New and extraordinary emotional truth is shared in this session wherein Figs and Teale stop defending their stories and start experiencing the empathy and connection they long for. Discover insights into how reactivity can be an essential precursor to vulnerability.
New and extraordinary emotional truth is shared in this session wherein Figs and Teale stop defending their stories and start experiencing the empathy and connection they long for. Discover insights into how reactivity can be an essential precursor to vulnerability.
01:06 Small talk — Life in Hawaii
05:22 Intro to the session: The ways couples normally try to solve problems
08:07 Therapy tools: "My story is that…"
10:10 Transitioning from story of other to experience of self
13:48 Honoring the reactive cycle before dropping into vulnerability
15:30 Accessing Teale's attachment history
17:35 Session begins — Defending their stories
21:12 Why Figs uses anger
23:50 Teale's story of "I'm the wronged one"
24:48 Feeling behind the anger: Figs is alone | Teale empathizing with Figs
30:33 Teale's hurt and past around anger in men
33:33 Teale protesting with "I don't want to tolerate it"
35:09 Figs feeling triggered around "I'm not gonna tolerate it"
37:36 Teale wants to reorganize her narrative of her life
40:39 Discussing Teale's (triggering) family history
45:17 Teale's family with Figs is healing
46:20 Figs becomes emotional over being that person for Teale
48:25 Teale feels love for that fiery part of Figs
50:42 Session ends — What is your story?
51:08 Scary and activating for Teale to share her attachment history
54:15 Figs' journey to vulnerable empathy for Teale
56:59 Big vulnerable feelings may not look dramatic on the outside
59:49 Feeling activated first helps in moving to deeper vulnerable feelings
01:03:28 Ending chit-chat: The Bro and the Angry Irishman
If you or someone you love are struggling in your relationship, visit empathi.com for quizzes, courses, and consultations.
Figs: Welcome back to Come Here To Me with me, Figs.
Teale: And Teale.
Figs: It’s good to be back for another episode. We're doing our usual. It's pitch black out. We've been up since 4 in the morning. We're finally ready to record here at 5am.
Teale: [laughing] Properly caffeinated, I will say.
Figs: Yes, of course. First thing was a good cup of Irish black tea with honey.
Figs: And oatmeal.
Teale: And oatmeal. I love how you make it. Figs makes a good cup of tea.
Figs: Well, I hope you're enjoying a nice refreshing beverage or Walker. However, you know, you take care of yourself.
Teale: Or the kids are like jumping on a trampoline. And you're just like, “I can't listen to your voice anymore!” Then you listen to Figs and Teale.
Figs: Exactly. That's been coming up for me a lot this week. I cannot listen to our kids anymore. They’re killin' me.
Teale: You know what I was just loving about this week? It's just how we were able to do a little midweek ocean swim.
Figs: [agreeing]I always feel we're winning the week if you manage to get into the ocean in the middle of the week together as a family.
Figs: Like I love, I love – Yes, it always feels so good if we can all get into the water together as a family in the middle of the week.
Teale: We say as a family. But let's see, let's be real, the kids are playing in the sand and Figs and I swim off together.
Figs: That’s true. We get to swim together.
Figs: And I love both actually swimming for exercise with you. But also we get to go look at all the fishies together.
Teale: You guys Figs is like a tour guide. He is so obsessed with the little fishies. He’ll be like, “Look at little mini PB puffer. It's at the very bottom of that little red cave.” And I'll go down and keep looking and then I’ll see it just peek out. You’ve got an eye.
Figs: I do seem to have an eye for the little puffer fish. I can see where they're hiding. By the way. for the listeners and viewers that don't know, we live in Oahu in Hawaii. And we have a natural coral reef at the beach, right? Like, you know, 5 minute walk from our house. So I am literally living by some dream fantasy to be able to swim with all the little fishies. 4 different times now in the last four months, I've got to swim with sea turtles. Which is just like, “What the?!?” That's just blows my mind.
Teale: You also saw a turtle this Tuesday. And we learned–
Figs: I nearly swam into again. Every time, the only way I see them is because I literally swim straight into them and give myself a hard time. Actually, this week Zephyr, our dog, and I were kind of racing. I throw the ball and I race Zephyr to the ball. Really unfair.
