Fear and Vulnerability

Vulnerability: (I had to dictionary.com this shit to fact check) So per Dictionary.com…

1. capable of or susceptible to being wounded or hurt; as by a weapon.

2. open to moral attack, criticism;

3. open to assault; difficult to defend.

Fear: Again per dictionary.com

  1. a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.
  2. a specific instance of or propensity for such a feeling: an abnormal fear of heights.
  3. concern or anxiety; solicitude: a fear for someone’s safety.
  4. reverential awe, especially toward God: the fear of God.
  5. something that causes feelings of dread or apprehension; something a person is afraid of: Cancer is a common fear.
  6. anticipation of the possibility that something unpleasant will occur

I’ve wanted to write a post about this for awhile. But haven’t figured out how. Also sort of hate being vulnerable so the idea of writing a blog post about it made me feel uneasy. But it’s important and I don’t like being scared of something. So here goes.

I think we all know instinctively what being vulnerable feels like but we may not be able to put it into words. Hence the dictionary.com situation. I knew that it feels scary/raw/open/fearful. I know how it feels because every single time I tell someone I’m married to a woman I feel it. Which is almost on a daily basis. Think about how many times you reference your significant other and/or children. On a daily basis right? Think about how safe and secure and without hesitation you feel every time you mention your husband or wife if you are in a heterosexual relationship. Think about mentioning your children a hundred times a day to anyone. That you don’t think twice about it, and then maybe you share this heterosexual moment of kinship about their Dad’s or their Mom’s or whatever.

I don’t have that.

I tell people I have twins and they ask if my husband helps out a lot. I say I have a wife. Then I wait. I wait for acceptance or not. I make that statement and I am vulnerable to attack on my person and on my marriage and on my business. Because I do own a business. It is woman owned and yes Lesbian owned. So take that:)

But for real. That maybe 5 second moment that I experience on the regular is the most fucked up/vulnerable/fear inspiring/awe inspiring moment. And no offense but hetero’s you just can’t comprehend.

Every single time I talk about my family I put my safety at risk. I put myself at risk.

EVERY LGBTQ individual who comes out to any one at any time makes themselves vulnerable in that moment in a way that only a minority who knows hate and discrimination and murder can know. It can literally be life ending. Sit with that for a second. Freaking deep right.

So honor that moment when someone has the courage to come out to you. Because they may look cool and calm but inside they are waiting. Waiting to see which way you will swing. They are vulnerable in that moment. Vulnerable to fear, hate, and love.

I won’t stop putting myself out there. I won’t stop writing a blog post that outs myself and my family. Because ultimately though the word vulnerable makes me a little squeamish I know the big picture is more important. The big picture being that there are LGBTQ individuals who have died after coming out. There are LGBTQ individuals who have been horribly beaten. Yet they still walk the walk. They still talk the talk. They have embraced the vulnerability and the fear and given it the middle finger. I am happily and fearfully and lovingly joining them.

Rest in peace. All those who have died to be LGBTQ freely. PRIDE month in the USA for me means being proud of all those individuals who have stood up for our rights and died for them. We will carry on.

 

Being Boxed. A Rebellious Nurse.

So I started writing a blog post awhile ago about all my LGBT clients who felt stifled by their families growing up, that they had to conform themselves into this box that their families and societies placed them in.

Then once again the state of our nation hi-jacked my fun and emotionally impactful statement about LGBT youth being put into figurative boxes. Because we, as a nation, literally started putting children into boxes. What the fuck.

I swear to God if #45 hi-jacks one more of my blog posts…

Because I can’t write about fluffy shit- and by the way LGBT youth being made to conform into something they aren’t isn’t exactly fluffy- when there are children suffering. The thing about it is that they are suffering needlessly.

#45 has been made the villain. But the true villains are all the assholes sitting by with their thumbs up their asses as this happens. Every member of congress who is not speaking out against this, every business, every organization that is remaining silent is complicit. Me, writing a blog post about being boxed, and literally not mentioning it, would have been just wrong. Homophobia and non-acceptance is a reality. So are children being put into cages. Actual cages.

I look at my sons. I think if I had to do something to get them to safety I would. I would literally do anything. Then if I got them to safety and someone tried to take them from me I would literally need to be killed. Because I would fight. I would fight until I was dead if someone tried to take them from me.

The idea that our nation is locking up innocent children and tearing them apart from their parents literally feels like a punch in the gut. If I actually sit and think about it and connect with those feelings it makes me feel sick. The sickest part is the number of politicians who haven’t spoken out against it.

The American Psychiatric Nursing Association released a statement saying to basically cut the shit. I was like, YES! I knew I made the right career move joining the ranks of psychiatric nurses. One of the comments said, “APNA should stick to nursing.” And I smiled and thought, if there is any one more in need of a nurse right now it is these children. Nurses are advocates, caretakers, trusted members of society. These families need nurses speaking up and saying cut the shit. Nursing is taking a hard line against wrongdoing even when it presents as being rebellious. Rebellious nurses make changes.

