“Gender Not Normal” Why Nanette Made Me Laugh and Cry.

I watched “Nanette” the comedy show by Hannah Gadsby. Freaking amazing.

“Do you understand what self deprecation means when it comes from somebody in the margins? It’s not humility it is humiliation. I put myself down in order to speak, in order to seek permission to speak, I simply will not do that anymore. Not to myself or to anyone who identifies with me.” Gadsby…Nanette

Her show is profound in so many ways. She brings light to so many dark issues in a beautiful voice that is funny and also brought me to tears. She allows herself to be vulnerable and puts tension onto the audience to look at the ugly side of discrimination and rape and leaves it on them. She dares them to own it.

She defines herself as “Gender not normal” which I love because she does not identify as transgender at all, but she presents as masculine and knows it and owns it  and doesn’t mind being misgendered. She also discloses she was physically assaulted at age 17 for being gender not normal. The lesbian population has many “gender not normal” lesbians. I live with one. My sister is another.

I did actually call my sister once, about six or seven years ago, and I asked her, “Are you trans?” I remember she laughed and was like, “No. I’m definitely a girl, and fine with it.” But she presents as more masculine and always has…well since about tenth grade, before that she did have long hair and wore feminine clothing.

Lesbians who wear make-up and are passable as straight are often more acceptable more palatable to society than “gender not normals”. Because they don’t fit the norms. As Hannah says they live in the margins. People see me with my sons and they smile because they are subconsciously categorizing me- white, straight, woman with her two toddler sons who are white little boys.

People in the grocery store today with my “gender not normal” wife and me and our sons…well we got side eyed, very few smiles, and I recognize that we were in a conservative town next to the conservative town we live in surrounded by white heterosexual cisgender individuals who are discriminatory jerks. The older gentleman at the checkout didn’t even look us in the eye.

My wife and I made a conscious decision to move to a Republican heavy town. We had a lot of reasons for moving there and even though I didn’t have language for it at the time I do now. I was fine moving to a ‘red’ town because if we make people tense, well they can just sit there with the tension. I’m not going to make them feel better about it. They have to look at us, they have to see us, they have to experience us as a family, as individuals, as human beings, so that maybe that will look beyond the label of lesbian and gender not normal and see that we are just people.

That we may never agree on politics but we could agree on perhaps the fact that we should be allowed to exist outside of the margins.

I’ve spoken with lesbians who live in Tennessee and Louisiana and Kentucky and they lose jobs because of their sexual identity and their gender not normal presentation. Their kids face horrible discrimination at school. I’ve asked people before, “But why do you stay?” They don’t always have a good answer. Because like I said, I think it’s hard to find the language for it. It’s hard to describe that you can’t leave because this is home. This is my rightful place in the world. I will not be put into the margins. We will be the light in the darkness we will make people sit with their tension we will make people see us. We won’t let them look away.

It’s hard to bring to words the gut feeling you get when you know that your community may not support your family but you can’t leave because it’s your home. You shouldn’t have to leave because it’s your home. So there are lesbians living in the hearts of Republican counties and towns because we have made a conscious choice to integrate ourselves and not separate ourselves as much as some would love for us to just go away.

Not everyone has the voice and the audience of a Hannah Gadsby or an Ellen. But it’s the lesbian family living and existing out loud and proud in the middle of Kentucky or Louisiana or a red little town tucked into the Northeast, it’s these families that are creating tension by being where society says they shouldn’t be. By forcing discriminatory individuals to make eye contact with me as I pay for my groceries. By living with tension in our bellies every day as we know we could be attacked verbally or physically by being outside the margins. But doing it anyway.

“Diversity is strength. Difference is a teacher. You fear difference and you learn nothing.” 

Gadsby…Nanette 2018.

 

 

Why I Will Talk to My Son’s About Sex and Consent

The number of girls and women who tell me stories of date rape never ceases to astound and horrify me.

I’ve been the first one they’ve told. The only one they’ve told. I’ve been the one they told at the start of a long and terrible process of pressing charges. I’ve had to be the one to then tell their parents.

I’ve been the one to tell a Mom and/or Dad that their daughter was raped.

Then I have to explain about date rape. That their daughter was intoxicated or under the influence of drugs and that’s why she didn’t tell anyone when it happened because she felt responsible. She felt she had consented because she may have been too drunk or unconscious so she couldn’t say No. Though she knows she wanted to say No and she knows she certainly didn’t say Yes.

