s something that you just know right? No. Actually some one had to teach it to you at some point. It’s making a human instinctively show others respect and know their history and it’s hard…and downright humiliating at times.

 

 

Those Moments When You Mom Judge the Hell Out of Yourself…

This morning the boys were driving me insane. I mean that literally. I locked myself in the bathroom to take a minute, look in the mirror, remind myself I am a living breathing human being and try not to cry.

For those tuning in for the first time I have two and a half year old twin boys. It’s just my wife and I. I am home alone with them every morning, and she is home with them in the evenings. Some mornings are fine. They can be charming and sweet and loving. They lull me into this false sense of security. Then a morning like this morning happens. It reminds me there is actually a living breathing monster in both of them. These monsters’ sole purpose in life is to make me lose my mind.

I’m not being dramatic. They drove me to my limits. But I emerged from the bathroom thinking I could make it. I walked back into the kitchen and sat with my one son Jackson while he finished his cereal. I heard my other son Declan making noise in the other room, and I thought he was climbing the stairs after I had explicitly told him No, multiple times, to his request to go upstairs.

I essentially lost control and yelled, “GET OFF THE STAIRS” as I quickly rounded the corner. I mean picture crazy bloodshot eyes, claw growing out of my hands, and my hair suddenly shooting out sparks of electricity….I came into our foyer only to see my little man standing, not on the stairs, but in front of the toy chest. Being good. His bottom lip jutted out at the exact moment my hands flew to my mouth and I was horrified by my insane yelling and stomping that he didn’t deserve.

I ran over to him, plopped myself on the floor and opened my arms. He came over to me, and hugged me tight, and I rubbed my head against his, and said “I’m so sorry baby,” as he breathed heavy and held back tears. I’m holding back my own tears at this point and laying kisses all over his head. He still clung to me, and we just sat there on the floor in our entryway holding each other.

I yell sometimes. But that yell was the Mama’s pissed yell. It was the I’ve reached the end of my utterly frayed rope yell. He knew it. He knew it was a different sort of yell. He’s only two and a half, he doesn’t sit still for thirty seconds, let alone hug me and let me hug him for at least two minutes.

There are these moments as a Mom that make me hate myself. That was one of them. I could see in his face in that moment as I rounded the corner that I hurt his feelings. He could see on my face that I was angry and then horrified at my own mistake.

These are uncomfortable moments. We all want to be Facebook happy smiling mom’s with perfect kids and families. I hear it all the time from clients. Mom’s who feel guilty for yelling or losing it. I don’t lose it every day. My kids are certainly not scared of me.

I always tell them I love them. I give them hugs and kisses whenever they are within arm’s distance. And tonight, after we put them to bed, he started crying and he wanted his “Mama” that’s me, Mommy is my wife. I held him and he told me what was wrong, and I kissed him and put him back to bed.

My sons make me better. They make me stronger. They make me more sensitive and a little more crazy. They make me feel like the worst human in the world, and in the same day, they make me feel like the most worthy and best Mama alive.

I’m not a perfect Mama. But I love my kids, and they know it. Try having two two-year olds. Then try not ever yelling. Seriously. I’m learning to lighten up on myself. That all Mom’s need to lighten up on themselves. If your kids are loved then cut yourself some slack. We are allowed to lose it sometimes. Because kids are rough stuff. So is Mommy-ing.

 

 

BDSM, Polyamory, and Kink and the Sex Positive Nurse.

Our society is rather conservative sexually. I mean did we really not know that women had clitoris’ until the 1970’s? I was born in the 80’s so I can’t speak to life before that. But for real. The United States is rather shaming around sex. To this day.

I probably was no different. I didn’t understand polyamory and I sure didn’t think I’d ever be spending the majority of my days seeing clients who identify as poly or kinky or who practice BDSM on the regular.

But I do. And it’s amazing.

If I look at the clients who are drawn to me and who I have the most success in treating and connecting with it’s usually individuals who identify as part of a minority. I’m drawn to the most vulnerable populations. I see many individuals who are L G B and/or T. I also see many teenagers who are bullied and don’t “fit in”. And for the last year or two my kinky client load has been building. Word got out that there’s a prescriber who is kink friendly. They are finding me. I didn’t go looking for them, I just treated them respectfully when they came to see me, which unfortunately was a different experience than with other healthcare providers.

