Actions Don’t Speak, They Scream

As you might expect, the process of working Dave/Davie’s gender fluidity into our lives has been difficult.  It’s a lot for us to understand, figure out, adjust to – – so it’s bound to be hard for others, too. I get that. I don’t fault people for finding it awkward, or even uncomfortable – it is. I mean, it still is for ME sometimes.

But I liken the situation to my rant on racism in http://thetangentgirlvolumes.com/index.php/2018/08/15/no-parent-no-child-no-person-should-know-this-fear/ — what you think or feel is a natural reaction you don’t control, but how you ACT determines whether or not you are being a bigot. You can feel awkward but decide to try and move past that, to step up and treat the person in front of you as a human being who is no different from any other human being. And hey, I agree that how you conduct yourself can also depend on the person you’re dealing with. If they are someone who easily takes offense to innocent missteps, the fear of doing something wrong may make you try to avoid them. But if the person you are dealing with is laid back and understanding and nonplussed, and they openly express that, you really have no excuse.

I should be thankful that we’ve not directly faced any bad or upsetting situations to date (there’s an indirect situation to be sure, but that’s far more complicated than this one issue.) Awkward yes, but not bad. But that led us into a sense of complacency. We let our guard down. So when the freight train came, especially coming out of no where, it was that much worse.

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Dave came to Vancouver last week at the end of my conference to stay for an extra few vacation days exploring the city. He arrived in time for the dinner with my colleagues that we always have at these events (~35 people from across 4 campuses). Now I’ve made it no secret since he came out, including at my office, that Dave is gender fluid, but it’s not like I’m walking up to people and randomly saying “Hey, my husband is queer, FYI!”

(No Debbie, I DO NOT want to hear about your liquid gluten free organic vegan diet and hot yoga classes, thank you very much.)

So knowing that he would present as Davie should he be feeling feminine that night, I did feel the need to try and give a heads up to everyone there. I’d recently had a situation where someone had missed my off-hand mentions of his fluidity and was mortified by their reaction to meeting Davie for the first time because they really were totally fine with it, just taken by surprise. I didn’t want anyone else to have that happen to them. I didn’t get to every single person coming, but got to a good chunk, and everyone seemed cool.

So the dinner started out with a little bit of mingling, and it was awkward, but people were chatting with us. The wait staff kept asking me to have everyone take their seats, but I wasn’t having much luck, so Davie and I were the first people that sat in hopes the others would follow suit. After about 5 minutes or so the wait staff were much more direct and folks found a seat. There were three tables set up – an ~20 person table and parallel to that, two ~11 seaters arranged end to end so they were the same length as the larger table. We were at the end of the shorter table opposite the other short table. One of the attendees, P, was the only one there from her campus, but she knows me, so she came and sat with us.

AND THAT WAS IT.

Everyone else crowded themselves into every seat at the larger and other smaller table, barely with any elbow room, and left a yawning gap of 8 empty seat between Davie, myself, and P and the other small table.

I was stunned. And upset. And angry. I’d told Davie this was a safe space. I’ve worked with some of these people for over a decade; I even considered a few of them my friends, some of them even have their own LGBTQ connections. How could they do this? I felt a tremendous sense of guilt for being so wrong, and because of that for putting Davie (and myself) in that position.

I also felt utterly embarrassed. The situation was not subtle. The head waiter came and hesitantly asked us if we expected anyone else to join us, and all I could do was say, “Guess not.” He paused a moment, kind of taking the whole thing in, and then said “You know what? That’s good! It just means you three ladies are a smaller group so we can get you everything first!” And true to his word, he was super attentive to us all night. But he noticed BECAUSE IT WASN’T SUBTLE. He handled it beautifully, couldn’t ask for better, but the fact that it was so obvious was humiliating.

And here’s the thing – I didn’t know everyone who was there well, I don’t work a lot with the folks at the other campuses. I wouldn’t expect someone to necessarily sit with someone they don’t know even under “normal” circumstances. But I did know over half of the people there. And I don’t necessarily believe that every person purposefully choose to sit elsewhere to avoid us. But like I said – IT WASN’T SUBTLE THAT WE’D BEEN LEFT SITTING ALONE. At any point any of them could have said, “Oh hey, let’s go sit with Tiffani & Davie – there’s lots of open seats and we don’t want them to feel ostracized.” But no one did that.

And honestly, I don’t know which of those things is worse – avoiding us or having so much apathy and so little compassion for someone that you’d leave them in that position. It’s every socially-anxious teenagers nightmare – I thought that shit stopped back in high school?  I mean, I hate making small talk with strangers, but no matter how uncomfortable I felt I could never do that to another human being, whether I knew them or not. It was immature. And hurtful and cruel.

I wanted to just leave, but I had my boss’ card to pay, and it wasn’t like I could just hand his credit card to someone else. So we sat there, for 2 hours, enduring this and trying to make the best of it. Thankfully P is an amazing person and the three of us did manage to have some fun, but there was a cloud hanging over the whole night. I only got a few hours of sleep that night and spent the rest of the time crying. To be so blind-sided by people you trust(ed) and respect(ed) was absolutely crushing.

