No Place Here

1997 was an interesting year to finally come out. Me and Ellen Degeneres… trend setters. Tigger and I rekindled a friendship that quickly turned into more. She hadn’t come out to her family, maybe wasn’t even sure if she was gay yet. I’d come out but only officially to my mom with the hope that it would burn through my family like a wildfire of gossip and save me the awkwardness of having to pronounce myself over and over. It did. 

A couple weeks into our relationship we were walking down the streets of Portsmouth, one of the safer feeling places to be ‘out’ at the time, in the middle of the day. A man strode past us, wild hair on the top of a head and a neck that sprouted arms and legs like knobby tree limbs. A block up he turned toward us and yelled “fucking dykes”. We froze; I don’t even think we’d been holding hands. He turned back and carried on his drunken windmill of a walk towards the edge of town. In those seconds though, we had no idea what he might do. Would he keep yelling? Would he come at us? Would anyone intervene and help? I can still see it so clearly, like it was yesterday.

Even though eventually everyone in our families knew, and most of those who initially weren’t comfortable came around, it still felt very vulnerable to be open with our love. Enter The Desert Rose.

The Desert Rose was THE lesbian bar in Portsmouth. It was the one public place where we felt comfortable enough to truly be ourselves. It was open, accepting and, most importantly, safe. In that bar we didn’t have to worry about being bullied, yelled at, targeted, or assaulted for who we were. We could finally just be in our bodies without being ready to hide at any given moment. 

It’s been nearly 20 years since I came out as bisexual. In that time she and I fought convention and, wanting to be mothers, we brought two beautiful children into the world. Neither of them think their situation is anything other that a normal manifestation of family life. Even though we eventually split up, we continue to coparent like normal, regular people.  

However normal it seems today, it’s still not easy for everyone, by a long shot. Queer folks, teens and trans folks especially, have significant suicide rates. People, children, teens who come out are still disowned by families and communities. Trans folks are being killed every day. Cis-gender women who look too ‘male’ are being beaten up for using the women’s restroom.  

It continues to be dangerous to be queer/LGBTQA in our culture. But there still is one place where it’s safe. The gay bars and clubs that are scattered around like warm, inviting homes of love (such a foreign concept to a lot of queer folks). In there it’s safe to hold hands, wear what you want, be who you are, love who you love, and exhale, finally let that breath go that you hold in all the time without even knowing it. 

He violated that. I don’t know his name and even if I did I wouldn’t speak it. He took the most sacred environment in the gay community and burned it to the fucking ground. 

I haven’t wept until today. I’ve been in shock, like so many others. But today I saw a meme suggesting that this was a set up, a hoax. That there’s no video so it didn’t happen. 

And finally I cried. For the corrosive ignorance, for the humans so barren of compassion that this concept is anymore than a flicker of thought, and mostly, for the dead men and women who were hunted down and executed in the only place some of them ever felt at home. 

My tears shifted swiftly back to rage, a fire that had been burning since I first heard, but blazed and leapt with this idea that it was a fake. Are you shitting me? 

1. Who would it benefit? Those crazy soccer moms trying to take your guns away? Those poor trans folks who pretend to need to pee so they can perp your daughter? WHO?

2. I don’t even know if Pulse has cameras, but I’d be surprised if they did. A lot of people who are gay or trans are not out. It’s not safe for them. I can see why there would be no video cameras in a place where people are seeking refuge, where who they are in there could destroy who they have to be outside?

3. Who would want to see video footage of people being killed? Oh, right… the kind of person who would want to celebrate their deaths… people who even feel threatened by gay people who are already dead. 

4. Why would the queer community destroy its own consecrated ground? That massacre blasted holes in the foundation of every gay bar, everywhere in the WORLD. It’s like blowing up the Vatican and sending bomb threats to every church at the same time. A place of wholeness and holiness is no longer safe across an entire planet. 

There are a hundred reasons why it is, with heartbreaking certainty, real… but I’m wasting my breath, my words, and my thoughts. 

My point is this… if you believe this was in any way okay and if you don’t stand up and hold up your fellow humans during this time, and listen while you’re doing it, you are the problem. Your ignorance has no place at this table. You are why 100+ people out for a night of fun were injured or killed yesterday. You are why gay teens kill themselves at alarming rates. You are why trans people are killed everyday for simply living as who they are.


