Sunday, December 24, 2017

Snap Shots: The Holidays, and More As We Wrap Up 2017

It's over, Chanukah. but it was fun. 

It's traditional to wish people Happy Holidays  this time of year. Knowing we get at least a day off, we ask one another what is happening, how do we celebrate? Will there be a big turkey dinner? A ham, perhaps? 

It happened just last week. I have a new friend who swims at the same time I do each day, and she asked what I do for XMAS. Big dinner XMAS eve?

So I told her that no, we don't do that. But it brought back a very old memory. My brothers, me, and my parents, seems like it was always a Wednesday on December 24. The store, my father's store, finally closed for the holiday. This is before online shopping, so retail shops on the streets thrived in November-December. A family could eat all year on the profits for the season alone. So it was a celebration, and we DID have a big dinner, even if it was in the middle of the week, simply celebrating the end of the retail season and so much work. And it was great. 

Sometimes it would be on Chanukah, too, but not always. Because the Jewish calendar is lunar, the dates of our holidays are different each year.

And guess what? Chanukah is over, and yet people still want to know: 

What do you do on Chanukah? 

Why bother telling them it is over? Instead I tell them we can work during the day, but not at night while the lights are burning. Maybe we go to a Chanukah party with family or friends, but it isn't a big deal. This isn't a soul searching holiday, not one commanded in the Five Books of Moses, rather it is a celebration that we're still here. They tried to kill us. We won. Let's eat! 

But it is more, of course, and the irony is that most Jews who skip out on the Sabbath (much more important) celebrate Chanukah religiously. Their parents assimilated, they are, too, and nobody told them that this is the anti-assimilation holiday. It is a victory over forced assimilation. We should call it the DIVERSITY holiday of the Jews, a celebration of differences. The Greeks said: Give up your Sabbath, close down your mikvah, burn your Torah--or face certain death. Not unlike the Spanish Inquisition! 

If we caved back then, would we even be here right now? Probably not. Jews don't go to war over nothing. 

lasagna, mock meat
potato latkas, the traditional kind
So anyway, getting back to what we do on ChanukahWe valiantly try to get home a little early on Chanukah nights to light candles (or an oil menorah, see above) at sundown. We add one flame each night, say a prayer, then settle down to a meal that is always too high in calories, usually with cheese, something oily, hence the latkas (potato pancakes). 

Do we give presents? Sure, to the kids, or money. Most of us don't even know where that tradition came from. If anybody knows, shoot me an email.   

2.  XMAS 

The gifts can get out of control, I hear. In family therapy they are described as a tremendous source of stress. 

There's a Moth podcast about a woman who feels compelled to buy an expensive wedding dress, even though she isn't a real "wedding dress" kind of gal. It's worth hearing, if spending money for the holidays makes you sick. Find Jesse Klein on The Moth Radio Hour for that. 

But three patients, the same day, three, tell me they have to give it up, the work of this holiday, Xmas. It is too hard. All the decorating, all the shopping. Enough is enough. One even said, "I'm telling people I'm Jewish," (meaning exempt from all the bother). 

But she has to be told. It has to be discussed. She's exhausted, she's depressed. The holiday is work, sure. But this has nothing to do with the work, not even with the materialism, or even comparative religion. It's all about grieving those people who are gone, the ones who showed the example, who did the work without complaint, who aren't here anymore, who probably should have just done less, but couldn't disappoint the kids. These holiday troopers are missed, more than ever, on those silent, holy nights, even with those complicated relationships that haunt us, looking back. And they aren't missed for the gifts.

Yeah, grieve them.


After we squirt out a few tears in a visit like that, I find myself asking my grumpy patients, "What about New Years? Is that fun?"

(To an observant Jew, January 1 is a pagan holiday. Most of us don't revel.)

And every one of them tells me what I already know, because I know them: "Nah, we never did that. For what? Why would we do that, go out with all the crazies who drink too much, risk getting into a car wreck? The streets aren’t even safe, and there’s plenty to watch on television. We're just going to stay home, maybe play some cards, eat popcorn."

Me, Too.  

Well, that's all the time we have for today, friends, for this year, probably.  May your holidays be happy. May you resist over-working (your mother didn't work outside the home, just a hunch). Do what makes you happy, as long as it isn't invading someone's personal or even psychological boundaries, and if you decide you want to take off and go to the movies rather than open another fruit cake with Aunt Martha, just do it. She's probably using Truvia by now, anyway, it will last forever in the freezer, or she bought it at the bakery or the local Jewell. She doesn't have much time or energy, either.