Treating the kink community and polyamory individuals has been educational to say the least and beyond rewarding. They have generally been shamed by healthcare providers in the past for whatever their kink is or if they are poly. They have never felt comfortable being open about their sexual practices and therefore have never truly discussed sexual health.

I had to get a solid poker face fast. I did. And now, it would take a lot to get me to raise an eyebrow. I mean A LOT. I also educated myself about BDSM and what those relationships can look like. Polyamory and the multiple definitions there are to many different people. I learned we don’t mention 50 Shades of Grey. Genuine Kinksters find this insulting due to it’s many inaccuracies and poor portrayal of BDSM. I’ve learned not to assume that polyamory individuals are into kink and vice versa.

I learned about dominant/submissive relationships and how those can be different and/or similar to sadist/masochist relationships. I learned what a munch is (google it). I’ve learned a ton of vocabulary: sub-drop, sub-space, flails vs. floggers vs. whips, dom-drop, micro-consent, fetlife.com, consensual non-consent play (CNC), play partners, “littles” and Daddydom’s, Little space, and the many many kinks that exist for people.

I’ve gotten so many clients and the sex certified therapists in the area are always full, so I was at a networking event with other therapists and asked who’d be interested in these referrals should they need a therapist. I got a bunch of blank stares and then nervous giggles. I was like, dudes. You seriously wouldn’t take them? They all kinda shied away. And I was like damn. This is the problem. People are ashamed or they have some feelings about sexuality and kinks and fetishes already and are insecure talking to someone else about them.

This is a problem. We as a society need to do better. Why do we marginalize any one who has different ideas or thoughts or desires or needs than mainstream? Why is it we elected someone to the white house who openly discusses sexually assaulting women as his right because of his wealth and position but we shy away from discussing consensual sexual practices with rational adults seeking help in a “safe space”? This makes no sense.

Healthy BDSM sexual practices often contain more discussion especially around consent prior to two people actually engaging in a sexual relationship than a “Vanilla” relationship. We are more comfortable with sexual assault than we are with consensual kink and BDSM. I don’t get it.

I will continue growing my practice with kinky, LGBT, Queer individuals, bullied teenagers, and those young men and women that you know have greatness in them but just don’t fit into the cookie cutter white suburbia life that they are growing up in.

My job is awesome. I get to talk about kinky sex, gender not-normal stuff, and I watch young people who are “weird” grow into these amazing individuals who change our world.

I never wake up and regret taking on clients who don’t fit into the box the world created for them. To all you kinky folks out there, keep on keepin’ on with your kinky self, you’re beautiful as you are. There’s at least one nurse who’s got your back.

Celebrating Birthday’s LGBT Style…

I was recently visiting my best friend and we had a lot of fun…as lesbians tend to do. One straight dude that was with us that night said, “Lesbian’s are fun, I should hang out with them more often!” And I’m like, yeah we are pretty fun…all Gru style from Despicable Me 2 (he has a Russian accent and it’s all throaty and cool).

I haven’t blogged for a little while because I’ve been cranky. See here for the reason for my sleepless nights recently…freaking two and a half year olds able to run out in the hallway at all hours for all reasons…but it’s more than the lack of sleep due to twinning. It took a glass of wine, a free 50″ tv (I won a raffle hell yeah), my Fall decorations on the mantle, and another viewing of Nanette to get me to acknowledge why.

My wife and I have both been cranky. For the whole week leading up to her birthday. If you haven’t read my blog before, her family doesn’t speak to us because we are gay and they have religious beliefs that are at odds with the gay thing. She was homeless. Lots of therapy. Lots of birthdays. Lots of Christmas’. And every time we wait. We wait for them to contact her or not. Either way is going to lead to something painful.

We both get irritable leading up to her birthday because it’s painful to not spend your birthday with people who gave birth to you. It’s painful to have the people who created you cut off contact because they are in disagreement with their own creation.

So yes, lesbians have fun. Because we know horrific pain. We have been through so much to be who we are. So when we have a night to let loose. We do. In a big way. We have been brought down to our knees so we literally have nothing to lose.

My wife and I have had fun times on our birthdays. But hers specifically are overshadowed by something deeper. A pain so deep I can’t even describe it.

So yes, I’m sorry to my co-workers who had to deal with me this week. I was cranky putting it mildly. And when I step back and think about it, it’s not because I was sleep deprived…well mostly…it was because I was worried about my wife’s birthday because it’s never a truly happy occasion. There’s an undercurrent because we both know what’s missing.

