#COVID-19

Wishing on a Star

One of my son’s wanted to make a wish on a start last night. He was adamant he stand at the door and wish on the first star he saw. I was working on some masks sitting off to the side and I heard him say, “I wish for ice skates, and coffee cups for my Mama and Mommy, and I wish for all the germs to go away.”

Now I don’t know how he thought of ice skates or where he would go ice skating. I also know my wife has threatened to start throwing out mugs if I buy any more. I am somewhat obsessed with mugs. Apparently we need more though…

When he got to the germs it broke me a little. Followed today by an email from daycare that all kids over 3 are now going to be expected to wear masks at daycare per our lovely state’s Office of Early Childhood Development mandate. Anyone with kids right now is feeling me. You know the pandemic sucks for everyone. But for adults with children between the ages of 0 and twenty it totally blows.

Having kids generally is rough. Having twins also rough. Having twin four year old boys during a pandemic who have to now wear masks at daycare…yeah life is a little much for me right now.

We now can see the smoke from the wildfires across the country. Our sun is orange tinged. We’ve been hit by a hurricane and tornadoes. Race riots. Because yes we are racist in this country. Without the pandemic at a macro level this year has been intense to say the least.

My Dad died a year ago. I legitimately feel age 4 is the worst and most challenging year of parenting for us yet. My sons are high maintenance and even without the pandemic we would have felt isolated this year because it’s very hard to bring them places right now. On a micro level this year has been incredibly stressful on our family.

My business is doing great, but since July I’ve been dealing with a lot of stress related to my business as anyone working in mental health will tell you it’s been a wild ride since March.

All of those things by themselves would be hard for any one to cope with. All of those things and three months of strict stay at home orders, and the constant fear of new stay at home orders, because of a pandemic…that’s a lot.

I’m not including the kittens as a stressor because while they have provided their own stress they are fluffy and playful and cuddly stress relievers for me.

So when Declan wished for all the germs to go away in his innocent little voice I thought, me too kid. In so many ways and for so many reasons me too.

I graduated undergrad in 2007. I started working a nurse that year. I didn’t get a raise for several years and I was told it was because of the 2008 crash. The first three years of my work history was defined by a massive economic downturn. I didn’t grasp it the way I do now. I remember it. I also treat a lot of people now who bring it up as a significant time in their lives because they lost everything. I treat the kids of the parents who lost everything in 2008. They are young adults now. I know in about ten years I’ll be treating the kids of COVID. The kids with memories of losing everything. Parents unemployed. No health insurance. Foreclosures. Divorce. Because people are losing everything.

It’s a bleak post started because of a wish on a star. I know a wish won’t end a pandemic. Science will. Social distancing. Masks. More isolation and more stressors.

I think it’s important to remember those moments though. Those moments when Dec wanted to do something as normal as wishing on a star. I find relief in yoga which I still do regularly thanks to an instructor who started a Zoom yoga class schedule. I find relief in my work and helping others. I feel relief when tonight my son walked up to me and hugged me and spontaneously said, “I love you Mama.” I relished the moment when for a few minutes the boys sat together on the couch with Jackson wrapping his arm around his brother.

If I’ve learned anything from this year it’s that the light and lovely moments are still here we just have to work harder to see them.

“Happiness can be found in the darkest of times if one only remembers to turn on the light.” Albus Dumbledore

#COVID-19 · politics

COVID-19 Journal Entry- My Son Got Stung By a Bee…and all the drama.

Both my sons are dramatic. I mean I don’t know where they get it from. (everyone who knows me personally is side-eying right now). I wouldn’t say I’m dramatic. Sometimes. It depends. Sometimes I am. Very. Dramatic. But in crises I’m usually chill.

My son stepped on a bee. Leading to a bee sting.

They are both dramatic in different ways. There is one son who would have been able to rationally discuss the stinger now sitting in his foot that needed to come out. There is one son who is not rational with anything related to boo boos. Of course that was the one with the stinger in his foot.

He literally walked around on it for hours before even admitting it was a problem. Then when he did admit it was a problem he didn’t want it fixed. He wanted to live with the stinger in his foot in harmony forever. But it was already looking mildly infected.

I grabbed the tweezers and grabbed his foot. You can imagine the screaming that ensued. Before I even actually touched his foot with the tweezers. He wouldn’t let us soak it first, and because he walked around for hours on it there looked to be some pus already building up. Enter the sewing needle; sterilized. Yeah I had to pop it. We don’t go to the doctor in this house when you live with a former ED nurse and former EMT.

He didn’t actually move during all of this. He stayed still. He just screamed. His twin brother was horrified. Running around in circles directly behind his brother screaming and flapping his arms; not distracting at all. After the pus came out we really needed to soak it for me to get the actual stinger out.

So we soaked it. He let us because I think he didn’t want us coming at him with the tweezers. We all took a breath. His breath was hitching as I snuggled him and Spider-Man from the 80’s (his choice) was on the screen. My other son was sitting with us devouring some fruit snacks saying, “Mama I think you should bring him to the Doctor. I think dat’s a good idea.” I gave him the choice. You let me try and get it again after it soaks or we wait until morning and you go to the doctor.

He held up his foot for me. He started screaming again but I had put the needle away so it was only the tweezers. I squeezed it with my fingers and then easily pulled that stinger out. I inspected his foot to make sure and it was all out. No pus, no stinger. I felt pretty damn good about it. But literally for the next forty-eight hours I had to hear about how I “hurt” his foot and that he understood it was to get the stinger out, but I still “hurt” him. He looked at me with such shock at the betrayal.

Okay but I got the stinger and all the pus out. Saved us a trip to the doctor during a pandemic and with a high deductible health plan it was all worth it.

We were trying to reassure him at some point and my wife and I both told the sad tales of our own bee sting experiences. It’s a double whammy because you get stung which sucks, but then you have to get the damn stinger out. Double sucks. It’s like a rite of passage.

