"That which we resist, persists," in this therapy session featuring Figs and Teale trying to hide from a negative cycle.
"That which we resist, persists," in this therapy session featuring Figs and Teale trying to hide from a negative cycle.
00:59 Introduction to the session: Figs & Teale colluding not to process
02:52 A Sensory Cycle
06:57 Subverting expectations: Why wasn't Teale excited to be in therapy?
09:39 What you resist persists
11:24 Sometimes compliments can land like a threat
15:31 Session begins — Do we need airpods
16:58 Therapist prompts them to be aware of their bodies
17:27 Reflecting on previous session (ft. shark story diversion)
20:55 Teale asks Figs to speak more quietly
21:53 Teale and processing a lot
22:28 Letting things go — Figs feels Teale is asking him to change a lot today
24:02 Teale perceives anger from Figs
25:54 Figs settling into the idea that he's someone to be scared of
26:17 Teale feeling like she's too much
28:12 Conflict over sleeping arrangements & sensory differences
29:42 Figs & keeping the radio on all day
31:52 Teale's overwhelm & senses
32:35 What do we do?
34:10 Waiting for "the main course"
34:40 Last session from Teale's perspective
35:51 Therapist wants Teale to access her deeper feelings
36:28 Figs doesn't cry often & when he does Teale gets excited
36:58 Figs feels like he's waiting for some future event
37:59 Teale feels like she's in an excited, positive place: Appreciates Figs
40:00 Figs points out that Teale made the positive moment about Figs
40:55 Appreciate from Teale canmake Figs feel threatened
41:46 Partially coming from a place of Teale wanting appreciation
42:34 Therapist brings up Teale bouncing things back to Teale
43:29 The layers of Teale validating others
46:05 Positive sides of this validation
47:13 Figs feels more seen in his life now
49:31 Therapist wants to devote more attention to Teale's deeper places moving forward
51:27 Session ends — Three main takeaways
52:00 1. Be aware when you're in a negative cycle
53:00 2. What you resist persists
54:55 3. Appreciation can touch negative feelings, too
57:43 Thank you!
If you or someone you love are struggling in your relationship, visit empathi.com for quizzes, courses, and consultations.
Teale: Hello, and welcome to Come Here to Me. I’m Teale–
Figs: And I’m Figs.
Teale: [laughing] And we had quite a journey on this session, didn’t we?
Figs: Yeah, yeah, I thought this was an interesting couples counseling session in so much as it represents what we see as couples therapist. What couples do, right. Whereas in a way, they're colluding with each other like we were colluding with each other to not do the work.
Teale: That's right.
Figs: And you can tell from the very beginning of the session, and by the way, what I think we're going to do is we're going to try and put a few different segments because the session is actually quite disorganized. That we won’t share all of it, but we'll share a little bit from the beginning, the middle and towards the end.
Figs: But for me the tone of this session, it begins instantly.
Teale: Yes, it does!
Figs: You will, will you'll get to hear and see this in the like, third, fourth minute of the session, we actually decide we're not going to process what's actually happening between us.
Figs: You know.
Teale: It's not explicitly we're not like–
Figs: Yeah, you don't say it, but we make that kind of implicit decision with each other.
Figs: So I think that's really interesting. It's almost like we made a contract with each other really early on: We're not going to process emotional cycles with each other.
Figs: Now. This is the thing, you know, and I see it as a feeling this as a client, and I think of it as like a therapist. You know, it's hard to know when you name something as that therapists, when you name it as a client, have you noticed something happening right now. But there are just so many things, we've decided to let go.
Teale: So many things, so many rabbit holes.
Figs: We'll see that we'll talk about it a little bit. Like at the very beginning of the session, we're still trying to work out the production and the flow of how we make these episodes. So one of the things we tried with this couples counseling session is that we were both wearing– Well, you'll see us, we’re both wearing one AirPod each. And then you know, speaking into our like Yeti microphone. So we just separated the input from the output. And that didn't work for you. You didn't like this.
Figs: Right, which is totally understandable. You didn't like it. It's totally understandable. But I ended up feeling a little bit trapped or powerless, because I didn't feel I could share why I thought it was important. And why I thought it was important is because I wanted there to be good audio quality for you listeners.
Figs: And yet, if I said that– If I said that I figured that this is something that our therapist would be upset about. Like, you know, the therapist is like, “Look, I'm totally happy for you to record, but I don't want you to be performing.” Which I don't want us to be performing either. So I was worried that like, “Oh no, the audio quality is not going to be very good.” But, of course, I'm not allowed actually think about what the audio quality is going to be like because we're supposed to only care about a couple session. But then I know even though I wasn't saying anything you picked up I was upset with you.
Teale: Right. Yes. That I had kind of like a sensory issue that was happening for me in this session.
Teale: Actually, often.
Figs: Exactly. And that's the other thing you're very good, Teale, for letting us kind of illustrate one of the things that happens between us. The headphones you didn't like, and I totally get it. Absolutely makes sense. It's a weird, right, having it coming into just one ear. And then also she didn't like the height of the desk. It's really weird to me. You like the desk much higher than I do. I don't quite understand I would have thought it was the other way around. Right?
Teale: I’m little and Figs is big. I really like to really look at my people. But –
Figs: You had to change the blinds.
Teale: I had to change the blinds.
Figs: Like 2 or 3 times.
Teale: I actually –
Figs: My voice.
Teale: Your voice.
Figs: My voice is too loud.
Teale: No, no. Your voice is good now. But –
Teale: But yeah, I changed the blinds 3 times. There were a number of things. And you know–
Figs: These birds outside right now it's probably annoying –
Teale: I like the bird.
Figs; Oh good.
Teale: [laughing] No but you know it’s interesting. Cause I'm thinking about it now. I'm thinking all of these sensory things.
Teale: Right. I was saying something.