I have so many LGBT clients in the same situation. They have made their own families with partners and friends after being disowned by their own blood. It’s a common story unfortunately. It’s our story.

So my theory is yeah, gay clubs and the LGBT community is always more fun. But it’s because we know more pain. We have lower lows, we have deeper wounds, which allows us to experience and seek out higher high’s. It allows us to seek ways to forget the pain for just one night or one hour. It’s similar to nurses. My nurse friends are freaking fun. It’s because we see people die. We know how tenuous life is first hand so we party hard in order to feel alive.

To live among the LGBT community is to know some one who has committed suicide, perhaps even to have been the one to find them. To live among the LGBT community is to know at least one but likely multiple, people who have no contact with their families. To live among the LGBT community is to seek acceptance among the only people who will “get” your experience because heterosexual’s and gender normals just will never understand. And it is beyond frustrating to watch them continuously take for granted their privilege.

Perhaps it’s a sign of our maturity, or perhaps it’s because we were freaking tired, but this year we went to our favorite brewery had good food and a couple drinks, and came home and went to bed. Not a night to write home about, but a night together, celebrating her life. Because her life matters to me.

If you love any one in the LGBT community, let them know their life matters to you. Because too many of our lives are lost due to feeling the pain of being alone.

Love you babe and Happy Birthday.

Toddlers and Their Multiple Freaking Milestones

People who haven’t had toddlers think these little humans just magically evolve from cribs to beds, diapers to underwear, being dressed to dressing themselves, being fed to feeding themselves, not talking to talking, having zero empathy to discovering other people have feelings…the list literally goes on.

The amount of growing physically and emotionally that happens between the ages of 12 months and four years if freaking crazy. I mean if you really think about it…totally nuts. They go from almost 100% dependency to maybe 25 or 50% dependency. That’s a lot!

So I try not to lose my mind on a daily basis when they are just trying to grow and do that thing they are supposed to do…assert their independence and become little humans. But toddler mom to toddler mom- this shit is real.

We recently took the sides off their cribs. They are two and a half, sharing a room. I mean come on. You know this is going to be just a nightmare. By the way we did it maybe two weeks after we took away their pacifiers. Don’t mom judge me. Yes we waited until they were two and a half. They were for nighttime only. Move on.

So the first night we had to go in maybe four times to settle them into their “new bed” per my kids. And we took bets on who would fall out. I said Jackson. I was right. Around twelve thirty AM I heard a thud. But no crying. I waited. A couple minutes later the crying started. I went in, and there was my little Jack-man on the floor, (the crib is only about six inches off the carpeted floor, he was fine) crying softly, and he clung to me as I lifted him back into his new bed.

Thus far we are on night two. Nap time today we were outside by the pool and we see two little heads at the window banging the glass. They know how to tell us they are up, that’s for damn sure. Tonight Jack-man decided he wanted Declan’s shirt. After we laid them down. There was a debacle which included Declan coming out of the room shirtless and Jackson coming out holding two shirts, both crying. This new found freedom is just too much for them. And us.

In the midst of all this losing the pacifiers and “new beds” daycare asks us to put them in underwear. These are the boys who have actually never peed in a potty at home. They pee in the potty at daycare. Little shits. I say with love. They also are able to get out of the pool and pee on the grass because they know they shouldn’t pee in the pool. But they won’t pee on the damn potty in the house. Nope. So that’s cool.

Then there’s the testing boundaries, “Declan don’t touch that,” I say calmly and totally Mama Brady-ish- “Declan don’t touch that” more strained, “DECLAN DON’T TOUCH THAT.” Then he cries and I’m all hugging him, and telling him it’s okay, but seriously don’t freaking touch that, then Jackson is crying, then Jackson headbutts me accidentally as they are both trying to get onto my lap and they are both huge, now I’m plugging my nose because I think it’s going to bleed, and I’m trying not to swear, “Fudgernuggets, Shishkabobs,” Then two worried little boy voices, “Mama okay? Mama okay? Mama boo-boo?” “I see Mama’s booboo, I see,” And they are both fighting over seeing my possibly bleeding nose.

Yeah, that’s how we roll in our house. We make it through a day with no blood and no bruises. That’s a good day. We make it through a night with no one falling out of the crib. That will be good. We make it through the next six months while we figure out how to bribe them onto the freaking toilets in our house…yeah I’ll be happy to survive that.

