Opening Prayer For the Colorado State House in the Aftermath of a Tragedy, February 15, 2018

Our God and God of all people,
God of the Rich and God of the poor.
God of the teacher and God of the student.
God of the families who wait in horror.
God of the dispatcher who hears screams of terror from under bloodied desks.
God of the first responder who bravely creeps through ravaged hallways.
God of the doctor who treats the wounded.
God of the rabbi, pastor, imam or priest who seeks words of comfort but comes up empty.
God of the young boy who sees his classmates die in front of him.
God of the weeping, raging, inconsolable mother who screams at the sight of her child’s lifeless body.
God of the shattered communities torn apart by senseless violence.
God of the legislators paralyzed by fear, partisanship, money and undue influence.
God of the Right.
God of the Left.
God who hears our prayers.
God who does not answer.
On this tragic day when we confront the aftermath of the 18th School shooting in our nation on the 46th day of this year, I do not feel like praying.
Our prayers have not stopped the bullets.
Our prayers have changed nothing.
Once again, a disturbed man with easy access to guns has squinted through the sights of a weapon, aimed, squeezed a trigger and taken out his depraved anger, pain and frustration on innocents: pure souls. Students and teachers. Brothers and sisters. Mothers and fathers- cut down in an instant by the power of hatred and technology.
We are guilty, O God.
We are guilty of inaction.
We are guilty of complacency.
We are guilty of allowing ourselves to be paralyzed by politics.
The blood of our children cries out from the ground.
The blood of police officers cut down in the line of duty flows through our streets.
I do not appeal to You on this terrible morning to change us. We can only do that ourselves.
Our enemies do not come only from far away places.
The monsters we fear live among us.
May those in this room who have the power to to make change find the courage to seek a pathway to sanity and hope.
May we hold ourselves and our leaders accountable.
Only then will our prayers be worthy of an answer.
~Rabbi Joe Black

You Can’t Blame Gun Control Issues on the Mentally Ill

sofia-sforza-90360I have a mental illness. I have depression. I have anxiety.

I do NOT kill people.

Mental illness is not the reason innocent lives are being taken senselessly — guns are.

As someone with a mental illness, I take great offense when people try to blame lack of gun control on people who have a disability. I understand that stable people do not think shooting innocent people is okay. However, it is not fair to demonize a community that is more likely to suffer violence than inflict it.

The phrase, “guns don’t kill people; people kill people” is not entirely true. People who have access to an arsenal of weapons kill people. We don’t know the exact state of mind of these people, but we do know this — they had guns.

This was not meant to be a political essay or a commentary on gun control, but whatever gets the job done.

I am not going to list all the countries that have stricter gun control policies than the United States.  The research and statistics are out there for people to read. And if you read it, you’ll see the answer is pretty clear.

Do we have a mental illness problem in the U.S.? Yes.

Do we have a gun control problem in the U.S.? Yes.

Our community is misunderstood and marginalized enough as it. We do not need to be scapegoated for a bigger problem that has nothing to do with the majority of us.

A very large percentage of the mentally ill are not violent. Please don’t push your misinformation and prejudices on us to distract from the bigger issue at hand.

The bottom line is that innocent lives were lost yet again. Again. I cannot bear to sit here and watch pictures flash across the screen of innocent victims, some only 14 years of age, and not cringe and shake my head in disbelief. It’s sad and heartbreaking and it’s outrageous…and it’s preventable. Not by demonizing the mentally ill, but by stricter gun control laws.

And while we are at it, let’s get more funding for out patient mental health. Let’s get more funding for mental health services in schools and workplaces.

The fact of the matter is that NOTHING is being done to help innocent victims — both the victims of gun violence and the mentally ill.

Our government has in the past and will try again in the future, to cut funding for mental health and addiction services. Right now, our government is doing nothing to stop gun violence and enact stricter gun control laws.

The problem is not with the mentally ill.