Teale: With all of my discomfort I was really saying, “I'm actually quite uncomfortable about this session.” I didn't want to come into this session.
Figs: Right. That's it.
Teale: I'm really nervous about it.
Figs: No, I'm glad you mentioned that now in the setup. And that's, there's so many different things going on right when you have sensorsory stuff. I can feel like controlled and shut down
Figs: Like, “Oh my God, like what are you going to correct now?”
Figs: So you'll –
Teale: You can feel criticized and I can be in such a place of like, “Sorry, I can't function with the light like that”.
Figs: Right, exactly.
Teale: You know just feeling really sensitive with myself.
Figs: Which, of course, then you're not gonna feel supported if I'm like, “Um, are you kidding me?”
Teale: Right? And you're gonna feel criticized like, “Oh my gosh, my voice is too loud.” Or the table or the headphones. Like one thing after another. Right?
Figs: Right, exactly. And it's great that you name this other thing that's going on. Right, this other thing that's going on is that actually, some of the way you're trying to change your environment is a way that you're trying to control the fact that you're not feeling comfortable in a much deeper way inside.
Figs: Yeah, I'm glad you mentioned the discomfort thing, because this is one of the things that is certainly was confusing for me, it wasn't what I was expecting.
Figs: Because you know, our last session, like if anything, I thought you were more excited about it. “Oh, so great Figs, you were vulnerable, and you let me love you and like, be there and let our therapist see you and be validating of you. That was so important.” So it's interesting, I kind of expected you were going to come in, like kind of like “Yay, couples counseling is so great! And I feel really comfortable and optimistic!” So it's amazing how – now I know how you found the last session really positive in the whole. But it's amazing how that expectation of how safe and comfortable you're gonna feel. That's not how you went into this counseling session helped me and the listeners understand the gap between, “Oh, this was so good. The things you shared the way you can feel bad about yourself.” Right. And yet, by the time next Friday morning rolls around, you're actually “Oh now, I don’t want to do this session.”
Teale: Yeah, that's a good question. And it's interesting, like the me that would have come in and been like, “Yeah, couples therapy!” Like that's the person I want to be. Is the person who took you know– I think it's important for the listeners who are not listening to this in a 1,2,3,4, 5 type of way to remind them Figs had just kind of a deep dive. He'd felt a little bit criticised by myself and the therapist. And then he'd have his deep dive inside of himself, where he touched the real place of sadness, and he was able to share about it and we were able to stay with you.
Teale: And eventually you really let in our caring, and it was really powerful. Along the way, there were some bumpy moments for me. And for the most part 90% of my spirit was just like, I wasn't having this kind of conflict inside of feeling criticized and feeling like I hadn't done it right. 90% of me was with Figs and enjoying it and just felt really present in a way I'm not usually. 10% I had impact from the arrows that inevitably happened. You even watch the session back within you said, “Oh, it would make sense to me that you might be having a hard time at this point.” Feeling a little bit like –
Teale: Criticized, and like, “Oh, gosh!” yeah. And that I was too much.
Figs: Like you're correcting me, oh, that same kind of stuff.
Teale: And the same type of stuff. Exactly.
Figs: I wasn’t doing it right. But in a way, every time I say I'm not doing it, right, it makes sense that it lands on you, like I'm saying you're being too much.
Figs: Like you are too critical.
Teale: Exactly. And I was kind of just feeling bad about myself, like I wanted to be really small in this session. Or I didn’t want to come. I just was like [whinging].
Figs: You just want to, you didn't want to, like take up so much space for you are going to be critical.
Figs: You know, I'm laughing as I say that.
Figs: So that's what we're working so hard on that on the inside, then you ended up having to correct the AirPods, the desk.
Figs: So it's funny –
Teale: I can’t contain it.
Figs: Exactly but also it's like what you resist persists.
Figs: You know, you write this thing, like I'm not gonna be too much, right? And yet, then it was leaking out in a way.
Figs: And all these little tiny –
Teale: That is so interesting
Figs: Environmental control.
Teale: And we find this with the body.
Teale: We find that with that mind body connection. We cannot, you know, our partner is going to pick up some things–
Figs: It leaks out.
Teale: it leaks out.
Figs: I think it's a really great moment. A lot of people think they have amazing poker faces. Like their partner doesn't know they're upset. But all this stuff leaks out, right? Because your body is like it's millions of years in the making. There's such profound intelligence and ability to pick up what another organism is feeling and thinking even if you don't get it consciously. And, by the way, that is a good thing to remember is this idea that what you resist persists. So if you're, if you're feeling bad about yourself, or I'm worried that I'm going to be too much. “I'm not going to feel that.” “I'm not going to feel.” You'll actually end up having to feel it more.
Teale: [laughing] Yes.
Figs: Or if you're resisting, “I'm not going to be controlling, I'm not going to be controlling!” That entire process or resisting that and resisting that behavior will actually probably lead to you being even more controlling.
Teale: As we saw.
Teale. As we saw.
Figs: Yeah, you know. So anyway, so there was that part of the session. Like I said, there was so many different little things we touched on. The last part of the session we really want to show you, again, I think is an important dynamic that happens even though we only can touch on it briefly. Is...you want to share?
Teale: Yeah, I mean, I'll just say it because this is like Teale-y and her neurosis.
Figs: I feel bad. But now I feel like this whole session was about you being being particular, but you're very good.
Teale: [laughing] I am good. And I am particular. Both are true. Yeah, this really interesting piece that sort of surfaced towards the end of the session, which I hadn't actually consciously been aware of, until Figs pointed out what was happening for him, which is that I'm a very validating person.
Figs: Yeah, you are good at validating other people.
Teale: Good at validating other people and good at being appreciative and–
Figs: Amazing at validating and appreciative. You really are like–
Teale: Okay [laughing]
Figs: To the point it's terrifying.
Teale: [laughing]. Well, that's what we find out. That at some point during the session, and it really is real for me that I see these things and appreciate these things about Figs.
