These are my most popular blog posts over the years.

July 2013

The Weight Has Been Lifted

2017-03-25T23:08:01+00:00July 5th, 2013|classics, LGBT, Thoughts From A Psychotherapist|

I’ll admit it. When the Supreme Court decision on DOMA came down I  bawled.  It is truly a moment that I never thought I would see in my lifetime.

I thought more about my reaction as the day passed. Eventually I realized that I bawled because I had become so used to being a second class citizen that on some level I never thought it could change. I lived through the passing of Prop 8 in CA and it was excruciating. To have marriage equality granted by the courts in CA and then taken away by popular vote was both a painful moment in LGBT history and for me personally.  At that point it seemed like gays would never obtain full equality in the US.
So on a day when the Supreme Court overturned DOMA because of Equal Protection things shifted In this country. That decision means that my country has now acknowledged that lesbian and gays are discriminated against and shouldn’t be. Because in our democracy all people should indeed be treated equal. It is a huge ruling. While it certainly doesn’t end discrimination against lesbian and gays it is an enormous jump forward.
Walking through a life where you are treated differently has a cost. You have to find a way to move through the world without constantly being angry. But there is a weight on you and you don’t realize how heavy it is until some of it is lifted.  And the Supreme Court took much of that weight off of my shoulders.
There is a unsourced quote that says “Crying doesn’t indicate that you’re weak, it just means that you’ve been strong for too long.” And that sums it up. For years gay people have had to be strong in the face of discrimination and now with this decision they can instead be hopeful that soon there will no discrimination against gay people that is legally permissible.  And that is a day I now feel like I will see in my lifetime.  And yes I will cry when it arrives.

June 2013

How To Keep That Aloha Spirt-Or Not

2017-03-25T23:08:02+00:00June 7th, 2013|classics, mindfulness, Thoughts From A Psychotherapist|

I will confess that I was born and raised in NJ and I have the East Coast Type A personality that 20 years in CA has not been able to beat down. But I want to be that relaxed person you read about; the person I am not sure I have ever totally met but have heard about so often. So after a recent vacation in Hawaii, a wonderful place where people are just calm and unhurried, I tried to bring that Aloha spirit home with me.

Yesterday when I was driving to work I ended up trapped in a situation where only one car could go through each change of the traffic light. I could write another blog post about how the people that design traffic intersections in the Bay Area apparently only ride public transit, but that would only really be therapeutic for me and not very Aloha. So as I sat there watching the lights turn green and then back to red again while being unable to move forward I worked hard on finding my Aloha spirit. I took deep breathes, I reviewed a gratitude list in my mind, I sang along loudly to music and I thought I had it. But then as I crept closer to getting through the intersection the person a few cars up totally stopped. And it was still a green light! Before I could take a deep and cleansing breathe my hand slammed down on that horn. Mr. Construction Guy to my left looked at me sadly as I hung my head in shame. Mr. Construction Guy to the right tried to get the next person to go through the light, but they couldn’t understand the complicated set up so they sat there. And there we went through another round of lights.

I tried not to berate myself as I drove on to work. I worked on trying to understand what happened. I was only really held up about 10 minutes and it was on a day that I had left early for work so I had plenty of time. I just think it came down to the core NJ girl popping out. I strongly believe in being your authentic self and apparently right now my authentic self is an impatient driver. So I will look today for another way to move slower and more peacefully through my day, knowing that for a Type A former NJ resident that may look a little different that my CA friends expect.  And I am okay with that.

April 2013

Silence=Death in the age of Marriage Equality

2015-01-17T16:46:05+00:00April 2nd, 2013|classics, LGBT, Thoughts From A Psychotherapist|

Gay brothers and sisters,… You must come out. Come out… to your parents… I know that it is hard and will hurt them but think about how they will hurt you in the voting booth! Come out to your relatives… come out to your friends… if indeed they are your friends. Come out to your neighbors… to your fellow workers… to the people who work where you eat and shop… come out only to the people you know, and who know you. Not to anyone else. But once and for all, break down the myths, destroy the lies and distortions. For your sake. For their sake. For the sake of the youngsters who are becoming scared by the votes from Dade to Eugene.