Figs: Swimming, swimming in the water. And this time a sea turtle swam right in between me and Zephyr. Zephyr, you know, had a head start and I’m catching up. And I just- [mimics explosion]. I nearly like, you know, gave myself a heart attack. Because it's like big creature that swam right in between the two of us.
Teale: We heard that they were territorial. And so we think we might have seen the same one of Sunday. So we're just staking out this turtle’s territory. We're so lucky.
Figs: I think it's easier to see him during the week or when there's newer people.
Figs: I think that’s the–
Figs: Anyway, so we're living the dream. Swimming with sea turtles.
Figs: Yeah, but this is the thing. Look, I'm sure like any of you that you know, this is the way life goes. Wherever you go, there you are, like, you still come as yourself. You still have all the same challenges. And we still have like two kids and work. And so even though the beach is 5 minutes down the road, it's still really hard to find time to actually have downtime and enjoy, right?
Figs: It's just not as easy as we had envisioned. That vision of living in Hawaii, I'd be getting up in the morning and picking up freaking pineapple and eating it with a big knife. And I'm going to go for a 5 mile run finished off with like an hour of surfing. And the truth is, I'm not as healthy as I envisioned I was going to be living here. It's still a work in progress.
Teale: Work in progress.
Figs: But, look, why don’t you talk more about living here and what it’s like? Right. Like, you the whole process. But let's talk about our last therapy session.
Teale: Oh, yes.
Figs: Yeah, let’s talk about our last therapy session. For me, this may have been emotionally the most significant session for me. I thought it ended up as such a beautiful place between the two of us. And it really was a journey. Right. So we're going to share quite a bit of the session with you. And it will be clipped together a little bit because we want you to get a sense of it from start to finish.
Figs: Do you want to talk about where we started because, you know, we started in an argument. Do you want to share what the argument was about?
Teale: Sure. Yeah, I mean, we weren't in a full blown like thing, but we had had a crappy interaction in the morning. And what you notice about this is we've just got loads of energy. Like both Figs and I are– We’d been up for a long time that morning too. And it was just after the election.
Teale: And we were just firing. And so, yeah, so what our conflict was about a little bit was this concept of me sort of having this narrative. Like this is what's happening is that Figs can be grumpy. And here was an example of him being kind of grumpy.
Figs: [agreeing] Yeah.
Teale: Our daughter–
Figs: And you’ll hear details. But–
Figs: We were fighting about the dog being fed. And me– Do I have enough time to take Zephir for walk?
Teale: Yeah, Zephir is our dog. Yeah, just, you know, super relatable stuff in our lives.
Figs: Regular everyday couples lives.
Teale: Yeah. But as you can see, as the session goes on, there's a couple of crucial moments, right? There's loads of energy in the beginning. At one point, you start to drop into a deeper place. You wanted to share a little bit about that?
Figs: Yes, absolutely. So the first part of the session– And we do this for about 90 minutes, but we cut it down what we share just because, you know, you can get it in a shorter period of time. Because we're basically wash, rinse, repeat for 90 minutes. Where I'm justifying my behavior, why I was grumpy, and you're then responding back. You’re telling me how I was bad. And it's all good natured on the surface, which that first 90 minutes of the session, we're basically stuck in the story of bother, justifying ourselves, describing the other person. And why I think it's important that we share some of this is I think, this is the normal way that couples try and resolve conflict.
Figs: This back and forth. I'm going to explain myself to you. And then no, I'll tell you what it is you did. And even though we don't get into a terrible fight with each other, as we're doing that, you're really running the risk of making your conflict worse when you do that. So we wanted to share that with you. So you see and hear the way in which we're stuck in the story of the other person. Now, our producer for the podcasts pointed this out that, you know, we both use this expression a lot. Which is, “My story is that…” And so if I say, “Hey, my story, Teale, is that you're being really mean.” That's, like, I'm actually acknowledging to myself that this is my perception that you're being mean. And I realize I'm inside that perception, it's not necessarily a fact that you're being mean.
Teale: It's kind of like a little bit maybe deescalating, I don't think you and I heard this as a big deescalation in that moment. But do you think it’s like that?