Figs: And other people. You're really good. Everybody, you walk in the street. The little little cat, “Hello little cat! You’re such a beautiful little cat!” You’re constantly validating.
Teale: [laughing] I'm like a sunny, sunny disposition.
Teale: And with Figs, it turns out, I can do this. And it's like, my voice can sound like I'm so appreciating him? But I'm really being nasty bitch.
Figs: Well, yeah, I don't know if, I don't know –
Teale: I’m just kidding.
Figs: But what happens is, I think you're modeling for me how you want to be treated.
Teale: And I am.
Figs: So it lands like a threat. It lands like a threat. Like you’ll say, “Oh Figs, I just love what an amazing listener you are.” And so that doesn't actually just go in like, “Oh, thank you, sweetie.” Where my brain goes is like, “Oh, shit, I think Teale is telling me I haven't been listening to her. And I better start listening.” And, look, I think you're a genuine validator. And, you know, we love people the way we want to be loved ourselves. And I do think there is a part that you are hoping I will show up and validate you in ways that you long for when you're acknowledging me.
Teale: I think you're totally right.
Figs: And so it's great to notice again. What I would like for the viewers and listeners to know is that sometimes and this can be very confusing when you compliment or acknowledge your partner. And it's very hard for you to understand why your partner might actually freeze in place or get defensive.
Figs: One of the things that can happen is when you validate them, like what happens for me, I become aware, “Oh, you're naming something that I don't do for you.” Or, “You're validating the part for me, because you really want me to validate you.” And so then it doesn't land in like an opening. Like, that feels really lovely. It actually feels like like a like a threat.
Teale: Like a threat. Well, I think that also is true. It says something about me that I can be in touch with both. I can be truly appreciative. “This was awesome that you unloaded the car.” And there's also a part of me that sort of says and, “Did you see how I put every single thing back into place and put all the sandy towels, you know, out on the lanai.” And I think it would be a tragedy if we missed the part that said there's also a part inside of you that gets really scared like that validation actually triggers the fear like you're talking about, and the threat feeling is how I'm not enough.
Teale: This is a big one.
Figs: Feels like I'm not enough. Yeah. Anyway, look, I feel like this was a big introduction. But again, the session was disorganized. And so there's a few different things we wanted to touch on. But here watch or listen to the session, and we're going to watch and listen right now again too.
Teale: [laughing] Yeah, just notice what stands out to you.
Figs: Exactly. And how it relates to you and your own relationship.
[15:31 Session Begins]
Teale: Can I just say this feels really weird to me. I don't know if I can – Like could we– Is there anything that we– Do we really need to do like this?
Figs: I mean, it just –Again, you don't have to. It just improves the audio, but it's okay.
Figs: You can change it.
Teale: No, no, no, no, I’ll see if I can get used to it. I'll just, give it a minute. It's just–
Therapist: I don't notice a difference on my end. If there's something you're doing–
Teale: It’s just having something in one ear and something not in the other. I know couples that do it but I find it–
Figs: Right. Now we only hear you in one ear.
Figs: We're sharing the audio. I mean, again, if you really don't like it, we can stop.
Therapist: I’ll just tell you on my end, I don't hear any difference in the audio without it.
Figs: Again, let's just stop. I'll take it off. Hold on. Hold on one second.
Teale: Is there any way to do 2 two headphones?
Teale: We should develop like a whole couple therapy headphone.
Figs: Hold on. I mean, yeah. There is, of course, you can get a splitter. But, hold on, the microphone. Just give me this.
Teale: Well, can one of us have that or no?
Figs: No. Okay.
Teale: Sorry. I just can't. It just feels really distracting to me. Maybe I could practice over time.
Figs: No worries, okay.
Therapist: Okay. Hi, guys. Take a moment. Take a breath, see where you're at right now? What's happening in your bodies. Take your time. And when you're ready, open your eyes and let the image come to you.
Teale: You want to raise this just a tiny bit.
Figs: [laughing] You're very particular.
Teale: It’s so low. I am particular. I said.
Therapist: Oh, there you go. Did you have any time to reflect on our last session and see how that felt for you guys or talk about it or individually? Feel –
Figs: Not as much as we would have liked. But I do think we talked about it, didn't we? We did talk about it.
Teale: We went and swam with sharks after that.
Figs: Oh my goodness.
Therapist: Oh my God.
Figs: Not on purpose.
Teale: Not on purpose. But we, actually, it was kind of a breakthrough for us because we feel less scared of sharks.
Figs: I think that's what I've been saying to myself. But, yeah.
Figs: You're less scared.
Teale: No! But I am a scared person of sharks and many things. But–
Figs: There were literally sharks 20 yards away. I physically saw the shark 20 yards away from– at that moment I was on the shore but Teale and the kids were in the water. Like another 20 yards away from the shark.
Teale: And wouldn't get out.
Figs: They wouldn’t get they wouldn't get out of the water.
Teale: They're just big fish. And they're not hunting. And it's such a time of plenty in Hawaii. Sharks, they don't want to eat people, they want to eat all this amazing fish that's here. And so–
Figs: [Laughing] You’re very good.
Teale: I talked to biologist about this, or a friend of a biologist.
Therapist: So you have information that lowers the risk factor.
Figs: Exactly. But let me look at in terms of the last session. Yeah, look, I thought it was really good. I thought it was really good to be able to feel and, you know, study that place that I can hit where I can feel them start to feel overwhelmed and like powerless and, and then oscillate between being really pissed about it. Angry about it, you know, frustrated about it, and lash out, you know, and then on the flip side of that is collapse. Right?
Therapist: And go away. Want to go away?
Figs: Yeah, moving away, or just like collapse and giving up. Right.
Therapist: But then I love the end where Teale stayed with you. And we both stayed with you.
Figs: Yeah. Exactly.