Friday, December 15, 2017


No, not my usual post. But this stuff has been bothering me, and this is how I'm working it out. I feel badly for making Mr. Franken an example, he was a champion, is the truth. But we're learning that if you can't be a mensch, a human being who is careful with other people, you're likely to lose more than a few fans.

It's the end of the year, and what a year it has been. Distressing, in a word. But just when you're about to give up hope, something wonderful happens, like Roy Moore loses! So on that note, let's get started with what might prove to become an annual post. 
Chris Sacca, the only mensch


1. Worst Loser Award

Roy Moore, congratulations! 

Just in time for the celebration of Chanukah, we hear that the man who thought nothing of taking a fourteen year old girl to his house to get acquainted, lost election for Congress. Going in he was ahead at the polls, but thanks to the African American vote of intolerance, he lost by 20,715 votes. That's a lot of votes! 

Yet, at this writing, Moore refuses to concede. He believes that God might still save the day. Well, Roy, God works in mysterious ways. Even Donald Trump is saying, Let it go, fella. Roy Moore gets the Worst Loser Award for not only refusing to see himself as imperfect, but for not resigning when he probably should be behind bars or in therapy, or both. That's what we call a serious chutzpah

II. Worst Parting Shot After Losing Your Job Award

Tom Ashcroft gets this one. He's a National Public Radio host (I always liked him.) The allegations are that he talked "creepy" sex talk, gave  unwanted hugs, neck and back rubs. Eleven mostly young men and women who worked with him on the show reported the abuse that surely constitutes a hostile work environment.

 Ashcroft, informed that he had to go, sent the following text to the station, the line that earns him the Worst Parting Shot award:

"I am sure that once the facts come out that people will see me for who I am-- flawed but caring and decent in all my dealings with others." 

Translate this into therapy-speak and what he means is: Who me? Must be some misunderstanding. I'm awesome. One day they'll know. They'll be sorry.

Oh, we already know more than enough, Tom.

Onto the next award!

III. Most Creative Use of Office Space Award  

Matt Lauer, hands down. Lauer is said to have installed a panic button in his desk that allowed him to lock his office door from the luxury of his chair. Women can get in, but they can't get out! This is called creative narcissism, but it isn't the good kind. Do not pass Go, Matt. 

IV. And Two Awards, Two, go to a  our politician who is not a President  of the year (and that's a tall order)
       1. Best, if Second-Rate Entertainer in Politics Award 

and 2.  First Place Swine at the Fair Award

Al Franken, yes.. Franken couldn't be with us tonight, so therapydoc thought it a good time to use this public forum to accept the award for him and have a little talk together.
Here's the thing, Al. I've been holding in a lot of rage about you for a few weeks, at least. Your behavior, like Harvey Weinstein's, just isn't Jewish. It'is embarrassing to all of us who light candles or oil menorahs tonight. You get this award, however, not Weinstein, because you claim to be a man of the people, elected by the people, and a true champion of women's rights, and you let us all down. And another thing.

I NEVER LIKED YOU ON SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE! I'm just not much into the smug act, that superiority bit you did so well on Weekend Update. I thought, wow, his father is probably this way, you don't get this material out of thin air, it is so convincing. Then, at some point I thought, IT'S NOT AN ACT!  and stopped watching because an unfunny skit went on so long. It was the one where you ended every sentence with your name, the tag line  ME, AL FRANKEN
And NOW, Me, Al Franken, as a United States senator, you're called out for touching women inappropriately while taking pictures with them, and even though we can't see it, it is assumed that you are smiling! This is very offensive, Al. These women, who once admired you, now think you are a disgusting excuse for a human. There's another allegation, too, that you asked at least one of ex-voter to join you in the bathroom after you had already humiliated her with that grabbing thing you do. It is said that before you went into politics you did this grabbing thing and said it was your right  as an entertainer (forget that you didn't make me laugh). 

Your defense, dear, is so terribly weak, too. Rather than apologize, even try to empathize, you say,  I DON'T REMEMBER DOING THAT!  Al, this isn't something you forget. You have a body memory, just like she does. Stop lying. It further cheapens you. 
The apology, too, such a poor excuse for an apology: If I did make some women uncomfortable, I'm really sorry.   IF you did something to make some women uncomfortable? Use "I" language. I did things.  
Champion stuff, there. Deliberately shaming a woman, or humiliating her, publicly, this is worse than narcissism. It is sociopathic. Now there's a third award. Most sociopathic politician. But there are so many contenders, it is too hard too choose. 