Figs: Well, yeah, it's a bid for– You're just letting the other person know, “Look, I have awareness that what I'm perceiving right now isn't necessarily a description of reality. I'm just letting you know, whatever is happening inside me results in me seeing you and being in this story about who you are.” And calling it a story, again, is really significant and important. Because you could imagine, like if I just tell Teale, “You are mean.” Like I'm describing who you are, right? There's no– There's not exactly any room for you to waver if you're going to tell me exactly who I am without me having any input. Right. But when I tell you, right, “Look, this is the story. I'm locked inside.” Then, it's much more flexible. And, I don’t know, you tell me. But hopefully it shouldn't be as threatening.
Teale: Absolutely. And it might have been why kind of like we don't do anything in that first 10 minutes. We're just going back and forth. In a conflict, in a cycle. There's not like a big raising, like, “Oh, yeah!” You know, but there's also, like, we don't get out of it. So part of that might have been due to, “My story is that…” There's a little bit of acknowledgments. A little bit deescalating.
Figs: One of the key transitions that I need to make, you need to make, all our couples need to be able to make is the transition from being in the story the other. Where I don't even realize all I'm really doing is describing the other person or justifying my responses to the other person. To transitioning to primarily being in and sharing experiences themselves. So, like, let's say my story to others is, “Teale, you’re mean.” First thing is, “Can I be aware that I’m in the story of other.” Which is– And now I'm saying, :My story is you’re mean?” That's huge, because that's already a huge leap. Because now I'm aware but I'm actually crafting and creating the story of perception of you. And I've gotten out of this need or belief that it's actually a fact, you know, whether it is or isn't. And then I'm going to ask myself a really important question. Whether that's the story I meant. That's my perception of you. What is it I'm actually experiencing. And then this is the huge transition where now I go, “Wait a second, what am I feeling when I think Teale’s mean? I'm feeling threatened, I don't feel loved. I feel powerless. That's sad to me.” And then that's what I share right away.
Figs: You know, In this story you were mean. And what I noticed is that I feel contracted. Yes, I'm frustrated with you saying that my behavior is to blame you or critique you. But actually, inside me, I'm feeling contracted and powerless and sad. Whenever you look mean to me. I don't feel loved. That's a pretty amazing.
Teale: It’s huge. You know how I get couples to think about this? It's the shorthand version of what you're saying. When I say, “Okay, we've had this session, I want you to go out and just get a throat tat that just says, ‘What's happening inside for me?’ Right?”
Figs: Nice, you do a throat tat. That's more realistic. I often tell people to carve it into their forehead like, in Inglorious Bastards. You know what I mean? Remember that scene, right?
Teale: [laughing] Yeah.
Figs: So I think that's a much nicer invitation.
Figs: Than a throat tat.
Teale: Yeah, because it's not a carving, it's more of an inking. Yeah. It’s more gentle.
Figs: The throat is less, you know, you can wear a–
Teale: You can wear a turtleneck. Even in Hawaii.
Figs: Or a "cerat." "Cerat?" Is that what it's called?
Teale: I don't know what that is.
Figs: Now you got me stuck on what type it is, I think it's a cervat? Cervat? Oh, for flips sake. It doesn't matter. Now, listen, we got into this fight. This is really important. We'll talk more about how you notice we often refer to it as our cycle even though it's low grade. But we're really kind of stuck on the surface describing behavior and kind of being frustrated. And then, you'll get to see this part and the clip or listen to it, if you're doing just the audio. Our lovely therapists said at one point, you know, then makes the invitation for me. “What is happening on underneath when you’re being a quote, unquote angry Irishman?” That's, you know, how I refer to myself. You, kind of, my bad behavior, right? And so I drop in to getting in touch with, “Oh! When I'm in story that you're not considering me, Teale. Uh, yeah, I'm frustrated. I'm acting angry. But what is it that I'm feeling? I don’t considered. What is it like for me when I don't feel considered? I feel alone. Well, shoot, that's right. Like, I'm actually sad.” And I actually dropped into feeling that.
Teale: It's a really important intervention that I use and you access this really juicy stuff.