Fat Shaming and Chronic Illness

meghan-duthu-114575It’s almost mid January and everyone is probably working on their new year’s resolutions to work out more or do whatever it is they resolved to do to shed those extra pounds in 2018.

Personally, I never make resolutions, but that is a topic for another post. If I did, though, it wouldn’t be to lose weight. Not only because I believe that our society puts too much emphasis on people’s appearance, but also because I already lost some weight. I had my annual physical a few weeks ago and I lost 22 pounds. Pretty good, right? Well, not according to my doctor. There was no congratulatory recognition or positive affirmation. Nope. Just some paperwork that said my vitals and diagnoses — one of which said that I was still overweight. It even showed my weight from last year where I was over 20 pounds heavier.

I know people assume that men don’t worry about their weight, but that is total B.S. We have issues around our bodies just like women do….but that may also be another topic for another post.

While I had checked off my annual physical from my list of things to do, I also needed to find a new allergist. I have a condition called Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and finding a good doctor to treat it can be really challenging. So when I learned about a new allergist who said he knew about my diagnosis, I was feeling hopeful. We talked about my issues with the disorder and at the end of the appointment he said, “You know, you should lose some weight.” I told him that I lost 22 pounds. He said, “Well, keep it up.” In my head I said, “Thanks, jackass.” Out loud, I said that losing weight does not cure MCAS — to which he remained silent.

It seemed like everyone, everywhere I went, was fixated on weight.

Just when I managed to get it out of my mind, I turned on the TV today and saw Megyn Kelly issuing an apology for making questionable remarks in regard to people’s weight.

You can see the video here:

Why is most of society obsessed with people and their weight? Did it ever occur to people that not everyone wants to devote all their free time to going to a gym and going on fad diets?

But the biggest thing is that those of us who are chronically ill may have weight issues for a vast number of reasons, some of which are out of our control. Medications and medical conditions that keep you inactive can cause weight gain. Genetics play a role. Being house bound can keep you overweight. Having an eating disorder contributes. And on and on…

I have had weight issues my whole life. I have heard it all from all the thoughtless and cruel people out there in the world. I have learned to tune them out and though it doesn’t affect me the way it used to, it still remains an obstacle in being heard by doctors and accepted in the world. People judge you. They make assumptions they shouldn’t.

So here’s what I’m suggesting. Don’t comment on people’s weight. Don’t shame people for how they look, whether you think it is within their control or not. Live and let live.

People who are chronically ill don’t need to hear negative remarks about their appearance. We already are hurting inside about being sick and feeling bad about what we wish we could do. I wish I could be more active and I wish I didn’t have a disorder that makes me take medication that causes me to put on weight. I wish I had better genetics. But this is my life. I’m working at accepting it and myself. I don’t need your opinion about my appearance. Just because you lost weight doing x,y and z, doesn’t mean that everyone else should do it, too. It doesn’t mean it will be POSSIBLE for everyone else to do it.

All of this left me thinking that more people’s resolutions should be to mind their business more often and be a little bit kinder. Not being a jackass will make you more attractive than a gym membership ever will. Just something to think about…

Christianity: A Religion of Minding People’s Business

liz99-252849I have a problem.

I no longer see the message Jesus taught in what is modern day Christianity. I see churches and religious people minding everyone’s business. That seems to be their religion — policing. It’s almost like they ask, “How can I mind my neighbor’s life choices, sexuality, gender identity, birth control and everything else?” rather than, “How can I love my neighbor?”

And I’m not just referring to conservative Catholics or Evangelicals. Even more liberal organizations like Fortunate Families posted on their Facebook page that they understand people have been wounded by the church but their page is not a forum to “vent” and they would like to “move onward.” And that, any comments that do not adhere to that policy will be deleted. The Executive Director private messaged me and told me that he believed this was the “Christian thing to do.” Really? So, we can’t be authentic even in places that are supposed to advocate for our authenticity? Your “Christianity” once again involves policing what everyone else is doing and it’s not fueled by compassion. It doesn’t want to hear people out and delve deeper into conversation — it’s just about following the rules and making sure everyone else does, too.