Rebellious nurses call out racism, homophobia, sexism, immoral and unethical decisions. Rebellious nurses have led the marches and made up the ranks and will continue to do so. Rebellious nurses don’t stay in boxes and we sure as hell don’t keep our mouths shut. We do “stick to nursing” though. Nursing is caring, compassion, advocacy, and fighting the fight.

Thank-you APNA and the ANA for making statements against this horrendous situation. I am with you.

SCOTUS and LGBT Allies Walking the Walk

I was all set to write this really cute blog post about how my two year olds think I’m their pet. (“Come Mama”, “Sit Mama”, they expect me to eat whatever they put in front of me, and sometimes they make me beg after yelling and asking nicely don’t do it.) It was going to be really funny. Then I saw the headlines. SCOTUS sided with the damn baker. If you don’t know what that means Google it. Educate yourself.

Now what it does not mean is that people can discriminate against LGBT individuals nationally. HOWEVER, seeing as over half the country voted for #45 I know that unfortunately half or more of the country is not very intelligent and they will not read the actual SCOTUS ruling they will just see this as their rightful opportunity to be louder and more discriminatory toward LGBT individuals and families and they will feel justified in doing so because the SCOTUS said it’s okay…(which they didn’t. Again read the ruling and educate yourself.)

What I’ve been saying since I started writing this though is that people who identify themselves as allies of the LGBT community need to walk the walk. I’m going to explain what that means in case you don’t know.

It means more than just putting a rainbow flag over your profile pic for Pride month. It means more than commenting on FB posts that are homophobic.

Let me teach by example. I own my own mental health practice. I have let it be known to my clients and colleagues that I am an out provider and that I’ve got the backs of all LGBT individuals. That means when I get a call from a transgender identifying individual I stay late, I come in early, I work on my day off, in order to expedite their intake. Will I do this for a heterosexual individual? No. Because they have heterosexual privilege. They didn’t have to wait weeks, months, or years to find a transgender friendly provider. They didn’t have to call a dozen places and be asked what transgender means or what their “real name” is. I’ve seen transgender clients for almost pennies because they didn’t have insurance. And in doing so I’ve built a reputation among the trans community as being a trans-competent and trans-friendly provider. Same for gay men, lesbians, drag queens and Queer identifying individuals. I’ve walked the walk. I’ve gone to bat for my people and they know it. I’ve also seen such interesting characters and the secretary in my building has mastered a deadpan expression no matter who walks in.

I do this because I’ve always been a fan of the underdog. I worked in the two most hated areas of hospitals. Emergency department and psychiatry. Those people who have been opposite me in an argument or in seeing my advocate for patients know that I am loud but that I have strong silences. I also tend to get my way. So trust me, you want me advocating for the most unprotected and vulnerable population in our country right now. But I can’t do it alone.

By walk the walk I mean if you know the corner store is owned by a homophobic family or person but you buy your coffee there every morning anyway because the closest coffee shop beyond that is 30 minutes….buy a freaking keurig or drive thirty minutes. Know who is homophobic (ah hem Home Depot and Chick Filet and Barilla past) and stop frequenting their businesses and stop buying their products. Living without Home Depot has been rough at times but we survive. Don’t just talk the talk with your “love is love” crap. Put your money where your mouth is.

And stand up to your family and friends in person NOT just on social media. If you hear them use dyke and fag terminology: speak up. Don’t remain quiet because it’s easier because you are complicit. It’s hard. Been there. I was recently at a picnic and some one started talking about transgender people and how they just didn’t get why “they need to do that, why can’t they just be happy with what God gave them?” I could have shut up and turned away and started a new conversation with some one else. But that would make me complicit. And if I could just educate one person and change one person’s views it can make a difference. So I didn’t turn away. I took a deep breath and did a down and dirty transgender education session in less than five minutes. It went fine. There were no punches thrown and we both felt safe expressing our viewpoint and experiences. I could see movement toward understanding and while I didn’t want to talk work at a picnic how could I not address that?

Don’t call yourself an ally unless you are ready to walk the walk.

When you do, don’t expect thanks or praise- I sure as hell didn’t. I mean I’ve been thanked and stuff and that’s great but at the end of the day it’s the right thing to do and actions speak. I didn’t get my education to take care of rich white heterosexual entitlement. I got my education and my license to help those in need. The LGBT community is sorely in need right now.

I personally will not turn down friends, but at the same time only put out your hand if you know what you are truly offering.

Mommy-ing with chronic illnesses

I often see clients who are suffering from depression/bipolar disorder/PTSD, etc who have young children. And their number one concern that brings them to tears is the thought that they are not the best Mom they can be because of their illness. Because sometimes they are short with their kids, or don’t feel like they have the energy to deal with them, or put them in preschool three days a week even though they are stay-at-home mom’s and feel guilty about it but need a break.