Just so you should know, readers, this kind of conceit is the underbelly, the ugly side of narcissism

Side bar. If a man doesn't tell us his history, why he does these things, because he knows, deep down in his heart, what drives him, then people will assume the worst, the sociopathic, the ugly narcissist. I'd rather hear an apology like the following than nothing at all:
"When I was a kid it was a really cool thing, grabbing women, it made you feel like a man, you see, and we all did it and we laughed, and the girls hated it but you sort of wondered, Did they like it? I think they did! And some guys, like me, don't give up their frat boy years so easy. It was funny then, but it isn't funny now, and I'm an idiot, and I have a lot of thinking to do, intend to take women seriously, and I have to stop lying, begin owning up to what I've done." 

You've been so lucky so far, Al, they'll probably accept that.   
V. Best Friend Award
and the winner is . . . Garrison Keillor!
We'll never have to listen to Keillor's dopey Prairie Home Companion again. (Okay, I loved him for years, even listened to the poetry, but his show, and his droopy voice, got old over the years). He no sooner defended Franken, blamed Tweeden (seriously, who blames the victim anymore) than NPR fired him. But before his crimes came to light, he  defended Franken's honor (the expression, thick as thieves comes to mind) calling the women liars, these victim who had witnesses to their stories, who told on him immediately to spouses and friends, after he groped them, cried about the feeling (this is never acknowledged by these guys, the feeling) how horrible it was for them. BEST FRIEND! Cellmates!

VI. Funniest President Ever Award

and the winner is. . . George H W Bush!
Al Franken got nothing on me, HW might say, admitting to having grabbed too many women to count during photos. (This is a thing, who knew?)

People are trying to be kind about it, saying he suffers from senility, that's why he did it. Could be. But it still gives new meaning to the expression photo op

Bush excused himself by telling the woman a joke before he flexed his wrist.  
"Do you want to know who my favorite magician is? David Cop a Feel!"

Now that's really funny.

If you're twelve.

Let's pause for a song, because nobody, with the exception of VC Chris Sacca, the only one in the scores of sexual misconduct apprentices knows how to apologize (I HAVE MORE WORK TO DO, he writes). 

As the wonderful, if drunken Dean Martin might croon: 

Everybody says they're sorry sometime, everybody has to look inside. Somewhere in my heart I'm certain, I've something to hide.Everybody knows he's guilty sometime, everybody's face gets red sometime, Why is it that out of nowhere, what's hurt is my pride. 
That's all the time we have for today, friends. 

Oh! And if you happen to be thinking, Hey, I probably ought to apologize to Susie, or Mary, Janice, Heather, Debbie, Bob, Jim, Spike, Sylvia, whoever, take a deep breath, and for God's sake, just do it. Call, or write first, don't show up at the door. Do expect to be called a few choice words, and when she finishes say, "And? There has to be more. Let me have it. I'm so sorry."


Tuesday, December 05, 2017

What I Wanted to Put on Twitter But Just Couldn't

If President Trump talked to #therapydoc
Hi out there! It has been a super busy "holiday" season, meaning people touch base in therapy as holidays approach, so I'm scrambling to stick to regular hours (working too much at a stressful job can be bad for your health). So I haven't posted in awhile, But this one, hopefully, will make up for that. It is a conversation between me and our President, therapydoc and Donald Trump, about NPD, narcissistic personality disorder.

On Twitter sometimes people have these long, connected, stream of consciousness posts, not exactly lectures, but opinions. If there's one thing you probably guessed about therapydoc, (s)he loves to express her/his practice wisdom, which is an educated opinion. Loving attention, thrilling to the sound of my own voice, you would think that it would be a perfect venue for me. 

But honestly, this one features the President of the United States, or #POTUS, and I don't want to suffer retaliation of any kind, were he to be insulted, having read something tagged #POTUS. I wouldn't want him to interpret it as anything other than a caring, truly worried conversation, if a conversation can be worried. We all have our neuroses, and one of mine is being found out, discovered, trolled, annihilated. There's a fear of annihilation, and I have it. 

So I pulled back from Twitter, knowing that hashtags draw attention, and that the President loves Twitter, in favor of running this conversation by my friends, those of you who still read Everyone Needs Therapy

So here goes! You can read it from top to bottom, which you can't do on Twitter! Yay Blogger!

December 5, 2017

Dear #POTUS: I know that many journalists don’t like you and don’t agree with your politics. They are saying that you have #narcissisticpersonalitydisorder, or #NPD. That has to hurt. I cringe when they make fun of you, but sincerely want to discuss it, because it doesn’t have to be that way. You can prove them wrong about the #NPD. 

