From a Straight Spouse: Some People are Gay…Get Over It!

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When I learned that the shooter in the Orlando massacre showed signs of being a latent or closeted homosexual my heart dropped in my chest.  It somehow hurt even more to know that part of what drove him to murder 49 innocent people was his own deep-seated self-hatred. I do not pity the shooter.  I pity a culture that reinforces the notion that being gay is a shortcoming, weakness, defect, perversion or a sin.  I pity his hateful father who admonished homosexuality days after the massacre.  The same man who used to insult his son by calling him gay and taught him to hate himself.   I pity him because he’s a pathetic excuse for a human being who will only be remembered for raising someone capable of such a horrific act.  My deepest sympathies go to the friends and families of the fallen, and every LGTB person who will feel less safe as a result of such an attack.

Despite the outpouring of support from people all over the country, I knew there would be a backlash.  It wasn’t enough that worst shooting in US history targeted the LGTB community, the critics of homosexuality had to get their digs in before the bodies were cold..  The first blow came in the form of a tweet by Dan Patrick the fiercely anti-LGTB Lt. Governor of Texas just two hours after the shooting.

Do not be deceived, God will not be mocked.  A man reaps what he sows.

He claimed the bible verse was randomly selected beforehand but he also posted it on his Facebook account three hours later even after numerous complaints on his twitter feed.

Then there was the video of a fringe Baptist Pastor Roger Jimenez

‘What if you asked me, “Hey, are you sad that 50 pedophiles were killed today?” Um, no, I think that’s great,’ he told his followers, some of whom laughed. ‘I think that helps society. I think Orlando, Florida, is a little safer tonight. The tragedy is that more of them didn’t die. I’m kind of upset that he didn’t finish the job

Twitter was ablaze with homophobic rants and rhetoric.  ThoughtCatalog compiled a list of the worst.

One simply stated

At least it was gays this time and not innocent people

The blood of the victims was probably still fresh on the ground when these comments were made.  I get worked up about this topic because my life has been negatively affected by homophobia.  My ex-husband was a self-loathing closeted gay man who thought he could change himself.  I was unaware of his struggle with his sexual orientation and became collateral damage in his war with himself.   Instead of living his life authentically and honestly, he lived a miserable existence in hiding.  If he felt he could have lived his life happily and fulfilled as a gay man,  we both would have been much better off.  There are millions of other straight spouses like myself, and children who have been through the emotionally wrenching experience of a mixed orientation marriage. The hatred of LGTB people extends much further out than just the LGTB community.  It hurts their families, friends, and our culture as a whole.  Although LGTB men and women have made great strides in recent years, incidents like the massacre in Orlando prove we have a long way to go before true acceptance is possible.

I am not sure if I’ll reach anyone in my intended audience with this article, but I’m just so sick of the hate.  No one wins when LGTB men and women are shamed, labeled as sinners or treated like second-hand citizens. Homophobes use all sorts of reasoning to justify their hate, so I’ve compiled the most common ones here and intend to challenge all of them.

Homosexulaity and sin – Everyone has a right to their own religious views, but we live in a country with a multitude of faiths and belief systems..  I won’t break down every religion, religious text or reasoning for the condemnations of homosexuality.  That wouldn’t just be a blog article, it could fill several volumes.  In a secular nation, one person’s religion does not trump another person’s civil rights.   I don’t know how love can be sinful, and I know many loving LGTB couples.  Many of them are also devoted parents.  I’m agnostic myself, but it’s hard to imagine how any loving God would be against a healthy, happy, loving relationships between two consenting adults.

Gay people cannot be changed or converted through therapy.  – I could write several hundred pages on this, but instead I’ll just provide this handy link and quote about the widely derided conversion therapy.

To quote the Southern Poverty Law Center 

Conversion therapy – sometimes known as reparative or “sexual reorientation” therapy – is a dangerous practice based on the premise that people can change their sexual orientation, literally “converting” from gay to straight. Conversion therapy has been discredited or highly criticized by virtually all major American medical, psychiatric, psychological and professional counseling organizations.

People who have undergone conversion therapy have reported increased anxiety, depression, and in some cases, suicidal ideation.

Being gay is not a sickness or a mental illness – The medical community hasn’t believed that since 1973.  To quote psychiatrytoday.com 

In 1973 the American Psychiatric Association’s Board of Trustees removed homosexuality from its official diagnostic manual, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Second Edition (DSM II). The action was taken following a review of the scientific literature and consultation with experts in the field. The experts found that homosexuality does not meet the criteria to be considered a mental illness.

Openly gay people are not a sign of the collapse of society  – LGTB men and women have been around since the dawn of humanity and have always been a part of the spectrum of human sexuality.  LGTB people have existed even in places where the punishment for homosexual behavior was death.   In some Native American tribes homosexuality and gender fluidity was not only tolerated, it was revered.   To quote http://www.dancingtoeaglespiritsociety.org/

It is told that women engaged in tribal warfare and married other women, as there were men who married other men. These individuals were looked upon as a third and fourth gender in many cases and in almost all cultures they were honoured and revered. Two-spirit people were often the visionaries, the healers, the medicine people, the nannies of orphans, the caregivers They were respected as fundamental components of our ancient culture and societies

Homosexuality is not unnatural. –  A common argument is that since homosexual sex does not lead to procreation then it must be against the laws of nature.  Homosexuality is also expressed in over 450 different animal species on this planet.  Obviously humans aren’t the only species that has non-reproductive sex.

HIV is not a plague sent to wipe out gay men  – Sexually transmitted diseases are not limited to the LGTB community. Although HIV rates are higher among gay men than the general population, anyone under the right circumstances can contract HIV.  HIV is also not the killer it once was, as most patients live long lives if they get early treatment.   Daily medications like PreP also can prevent the spread of the virus.   It’s also not the only potentially lethal STD. From the 15th century until the discovery of antibiotics Syphilis infections ravaged Europe.  Even today if left untreated Syphilis can cause disfigurement, brain damage, and eventually death.  HIV isn’t a plague to wipe out any specific group, it is simply another nasty sexually transmitted pathogen.

Gay men are pedophiles who abuse children and turn them gay –  Every time I hear this one I slightly lose my mind, so I’m going to write this in all caps!  THIS MYTH HAS BEEN WIDELY DISCREDITED MULTIPLE TIMES!  IN STUDY AFTER STUDY OVER THE COURSE OF DECADES RESEARCH DOES NOT LINK HOMOSEXAULITY TO PEDOPHILA!!!!!  To quote the Southern Poverty Law Center 

According to the American Psychological Association, children are not more likely to be molested by LGBT parents or their LGBT friends or acquaintances. Gregory Herek, a professor at the University of California, Davis, who is one of the nation’s leading researchers on prejudice against sexual minorities, reviewed a series of studies and found no evidence that gay men molest children at higher rates than heterosexual men.