I guess something bad had to happen at some point. The reality is, not everyone is accepting, not everyone is willing to sacrifice their comfort for the good of someone else’s feelings and well-being. I just wish this hadn’t been where that played out.

 

There’s a lot more where this came from! Want to read about bunny assassins and loved ones lost and deranged Christmas shoppers and surviving suicide? Please check out the rest of The Tangent Girl Volumes!

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The Present of Presence

Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.

~Aldous Huxley

[This post is definitely going to be considered TMI by some folks, so please feel free to opt out now if any mention of intimacy, no matter how generalized and vanilla, gives you the creeps.]

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about taking things for granted, and Dave and I have recently had a number of discussions about it, too. A lot of my thinking started while he was away in Greenland, about how much I don’t know about what needs doing or how to do it around the house because I never have to think about it – Dave takes care of it. I’ve tried to be better about being cognizant and helping out, though I know I’ve backslid on that a little as of late.

As for Dave and I, the discussions have been a bit different. When we first got married, Dave worked at a construction-type job and had to leave the house by like 5am or something. AND he was taking night classes. Despite that, every morning before he left he would lay next to me and rub my back, or rub my feet… just 5 minutes or so of doing something, with no prompting whatsoever, to have that quiet moment at the beginning of the day to connect and show me he cared. At some point along the way, that stopped. But recently, after he got back from Greenland he started doing it again. He said it occurred to him that though he had even less time back then, he’d made the effort. So why wasn’t he doing it now? Why did he start taking that time and the emotional impact it had for granted? You realize, in the end it’s the small things that most define our relationships, but it’s almost as if we stop “seeing” each other at some point. We go through the motions without ever really stopping to consciously be together. It’s amazing how different it feels when you choose to be present.

I is here. And I boops yur snoot cuz I luvz you.

And that’s led to another discussion. Even after all these years, we’re fortunate to still like each other and to still enjoy an active intimate relationship. But my paranoia has always left me wondering – is it really everything he wants and desires? Am I really fulfilling his needs? We’ve talked about this (endlessly) in one context or another for as long as we’ve been together. He’s always assured me that it’s all good, he’s happy. But that niggling little voice in my head…. is he really enjoying it, or is he just enjoying my enjoyment? (Yes, my asshole Brain is the worst roommate ever; living inside my head is exhausting.) For me, part of it has been driven by the irony that he is very effusive with his love in our day to day life – holding hands, kissing, hugging, being very verbal – telling me he loves me all the time; but that’s felt somewhat missing in the sexual part of our relationship where he’s far less vocal.

And the reason I talk about all of this is NOT to be all TMI and whatnot. I wanted to write about it because it directly relates back to what I’ve been spending so much time thinking about for several months –  of taking things for granted, of not being present, and being the worse off for that. When Dave and I have talked about this intimacy issue these last few weeks, the realization was that physical pleasure is lessened without conscious attention to the emotional intimacy, as well. A conscious connection, which requires a purposeful focus – paying attention to your heart, not just your body, and sharing that connection outwardly with each other in the moment – actually makes the physical more intense. It’s like eating an amazing steak, the BEST there is to be had in all the world, and taking for granted that it’s so good that it must be as good as it can be. But then you suddenly have that steak with some salt and it intensifies everything, turns it into a completely different experience, into something you didn’t even realize you were missing. Being consciously present makes everything better.

Humans may have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted, but thankfully we also have an almost infinite capacity for learning if we are willing to do so. Dave and I aren’t going to turn into Buddha overnight because of morning back rubs or a better sex life, but I’m okay with that. What I’ve got is nothing to take for granted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s a lot more where this came from! Want to read about bunny assassins and loved ones lost and deranged Christmas shoppers and surviving suicide? Please check out the rest of The Tangent Girl Volumes!

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Old Dog Doesn’t Like Your Tricks

My husband Dave and I have been together for 22 years, married for almost 19 of those. Despite the fact that I travel for work, we’ve spent no more than 6 days apart, and that was once. The work trips tend to be only 3-4 days. And it’s kind of pitiful, but I don’t know how to emotionally function for such a long period of time without him.

We knew travel was going to be a part of his new job, but we’d been told most trips were just a couple of days here and there, at the most a week, so I was prepared to handle that. But on day two at his job they asked him to take the current work trip he’s on — 16 days in Greenland. There are a lot of reasons why this trip is an aberration which isn’t likely to happen a lot, if ever again, but it doesn’t need to happen a lot. It’s happening right now and I’ve been a mess.

That day we found out he was going I already had an appointment with my therapist. Needless to say the entire content of our conversation during that session was about the trip. Several times in different ways my therapist asked me: what was I afraid was going to happen with him being gone?

What was I afraid was going to happen? I was afraid what was going to happen was that he wouldn’t be here. I’ve been having multiple panic attacks every day, and this Tuesday, which was the day after my birthday (I know, right?) was the worst. My heart was racing and I felt nauseous most of the day. Why the hell does there have to be some actual impending catastrophe else I have to feel like I’m pathetic for being freaked out? It’s ridiculous that there has to be some event or issue that drives my negative emotions about this. I’m completely stressed because HE’S NOT HERE. I don’t understand why even my therapist couldn’t understand how difficult it would be to not see my husband for so long, to not have the simple but vital comfortable of his touch. Touch is important – through it he grounds me, he calms me, he recharges me. I love him. Isn’t that reason enough to be freaked out?