It’s like the newborn horrible-ness is a blur. I think that’s how it will be with the toddler stage. We will survive. We will end up with potty using, empathic, functional humans who can feed themselves, sleep on a bed, walk down a flight of stairs, and know instinctively not to touch a hot stove. But damn. The day to day journey to get there is rough.

The good part…saying Good-bye and I love you, and that first time when I heard a little, “Wuv you” right back to me. I burst into tears and was late for my yoga class because I was all “wuving” up on them.

 

Girls and the Sexiness of Anti-Intelligence in Our Society

When I was in 5th grade I vividly recall being absent one day and having to make up a test the day I came back. I was sitting at my desk, trying to melt into the ground and walls so I could potentially make it one hour without being bullied by a group of girls who tortured me that year…when my teacher yelled across the room smiling, “You got a 99 on your test!” Everyone stopped and stared at me. By this point in the school year my classmates knew I was smart. They knew I knew the answers before they did, and they knew I got A’s on almost everything. Because kids just figure that shit out even when you try to hide it.

I tried to sink lower in my chair if that was even possible and shrugged my shoulders up and down in as little acknowledgement as humanly possible to this A announcement. My teacher then said, “A shrug? That’s it! You get an A and you’re not even happy?” She was very loud and happy and warm, and completely unaware of the torture I received on the regular right under her nose. I put my head down on my desk. I knew this would not go unpunished.

Later that day I was surrounded by the group of girls at lunch and was told that I was arrogant and that I had a big head and getting good grades didn’t make me better than them, and I was ugly, and I had to wear glasses…and whatever else all the shit mean little girls say to other little girls. Now these girls were not dumb. They didn’t graduate in the top ten of our high school class, but they were definitely not dumb. If they applied themselves who knows maybe they could have been in the top ten of our class. (By the way…our number 1 and number 2 in my graduating class were female. I was somewhere in there, 6th or 7th I think.)

But early on it was clear. Intelligence is not sexy. In fact it is a weakness. For a female to show intelligence is to put everyone else down. For a female to be intelligent and not just quietly sit in the corner and do her work and quietly get good grades…well that’s just disrespectful to the males who are not as smart and to the females who want to be seen as sexy for their looks not their brains.

The years of 5th grade to 8th grade for kids in general are torture. For smart girls? Freaking horrendous. I regularly see kids in my practice in middle school who hate themselves because they can’t kick a soccer ball. But they get A’s on tests or they are amazing artists or writers or gymnasts or dancers or any number of non-school based athletic activities that can’t possible define a popular and successful girl. Eventually I was able to scrape by with the popular crowd because I could kick and catch (goalie) a soccer ball and I could throw a basket-ball with fairly decent aim. I didn’t mind getting dirty and I loved diving in the mud to save a goal when it was pouring rain.

But I knew I wasn’t going to make a name for myself as a pro-athlete. In fact NONE of the people I went to high school became pro-athletes. A fact I regularly remind girls of who cry and want to kill themselves because getting straight A’s and being beautiful is not good enough to be popular.

It’s not just kids though. It’s adults too. An intelligent well spoken woman is “intimidating, bitchy, arrogant, just needs to get laid…” etc. I’ve received the message loud and clear that my boobs and my brains just don’t go together. I’ve reached an age and a level of self acceptance where I just don’t give a shit anymore about society’s expectations.

I want to be the role model for the girl getting bullied for being smart. I want to tell her “Look at me!” I graduated with a 3.8 from nursing school, I got a job in a very competitive department at a hospital where only about 15% of applicants get hired. I received my master’s degree from an Ivy league school, and I then worked for that ivy league University. Now I am a successful business owner who continues to dream big and make moves with a female business partner and a female wife and all the people threatened by our success…well I’m not sitting in the corner sinking into my desk anymore.

I am proud of my accomplishments as I should be. I am ecstatic I have the brain I do and honestly I’m not sad about my boobs either. I think intelligence is sexy as does my wife obviously (I mean she doesn’t complain about the boobs either).

What is the first thing we say to girls “Oh you are so beautiful” “Look at your hair it’s gorgeous!” We never compliment girls on their brains or their bravery or anything else beyond their looks. It starts as babies! Think about the last time you complimented a female baby and a male baby. What were your adjectives?

Think about how you compliment girls. Think about the presents you buy them. Do you buy them glitter and sequins? Or legos? Or barbies? Things they can build or things they can dress? It’s not wrong, I’m not trying to shame anyone, I’m just making a point that our society values women who are beautiful and silent. Strong, intelligent, opinionated, with boobs? Well that generally means you’re a bitch.