 

The Child Molestation Research & Prevention Institute notes that 90% of child molesters target children in their network of family and friends, and the majority are men married to women. Most child molesters, therefore, are not gay people lingering outside schools waiting to snatch children from the playground, as much religious-right rhetoric suggests.

When children see a same-sex couple holding hands, kissing or locked in a loving embrace it won’t scar them or cause them to turn gay.  – If two adults are showing affection in a fairly conservative way – holding hands, walking arm in arm and kissing – it’s not going to harm anyone else around them.  A child is not going to suddenly think they are gay after observing two gay adults.  Sexual orientation is deeply rooted into a person’s psyche.  If you were to ask most LGTB people when they knew they were gay they would answer it’s something they’ve always known.  No event flipped the switch in their heads from straight to gay.  If anything young adults who come out sooner as LGTB are less likely to get married to a straight partner.  They are less likely to live a confused and tortured existence.   If a child who will ultimately grow up to be gay sees a loving same-sex couple together, they are more likely to grow up without self-hatred.

There is no “gay agenda” – I can’t even humor this one.  The only “agenda” LGTB people have is to live like anyone else.  They aren’t out to recruit the rest of the world or change anyone else’s sexual orientation.

Homophobia claims many victims –  LGTB youth are more than twice as likely to try to commit suicide than their straight peers. Studies have shown that 15 to 43 percent of LGTB people as well as 90 percent of transgender men and women have faced some sort of harassment or discrimination in the workforce.  In 28 states it’s still perfectly legal to fire someone because of their sexual orientation.  Even in 2016 children are still rejected by their families for coming out.

LGTB men and women are not going to go back into hiding.  No amount of hateful rhetoric, bullets or bombs that will stop anyone from being gay.  We need to come out of the dark ages and accept people for who they are.  I want to grab the father of the shooter and every other homophobe by both shoulders, look them dead in the eyes and scream

The real sickness in our culture is not homosexuals but the hatred and bigotry expressed towards them!

All the hate in the world can’t stop love, and sexual orientation is much more than just sex.  LGTB men and women love their partners with the same intensity and devotion as any straight person would.   Some people are gay, and the haters should just get used to it.

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Top 10 reasons why Being Single on Valentine’s Day is the Greatest!

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1. CHEAP CANDY DAY – I actually think this needs to become a real holiday that happens twice a year.  Once on February 15th and then again on November 1st.  I know the candy makers will figure this out and find a way to screw us, but for now they are both splendid days indeed!

2. No gifts to buy! –  What does a woman  buy a man for Valentine’s Day? Most just want sex, and well that’s usually going to happen anyway….anything else just seems silly, yet the expectation is there.  For men the whole gift/night to remember situation is not only daunting but expensive.  In New York City a couple could blow $1,000 on an ice cream sundae, and that doesn’t include the Broadway show tickets!

3. No pressure to act like you’re having a great time when you’re not – We’ve all been there.  Our partner’s plan out some elaborate event and absolutely everything is dreadful.  The restaurant is too crowded, the waiter is mean, the food is lousy, the concert is terrible, the moonlight carriage ride is smelly and the driver is rude.  Meanwhile you have to pretend like it’s the greatest night of your life, because you don’t want to her anyone’s feelings.

4. No poorly timed monthly visitors – There’s nothing worse than planning a big romantic evening only to have Ms. Flow show up early.  Sure you can work around it but she really does ruin the mood, especially if she brings along her friend – Ms. Cramps.

5. No annoying flower battles at work – I don’t have a traditional job, but I remember when I did how the never-ending bouquets would come pouring in the office all day long.  It seemed like the bigger the flower arrangement the more precarious the relationship. Sure the married women with 20 years under their belt would get a sizable display but the couples that kept breaking up only to get back together again always included several mylar heart-shaped balloons.  Then there was always some sad sack in the office who had a boyfriend but who didn’t get anything.  She’d tell everyone it was waiting for her at home, but we knew that her boyfriend would break her spirit as much as her soul-crushing job did every day.

6. No expectations of some life-changing event – No one is going to propose to me! I’ll never have a joint bank account again!!!  I won’t have to worry about checks bouncing because my husband just blew several hundred dollars on something stupid!  I’m sure plenty of divorced men can relate to this one.  Blowing money on stupid purchases is a universal human trait!

7. No awkward sexual experiences – Sometimes couples like to push the envelope on the big day and take things too far, only to find themselves in compromising or embarrassing situations.  The porn actors make it look so easy, but they’ve got multiple takes, a crew to help them with angles and lighting. Ask anyone who works in film or television production, it’s all about good lighting.

8. No drunken crying spirals of despair – With expectations so high, also comes disappointment.  Anything could happen. What if you happen to find out  that he’s cheating on you?  Or that you’re NOT getting engaged even though he’s been hinting at it for months?  Or what if in the middle of the salad course, you just look into his eyes are realize you can’t stand him, he can’t stand you anymore and you’d both be better off on your own.  These things happen.  Then you end up slamming a few back, and wind up calling your best friend at 3 AM to tell her that everything you believed in was a lie and that the universe is collapsing in on you.

9. No forced emotion – There’s nothing worse than hitting Valentine’s Day with a guy you’ve just started dating.  Should he send flowers or will it make him look overeager?  Should you make big plans, even though you haven’t even been to his apartment yet?  Should you buy him something or will it make you look like a stage 5 clinger?  If you’ve only been on three dates or less, just act like February 14th is a day like any other and skip right over it.

10. FREEDOM – You can REALLY just watch Netflix and chill.  Throw on a onesize, order some Chinese takeout and watch a marathon of Breaking Bad, The Making of a Murder, or maybe season 2 of Orange is The New Black again.  Everyone knows season 2 is the best season.  You don’t have to get dressed up, impress anyone, fake an orgasm, or act like you care about some dumb ass chef’s special that you know is overpriced and overrated.  You can dance around in footie pajamas and stuff your face with General Tso’s Chicken if you want. (I eat the vegetarian version)  It’s your day!  LOVE IT!

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When Love Poetry, a Sex Shop and Bloggers meet for Lunch

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A couple of weeks ago I got in invitation by the good people of Adam&Eve.com, a one time sponsor of this blog, to attend a love poetry workshop taught by local writer, Suzannah Weiss.  I debated if I should go, since poetry and me aren’t really a thing.  I dig poetry and all but I would hardly call myself a poet.  The idea of writing a love poem really left me at a loss.  Could I write a love poem about the despair of abject loneliness? Could I pen a sonnet about how much I hate dating in New York City, or the profound narcissism of my ex-husband?  It might work if they let me write about dick picks and magical vaginas, but then I noticed they were giving out gift bags and the deal was sealed.  How could I not go?  I had to get my gift bag of swag from a sex shop, just to see what they’d give me.