Figs: Yeah. You know, and, I want to– Yeah, it is a really important invention but, you know, sometimes you can 90 minutes is important, right? Because if you don't listen to the reactive ones, like, you know, the parts of us that are needed to explain themselves. They don't have a little bit of bandwidth or practice stage for a while. And all that the therapist does or that you and I do to each other is keep going, “But tell me how you really feeling in your little vulnerable self?” Like, I don't know about you, if I'm frustrated when someone says, “Figs, please access you vulnerability right now.” Like, I'm more likely to give them a kick up the arse, than I am to access my vulnerability. So it's really good to honor the reactive parts, give them some time and room, but do it with as much awareness. Like that I'm in my reactivity, as you can. And then those parts will feel heard. And then it'll be easier to access inside yourself and to share the vulnerability.
Teale: Absolutely.I love how you're saying that. I'm just like, I'm taking it in like waves. It's true. Like this wasn't wasted time for us. This was really, really important.
Teale: Yes. I also was excited about you talking a little bit about you dropping and I was actually remembering how our therapist framed that you said, Can you feel the sadness underneath this angry Irishman?” And than it was almost immediate. So it's like, you can see how primed we were. And we needed that 20 minutes of banter argument, then you dropped in.
Figs: Yeah. It helps to get in touch with the feeling, right. Getting in touch with the activation is necessary to access the vulnerability. So this is a weird thing.
Figs: Add activation part, quote, unquote, the bad activation part is helpful in its own way.
Figs: But, look, come here. But the other good thing is, like, what happened when I was able to access my vulnerability a bit more is it seemed like it softened you.
Teale: It really did, like, it was almost like building blocks. Then I was like, “Oh!” It helped me feel your sadness. And I can watch that back. I was like, “Ooh, that was an opening for Figs. Like there would have been a nice piece of work that could have happened there.” But I was still sitting over there angry. I was softening. But it was still there for me and I think the therapist made a good decision which was to give me a little attending, you know, kind of asked another version of, you know, “Can you feel the sadness, Teale?” And I think it went back to my history. So that's what you see there is, you know, he kind of gave this invitation into, “Hey, could you tell us a little bit more about you, Teale, and where you're from, and why grumpiness or anger can be so triggering for you?” And so you get a little, you know, what's called an attachment history.
Teale: From what I share, you know, some of my big wounding.
Teale: And maybe we'll talk a little bit more about that on the back end.
Figs: Exactly, yeah. Because we do end up in a really, really beautiful, beautiful place with each other. That transitions through we’re arguing, I soften, it helps you soften. That access and talk about your really vulnerable feelings, right? And where that comes from a new, which softens me, and then we can have this, like, lovely connection plans. Why don't we watch listen to it? And we'll talk a little bit more about how we find each other at the end and the real significance internally for us but just how big a moment this is, may not be immediately obvious.
Teale: Yeah. And meant a lot to me. And it meant a lot to Fig. Very very bonding.
Teale: Even when we watch it. We were holding hands.
Figs: Really, really touching. Yeah, you will almost catch another tear of mine rewatching it. So, yeah, enjoy. And thanks again for, you know, being with us on our couples therapy journey.
[17:35 Session Begins]
Figs: Here, what happened this morning and why I was grumpy and mean, is the trigger is just like, look, how come I can ask you for stuff and you don't– I just heard the kids. And you don't have to do it. Whereas, you know, my story is I have to jump for you. Right. So so so just to be clear that I know, but you might not agree. But I'm just telling you what the trigger was.
Therapist: Your experience.
Figs: Yeah. Oh, yeah. I'm not saying that's like the God's gospel truth, which it is not.
Teale: I think in general, you're right. Like I, you know, I know you're, you're fucking busy. And I'm busier than you. [laughing] I’m always doing stuff. And you're right. I, like we've talked about in prior sessions with Tom, I am going shopping. I got us food. Oh, my God, we wouldn't have had food. So you are right. I sail in. And it still baffles me that you need to be like, rolling your eyes at me when I'm like, “Look if we didn't have food, we wouldn't be able to, you know, how would our night work? We both have sessions back to back.” You would have had to leave the house with two kids. 7pm.
Figs: But now you're just explaining and defending yourself.