These 15 days have truly felt like a month, and my nerves are frayed to the breaking point, but the good news is he is finally coming home tomorrow. And I can guarantee three things:

  1. I am not going to sleep tonight.
  2. I am going to burst into tears the minute I see him.
  3. I am not going to let go of him until further notice.

 

There’s a lot more where this came from! Want to read about bunny assassins and loved ones lost and deranged Christmas shoppers and surviving suicide? Please check out the rest of The Tangent Girl Volumes!

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And find me on my Facebook page at Tangent Girl Volumes and on Twitter @tangentgirrl

 

 

No Parent, No Child, No PERSON Should Know This Fear

Note:  I want to be able to boost this post, so it can’t have any profanity in it. This is VERY hard because this topic deserves f-bombs about every other sentence. Feel free to add them mentally as you read.

 

I believe in serendipity. I’ve been listening to podcasts again lately and while it was never actually a topic of any of those, it’s gotten me thinking again about my son and what it will mean for him to be a black man in this world. So I decided to write this post today. Then, before I sat down to write, I saw this video on a friend’s Facebook page.

I know it’s 5 minutes long, but PLEASE watch it.

I had to close my office door because I couldn’t help but cry as I watched it. The unfairness of it all shakes me to my core. When the one mom says – no one else has to have this conversation with their child my tears became angry tears, because she’s right.  I’m sure that parents of kids of middle eastern descent and LGBTQ kids have to have a conversation as well, but I don’t think it’s the same. The thing about those conversations is that they are to warn their kids about the bad guys; about the racist jerk on the street, the homophobic redneck in the store. It’s to warn them against the “bad guys.”

But for parents of black children, most especially sons, we are stuck having to warn them about the good guys. And it is as they say in the video – not every law enforcement officer is a racist; but enough of them are at the very least programmed to “profile,” and enough of the institution of law enforcement is at it’s core racist, that those police officers that aren’t racist are irrelevant. Those bad guys preying on Muslims and the LGBTQ community are generally easy to spot. But you tell me how you tell the difference, in a split second, which cop is a good and honest person and which is a violent racist?

And I am sick and tired of the “I’m not a racist, but” crowd weighing in on this as though they know what they are talking about. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to tolerate anyone who pulls out the – if they don’t break the law it won’t be an issue. If they are respectful and cooperated, it won’t be an issue. You are missing 2 glaring facts:

  1. Even if someone breaks a law or is disrespectful they should NEVER answer for that with their life (barring they are literally standing there shooting people, like bullets actually leaving the gun, of course). No sane, rational person could think that they should.
  2. You are only able to even think those simplistic “solutions” will fix things because you don’t have to be in fear for your life and you don’t understand what that even feels like. As a white person, there’s basically little to no chance that you will ever be harmed no matter what laws you break, no matter what you say to a police officer. A black man in a backyard with a phone – shot and killed. A black man in a store which SELLS BB GUNS walking in the store with a BB Gun for sale there, shot and killed. A black man stopped at a traffic light who has an outstanding warrant for failure to pay child support – shot and killed. NONE of these people threatened the police or anyone else. Barring an unloaded BB GUN, none of them was even armed. Yet – a white man opens fire on the police, killing two of them – taken into custody unharmed. A white man kills 12 people in a movie theater – taken into custody unharmed. A white man murders 17 kids at a high school – taken into custody unharmed. A white man opens fire in a church killing 9 people – taken into custody unharmed and the police buy him lunch on the way to the station because he was hungry, (I REALLY REALLY REALLY want one of those f-bombs right now.)

Statistics show that blacks are about 228% more like to be shot by police than whites. so hey “I’m not a racist”, please STOP insulting your own intelligence, and certainly STOP trying to gaslight black people – this is not their fault. There is nothing they can do to make this stop happening. They ARE NOT afforded anywhere near the same rights and privileges that we have as white people and it has nothing to do with anything other than the color of their skin.

And oh, “I’m not a racist”, in case you were going to go there, do not pull the – “sure it happens sometimes but not all the time and not to everyone, you’re exaggerating to make it sound like a bigger deal than it is” nonsense. I’ll tell you what. Let’s sit down and play a little Russian Roulette. My gun has 6 chambers and 1 bullet. Your gun has 6 chambers and 3 bullets. We fire 3 times – ready, set….. wait, you don’t want to play? Why not? Getting a bullet doesn’t happen to everyone every time. Your just overreacting.

Pull. Your. Head. Out. Of. Your. Butt.

Side note: Any time you follow I’m not a racist/ xenophobe/ homophobe /misogynist /etc. with a “but”, you are the WORST type of racist/ xenophobe /homophobe/ misogynist because you won’t even admit to yourself that you are those things, so you blindly discriminate against people and you will never stop because you don’t think you’re doing it in the first place. What you fail to understand or take ownership of is that EVERYONE, no matter your color, race, nationality, creed, environment, has internal biases. I have them. The are bred into us from birth by the society we live in. The only difference between those with internal biases and that racist piece of garbage with his MAGA hat and Gays Are The Antichrist t-shirt is that we have chosen to confront our own biases, to analyze them and identify them for the over-generalized social falsities they are, and to not let those ungrounded fears dictate our actions. We cannot control what our amygdala spits out at us, but we are thinking creatures who are capable of knowing which of its fight or flight spewing is just a bunch of BS. We choose how we act and what we BELIEVE.