Think about the messages you send your daughters and nieces and granddaughters. Send them the same messages you send your sons and nephews and grandsons. Send them the message that intelligence is a gift to be nurtured and valued. That intelligence and courage and speaking out is beautiful.

I mean maybe if more women had received this message then 51% of female voters may not have voted for #45. Just saying.

 

What People Should NEVER Say to a Mom of Twins.

I generally say whatever comes into my head. No filters. Except…with other parents. If I am with other parents and especially if all our kids are together or even if the kids are not there…I keep my big mouth shut tight. Because I’ve learned as a Mom to just shut the F up. Nobody wants to hear my parenting opinion about their kid. Because I really shouldn’t have one until I’ve walked in their shoes. Just as I really don’t want to hear anyone else’s opinions about my kids and my parenting. Especially people who only have one kid at a time. No offense singleton parenting but literally say nothing to twin parents. Because you don’t know.

Things people have said to me have made me want to cry, laugh maniacally, and/or commit actual physical violence. I’m not a violent person but literally I’ve had visions of slamming my knee into someone’s stomach or my fist in their face. I think/hope it’s the sleep deprivation.

“I always wanted twins.” “Twins would have been so much easier.” “One and done!”

I hear these all the time. To the mom who says “I always wanted twins.” I smile. Then in my head I’m like you fucking idiot. You wanted a high risk pregnancy that most likely would result in a C-section? You wanted two premature babies who are allergic to formula so you have to breastfeed them BOTH for a YEAR?! You wanted to stretch your body so much that no amount of greens and hot yoga will get rid of that pouch? Really? You wanted to live in the USA where my wife went back to work after four weeks and left me home alone with two premature and underweight newborns who laid on my chest/boobs/belly for the next fourteen weeks? Nothing about twins is easy. Ever. In fact they can lead to mom’s feeling resentful because we feel like we missed out. We missed out on one kid at a time. On maybe actually ever enjoying breastfeeding instead of despising it because I literally did it 24/7. No sleep. For a year.

One and done?! It wasn’t one. It was freaking two. And we will NEVER be done. Don’t say it. That’s one that leads me to violent thoughts. Like can you count? I mean I understand one pregnancy but it’s pregnancy on steroids because there are two fetuses. It’s kind of a big scary deal.

“You should separate them in kindergarten.”

This one gets me too. First off don’t ever start a parenting opinion with ‘should’. It’s rude. Second, why? I’ve heard all the opinions about it. Here’s mine. I’m their Mom. I know them best. I know that they have literally not been apart for more than two hours since they were born. That when they are apart they fret and worry over each other. “Jacky k? My Jacky okay?” Over and over from Declan. “Decky k? Decky come home? Decky k?” from Jackson. When they are together they shine. I mean they fight and stuff, it’s not all cupcakes and rainbows. But they are securely attached to one another. And why is that a bad thing? In a society where we are continuously disconnected from one another I will do anything to foster their love and their bond. I would never put them in a brand new school with brand new classmates and teachers and separate them. Maybe in their 1st or 2nd grade when they are used to the school. But in kindergarten they will be 5. Why is it bad for them to want to be with one another?

Shit’s about to get deep. Gear up. The other truly dark and terrifying reason I want them together is because we live in the state where an entire kindergarten class was shot to death. That is always in the back of my head. Because it’s very real to everyone who lives in this state. God forbid any type of danger reaches my sons at the age of 5. I want them together. I want them to have each other to love and protect if they ever have to live through that terror.

So when some one who doesn’t have twins starts to say seemingly innocent crap about having twins and making judgments about decisions that I have already made in my heart because of my own life experience and my own reasons…yeah it irritates me. Which is why I keep to the Shut My Mouth rule when I’m with other parents. Which is what I advise every one of you to do as well.

I don’t tell everyone who makes these remarks everything that’s in my head and heart. I generally just nod and smile. Because when some one discusses kindergarten who wants to think about a devastating school shooting? When some one discusses a two for one deal they don’t actually want to know how incredibly trying that pregnancy was or the delivery or the aftermath. They just want to look at my cute boys and imagine life is wonderful. Well generally it is. I don’t regret my twins, and I love them beyond reason. But don’t tell me it’s easy because it’s not. Don’t tell me to separate them because I won’t. And never act like you know more about my kids then I do. Unless you’re my wife. In which case you may be entitled to that opinion.