I remember thinking that this felt like such a normal moment. That normal things still happen. Even sucky normal things. Kids still get bee stings during a pandemic. Parents still have to pull the stingers out. While my son screamed and my other son yelled at us for hurting his brother it was a moment of insanity but also normalcy.

Then it feels insane that a normally insane moment feels normal.

I often wish we had cameras in our house to capture some of the insanity that occurs. This was definitely one of those moments. His brother flapping around in the background yelling to bring him to the doctor was hysterical. He also then sat next to him and tried patting his leg like I was doing and patting his back. Considering they often emphatically say they are not each other’s best friend it was nice to know they do care about each other.

I think one of the worst parts about the pandemic is the loss of normalcy. To accept this chaos as our new normal doesn’t feel right. So we hold out hope for the old normal. Even though we know realistically it is so far out of reach.

Then I go down the rabbit hole of it’s only out of reach because we have people who believe we sprang from the Garden of Eden leading this country. Science has no value here and I work in a field based in science. I attended a University that when I go to conferences, the presenters quote literature published by people who trained me.

I feel so angry at the lack of leadership that has cost hundreds of thousands of lives. But then I try and tell myself to just be grateful for this normal moment even though it’s a sucky normal moment for my son.

You see why we are all losing it a little bit?!

I can vouch for the fact that we are all losing it. I’ve never been this busy as a practitioner. People who have been stable for a long time are not anymore. New patients left and right. People losing it because they are losing family and friends to COVID and they can’t say good-bye.

Biden finally picked a VP. Within an hour #45 referred to her as a “nasty woman” for reasons that are unclear to me. But he wished Ghislaine Maxwell “well”, he said, “I wish her well,” a suspected child trafficker and child abuser he wishes well. The VP nominee with a stellar history and um no child abuse record…he calls nasty. He wished a child abuser well. That has gotten below my skin more than anything else he has ever said. And he’s said a lot.

I theorize he said it because one monster recognizes another. It’s like the lesbian head nod. Except between two perpetrators…one of whom is our F-ing President…it’s a level of fucked up that causes such a visceral response in me that I can’t describe it. Utter disgust is part of it though.

2020 is better for me than 2019. My Dad died in 2019. So COVID. Elections. Mental Health Crisis. Horrific Presidents and hundreds of thousands of deaths still seems more manageable to me than coping with the grief of losing my Dad. I’m not sure what that says about me as a person I don’t like to analyze it too much. At surface it means I loved my Dad and I miss him. So much.

When I was popping the pus bubble I remember my Dad putting some horrific stinging pink stuff on a cut on my knee when I was young enough to be seated on the kitchen counter. He tended to escalate when I escalated so he wasn’t yelling but he was anxious as he dabbed it on and I screamed and cried. He hated to see me cry. I’ll never forget that. The smell of the horrid pink stuff and his face as he dabbed it on looking horrified and determined at the same time. I laugh now thinking about it. And cry. So many normal moments I miss and crave.

Never in my life has a bee sting felt so right.

 

I mean 2020 has us all fucked up. Don’t judge.

The boys jello jigglers melted in the heat. I’m pretty sure the stinger was in his foot already.

 

#COVID-19

The Pandemic Parenting Guidebook

  1. Don’t listen to any one else with parenting advice. Especially parents who have kids who are grown and not living at home. They have never parented hardcore in a pandemic. I say this with love to all the baby boomers. Unless you’re beaming and saying “You’re doing great!” then shut it. With love.
  2. If you decide to send your kids back to school you’re right.
  3. If you decide to keep your kids home you’re right.
  4. If you decide to sign in voluntarily to an inpatient psychiatric unit (yes we are open) then you are also right.
  5. If you decide to have a birthday party for your child and write to the other kid’s parents about the precautions you are taking and let them decide for themselves then you are right.
  6. If you decide to attend a child’s birthday knowing the risks then you are right.
  7. If your kids miss their school/friends/relatives they are not alone and you are doing the best you can to comfort them.
  8. If your kids spend more time on screens than ever before. Don’t sweat it. They will survive. What’s important is that you survive too.
  9. If you randomly break down and cry because you see your kids wearing masks, you see your kids unable to hug a family member, you see your kids entering a new school alone because you’re not allowed in, or any of the crazy experiences parents have never had and never expected to have…you are right. You are entitled to suffer for yourself and for your children.
  10. If you need therapy or an increase in your meds or to restart your meds…do it. You are right. You are valid.

I’ve had so many parenting experiences since March that I never thought I’d have. I’ve had experiences with my own mom I’ve never thought I would have. She and I attended a pandemic funeral. She had never been to a funeral wearing a mask. And honestly for all those people bitching about wearing masks, my mom wears hearing aids. She can’t see people’s mouths now and the masks are wicked uncomfortable around her hearing aids. She still wears them and doesn’t complain. Because she’s not stupid. My four year olds also wear them without complaint. FOUR year olds. So seriously. I can’t.

Parenting is hard on a good day. People say stupid shit about parenting on a good day. “You asked for this,” “This was voluntary”. During a pandemic…Damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

I wanted to keep the boys home with a baby-sitter for the Summer. Well they revolted and acted like these horrific little creatures I have never met before. They literally forced the baby-sitter out and daily told me they wanted to go back to school. We put them back in school. Then at school we have to contend with all the things of a preschool.

I have to get notes from the pediatrician so they can use lotion sunscreen instead of spray (Spray gave them red raw patches on their necks…so yeah). I have to explain that they can still hug each other at home because they are brothers even though they are taught all day by their teacher to not touch any one because of germs.

I’ve had to explain why I don’t like guns and Black lives matter and one of them actually explained it to me rather cogently the other day, “Mama you don’t like guns because some times the police get the wrong person when they are going after monsters. And they use guns and go…pew pew pew…to the wrong person instead of the monsters.” I mean it’s not a perfect explanation of racism and racial profiling but it’s not bad for a four year old.

We then saw police. Live and in person at a store in the parking lot. The boys both started yelling excitedly about the “guns” and the “monsters”. With their Elsa masks on while I was trying to drag them into Joann Fabrics (to buy more mask fabric) trying not to draw attention to them. As they yelled. About guns.