Dear #therapydoc: You have a lot of nerve even thinking that there is something to discuss. I do not have #NPD, have never had #NPD. That is #FakeNews. Nothing to discuss.

Dear #POTUS: Are you sure there’s nothing to discuss? Everyone is a little narcissistic but they can't all tweet and get the attention they deserve. We get it from family. It isn't easy growing up. We're just responding to how people treated us (although that could be unconscious, it is in the worst cases). We don’t even know, half the time, why we say what we say, do what we do. We’re on auto. 

Dear #therapydoc: I know you are, but what am I! I’m not trying to be funny. You might be on auto but I think about everything I say and it is all correct.

Dear #POTUS: No disrespect, because you are the COMMANDER IN CHIEF! How awesome is that? But it is kind of conceited to say that everything you say is correct. Everyone is wrong once in awhile. 

Dear #therapydoc: I might be wrong sometimes and when I am I tell everyone, and everyone is listening because, in case you forgot, I AM the President of the United States.

Dear #POTUS: That’s great to know, that you apologize, because we all have to apologize sometimes. Like the name calling thing. IS it okay? Let’s talk more, seriously. 

Dear #therapydoc: #RocketMan does not deserve respect. He is aiming his rockets at us. But we have bigger and better rockets. He should know that. We're bigger than he is.

Dear POTUS: Of course we do, of course we do. This is America, the greatest country on earth, and you are the PRESIDENT! That must be an amazing feeling. I mean, if anyone ever teased you as a kid, or even as an adult, it’s like, Who’s crying now right?

Dear #therapydoc, Do you even know who you are talking to? 

Dear #POTUS: I am sorry. You occupy what is the most respected, revered, awe-inspiring, yet terrifying position in the world as #POTUS. I’ll take a step back. Let’s go back to this idea that they, the #fakenews people are calling you names, the idea that you have #NPD, or #narcissism.

#THERAPYDOC!!!! Really? Only liberals and CNN would say that about me. You better watch your step. 

Dear #POTUS:  Did I ever call you that, even once? 

#therapydoc: Now that I think about it, no, you did not. But I think YOU are a narcissist, probably, seeing them in your sleep.

Dear #POTUS: Actually, you’re right, I do see them in my sleep, I am a mental health professional and we see quite a bit of unhealthy #narcissism. I have some, too, and it eats me up, I feel terrible when I think I’m better than anyone, even for a minute. Did you know, however, that in the research there’s evidence that we all do that? We all think we’re a little superior and it helps us be better, more creative people. Even leaders!  Crazy, right?

Dear #therapydoc:  If you don’t love yourself, who will love you? I don’t listen to anyone because I know, in my heart, I’m right. 

Dear #POTUS: Exactly.  When you’re right, you’re right.

Dear #therapydoc: And I AM, mostly right if not always.  

Dear #POTUS:  Can we talk more about the difference between healthy and unhealthy narcissism?  

Dear #therapydoc: Mine is healthy, just so you should know. I think you know that.

Dear #POTUS: Well of course you are right, because if you weren’t healthy, how could you have been elected President of the Free World! Or is that not a thing. President of the United States, I mean. The people trust your instincts. Or at least they did on election day. Is it possible you have lost their trust? I hope not.

Dear #therapydoc: Now you are sounding like the liberal media. Don’t be ridiculous. The people love me. Have you seen how #SarahHuckabeeSanders repeats every word that comes out of my mouth? She always respects me and she is a beautiful woman, a beautiful person, beautiful. SHE gets me. She will keep her job. 

Dear #POTUS: Does she ever try to give you advice? See, that would be proof that you aren’t narcissistic. If you can listen to other people and validate their advice, then you’re good. 

Dear #therapydoc: HA, HA, HA! They listen to me. BELIEVE ME, they listen to me. 

Dear #POTUS: But you don't tune people out when they talk to you, right? You would never do that, just space out, drum you fingers, and go, La, la, la, la, la. 

#therapydoc: You’re an idiot. I would never do that. 

Dear#POTUS:  That’s what I thought. So you could technically respond to the naysayers that you have healthy narcissism, the kind that gets people ahead in the world, inspires them to be creative, inspires them to be leaders. 

Dear #therapydoc: I don’t like that word, narcissism. 
Dear #POTUS: Then what should we call it? 

Dear #therapydoc: Let’s call it BLESSED. I’m gifted, and blessed. 

Dear #POTUS: A good start, Mr. President, a good start.  


What's Going to Be with Our Kids?