Therapist: And kept inviting you to stay with it.
Therapist: And you contacted sadness, in kind of vulnerable way.
Figs: Yeah, that was really good. Right.
Therapist: And that's where the healing is. To me. That's where the healing is.
Figs: Absolutely. And so that was great. It was really good. And was really, really, very, very good. The whole thing the whole process was was really beneficial for me and for you. So–
Therapist: I thought it was a good session to relook at.
Figs: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And yeah, we want to, you know, do you think, you know, the huge benefit of the recording is, is that, you know, you and I, we literally go through the session and watch it again and see ourselves and each other and what was happening, so I'm really looking. I mean, I'm both excited to look at it. And it's obviously, also, it's not easy. To hear myself.
Teale: It's really vulnerable, like, the week before I was like “all men have hurt me.” You know, I'm like, watching and just being like, “Oh my God.” You know, it is it's like yeah, vulnerable, but you know, you're really–. Can I just ask– Project a little bit less just 'cause my ears.
Figs: Oh, project a little less– So it's fun– Yeah, I'll try. I mean, of course, I'll try. But you know, I think some of it is just my voice is loud.
Teale: Well, it's good for me because I can really hear you. But so, so point it toward me.
Teale: I thought it was a really good session too. Um, you know, I won't lie and say it didn’t feel weird afterwards. And kind of like, a little nervous about coming today. I don't know how to be in session, I guess. I take everything and process it, you know, But that's taking it at face value.
Teale: And there's other stuff that I was just wondering, I don't know. You know, how to get shit done, not stall on the small stuff. I thought that–I think that's good feedback for me. And, and if I just take it that piece as as like, that wasn't the point of the session, but it was one part of it felt like, “Oh, my gosh, there's another thing that Teale needs to process.”
Figs: Well, look, it's fine. Like it whatever comes up comes up and whatever we process we process. It doesn't need to be a big thing. Right. But look, like even so far today. Right? You've had to correct me. You've asked for me to change four or five times already. Right?
Teale: [Agreeing] Yeah, to feel comfortable–
Figs: Yeah. It is. Yeah. I mean, you know, you know, it's just, it's a lot, right? Like, all of these things make sense, right? My voice is loud. The headphones don’t work. The table is too low. But like, you know, it's just an interesting thing. Like, I let a lot of things go until I don't and then, of course, I you know, and then I seem like an asshole, because when I do is bring up stuff, then it's got more energy to it, right? But–
Therapist: I'm really interested, Teale, in spending a little time with you, if it feels right about your need to get shit done, and how that works in you. I don't know if that's a valid direction to go?
Teale: That was just in response to like, one of the parts of what felt hard for Figs about last session. That was kind of like the precursor was just feeling like, “Oh my gosh, we’re stopping at all the small stuff.”. And I think I just reassured Figs that I just feel like whatever we talk about, it's going to bring up the, you know, whatever needs to be focused on but I do know. And I hear, I can see you're kind of angry right now. So it’s like.
Figs: Angry? That's a stretch. But that’s okay.
Teale: But it's true. You know, and I think it's, it's hard to, you know, stick with myself. And you know, I think especially around being comfortable in my seat. And I think maybe I do have some sensory sensitivities, just around loudness or, you know, something doesn't feel right, my ears. And, you know, I know that that can be frustrating for you. And you can feel criticized. And of course, your voice I think is something that, you know, there's a little bit more sensitivity there, because you've gotten maybe that feedback sometimes from other people. And–
Teale: Okay! Okay!
Figs: No, no, I'll tell you what I've heard from other people is sometimes when I try and talk softly, my voice carries even further, because I go down a couple of like, you know–
Therapist: Right, lower, lower tone.
Figs: Exactly. And so it's a weird one to try and manage. You know, look, and you know. I get, I'm prone to get ulcers and my vocal cords. So I, actually, I really should be more mindful of how I use my voice. So yeah, like, you know, there's it's a complicated– There's more–
Therapist: I have a similar problem and it's gotten worse since I've been on Zoom so much. I think I talk louder.
Therapist: Teale, I feel like I want to hear from you a little bit about your little nervousness about coming today and what was going on for you and how you're feeling?
Teale: What are you laughing about right now?
Figs: I didn't want to say it in front of 'em.
Teale: But why?
Figs: But no I want to hear about how nervous you are. I just think it’s always funny when I’m scary. I’m just settling into, “I’m someone to be scared of.”
Teale: You didn’t know that?
Figs: Well, sometimes.
Teale: No. Well, listen. I'm glad to be here. Um, and, you know, it touches the place of like, that pursuer’s wound, that I can have. I'm too much. I've got too many demands. I need it all this way.
Teale: I know you feel, I've criticized you four times, or you've told you to change four times. And oh, I am just too much because I'm always tough on every little thing. I've got a problem with every little thing. And so I was just saying, This isn't like a huge part of my experience, but it's like, it's in there. That, I can be like, “Yeah, well, I’m a fucking handful.”
Figs: You're disorganized.
Teale: Thank you. Isn't this the other side of the cycle where I can just feel like, “Oh my God, I'm so much.” And you know, what if you just get kind of tired of dealing with all my– my ears are so sensitive, and I need a table like this. And oh, “She's gonna stop it every fucking thing that can we just make some progress?”
Figs: By the way, I like the stopping and everything. I don't know why. And it seems like it doesn't matter what I say now. Like, I like that whatever arises is what we process and that's good with me.
Therapist: Even, Figs, even if what arises is to need to spend some time with one person or another?
Figs: Yeah, absolutely. It's totally fine. Whatever arises is what makes sense to work on. Right?
Teale: Thank you for your reassurance about that. And I did know that and I'm just saying, guys, that it touches– I'm not like taking it personally and freaking out right now. I'm just saying, “Oh, yeah, that's a place that I know, about in myself.” You know, speaking of shame, like how you brought up last last week and shame around my so much this me so specificity, so that, but that just that feels kind of secondary to right now, I think that, you know, you brought something up that I think is important is, you know, not feeling like we spent very much time together this week.
