Month: March 2018

Khrysso’s Scrumptious Low-Carb Gluten-Free Almond Cookies

Khrysso’s Scumptious Low-Carb Gluten-Free Almond Cookies These cookies are a bonus for us both because they are low-carb, sugar free, and gluten-free! A Dutch friend of ours inspired this recipe, but we like ours better than the one from the Old Country. The bad part […]


Today on my Facebook page, when I talked about going to the local rally in solidarity with the kids who had organized the March for Our Lives in DC, a friend of a friend said this to me: “Owning a gun or buying a gun […]


I’m discovering that a lot of people interested in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders don’t know where to start getting education about them.

This entry will be my repository of links that give basic information that I think is vital for parents, caregivers, professionals, and clinicians to know.

It is not meant to be a source of testimonials about life with someone with FASD, though I have found a great deal of support from the private Facebook group, Parenting FASD Teens and Adults. One of the administrators of that groups keeps a blog at parentingfaskids.com.

That Facebook groups has a great list of resources under Files. You may not be able to access the list if you’re not a member, though.

It will grow as my knowledge grows.


Birth Defects and When They Develop in the Womb

From the Arizona State University School of Life Sciences, Center for Biology and Society.
Developmental Timeline of Alcohol-Induced Birth Defects
“There is no point during development when prenatal alcohol exposure lacks consequences.” This encyclopedic entry describes when in the gestation cycle alcohol is liable to cause what kinds of problems.

Gastrulation: When the Facial Characteristics of FAS Develop in the Embryo

Facial Features of FAS are not the only features

Avoid Insight-Based Therapy for Your FASD Loved One

Here is a blog entry that talks about one of the most important things we’ve learned about our particularly troubled daughter: that insight-based therapy is not only not helpful for kids with fetal alcohol syndrome, but it can even backfire and cause more problems than it tries to solve. Donald Craig Peterson is the author of Adopting Faith: A Father’s Unconditional Love. There’s a lot here for adoptive parents of kids with FASD and with other kinds of trauma.
Why Talk Therapy Fails

Fact Sheets That May Interest You

Here is a page of fact sheets published by the National (US) Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. It’s really a good web site! Thorough, detailed, authoritative.

Get a Diagnosis! (Get Services)

Guidelines for Diagnosing Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder published by the (US) Centers for Disease Control

The CDC does NOT require that you be able to produce testimony or proof of the birth mother’s drinking in order to secure a diagnosis of FASD. Any US clinic that says you need this is not up to speed with the latest requirements. Insist on your rights! If you need a diagnosis to get services, you should be able to get one in the USA.

Overlapping Behavioral Characteristics in Children’s Mental Health Conditions

(This chart is a PDF.) FASD can produce behaviors that also exhibit in kids with ADD/ADHD; Sensory Integration Dysfunction;  Autism; Bipolar Disorder; Reactive Attachment Disorder; Depression; and Oppositional Defiant Disorder… not to mention the historical and environmental factors of  trauma and poverty. Complicating matters further is that kids may have more than one of these disorders.

FASD May Be as Common as Autism

Time Magazine reports on an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (you have to be a member to link to the article) in February of 2018 that says that FASD may be far more common than previously thought and may be at least as common as autism.

Confabulation: Making It Up as They Go Along

Confabulation is not the same thing as lying.

FASD and Bed-Wetting

Apparently more common than in typical kids, and more commonly continuing into adulthood than in typical kids.

MOFAS article on bed-wetting

Overview of FASD in Time Magazine in 2014, including South Africa statistics

This Is Your Child’s Brain on Alcohol

Stephen Hawking and My Unbelief

The world got the word today that Stephen Hawking has died. He had a huge influence on my metaphysics because of his statement that a creator–God–was not required in order for there to be a Big Bang. It was at that point that I felt […]

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Is About So Much More than Facial Characteristics

I married into a family that includes two young women born to (the same, as it happens) birth mother who drank. They were both diagnosed early on with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). I had heard of of FAS, and I had heard of the “Not […]



When we left Our Hero, he was reflecting on how Beesing et al had said, matter-of-factly, “[Enneagramic Eights] do not like to face the fact that in spite of their outward behavior of strength they are marshmallows inside.”

I think often of the advice, “Love like you’ve never been hurt,” and I’ve often wondered over the years how one can do that when one has had one’s heart broken countless times—how does one recover the sense of a really innocent heart?