The hardest part is often going back to school. She often has to face her rapist and her “friends” who stood by and sometimes literally watched it happen. She has to face the rumors of kids calling her slut and whore. She has to hope to God when her period is late that she’s not pregnant. She has to sometimes mourn the loss of her virginity to a non-consensual sexual experience that left her wounded in so many ways.

She often holds the blame/shame/guilt that is the rapists in and on herself.

She sometimes sheds her first tears when I tell her none of this was her fault. No matter how drunk or how drugged she was it was up to the perpetrator to not have sex with her when she could not consent.

I’ve had to reassure women and girls that when they went to the police and the police interviewing them asked them “Why didn’t you tell him to just stop?” “You are taller than him, why didn’t you stop him?” “It doesn’t sound like rape” that the policeman was wrong. That they were courageous and brave to go to the police and it was the police’s fault for being asshole’s.

The story is never quite the same. There’s always some different disturbing little detail that makes each time I hear it fucking awful.

The reason I decided to write a blog post about it is because of how incredibly common this is and how incredibly preventable it is. Teach boys and men not to have sexual contact with anyone who cannot consent. And by consent I mean be conscious, coherent, not under the influence of any drugs or alcohol, and verbally saying yes during a discussion about what is going to happen.

We teach kids algebra and we pound US History into their skulls. We teach them the Pledge of Allegiance and how to use Netflix and Amazon Prime and we teach them how to drive and how to do laundry. We guide them in opening bank accounts and applying to college. But we have neglected to teach our children about consent to sex and not to have sex with an individual who is semi-conscious and not able to fully and coherently consent.

Why are we comfortable letting them watch R rated movies with sex scenes but not discussing actually having sex?

What about the kids at the party who know the girl is drunk, who know the guy’s intentions, who sit back and do nothing? Why not teach our kids to stand up for someone…anyone who is not conscious?

The shame is not on the girl who drank too much. It is on the boy who ignored how drunk she was and had sex with her anyway. The shame is on the boy who had to take off her clothes because she was only semi-coherent and not moving. The shame is on the boy who took pictures of the girl after he stripped her and after she puked and blacked out again.

I have two sons. You can bet your ass I will be having many discussions about consent and sex with them. I will not let them be uneducated in this regard. I will put the fear of God into them so that they would never think to put their penis in someone who is not able to consent coherently and without alcohol and drugs in their system. I’m not scared to have those discussions with them. I’d be terrified not to.

Being a parent is hard. There is no rule book. There is no right or wrong way to do it. But I can tell you woman to woman, Mom to Mom, this is one area that is not grey. Talk to your sons about sex and consent.

Protect them from becoming a perpetrator with the same vehemence you would protect them from becoming a victim.

The Marriage Struggle is Real…

I meet people a lot who have been married for twenty or thirty or forty something years. In my line of work mental illness doesn’t discriminate. It goes for married people too. I’ve seen a lot of different types of marriages- heterosexual, homosexual, polyamorous (multiple partners), open marriages, swingers, etc. I wouldn’t say there is one recipe for success because honestly a lot of people I’ve encountered who have been married for decades are not always blissful. In fact some are freaking miserable but it’s been for so long and they are so comfortable and financially it’s the best decision…that they stay.

Marriage isn’t easy and it isn’t for the faint of heart. I can say I’ve learned a lot of what not to do based off the unhappy marriages I see.

Don’t stop having sex. This is key. I’m telling you. No matter what, no matter how tired you are, how unattractive you think you are, how hard it is (or isn’t;), freaking do it. Healthy sex is a common denominator in the healthy marriages I’ve observed. Healthy sex can mean many things to different people. Don’t limit yourself. Be willing to explore your partner’s sexual desires and needs. I swear to you it’s super duper important. When I see people who haven’t had sex in two or three years…well things are not going well and they are not happy. I’ve literally never met anyone who’s said, “Yeah we haven’t had sex in years and we are soooo happy!” Never. Because sex is important. Do it. I didn’t know what sex positive was until one of my friends became a sex therapist. I learned about it. It’s cool. I feel like I was sex positive for my client’s I just didn’t have a label for it. Now I do.