Figs: Right. Let's go back, let's stay on this thing for a second. Because, you know, actually, you know, where this is a big. You know, we're dealing with like, sensory sensitivity is a big deal? I like to be totally honest, right? I'm not saying we have to process this very deeply, emotionally. But it's just worth noting. It's just sleeping at night.
Teale: [Agreeing] Mmhmm.
Figs: Right? Because, you know, it's hot, but the fan can’t be on too high. We can't wake up with natural light in the morning.
Teale: Which we do now.
Figs: Well, no because we're up and it’s dark.
Teale: [laughing]. Because the curtains–
Figs: Well no, the place where I would say it's really kind of I get– I can hit a feeling place like I'm in an impossible powerless place inside is when, like, I'm not able to sleep comfortably. Because, again, because of some of the sensory stuff you have. Right?
Figs: But I mean, I get it, I understand. But it's a little bit of a difficult situation. You know, like, there's five of us in a room and it has to be really hot, because you can't have too much air flowing. Right. That's a little hard. But, anyways.
Teale: But I hear you, it makes sense. And yeah, you know, I think just like you can feel like a handful. Sometimes I can feel like a handful too. You know, of course there's a part of me, like, have you ever been with a partner who liked music and radio as loud as you do? Just like we're like, ‘Yeah, that's fucking we're eating a meal of music blasting. Let's have the radio up at such a high decibel.” Like, you know?
Figs: That’s funny that you come right back with that.
Teale: I know. I know. That's what happens though. In the cycle, right?
Figs: Oh, I didn't even feel like we were in a cycle but I understand.
Teale: Well, the first thing I said is like, it makes sense.
Teale: And, you know, I can feel like critical. Like, I feel, “Okay, you can think I'm so weird for you having fan on. The windows are open. No one else is complaining. We have the AC on before we get in bed.” Like we've come up with kind of a good routine. I like the AC on before we go to bed. And with that you can kind of be like, this is Teale’s doing this thing to us. And so when I feel like that I can be like, "Dude, you do fucking things to us."
Figs: No, I know. By the way, I know it's weird, I know it's strange, but, you know, I grew up, the radio was always on.
Figs: Like, I'm more directly connected to the family having a radio and all the other members of the village coming and sitting around the radio. Like you know, I'm not that far from that world. And it's a very normal thing for me growing up as, you know, Teale said, It's kind of crazy at my mother's house on my dad's side. The radio was on–
Therapist: All day.
Figs: Like all day it was on. All day.
Therapist: Oh my god.
Figs: Like, for me, I love NPR.
Therapist: I like NPR, but all day? I don't know. [Chuckling]
Figs: Well, this is a thing. I could have NPR on in the background all day long, I'm not allowed.
Teale: But listen–
Figs: But anyway,
Teal: It's true,
Figs: It is weird to other people, I totally get it.
Teale: No, but I mean, first of all, I love NPR. And I wish I could listen to the radio more. And I think there is something that happened to me, like, maybe in the last six years where I am more in touch with my overwhelm. Like, the kids are talking to me, Figs is talking to me, and then the radio is telling me something really interesting. And I'm just like, "...Fuck no." Like, "I cannot do this."
Teale: And, you know, just it's very activating for me. And so, yeah. But you know, I think I can get things in my head, like, "Oh my god, the fan and the air on my ears." And, you know, that's difficult. We just have differences.
Teale: I'm more sensitive in some ways, and–
Figs: I'm more sensitive in other ways.
Teale: You are. But like, what do we do? How do we deal with that? Like, because I can hear that you said, "I feel powerless," around like, if I feel like I've got to get my way. It's like, I can't go to sleep if the fan's up at the highest thing. Like I won't be like, "This doesn't work Figs," I'll just be like, "Maybe I'll sit downstairs on the couch." Like, I just am like, "I just can't do it." Like I can't abandon what feels like, hugely important for my ability to do the thing at night that I'm supposed to do.
Teale: But then you feel kind of like pressured, like, "Okay, I've got to give up what I want so that she can be happy." So that makes sense that it'd be kind of like, over time… Just like if I always had to listen to the radio at that decimal and you weren't like, "Okay, let me turn it off."
Teale: I'd be like, "Oh, I can't really survive like this." So like, why do I have to win sometimes?
Figs: Why do you have to win "sometimes"?
Therapist: Mhm. Mhm.
Figs: Yeah, look, this isn't a big deal.
Teale: No, not a big deal.
Figs: But it is a place that we, you know, we just have different sensory stuff.
Teale: Yeah. And it's maybe a place that we– like you talked about not spending a lot of time with– maybe we spend more time during the week of bickering like, "Okay, the radio. Oh, we've got the fan."
Figs: "Why is the fan not on?"
Therapist: How are you guys feeling with this repartee right now? How are you each feeling?
Figs: I guess I feel we're just waiting to see what's gonna happen. The way I see it. Yeah, we're just waiting to see what emerges. Like it doesn't feel like the real show or the main course.
Figs: You know?
Therapist: Well, the reason I asked you about seeing the last session is I kinda was interested in spending a little time, Teale, if you can go to your dropped in place, and what that would look like. And how was it for you that we didn't go into the cycle and we did end up focusing on Figs and slowing it down with him?
Teale: I felt like last session was really productive. It was such a rare experience for me to not feel, like, defensive and like my own shit taken over my everything and just like– Like I mean I had some emotions that goes through like I'm saying, "Oh, gosh, do I make everything about me?" But like, it all just kind of passed. And I just felt like last session was really important and like, amazing. And I just felt like it was really organic and I really liked how you stayed with us. And we really like you, by the way.
Therapist: Aw, I like you guys, too.