I’ve been working on making masks in bulk for my niece who is potentially going back to elementary school this Fall. Never in my life did I think that I would be making masks for my niece to go to school. It feels sad.

I’ve been so sick of my kids from working at home and having them home and then I worry about them at preschool being exposed. Being in a place I’ve never been inside of. With teachers who don’t want to put on lotion sunscreen because of the pandemic. Then the boys tell me they are scared to poop at the new preschool because “It’s too small”. I mean what does that even mean?! Do I call the school and ask about the spec’s of the toilets?! Then what if they do poop…teachers who don’t even want to put on lotion sunscreen; are they helping them wipe?!

These are the things on the mind of a parent during a pandemic.

I did bring the boys to a birthday party. The kids are all in their preschool class so they were all kids they were already exposed to and it was outside. It was great. The mom’s and myself and the Dad that was there were all respectful of everyone’s decisions. The kids were stoked to be at a party being normal. And honestly so was I. It was nice to feel normal. I did throw two Elsa masks in with the present for the birthday girl. But other than that we could forget about COVID for a little while.

Not everyone from their class went. And that’s okay.

Parenting pandemic style is like parenting on a good day but you know that point when you’ve been with them for eight hours and you’re counting on your spouse to come through the door and you get a text that they have to stay four hours late for work and you simultaneously want to cry/scream/drop to the floor/tantrum/run away/hide/laugh maniacally….yeah that feeling right when you read that text and your stomach drops…that’s parenting in a pandemic.

So cut yourself some slack. Don’t listen to the “Should’s”. Don’t listen to the negativity and try and remember that the pandemic in 1918 did end. Kids survived and grew up and were not defined by the pandemic. We have hard decisions to make. Don’t underestimate the stress of these decisions. Because there is no right answer.

Going to the birthday party or not going. No right answer. Well, if I were in a state with a massive outbreak then I wouldn’t have gone. But my state is currently doing okay. Oh and I didn’t bring their bathing suits. So yes those were my two sons running naked around the yard through the sprinkler, kiddy pools, and into the moon bounce.

Going to school…no right answer.

Trust your gut. Love your kid. Kiss them good-night. Explain not to scream about guns when they see police officers in a parking lot. And remember there are funny moments. Because kids in general are resilient, balls of energy, and fun. My kids push me beyond my breaking point a lot. But they also bring a smile to my face in times of darkness. They are the light in these dark times. Remember that our youth are our future and they will not be defined by a pandemic. But they will grow into the person you parent during a pandemic.

#COVID-19 · politics

Dear People. 10 Things On My Mind. COVID-19 Journal Entry. Week…17. I counted.

A few things have been on my mind. Maybe 10.