I once loved that way. When I was a child I loved that way. I suppose that all, or nearly all, children, have soft hearts. I certainly did. I was expansive, extravagant, effusive in my loving. I gave my heart away freely and with, once upon a time, few reservations. I wanted to be affectionate, to be enthralled, to take delight. I was astonishingly open.

But pain came into the picture early. Few people are as ingenuous as, deep down, I am inclined to be, and there are bullies in the world. I was bullied a lot as a kid and as an adult, though in a church the bullying is far more sophisticated than it is on the playground.

When I finally, at age 28, was willing to let myself do so, I fell in love with a lot of men: kind men, intelligent men, complex men, beautiful men, damaged men. A lot of men I fell in love with had a lot of shame, and a lot of them projected their shame onto me, as if I didn’t have enough of my own to begin with, I having been a gay Catholic boy with a mother who was, as they call Catholics who are obsessive-compulsive about religion, “scrupulous.”

I began to love as though I’d been hurt. I was eager to love and be loved. I was deeply sentimental, a real romantic, But I began pulling my punches, albeit subtly. Only I knew how much I was holding back, because I was a skilled communicator, a smooth talker who could reveal a lot while still exercising tight control over the content. When you self-disclose a lot, they can’t tell how much you’re holding back because they’re so overwhelmed by what you’re spilling that they can’t keep track of what they’re missing.

I worked fast, always worked fast because I knew what I was after and thought I was going for it. I was always going after everything I’d ever wanted.

I think I’m finally starting to grasp how much hurt I’d been stuffing in the meantime: I was accumulating hurt because I was working so fast.

Maybe. It sounds good on paper. Is that what I was really doing?

More plausible is the proposition that I was stuffing a lot of fear. As is true for many Enneagramic Eights, fear has rarely been a motivator for me, but my therapy is making it clear to me that it is alive and well in the shadow of my psyche. I am aware that I am terrified of my own vulnerability, which is why I am not really completely unguarded with many people.

And yet I have entered into a marriage, a covenant which, if you’re doing it right, strips every layer of protection away until your heart is bare. If you’re with the right person, that person will treat your bare heart with the tenderness it needs. That’s why I finally said, “I do,” I who had for years been firmly against Marriage Equality.

Even though I was prepared to acknowledge it for a long time, I am still stunned to realize the extent of the terror I feel in the face of real vulnerability, the terror I face when I contemplate how much I have to lose if I get everything I’ve ever wanted—lose of my self-protection, first and foremost.


I have my books and my poetry to protect me;

I am shielded in my armor.

Hiding in my room, safe within my womb,

I touch no one and no one touches me.

—Paul Simon, “I Am a Rock”


The armor I’ve constructed is far more sophisticated than I had ever planned, and far more complicated to dismantle than I had ever imagined. Constructing it came easily, because I kept at it steadily all my life. When you do something slowly and steadily, you don’t realize how much you accomplish.

I have a pretty good essay on intimacy that I’ve been polishing for thirty years. It says, if I do say so myself, some pretty good, pretty right-on things about the role of vulnerability in creating intimacy. I thought that because I could write and speak glibly on the subject, my guards would not be difficult to deconstruct. But they are, and being myself—something I thought I was pretty good at—is going to be the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

I think Jung was on to something bigger than I realized: self-acceptance is easy when “the Self” doesn’t include the Shadow. But the Self does include the Shadow.

I have been out of the closet for half my life now–actually, just a little over half my life. But I still own that closet. I haven’t looked in it for a long, long time. Jung called the closet The Shadow: that which we keep in the dark, keep hidden, probably from ourselves, certainly from others. We can ignore closets really well for a long, long time, especially if we keep them neatly packed and archived.

But as anyone who’s ever moved knows, you still own the stuff in the closet, and if you want to move, you’ve got to deal with the stuff that’s in there. The house isn’t cleared out if the closets are still full.

You can love the stuff that’s in the closet if you don’t have to deal with it, because once it’s packed away, it’s only theoretically yours.

I can say that I embrace myself with all my fears because I only think that I have fear theoretically. But it is beginning to dawn on me, now that that closet is being opened from time to time, and someone new is asking, “So, what’s this thing here?” that I don’t really want to talk about it. I’d rather give a one-word answer and change the subject.

I don’t get to love only the face that I’ve constructed and call it self-love. I have to love the whole thing, what I display and what I try to hide, in order for it to count.

Blowing my face off

At the Gay Christian Network conference in Houston in 2016, the theme of most of the break out sessions that I attended was recovering from shame. Brené Brown’s name was big that year. She is an expert in studies on vulnerability and shame, and her […]