Teale: Yay. That always feels good. I'm like "Do you like us?"
Teale: But yeah. And just in terms of dropping into something here with myself, I'm just not feeling anything like specifically going on.
Therapist: I think just innocently, I've just noticed that we spent some time with Figs at the end of the last session, and he dropped into some sadness, some primary. I'm kind of wanting to do that with you. That's where I'm coming from.
Teale: You want me to do ugly crying now.
Therapist: No, not necessarily.
Therapist: It wasn't ugly.
Figs: That's what you're scared about, is it?
Figs: If you started accessing your sadness or your deeper feelings that you would ugly cry.
Teale: Yeah, that's okay. It's happened before, it'll happen again. [Laughing] We're pretty used to it.
Figs: Exactly. Whereas for me–
Teale: I just find him ugly crying. No, I'm just kidding. No.
Figs: No I was gonna say like, you know, I don't cry that much, right?
Figs: And one of the problems if I do cry, Teale interrupts my tears, because she's so excited. Like, she comes along with a jar to collect them.
[Teale and therapist laughing]
Figs: Her being so excited about me crying stops me crying.
Figs: I actually feel the anxiety of where we are this week. I don't feel very present. Like not that I'm not present for this moment. But like, I was saying, I feel this overriding feeling of, "I'm waiting for some future event." Like, what's present right now is, I'm in like a no man's land. I'm in kind of purgatory.
Therapist: You know, it's interesting you say that. I had about three or four clients say, "Look, I want to take a week off. I just want to get through this election thing."
Figs: Yeah. What I kind of feel right now is like, yeah, there's this kind of overriding kind of tightness, anxiety. Right? And that it's not even like, by choice that I'm not feeling like we're doing deep work right now. It's just kind of– I don't know, it just doesn't feel like it's just there.
Teale: Yeah like we're not capable. I mean, that totally makes sense. And listen, I think what I'm feeling, I'm so excited to be just sitting next to you right now. And I feel like it's been a long week. And I'm so excited about what happened this morning with just our sleeping.
Figs: Oh, yeah, getting up early. Yeah, I feel like I'm just happy with how I contributed to making that happen for you.
Therapist: How about if we stick with that? The positive?
Teale: Yeah, like Figs does so much for me all the time. He's a workhorse and like, we won't get into it, but in our move from California to Hawaii our really nice bed got fucked up in the move. And like, it's only affecting me. Speaking of sensitivities.
Teale: This one's really, really legit.
Teale: They're all legit. Basically the whole interior of the bed is just like, a disaster. And so the heaviest person in the bed is totally fine. But someone like me was lighter, right? Like I fall and roll into the bed.
Teale: I was just telling Figs, like, "My back is really messed up." And, you know, you know, it's hard to spend money. It's like, kind of being screwed by our moving company and it's hard to save money and just like, but he just like jumped on for like, 30 minutes. He was just like, researching. But he's like, "I'm gonna get us a new bed," and I said, "No, it's okay, I can sleep on this little bed on the side of the bed. It's not that big of a deal." And he's like, "No. It's not okay to have a bed where you're not in the bed and comfortable." Like it just felt so good to me.
Figs: Well, thank you.
Teale: You're welcome. And it's just like so in your nature to be like– you prioritize me, I'm like special to being in the bed with you–
Figs: But let me stop you just for a second. It was all very nice.
Figs: Right, but you were saying that you felt really good about yourself that you made this happen. And then you started complimenting me.
Teale: But no, I am glad about– I did some things to make this happen this morning. And I also just feel like you do things to make things happen.
Figs: No, thank you.
Teale: I'm just in touch with the like, just there's just so many great parts right now.
Figs: There are.
Therapist: So I'm kind of going with the love fest part, not the other part, which is– were you referring, Figs, to the way Teale put the credit back on you or something?
Therapist: I wasn't gonna do that today. [Laughing] Was just going with the love fest. [Laughing]
Figs: Yeah. But look, it is an interesting thing because I actually feel, you know, and I know we're not going to process, it is something that I can actually get a little contracted or threatened in a moment like that. Because, you know, Teale was saying, "Look, I actually feel really good about myself." And then somewhere in that process, she started complimenting me. But I know it's really important for Teale to be seen and so I'm so the fact that I'm the one being seen and validated, it feels kind of scary. Because I think it's actually–
Therapist: Good point.
Figs: –because I actually think like, it's really, she's giving me what she actually really, really needs herself.
Therapist: I like that. How are you receiving that, Teale, what he's saying?
Teale: I think makes sense. I mean, I think that, you know, it's just that, you know, [whispering] you're so perceptive. [Laughing] It's just that, you know, like, obviously, I was really touched by that. And, you know, I think it might be kind of the withdrawer part of me where I can be like– you know, it's in line with some of the stuff we've talked about, like, "Can you see how much I do?"
Teale: But a lot of this stuff, I mean, I feel like maybe my needs in the beginning of our relationship, were like, "Oh, I really need you to see me when I clean the house and do this." And, you know, Figs is doing so much he just doesn't always see those things. And so it's not like a super, like, pulsing thing for me. But like, yeah, I guess if I put myself in your position, I can get kind of like, critical of like, how you're not like, "Thank you so much for breakfast." or, "You woke me up gently," or you know, all of the things.
Therapist: But Teale, just the process that I've noticed over a few sessions — it sort of happened today and I think Figs was noticing it — I was trying to shift the focus to you and your feelings and having you drop in — even though you guys aren't in the mood today, It's fine — but there's a process of kind of you bouncing it back out to Figs in some way. I wonder if I've got something there to look at.
Teale: Maybe. I don't know. What do you think?
Figs: You're doing it right now.
Teale: No, I– No, I didn't, you guys. Don't get convinced of something, okay?
Teale: Wow, this is a real gang up party. That's what's happening. No it isn't.
Figs: [Laughing] No, no.
Teale: No, I'm just kidding.