Go on dates. I know this sounds really cliche and dumb. And then people are like “Wahh we don’t have any money,” okay go for a walk. Spend thirty minutes together outside of your house, with no screens. Connecting emotionally is as important as connecting physically. When my wife and I wait too long between date nights we feel it. We start getting all irritable and bickering and then we are like, oh right, we haven’t spent thirty minutes together without insane two year olds and mountains of laundry to fold. We don’t always go to an expensive restaurant. In fact there’s this vineyard near us that we’ve gone to, we buy a bottle of wine for like 15$ then we sit at this table outside with an amazing view, eat all the food we bring, get a little buzzed, and have an amazing afternoon together. No screens, no kids, lots of food, a bottle of wine and each other.

Say “I love you,” say “Good-night” send sexy texts and pictures. Keep the romance alive in whatever way you can. Bring home flowers (ah hem, babe…), jewelry, a book, whatever floats their boat. Do something spontaneous because it’s nice and fun and sexy and feels good.

If your spouse has asked you to do something. Do it. Even if you don’t want to. Even if it goes against everything you do want to do. Do it. Make sacrifices. Show them they matter. Show up when it matters.

There are moments in every marriage when it feels too hard, when there are irrevocable changes that will make the past memories the only ones you have to cling onto. There will be times as you age when you realize you will never look like you did when you were 20, 30, 40, 50…etc. When you realize life won’t ever be the same as it used to be. When you question whether you should move forward with this partner or not.

I can tell you if the sex is still good, the laughter is still shared, affection is freely given and taken, and when you’ve asked them a million times to take out the trash and they actually have, or when you wake up every morning to coffee freshly brewed just for you…in our case also the chlorine tablets always being replenished without me asking…because for real don’t mess with my pool…those are the little things that keep a marriage going. Those are the little patches that bring you through the hard times.

Hard times will come. Jobs will be lost, finances will get strained, decisions will be questions and torn apart, illness will strike, surgery, mood changes, kids (teenagers…oy), tears, pain, loss…so much can happen in a marriage. So much between two (or sometimes more) people. It can seem like a lot to build such an intense history with one person.

For me, to check myself, to know that she’s still the one…I do this thing. I try and visualize my life without her. And when I close my eyes and try to picture my mornings without hearing her bang around the bathroom. My days without the texts and calls. My nights without her next to me. When I try and imagine that and it literally makes me sick to my stomach. I get this ball of dread and knot of fear in there. Then I know, nah, we are still in this. We still got this.

I’ve said that to clients. Try and imagine your life without your spouse. It’s brought some to tears. It’s created this sort of hardened emotionless look in others. It seems to me to be the best barometer.

Don’t ignore your marriage if you have one. Because it will start to slip away. Own it, love it, and don’t turn from the hard times. Embrace them. Because they will make the times shared at a vineyard with cake and wine that much sweeter.

 

 

Feeding the Birds (a half eaten doughnut). One Legacy of my Nana.

My Nana died last November. She died the day before my son’s birthdays. She loved birthdays. So I’m thinking it was her way of letting them have their day. She was quite ill at the time. It was bittersweet to witness her passing.

She was rather particular about certain things. We always used the good china for holidays, church on Sunday’s, we always brushed our teeth before breakfast (yuck), and she always gave us three kisses goodnight when we slept over, “Good night” kiss, “sleep tight” kiss, “Don’t let the bed bugs bite” kiss, and “I’ll see you in the morning.” She loved ice cream, and we often found ourselves at Friendly’s for chicken fingers with french fries and ice cream. I’m sure our parents loved that.

Every time we went anywhere she got french fries. Not for herself, I mean, she’d have a few, but then she’d tuck the rest of them into a napkin and place them in her purse. Yes all types of oily and if they were mine covered in ketchup. She would bring home any type of carb left on the table anytime we ate wrapped in a napkin, “For the birds” she would mumble as she carefully placed them in her BIG purse that seemed to have never-ending supplies of tissues, tic-tac’s (orange, white or green), and yes old french fries. Even if we were on vacation in New Hampshire, she’d still take the fries. Then she’d save them and bring them home at the end of the week. Weird. I know.

Every morning she always threw seed and old french fries out to her birds. Her deep backyard would fill up with birds of all kinds; the majority being big black crows though, and they would chow down. I had to hand it to her, she built a large and loyal following. But seriously, some times we would be at super nice restaurants and she’d still tuck all the leftover bread and fries and potatoes into her purse. Kind of embarrassing. People didn’t know it was for the birds, it could have just been her idea of a doggy bag.

