Sassafrass is delighted to announce the launch of our Kickstarter! Our Balticon concert is coming up soon (next Sunday, the 26th, dude), and we're very much hoping to raise money for all the awesome things we intend to do with it: produce and release the CD we've been working on all year, make a DVD of the concert (which, for those just joining our show, will be a two-hour, fully-staged, fully-costumed opera which brings together all fourteen current members of Sassafrass from all across the country, and tells the Norse myth cycle of the creation of the universe, the death of Baldur, and the coming of Ragnarok), pay for the costumes, props, transportation, hotel fees and so forth without staying utterly in debt, and so forth!
This is something we've been working towards... well, in some ways, since last year when Balticon asked us to be their Musical Guests of Honor and Featured Filkers. But in other ways, we've been working towards this since 2008 when Ada first started writing Sundown. It's been a long trip, and anything you can do to get us to this goal would be wonderfully helpful. Any little bit helps-- our lowest level is just $1, for which you get to be Ratatosk the squirrel that runs up and down the World Tree, and we'll thank you on our website.
We are very excited! And I am therefore begging shamelessly! Please please please please please help us do this awesome thing!
Reading: Babel Tower, A.S. Byatt
So, I want to signal-boost for this indiegogo project. The Brothers of the Emerson College Phi-Alpha-Tau fraternity are trying to raise money for their new transgender brother, whose insurance company denied his claim for top surgery.
I love the fact that these are, clearly, frat boys. He is such a frat boy. And they care about him, and want him to be able to get the care he needs. How awesome is that?
(Also, if you pledge $75, the brothers will sing you a thank you song. I do not have $75 for them, but squee.)
I've been watching the reactions to the Sandy Hook massacre, and finding them distressing. Not as distressing as the massacre itself, which was simply sad-- but there's nothing I can do for its victims, beyond send thoughts and warm wishes to the survivors. (And appreciative texts to the teachers I know.) Which I do.
But the reactions-- well, there have been some I've found helpful and enlightening. echoboots has a comprehensive, thoughtful, and very readable three-part series on "Unpacking Mental Health and the Sandy Hook Tragedy." nightengalesknd has a thoughtful post about how people are talking about the tragedy and autism. Both of them make the excellent point that I wish I saw more places: it's more complicated than that.
I guess what really got me was the First Parish Unitarian Universalist service on Sunday. They're a place I usually go and find wisdom, companionship, inspiration. So I was disappointed that they just didn't have much useful to say about it. We mourned together, which was a relief after a few days of me going, "oh, godsdammit, not again."
But then there was a somewhat incoherent attempt to link it to the issues of poverty (okay, I sympathize that my minister had clearly worked very hard on a sermon about classism in UU, and didn't want to completely scrap it, or maybe didn't have time to completely rewrite it, but), and there were a few mentions of the need for better gun control, and better mental health care, and a call for less "glorifying of violence" in our culture through such media as action movies and first-person shooter video games. But these are not the answers I wanted.
( Possibly because I HAVE some answers, and they're not those.Collapse )
Here, have a very distressing video:
Here's a list of things you can do, from the National Center for Transgender Equality. For something a little less work-intensive, why not write to your government officials asking them to support the passage of ENDA?
Because while there's no-one who isn't in some way harmed by the rigid enforcement of gender roles, some people are harmed much, much more. And it needs to stop.
One of my classmates in graduate school did her doctoral project on the process of becoming a therapist. She said that, on average, it takes ten to fifteen years to feel comfortable with yourself and feel like you know what you're doing.
I saw my first client almost eight years ago. By her reckoning, that puts me a good way through the process, but not all the way. Certainly, I feel much more sure of myself than I used to, especially since I got back from Texas. I'm feeling especially pleased because last week, I had my first successful termination; someone who came in months ago with problems, and now feels much better, that we've solved them. We spent a month or so consolidating their gains and what they've learned, and then they went away, and I may never see them again, because they got better. That feels really good, and makes me feel like I'm starting to really know what I'm doing here.
On the other hand, I'm still new enough to remember some of the things I didn't know, starting out, and that a person might like to know. So, here: fourteen things it's useful for a therapist to know.
( 1. The obvious things that everyone says are, for the most part, true.Collapse )
( 2. Your clients will remember what they say better than what you say.Collapse )
( 3. Make the client do most of the work.Collapse )
( 4. Emotions are not dangerous.Collapse )
( 5. Your job is not just about helping clients express their emotions.Collapse )
( 6. Bring a book.Collapse )
( 7. There are more clients out there for you. And more therapists out there for them.Collapse )
( 8. Therapy is worth the money.Collapse )
( 9. It's okay for your clients to know more than you.Collapse )
( 10. Use your WHOLE self, not just the parts of you that you think fit what a good therapist should be like.Collapse )
( 11. The repair is more important than never making a mistake.Collapse )
( 12. There are many useful things you can do.Collapse )
( 13. There are some things you can never fix.Collapse )
( 14. You can do this.Collapse )
This is a bit delayed, but... did you know that Sassafrass has been nominated for the Pegasus awards again this year? For "Somebody Will," and for Best Performer. Yay!
If you're a person who has an interest in filk, you might consider voting! (It took me a while since the nomination to make this post, because I wanted to listen to all the entries so I could vote on them properly, and some of them are quite awesome! I am rather a fan of S.J. Tucker, and I want to hear more of Michelle Dockrey-- anyone have recommendations?)
