Divorce and Separation · mom of boys

Morning People…Ick.

Three years ago this week my Dad was getting put onto hospice and we were coming to terms with his impending death. It’s surreal that three years have passed. Because so much has changed in the world and in my life. It feels like a really long time, but also like yesterday. It was overall a shitty week. I was still new in my practice and working around the clock. I felt overwhelmed and I had two three year olds and a marriage that had started to crumble.

My dad’s death did a lot to bring the deterioration of my marriage to the forefront. My ex was unable to really support me through my grief. And I realized I couldn’t be with a partner who could not be there for me during the hard times as I had been for her. I waited until a year a half later when she moved out to finally start truly grieving for my Dad because I was finally in what felt like an emotionally safe space for the first time in many years.

I remember walking around my house the first few weekends without the boys and without her. It was just me. It was so quiet. I remember walking from the stairs toward my living room and stopping in the foyer. It’s kind of the central location to my house. I stood there, and then I just fell to my knees and cried. I cried so hard. To live with some one who cannot emotionally support you takes a toll. Because I was always censoring my feelings to avoid having to deal with hers.

And for the first time I could just safely let them all out. I laid on my floor in the center of my house for what felt like hours remembering my Dad’s last week, his last day, his last breath, the stretcher taking him out, the well meaning hospice nurse who told me I didn’t “kill him” with the last dose of Dilaudid, and sitting around the firepit with my Mom and sister as we waited for them to take his body.

I remembered the funeral, there were so many people, and there were men in uniform who saluted me when I approached them and told me that my Dad was one of the best soldiers they had ever served with and they wanted to know why he hadn’t received a soldier’s burial. I had to explain he didn’t want one. That at the end he was so angry at the military. He made that quite clear. The military was such a part of my dad and such a part of my life with him. When people got to go to work with their parents, they maybe went to offices. I went to armories. I met Officers and I played in huge storage areas with rows of military supplies.

To see them there, I just, remember willing myself not to break down, but feeling more connected to my dad in that moment than I had in a long time.

I cried and I lay on my floor a year and a half after he died. Feeling it like it was all still happening. I don’t remember getting up or what I did next. I know I obviously did get up and do something because I’m not still laying there.

In some ways I’ve never felt more alone than I do now. But looking back, being in a relationship where I couldn’t be authentically me I was alone too. I do not regret the divorce. And most of the time I don’t regret the marriage.

It’s actually quite humbling being single at age 37 because there are times when I know that there are no other people who care about what happened to me today. There are people who care about me, and who care what happens to me, but the day to day minutiae is something only our partners know and truly care about. I guess as I approach the anniversary of my dad’s death, more single than ever, it drives home that he was one of the only people who cared about my minutiae and to lose him and lose my marriage has been, well, intense.

I can say three years out from his death and going on two years out from the divorce I no longer find myself falling to my knees sobbing. That was short-lived. I do cry heavily at all children’s movies. Without fail. All of them. Sing 2. Moana. Encanto. Literally all. Even the bad ones. And I know he would love my dog. Like love her. He would probably be at my house every day trying to hang with the dog.

I may not ever find someone to care about the minutiae again. And that’s okay. Because the grass is always greener. The idea of being in a relationship again sounds appealing for two seconds until I remember everything that comes with a relationship. Then I skip ahead to divorce papers and then I backtrack and think I will never get married again and then I think of the people I have dated in the last two years….and yeah I think I’m set being single.