I’m not a big self-disclosure type of person. So I usually don’t disclose to clients that I literally know exactly how they feel. But I’m saying it here. I get you. I have severe and sadly in the past year uncontrolled asthma as well as endometriosis. The asthma, eh it’s okay, when I was on prednisone for six weeks and I turned into a lunatic then I felt bad for my kids. But I usually can power through the whole not breathing thing better than the endo. For those who are unfamiliar endometriosis is an autoimmune disease that causes growth of endometrial tissue in other parts of the body where it’s not supposed to be. Symptoms are generally pain, hemorrhagic cysts (bleeding cysts), infertility, bowel issues, and it’s even been found on people’s lungs which causes breathing issues obviously. So yeah it’s no picnic. There’s no cure. I’ve had two surgeries already and not looking to have a third.

Before I became a Mom I could take a nap. Cancel plans. Take a narcotic pain medication to ease symptoms to be able to sleep. Now…I power through. The pain’s still there. The fatigue that comes with it. The cysts that cause really freaking bad pain. Have I curled up on the couch in front of Moana with a heating pad and felt like the worst mom ever? Yes. Have I been brought to tears when one of them unknowingly kicked me in the abdomen right in that sweet spot where the endo pain lives as we were having a tickle fight? Yes. Have I grimaced when I bent to pick them up and fought back tears as I held them in my arms when they cried? Yes. Have I ever told my wife or kids that I am in pain? No. She knows, I mean, she’s know me for eleven years. She knows when I”m hurting. But I don’t want the boys to think I am anything less than their Mama. I want to protect them from this as much as anything.

Mommy-ing is hard. Mommy-ing while trying to battle your own demons. Girl Rock On. I tell my clients, “You are the best and most beautiful Mom your kids would ever want. So don’t beat yourself up about needing a break from them or taking your own space. You have to take care of you in order to take care of them,”

But I know from experience. It’s wicked hard taking care of me while also trying to take care of them. Naps? Ha. Pain meds? Not happening. I don’t even want them in the house in case the boys find them and take them by accident (former ED nurse paranoia I know). Just have to settle for Moana and a heating pad with the monster’s, I mean boys, running in and out of the room, yelling, occasionally hitting each other and crying, and some times just cuddling up against my side and pointing at the heating pad and saying “Mama boo boo?”

When it’s “Not my problem”

One of my most painful memories from the emergency department was a mom dropping off her toddler and claiming the Safe Haven law. She walked out in tears. Refused to give us her name. Did leave the child’s name. We were able to track down family members. And DCF. And the police. Eventually there were about ten family members in the room with this drooling babbling almost two year old. The DCF worker was trying to establish who would take the baby among the ten adults present. The room went totally silent. Then it was like a buzzing of bees. “I have kids already,” “I’m in school,” “I work full time,” etc. etc. Not one of those family members who so quickly came down to the ED took responsibility for that beautiful baby.

If you’ve read my blog you know I really try my hardest not to judge other people. Because being judged is not fun. But in that moment I was judging the crap out of that family. Especially now that I have kids and a niece. If I got a call that my niece needed a new home you bet your ass I would be there in a heartbeat. Because she’s my family and she is my problem to solve. I have two year old twins. Would I want another child if I had a choice? No. But I would never let a family member of mine go into state custody over coming to live with me. But that’s how I roll I guess. I have a deep sense of loyalty to my family and my friends. I’d make it work. My wife jokes because she thinks I’ll just come home one day with a stray kid. Because she knows if I was in that situation I’d grab that baby and be like I got you.

How many times a week do I sit with a kid who is being bullied. Who tells me the teachers know, the other kids in their class know, and no one does anything. I believe them. Been there. At what point will we teach our children to step up and say “Stop.”

The level of indifference in our communities astounds me. Facebook groups are incredibly active regarding social justice, yet my wife and I still got severely side-eyed big time in a more conservative part of our state recently at a Job Lot with our kids.

Within the past couple months someone in a FB group I’m in wrote about why Christians receive a bad rep and that it’s not fair. It rubbed me a certain way. Not because I am anti-Christian at all. But because it felt like a white person complaining about a Person of Color being suspicious or skeptical of a white person. It’s easy for a person of Christian faith to say “But I’m not homophobic or racist” talking the talk. It’s the whole walking the walk that gets more complicated. Who’s going to stand up for a lesbian family being discriminated against? Especially if the discrimination is subtle. I can remember so many times facing discrimination and it wasn’t private it was very public with good people sitting by and watching, hearing, and remaining silent.

I offend people sometimes because I don’t shut my mouth when it is socially expected to do so. But I’m not going to change that because there have been too many times when no one opened their mouth for me. So I will continue to call people out on their bullshit. I will loudly call out discrimination. I will set the example for my children to not turn the other way when kids are being bullied in front of them. I encourage you to do the same.

Silence makes you complicit.

Silence is easy. Speaking up and fighting the fight is tiring and scary. But I keep remembering that little baby on the stretcher surrounded by people who would end up walking away from him. Breaks me a little. I won’t be that person who walks away.