Teale: No, no, . I just– No, no, no. Let me finish. Let me finish. No, because you brought that in? You brought it in?
Figs: Okay. Go ahead.
Therapist: Hold on, you're both defending yourself.
Therapy: And your stories.
Figs: No, absolutely. But I thought we were just going to sit. Like we're going to go through what the cycle is.
Teale: And cycle has to do– Like as you're going through, you're bringing in other pieces. So I'm going to get back to my point. Believe you me, right? Because, yeah, and what I'm trying to say is you're right, I do and I can think about that we can process it here that I have an expectation of, you know, needing you with urgency and that in general I don't feel that as much from you. Or maybe I just push the boundaries. Okay. Okay, I'll get it to you and you know, 36 hours later and get you whatever it's all those good with the medical numbers.
Figs: You are very good. Thank you.
Teale: And so like yeah, you're right. I didn't hear that story this morning. And I lagged on it. But on top of that, before that there'd been a moment where you were like, breakfast was on the table. Here you are waking up early. I've been pulling my weight this fucking week because of your and my preoccupation with the election. I feel like I've been very generous.
Figs: You’re right.
Teale: Okay, sleep here. I'll let me let me take your night for dishes. Let me– I'm just trying to do everything I can because I see how much you care about it you get interested in work and a couple other things but I don't always see you this passionate about this. Let me support this and so breakfast was on the table and you said something about the cheese in the eggs and I'm like they're like I have put the cheese in the eggs and made so many things of eggs this morning but cheese in some way. And I must have not been perfect but and so and it also is a sensitive thing for me about food with Figs and his happiness.
Figs: You’ve gone off [laughing]
Teale: Yeah, I am going off because and I'm getting back to the point which is this is my side of the story.
Teale: Is that then when I hear something about the eggs. “Oh no, you didn't really put them in.”
Figs: I was just saying everything you said was wrong.
Figs: I'm tired, I told you I'm tired.
Teale: That's how I like you is just vulnerable and weak.
Figs: So, look, Teale is right. I have– I have a very– I have a trait from my mother's side of the family that when I'm doing something or working, I use a anger, aggression, frustration to get it done. And I can get stuck in that, you know, we call it a groove, whatever you call it, you know, I get stuck at that. And I definitely had that this morning. You know, where, you know, after being left or working for like, you know, four or five hours already by like 7am and then like, and having this frustrating experience with Kaiser that I don't know if I fully realized I was in that kind of place that now I'm like a belligerent Irish farmer. You know, “Fucking dog food, and I asked you to do it. And did you do it? Did you?” You know, like, I had a, you know, I don't have that accent like my grandfather. But like, but I have I have that energy sometimes. Right? You know, and again, some of it I'm not, I'd like because I really get things done. But some of it is I'm not that easy to work with, or, you know, be with, when that's the energy I call on to get stuff done.
Therapist: Figs, what works better with Teale when you were the angry Irishman?
Figs: Well, actually, to be honest with you. I thought Teale, look, I think the acting is really good when I see it. Now. I thought it was really good. I think it's really good. When I look now when I see when I now look over from the kitchen over across the counter, and Teale and like it looks like she's dancing and throwing paper in the air. Like copying me. That's actually quite good. You know, but look, the other thing would be to try like–
Teale: You know, my bucket just fills up.
Teale: Like my bucket of all the times I get things wrong. So I feel really defensive.
Figs: But wait a second. Let me just ask you the question.
Teale: You did! And I’m feeling defensive about it.
Figs: But wait a second. Just what I was saying was that if somewhere that you could remember that the only reason Figs acts this way is because he's hurting. That's all. I know you're not going to be able to because it'll be too loud that I look like an asshole.
Therapy: She’s got her own–
Figs: No, exactly. So this is why I say, just try.
Teale: We don't need to problem solve for the future, people. Like all I can see right now is it makes sense to me that you were hurting.
Figs: Okay. Yeah, thank you.
Teale: You're welcome.
Figs: Yeah. And I understand why you were hurt.
Teale: You know, it loosens that grip on my heart, right? I just feel it in my body. It's such a deep level. Like, you know, I'm really telling myself like, “Figs is being mean to me.”