The morning of the event, I had a fiasco with one of my day jobs that I absolutely had to deal with so I arrived fashionably late to the love poetry-sex shop-soiree.  Once there, I felt a bit like the slacker who showed up tardy for class, but I was quickly forgiven.  Our teacher, Suzannah Weiss was kind and patient and even had me read a poem I had written on the spot.  I openly admitted I wrote it about my cat Schatzi, since I have no other inspiration in my life.  If you knew Schatzi, you’d write poems about her too.

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Nearly all of the other bloggers were women, and many of them cat owners so it turned into a flurry of cat photo sharing and stories about our feline companions..

I met a lovely woman who named her blog New York Cliche, because much like myself she was just owning her single, professional, artistic, cat-owning, independent woman persona. I also connected with a long-time Facebook friend fellow writer and general overall badass Yolanda Shoshana.

Then we finally got the goody bags…..and this is what they contained!

A sexy feather duster, you know for all of your sexy feather duster needs…

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A BDSM mask, although honestly I could use this on trips in rooms with too much light. It’s comfy, and thicker than most.

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A tiny cock ring, and another vibrating cock ring type of device.  Free condoms – that’s usually a given as everyone should practice safe sex!

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A water based personal lubricant! – We could all use some more lube in our lives.  A silver bullet! BATTERY INCLUDED! – Most ladies know this is a very special thing indeed.

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I admit I was hoping for a dildo, not because I wanted to use it, but because dildos are comedy gold.  They’re probably too expensive to give away to bloggers, and a bit forward.  “Here’s a fake penis for your enjoyment” is coming on a bit strong I guess. Overall I thought the entire experience was amazing!  I don’t think I’ll become a poet any time soon, or write a love sonnet to anyone besides my cat.  A woman working for a PR firm called me a journalist, which was sort of wonderful.  I also got to meet fellow New Yorkers who have also found their voice online.  Although I am not a huge consumer of sex toys or adult products I have heard wonderful things about www.Adam&Eve.com, so if you are in the market for some sexy stuff for Valentine’s Day or any day, check them out.

Here’s my Valentine’s Haiku (At least I think it’s a Haiku, again, I’m not a poet)

I don’t want dick pics

I’d like a piece of your soul

or just a kind word

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Dating After Divorce: I like you…but you’re not HER.

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The situation goes something like this.  I meet a guy who shows interest in me.  A few have even invested quite a bit of effort and energy to win my favor.  Just when I think I might be letting my guard down enough to actually bond with him, I find out about her.  She might be an ex-girlfriend, an ex-wife, the mother of his child or the one who got away.  She have helped destroy his marriage, or gone out with him on wild benders.  She could have, slept with his best friend, stolen his money, joined a cult, realized she was gay, or stuck around in his life just enough to emotionally manipulate and abuse him.  There are so many ways to become “her.”

I find a problem with “her” in nearly every middle-aged single man I meet.  To be fair I’m sure plenty of women also obsess about a “him” from their past.  It seems as we get older we become a patchwork of our former triumphs and traumas and can’t help but bring them to the next relationship.  Our nostalgia and idealization of former lovers keep us trapped.  Some men are more transparent about this than others.  I’ve had the following happen to me while on first dates with men I barely knew.

  • One admitted his marriage fell apart because he was still in love with his former girlfriend.  He never worked it out with the former girlfriend but his obsession destroyed his marriage.
  • Another said he was still angry at his last major girlfriend.  Not so uncommon except he had dated her over 20 years before I sat across from him nibbling on tapas.
  • One said and I quote “I still love my ex-wife.  My friendship is very close with her, even though she’s with someone else and if you or any other woman has a problem with that, I’ll always choose my ex-wife.”  This might be understandable if they had children together but they did not, and she lived halfway across the country.
  • Another guy told me that he was still in love with his ex-wife, even though she had told him she “never wanted to have sex with him”, and she had left him for another man.
  • The worst one was a man I had dinner with who went on and on about another female comedian he had corresponded with on OKCupid.  When he found out I knew her he said, “I find her fascinating and would love to have drinks with her.”  I blocked him from my phone on my way home.
  • I even had a man ask me for advice on ways he could get his ex back.  This was WHILE he was on a date with me.  I honestly felt sorry for him, but give me a break.

Even in my first major relationship right out of the gate post-divorce, my partner openly pinned away for the woman he had just dated before me.  She lived on the opposite coast and had never actually spent any significant time with him, but in his eyes she was somehow perfect.  Because she was inaccessible she was without flaws, yet an available woman who actually wanted him would never measure up.

This happens so often that now when I meet new guys I almost want to just ask him,

“So where are the bodies buried when it comes to your ex?  Do you hate her?  Do you still love her?  It doesn’t matter as hate and love are two sides of the same coin, so either way it’s bad.  How many times do you talk to her in a given month?  Are you actually divorced yet? Get it all out now, so I can leave before we might feel obligated to actually order dinner.”

 

When I see this pattern repeated it just reinforces every insecurity I have about myself.  All of the following go through my brain at the same time

  • Why is he so obsessed with her?
  • Why is no one obsessed with me?
  • Why am I OK for a backup but never the primary woman in any man’s life?
  • Why do some men obsess over women who treat them like garbage?
  • Do men only want women that they can’t have?
  • Why would he still want her if she left him for another guy?
  • I’m not good enough.  There’s something about me that makes me disgusting or unappealing.
  • Why did he chase me if he really wants her?
  • Would he take her back if she wanted to try again?
  • If I improved myself or changed my personality would that help?
  • What magic do these women posses?

I admit none of those thoughts are healthy or useful.  It’s my neurosis going on overdrive.  I find the constant struggle against “her” extremely demoralizing and a disaster for my self-esteem.  I can logically tell myself it’s not me, the guy is just hung up on his ex, and he’d treat most women like this.  I want to grab some of these men by both shoulders and scream

  • “She doesn’t want you anymore, let her go.”
  • “She’s so mean to you, you deserve better.”
  • “”If you think you guys still have a chance, then do everything you can to get her back, just leave me alone.”