But I would take my Dad back. In a heartbeat. I’d take back all the parts about him that annoy the crap out of me too. Like how he never spell checked his text messages and then would get mad at me for not doing whatever it said in the text message that was completely illegible. Or how he left really long voicemails. Or how he would show up and start doing yard work and then trek through my house with dirt and poison ivy gloves and get mad at me when I got mad at him for trekking dirt and poison ivy through my house. Or what a horrendous driver he was. Or how he insisted on talking very early in the morning even though he knew I was the worst morning person in the world. Or how he put mayo on my sandwiches even though mayo literally makes me want to puke and has since I came out of the womb and I would freak out when he would hand me a mayo’d sandwich. Then he’d say incredulously that I like tunafish, and I’d say back yeah but that’s MIXED with the mayo, not slathered in it, it’s totally different! My Dad was prickly and funny and he and I knew how to drive each other absolutely nuts. But I’m happy to say now it’s because we were so similar (I’m not a bad driver and I’m very respectful of mayo choices, and I am very anti-dirt in my house, and still not a morning person- I do leave long voicemails…)

One morning recently my son was chatting me up at 7 AM. I was clumsily wandering my kitchen trying to put their lunches together and make my coffee. I had to stop at the sink and close my eyes. He was still talking. And I said, “Buddy,” and he was all smiles, “Yeah Mama?” And I dropped my head, “Buddy, uh, Mama needs a minute to wake up,” “But you are awake.” “Yes, but Mama needs another minute to actually wake up.” “But you are awake.” “Buddy…” “Yes?” “Never mind.” And he continued chattering. I remember dropping my head and then looking out the window at the sky, and thinking, ‘Dad’s having a good laugh right now.’

#COVID-19 · mom of boys

Yes I own a business. Yes I Am Female.

I had friends over the other night. The mom and two boys came and there were then four boys running rampant in and around my house. The Mom and I had a glass of wine and chatted. They were people who were not in my COVID bubble. It was weird and nice and bittersweet and overstimulating. How many nights have we missed like this over the past two years? While I love my two friends in my COVID bubble and am incredibly grateful for ALL the nights we have had in the last two years…it’s a weird freedom to see other people.

It was so great and the reason I say bittersweet is because I just couldn’t help wondering how the last two years have impacted my sons.

I thought back to my own time between ages 4-6 and I had a best friend who lived down the street. We were always in and out of one another’s houses and always together. We did sleepovers and campfires and so much more. And my sons have never done a sleepover at some one else’s house. And until last month they hadn’t even seen their classmates full faces.

I don’t regret protecting them over the last two years. I don’t blame science as I fully believe the mitigation steps we took were necessary. I am grateful they are vaccinated. I am taking them to NYC for two nights in April, we are going to the Statue of Liberty. I may have booked this during a moment of temporary insanity but we are going.

Life feels semi-normal again. And it’s weird.

Some things that have not changed- the Republicans continue to push their anti-abortion and anti-trans agenda forward with little to no resistance in midwest and Southern states. I keep working and growing my practice and upon expanding I have encountered time and time again the micro-aggressions of society toward a female business owner. I have built and moved more furniture in the last month since opening my second location…then ever in my life. Sometimes I have help, and sometimes it’s just me. Swearing at the furniture. Fighting back tears as I realize the last three steps I did wrong…it’s a good time.

Back to being a female business owner. There are good people who treat me with respect. But there are also not nice people, mostly men, who can’t believe that my pretty little head can think and speak and tell them to go to hell.

I’ve been asked so many things, “So you own this business or you’re the admin or something? Who is your boss?” “Yeah but who is in charge?” “Yeah but who is above you?” “So this is your first time having an office?” No- second office location 3rd space since I opened. “So your income last year was what? Around sixty thousand or so?” Uh no. “So you own a solo practice?” Uh no. I have employees also. “Oh you have one or two employees?” No, I have eleven. And counting. “So what it’s like a spa?” No. Mental health practice. “So what you talk to people about their problems? Like a therapist?” yes. Kind of. I prescribe medication also. “So there’s one person who prescribes and then the rest are therapists?” Five. There are five prescribers. Four, soon to be five, therapists. Two administrative staff.

When I give my answers that are complete opposite to what they are expecting- they try not to look shocked but seem to keep grasping at a way to make me be less successful with their follow-up questions.