So back to my son.

I’m scared to death. Every day his soft, rounded, adorable baby-ness fades away a little more. Every day he gets taller. Ever track practice he gets stronger and more muscular. And every day takes him closer and closer to the time that is inevitably coming, where he will not always be out with us. He will no longer be the brown-skinned child of that nice white family. He will just be a black kid, and he will have no more privileges, protection, or allowances than any other black kid has.

What in the world do I do??? He’s grown up under the protective umbrella of his family’s whiteness, my whiteness. He’s never experienced racism himself because we are always right there, and he’s never seen anyone experiencing it because it doesn’t happen to us, so he doesn’t even know what is actually looks like. He knows he’s black. He knows that there are people out there who are “mean” to black people (they studied MLK, Jr. in school) – – but he doesn’t come anywhere NEAR to understanding the reality of this world. I know I have to prepare him but I’m not sure how. Right now, he idolizes police officers. How can I explain what he has to know without making him afraid of them, or making him see them as the bad guys?

How can I REALLY make him understand that this isn’t a game, make him understand what is really at stake? My little guy is a total class clown, a goofball. He has trouble taking anything seriously. How do I make him understand this is serious and he needs to really listen, without scaring the hell out of him? I know I am really hard on him about how he plays, and he doesn’t understand it. He doesn’t know why Mommy loses her stuff when he plays with toy guns or pretend guns in the store or outside. He doesn’t know why Mommy practically takes his head off every time when he’s playing, as boys do, and everything is a battle or about fighting – punching that guy, shooting that guy, knocking out the good guy cuz the good guy can’t catch him. He doesn’t know why Mommy gets so mad every time he jokes – I’m gonna steal that car and take it and drive it around and it’ll be mine. To him it’s play. NOTHING BUT PLAY. He literally doesn’t mean a word of it, he’s actually got a darn good moral compass and he knows the difference between right and wrong, play and reality. But to the bystander? To the shop owner? To the police? There are no jokes allowed for black people.

This is starting to keep me up at night. It’s starting making me watch him like a hawk wherever he goes – never taking my eyes off him in the playground even though I never was that tense when he was little. I’m getting nervous when he goes to the bathroom by himself when we’re out – has it been too long? Should my husband go check on him? Did something happen? I’m holding my breathe when he wants to go a few aisles over and grab something at the grocery store while I am shopping. Are they going to think he’s shoplifting? Is someone going to call the manager because an unattended black boy is “wandering” through the grocery store? I find myself being more overt about him belonging to us when we are out – talking directly to him more when strangers are around, hugging him, ruffling his hair…. like, THIS ONE IS MINE IT’S OKAY BACK OFF.

And problem is, that certainly isn’t helping the situation in the long term. But I’m scared. I’m so very, very scared that I can’t help myself.

Dear god, please don’t let anything happen to my baby.

 

 

There’s a lot more where this came from. Some serious and sad like this, and some the much needed humor we require to cope with this insane world (bunny assassins and deranged Christmas shoppers and blind people, oh my!) Please check out the rest of The Tangent Girl Volumes.

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This Review Brought To You By Psychiatric Medication

I’ve worked as an administrator in academic hospital medicine for 15 years.  I started as just a secretary but through the luck of having an awesome practice leader and boss who cared about what I was capable of and not what piece of paper I did (or didn’t) have, I was quickly able to move up to running the administrative side of our division.

I’m not someone who’s very comfortable saying nice things about myself or giving myself credit, but I know I am good at what I do. I have helped grow this practice from a dozen to over 50 providers. I helped create and help oversee our physician and NPPA fellowship programs. I was a huge part of establishing a whole new (very successful) practice at another hospital – our franchise if you will. I’ve traveled overseas to be a consultant for other hospitalist practices. I’ve taken a hugely active role in my medical specialty’s professional society and have wracked up a ton of “first time an administrator did that or received that accolade within the organization.”

But my annual reviews were always PAINFUL. I mean, the pits. It isn’t that they didn’t agree with everything I said above, and more (hard to imagine I would remain employed at the same place for 15 years if they didn’t ). They had nothing but praise for everything I have ever accomplished and how important I am to the practice, but it was always overshadowed by the negative. Fifteen years of – you are good at what you do, BUT.

You need to stop pissing everyone off in the process.

You need to be nicer.

You need to be more of a team player.

You need to stop acting like only your ideas are good ones.

You need to be more honey and less vinegar.

You need to be more calm, to not lose your cool under stress.

You need to not overreact and make things worse.

You need, need, need, need.

And it would infuriate me.  I wasn’t mean to anyone, I just expected people to do their jobs. I wasn’t uncollaborative and I didn’t think only my ideas were good ones, but we needed to move stuff forward, not spend two months in meetings while everyone else decided what their ideas were and which one we should go with. And how could that not make me lose my cool? I wasn’t harsh or overbearing, I was focused and driven. I. Got. Shit. Done.