Now shut up. You’re done talking. 

A rustle of leaves

I feel broken.  I don’t want to sit here and type this because it feels pathetic and like, enough already.  Get a grip, I tell myself.  But I can’t. I don’t have traction anywhere.  I’m slipping and skidding on this mess of a life that I created, that I allowed, that I chose.  Again and again I chose “try” instead of “escape”.  I convinced myself that there is shame in walking away, that it would be ‘giving up’ and that’s a bad thing.  I convinced myself that if we, he, I, could just get through this next Hard Part, things would be brighter, lighter, happier, safe.

Every time I told myself this.  And every time it’s not what happened.  Every time I walked through the fire swamp dodging things I told myself I could handle, battling things other people would have turned and run from, every time I believed.  Every time I had hope.

I had hope this time too.  But hope is a funny thing. Hope is sometimes a false prophecy, a thing that you believe not because you know it’s true, but because your wanting it to be true drowns out even the loudest protests of your intuition.  I’m good at that kind of hope. I give people chances, and second chances, and 72nd chances.  I believe that people are good… or I believe I’m only worthy of the kind of good they have to offer (which, turns out, isn’t really that good at all or the kind of good I really need).

I told myself that if I tried my very hardest, if I turned myself inside out and upside down, if I showed up perfectly, I could save this.  I saw myself as a life raft tossed out into rough waters; I was going to rescue him, rescue us, rescue our family.  But this thing, this category 5 life, it’s too much for me.  It’s too much for anyone.

I don’t want to say I’m giving up.  I never gave up.  I wanted this to work more than I’ve wanted anything in my life to work.  So no, I’m not giving up, it’s just that I have nothing left to give.


The trees all around me are finally letting go of their beautiful, dead leaves.  Leaves that once brought them food and energy have reached the end of their lives.  In the tree’s last breath of gratitude, she knows she can no longer hold onto them anymore.  She has to give herself time, without heavy, dead things sapping her minimal resources.   It’s time for the tree to acknowledge what she can give and what she can’t.  It’s time for her to slow her breath, focus inside herself, brace herself for the cold, harsh, lonely winter.  The tree lets them fall, one at a time, until her arms ache with emptiness.

The winter will be brutal.  She may become coated with ice, wind bending and cracking in her branches, shivering with loneliness.  But before she knows it, spring will come.  It always does.  She will be able to feel the warmth of the sun deep in her core again.  Life will churn in her, sap will flow in her veins once more, her roots will stretch a little further into the thawing earth, and new growth will sprout from her fingertips.  It hurts… the saying goodbye, the empty arms, the stretching and waking up again.  She will survive it, though, she always does.

I know spring will come.  I know it’s time to let these things, this relationship, drift gently away on a wind that I can’t control.  Still, I breathe sharp, ever colder air in my lungs.  I’m scared.  It doesn’t matter much that I know things will be fine eventually – it’s the time between now and eventually that feels treacherous.  I want to turn back, but there’s no where to turn.  Time stubbornly marches forward and I am compelled to march alongside, no matter how unwilling I am.

While I march alone in the darkness of this, I will hold onto spring like a talisman, a promise of thawing and warmth.  A promise of rebirth.  It may be the only thing that gets me through.


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Walking the Walk

open heart fern

I’m holding on.  Things are changing, shifting, healing.  I’m healing.  He’s healing.  Our relationship is healing.  I don’t know what tomorrow holds.  I’m still scared, terrified really, but things are moving.  I’m still willing to believe in miracles.

I watch the last few weeks like a reel to reel zipping through the projector, whirring past my vision and slowing to a crawl at those moments when I found grace in myself, in The Man, in the kids, in our life.  I can hear the tumble of locks releasing, dusty doors creak slowly open, small beams of light shamelessly touching darkness, sadness and grief, illuminating what’s here, what’s good, reminding me to look.

There was no lightening, no cataclysmic change.  Just subtle movements, unfolding, finding newness where we thought there was only rust and rot.