The hardest are the men with children.  I don’t have kids myself, so I honestly have no idea how strange an intertwined a relationship with an ex could get.  Even if two parents absolutely hate each other they will still be deeply entrenched in each other’s lives for many years to come.  So far I’ve encountered men who bend over backwards to keep their ex happy, and men who constantly battle with their ex over every decision involving their kids.  Both are a nightmare for a new partner.  If a man is spending all of his energy towards the ex there’s nothing left for anyone else.

This rarely happened in my 20’s. Men that age just didn’t seem to get as worked up about a former partner.  It seemed like people were breaking up and hooking up with new partners all the time, without much second thought  Once we get older and put much more investment into a relationship, it just gets harder to let go. When our own personal “Happily Ever After” story gets crushed, we have a hard time imagining a new one.  In and ideal situation I would just pass out a psychological evaluation to every potential new partner with lots of questions about how they view their ex.  I know that would never really work, but it would certainly save us both time and energy.  *I’m not really serious, that’s sarcasm….but honestly it would make things easier.

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My Grief is Bigger than Yours

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If someone were to say to a group, “I just found out my dad died.” most people would have enough decency to at least offer a condolence, such as “I’m sorry for your loss.”  On the internet things are different.  A person might say, “I just found out my dad died.” and someone could respond with “You father was a privileged white male, who lived in the richest country on the planet, and died with some wealth intact.  He was given the best medical care and lived well beyond his life expectancy.  Why aren’t you concerned about the many children who die in Africa every day of diseases like malaria.  Where’s your grief for them?”

I’m using an extreme example as only a sadistic sociopath would use language like that towards a someone going through a personal loss.  The scenario I just used is highly unlikely to happen.  We all realize a personal loss is tragic regardless of other circumstances.  Losing your father is traumatic for anyone.

Social media is a strange beast.  It tends to reduce everyone to sound bites, encourage profound self-righteousness, and funnel thoughts and ideas into purist ideologies.  One side claims moral superiority over another and there is little compromise.   Whatever traumatic event or grave offense reported and shared on Facebook, a counter argument forms immediately to dissuade the outrage.

The recent terrorist attacks in Paris are a great example of this phenomena.  As soon as the news broke and people expressed grief for what happened, many countered with,

“You only care about Paris while you ignore Beirut.”

I didn’t see any of these people post a single syllable about Beirut on the day the terrorist attacks occurred.  Where were their voices of outrage in the immediate aftermath?  Why did they only comment in relation to another tragedy?

The harsh reality is that very few Americans knew what had happened in Beirut because it wasn’t a top story in the news. despite our 24/7 news cycle.  Paris and Beirut are very different cities.  Lebanese citizens, in the form of Hezbollah, have openly engaged in warfare inside Syria in support of the Al-Assad regime. These fighters are not sanctioned by the Lebanese government, in fact they’ve tried to stop them.  Regardless there are Lebanese boots on the ground directly battling Isis.  Beirut, unlike Paris has seen far more terrorist violence and political unrest. There is so much bloodshed in Lebanon that the topic has been given its own Wikipedia entry titled – List of attacks in Lebanon.  For the year 2014 there were 16 incidents.  In 2015, so far there have been seven.  Unlike France, Lebanon is surrounded by warfare and instability on most of its borders.  So although the loss of life is just as tragic, a terrorist attack in Beirut is not uncommon.  The press is not going to fixate on something that happens quite often, rather than on something rare and unexpected.

Western media is in large part owned by a handful of conglomerates, sponsored by multi-national corporations, and driven by ratings.   Our news sources, once bastions of serious journalism, have morphed into entertainment machines.  Sensational news gets more viewers, so much of what we see is sensational.  Political unrest and tragedies are often ignored in poorer countries, unless the US has a vested interest in them.   Given our selective press coverage it wasn’t surprising few knew about the equally horrifying attacks in Lebanon.  Far fewer were aware of an attack earlier this year in Kenya with an equally high body count.  I admit I knew of neither, and I’m a bit of a news junkie.

People who speak out about these inequities in our media are right to do so.  I would whole heartedly agree with them that news of Paris is obsessively covered, while other bombings barely register.  The 24/7 cable news cycle tends to simply repeat the same stories morning, noon and night.  So instead of a comprehensive look at world events we get overly detailed coverage of the same story ad nauseam.  Not to mention the amount of frivolous news stories about missing blonde women, murderous mothers and vapid celebrities.

Some critics of the public’s response towards Paris have gone too far.  To quote one article:

“But I refuse — despite my partial French heritage — to cloak myself in nationalism of any stripe or star, particularly not now. Because, besides victims in Paris, an incomprehensibly astronomic number of people have been grieving loss of the highest order for some time — in places whose names roll off our tongues as if it’s accepted that violence simply happens there — and a majority likely couldn’t guess the colors on these victims’ flags.”

The same author went on to advocate for every victim of every global conflict including the war in Syria, Afghanistan,  the continual unrest in Iraq and the entire country of Yemen.  She got a bit off point and ranted about sex slaves in Malaysia, poorly paid workers in Mexico and China but oddly left out the entire country of North Korea.  Of course she’s correct as there is suffering, inequity, and warfare all over the planet.  Some of it is a direct cause of the actions of wealthier nations while other suffering is completely homegrown. There are child brides in India being burned to death by their in-laws, women and girls mutilated from female circumcision, public beheadings in Saudi Arabia, honor killings in Afghanistan, and women and girls dying due to overly restrictive anti-abortion laws in El Salvador.  If we wanted to, we could fill our heads with absolutely soul-crushing images of human misery from around the world.  The author if this specific piece of course didn’t offer a single solution to any of the injustices she ranted about, and I’m not sure what I, or any American can do about the actions of foreign governments.  We can hold our politicians accountable for US military and trade policies. but we’ve got little power to affect certain laws or customs in other countries.   The civil war in Syria is a multifaceted disaster with at least four factions battling each other, while foreign countries including Russia fuel the whole mess.

In contrast to that author’s strident diatribe, I read a simple message from a friend on Facebook.

“Please let me know you are safe.  I am with you in spirit.  I love you all so much.  The news from Paris is breaking my heart”

It was followed by a long list of names, both friends and relatives she was desperate to find.  The specificity of her message broke my heart. Does it hurt any less when a person loses a loved one in a wealthy country than it does when a person loses on in a poor one? Isn’t it human nature to mourn those closest to us more than we would a distant stranger? Wouldn’t anyone feel a greater connection towards a place where they had lived or is similar to their own home? Wouldn’t a Kenyan react more strongly to a story about a neighboring African country, than they might about Paris?  Could any of us really handle the grief if we focused on all of the death, injustice and inequity, that occurs on this planet on any given day?  As a person who lives in New York City I can’t help but see my city as the next target.  I’ll never forget the chaos, loss and despair that lingered here for months after 9-11.  Am I not supposed to worry and fear for my friends and neighbors?  Of course no one should die in a terrorist attack but Is it politically incorrect to care about my own safety?