Teale: Like here he goes again.
Teale: And like and you know, I think we have had a deescalated time in the past since we've been working with you. I feel really a lot of positive benefits in our relationship. And it's almost more devastating for me to be kind of like in this like more guard let down. “Gosh, we're working together.” I haven't been like, “I've really been helping you this week in the election. Look at how I'm how–” I'm just like, I just feel like we're doing good and like and I'm so grateful you're on the phone with Kaiser and I made you breakfast. I just thought, “Gosh, we're working so well together.” And so I can really get into a story of right now, “I'm the wrong one. I'm the hurt one here.” And that's what I approached you with and you don't feel seen about all the ways that you feel hurt, right?
Figs: Yeah, and listen just again. I just want to own I get into the particular grooves without even realizing it myself. I'm one of those is this kind of there's a belligerence that I could have just to be as a horrible way to describe my own behavior. But there can be moments of just– Like I didn't fully realize that I was kind of just the degree to which I'm so frustrated after spending all that time on you know, with customer support and then not resolving. And then the next tiny trigger we you know, I asked Teale, “Would you do something?” And then she's not there. And then that all of a sudden I'm like, “Fucking Jesus.”
Therapist: This is a conglomeration.
Therapist: As you are relating this story about yourself in the den the angry Irishman, can you contact the hurt part of you?
Figs: Umm, hmmm. Yeah, I mean, yeah, look, I know underneath that frustration and seeming aggressive is that– I feel alone. Like nobody's there, right? It just touches a place where I could just feel really overwhelmed. I don't think that's I call on that energy, you know, because I just feel really overwhelmed. That I really am alone with everything.
Therapist: So you started working with me.
Figs: Right? Yeah.
Therapist: That statement about yourself.
Figs; Right. And look, and I know I'm not alone with everything. I'm not saying this is just a deep feeling inside. Look, this is why I get up at 3am. Like, I'm sitting there last night going, “I don't have any idea how I'm going to do everything. Everything I have to do over the next two weeks.” I don't know if it's possible. Like I have to start getting up at that time. And I do like, I can feel like, you know, some of these things are really exciting things that I have to do, but I can feel the sadness of that just deeper feeling of I'm really kind of alone, whatever. Like I have to do us is no one's going to come help me. And, yeah, look, it's a it's a sad place. And I don't feel it very often, I usually am activating into, you know, like, fire to get to get stuff done.
Therapist: What’s that like to feel her hand on your back?
Figs: I mean, it's nice. Yeah, it's nice.
Teale: Yeah, I feel bad for you. I mean, I feel like it really makes sense to me, as you're talking right now, just about how alone you feel. And you know, there's just– You're such a high functioning person that you know, like, you're the only one that can do a lot of the stuff that needs to be done. And, you know, right now, I have a dual focus, I have something else I'm working on every morning. And feel really excited and passionate. And I have a deadline for myself and working with my own EFT supervisor about it. And, and that's not to say like, you know, I think what I'm feeling between us as you kind of saying, like, “We have something in 10 days–”, So anyway, I guess it's, it does start to be a start to feel okay, you feel your aloneness, it's about the world, but it's also about me, and it's about ways that you can feel like you, you just have to take on so much. And that and that's what you know, that's why I'm reaching out is because I recognize and have so much admiration and like love and kind of, like, I'm so inspired and, and a little overwhelmed and intimidated, you know, but like, I know that– so anyways, I just make it person.
Figs: Yeah. Thank you and like, you know, I appreciate you asking me. When I access the hurt part. Because, yeah, like it's so compelling to just be in the, the kind of almost like fear driven response, like you know, the action that I take, and the grumpiness that can come with it right? Or belligerence? Again, I hate saying that. It's terrible, but my I'm kind of a bit. But yeah, look deep down inside. I just get get– I feel alone. And yeah, no, it's just a little scary, you know?
Therapist: Yeah. And you know, you're really conscious about that. And you know, that that, that you have a certain set of glasses on when you see yourself as being alone isn't always true.
Figs; Yeah, yeah, absolutely. It's not always true. And that's the thing like I even I know I talking about it. It's not actually true. I'm alone. Like, you know, but that's just it's like, again, it's a–
Therapist: You're identified with that in that moment.
