The GAT Generation

I didn’t know it had a name.

I recently learned that the current generation of women have been referred to as the “GAT (guilty all the time) generation.” According to a survey sited by Style Magazine, more than 96% of women struggle with multiple bouts of guilt on a daily basis. As many as half have trouble sleeping because of it.

At a recent event, I heard women of varying ages admit that guilt was the doorkeeper of their lives—having its say in matters from how to eat, what to say (or not to say) to when to take a break from family or work.

In my house, the children are gone, but guilt lives on to plague the time I have with my elderly mother, who recently moved in to live with my husband and me.

Moving Mom was excruciating as we picked through the smallest of items that would accompany her to our recently acquired and downsized home. Guilt.

She left behind the few people she knew in the world. Guilt.

There is no weekly bridge game in our new neighborhood. Guilt.

The list goes on.

In still another twist on the way to improving my mother’s quality of life: she quickly began to remember her former circumstances as idyllic. In hindsight, she had been social, safe, independent, and surrounded by the fond and familiar. And I began to question decisions made. Had I pushed too hard too fast and disrupted her life too soon?

Pushing guilt aside (with the assistance of my husband), I took a second, closer look at what had actually transpired.

  • The move happened before the physical demands of this seismic shift would have overwhelmed my mother—and us.
  • The move happened before Mom stopped making meals for herself because it was too difficult.
  • The move gave Mom access to immediate, safe and necessary transportation.
  • The move allowed my mother to retire from the stress of home ownership.
  • The move eliminated Mom’s rapidly increasing isolation.

No, there is no weekly bridge game now. That sucks. It also sucks that Mom has outlived virtually all of her friends and the vast majority of her family. It is also true that for all the benefits of our new arrangement, I cannot be all things to my mother. I can only provide what is necessary in the moment. For now, safety and comfort are primary. Even these I do imperfectly.

Though difficult, I strive to accept the truth that what is far from ideal can still be the best choice. Struggle finds all of us no matter what season. Goodness too. Whatever I have to offer is enough because I am not the source of happiness for any life beyond my own. This radical perspective closes the door on guilt as it opens the door to choosing to be happy. Come what may.


Unconventional Grief Under the Tree?

Some of us will spend the holiday season–and the New Year–with someone we once knew but has, for a myriad of reasons, changed. And we feel a real loss, not unlike the actual loss of a life. That person is gone. The following link is to a blog from The American Academy of Bereavement. I include it here in hopes that those who are struggling can find some perspective and a sense of community in moving forward, into the face of a new kind of grief this season.


Trauma and ACEs missing in response to opioid crisis, says national organization

A thoughtful, eye-opening presentation. Worth Reblogging!

ACEs Too High

A policy brief issued in July by the Campaign for Trauma-Informed Policy and Practice (CTIPP) forcefully develops the case for trauma-informed approaches to address the opioid crisis—to prevent and treat addiction—based on strong evidence that adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are at the root of the crisis. CTIPP is a national organization that advocates for trauma-informed prevention and treatment programs at the federal, state and local levels.

Successful strategies to attack the opioid epidemic must recognize the powerful correlation between ACEs and substance abuse demonstrated by the CDC-Kaiser Permanente Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACE Study), according to CTIPP. While recognizing the complexity of addiction pathways and contributing factors such as job loss, CTIPP argues that understanding the role of ACEs and trauma in addiction is essential in developing effective strategies to prevent addiction and treat those already addicted.

The brief, “Trauma-Informed Approaches Need to be Part of a Comprehensive…

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To My Father & All the Silent Heroes

Powerful testimony of an adult child of trauma with parents who didn’t have all the answers, but loved anyway.

ADOPTING FAITH: A Father's Unconditional Love

My son Alex penned this sincere message from his jail cell, as he continues serving time for an addiction problem that eventually erupted in violence. I hope you will take it to heart.

I could write about all the pain and darkness that was my life. I could speak of the horrors that I saw as a child. But you and I already know the kinds of thing your children saw and what they went through. What I will tell you is that I understand completely what life is like for an abused child and neglected child.

Looking out Jail CellI remember everything that happened to me.

And I remember clearly what it was like to be that child each day as I survive in prison.

No, I’m not here to call attention to evil. Instead, I’m here to offer hope. It could be that one of you is at the point where…

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Mom-Bragging: A New Look at an Ancient Sport

Thanks to Laura L. Wolf for the following blog.

And here’s to those of us who can relate, those of us with young adult kids traveling winding paths toward adulthood. When the mom-bragging starts we just get quiet because there’s just too much to say–too much to try to explain. But it’s okay. Absolutely and radically okay.


About That Mom Who’s Not Bragging About Her Kid

There were a few regularly-used Yiddish words in my house when I was growing up. Like the word “kvetch” to refer to my great-aunt, later dubbed “Aunt Kvetchie,” who was a known complainer.

Or “you are such a klutz” – as in uncoordinated. I heard this one often. An accurate description of my always bumping into things, not the least bit athletic self. And “what a schmuck he is” – my dad describing someone who was a real jerk.

One Yiddish word I didn’t learn until I became a Mom is “kvelling” – when a person is bursting with pride and pleasure. As in – “His mother was kvelling over his early admission to Harvard.” Kvelling is done by all mothers, Jewish or not, when discussing their children.

In my lawyering years, I ate lunch several days a week around a conference room table with younger female colleagues. There was a lot of kvelling among us. My friend, Lisa, would tell us about her daughter’s star soccer skills. And Michelle would let us know that her son got an A on a tough social studies test. Denise was naturally thrilled when her daughter was elected class president in 6th grade. I shared my kids’ accomplishments as well. And when your kids are young, you have lots of achievements to kvell about. It isn’t boasting or bragging; you are just proud of your child. And okay, I’ll admit, maybe a little back-patting.

When Lisa, Michelle and Denise’s kids were in elementary school, mine were of high school and college age. Kvelling gets a bit trickier as your kids get older. Especially if your kid happens not to be on the direct path from high school to early admission into Harvard, then on to elite grad school or Wall Street or a fancy internship.

What happens to kvelling if your kid is on his or her own very different path?

By the time one of my kids was in high school, we were on a first-name basis with mental health struggles. In college, the same mental health challenges grew worse. An elite grad school, Wall Street or a fancy internship did not seem likely. (Although hope does spring eternal.)
Continue reading “Mom-Bragging: A New Look at an Ancient Sport”

How facing ACEs makes us happier, healthier and more hopeful

Knowing and understanding your Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) score can get you to happy and healthier. Take the 10-question quiz!

ACEs Too High


Won’t it depress people?

Isn’t it triggering?

Aren’t the topics troubling?

Won’t it make people sad or upset?

Fear is what I often fight when talking about ACEs — adverse childhood experiences. It’s not my fear though. It’s the fear others have about all things ACEs. Adversity. Abuse. Addiction. Abandonment. Neglect. Dsyfunction.

I don’t think this fear actually belongs to those of us who have lived with ACEs, who have lived through ACEs, who live with the aftermath of ACEs as adults.

When I found out about ACEs I was overwhelmed with joy. I felt radical relief. What I experienced was a profound sense of validation. It was epic.

I also felt rage because the CDC-Kaiser Permanente Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study and related science hadn’t been shared with me. Not my doctors, therapists, shrinks, teachers, social workers or anyone while I got ready to become a parent.


This one study…

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