It’s easy to criticize others for their “misguided solidarity” but it’s human nature to see yourself in another person when they are a lot like you.  We should all be alarmed that Isis managed to pull off such a well executed and organized attack in a wealthy nation like France, one with a professional police force, an intelligence organization, and a well armed military.  If these terrorist could cause so many deaths so easily in a wealthy nation, then countries with less resources are even more vulnerable.  We need to unite together to fight this fanatical scourge that has no respect for life.  So yes, mourn for Paris, Beirut, Kenya, and the entire Middle East Region.  Mourn for all the innocent lives taken by this warped ideology.  The mother who has lost her child in Kenya or Beirut will cry just as many tears as the one who just lost hers in Paris.  This is a time to unite in our grief, not fight over who is more worthy of it.

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Dating After Divorce: Mr. My Bitch Ex-Wife

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Before I get started with this one, I want to indicate that this problem is not gender specific.  Both men and women are equally obsessed with or tormented by a former spouse or partner.  Since I’m a woman, I’ll use the term Mr. My Bitch Ex-Wife but it could just as easily but a Ms. My Asshole Ex-Husband.

One of the biggest obstacles with dating after a divorce is getting past the damage caused by your former marriage.  It’s something I struggle with, as my divorce was incredibly traumatic.   I faced betrayal, lies, fraud, infidelity and was nearly destroyed both financially and emotionally.  I’ve been the very person I’m going to describe here, and I still struggle to get past it.  I’m not as bad as others, but I’ve got much room for improvement.

I’ve found on most dates I’ve had with total strangers, they usually blow their cover in the first 10 -15 minutes of the conversation.  It’s happened so often, that I could almost take a stopwatch and time the first comment that will issue a red flag in my head.  I’ve heard lines like the following before the waiter dropped off the menus.

  • My ex-wife is such a bitch
  • I hate my ex, she’s pure evil
  • My ex-wife is crazy, insane, psycho, etc.
  • Isn’t divorce hell, my stupid ex-wife ruined my life

For the rest of the date,  literally every topic somehow goes back to their ex-wife.  A drink reminds them of the bitch ex-wife, the food, my phone, my dress, a story from my past, my hair, it just doesn’t end.  The worst cases will demonize their former partners to such a degree, that I might believe their ex could be a danger to the public.. Their former partner is a complete raving lunatic, hellbent on destroying lives and impossibly cruel..  If I believed everything a Mr. My Bitch Ex-Wife tells me, then they were somehow a hapless victim who got tricked into marrying a she-devil who flipped out the minute their nuptials were final.

Now sometimes they could be speaking the truth.  Both men and women can unwittingly marry sociopaths, narcissists, serial cheaters, partners with untreated mental illness, substance abuse problems or violent raging tempers.  Marriage and relationships are a crap shoot, and most of us enter into them with the best of intentions.  No one has a crystal ball to see into the future and people do change their personalities, or deep-seated problems surface years into a marriage. Regardless, if their conversation revolves around stories about an ex, they’re probably not ready to date someone new. It’s doesn’t matter if they are beautiful, charming, funny or otherwise perfect, if they are that fixated on an ex there’s no room for a new partner. However there is some gray area here.  If you’re past the age of 35, you’re not going to find an age-appropriate partner who does not have some complicated baggage.  It’s hard for anyone to get past a major break-up or divorce, so it’s not unusual or unexpected behavior to vent about a former partner.  It’s also next to impossible to talk about your past if you have to block out 10 years or more to avoid talking about an ex.  No one is perfect but some warning signs to look for are the following.

Speak in absolutes – When they speak of their ex, it sounds as if they are describing a fairy tale villain.  There are no redeeming qualities, the person is completely evil, mean, cruel, or vicious.

Take no responsibility for picking their partner – Regardless of the circumstances of my divorce I do take full responsibility for choosing my husband.  Yes, he lied to me and was incredibly deceptive, but I chose to ignore several warning signs that could have indicated something was up.  I wanted to live in denial.  I didn’t want to face reality.

Portray themselves as complete victims – In some cases this is true, but how did the person react to abuse?  Did they take steps to get out of the marriage?  Did they fight back?  What did they try to do to change the situation?  In some marriages, especially ones with children, people can feel trapped.  What they do to save themselves or the situation is very telling. Even just standing up and calling out the abuse can be quite courageous and proactive.

Every ex is crazy – I knew one woman who literally claimed that all four of her ex-husbands tried to kill her.  The stories she told were fantastical, and she had problems keeping the details straight.  Anyone can make the mistake of marrying or dating someone with a propensity for violence, but it’s highly suspect if every former partner is unstable and violent. Either they love being in destructive relationships, or they are exaggerating their past.

Ultimately it comes down to what you are comfortable with.  If you want to take a chance on someone who spends half the date ripping apart their ex, then go for it.  You might be happier though with someone who actually wants to get to know you, and not treat you like a free therapist.  If he says the words “bitch” and “ex-wife” in the same sentence right after meeting you, it might be a clue that you’ll end up being the next “bitch ex” in his life he’ll complain about to someone new.

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Dating in New York City: The Rat Race Redefined.

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Months before I moved to New York City I made the mistake of watching a documentary about rats in the city.  I learned rats could chew right through cement and squeeze their entire bodies through holes no bigger than the size of their skulls. Rats must constantly gnaw on anything in order to keep their always-growing teeth a manageable size.  Their jaw muscles exert a shocking 12 tons of pressure per square inch.  Rats spread disease, fleas and cause fires from chewing through electrical wiring.  In moments of extreme stress they attack each other and will even resort to cannibalism.   After that film, the mere sight of a battle-scarred super-sized rodent with a flesh tail would cause my heartbeat to quicken and stomach to churn.  I found myself in fits of panic if they got more than a few feet from me.

When my ex and I moved from Brooklyn to Washington Heights we discovered a fairly developed rat nest in the roots of a tree in the sidewalk.   In the rats would scurry from their nest across the sidewalk and into the alley of a building two doors down from our own.  We’d hear screams of people who had made the mistake of walking on our side of the street night after night.  My ex-husband counted as many as 20 rats at a time in the courtyard of our neighboring building.  We’d watch in despair as they would chew perfect tunnels through solid concrete the city poured over their nest..  Animal control repeatedly set poison traps, and laid wife mesh over the concrete and nothing seemed to stop them.