I’m not a bragger and I generally do not like talking about my work. But if some one is clearly making assumptions devaluing me because of my gender. I have a lot of feelings about that. And it is conveyed in my responses. If I was male I do not think I would be approached in this way. And my practice is not huge, it’s still small, but yeah I have worked my butt off for all of it. And if all my employees quit tomorrow I’d start over on my own. Failure and success do not scare me. I have made mistakes and will make more mistakes. But I do a few things right too.

I’m in a single mom’s group on FB and there was a thread about how dating. Some one posted a link to an article published in a journal in 2021- that showed through a rather large and well done study that men are seeking attractive females and if the male has a high education level then they are seeking a female with a lower education level. Females on the other hand, while they also seek attractive mates, they seek education levels that are on the same level or higher than theirs. So females are looking for mates who are smarter, and males are seeking mates who are less educated. And there’s surprise as to why dating apps have low success rates in creating a long lasting relationship. It’s not the apps fault though it’s user error.

What is so threatening to a male about an educated female? We have all seen it play out rather publicly this week- not just a well educated, well spoken female but a female of Color. Judge Jackson was composed, intelligent, and everything that the accused rapist now sitting on the Supreme Court was not. The Republicans who questioned her were grasping at straws trying to break her and again- most of them were white males. It felt as though they generally do not like her. But deeper, they are threatened by a woman with education- likely more education then them.

I don’t know why- a google search says everything from threat to their ego to their masculinity makes them feel like a failure…etc. But the data is clear. Men are threatened by smart women. Not all men. George Clooney is a great example of a successful man who openly acknowledges his wife Amal is smarter than he is and he is proud of her. George Clooney brings his own set of skills to the table though so maybe that’s a bad example.

In my own life I certainly hang out with smart women who are in partnerships with smart men and it is not detrimental to their relationships. As a female business owner who has lived mostly in seclusion in the last couple years, it’s been hard to enter back into the world and experience men at their worst though.

All I can do is keep on keeping on. Each time a transphobic law is passed I hire an LCSW or an APRN in my practice. I will keep expanding an LGBTQ owned business that services the LGBTQ community and nothing spurs me forward more than the hate we continue to face as a community. It’s hard work. It’s exhausting. But it’s worth it. It’s important to me that I stand. When I first started my practice I wanted to just be in a place where I could practice as myself. A Queer provider. Now it’s a place for me to practice, but also for me to help educate providers on Queer competence, and a place for Queer individuals to feel safe. It’s become something bigger than myself.

So I’ll take all the demeaning questions and follow-up questions and I’ll keep answering them. Because men should not be threatened by a woman’s success. And if they are that’s a them problem. Not a me problem.

On the flip side, my two little men, are proud as heck of their Mama, and after I showed them the new office in the new town we went out to eat, and they told the waitress beaming that “My Mama has a new office, and she’s the boss of two offices, she’s the big boss in charge.” Hopefully I’m raising two boys into men who will not be threatened by a woman’s brains.

#COVID-19 · mom of boys · Nursing

Shut your piehole KK

A few months ago I hired some one to take over the billing for me. I had been doing the billing every waking hour that I wasn’t seeing clients…mostly between the hours of 8p-11p nightly. But I could see that either I’d have to give up my caseload of patients- which was not an option- or give in and hire some one. She already did my Quickbooks and happened to be in need of full time work. It worked out. She had no knowledge of medical billing.

But she is meticulous and could learn. I had no knowledge of medical billing until I owned a practice and taught myself.

The first month was a lot of questions that I answered and that she then would ask, “Okay where can I find that though?” and I’d smile or wince and say, “In my head,”. After a month and after the hundredth time I said that she laughed and said, “I literally cannot believe how much you remember in that brain.”

Can’t find my keys on the daily but I can remember the different sliding scales we offer for a hundred different people, and who has a payment plan on which days and who we have to call the Mom for, and who we have to call the Dad for payment, and who we have to email the Mom and the secret code words…lol. I mean it’s a whole thing. “I can’t find her in the system, is this another one whose Aunt or Grandma or Mom or Dad pays?” Was a question. And I knew the Grandma’s name and email. And it’s not my patient, it’s some one else’s in the practice. What about this one? “Aha, that’s a partner of x, x sees Rory and pays with this card, Y sees Alana and pays with this card,” “Why is the name different in both systems for both of them?” me “Yeah just accept that’s how it is and move on for this one, it’s too long to explain.”