Well, there was this one thing.  I decided to start showing up.  I stopped complaining and railing against the ways The Man wasn’t showing up in our relationship to my satisfaction.  I told myself “self, you are a fucking hypocrite. Where do you get off? How can you expect anything from anyone when you are so busy being SUCH an asshole?”

I can be kind of hard on myself sometimes.  But sometimes hard things require hard truths.

I started being more kind.  I started being more compassionate.  I started seeing him they way I wanted to be seen.

I reached out and touched him. 

One of the things I’d stopped doing was reaching out.  I had taken my fear and resentment and anxiety and built a fortress around myself.  From behind that wall I launched grenades, there was heavy artillery, there were cannons.  I pretended I was protecting myself from the hurt I just knew was coming from him.  But what if it wasn’t?

I waved my white flag.  After he’d had a challenging day I got out my grounding oils and gave him a massage even though I was tired myself.  I started giving more hugs.  I started asking for them.  I held his hand.  I touched his face.  I looked in his eyes.

I started saying how I felt. 

Behind my fortress I packed my feelings into those cannon balls of passive aggressive bullshit and shoot them at him.  I expected that after being knocked over by them, he’d be able to look at those hard iron cannonballs and just ‘know’ that there was a feeling buried under layers and layers of thick ore.  What was I thinking?

Well, I wasn’t thinking.  I was scared.  I started to say those very words. “I’m scared” and “I’m afraid”, “I love you”, “I miss you”, “I need…”.  I started to say hard things, truths, with love and compassion.  I’d lived behind that fortress so long that it felt awkward and hard at first. But I did it anyway. I had to.

I showed him my heart again.  This time without listening to the fear that once caused me to pull back like a turtle in its shell.  We were, we are still, at risk of losing each other and I just know that I truly have nothing left to lose by being vulnerable.  I have been facing one of my worst fears and I have to do it with an open heart if I have any chance of surviving.

In truth, I didn’t just do it for him, I did it for me.  Being harsh and cold and closed off, living in that fortress, that’s not me.  I thrive with a wide open heart, free, caring, loving.  I had to get back to myself, for myself.  I had to remember who I really was before the fear swallowed me.

A tiny miracle happened, it’s not just me who is changing.

He’s different, too.  There are other factors at play for him, but I like to think that part of it was me coming out from behind my walls, palms up in submission, calling a cease fire; me taking his hand, looking him in the eyes and saying, “I’m here, all of me, let’s do this, together.

He’s receptive. He’s scared, too, but his eyes and heart are more open than they have been in a long while.  He’s reaching out. He’s talking about his feelings. He’s apologizing for things. I’m seeing him in ways I’ve never seen him, in ways I thought were just a fantasy.  We’re learning how to trust each other again.  We’ve been so careless with each others’ hearts for so long that this new found gentleness we have with each other feels surreal, like a dream. 

It’s still hard for me to trust him, so I’m trusting in the Universe, or God, or whoever she is.  I’m trusting that there is a Plan and this Plan does not include me suffering forever.  This Plan includes joy and beauty and so so so much love.  I’m trusting that all I have to do is show up with an open heart.  I have to believe this.  And in order to believe it, I have to live it.

So, I’m living it.  I’m alive, I’m here, I’m showing up.  I’m still scared, but I know wherever I land will be the right place and I know that landing will be softer if I’m living with an open heart along the way.


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On not being okay…


When people ask me how I’m doing, I respond “I’m breathing”.  It’s not a lie.  It’s not the story.  I’m tired of telling the story.  I’m tired of the story period.

I’m tired of how I feel like I’ve been written into this story against my will, forced to play a role I don’t want to play.  But no one is truly forcing me, are they?  Technically, I can cut the strings and say goodbye to this mess. But I don’t want to.  I’m still holding out for a miracle. I really want to believe in miracles.

I’m not good at change.  I know, you aren’t either.  Some people are; I’m suspicious of those people, for the record.  But I’m not at all good at this sort of thing. When you’re from a background where your life was full of land mines, you either get good at uncertainty, or you don’t.  I didn’t.

Uncertainty is scary.  Unfortunately, it’s also how life is.