Then one night, out of nowhere my reaction towards the monstrous creatures changed.  I was coming home late at night after a comedy gig and saw one, all by himself sniffing around the subway platform searching for food.  He had half of a tail and large patches of baldness along with matted fur.  This rat wasn’t doing so well, and for the first time I saw desperation in his movements.  He just didn’t run around like every other rat I’d ever seen before, he seemed panicked and fearful.

I couldn’t help but see a part of myself in this poor dying creature.  When I first moved here, I was one half of a couple.  I had dreams and ambitions that always included the man I thought was the love of my life.  Fourteen years later after the terrorist attack on 9-11, a city-wide blackout, Hurricane Sandy, a devastating divorce, the premature death of too many friends, suicidal thoughts and crippling depression I found myself alone.  I’m not as young as I once was, my reproductive capacity shrinks by the minute and I’m deeply damaged.   In order to pay my bills I work constantly.  Some weeks I might get one day off, or work nonstop without a break for days on end.

There are those who criticize me for choices I’ve made, things I’ve written or said, and my “bad” attitude.  Of course they have no idea what goes on in my head, or how difficult it might be to come back after such a devastating loss.  Things haven’t completely healed and in the past six years I’ve rarely felt strong emotion towards a man for any extended period of time.  I don’t know if I’ll live the rest of my days alone.  In many ways surviving after the breakup has been harder than the split itself.  One day turns into another and nothing changes.

I get harassed on a daily basis with men leering at me, shouting out filth, blocking my path or even grabbing me on the street.   Most of the guys who express interest in me only want sex, and will literally not even touch me after the fact.  It’s as if I’ve left the room and might as well leave, which is usually what I do anyway.  I’ve numbed myself enough to stand it, and swallowed pride and emotions with the increasing dexterity.  If that’s what I need to do to survive then so be it., I survive, but only barely.

So when I looked at that rat, desperately hunting for food, doing nothing more but trying to make it to the next day I felt empathy for his plight.  I didn’t want to go near the poor animal, and I’m not kidding myself about wild urban rats. They’re a dangerous scourge, the city is right to try to eradicate them and control their numbers.  Regardless he was still a little life who never did anything but try to make it to the next day.  For reasons beyond his control he was born into a crowded metropolis and will probably die of starvation, poison, or at the teeth of another rat soon enough.  For the first time in my life, I had compassion for something I had once reviled.  Chances are he never ate another rat, or attacked a human, he was probably just an average rat living off a garbage and dodging subway cars.   I sat down on a bench a safe distance away from him and watched his darting and scheming until the next train came.

As much as I’ve been through, and as hard as things get, my struggles and pain have been a gift.  Had I stayed married and enjoyed the success of my ex-husband’s thriving career I might have never found empathy and compassion for that sad little animal.  I would take what I had for granted, and failed to see that every new day is truly a blessing.  I had to lose everything to become more human.  My life might not get easier for many years to come, or it could change in an instant. I’m just happy I’m still here and I don’t fear the rats anymore.

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Grace & Frankie: Hollywood vs. Reality

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As a straight spouse myself, I’m always interested in how the media depicts our situations.  In most cases I shake my head as I see cartoonish one-sided clichés.  Lately it’s been Christian couples who have vowed to pray away the “same-sex attraction” in a miserable and strained marriage.

So I was a bit nervous about the new Netflix comedy, Grace & Frankie.  The premise of the show involves a double divorce of two closeted men who have had a 20-year affair while married to women.  In the first episode the announce they are leaving their wives for a new life together and hilarity ensues.  Actually most of the humor comes from the unconventional friendship that develops between their two dissimilar wives – The hippie Frankie, played by Lily Tomlin and the former model turned beauty executive played by Jane Fonda.  I genuinely loved the show, the characters are three-dimensional and multi-layered, the acting is brilliant and both straight spouses are extremely funny and sympathetic.  As much as I liked it, I was somewhat frustrated by the sugar-coated Hollywood take on everything.

Since I write about being a straight spouse and have been very public about my story, I’ve encountered literally hundreds of other straight spouses.  I’ve read their stories on private Facebook groups, and listened to harrowing details in my local straight spouse support group. No two mixed orientation marriages are quite the same, and our experiences do fall in a spectrum of outcomes. However, certain patterns are quite common and we often remark that we feel like we married the same person.  There was so much good in Grace & Frankie but I feel the need to break down Hollywood fantasy vs. reality.

Hollywood – Both of the gay men find the courage to finally come out to their wives, and reveal their 20 year-long affair.

Reality – I’d say with full confidence that in probably 80-90% of mixed orientation marriages, the closeted spouse doesn’t disclose anything. Most of us find out the hard way after months or years of searching for evidence.  In some truly horrific cases, a spouse finds out the truth accidentally.

Hollywood – 20 years of infidelity are forgiven rather easily and the relationships remain close and intact

Reality – For most spouses, finding out your partner was having a secret affair with his or her best friend for the past 20 years would be devastating.  The pain and betrayal would cause so much damage, it would be quite difficult to repair any sort of relationship.  A person might question literally everything.  Which business trip was really a liaison?  Which emergency meeting at work was really a hook-up?  How many times did my spouse blatantly lie to my face?  Twenty years of lies and betrayal are hard to forgive regardless of the circumstances.

Hollywood – Both couples have quick and simple divorces and both gay husbands are greatly concerned for the emotional and financial welfare of their wives. 

Reality – How many couples have an “easy” divorce?  Most drag on for several months if not years. Some partners do everything they can to block and stall to delay the inevitable.  Just like any divorce, a straight spouse will endure multiple court cases, shady legal maneuvers, psych evaluations, hiding of assets and vicious custody battles.  Some spouses are completely abandoned when their partner come out.  As soon as they are open about their orientation they want to discard their old identity and life.  Divorces between mixed orientation couples are no different than the general population – many are brutal, long, inequitable and devastating.

Hollywood – Both gay husbands immediately openly declare their sexual orientation to anyone and everyone

Reality – If a person has lived a lie for a couple of decades, they rarely switch to immediately proclaiming the truth.  I’ve known straight spouses who have watched their exes marry a same-sex partner and STILL not label themselves gay, bisexual or even hetero-flexible. They simply insist they’re straight despite their new gay spouse.  It’s baffling but it’s incredibly common.  Some closeted partners are so self-loathing they retreat back into the closet and marry another straight partner.

Hollywood – Both couples are financially well off, and no one suffers economic ruin.

Reality – Most television shows center around wealthy people.  The trials of paying bills on time and making ends meet just isn’t compelling and set designers would rather feature beautiful sprawling homes than sad depressing ones.  Grace & Frankie is no different.  Of course most straight spouses suffer tremendous financial problems from foreclosure to bankruptcy just like any other divorced couple.