  • “That’s What America Is,” speech given by Harvey Milk on Gay Freedom Day (6/25/1978)

In the 70’s the gay activists took the pink triangle symbol, that had been used to designate gay people in concentration camps during the Holocast,inverted it and reclaimed it.

When I came out in the 90’s the triangle was the most prominent symbol at gay right events. Silence=Death was very real for many people because of the loss of so many lives during the early years of the AIDS epidemic while those in power stayed silent.

Now when you go to a gay pride march you will more likely see a rainbow flag and a set of gay parents pushing their children in a stroller. And that is a wonderful thing.  It happened because people have come out as Harvey Milk implored them to do in the 70’s.  The biggest shift in LGBT rights has happened because now the majority of the country now know someone gay.

I bring this up today because, as the fight for marriage equality got so much press in the last weeks due to the Supreme Court cases, it is easy to forget the past. But as I talked to people during these last weeks as much as there was joy expressed at the shifts happening there was also pain. Just because equal rights are coming doesn’t mean the past didn’t happen. And it doesn’t mean that LGBT people are safe in this country, because many are still not.  So celebrate the victories but please don’t forget the past or the people that still cannot live their lives without being discriminated against.

September 2011

Let’s Talk About the Reality of Dementia

2017-03-25T23:08:08+00:00September 23rd, 2011|caregiving, classics, dementia, Thoughts From A Psychotherapist|

The legendary Pat Summitt (Coach of the Tennessee Lady Volunteers womens basketball team) recently disclosed she has early onset Alzheimer’s dementia. She is 59 years old. Reporters asked other coaches and past players to comment and they invariably said things like she is tough and she will make it through. Pat Summitt is undoubtedly a very tough and accomplished woman whom I admire immensely (even if I haven’t forgiven Tennessee for beating Rutgers a few years back). But dementia is not cancer, and you cannot beat it. You can be brave as she has been and use your celebrity as an opportunity to educate people about a horrible illness, but inevitably Pat Summitt will cease to be the person we know her as. There is just no getting around it.

I understand that when reporters ask such questions people don’t want to say how difficult her life and the life of her family will eventually become. Their lives have now been changed in such a profound way that there are no words for it. Her family will watch this celebrated woman become confused and watch her personality change in ways that they cannot even imagine at this point. They will need to make decisions on how to best care for a woman who probably hasn’t asked for help much in her entire life. Does she live with her family or in a facility? Does she go to day treatment or does someone to come in and check on her? I hope the days are long before her family has to answer those questions. I also suspect that when things get bad Pat Summitt will disappear from public eye and we won’t hear much again until she passes away.  Her family will make that decision to protect her legend. It is the same decision I imagine I would make in those circumstances. But if we never see dementia sufferers or their families when the illness gets bad, how will we ever have any idea of what to expect if it happens in our family. Many of us who are now middle aged are going to face this struggle with our own parents. Perhaps we have already watched our parents go through it with their parents. It is estimated that 1 in 8 Americans over 65 gets dementia and half of those over 80 have it.

Yet do we ever really hear the caregivers talk about it? The toll it takes on them to care for a parent in one of the most difficult struggles that they will ever face. What it is like to take of the person who always took care of you, or even worse take care of the person who didn’t take care of you. The emotional toll is devastating, but caregivers often don’t talk about it because they may feel resentment, but not want to admit it. You can deeply love someone and still have feelings of anger, sadness, and frustration while you are taking care of them. Care giving is an emotionally charged and complicated position to be in. Yet we don’t talk about that part of it. Most of us don’t know what to say to someone going through it. A caregiver may not reach out because of guilt or just feeling so emotionally burdened that they cannot talk to others. Alzheimer’s causes a grief that can go on for years. You lose the parent numerous times before your parent is really gone.

I wish Pat Summit and her family all the best. I hope she has many years of coaching ahead of her. But I also hope as our country ages that we start talking about not just those who suffer from dementia, but their families too. Let us not just pretend that it gets better, because it doesn’t, but we can help people feel supported in their own struggles.

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