And when it wasn’t infuriating me, it absolutely broke my heart. My job isn’t just a job to me. My work – the quality of it, the value of it, the importance of it to other people – is more important to me than anything except my family. It is personal to me. I have chosen to give up the opportunity to climb the ladder for more power and money and prestige because I believe in what we do where I am. I believe in the people I work with. I believe I make a difference in patients lives even if my role doesn’t directly touch them. I put everything into everything I do – stay late, come early, work on weekends, answer emails and texts and phone calls at all hours. Why wasn’t it enough? Why wasn’t I good enough?

I’ve left every annual review wanting bite someone or cry (or already crying).

But a funny thing happened today. THAT DIDN’T HAPPEN. Not a single negative comment. Not one. In fact, nothing but glowing praise AND the indication that they plan to do everything they can to get me at least one more rung up that ladder, while I still get to stay with the practice I love, because they are so impressed and thrilled with my work. It’s hours later and I still haven’t fully been able to wrap my head around it.

I can’t wrap my head around it even though I know why it happened, why today was different.

In conversations with my husband and in some of the stuff I’ve written for my book over the last year, there is no way to deny that the person I was before I started getting the mental healthcare I needed and the person I am now are like night and day. From where I sit today, I can’t honestly pretend that pretty much everything they said in all those reviews wasn’t true. The fact that I am still here 15 years later despite the uncomfortable truth that I was a terror, I was difficult to work with, and that ultimately I wasn’t actually as productive and successful as I could have been if I’d been getting the care I needed all along, speaks volumes of what they really do think of my work. Of my worth. Of my value. They never gave up on me.

I am a different person now. I’m not perfect, and some days are harder than others, but I’m finally getting to be the person I was always meant to be.

 

There’s a lot more where this came from! Want to read about bunny assassins and loved ones lost and deranged Christmas shoppers and surviving suicide? Please check out the rest of The Tangent Girl Volumes!

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Appreciation Is Blind

I’ve decided to finally give you that funny post I’ve been promising, this one in honor of it being the Sunday of GenCon (where l am not, again – – seven years is a long time, darn it! Dang kids!)

Better is so relative. 😉

GenCon was really a big thing for my friends back in the day when we were all young and free. Generally there were like 20+ of us that would go every year. A few people would fly, but mostly we were too poor for that. People would either fill up their car with people, or rent a minivan and stick 6-7 friends in it who could split the cost. It was in one such minivan on one GenCon Sunday that our story takes place.

That year our minivan crew was our married friends, let’s just call them Alfredo and Challah (unless they read this and tell me I can use their real names… or they stop being my friend if I  don’t get rid of those stunningly racist pseudonyms); and our married blind friends Nick and Alexis (those are also terribly inappropriate, but the references are far more esoteric, so maybe no one will notice). We’d been on the road out of Indy for about three hours and needed to stop for gas and bathrooms and all that. So we pull over in the middle of Nowheresville, Ohio.

Alfredo goes in first so he can use the bathroom and come back out to pump gas, since it was his turn to pay, and Challah walks into the convenience store with Nick and Alexis. My husband and I stay with the van until Alfredo comes back and then head in ourselves. By the time we’re done in the bathroom everyone else is back at the van. My husband goes to grab a snack while I stand in front of the cooler trying to decide what I want to drink. A very rurally-oriented looking guy comes up next to me, grabs beer out of the fridge, then pauses after closing the door before he turns to me, and with a significant twang says,

“I realla ‘preciate whatch yar doin’.”

I look behind me to confirm he’s not talking to someone else before I respond. “Um, what am I doing?”

“Oh no, nothin’ bad, ma’am. I just wanded ta tell ya how much I ‘preciate what it is yar doin’.”

Baffled, I reply, “I’m buying a drink.” Now he looks annoyed. “I’m sorry, I just don’t understand what you mean.”

He no longer looks like he appreciates me. “Ya don’t have ta be like that. I was just tryin’ to pay ya a compliment.” He walks away, buys his beer and leaves in a bit of a huff.

Bewildered, I get my drink and meet my husband at the register. He askes me what that was all about, and I say I have no idea. The lady behind the register sweetly says, “Oh he was just tryin’ to tell ya that what ya folks are doing is really kind.”

“But I have no idea what we’re doing!!!”

“It’s nice of ya’ll helping them blind ones get out. Are they your kinfolk?”

Utterly taken off guard and unable to even fathom how to respond to that first sentence, I stuck with the second. “No, they’re our friends.”

“Well that makes ya even nicer.”

…… and I give you rural Ohio.

***********************************

Bonus Content!

Tangent Girl’s first bonus content!!

My husband and I walk back to the van in awe of what just went down, to find Alfredo and Nick doubled over laughing and Challah and Alexis pretty darn amused as well.

“Wow, I thought we were the only ones having weirdness go down at this place, what happened here?!?!”

Once they could breathe again, they relayed this tale:

As gas was finishing pumping, a motorcycle with two people on it had pulled up on the other side of the pump.

Motorcycle engines still running, “Alright, time to get out,” Alfredo said to Nick who’d been sitting in the driver’s seat while they chatted.

Motorcycle engine cuts off and the the riders take off their helmets just in time to see Nick unfurl his cane and climb out of the driver’s seat.