Hollywood – Even though both women are in their 70’s there is seemingly a limitless supply of available partners.  Both women have love interests almost immediately.

Reality – As much as loved Frankie & Grace – This is pure fantasy.  

Hollywood – Both husbands admit fault for cheating, lying and destroying their marriage.  

Realities – This one is probably the most egregious.  Although I do know some closeted men and women who do take full accountability for their actions, many more admit no fault whatsoever.  Excuses abound from

  • You knew I was gay the whole time
  • Everyone knew I was gay
  • My orientation had nothing to do with our divorce
  • You made me gay
  • If you were there for me I would have never turned to men/women
  • If you were just more understanding about my cheating we’d still be together
  • It was just sex, it meant nothing, I don’t know why you care so much
  • I’m not gay, I was never gay, I’m just working some things out

Very few people actually admit they have done anything wrong, in a mixed orientation marriage or otherwise.

Hollywood – Both gay husbands seem to have healthy psychological profiles and don’t have any personality disorders

Reality – Most of us learn through therapists that our exes are narcissists. Narcissists rarely take responsibility for their actions and have a tendency to blame everyone around them for whatever damage or chaos they’ve caused.  They lack empathy and view themselves as the ultimate victim.  Narcissists are often charming and charismatic but ultimately they are extremely difficult partners in a marriage. Of course our spouses do NOT represent the larger LGTB community as most LGTB people would never marry a straight person.  Narcissism has nothing to do with sexual orientation but more to do with someone marrying another person under false pretense.  Of course not all closeted men and women who marry straight partners are narcissistic but it is such a common problem that I would be remiss not to mention it here.

There were some things the show got spot on.

Denial & Co-dependence 

One of the wives remains in a deep state of denial despite the obvious evidence.  She accepts her husband is gay but continues to use him as her main source of emotional support.  She acts out in very co-dependent ways and won’t accept that he’s treated her horribly.  This is quite common for many straight spouses as denial is the glue that keeps these marriages together for so long.  It’s difficult to suddenly turn on the light and see reality.

Resentment & Sadness

The show also captured the deep resentment and sadness that both women experience.  In reality it would most likely stretch out much longer and be more intense, but at least the producers and writers allowed both characters to get angry, meltdown, and process real emotions.  The disclosure wasn’t just a punchline, it given real gravitas.

Conflicted emotions in adult children

The adult children of both couples also expressed deeply conflicted feelings towards their fathers.   As adults they still saw that their fathers had both cheated, lied and betrayed their mothers while setting them adrift in their old age.  Despite their love for their dads, they couldn’t ignore their misdeeds.

Realistic gay couple

Another thing I liked about the show is that the gay partners act like any couple, they fight, they get frustrated with each other, they have bad communication skills but ultimately love each other very deeply.  They were a fully dimensional and believable couple.

Most mixed orientation marriages would make extremely boring and sad television shows,  Our lives don’t get nicely wrapped up in cute 30 minute episodes.  Many of us live with emotional damage and shattered trust for years.  With all of this though, I’m glad our stories are getting told at all.   Just a decade ago it would have been unheard of to have a show explore this topic. I hope one day people may wonder why anyone would marry someone to hide the fact that they were gay.  It simply won’t make any sense to do something so against one’s nature.

I laughed and cried while watching Grace and Frankie and I can’t wait for the next season.  Even though it’s largely a best case scenario fairy tale, at least both straight spouses are sympathetic and likable and their struggles and obstacles are given respect.   I’m thankful to both Fonda and Tomlin for having the courage to tackle this subject and to make an entertaining and funny show about it.

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I can’t believe I’m saying it, but I feel sorry for Kris Jenner.

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I don’t “Keep up” with the Kardashians.  I’ve never watched a single episode of the original or the many spin-off shows about the most obnoxious American family.  I purposefully try to ignore any Kardashian news entirely but it still seems to filter through.  I know it all started with an “accidentally” leaked sex tape, a friendship with Paris Hilton and the O.J. Simpson trial. There was also a wedding and brief marriage that may have just been for the endorsements and publicity.  The family is rich, shameless and made their fortune by doing not much of anything.

Kris Jenner is the woman at the helm of this narcissistic empire, and she’s not exactly likable.  In some ways she’s the ultimate Disney villain – an aging yet glamorous woman obsessed with looking youthful, concerned about style over substance, dressed in the best clothing money could buy, and paranoid that her star will eventually fall.  I will confess I’m not a fan, but I can’t help but feel a kinship towards her.  I’m not rich, I don’t have reality show or any plastic surgery, but my ex-husband was a closeted gay man.  When I made the discovery six years ago, my sanity, and financial wellbeing fell off a cliff.  I’ve since met countless other straight spouses and some of them, like Kris, found out their husbands were secretly transgender.  For many they discovered their husbands wanted to change their gender, but had also changed their sexual orientation and were now having sex with men.  To use the word devastating to describe such situations would be a huge understatement. Even phrases like ‘soul crushing’, or ‘life destroying’ don’t really capture the personal torment these women go through.

Now before you exclaim “BUT KRIS KNEW BEFORE THEY WERE MARRIED!” you might want to hear what she had to say about it.

“Why would you want to be married and have kids if this is what you wanted since you were a little boy? Why would you not explain this all to me?

 

“He was married to me, and he wasn’t who he wanted to be, so he was miserable,” she said. “It was the most passive-aggressive thing I think I’ve ever experienced.”

 

“This was a conversation that took place in the early ’90s. So, what he was telling me happened a decade earlier, and he never really explained it,” she said. While Caitlyn said she had B cup breasts at the time, Kris said she thought it was a “man boob situation … there wasn’t a gender issue. Nobody mentioned a gender issue.”

According to an interview with Buzz Bissinger Caitlyn insists that Kris was very much aware of his struggle.

“Jenner is emphatic that he told Kris he had taken hormones in the late 1980s up until the year they met, and was equally emphatic in saying there were other side effects besides breast growth,” Bissinger writes.

 

“He finds it implausible for her to suggest she was not aware of his gender struggle. But he does concede that ‘probably a mistake I made was maybe not having her understand—not the severity of it but that this is a condition you cannot get away from. From that standpoint maybe I blew it away a little bit, sort of ‘This is what I do.'”

From my experience, I’d say with full confidence, that in about 90% of these unions the straight spouse had no idea their partner was gay or trans before the marriage..  Caitlyn’s second wife Linda Thompson revealed that Jenner also didn’t disclose her dysmorphia until after their two sons were born.  Caitlyn may have believed that she could control her inner conflict, or that it might eventually go away.  Being transgender in many ways is much more difficult than being gay.  A gay man can have sex with another man, even if he hates himself for it, or has to lie to do it.  A transgender person looks in the mirror and sees a stranger staring back at them.   It would be quite difficult to remedy the disconnect in your mind, especially 30 or 40 years ago when less was known about transgender people, and the topic wasn’t openly discussed.