We all kind of tolerated it even though we would roll our eyes and pretend it wasn’t happening. Especially when she’d reach over and not even ask if we were done with our fries. She would just assume we hadn’t touched them in the last two minutes, I’d look down, and they’d be gone.

Fast forward twenty something years. My wife had a bird feeder. It broke. But again, she had built a loyal following. So she continued to put seed out on the lawn. Then a few times I’ve noticed that I have almost involuntarily thrown out some leftover carb products. Then today we were at a nearby orchard that sells doughnuts. Jackson handed me a half eaten doughnut. Without even thinking I wrapped it in a napkin and stuck it into my purse.

We drove home and I went outside with them. I went through my purse to find my phone and found the doughnut. It was this moment like, shit, am I really going to do this? Am I really going to go outside with the half eaten doughnut and feed the damn birds? I’m totally not that kind of person. Not because I don’t like birds or anything, but simply because for so many years we thought my Nana was a little kooky for doing it.

Well as I type this I am watching a collection of big crows eating the pieces of doughnut I threw out there today. And it’s with some pride and warmth I feel connected to that kooky part of my Nana, and with some embarrassment I admit to the world that I did indeed and probably will again, save food for the birds. I mean it’s better than letting it go to waste…right? I can imagine the look on her face today as she watched over me as I threw the doughnut out onto the lawn. A smug smile and perhaps a chuckle with a nod of approval.

My boys at some point will likely be old enough to roll their eyes at me and tell me to not do that in public some day when we are at a nice restaurant. I’ll just smile at them as I tuck some fries or potato into a napkin and stick it in my purse for the birds.

They won’t remember my Nana, but they will know her.

In these uncertain times and after a week of treasonous statements and unrest, it is these small moments that remind me some things won’t change. We can still have love and family even while we as members of the LGBT community live in fear of what’s to come.

 

Why Two Married People Need to do a Second Parent Adoption. And How No One in Tennessee Will Represent Them.

My wife and I are both on my son’s birth certificate. We also live a generally LGBT friendly state. So if I die my wife would likely have no issues retaining custody of my children. My family wouldn’t fight her for the boys, and frankly I can’t think of many people who would actually want twin boys after they spend maybe ten minutes in my house…but that’s beside the point.

In other states such as Oklahoma and Tennessee- a couple things to know. It is legal to discriminate against individuals based on their LGBT status. It is legal for an extended family member or even an anonymous sperm donor who gave up parental rights to sue a Mom or Dad for custody in the event of the death of departure of the second “birth” parent. So to be fully protected in one’s parental rights a second parent adoption- meaning the Mom or Dad who is NOT biologically related to the child even if they are on the birth certificate- is absolutely necessary. It is also necessary in the event of divorce.

Picture this- two mom’s. One gives birth to a child while married to second mom. Second mom is child’s mom in every way. Biological mom divorces and leaves non-bio mom. Non-bio mom seeks joints custody in the divorce. If she lives in TN the judge may very well say you have no legal rights to this child. Doesn’t matter that you’re on the birth certificate. You did not birth them. Your ex-wife does not want to share custody with you. So peace out. Never see your child again.

This happens.

Really let that sink in. Imagine as a Mom or Dad in a heterosexual co-parenting situation. You would never just imaging that your co-parent would never see their child again. I would never imagine saying to my wife who has literally been there since conception that she cannot see them again and has no rights to them. But that’s happening. In TN and Oklahoma and all those other douchebag intolerant states. It’s going to happen more perhaps even federally if SCOTUS changes the way it’s planning on changing.

My message is this- do NOT think there is no discrimination. There is. I’ve heard from a family in TN who is seeking a second parent adoption. They have called every attorney within an hour of them. Not ONE will represent them to do a second parent adoption. They have all cited religious beliefs as their reason. So this family who is desperate to just protect their rights as Mom’s cannot even find someone willing to help them. And this is ALL legal. They went to the Human Rights Campaign and never heard back. Because their case is actually low priority because there is so much worse discrimination going on in our country right now.

Imagine calling every single attorney within an hour radius of your home. NOT ONE. How would that feel to know that all of those individuals would not represent you for something as simple as a second parent adoption. What about if they actually needed representation for a criminal matter or a lawsuit? Who would help them? The answer is no one.

No one has stepped forward to help them.

How incredibly painful and isolating and terrifying.