The look on their faces was apparently BEYOND PRICELESS.

…………………………………………………………

There’s a lot more where this came from! Want to read about bunny assassins and loved ones lost and deranged Christmas shoppers and surviving suicide? Please check out the rest of The Tangent Girl Volumes!

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Mommy Dearest

Since I’m in the habit of saying things here that I would never say outloud because I know people will judge the bejeezes out of me – why not continue the trend? Today’s subject as I drive towards my child who’s been away for a week with his cousins: Parenthood.

For those of you just tuning into my life, bringing my son home was an agonizing 10 year ordeal. A year of trying, followed by years and multiple medical interventions to try to figure out what was going on, followed by some unconventional means of trying to get pregnant, followed by an it-was-so-early miscarriage that the doctor said I didn’t even get to call it that (you likely won’t be surprised to know that she is no longer my doctor), followed by years of waiting for an adoption referral, followed by having to go to battle for almost two years to get my son home…… ordeal is the only word to describe it.

After all that you may think I’d be one of those moms that can’t stand to be away from her kid for even a day. I know people like that, go away to a conference for 3 days and they’re on the plane home genuinely desperate to get home and see their children. That is not me.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my kid. But when he’s at the beach with Oma and Opa or in Jersey with his Aunt and Uncle for a week I don’t feel any need to call and talk to him. I’m there in a second if he misses me and wants to talk. But guess what – he doesn’t.

I think there are a lot of people out there who would look at my lack of need to talk to my kid for 7 days as unnatural, as proof that I’m an unloving mother. Maybe that I’m selfish. And sometimes I do worry about that, cuz my brain loves nothing more than making me feel guilty. But when I’m not letting my brain mess with me, I know it’s actual healthy and the best thing I can do to raise a strong, independent son. He loves me and I love him, but we don’t need to be connected at the hip to prove we love each other. He doesn’t have to be homesick to prove I matter to him, and I don’t have to wither and die when he’s away to prove I’m a good mom.

And here’s my next, even more shocking confession. I love my son more than anyone else in the world — except for my husband. Again, I can hear the disapproving gasps and condemning looks. But I still maintain the way I feel is healthy.

I love my kid, I always will and I will always be there when he needs me, even once he’s grown. But the person I share my life with is my husband. Someone asked he and I recently what the secret was to us still being together and so happy after almost 21 years, and I think the fact that he is the most important thing to me, and I to him, is the answer. And I don’t think that makes me incapable of giving my son all the love he needs.

So many couples look at each other after the kids leave and go – what now? What am I supposed to do now that the loves of my life have moved on to their own life? So many marriages break up, or at least fall into a sort of apathetic resignation at that point. And worse is when the desperation to keep what they’ve poured all their love into makes those parents incapable of giving their children the space to live their own life, when it turns into an unhealthy, smothering tether of guilt for their kids.

My child will grow up, and the people he will love most in his life, the people he will put above absolutely everything else in his life will not be me, and that is how it should be. That is the loving, dedicated husband and father I am raising him to be. That is my gift to him as his mother.

And when my son has a life of his own, I will ever so happily enjoy visits from him, and eventually from any potential grandchildren; but I will do so in my husband’s arms, and live the rest of my life feeling completely fulfilled.

 

 

There’s a lot more where this came from! Want to read about bunny assassins and loved ones lost and deranged Christmas shoppers and surviving suicide? Please check out the rest of The Tangent Girl Volumes!

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And find me on my Facebook page at Tangent Girl Volumes and on Twitter @tangentgirrl

Be Careful What You Wish For

So, I’ve been away a little while. Okay, I’ve been away a long while, sheesh. I could use the excuse of you know, like, LIFE and that whole having to work for a living thing, and all that stuff, but nobody cares about my tiny violin.

 

So never mind about all that, there’s been some really cool stuff going on in the life of Tangent Girl’s family for the past few months. My gender fluid spouse has been out of the closet in terms of his personal life for a couple of years now. However, working in a really conservative field, at a particularly conservative company, has meant that he hasn’t been able to include his fluid gender identity in his professional life for fear of reprecussions. This, in addition to the fact that the job hasn’t really turned out to be what he wanted it to be, has left him extremely stressed and down. So a few months ago he began looking for another job that would meet both his personal and professional needs, but after a promising start things stalled out for a while. And this really sunk him into a deep depression. It was so worrisome at one point that despite really loving my career and where I work, I told him he should stop telling recruiters no just because the job they were offering was in a different state.

But now I’m happy to say that tomorrow he starts a new job that he’s super excited about. It’s unknown yet exactly what things will look like, but he’s been open in the interview process and HR has been in touch with him to ensure they know his needs. So while the logistics may not specifically be worked out yet, the fact that Sarah will be a part of life in the workplace is not a question.

I’m super excited for him, but I’m nervous too. For him and for me.

For him, the journey has been a difficult one. Being LGBTQ and finding yourself and where you fit can be challenging, but gender-fluidity especially is still an area where there is a lot of confusion and lack of acceptance. Growing up in an environment where there was no ability to even try and actively work to understand himself, very much the opposite, didn’t make things any easier.