Figs: Yeah, but–
Teale: I mean, I'm scared to answer that. Like, what am I gonna say, like, "...Yes." I mean, I think I'm– I don't even know, I don't know how to answer that.
Figs: Well here's the– Look, I think you're actually very, very good at validating other people. Which is amazing, right? You're really, really good at validating other people. And, you know, you deserve that, too. And I know you feel that inside. And so [laughing] just something that can happen between you and I is when you validate me, the loudest thing I often feel is the, "Holy shit, I'm being validated because Teale really, really needs validations."
Figs: And so it doesn't– look, this is just my stuff, right, as well.
Teale: Yeah well that's partly your stuff. [Laughing]
Figs: No, exactly. Look, it's all mixed up. Like I'm scared when you validate me, I'm not able to let it feel good. I actually feel the, "Oh, shit, there must be something I'm supposed to do if I'm being validated."
Figs: But look, anyway, it is an interesting thing, just that thing that happens between us where you compliment me, and I'm more aware of what's expected of me than I am able to take in the compliment.
Teale: Right. And, you know, that makes sense. And there's, like, you're saying, there's just several things going on. Like, you know, because I know you like I do, I recognize that you have a lot of wounding around not being seen.
Teale: And so I do really see you.
Teale: And I really want to let you know. And so that's a big piece. But you're right, that when I give it to you, it feels like a complicated– like I feel that suspiciousness.
Teale: And so I think maybe I do it less, now, just kind of altruistically and maybe as kind of like, "Hey, by the way, I'm kicking ass." When really what I'm saying– like I do always– I mean, not always, but often I'm in touch with how much you do and how much you deserve appreciation. But I've for now just kind of abandoned that ship. Like, "He's not gonna take it in. He doesn't really want to hear from me. He gets scared." I'm not giving up on you, it's just kind of on pause.
Teale: And I think you're right, that maybe there's something kind of passive aggressive about it. That there's like, "Well, I'm doing great, and," you know, "Have you noticed that?
Teale: As opposed to just being like–
Therapist: I guess I'm wondering, maybe sometimes it's that way and other times it's more organically pure. Because there are layers to it. And then one layer you just named, Teale, is that it's important for Figs to feel seen, right?
Figs: Yeah, no, yeah. You're a really, really, natural, organic validator of people. You're really good with loving people and validating them. You are. You're not always looking for something from them.
Therapist: And you do take that in, Figs.
Figs: I do. It means so much. Again, I know the pain, as Teale was saying, of not being seen and not being seen as special or not like– it's just soul destroying. And like, you know, I feel Teale actually, you know, does think I'm special. And it means a lot. It actually means–
Figs: Like anything I say would be understating how much that means and how healing it's been.
Therapist: It's like a reparenting that wounded boy.
Figs: Exactly. Yeah. And interestingly, you know, like one of the interpretations like Teale said that I don't– I actually don't have the same unresolved energy about being seen as I used to. In part because, you know, now what I do for a living, I'm seen in lots of ways, and that you see me, right? Like, I don't actually have the same hurt, reactive energy mixed up with the vulnerability around being seen. Like I actually do feel seen. You know what I mean? I feel seen by you, I feel seen, like, professionally. Like, I'm actually just not that wounded around it.
Therapist: You've integrated it.
Figs: Exactly. Yeah.
Therapist: That's great.
Figs: Yeah, so but look, you actually really have helped heal that part of me.
Teale: That makes me so happy.
Figs: Well, good.
Therapist: Significant. Totally.
Figs: Yeah. And look, to the point you were saying about– and I understand — and I know we're gonna have to end — me saying, "Look, you're back is sore. We're going to get a bed, it doesn't matter how much it costs. If your back is sore, you have to be able to sleep in the bed," I know that's a similar — and again, you can correct me if I'm wrong — that's a similar healing for you. Right? The same way, like a big example is like, I wrote the letter, the email to your dad.
Teale: Oh my god. We need a whole session just to process how important some of this stuff Figs has done for my life.
Figs: But look, I know that. Look, I know that when I prioritize you in these ways and show up for you, that that's immensely healing for you.
Teale: Immensely. So amazing.
Figs: Yeah. Yeah, a lot of that stuff is organic. It's like you're saying, it's not like, "Oh, I'm doing this thing so maybe you'll see me." Like, that's why we're here together. I want to be there and I love to help repair the wounding that you have. And I really feel that you do that for me too. So I really appreciate it.
[Figs and Teale laughing]
Teale: You're welcome.
Therapist: Teale I just want Figs and I to be able to hear you and support you and reflect to you without you feeling like we're ganging up on you.
Teale: Oh, I was just kidding about that.
Therapist: I know, you're kidding. [Laughing] But there's some kind of process that I'm not sure yet what it is yet but I tend to find myself back with Figs, talking to Figs.
Teale: Yeah, well, I think, you know, I'm just checking it all out and making sure, you know, it's safe out here. And, you know, like moments like Figs and I just had, are, like, so amazing. And I think life has just sort of — and it's not like a word victim of our lives — but we've just done so much on the outside and we haven't had as many moments like this. But they create a sense of safety for me. And I think you're right, I think it's tough to kind of stay in the me and still feel like it's okay to do that. But I think it's it's really important to kind of like– it started to get really dark and overwhelming for me just a couple minutes ago, and I was like… Anyway, I don't even know what was going on. But I really liked that you brought it back to like, we're both so healing for one another.
Therapist: Yeah that's great. Yeah.
Teale: So I think I can hide sometimes. And that's maybe what you're picking up, is that it is more comfortable for me in this moment at this place in our relationship and in our therapy for me to have Figs like lead a little bit if possible.
Therapist: Mhm. Okay. I'm glad we could just name it. That's happening. Yeah.
Therapist: Great, sweet moment with you two.
[51:26 Session Ends]
Figs: Okay, so I hope that wasn't too painful to again be inside a couples counseling session with us.