Also never ask when they started sleeping through the night. You don’t want to know. For real.

The one question I do tolerate is people asking if they have their own language. They do- it’s morphing more into normal English now, but from the start of their verbalizations it’s been totally coherent to the two of them. My wife and I can pretty much translate it now and often they translate for each other if Mommy or I take too long figuring out what one of them is saying.

They are obsessed with each other and hearing Declan call “My Jackie, come my Jackie” across the house, and then seeing my Jackson run to wherever Declan is calling him from then hearing the conversation they have…well that’s just about the sweetest thing I’ve ever heard.

This morning one of them was showing me his boo-boo on his hand. The other one came over and kissed his brother’s hand. Melt me. These are the moment’s that help me understand why someone would yearn for twins. It’s that whole no sleeping for a year thing that I still clearly am not over that makes me question people’s sanity for wanting twins.

A Dyke’s Best Friend.

Seeing how I’m visiting her and she never reads my blog I thought it would be appropriate to write a post about her. I’d say I have a core group of maybe four or five close/best friends. My bestie from age 14 going forward is one of those five. We didn’t like each other in high school. Sort of. It was love/hate. We had a LOT of fun. Neither of us can drink or even smell Captain Morgan spiced rum anymore because we drank way too much of it in high school. Yes underage drinking is bad. I don’t condone it but I definitely did it.

She is probably the opposite of me in most every way which is funny because we are both Aquarius. Where she is the life of the party and makes friends as if it were nothing, I am usually in the corner by myself and like I said, carry a few trusted core people of close friends. We have some underlying traits in common though. We both love to laugh and have fun. We have A LOT of fun when we are together. Her wife and my wife tend to worry a bit when we make plans together because we either go all out or pass out watching Netflix by 9 pm. My wife says, “You seem to lose all track of your judgment when you are with her.” I say, “We’ve never been arrested and you gotta admit we have some great times.” My wife mutters, “I mean you probably could have been arrested you just weren’t…”

There is much I admire about my friend and I think she inspires me to be more adventurous and more motivated. She’s always very proud of me and shows me how to be a better person in so many ways. She also has seen me through the last twenty years of my life. She was my friend for my first hetero-romance in high school, and the one that gave me tequila and told me to “just do it” when I was debating dating my wife. She watched me morph into a lesbian-ish and helped me figure it all out along the way.

So it totally pisses me off when she’s discriminated against. She’s worked in industries that are male dominated- white heterosexual male dominated. She has to work twice as hard to get ahead in her field. She always has to prove herself.

She recently relocated down South for a job. Which is wonderful because now I have a place to go to by a beautiful beach that we visited today. But I am always scared for her because she’s such a dyke. In the South. She told me she was at the beach and a guy came up and put his finger in her face pointing, and yelling about “you people” and “the gay’s” and she was literally just sitting in a chair on the beach. What. The. Fuck. She has to be careful where she goes and who she goes with.

The admirable part to her is that she stays here anyway and it doesn’t do a thing to lower her mood or energy. I always find discrimination insulting. But it seems to be doubly insulting when the discrimination targets some one who is actually someone I think of as one of the greatest human beings in the world. I know it’s weird to think about but it does seem worse when discrimination and hatred targets someone who is the opposite in every way of hateful. It’s like people discriminating against my wife. They are literally two of the nicest and kindest people I know. Discriminate against me, I’m kind of a bitch, I can take it, stay away from the nice people!

I tend to have a calculating/thoughtful expression (I just don’t like the term resting bitch face, but perhaps that could be accurate here). My friend- never. She is literally always smiling. She has this bubbly energy that just draws everyone in. Whenever we go out she talks to EVERYONE. She is so friendly. So to know she of all people, has to worry about being blindly discriminated against on a daily basis just because she lives in the South; well that pisses me off.

The other thing is she doesn’t talk about it. She doesn’t complain about it. She just accepts this is how the world is and she’s still going to walk in it the same way. She hasn’t become jaded or resentful or cynical. She remains hopeful. Hopeful for change.

So while she’s always going to be a dog person and I will always be a cat person. And she will always hate my cats and I will always despise her dogs…we have this lesbian thing in common and we both know discrimination and she teaches me on the regular to never give up hope and to never stop being kind to people just because they may discriminate against us.

When we were 14 and this bubbly annoying blonde skipped up behind me in line at a basket-ball camp and started blabbing my ear off I would never have guessed that twenty years later she would be the person I’d sit on a beach with reminiscing about why we can’t drink Captain Morgan and how we are hopeful that in another twenty years we won’t have to worry about discrimination anywhere in our country.

