Beginning with this column, we introduce to readers a new columnist, but someone whose name is likely familiar to many readers: Beatty Cohan (née Sair). Betty is the daughter of the late Maurice and Edith Sair. As she notes in an email Beatty sent us when I asked her to supply us with a bio, “the column should be dedicated to my parents, the late Edith (who taught at the Talmud Torah for many years) and Maurice Sair, who never in their wildest dreams could have imagined how my professional life would have turned out. They would be thrilled if they knew that I was writing for The Jewish Post & News.
I was a terrible student. I had no interest in math or science or really in any subject. After attending Talmud Torah through grade six, I attended public school. I will never forget a meeting that I had with my guidance counselor at West Kildonan Collegiate (from where I did somehow manage to graduate), who told me that I shouldn’t even consider going to university, given my academic record. When I told my parents what she had said, they fortunately scoffed at her recommendation and instead, encouraged me to find my passion.
However, unbeknownst to them, I had found my passion a long time ago. My passion was people and helping people. I was the Ann Landers to all my friends. The radio show that reinforced my desire to help people, was a show called ASK THE PASTOR. The host was Pastor Egler, who I met in person many years later. It aired every Sunday night in Winnipeg at midnight. When I was probably around 10, I happened to stumble across this show. I would hide my transistor radio under my covers, so that I could listen to it. As you may know, it was a call-in counseling show. I have hosted many call-in counselling shows over the years, including the “ASK BEATTY SHOW” that I currently host and have hosted for almost nine years on the Progressive Radio Network.
I will never forget my mother’s reaction when my book, “For Better for Worse Forever: Discover the Path to Lasting Love,” was published in 1998 and her reactions to watching me on Sally Jessy Raphael and other national television shows. Who would have thought!! She kept my book next to her in the apartment and then in the Sharon Nursing Home, where she spent only a few short months. She died on December 28th, 2005. My father, unfortunately, died in 1982 and missed out on all of the excitement. My father was my life coach and sports coach.
I was probably one of the only Jewish kids who played, competed and won provincial titles in tennis and badminton. I also represented Manitoba at the Canadian championships for many years in both sports.
After graduating from the University of Manitoba with a B.A, I took a year off and worked in a federal social services agency in Winnipeg. I then applied to and was accepted into McGill’s School of Social Work. I worked in inner-city Montreal schools for a few years and was subsequently appointed as one of three directors of the Greater Montreal School Social Services program. I later moved to Toronto and worked in social planning and social policy for the Toronto Jewish Congress. After a few years, I moved to Calgary and became the executive director of Jewish Family Services there.
I lived in Providence, Rhode Island when my book first came out. This was really the beginning of an amazing television and radio career. A few years ago I was a guest on the “Daily Show” with Jon Stewart where I did a segment with Samantha Bee about penis pumps. I have been a guest on over 1,000 local and national radio and television shows.
I started my private practice in Providence and am going into my 36th year as a psychotherapist and sex therapist. In 2000, I moved to Sarasota, Florida, where I continued with my practice and my radio and television career. One day I get a call from none other than Governor Jeb Bush. I had an “ASK BEATTY” segment on WFTS, an ABC affiliate in Tampa, which aired several times a week.
Everyone knew that his daughter was having problems and I suspect that one of his aides saw one of my segments. Jeb appointed me to Florida’s Commission on Marriage and Family Support Initiatives. It was a two-year appointment. I learned a great deal about how and why little gets done!
I now live in New York City and have a practice in NYC and East Hampton. I work closely with Rabbi Joshua Franklin, from the Jewish Center of the Hamptons. We have done many programs together.
I am very happily married to my childhood sweetheart, Jim Vrettos, a sociologist, criminologist and host of The Radical Imagination television show. I also have a married daughter, Jordana and a five-year-old grandson, Jack.
Here’s Beatty’s first column:
I am a 35-year-old, divorced, single parent to a 10-year-old little girl. I’m a highly successful realtor in a prestigious international real estate company in the Hamptons.
I met Mike, 52, at a Hamptons fundraiser about eight months ago. We really seemed to click. He had been divorced many years ago and had ended a long-term relationship just before we met. He told me that he was ready for a new chapter in his life. Although we officially haven’t moved in together, I do spend part of the week at his home when my daughter is visiting her father.
Initially, everything was incredible. We talked and laughed and seemed to have lots of things in common. However, recently, the ups and downs are making me think about ending the relationship. I know that Mike has a lot of pressures at work. He is the vice president of a major financial institution. During the week he is often withdrawn, silent and frequently just plain mean. I try to be understanding.
However, no matter what I do or say, he barely acknowledges me. When I try to talk with him, his reaction often is to explode in anger, denying that anything is wrong and demanding to know why I pick on him. I’ve also noticed he is drinking more and sleeping less. His irritability and mood swings are becoming almost impossible to deal with. This is a typical work week.
Nothing I do or say seems to work. On weekends he is a completely different person. He’s fun, romantic and caring and our sex life is great. But when Monday rolls around, the same depressing scene repeats itself until the next weekend. Do you think he may be bipolar? I love him but his moods are driving me crazy.
– Angel K., East Hampton
It’s certainly difficult to be living on the roller-coaster ride that you describe. And clearly, the downs are understandably, becoming increasingly unbearable. My question to you is how much longer are you willing to be Mike’s whipping girl? Have you told him directly how hurt, angry and disappointed you are because of how he treats you? The importance of communicating your feelings — the good, the bad and the ugly — is the first step in trying to see whether Mike cares enough about you to really hear what you’re saying.
More importantly, is he willing to acknowledge, address and try to resolve the issues that are getting in the way of his life, your life and your relationship? He may be so overwhelmed by pressures at work that he’s not fully aware of how badly he’s treating you. However, this is an untenable, toxic, no-win situation for you at the moment.
As to whether he is bipolar, he would need to be clinically assessed in order to make a definitive diagnosis. The ball is really in your court, Angel. What are you going to do? You have two options. The first is to do nothing and continue to be beaten up emotionally. The second is to let Mike know that you will no longer allow him to hurt you and that unless things change, you will end the relationship.
Ultimately, the choice is up to you.
Beatty would love to hear from you. You can send your questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, go to beattycohan.com.