What’s going on right now is really hard to talk about.  A huge portion of what’s going on for me is borne out of the what’s going on with someone else, and mostly what they’re doing about it.  Someone who I care deeply for.  Someone who I believe I was meant to meet in this life because I believe we have known each other in previous life times.

What’s going on for this person is his story. His journey. His truth. His stuff.

And because the Universe works the way it does (I’m starting to figure out your tricks you little vixen) I am coming to realize that my part in this is to figure out just which parts are actually mine.  Fine. Lesson time.  I get it.  Well, I don’t get it, but I will. Or at least I’ll keep getting bashed over the head with ‘opportunities’ until I do.

These lessons are painful.  They are confusing.  I do NOT want to do this work.  I don’t want to cry myself to sleep one more goddamned time.  I don’t want to feel shooting pains down my arms as I weep out of grief, confusion and loss.  I don’t want to have to tell my children “I don’t know” when they ask questions I can’t answer.  I want answers.  I want a crystal ball.  At this point, even a Magic 8 Ball will do.

My resistance to what is, is taking a toll. I’m not sleeping very well. I look forward to the distraction of going to work. I feel the familiar, and unwelcome, spin of obsessive thoughts, of checking and rechecking, of unfounded fears and worries. I know I need to get off the hamster wheel, there is no question. But I can’t force myself to do it, not yet. I can’t surrender hope. I can’t surrender to the possibility that in the end of this I may lose something so precious to me, something my heart and soul are invested in.

Maybe that’s the lesson, too. The losing. The letting go.

Whatever it is, I’m not ready.


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Sisterhood of the Traveling Hearts 


I had some expectations going into the Warrior Mom Conference last weekend.  I expected I would meet some new people, meet people I had only previously ‘met’ in a little tiny box on my computer and that I’d be able to squash my social anxiety long enough to do those two things somewhat successfully.  Aside from getting super shy about meeting people I already ‘knew’, I was mostly successful.

I try to do a lot of observing when I’m in an unfamiliar and uncomfortable place – be that physical or emotional.  Kind of like watching things from a seat in the way back, trying not to qualify, quantify or judge, just seeing and feeling. That’s how it was there, and that’s how it’s been this week as I’ve tried to navigate life after the Warrior Mom Conference.

What I’m noticing is that there was so much more that happened at WMC that I didn’t expect, things that are slowly and patiently unfurling themselves in my consciousness.

It was an environment that was the most emotionally safe space of its size probably ever.  Not only was it emotionally safe, but vulnerability was everywhere, glistening like beautiful, prismatic jewels wherever you looked.

Wherever I looked, whatever I asked, whatever I felt, it was okay.

It was okay to be sad.  It was okay to feel grief.  It was okay to laugh.  It was okay to be messy and raw.

It was okay to not be okay.

One of the more surprising things I noticed was my connection to other women.  I used to be a practicing lesbian, so I’m all about ‘rah rah women’.  I took Women’s Studies.  I worked for a rape crisis hotline.  I swore I’d never buy my daughter a Barbie.  The prominent figures in my family are women.  I was raised by a young, single mom. I have one sibling, a sister.  I get women.

Or so I thought.  At WMC I felt a connection with other women that I’ve never really felt before and I didn’t even realize it until I got home. Earlier this week, as I went about my normal(ish) life, I noticed I was seeing other women in a different way.  I started really seeing these women… moms I didn’t know, moms at Trader Joe’s, moms at work, moms at the gas station. I felt this connection I hadn’t felt before.  It hit me like a brick; when it comes to relationships with other women, with other moms, I’m guarded.  Even with my friends who tell me about their messy, I still keep some walls up, it still doesn’t feel safe, I still carry shame around my illness and how it plays out in my life.  I still judge myself very harshly for things I did (and do) when I’m most unwell.

But last weekend I sat with 100 other women who knew, who got it, who felt the same shame and said ‘it’s okay, you’re okay, we are OKAY’.  They said ‘even though these illnesses have made it scary to look in the mirror at times, it’s not your fault, you are fighting, you are healing, you are (or will be) okay’.

Surrounded by that love and truth, the final fragments of the wall I’d been hiding behind came down.  I saw these amazing women in ways I have never been able to see myself.  And because of that, because of the connection we share, I could finally see in myself what I saw in them – beautiful, whole, loving women and mothers.