  1. Those memes where people say “I believe in science” irritate me. Science isn’t a belief system. It is fact. The Earth will still rotate without anyone “believing” that it can. The arctic glaciers will still melt as long as we continue to heat up our atmosphere. Germs spread disease. And all humans didn’t magically procreate from two white humans in a garden with a snake. Religion requires faith and belief. Science doesn’t. Science requires discoveries. Humans have to discover scientific facts. We confirm them we don’t magically make them up. The elements in the periodic table existed before the periodic table was developed. They didn’t require a belief system to come into being. When we say we “believe” in science we put it into the same category as a religious faith. They shouldn’t be in the same category. Two very different situations. One based on faith one based on fact. They don’t belong together. Stop saying you believe in science. Say you accept scientific facts as fact. By making it into a “belief” we make it possible for people to “not believe” it and we validate that it’s okay for people to not believe in it. So stop it. Because it exists whether they believe in it or not.
  2. Freaking birth control. Don’t think that Supreme Court decision is anything but a continued war on women’s rights. Do they not cover vasectomies if they don’t cover birth control? Do they not cover ED medications if they do not cover OCP? Vagina’s are scary and penis’ have power. It’s what we are taught to think and believe. Not science. Not fact. Don’t fall for it.
  3. If the 131,000 lives we have lost due to COVID were embryo’s or women’s eggs prior to fertilization…Republicans would be shoving masks on all of us. Apparently pro-life only applies to lives currently or soon to be living in women’s wombs?! I’m not sure. I’ve never been able to get a pro-lifer to explain it to me. I’ve also never been able to get them to explain why they aren’t pro-Brown/Black/immigrant lives if they are “pro-life”. I’ve tried. Believe me I’ve tried. I’ve gotten blocked from a number of “pro-life” platforms for asking such questions. But they still won’t answer even when the freaking block me.
  4. Businesses are either imploding or exploding or staying afloat during COVID. It’s like a marriage for a couple; makes or breaks you. It’s more stressful than I can describe to you. Unless you are a business owner and your family depends on your income you don’t get the stress that I’m referencing. To those of you who do…solidarity and fist pumps. Hang in there. We got this. It’s definitely added an interesting and otherwise unthought of chapter for my “How to open a private practice” novel I’ve been working on. “Surviving a Pandemic in Mental Health” who knew I could write that from firsthand experience?! Living the dream here.
  5. I read this book called “They Were Her Property: White Women as Slave Owners in the American South” written by a Stephanie Jones-Rogers, a Black woman. I was disturbed by the content. I can’t imagine the painstaking research she had to do and the actual emotional pain she felt while doing it. I don’t like non-fiction as a rule. But this was captivating. Like the car accident you can’t look away from. I was in awe of the research and bibliography. I like research and I appreciate the bibliography and I, unlike most every one, comb through it soaking up the details and pondering where and how she accessed some sources. I felt deep shame at being white. I felt deep pain for all the Black people descended from such abuse. I felt horror at the youth and ages of the women with firsthand accounts of owning and abusing slaves as young as age 3. It made the “Karen” memes so much more than just angry white middle age women. It made the “Karen” stereotype based out of generations of entitled racist white women. I recommend reading it. And everything else so we don’t become another generation of “Karen’s”.
  6. My sons started a new preschool. It’s a fucking pandemic. My wife had toured it a year ago. They had a waitlist. Silver lining of pandemic…finally no waitlist and two spots. But. I had to drop my four year old sons off at a building I couldn’t go inside of with people I had never met, wearing masks so I couldn’t even see their faces. It was the most bizarre and surreal experience of my life. They started Tuesday and both mornings my sensitive one has been asking me to come inside with him. I’ve had to explain I can’t and this morning he looked me right in the eye and said, “Bye Mama” really slow, like he didn’t want to leave me at all. I’ve cried both mornings as I get into the car and drive away. It’s the most helpless feeling I’ve experienced as a parent. Tonight he’s been crying for the past two hours. I finally just let him sleep on the floor in my room like he does when he’s sick (it’s carpeted and we pad it with blankets. He likes being near me and I’m fine with it. Don’t Mom-judge me.) He doesn’t handle transition well and between our cat dying and a new school after being home with us for four months…yeah it’s a bit of a transition. I just feel robbed. I am so grateful to have three days with them at preschool again so I can work from home in the silence. Silence I haven’t heard for four months. But I’m angry. I’m angry I can’t support them through this as well as I normally would.
  7. My cat. We put down Rajha a couple weeks ago because she was sick and dying from cancer. My other cat Maddy. She’s a year or two older than Raj. And I thought she didn’t like Raj. I mean at all. In fact I had to put her on Prozac years ago because Maddy was attacking Rajha. Blood. Bad. I had to bring her to a pet psychic. That actually helped more than the Prozac. Maddy was like a cat on Xanax when we left the pet psychic. Anyway. They tolerated each other. Then Rajha dies. Maddy has been losing it. Wandering around crying. Purring really loud in my ear at 2 AM. Meowing more in the last two weeks than in my entire fifteen years with her. It’s nuts. I may have to bring her back to the pet psychic for more ethereal xanax or whatever ju-ju she did. Then because I’m doing telehealth and most of my clients saw Raj on screen…they have been asking about her. I don’t lie. I say she died. Then I’m like should I really be telling this depressed kid that she died?! I dunno. I’m a horrible liar. So yeah. That’s happening.
  8. I was driving home the other day. Crying from the new preschool. I remember there were kind of a lot of cars on the road and I was like, huh this is new. But then I remembered, no this is what it was like before COVID. Remember life before a pandemic? I remember thinking back in March this was temporary. Life would be “normal” again soon. But it’s not. I miss those days. Normal. Before the pandemic. I mean if I really sit back and allow myself to dig in deep and truly feel in my gut about it…yeah I could be brought to tears with how much I deeply miss those normal days before COVID. It sounds so stupid. Because I’m a New Englander and we adapt and we move forward. Don’t cry. Don’t feel. But I do. I feel it hard. Four months in and I want normal back with an ache so deep I can’t describe it.
  9. I watched Hamilton. I googled a lot during and after. I don’t like surprises so I googled Hamilton’s wikipedia profile during the movie. People in the theater would have hated me had I been able to afford to go. I was in awe of it. Lin Manuel is a genius. So is Renee Elise Goldsberry. They were my two fav’s. Daveed Diggs would be tied maybe though. Everyone was dynamic and powerful. Duels are stupid. I still don’t understand why anyone would partake in one.
  10. Our current administration leads me to the same emotional pain as I experience when contemplating white women slave owners. I never thought I would be so deeply ashamed to be a citizen of our country as I am in these days of 2020. Science is fact. Germs are real. The fact that our President doesn’t accept fact and spins fact and jeopardizes human lives while the same senators who preach pro-life rhetoric sit and watch our people die from the spreading of germs…makes me angry/hurt/resentful/grief/fury.

I’ll close with this. I have a vagina. I’m not afraid of penis’s. I don’t think they have special powers. Neither should you.

I know germs are real. I know disease is real.

I am repulsed by few things but our administration is one of those things. Some one please freaking explain to me how you are pro-life for embryos but not for humans dying of COVID?! Pease. I’m trying to understand your belief system even if it is not based in science. Or facts.

Never mind. Don’t explain it. Just wear a mask and educate yourself.

Science exists. It’s NOT a belief system.

Yup. I yelled at you. All caps. Take it. Sit with it.

 

#COVID-19 · politics

COVID-19. Journal Entry 20? My cat died & Silver Linings.

It’s been a rough couple weeks. We had to put one of my cats down. Rajha. I had her for 15 years. She was my baby. Maddy’s my baby too, but Maddy’s my baby in a moody teenager way. Like when she snuggles with you it feels really special because most of the time she just ignores me. Rajha was the opposite. I wanted space from her sometimes. A lot of the time.

She was glued to my side, legs, head, arms…whatever appendage of mine she could be touching. She liked to lick. She liked to be held. She liked to cause trouble. She was my lap cat. She started to suffer though with Lymphoma. So we had to make the decision.

There have been a few silver linings of this pandemic. The one I will be most grateful for is being home with Raj the last months of her life. She was diagnosed the last week of face to face sessions for me. The following week started our stay at home orders. She passed last weekend. So for three months we got to give her unlimited time and attention.

It’s been such a blessing to be with her so much. It also made our decision at the end come much easier because we had seen the decline, and we saw when she started to suffer.

It wasn’t fun telling my sons that she died. They quickly put her “up in the sky” with Poppy, Binx (My mom’s cat who died), and “That lady who’s not your mom but like your mom…” (My Nana their great grandma). Later that night Jackson sobbed “She’s really gone,” and it was possibly the most heart breaking moment we’ve experienced so far as parents.

Around the same time we were told the daycare we’ve been on a waitlist for has openings. Due to the pandemic many children are not going back to their previously preschool or daycare. So we made another tough decision to have them start going back to preschool in July to a new school. Ultimately we think it will be best but another transition for them and for us.

Meanwhile I attended my first post-COVID funeral. I had to make black masks because I couldn’t go to a funeral in my Harry Potter mask. Masks for all occasions are going to be a thing I think. There was no singing. It was a huge church so there was space to social distance. We all wore masks. It was surreal. And hot. And sad.