“This one the transactions look…odd…is this one that we only bill on the 15th because that’s when they get paid?” I mean she picked up quick on the patterns at least. I told her part of her job is sleuthing because she’ll have to figure out the inner workings of my brain. Which is a scary place to go.

She’d ask about random Cigna plans and carve outs of Aetna plans and a NY based UMR plan that carves out to Cigna…and all the things. And it was all just in my brain.

Then after a month she was picking it up and I could back off and I suddenly had these hours FREE at night after the boys went to bed. I had these images and dreams of me being so productive, writing that blog post, folding the laundry, when in reality for the last month or so of free evenings I’ve stared mindlessly at the television watching episodes of Blacklist (I could do without the girl, James Spader is my favorite), murder docs like Murder in the Middle & I’ll be Gone in the Dark, and I went to bed. Many nights.

It was like that meme “My plans for my day off” “Me on my day off”. In the midst of the last month I also opened a second location which has resulted in many many days of moving and building furniture. And still seeing clients. And single mom-ing it. I planned out my Summer for childcare. A whole freaking expensive thing. I hate this country and our lack of support for working parents.

But I digress. I felt guilty the first few nights. Guilty that I had two hours to sit and stare at Blacklist episodes and snuggle with my dog. Then I thought. Fuck that. I get no time to myself. I’ve worked my ass off to get here and I was still working my ass off every day. What is wrong with me that I feel guilty for sitting for two hours and not being productive? When I saw clients this week I actually felt engaged and refreshed and not exhausted and burned out.

I literally thought to myself- this is odd- why do I not feel burned out and exhausted right now? Oh that’s right because I can actually go to bed. And snuggle with my dog. And think about things other than work for two hours a day. I still log in and do work. But I logged in the other day and there wasn’t anything for me to do. It was the weirdest freaking thing.

Within a month it was a forty hour position. I was doing a forty hour position on top of my 32 hours of clients and 8 hours of employee managing. That’s not okay.

I recognize now that was not okay. And I’m incredibly grateful that I took this step.

The best part of my week so far though was reading and watching Kim Kardashian’s comment that women need to work their ass off and no one wants to work these days.

I’m sure you can hear my eyes rolling. To speak as a billionaire who started life in a family with millions…yeah that falls a little flat.

We want to work. We are working. If you don’t start life with millions though it’s a little hard to work hard and still get ahead. Not for nothing but as some one born in 1985 I will never see a pension, I will never have fully covered health insurance with low co-pays and no deductible, I may never get rid of student debt if I decide to go back for my doctorate- if I stay with my master’s I may have it paid off in 5-10 years. I entered the workforce during the “worst economic disaster in history” in 2007. I didn’t get a raise my first three years as a nurse. I am parenting and working during a pandemic- again a “once in a lifetime event”. My clients who are going hungry do not have access to food. I love when a Boomer says, “Well they just need to access the resources, or apply to the state,” yeah that doesn’t exist. There are food stamps- they are extremely difficult to qualify for. There are no state programs that offer housing and food to any one who makes over 18k a year. You can’t live on 19k a year in this state. You go hungry. Like my clients.

But I digress onto a rather large soap box.

My point to this rambling. I work my ass off. Our society dictates we work our asses off. When all is said and done it will take three full time positions to take over all the administrative tasks I do for my practice. I do not want a medal. But I would appreciate a billionaire who was handed millions…to not make a gross judgment about women in a capitalistic male dominated society.

Stay strong. Work hard. Binge watch Blacklist or whatever you like and don’t feel guilty though. Because we all deserve a freaking break.

And yeah. Shut your piehole Kim.