I feel so blessed to finally feel a true sisterhood with other women.  It took 100 women traveling from all over the world for me to get there, women like me who dragged their anxiety along like a pissed-off, boneless toddler, to show up, to open their hearts, to show me the truth, and I couldn’t be more grateful.

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What I Want You To Know

As soon as the Warrior Mom Conference was announced I knew I had to go and bought a ticket the minute they were available. The few moments of doubt that I had were quickly silenced by a visceral knowing that I needed to be with these women, my people, my fellow Warrior Moms. Some of these women I had known online since I first realized I was spiraling down again after my youngest was born, 4 years ago.  Getting to know them through social media, participating in #ppdchat, and reading Postpartum Progress, helped me get the right diagnosis and helped me get better treatment.

This past weekend I got on a packed bus, navigated myself and my suitcase through the steaming subway and emerged from the underground of Boston into the arms of the most beautiful, brave group of women I have ever had the gift of knowing.

It wasn’t easy.  It was full of joy and emotions and deep truths.  I will be processing the gifts and struggles of this weekend for quite some time.  I feel most called to speak my truth, finally.  Not just here in my tidy corner of the internet, but out loud, out there, in my life.  I need to tell my story for myself, as part of my healing, and for other women, so that they may know that there is hope, that they are Warriors, and that we are in this together.

Though the truth is, before this weekend, I didn’t really feel authentic calling myself a Warrior Mom most of the time.  I’ve come a long way… a very long way… but there’s a part of my brain (a very obnoxious part of my brain) that tells me I don’t get to call myself a Warrior Mom until I’m there.

But where is “there”? This weekend showed me where “there” is.

Right here.  Right now.


Even though I wanted to quit, really quit, many times, I’m still here.  I’m still in this fight.

I am a Warrior Mom.

And so are you.


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With Intention

I didn’t choose any particular word that I wanted to set the tone for this year, but one seems to have chosen me.

Intentional… being mindful with my words, my energy and my actions… doing things with intention… not just because it’s the socially or culturally accepted thing to do… not because it will make someone else happy… and not avoiding things out of fear.

I have spent 40 years on a kind of auto-pilot, with so much of what I do borne of thought patterns and ways of being that were cultivated in an environment of uncertainty, conditional love, chaos and narcissism. Because my being is rooted in this tainted soil, living with intention is a lot harder than one might expect.

I’m not discouraged, not yet anyway.

This pull to do things with intention, to get off the co-narcissism hamster wheel, to live and breathe and think and speak in alignment with who I am, has far more to do with the upcoming culmination of my 40th trip around the sun than it has to do with the imaginary beginning of a new calendar year.

It’s been building, especially these past few months.  I find I have so fewer fucks to give – and the fucks I do have to give are genuine and deep and, well, intentional.

My ability to see the truth in the blinding bullshitstorm of this culture is improving.  So much of our media and healthcare system and political system is circus run by people who operate solely from a place of fear and narcissism.  No change will ever happen as long as the people in power, regardless of their moral compass, perceive they have something to lose.  That ‘something’ being money.  It’s astounding really.

Essentially I’ve decided I’m not going be a team player anymore; at least not in the culturally accepted ideology of “team”.  I’m going to do the best I can to be real, REALLY real.  To be honest about my struggles and my joys, but not be defined by either.  To honor, REALLY honor, who I am.  To be, just be, without excusing or apologizing for my imperfectness.

We are all imperfect.  All of us.  Every person on this planet is inherently fallable.  That is our humanity.  That is what makes us beautiful multifaceted prisms of light.  If we stay hidden in the darkness of fear, the fear of imperfection, we never get a chance to reflect the vibrant richness of our souls onto the world. We never get a chance to sparkle.

My intention is to stop apologizing for my humanity, to live fully, to accept and occupy this body completely, to own my thoughts and feelings, and to stop waiting for permission and looking for approval.

It’s time for me to sparkle.


“So don’t be afraid to let them show, your true colors,
true colors, are beautiful like a rainbow.” 

~ Bill Steinburg and Tom Kelly, sung by Cyndi Lauper


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