Like her freaking dog is literally jumping on me as I type and I’m screaming at him to get away and screaming at my friend who is calling the dog who doesn’t listen to her…that’s how we roll.

 

A Day in the Life of Outpatient Psychiatry…

I remember my first day at my outpatient office I saw five clients. All five of those clients still see me over four years later. They’ve all followed me to a new practice and new office because, I don’t know, I’ve never asked, but I guess they don’t want to see some one new.

There have been clients that have come and gone since I started. Some I helped. Some moved on before I could see any improvement. I’m certainly not for everyone. I have a certain style and way of being that is off putting to some people. Which is fine. I’ve certainly had healthcare providers I didn’t care for. I don’t take it personally.

But working in mental health makes you really examine myself on the regular. I am regularly questioned by parents and clients as to my clinical decision making more intensely and I think more rudely than other specialties. I hear on a daily basis, “I read online…” because a google search and gander into webMD and patientslikeme.com suddenly makes people experts.

It’s not my job to convince people they need medication. It’s my job to make my clinical recommendation. Take it or leave it.

But the nuts and bolts, the in’s and out’s, a few hours in my life in my little office looks something like this.

Starting my day with a call from the local hospital that one of my patient’s is being hospitalized for suicidal ideation or a suicide attempt. Rare thankfully, but at least a few times a year. I could pull into the office on the phone with the hospital and start my day already worried about a client I now have no control over.

My first client could need me to write a letter for gender reassignment surgery. Processing what this means to them, permanent changes to their body, possibly losing their family and friends, exploring their grief, their dysphoria, and their resolve to proceed.

Next up could be giving someone an injection of Vivitrol (long acting Naltrexone, monthly shot, to battle alcohol or opiate addiction). My Vivitrol clients are not “hoodlums” or “druggies”. They are Moms, Dads, kids, and functioning members of our society. They make a monthly commitment to come and have a very large needly placed in their butt with a large volume of medication to help them stay sober. They impress me with their strength to come every month and their commitment to sobriety. They are perhaps some of my favorite clients to treat because I am truly helping them regain their lives. Their courage gives me hope.

In the next thirty minutes I may see one of my clients who suffers from chronic homicidal ideation. No specified target. Rather disturbing imagery usually. And hopefully responding to therapy and medication…

My next might be a family with a depressed teenager who was raped. I’ve heard the rape story and I’ve helped them through the process of pressing charges and they come in now and are totally at ease in my office because it’s like I’ve been brought into their family circle for the 30 minutes they come and see me every month.

In between these clients I am returning calls, emails, and doing prescription refills.

Then perhaps a teen struggling with their gender identity who has been told by their parents they will be kicked out if they pursue this “gender thing”. It’s been rare that these parents have actually followed through among my patients. But it still sucks. My wife knows that I would bring these kids home if I needed to. That none of my transgender teens will end up on the street. I’ve said that to probably two teenagers who I thought might actually end up homeless. That they can call me any time. That we will figure it out together. I’ve seen this look of what I think is hope come into their eyes as they really see me and recognize that they are not alone. There’s all this stuff about boundaries in mental health. But having a wife who’s been homeless due to family intolerance. Well I just couldn’t stand to see that happen to one of my kids.

Then perhaps I see one of my anxious clients. They come in all shapes sizes and ages. They are also some of my favorites. I do a lot of hand-holding with them. A lot of answering questions and perhaps meeting for months before they agree to take medication. I do a lot of convincing that anxiety is actually a brain illness just like diabetes is a pancreas illness. Not one of my anxious clients has ever regretted starting anti-depressants to target anxiety. But it’s a journey for us to get there that is always quite challenging and fun for me.

Then perhaps I see a patient I’ve suspected has bipolar disorder who failed the second anti-depressant who I have to have the “you need a mood stabilizer” discussion and perhaps discuss “mood disorders” and “cycling” and gently start the dialogue of a potential major diagnosis.

Then maybe I see one of my clients into kink or BDSM and/or polyamory. We catch up on the latest relationships status. We talk about sex and their kinks and fetishes. I hear A LOT about sex. From all my clients. Because of the sexual side effects of medications and because of my client base. It’s something I’m very comfortable with now and not much can raise an eyebrow from me. I’ve perfected the poker face.