The ballot is here!
I don't know whether this is true for all shrinks. It definitely is true for me. And... it feels true, given what I've seen of other people. But:
Shrinks become shrinks because we've seen how terrible the world can be, how much people can be hurt and hurt each other, and it scared us. We desperately want to know how to deal.*
When we're doing it wrong, we pick a theory or technique and cling to it as The Answer. We try to use our clients (and ourselves) to prove, over and over, that we're right-- this is the way, this this is how to fix it. And when our clients don't do as we say and get better, we react... badly.
When we're doing it right, we trust our clients to show us. We ask each person for their story, the particular way that the world and other people and they themselves hurt them. And we trust that with support, encouragement, stories of how other people do it, another perspective, and a chance to look deep inside themselves, they will figure out how to deal with their problems. They will tell us a unique pain, and with us, they will find a unique solution.
And from them, we will see another way people can be hurt, and another way to deal. And we will see another example, not of proof that our technique is the right one, but that solutions can be found. We will gain faith in healing itself, in the fact that dealing happens. And then we feel less afraid of the world, and other people, and ourselves.
That's what we want. On a deep-down, selfish, id-level, that's why we're in this field. Fortunately, if we trust our clients, it works. And both we and our clients are better off for it.
*I mean, yes, also, it feels good to help people, and it's a good thing to do. But there are a zillion ways to help people. We could have been medical doctors or massage therapists or accountants or fire-fighters or chefs or comedians or interior designers or plumbers or prostitutes. All of those make people feel better and/or improve their lives, and that's very satisfying and worth doing. But we are, for some reason, shrinks.
When right-wing Christians talk about gay rights these days, they'll often try hard to couch it in terms of "respectful dialogue." They get very upset when people call them "hateful" or "bigoted." They argue that "just because you disagree with someone, whether it is on the subject of homosexual 'marriage' or any other, doesn't automatically make you a hater."
This reminds me of a quote my wife often repeats: "Love is not a feeling. Love is an action." It was said in those words by psychiatrist M. Scott Peck in 1978, but you can argue that it also has Biblical roots ( 1st Corinthians, Chapter 13). The idea is that the emotion is all well and good, but it's not sufficient or necessary; with real love, you take care of others, nurture their growth, do things to help them. You can tell that someone loves through the consequences of their actions for other people, no matter what they may say or feel.
I would argue that hate works the same way. Hate is also not a feeling. Hate is also an action. Anger is a feeling, sure. So is the desire for vengeance. So is fear-- of the unknown, of difference, of change. Those are feelings. But hatred is action which results in harm to others.
So when I look at the above-mentioned quote; sure, disagreeing with someone isn't hate. You can disagree with someone without damaging them in the least. Hate is when you take actions that harm people with whom you disagree, no matter how you feel about those actions-- whether you feel calm, or justified, or even compassionate. Hate is when you vote for someone who makes sure that someone cannot be comforted in illness by the person they love the most. Hate is when you donate money to make sure that children won't have legal protection if one of their parents dies. Hate is when you stand at someone else's parade with signs written to dim their happiness and pride in the thing they're celebrating. All of those are things that do harm, from great to small.
Some right-wing Christians would argue that these actions are done out of love because they're trying to save GLBTQ people from Hell. They would argue that hurting people a little on Earth is justified if it will save them from greater hurt after death-- spare the rod, and all that. That argument... seems very counter to the idea of free will. It suggests that people can't find their own salvation from sin unless that sin is made incredibly difficult to do-- unless the consequences of that sin are financial burdens, physical danger (from untreated illness, from bullying, from murder), social isolation, depression, shame, and guilt. The approach there seems to be "we will save your souls whether you want us to or not." I can see that as a practical means to an end if you think that forced, grudging obedience to God's laws is enough for salvation-- but every Christian I've ever talked to talks about salvation as a conscious, willing process-- a surrender, maybe, but to God, not to humans who beat you into it.
So no, I wouldn't say that increasing the danger to GLBTQ people, increasing our inconvenience and discomfort and financial expense (it cost me $300 at tax time this year to be married to a woman instead of a man. Well-- that's how much extra I paid. I'm not even sure how much more I would have saved in benefits in a heterosexual marriage) can be an act of love. It does us actual harm, physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. And the fact that this harm is not new-- that this is harm which has been done for decades, so that it's status quo-- doesn't make us not hurt.
Hate is not a feeling. Hate is an action. It's the action of voting, contributing money, protesting, and speaking in ways that influence others to make my life harder because of who I love. People's feelings don't directly affect me, but their actions do.
That's what we're talking about when we say people opposing same-sex marriage are "hateful."
Especially if you live in the Boston area:
Local Chapter 615 of the Service Employees International Union is having a march on
Monday, September 3rd
to support their contract negotiations. This is the cleaning staff and janitors of the New England area, particularly those who clean for major universities (like Harvard) and office buildings. They're hoping to be able to be hired as full-time workers with benefits, rather than what they currently do-- very hard work for hours just long enough that they can't get the rights and benefits of full-time workers. Come support them!
If you can't make it to the march*, please spread the word!
For more information, check out their website!
*like me, sadly-- that's exactly when my very first singing lesson is, and it's too late for me to reschedule. :(