So this new job is a good thing, right? Sure. ……Maybe? He’s super excited about it, but nervous too. HR can say whatever they want and Sarah can technically go to work – but will she really be accepted? Will everyone be great about it, or weirded out and therefore keep their distance? Also, the dreaded bathroom question. The fluidity aspect of his/her gender identity makes it even harder because… will the women be okay peeing next to a girl who was a guy yesterday? Will the guys be okay peeing next to a guy who was a girl yesterday, or maybe even a girl today, depending on what decision gets made about which bathrooms they use when? Complicated. So he’s nervous and anxious about whether it will be a good thing or not. (And I’m worried about the number of pieces they’ll need me to help pick up if it doesn’t turn out like they hope it will.)

For me? He and I have talked a lot these past couple of years about coming out and about what it all meant not just for him but for the family, and for me. It’s been difficult far more often than it’s been easy. And I haven’t talked about it with other people because I feel guilty that I haven’t been as supportive as I think I should be, and that people will judge me (rightfully so) for it. It’s been scary at times. I’ve known Sarah since we became a couple almost 21 years ago, but his/her understanding of their gender identity has changed a lot over the years as they figured it out. It’s only recently that they realized it was more than a private thing, more than just some kind of a kink or fetish. It’s part of who he is and it needed to be a part of his regular life. And that was a big difference from how it’d been all these years. I had a lot of fear about the whole thing – I love my wife but I didn’t want to lose my husband. Was this really a case of fluidity, did I truly get to keep them both, or was this just another step along his journey to discovering her transgender identity? And my fears about this have been a huge source of guilt and shame. I’ve prided myself on being open and accepting of others, so why am I being so selfish with the person I love the most? If I love them, I should be THE source of unwavering and uncomplicated support, not another ‘barrier’ they have too navigate in this already challenging transition.

So, those first few years were really tough. But we’ve come to a good place, a place where we now understand things more and are more comfortable with the dynamic of our life and relationship. But this new chapter could potentially change everything again, right? Most likely no, but I can’t help wondering if this newly found freedom can’t help but create a different dynamic. And even if it does, that doesn’t mean it will be bad, but I’ll be anxious until time goes by and I can see for myself how it all shakes out.

And I’m scared for more pragmatic reasons, too. Everytime she goes out without me I’m a ball of nerves. There are so many horrible hateful people in this world. The more often she is out in the world, the more open she is, the more likely she’ll encounter one of those horrible people, and I’m terrified of what could happen. I’m the first one to say no one should EVER make decisions based on the fear of “what if,” and I believe the same thing in this situation. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to hold my breath everyday until she walks though the door at night.

Excited. Happy. Proud. Hopeful. Relieved. Joyful. Anxious. Terrified.

Yeah, all those things.

 

There’s a lot more where this came from! Want to read about bunny assassins and loved ones lost and deranged Christmas shoppers and surviving suicide? Please check out the rest of The Tangent Girl Volumes!

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And find me on my Facebook page at Tangent Girl Volumes and on Twitter @tangentgirrl

Words Matter

With the suicides of Kate Spade a few days ago and now Anthony Bourdain today, I was reminded of something I heard some moron media person-thingy say a while back. He referred to the fact that the suicide of a celebrity is often followed by an uptick in other suicides as “Copycat Suicides.”

I want to find that asshole and PUNCH HIM IN THE FACE.

That completely tone-deaf, not to mention utterly ignorant and misleading “copycat” nomenclature flies directly in the face of everything we need in mental health Care and Awareness.  The words we use matter. If a celebrity dies of cancer and the rate of cancer deaths happens to go up in the following days, would you refer to those as “Copycat Cancer Deaths?” Of freaking course not, because that is asinine.

The “Copycat” label is a derogatory reference to the term “Copycat Murders,” wherein someone replicates the MO of very high profile killer in order to garner attention for their own actions. What Mr. Copycat The Asshole up there was saying was that people who commit suicide after a high profile suicide are just seeking fame and attention in own their death. It’s the whole “mental illness isn’t a disease it’s a choice” bullshit.

Because, obviously. Who wouldn’t choose this living hell?

A selfie of me when I think about Mr. Copycat The Asshole

 

Now I am NOT stupid enough to stand here and say no one commits suicide for ‘attention’; anytime you make an absolute statement like that you might as well throw your own point/argument off the cliff before someone else does it for you – because they will. But there is a very different reality at play here for many, if not most of these unfortunate deaths. Try and imagine: A person is already locked in the depths of hell of their own mind; in constant pain, suffering from something they cannot run away from because it is inside of them. They already think that their life is and will always be terrible and that they should just give up and make the pain stop. They are clinging by their fingernails to a reason to keep going. Then they see a celebrity commit suicide. A celebrity who ‘has everything’ – they are rich and famous and beautiful and talented. It can be really hard, if not actually impossible not to think “if their life wasn’t even worth living with as awesome and perfect as it was,  there is no point in my even trying when my life is already such shit compared to theirs, when I am already shit compared to them.” Something like this happening can simple push that one last fingernail out of the hold it was struggling to keep.

(And DO NOT say anything stupid about the ‘obligation celebrities have since people look up to them’ in relation to suicide or I will send Sparky up there to find you for a barbeque.)