There are so many stories like this. So many families who are scared to reach out for help when they need it because they have been told politely or not so politely to fuck off so many times before due to other people’s “religious beliefs.”

This makes me sick. It should make you sick. If you voted for #45 it should literally make you vomit. These are your neighbors at the very core just trying to protect their families.

If anyone knows an attorney willing to help families with second parent adoptions in the states of Tennessee or Oklahoma please message me. Those particular states, unlike CT, require a family to be represented by an attorney. It’s another barrier they put up for LGBT families.

These are desperate times for the LGBT population. We need allies.

 

Hot Yoga. Twins. And Freaking Kennedy.

I’ve had a lot on my mind lately. As per usual.

I am trying to ignore the fact that the Supreme Court may change the course of my life permanently. I’m trying to forget the fact that democrats were major pussies when Merrick was up and didn’t play hardball like the Republicans have been doing now. Pisses me off. Now is not the time to be polite. These decisions can become life and death. Back ally abortions killed women. Hate and discrimination kills people still. Though I vote Democrat the party itself is pissing me off as much as the Republicans. Because freaking fight. At least that’s how I feel. I’m not a half ass kinda girl. I’m an all or nothing kinda woman. When I believe in something I will fight for it. Passionately and with all I’ve got.

Off and on since my teens I’ve taken yoga. It always was nice in the moment but afterward I’d be like okay I need to go work out now. As I got older and had more stuff on my plate I didn’t have time to go to yoga then go to a real workout. So yoga fell off to the wayside. Also all the laying on the ground at the end for 20 minutes or whatever just irritated me. I’m not good at meditation nor do I really feel the need to be.

After I had the boys my body was a hot mess. Still kind of is. But less so. Then after a year of breastfeeding. Wow. Even more of a hot mess. I worked with a trainer, hit the gym, but I just wasn’t feeling it. One day in January my wife and I did a date to a hot yoga class. It was amazing. Totally crazy workout that makes me still want to die/puke/pass out on the regular and so intense that I can’t think of anything else because my brain is occupied with the fight to survive the next hour. And we only lay on the floor for 5 minutes at the end tops, and cool music is playing. Not weird meditative crap. And I’m so spent from 55 minutes of craziness I can actually lay there and just zone out.

After that first class I was like. Wow. I found my home. It’s not Bikram. It’s Baptiste style. In a basement type studio with heat set at 94 degrees and humidity to 45%. It’s often hotter and more humid by the end of the class.

I’ve dropped pounds and inches. I even dropped a cup size. Amazing. I bought my first C cup bra ever. I’m just freaking amazed. I gradually increased from once a week to twice a week to three times a week, to sometimes four if I’m not dead.

That hour I take for myself has been life changing. Not only am I feeling better about my body in general but my brain can shut off. I can actually not think about the Supreme Court fuck up and now totally fucked up future of SCOTUS. It’s like it brings me back to the basics. Survive. Survive this hour. That’s pretty powerful.

I leave covered in sweat. I mean my clothes are soaked. The hot yoga towel I put over my mat is soaked. I realized I was making progress when I could make it the first fifteen minutes without sweating yet. I can also do Crow pose which is cool. I can sort of do inversions. But I’m not safe enough to do it in that tiny little room as I would probably kick my neighbor or something.

No one at hot yoga knows my story. The teachers I go to the most frequently know my name. One of them now knows I have twins. I told her last week. But I had been going since January and could just go in and not be me. I could just be a person doing her thing in hot yoga and leave. Not a Mama, not a nurse, not a lesbian, not a business owner. Some one actually thought I was a local college student. I didn’t correct them. Because I’m like wow. I’m freaking old. If you think I’m 22 I’m down with that.

It’s been my own personal journey and is ongoing. I continue to see improvement in my flexibility, my poses, and overall my weight and body. I have muscles in my arms I didn’t know existed. Most importantly I have hope. Hope that I will be myself again somehow. I leave feeling lifted, feeling that no matter how dark things may get, no matter how fucked up SCOTUS will become, that we all have this innate drive to survive. I found mine. Connected with it. Powerful shit.

The world has withstood worse tyrants and worse times than this asshole and every other asshole who supports him. We will survive too. We just have to connect with our drive to do so. It’s there. Promise. Go to hot yoga. You’ll find it. Just don’t talk to me if you find my studio. That’s my zen time. And I generally can’t breathe and I may puke on you. Ha. Yeah.

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?”