There is so much anxiety around changes and the pandemic has forced transitions into many of our lives. The BLM movement is taking hold and it has given me such hope to hear all my young clients talking about it and engaging with it and going to protests and marches. Patient’s of mine of all ethnicities and demographics are talking about change and talking about privilege and they are all young. So young. I am proud of them all because I don’t think I was talking about this at age 15.

They ask me hard questions. They talk to me when they can’t talk to their parents who may be more conservative or racist. I had already been thinking and reading and doing and all these young people have made me question more. Think harder. Read more. Do more. Be better. It’s another silver lining.

There were hard days for me in the last few weeks. I grieve my cat. I grieve “normal”. But I am incredibly grateful for these last months with Rajha. I am grateful for all the telehealth sessions I did with her on my lap. I am grateful that she got to virtually meet so many of my young clients who have given me such hope for our future. I am grateful at a time of movement for social justice I am not limited to my own thoughts and beliefs. That I am pushed and prodded by my clients in so many ways.

I had one client tell me they hate #45 and they hate that they know people who support him. I responded that I am incredibly grateful for #45. He allowed me to clean out my friend list on FB easily. He allows me to know who is an actual ally to the Queer community and to me as a person because any one who supports him is not my ally and certainly not my friend. He is so decisive and so hateful that to support him allows me to check those people straight out of my life and to not always wonder if people are actually supporters of the Queer community or are just too polite to say otherwise in front of me.

He’s not polite and neither are his supporters. And I like it. I’m direct. I like to know where people stand. I can still be friends with people who are pro-life and I can still be friends with people are religious or have different beliefs. But I cannot be friends with people who support him because he supports white supremacy. He supports trans-phobia and he condones violence against minorities. His administration is so homophobic that to support them is to explicitly be against my people.

So yes. I am grateful for this moment in time because it takes the guesswork out of everything for me.

But I digress.┬áThese past weeks have felt heavy with grief. They have felt heavy with adulting in so many ways. But the one silver lining of Rajha’s death was Maddy sleeping on my pillow that night and snuggling against my head. She has never done that. In the 15.5 years that I’ve had her.

If you look for silver linings they are all around us. These are chaotic and scary times full of change. But change is needed in our dysfunctional America. Change is coming and if my young clients are any indication…change is already here.

Rest in Peace Rajha. 06/20/2020.

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#COVID-19 · homophobia

COVID Week 12?! Queer Black Lives Matter.

Everyone talked about the protests and the murders the past two weeks. From my ten year olds to my fifty year olds. The Mom’s, Dad’s, children, teens, white, Black, gay, straight…every one. We shifted from being inundated with COVID information to being inundated with who in our social media outed themselves as racist this week.

Have you ever had to look into the eyes of a young Black boy and watch as they cry because they are scared they will be murdered?

Because I have. More than once.

I didn’t realize the number of Black individuals I have on my caseload until the world fell apart over the last few weeks. It’s weird to be a white provider asking my Black clients how they have been coping knowing that I have little to no idea what it is like to wear my minority status on my skin.

I have a complicated relationship with the African American community as a lesbian.

I’ve had many conservative families over the years who do not follow up with me when they realize I am married to a woman. Many of whom were Black. I’ve had friends who are Jamaican and Haitian and they have been very up front with the fact that I would not be acceptable to their parents.

There also seems to be a general skepticism toward mental health among certain parts of the Black community that is around me geographically. I’ve had parents tear me apart because they are angry at my recommendation for their depressed child to take anti-depressants.

I’ve also taken care of many Black Queers and trans individuals who have been disowned because their family is not accepting of their “lifestyle.”

I’m sure you can imagine all of these experiences have led me to have a complicated relationship with the Black community in my area.

Because 1- I am a mental health provider. 2- I am Queer. 3- I am white. 4- I am not religious.

All four of those things together make relationships with certain Black clients and friends in my personal life…complicated.

When I hear Black Lives Matter I think of my young Black clients who are beautiful and some times geeky, and fun, and some of whom I’ve treated for more than five years now. I think that I can’t imagine the world without them and it hurts my heart to think their lives are endangered just by existing in their skin.

But sometimes when I hear Black Lives Matter I instinctively think; Queer Black Lives Matter too.

Martin Luther King Jr is one of my personal heroes. His written works are scattered around my house and I am always down to watch a documentary about MLK. At some point over the years I learned about Bayard Rustin. A “close advisor” to MLK. He was gay. He had a husband of over 20 years. He is not well known and I did not learn about him in history class. Ever.

MLK was known to have to multiple affairs. They both were incredibly intelligent and eloquent. Yet one of them is a legend and one is barely known. One had a long term monogamous relationship, and one had multiple affairs during his marriage. But the affairs were overlooked because MLK was heterosexual. Rustin is not a legend because he was gay.

I think I feel a certain type of way because when I hear Black Lives Matter I wonder if the people saying it truly believe all Black Lives Matter. Queer Black lives too. Because I’ve had experiences that have told me otherwise.

I challenge myself to do the work of white privilege and all that affords me. Because I do benefit from being white. I do not know the fears of having a Black son as I have two white sons.

I am a minority so I do have experiences of being discriminated against due to being a lesbian.

I am encouraged by this new generation of people. My young Black and white children talking about protests. Attending protests. Speaking out and engaging in mental healthcare…it provides me hope. Hope that there is a generation of people who will agree that all Black Lives matter. Not just heterosexual Black Lives. But Queer & Trans Black Lives Matter too.

These past weeks have been emotionally draining in so many ways. I cannot imagine the emotions running through the Black community if white me on the periphery has been feeling this drained.

I do know that I’ve looked into the eyes of people as they cry with fear and anger. A fear and anger that can only be felt by walking the shoes daily from birth as a minority. I know I’ve done this through screens because of a damn pandemic that just keeps marching on.