Figs: Yeah, it's like a demonic, you know, possession or whatever, right?
Therapist: It's a structure in play.
Figs: Yeah, exactly.
Therapist: You are slowly melting it away.
Figs: Yeah, I still get stuck in it. But like I don't feel that attached to it now. Like as to you know, I don't feel very I can feel the sadness I don't feel I'm not in a big story about to stop there. For me. These I'm really feel like I'm describing what I felt then. I'm not actually– I don't feel that way right now.
Therapist: Even when you started the session, you weren’t in that?
Figs: No, no, it was gone. But this is the problem, right? I can be– I can do– While I do feel that way, I can really hurt Teale’s feelings.
Therapist: That's what I wanted to address.
Therapist: Because you were asking Teale to not take it personally when you're the Irishman. But the problem is, I don’t know, I want to hear from you Teale, but you’ve got your cup is cup is full and you're juggling a lot of things. And you don't feel seen in that moment. And you feel hurt.
Teale: Yeah, yeah. I mean, I don't you know, and I think a lot of this stuff I've done have a chip on my shoulder but I just accept in some ways, you know, Figs I've been together for a long time. And he does a lot and I do a lot. You know, and I don't need to be appreciated for all that I do in a kind of affirmative way. Of course it feels good. And I know we talked a little bit about that last week, that's a little bit hard for me maybe to even take it in, but it does really hurt when I don't feel appreciated. And so that's one part and yeah, I fucking hate– You know, and it's a very different culture. We have a very different cultural background, whether it's cultural culture, different from different places, or different families. You know, he talked about the radio being on all the time, my mom was just like, very quiet. And it was just my mom and I, you know, and so like, I don't even know what type of parenting exactly she was doing. My mom's was just a brilliant and is a brilliant parent. But there was lots of times of quiet and silence and contemplation time. And so and then, you know, I'd go I haven't shared but I, I have a, you know, I don't even like phrase “broken family.” But my dad was never in with my mom when I was alive. And alive. They have never been together and he lived in California. And so when I go to see my dad, he'd be the guy that was like, you know, fun, but also angry. You know, mad at times. And so it's like, you know, it's just it feels really shocking to my system, and I don't like it and I push away and you know, I become like it for like private in my private chasm of suffering and you know and, “Figs is doing this to me, and he's a fucking asshole.” And, you know, that type of thing.
Figs: And you had an angry stepdad.
Teale: Yeah, I had an angry stepdad. Yeah, exactly.
Teale: Exactly. So it's just, you know, when we go into like, Teale’s daddy issues or challenges with men, like I think I can feel– And like, the thing is, is I feel like I've shared with Figs crying Figs you know, really hurt when my stepdad was so mean to me. And so anger really hurt when my dad's been like this. And he's like, you know, held me and got it. And so there's a part of me that's like, how can I get you to see I don't like this. And I don't want to tolerate it. And I'm fucking done with it. Like, I've had enough angry men in my life to be like, I'm at capacity.
Figs: By the way, what is the banging?
Teale: No no, that’s the dumpster.
Figs; Oh, that’s the dumpster. Go on, go on.
Teale: So, anyway, I get it. You know, obviously, you can see I get agitated and angry about it. And like, I also feel a little bit like, “Is there anything I could do?” Um, but obviously, you know, I feel like I'm learning something right now when Figs is saying, “ And I'm actually really sad.” And that helps me and I honestly have never thought of it that way. Even in our repairs, which, you know, we're gifted repairers, right. But you know, just asking, “Figs, can you access the sadness?” It helps me. Because I really get stuck in you know, my story and being like, “Look, I've even just cried in your arms. Like, what more do I need to do for you to recognize I really can't stand this?” And I do. I think I can get to capacity pretty quickly. Right?
Figs: No it totally makes sense.
Therapist: Yeah. This is when couples have the flare ups is when? Right? inability, neither of them have the bandwidth, right? To give the other one, what they need in the moment.