I’ve seen the press bash Kris Jenner as being selfish, emasculating, narcissistic, and cruel towards her former spouse.  Some of this might be true, but no one but the two people in the marriage have any idea what really happened.   Most of what we know about their marriage is from a highly edited, manipulated and partially scripted reality show.  The tabloids also chime in and they have never been known for their accuracy or ethical reporting.

Caitlyn has publicly said that her divorce was 80% because of poor treatment by Kris, and 20% because of her gender identity.  I’m sure Kris would most likely have a far different opinion.  It’s common for many closeted spouses to say very similar things after a split.  They rarely blame their orientation, even though living a lie or in constant psychological torment is definitely going to affect a marriage.   Kris didn’t marry a trans woman, she married a man.  It’s incredibly difficult for the wives and husbands of transgender people to suddenly accept their partner’s new identity.  For some it does work out, and both spouses learn to love the new normal, a few marriages even grow stronger.  But for the vast majority of marriages it’s just too much. A straight woman may no longer be attracted to her husband now that she’s a woman, or the transition could be so overwhelming the marriage just can’t handle the strain. Transitioning is a long intense and expensive process that puts both partners on an emotional roller coaster.   When a trans woman also proclaims she wants to date men, what’s left for her straight wife?  I know infidelity did not play a role in the divorce of Kris and Caitlyn but I bring it up, because it’s so incredibly common in these situations.

We can celebrate Caitlyn for her bravery and strength without trashing her ex-wife.  I’m not here to demonize Caitlyn or minimize what she has done for the trans community, but I get sick to my stomach when I see people dragging Kris through the mud over this.  I can’t help but see my own divorce and remember the misguided nonsense I endured.

  • You turned him gay. (No one can turn a person gay)
  • You need to have more compassion for your ex-husband. (After 9 years of lies and betrayal)
  • How did you not know? (Because he lied to me from day one)
  • I can’t believe that you didn’t know you had to have known. (I had to assume my husband was a liar?)
  • You used your ex-husband (My ex-husband used me)
  • Your marriage was an arrangement (Yes, and that’s why will pulled our families into it, just to hurt as many people as possible)
  • You somehow prevented him from coming out sooner (His struggle was his own, and had nothing to do with me)
  • You are still using your ex-husband for publicity (No I’m actually doing this to help other straight spouses)

The tabloids will continue to rip into Kris without much concern.   She’ll return to play the part of the over-bearing matriarch of a self-obsessed brood.   We can’t forget that she’s not a cartoon character, but a human being.  She just found out her former husband of 24 years is now a woman, and that’s never an easy thing to go through.  Ironically thanks to the actions of Caitlyn, we might be closer to a world where a transgender person can be open and honest about themselves well before three marriages, 10 kids, multiple grandkids and their 65th birthday.  As much as I can’t stand the Kardashian empire, I do have empathy for Kris Jenner.  Caitlyn needed to come to grips with her identity by herself, and Kris had no control over any of it.  Maybe they had a bad marriage, maybe they didn’t, but it has nothing to do with Caitlyn’s decision to live an open and authentic life.  We can celebrate Caitlyn Jenner without trashing Kris.  It would make a great reality show plot to have the straight person as the evil oppressor and the trans person as the ever suffering hen-pecked victim, but reality shows are not real life.  In actual marriages things are far more complicated.

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Dear Mom: Thank You for Working

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I’m writing this in response to the much maligned article that appeared in the Huffington Post “Dear Daughter, Here’s Why I Don’t Work” by Lydia Lovric. The author takes a lot of pride in her decision to stay at home while raising her kids.  It’s great that Lovric is happy with her choice, but she also made quite a few condescending and false assumptions about working mothers.  I could break down and analyze all the rude things the author implied about working moms, but I decided to write a letter to my mother instead. Since I’m the grown daughter of a working mother.  I’m living proof that a mom can work outside the home without harming her kids.

Dear Mom, thank you for working.  You had all four of your children during the difficult recession of the seventies.  Interest rates were sky-high and the country was facing runaway inflation.  When we were toddlers, you had no choice but to stay at home, as the cost of child care would have exceeded any wage you would have earned.  Yet, as soon as we were in school you tried desperately to get a full-time job.  You didn’t work because you wanted a fancy car, vacations, nicer clothes or a bigger house, in fact you rarely spent money on yourself.  Your income paid for things like food, clothing, the electric bill and our mortgage.

Thank you Mom for working and showing me that with enough effort you can accomplish anything.  You started out with a bachelors in French, and eventually worked your way up to a Master’s Degree in education.  On your own time you got a certification to teach Spanish and enough credits that you almost got a PhD.  You did this all while working full-time as a foreign language teacher and raising four kids.

Thank you Mom for working as without your job we never could have dreamed of a higher education.

Thank you Mom for working to support us in case Dad got sick or died prematurely.

Thank you Mom for working as it made us self-sufficient and independent.

Thank you Mom for working because we know it gave you a sense of self.  You enjoyed your job even though it sometimes frustrated you.

Thank you Mom for working, as it helped you not obsess over us.  Even though you shuttled us around and were active in many of our sporting, social and academic activities, you still had other things to worry about.

Thank you Mom for teaching me that feminism isn’t a bad word.  You would never call yourself a feminist, but you believed your daughters should have the same opportunities as your sons.

Thank you Mom for working, but I would thank you if you hadn’t.  I know you love and supported all four of your children, and you would have regardless of your work situation.   No one would think to ask dad why he got up every day at 5 am to work 8-12 hours a day fixing cars.  His choices were always just accepted, while you and every other working mother face scrutiny for everything you do.  Many moms don’t have a spouse or partner.  They must work and some even work more than one job to support their kids.   Some moms choose to work because their spouse doesn’t make enough to support a family.  An increasing number of families must have dual incomes for basic survival.

Being a mom is the hardest job in the world, and it doesn’t matter if a mom works one job, two jobs, or stays at home while raising children.  Every mother is trying to do the best for her kids and her family, including moms who work simply because they enjoy having a job.  Life is one big crap shoot.  What is best for one family might be awful for another, and all mothers have their own style of parenting.  Instead of criticizing mothers for working, or not working, we should realize we’re all in this together.

I want to thank my mom one more time.  Her original plan was that she’d get married, have babies and stay at home to raise them. Her life didn’t work out that way, but was she was the best mom she could be, and I wouldn’t be the woman I am today without her.

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