The big part of the reason why we have an increase in suicides is not because people want attention; it is because of assholes like Mr. Copycat The Asshole who make these poor g-damned people believe that mental illness isn’t an illness at all. People with mental illness are ‘choosing’ to kill themselves because life got ‘too hard’ and they weren’t ‘strong enough’ to deal with it or ‘good enough’ to make life better – so they took the ‘easy’ way out.

Now I am going to own up to something: I was flat out angry that everyone was so sad when Robin Williams died and so “at least he’s at peace now” about it. Back then I thought – yes he was sick and yes it must have been horrible – but in the end he still gave up. He ‘had everything’ and ‘threw it away’ and ‘left his poor family’ to have deal with it; that it wasn’t tragic, it was selfish. Four years ago, I DIDN’T GET IT EITHER. I hadn’t yet acknowledged my own mental health issues, and probably even more importantly, I’d just gone through a very terrifying personal and in-my-face experience with nearly losing someone very close to me to suicide. That combined with the, well basically brainwashing, we’ve gotten about mental illness left me unable to be empathetic towards him in his death.

Of course I get it now – I’ve been on the other side,  I’ve been the one to literally see no other option for myself or for the good of my family but suicide. Now I know our mentally ill brains lie to us. But obviously everyone can’t come to understand this by these means (thank god!) It’s going to take ceaseless education and a unending determination to change our culture so that we ALL understand – Mental Illness Is A Disease.

The last thing the world needs is anymore “Mr. Copycats.”

************************************************************************

Anthony and Kate and all the other’s who’s names I don’t know – the world was lucky to have you and is a little less bright for your loss. Rest in peace.

To all of you who are still with us – stay with us.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Provides help to those in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.
Call 1-800-273-8255
Available 24 hours everyday

NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness

NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans who face mental illness every day.

There’s a lot more where this came from! Want to read about bunny assassins and loved ones lost and deranged Christmas shoppers and surviving suicide? Please check out the rest of The Tangent Girl Volumes!

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Call The CDC

I’m not an Infectious Disease doctor, or a Virologist, or a Zombie-fiction author, yet I have made the discovery of the century — despite everything previously believed to be true, it turns out depression is contagious. I am sure you are scoffing. But then all geniuses and their great discoveries were mocked in the beginning. So let me present to you my “scientific” study. 

 

No Shit Ya’ll: Depression Be Contagious

T. Panek. The Tangent Girl Volumes. 2018.

Introduction

Much of the knowledge acquired throughout human history has been revealed through purposeful and rigorous study. Yet some of the most crucial information in our world today has been discovered unintentionally – x-rays, penicillin… post-it notes.  The observation of the infectious nature of depression was made through the common, everyday interactions between a husband and his bat-shit crazy wife.

Methods

The sample size of this hypothesis-generating study was one marital couple.  The husband had no history of depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues. He was the epitome of “nothing gets to him, even stuff that probably should;” he was the duck and life was his water. The wife had a decades-long history of depression and anxiety which she refused to acknowledge even to herself, let alone seek any treatment for because she is an idiot.  Thirteen months of data was collected though direct observations of this married couple post-hospitalization of the wife for a suicide attempt. The variables of the study were the diagnosis and acceptance of the mental health issues of the wife and the presence of depression symptoms by the husband pre-post the wife’s freaking breakdown and subsequent stint in the nuthouse.

Results

The husband began exhibiting signs of depression approximately six months after wife’s WTF. Despite attending therapy, the heretofore non-existent depression symptoms continued to worsen. After twelve and one-half months, the husband was forced to seek medical intervention beyond therapy alone. The result of this intervention was the diagnosis of depression and the prescribing of an antidepressant.

Discussion

The presence of depression symptoms in the husband clearly changed pre-post the total mental crash and burn of the wife. The only significant change during these thirteen months was the wife now “suddenly” having depression. It is obvious that the husband contracted the illness from the wife, hence illuminating the contagious nature of the disease.

Limitations

The author of this study being the wife participant inevitably introduces bias into the collection and analysis of the data. The fact that she has horrible depression and anxiety which always leaves her convinced that everything is her fault likely further exacerbates this bias. Basically you can’t  trust a damned thing l say here as there is a high probably of this hypothesis being complete bullshit.

 

But in all seriousness, mental health issues are “contagious” in a way.  We often can’t see our own issues until we are suddenly required to monitor others’ illnesses. We don’t know what depression even looks like until we stare in the face of it every day in someone we love. Our contact with them is what reveals our own disease. I know this realistically but I still struggle internally with doubts and guilt. Maybe it’s having to deal with me and all my exhausting nonsense that has made him depressed… I mean who wouldn’t be depressed after a year of this, right??

So I continue my own journey with my own therapist, and the ongoing battle with my asshole brain, to stop blaming myself. Because in truth – if my acknowledging and having to struggle with my own depression in an open, honest, and unavoidable way acted as a mirror so that he could see for the first time what he’d actually been going through for YEARS, then I’m happy be Typhoid Mary.

 

There’s a lot more where this came from! Want to read about bunny assassins and loved ones lost and deranged Christmas shoppers and surviving suicide? Please check out the rest of The Tangent Girl Volumes!

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And find me on my Facebook page at Tangent Girl Volumes and on Twitter @tangentgirrl