Just to be clear, I am not saying that we should live however we feel like and not be held accountable for our behavior. What I am saying is that Jesus did not tell us to go around watching what everyone else is doing, and then instruct us to decide if we think it’s valid or acceptable and then go and tell certain people that they now will be excluded based on our limited evaluation.

Gay people can’t get wedding cakes in some states. Women have to constantly fight opposing legislation for their right to birth control. Catholic hierarchy is obsessed with who is doing what with whom in the privacy of their own bedroom. LGBTQ people are denied communion and proper funerals. What religion is this? Why would anyone want to be a part of a religion like that?

The answer seems to be that it appeals to people who like control. It’s a way to assert power over the congregation or the community. Is this what Jesus taught or taught against?

When I was in Catholic elementary school, we heard about this carpenter guy from Nazareth who went about healing people, including them and loving them. But you know what else he did? He got pissed. He turned over tables, rebuked religious leaders and he spoke out against injustice and exclusion—sometimes very harshly. He advocated for the outcasts in bold and rebellious ways. So much so, that it got him killed. This is the Jesus I’d like to see more of in mainstream Christianity.

But if you can’t be that radical, then at least mind your own business.

What if we let people be who they are, sans the policing? What if we gave gay people their wedding cakes and trans people respect and women their rights and people who were abused by the church their fair, uncensored say? What if we practiced loving our neighbor more than minding their business? What if we validated and affirmed people for who they are and the diverse gifts they have to offer the church and the world? Would that look more like the church that Christ came to build? I think so.



Tonight marks the beginning of Hanukkah in the Jewish tradition and we are currently in the season of Advent for Catholics and some Christians.

Hanukkah is a time to remember the provision of God, especially in times when things seem hopeless.

Advent is a time of waiting…waiting for the light to break through the dark. It’s a time to anticipate with hope, the coming of salvation.

No matter what your religious affiliation, I join you in waiting for hope, healing and peace this holiday season. I know, as a chronically ill person, how difficult this time of year is.

I share with you these words inscribed on the wall of the Cologne Cathedral during the Holocaust. It’s called Inscription of Hope.


I believe in the sun even when it is not shining,

And I believe in love even when there’s no one there.

And I believe in God even when He is silent,

I believe through any trial there is always a way.

But sometimes in this suff’ring and hopeless despair,

My heart cries for shelter, to know someone’s there.

But a voice rises within me saying hold on my child,

I’ll give you strength, I’ll give you hope,

Just stay a little while.

I believe in the sun even when it is not shining,

And I believe in love even when there’s no one there.

But I believe in God even when He is silent,

I believe through any trial there is always a way.

May there someday be sunshine,

May there someday be happiness,

May there someday be love,

May there someday be peace.




Something Positive for Today

The person who doesn’t fit in with our notions of who is worthy of our love — the bag lady at the corner, the strange old man who rides through town on a three-wheel bike all strung up with flags — is just the person who, by not fitting into our patterns, insists that we expand not only our views but also our capacity to love. Today, see if you can stretch your heart and expand your love so that it touches not only those to whom you can give it easily, but also to those who need it so much.
Daphne Rose Kingma

Whisper Like An Angel
Have you learned how to whisper like an Angel
Have you learned how to stand up to death
Have you learned that life is as strong as its weakest link
Have you learned that truth never rests
Have you learned that love will save you
Have you learned how to whisper like an Angel
M.S. Morrison

The Current Epidemic Of Abuse


Earlier this year I wrote an essay on abuse and mental illness for The Mighty. In light of the recent scandals coming out about the many people who have been abused by those in power, I feel led to re-post this:

What My History of Abuse Taught Me About My Mental Illness

Many years ago, I was sitting in my therapist’s office telling him the story of my life – childhood and teens and early adulthood. By the end of the session, I was exhausted and said, “I just wish I was able to do more.” He looked surprised and replied, “I think you’re doing pretty damn well considering your history of abuse and current circumstances.”