The mail comes. Medicaid is auditing me for a 12.00$ reimbursement for a client from five months ago. I shake my head and swear and rail at the insurance companies and remember this is why psychiatrists and psychiatric APRNs don’t take insurance or Medicaid. Because they are freaking ridiculous. 12.00$. You fucking kidding me? But I print out the requested papers and shove them in an envelope and send them to the address listed that very day because I know my Medicaid clients are vulnerable and I wouldn’t stop taking it just because medicaid sucks to work with. Yet.

For all of my clients I have to be present. I can’t be thinking about other clients and my patient hospitalized and my other patient I referred for ECT. I have to be there. I have to remember their stories from our last visit. It’s emotionally taxing to bear witness and support people who are suffering. It becomes my day to day though and until I step back and really think about it I don’t realize how intense one of my days can be. Let alone a week or a month.

What keeps me going? My clients. Their strength. Their bravery. Their capacity to face stigma of addiction and mental illness and psychiatric medication and diagnoses is inspiring. That they trust me with their emotions, their brains, their children, their parents, their friends. For the most part my clients and families are incredibly vulnerable and just looking for help and compassion. I’m not a warm and fuzzy person. But I get mental health. I get that I have to give of myself in order to make a difference. And I do. Daily. As does every other hard working mental health professional.

So when you’re at a picnic and someone tells you they work as a therapist or a psychiatrist don’t start telling them your problems or asking their opinion about your mother’s medication. Just thank them for the hard work they do and change the subject.

Because when we are not in the office we are tired from being in the office. So let us have our break. Let us sit and laugh and have fun and not think about the emotional intensity we see every day.

I have a sweet job. I love psychiatry. It’s challenging and exhausting and rewarding and heart-breaking and everything else that makes it exciting to go to work every day.

 

How to be Your Kid’s Hero.

I started writing a blog post about intelligence and women and I was super into it. Then my week started and I encountered humanity at it’s best and it’s worst as is generally the case in healthcare. And I got irritated because I couldn’t finish my post on intelligence and women because I was facing life and death situations that deserve some attention.

Do you know how many times I have Mom’s of toddlers sit in my office and cry because they are wracked with guilt that they don’t always 100% love being a Mom. They feel guilty for getting frustrated with their kids. I tell them fuck facebook. Toddlers suck. There are beautiful moments interspersed with longer moments of insanity. That every mom of toddlers feels this way.

How many times I’ve comforted Mom’s of teenagers as they lament the choices their kids are making or the pain their kids are going through and they feel helpless and useless and failures as Mom’s.

Then there are the those few and far between times…thank God….when I find myself comforting the kid. Because their parents told them to get out of their house because of their sexual orientation or their gender identity. Their parents told them their family’s reputation or their religion will not allow them to have a gay, Queer, or trans child.

Having a child who is different is the moment that separates the mom’s and dad’s and the Mom’s and the Dad’s.

That moment your child comes out to you is the moment you get to be the hero in their story. 

That moment will define your relationship for the rest of their life. Every LGBTQ identifying individual remembers their “coming out” story. I’ve heard them all. The heartbreaking stories that end in pain, tears, homelessness…well those stories just never get easier to hear or witness or pick up the pieces from.

As a Mom I can’t imagine looking my child in the eye and telling them to deny their true selves or get out of my house my life…my heart. I just couldn’t. It breaks me to even think of that.

It breaks me to see the heartbreak in those kids who don’t see their parents as their heroes but who yearn for that day still.

As a parent yes it’s scary to have a child who is different who will face adversity who may not be safe. But it’s not a choice. It’s who they are. And this is your chance, one of the few chances you will have in their life, to truly be heroic.

Mom’s and Dad’s question themselves about not spending enough time with their kids, about putting their toddlers in timeout too much, yelling to loudly, and all the other things that parents do on the regular that literally will not cause any harm (for the most part) to children.

But do you question what you would do if your child comes out to you? If your child wants to be a drag queen? If your child wants a new name, new body, new voice? Have you truly considered that? If you haven’t you should. Because your response to that can be the difference between life and death for your child.

If you cannot accept your child, even though I find it unfathomable, please know that you may have sentenced them to death. Through homelessness, murder, or suicide. The other side of discrimination and the taking back of what’s supposed to be unconditional love is dark, ugly, and the deepest pain you can possibly imagine that some just can’t recover from…the wound is just too deep, too scarring, too dark to come back from.

You may only get one chance to be their hero.

Don’t blow it.