Figs: I always feel awkward and embarrassed when we come back after the listeners or viewers actually got to be inside our couples counseling. But so let me like– here are the things that really stood out for me now in watching that session. Again, the three main takeaways right now for me — and I'll just name the three of them, and then we can just talk a little bit about them — the first one is, like we said at the very beginning, right, you and I, Teale, we actually collude with each other to not name that there's a negative cycle happening between us about the airpods.
Figs: Right? And so it's just good to notice. Like, you don't have to process every cycle, but at least be aware you're not processing what's happening. [Laughing] Like, at least be aware of it. Like we were already in a negative cycle. I was disappointed in you. I wasn't saying anything, but again, your body is millions of years in the making it. Frickin knows exactly–
Teale: That's right, this body.
Figs: Yeah. Boom!
Figs: But yeah, so we were in a negative cycle. And we chose not to talk about it, right? But it meant that that energy was with us the whole time.
Teale: Absolutely. It's really informative, for me, it's fine to say.
Figs: It's really good to see. So again, you don't have to process everything, but at least be aware and notice what you're not processing. And you can come back to it, right? The second thing that I hope you take away is — and again, you're so good, Teale. When I say you're so good, I just appreciate you being willing to share yourself. Like, I love that you said like, "Look, I came into this episode really worried I was going to be too much again. And so I was committed to not being too much, right?" And this thing about you know, "What you resist, persists." All of a sudden, then in the session, all these different things came out, right? Like my voice at one point, the headphones, the desk height, the blinds, and I'm not sure what else, right? There were all these ways in which the way in which you weren't feeling comfortable inside actually came out in other behavior.
Teale: That's right.
Figs: That's so great to feel, and you're so good for just being willing to be curious about yourself and see it, and that can start a negative cycle in the very ways you were hoping to avoid, right? Because then I feel like, "What the heck? Like I can't talk, you won't do the headphone–" Like I can get like, "Leave the bloody blinds alone!" Right?
Figs: You know, like we can end up getting in you being seen and all the ways you're hoping to avoid being seen.
Teale: I know.
Figs: It sucks, right?
Teale: Well, I think it's kind of magic.
Figs: Well, it's magic to be able to see it.
Teale: Yeah, it's great to see it now like, "Wow." It just– it persisted, it persisted, I was speaking with a lot of ways, not necessarily with my words and being articulate or explicit. My body was speaking that I was really uncomfortable.
Figs: Exactly. It was all coming out, even as you were trying to keep it in. So good. And then kicks off, you know, a negative cycle. Now luckily–
Figs: When I say, "luckily," you know, it's kind of a double edged sword, we were committed to colluding with each other to not really get deeply into anything.
Figs: And then the last thing that I thought was really important that we touched upon, that I think is really good for our listeners and viewers to really take in is that compliments, validation appreciation, on the surface, it looks really simple. These are good things to say to other people. And they are. However, people can have a different internal working model of what it means to be acknowledged or appreciated. It could touch grief inside them, it could fill them with joy. You know, grief because, "I never got this and getting it now brings me in touch with all the sad places inside me." Or like me sometimes, right? When you acknowledge me or appreciate me, I get scared the hidden underlying subtext is I've been told that this is what you need and I'm not doing it. So I actually, sometimes when you acknowledge me, it feels I'm actually getting contracted.
Figs: Which I imagine, then, it's kind of hard for you to understand like, "Woah, I said something nice about Figs and now his eyes are narrowing. He's like, 'Oh, I see, Teale.'"
Teale: Yeah, yeah. And, you know, we're not going to go into a piece around this right now, but I think it is important for us to explore at a later date, you know, that it touches something that's scared inside for you and feeling you're not enoughness.
Teale: I'm critical and then you move away. And so there we go, we've got a weird negative cycle.
Figs: Yeah, over something good. And — again, I hope it's okay to say this — and it's not just my perception. Right, there is a part, sometimes you really are just validating the present, and other times you are actually going, like, "I'm actually the one that needs some appreciation right now."
Teale: Absolutely. I think you're right. And I'm kind of like, you know, trying to be present with this moment, also thinking, like, "Wonder if I could say, you know, what's happening." Kind of like, "Hmm. Did you see me?"
Teale: You know, "Did you see me." And of course, I don't want us to, like, you know, find the solution. But just, it is empowering to recognize, "Oh, maybe it's also like, would it be okay, sweetie, if I asked you, 'Hey, could you see me too?'"
Teale: And we do that actually successfully a lot. And you're there.
Teale: You're like, "Great job on that." And it helps me and we can avoid a cycle sometimes. But again, we don't want to avoid cycles.
Figs: And cycles again, just to make sure our listeners or viewers, that's a word we commonly use to describe when we get disconnected from each other.
Figs: Just in case, again, it doesn't like, "What are they talking about? Cycling."
Figs: "Like they fight while they're riding bikes?"
Figs: "What do they mean?" But yeah, look, thank you again for being with us on this journey. It really is, you know, it's a huge undertaking. We've already lost five family members. We've been excommunicated. Talking about ourselves this way.
Figs: I'm kidding. But yeah, thank you, and we'll catch you the next time. Anything you want to say, sweetie, before we end?
Teale: I just appreciate all of our listeners. And, you know, feel so excited to do this project with you or just kind of woke up this morning like, "Yes. Oo, another one."
Figs: You really made this happen this morning. Thank you, good job.
Figs: See, there's an appreciation, now take it in.
Teale: There we go. I'm just gonna take it in, put it in my little heart.
Figs: Yeah. You really made this happen, thank you.
Teale: You're welcome.
Figs: Which, as you know, like that touches something really big for me. "Okay, I'm not responsible for making everything happen."
Teale: Yeah. Me too, we're in it together.
Figs: Thank you, love you.
Teale: Keep fighting the good fight people.