I left thinking about those words. First, I felt validated for doing the best I could and that my life was not easy. Life wasn’t easy, despite the many people who have reminded me on a daily basis how other people have it so much worse. But the word that stood out the most was “abuse.” I, like so many others, am a victim of abuse. For many years nobody validated this. I think abuse among men is often downplayed and minimized. We are supposed to be the “tough ones.”

As a child, I was emotionally abused and neglected by people who were supposed to love me. I was verbally abused by teachers at school. I was manipulated by a therapist who wanted to have a personal relationship with me instead of doing his job and establishing trust. Later in my adult life, I got involved in friendships and romantic relationships that were hostile, demeaning, toxic and unhealthy. They were abusive.

People who have been abused often grow up to live lives riddled with anxietydepression and a whole bunch of other mental and physical illnesses. This left me wondering which comes first? Abuse or illness? Was my mental illness the result of abuse? I think so, yes. I think for some of us, we are predisposed — and the abuse makes it worse. For others, the abuse is the direct cause of the mental illness and they can spend decades trying to heal. I lived life thinking abuse was normal. I know that might seem weird to say, but having been abused as a kid, being abused as an adult seemed like nothing new. It seemed like no big deal. I could handle it. Maybe it wasn’t that I thought the abuse was normal, I just thought it was part of life.

At one point in time, I was involved in what I will call a “relational situation” with another man. Calling it a romantic relationship definitely wasn’t the case, as there was no romance. Only the nagging feeling that something was terribly wrong. I knew the treatment I was receiving wasn’t normal. It got pretty bad. The twisted relationship began to chip away at me and I became increasingly depressed, anxious and was making very unhealthy choices. I stayed because I thought it would change. It didn’t. Things only got worse. By then it was hard to leave.

People stay in abusive situations for all kinds of reasons. A few of them that I relate to are the shame, embarrassment and fear – not fear in the sense of only fearing for your physical safety, but fear of losing relationships, fear of what the abuser will do to assassinate your character and reputation. Abusers tend to manipulate and turn people against you. They threaten to tell your secrets. To embarrass you. And yes, there is also the fear of physical abuse – hitting, punching, smacking, spitting or throwing objects at you or near you. These are abusive actions. So is punching walls or objects in an attempt to be intimidating.

The biggest thing abusers do is make you think you’re “crazy.” It’s called gaslighting. You start to question everything to the point you actually feel like you’re losing your mind. This was the breaking point that sent me to therapy. I was no longer able to cope, to make sense of the world around me, to understand the people who were hurting me. And then it was confirmed. I was most certainly being abused. Not just by one person, but by a history of people. Through therapy I was able to construct a laundry list of relationships. But when looked at closely, they were a series of manipulations, lies, deceit and pain.

Abuse can be devastating to the point where it can impact your life for many years. Sometimes, pieces of your mind are still not completely healed. You wonder if you somehow deserved it, even if you could have stopped it. You assume responsibility for the abuser in your mind. Maybe if I just didn’t say or do that, they wouldn’t have hurt me.

Actually, they still would have hurt you. This is what abusers do – they hurt people and blame everyone but themselves. They most likely are also victims of abuse (although most people who are victims of abuse usually don’t grow up to be abusers, but some do) and are doing to you what was done to them.

After attending some support groups, I realized almost every person seemed to have some story of abuse. To be clear, I am not saying that all mental illness is caused by abuse. I am saying there certainly can be a connection between the two.

In any case, if you have been the victim of abuse, know it is not your fault. Like my therapist said, “You are doing pretty damn well considering the abuse you have been through.” If someone chops off your leg, you don’t blame yourself for not being able to walk fast enough. All you can do is practice self-compassion and focus on your healing.

If you are a witness of abuse and stand by and do nothing, you are participating indirectly in that abuse. You allow it to continue. Speak up. Report it. You can remain anonymous if you choose, but do something.

If you or a loved one is affected by domestic violence and need help, call The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.