I know I’ve heard from Black women that they have been raped and not taken seriously by police. I’ve heard from Black men that they have been told to put stuffed animals in the back of their car and a carseat to make it seem like they have children because it may make a police officer view them differently when pulled over if they think they are a Father. I’ve met with Black boys who are literally some of my favorite people on my caseload and felt absolute grief and horror that their lives are endangered and if they become a hashtag I would be…I cannot put into words what I would be. Grief. Anger. Tears.

So you can hopefully see through my ramblings why one Queer woman has a complicated relationship with the slogan Black Lives Matter. I fervently believe white supremacy exists. I absolutely have benefited from this system and actively work to educate myself and challenge my own beliefs and life and educate my sons to not become more products of a white system.

But I also know Queerness. I also know homophobia and transphobia runs rampant in all communities Black and white. So when I say Black Lives Matter I mean ALL Black Lives Matter. I mean Queer Black lives are BEAUTIFUL and WORTHY.

Yeah I went all caps with that. You know I just yelled it.

I’m watching Douglas. Gadsby is great at yelling and I imagine half her show to be all caps.

I don’t think there’s a great way to wrap this up. Sometimes we just have to sit with the tension I’ve created for you. I’ve been sitting with it for two weeks and struggled with how to write about it. So I’m not going to wrap it up nicely for you. I’ll leave you with it. Ask yourself. Do you mean all Black Lives Matter? Or just the straight ones?

 

*** I am very aware that the BLM movement was created in 2013 in response to the acquittal of the murderer of Trayvon Martin. I’m aware part of their tagline is that they value Trans Black Lives. I’m not questioning the literal movement of BLM. I’m questioning each individual who utilizes that slogan. As my own personal experiences have shown me that not all people are accepting of Queer people of any race or ethnicity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

#COVID-19 · homophobia

Week 11. COVID-19. #BlackLivesMatter

Dude. What the ever-loving fuck. I’ve sat down to write a blog post multiple times. I skipped week 10 if you noticed. Because I literally couldn’t formulate coherent thoughts about the shit-show that is happening in this country.

I finally funneled it down into a few significant moments in my own little lesbian life.

My wife bought my son’s water guns. They came home very excited to show me. They also looked somewhat nervous because they knew I would never have bought them anything with the word gun in it. I couldn’t see my facial expression but I know I raised an eyebrow and looked up at my wife who sighed and shrugged in resignation, and my sons looked a mixture of excited and nervous.

They all knew I was gearing up for my soapbox. I remember thinking of a beautiful line from my favorite classic, The Long Hot Summer (Paul Newman version, don’t even talk to me about the 80’s version. It doesn’t exist in my head), when the Southern Daddy says “I get preached to on Sunday….” and young hot Paul Newman interrupts and says, “Yeah and you don’t listen…”

Because I was gearing up to preach. And they all knew it.

I’ll shorten it here. But I basically said until young Black men and boys can play with toy guns I’ll be damned if my sons will use their white privilege to play with toy guns.

It was said in a semi-four-year-old version. I tried explaining that police sometimes go after the wrong person. My sons were quick to interrupt and tell me police officers get “the bad guys”. I had to try and explain that some times they get the “wrong bad guys” and just because some one has different color skin doesn’t mean they are bad.

My wife cut me off when I was about to get a bit too graphic. I forget to keep it rated G when I’m in full on soapbox preacher mode. But I want them to get it. I want them to understand it is a privilege that they could carry those damn water guns. I mean I think they got it.

Then when we watched Out on Disney+ and I was silently sobbing and asked Declan what he thought it was about; he told me it was about the dog causing trouble, and then they got it to stop and could we please just watch Scooby Doo now?!

So yeah…who knows. At some point they will be of an age when they will get it though. Because I’m going to drill it into their heads. Because if Black and women and men have to have these horrible conversations with their kids; I’m having them with mine. If young Black men cannot have toy guns; my sons won’t either.

Because until they feel some discomfort nothing will change. White heterosexual men and women have to feel some discomfort for change to occur. My sons are going to feel it. Because I feel it. Because I am horrified by the state of racism in this country. I am horrified by how the administration condones it. I am horrified by the amount of white people who do not feel at the very least discomfort with these deaths.

Meanwhile let me insert a screenshot of a Facebook post. No, I’m not deleting the person’s name. It was a response to a person asking about LGBTQ resources for online groups for teens who are stranded due to COVID with potentially homophobic and/or transphobic families.

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This is the shit. This is the reason I cried watching She-Ra and Cattra kissing and saving the universe with a lesbian kiss. This is the reason I sobbed watching Out. This is the reason I feel horrified not just minor discomfort by Black boys and men dying. Because homophobia is real. Because micro aggressions and overt aggressions are a part of my every day life because I’m married to a woman.

But I can hide it. I can’t imagine wearing it on my skin.

I find being married to a woman possibly the most challenging part of my life. Because it defines who I am. It makes me vulnerable. It makes me strong, while also wishing there were times I could just break. Could I just be part of a FB group for therapists and not have to experience homophobia? Could I just be a part of society in general and not experience homophobia? Could Black men walk down the street and not be killed?

Could we just co-exist? It seems we can’t.

I know my sons at age four don’t need to know certain things. But I also know some day they will be old enough to know things. And I will tell them.

Another therapy group I’m in asked recently what people do when clients are homophobic and/or racist. I replied I discharge them. There were a lot of therapist-y responses. That’s when I really feel the nurse part of my training come through. I’m not flowery and I don’t feel I owe it to a racist to “try and understand where these feelings come from,” I feel I owe it to myself to take space for my work and allow myself to work with clients I feel I can help without any transference or counter-transference negatively impacting that work.

Week 11. COVID-19. We started hiring baby-sitters because who knows when daycare is going to open. Black men and women are still being killed when they are innocent of any wrong-doing simply because they are Black. And white people still suck. Watch Nanette. “It is dangerous to be different.” Read “Me & White Supremacy” by Layla Saad. Do your work.

And until all children of all colors can play with toy guns; don’t freaking buy them. And when you don’t buy them. Explain why.

“Diversity is strength. Hindsight is a gift.” Hannah Gadsby

#COVID-19 · homophobia

Week 9 Pandemic Journal Entry: She-Ra Season 5 Nailed It.

I was in the midst of writing a pitiful journal entry. Luckily I stepped away and waited a few days to come back to it. Now I guess is technically Week 10 as it’s Sunday. Week 9 was rough. It took one of my son’s about a two days to beg to go back to school and see his friends. It took my other son seven weeks. It took me nine.

I’m an introvert. I don’t like all people. Or most people. But apparently even I miss people. I miss inviting friends over and playing outside together. I miss happy hours. I miss vineyards. I miss child-free nights.

I re-read Harry Potter Book 5,6, and 7. I cried when Dumbledore and Sirius and Dobby died. I also cried at the end when Fred dies. Because that’s just wrong. I’m thinking I have twin boys, and what would I do if we were in a war? I continue to find it interesting that Umbridge is carried away by the centaurs…and raped?! Dark stuff.

Then I read a trashy romance novel. Then I watched She-Ra Princesses of Power Season 5 on Netflix. I was always a fan of She-Ra. Even the scantily clad 80’s original. I had some complaints about the Netflix version. 1- we never find out her origin story (which obviously includes He-Man which is amazing). 2- Glimmer annoys me. 3- So much sexual tension between her and Cattra and no kiss.

Well Season 5 granted my wish- for the kiss part only. 1 & 2 are still not wrapped up. But finally a show where lesbian and gay relationships are normalized and not the central focus of the story. There is no awkward coming out scene. There are no issues around homosexuality. There is just sexual tension built up between certain characters and their gender doesn’t matter.

The kiss between Cattra and She-Ra occurs as Adora (She-Ra’s alter ego) slips away and and cannot access She-Ra. Their kiss allows She-Ra to emerge. A.K.A. a lesbian kiss saves the freaking universe. Literally. The whole universe.

My clients always ask me if I’ve seen this gay movie or that one. I say no. I generally despise all Queer focused movies because it’s all about them being gay. It’s not about them being just human with their sexuality being normalized and not the focus or problem.

She-Ra of Netflix freaking nailed it. No weird Queer side stories. Just a story where the characters can be Queer. And a lesbian kiss that saves the universe.

It took five seasons to get there. But we made it.

For all you hetero’s who don’t think this is a big deal- that’s your privilege showing. Every movie and show and novel is heteronormative. Often the Queer characters have being Queer as the storyline. It defines the character.

When really being Queer doesn’t define me or my life at all. It’s a fraction of who I am. It’s almost impossible to find a show or movie where being Queer is “normal” and it’s not a big deal and it’s not the defining feature of that character or the “problem” in the plot. She-Ra and Cattra don’t save the universe with a lesbian kiss. In that moment, in that episode, and in that entire series it’s just a kiss between two people who love each other.

It allows the central character to access her alter ego which can only be accessed when she embraces love. I don’t think they use the word Queer, lesbian, or gay at all in five seasons. Yet gay characters are everywhere. It’s amazing and had me in tears for the entire last episode. Finally. Normal gay people who aren’t defined by being gay.

Watch it. Love it. And if you write books or scripts replicate it. Don’t make media about being gay…because we are so much more than just gay.

 

 

 

 

#COVID-19

Week Eight. COVID-19 Journal Entry

This is Week Eight. I don’t think I’ve ever been able to count something so effortlessly as I have this pandemic with it’s stay at home orders. Literally. I have never kept track of anything in weeks or months. Except maybe my age. And the number of months until my favorite book released.

So eight weeks. Why has it been so easy for me to mentally keep track of these weeks? Because it is unprecedented. Nothing in our lifetime could have prepared me for this. Because from the start there have been so many unknowns. So much fear. So much time with my kids.

Also quite possibly the most isolated time and the most prolonged in our lives.

The Summer between my junior and senior year of college I was very alone. I lived alone. I had broken up with a long term boyfriend, and had yet to make many new friends. I stayed up at school in my apartment off campus where I lived alone. I worked full time though. I went for runs daily in a park nearby. I was able to see the few friends I did have whenever I wanted. I have thought back on that time a lot during this time of isolation. That was probably the closest I came to pandemic level isolation.

It was a hard Summer for me. I felt acutely alone. Now I have my sons and my wife and my cats. The cats were with me that Summer also. It was my first Summer with them having rescued them both in March. I think the cats enjoyed that Summer of isolation more than the pandemic.

They now have to dodge my boys and they aren’t as fast with their reflexes as they once were. I’ve seen some clients who live alone. They report feeling that level of loneliness and isolation that I touched on roughly 14 years ago. It’s hard to overcome without underlying mental illness. I remember I sewed a lot that Summer. I ran a lot. But it always took motivation to not sit and wallow in my loneliness.

Some of my clients don’t have that resilience or ability to pull through that motivation in these dark times. Especially with the financial stressors on top of the isolation. While I am overcome with the constant chatter of my boys I am also relieved to have them here with me. The memory of my loneliness carries with it a wave of sadness. I joke that I would be loving this pandemic if I didn’t have kids. But it’s not true. I would be hating the reminders of a time in my life of being very much alone if I didn’t have my kids.

We will come through this time. For those of us going through it with our families there are certainly challenges. But for those out there enduring this alone. My heart feels for you. I hope you have some social or family or professional connections that make it more bearable. I knew only one Summer of loneliness. It’s less than many feel in a lifetime, and more than some feel in a lifetime.

These eight weeks have been filled with a busy practice running out of my home office. Many fires in the fireplace. And as I mentioned, the constant chatter/yelling/crying/screaming/banging/running of two four year old boys. I count myself incredibly blessed to not be riding this out alone and to have kids who still cherish the sight of me instead of teenagers who’d rather be rid of me.

This marks eight weeks. Stay strong. Stay safe. Reach out for help. Mental health providers are still accepting patients and still providing a connection to the outside world.

Things that have happened- Star Wars Rise of Skywalker came onto Disney+, #45 still sounds/acts/talks crazy, we opened the pool and had our first swim in it (thank-you pool heater:), some areas lifted restrictions and shockingly had increases in COVID cases, I received my bulk order of 1/4″ elastic that I placed 8 weeks ago…yay for mask making! Pic is view from my home office window.

#COVID-19

Week 7. Journal Entry. To the Parents…I See You.

The last two weeks my practice has been taking upwards of ten referrals a day. We can’t take everyone. There aren’t enough of us and I’m the only person who is full time.

I try and get back to every one. I’m not sure I’m always successful. Between the e-mails and phone calls and seeing patient’s at least nine hours a day, often more, and dealing with insurance companies…yeah it’s a lot. Aetna screwed up my reimbursement and they only let you give them three claims at a time that need to be corrected when I call provider services.

It’s their error but I’m the one who had to call three times to have them re-process nine claims. I emailed my rep and blasted them. Then sent the remaining ten via email to her to process in bulk.

Anthem. I can’t even comment on Anthem. At the end of this I will be dropping them.

Meanwhile I still have two four year olds screaming in the background of all my sessions.

My clients are all anxious. They all can’t sleep. They are Mom’s feeling like failures because they’ve yelled at their kids more in the last six weeks than ever before. They are teenagers stuck inside missing out on their senior year- senior prom, graduations, it’s all passing them by. They are Queer or abandoned young adults who had found refuge on college campuses; now finding themselves homeless; couch surfing or taken in by a generous friend’s family. They are front lines worker’s fearing for their own safety and the safety of their families.

They are front lines worker’s who have already tested positive. They are family member’s of people who have died from COVID.

For the people protesting this lockdown and calling it all a hoax. Sit in my chair for one day. Then take yourself back home. People are dying.

It’s a heavy time for mental health professionals. We are carrying the loads of everyone impacted by COVID. Because I haven’t talked to one person who hasn’t been affected by it.

There is a general feeling of exhaustion among parents. We are tired. We want a break from our kids. At least I do. And many of my friends and clients agree. I don’t miss the daycare bill. But I miss the reprieve. My kids do too. Even my Jackson. He’s finally started asking to go back to school. Only took him seven weeks to miss it.

I keep trying to be grateful for having a job. For having an income (no thanks to Anthem). I’m grateful for my health. I’m grateful for…yeah then I fall flat. Because I desperately and acutely want life to go back to normal. I feel like I go through the stages of grief. All five of them- rapidly- daily. Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. Acceptance. Except I think I mostly skip the acceptance part. Maybe that’s when I’m trying to be grateful. Definitely lasts a minute. Maybe less.

I deny that this will permanently change my life. I’m angry that our whole life was turned upside down. I try and think in my head the different ways I can fix this. Then I get sad because I know I can’t. I see some clients. That may or may not make me more sad. Then I accept. Then I start over again.

It’s twisted.

We try and make things seem normal. But they aren’t normal. The first two weeks were like adventure camp. The next two were like an outward bound likely abusive wilderness camp. The last three weeks were a blur. So busy with work and clients. Aching for warm weather. Making follow-ups into July and saying, “Maybe we will be face to face by then…”

I’m meeting people’s pets. They are meeting mine. Both cats make frequent appearances on camera.

During a rare hour of me working with my wife out…me doing an intake; I wiped one of my son’s butts while on facetime. The things I never thought I’d do. Wipe poop during an appointment. The struggle is real. The client actually had no clue and was relaying a rather distressing part of their history.

I tried to maintain a neutral expression as I slowly moved down the stairs and into the bathroom, (in response to him screaming “MAMA! I POOPED!! CLEAN MY BUTT”) then wiped with one hand while carefully keeping the phone held up and in the opposite direction. My whole body was contorted and it was one of those times I wish we were filmed. Because that would have been reality tv gold.

My friends in mental health agree. We are all beat. We all feel the brunt of this pandemic on our clients. We all also feel the brunt in terms of the broken healthcare system. Clients can’t pay their premiums or their deductibles. Then they get mad at us for billing them. I do payment plans, and reduced fees, but I need to get paid also. It’s a reflection of our broken healthcare system but it gets taken out on healthcare workers who are business owners.

Seven weeks. I crave normal more than I can possibly put into words. I crave time away from my kids. I crave normal volume of referrals. Not ten a day. Not desperate pleas for help. I crave work that is separate from my home. Because the blending of the two makes it harder to create boundaries for my personal life.

Our coffee maker broke this morning. I had an epic meltdown. We have a new one now. I’ve said this to my clients and feel that it resonates with me…I’m filled up. Too much stress. I can’t handle extra stress. Broken coffeemaker…that went into the extra stress category and I couldn’t deal. I made one of my sons eat his muffin on the deck. I was sick of vacuuming the crumbs. It’s not warm out- not freezing- but not warm. Within about thirty seconds I felt like maybe I should let him back in. But my wife didn’t say anything. So he finished his muffin on the deck. Then he cried. I cried. In the midst of the meltdowns and muffins his brother stated “He will get eaten by coyotes!” And my wife and I shrugged and said maybe.

That’s where we are at. His brother opened the door and announced he would save him from the coyotes because obviously both his Moms have lost it. But legit, the amount of crumbs is not just a little bit. It’s like half the muffin on the floor.

If I have to tell them to leave the cats alone one more time it might break me.

I’ve already warned my co-workers who work inpatient to just drug me up and let me sleep if I make it in there. Honestly it would be a relief. Bed. Drugs. No kids. You know it’s bad when you’re dreaming of a psychiatric admission.

This is the essence of COVID stay at home orders. Feeling filled up and still having to make room for more.

Seven weeks. Hang in there. Parents of kids…we are all heroes after this for making it through alive, sane, and with our kids intact.

P.S. #45 still sucks. No surprise there. North Korea’s leader may be dead. Weird. And New Zealand’s leader is killing it. But female leaders all are too emotional and irrational to lead…and the e-mails.