Figs: Yeah. Absolutely. Great. And by the way, I do think it's worth noting, because you know, it's something like the, I think, where there's another leg, it's like a new round kicks off. Is I can understand everything that Teale says. I totally get where she's coming from, like, I mean, as much as I can. But you're really hurt and you've be really hurt before. And here am I someone that you've shared your vulnerable feelings with? And then I get angry and it really hurts you. Out of all the people that should know and never be angry, which I get like, why it would be such a big betrayal and you'd really hurt right? And I get it. Look, I totally get it. And then there's something you say Then, like that is just very triggering for me, which can like kick me out of being, you know, softened and engaged is– What was the word you just use? “And I'm not going to tolerate it.” “I'm not–”. Like, there's like, there's a thing that happens where Teale starts talking about, “I'm not going to have this in my life.”
Therapist: She gets into her anger and aggression.
Figs: Yeah. And she starts making decorative, you know, statements about, like, “I'm going to– This is what I'm going to create for me.” That's where I get my feathers. My feathers like, you know, or my hair on my back as a dog. I'm like, “Oh, yeah.” Right. You know, like, that's where I'll like, rise up again.
Teale: Yeah, we've totally, we've totally had that. And, you know–
Figs: That's the worst part of our fights because now I'm like, “Okay, let's go then.” Like what? Then we really get into it. Now. I know, again, probably, we should always do therapy. When I've already, you know, when I'm exhausted. Like I shouldn't, I'm not very triggered right now. But that depth that is like the red rag to a bull for me that particular. Yeah, totally understand why you're upset and reactive, but then that line of reactivity kills me.
Therapist: The power thing. It also signifies a split, which would bring up the aloneness.
Figs: But I'm willing to scorch the earth. And do you know what I mean, verbally? In a moment? I'm like, “Well, come on then.”
Teale: Can I say something?
Figs: Go ahead.
Teale: Yeah. Well, first of all, this is really important. And, you know, and I recognize I did it just now. And maybe I've done it in session, but I'm not I'm being I'm really worked in our conflicts not to, and maybe I've failed. And I've certainly failed in the past, because I have said things like that, but you have shared with me, in repairs, or in just like, you know, the agony of the fallouts of kind of more escalated fights like this, just how damaging that is for you. And that it's really, really intolerable for you.
Teale: And I absolutely get it. I would be flipping out if you did that to me. So if I put myself in your shoes, I really, really do. I really do get it. And I think that, you know, having such– anyways it's just a conversation for another day. But it's like the fact that I do get there inside of my head. And I control myself to not say it on the outside, I think is important because I don't want to damage Figs. But I also get to that point inside of myself. And it's not a place– I'm not trying to, I'm not going to walk away. Like, again, all I want for my life is to, you know, I want I want Figs to die in my arms. I want to be in this relationship. I'm so fucking committed to it. And, you know, it's part of that type of commitment that I get to a point where I'm just like, “
You know, I love I'm so hurt and that you do this to me, and how am I safe in this thing for you to die in my arms if this is happening?” And obviously it's so one sided to hear the other part. But I think I'd like to work– maybe it's my individual therapy, it's a lot of stuff around abandonment and loss issues. I want to abandon before I'm abandoned, and you know, and I think it would be helpful for me to reorganize the narrative of my life and what I'm doing with Figs because I have no model of successful relationships going to the end, like I'm doing with him. And, and so I actually feel very, like it's a very fragile framework for myself. And so I think I'm battling, trying to understand all of that. But it made it make sense that it's devastating for Figs to hear. I don't want to do it. And most of all, I don't want to feel that way. So that's what I'd like to work at. And not that, “Figs don't make me feel that way.” But more like I'm saying, “Hey, guys, I think I need help with this part.”
Figs: Sure. I appreciate that.
Therapist: You know you both will benefit as you know with the mindfulness that lets us see the vulnerability in yourself and the other quickly.
Figs: Right. Yeah, absolutely.
Therapist: It see the primary to get to the primary more quickly and you're there.
Teale: What’s happening? Go ahead.
Therapist: Will you give me a quick snapshot of I didn't quite get the chronology of your upbringing with who was separated when I don't know if you went through that ever.
Teale: It's a bit triggering for me. But I will. What's that?
Therapist: Triggering? To talk about?
Teale: Yeah, um, but–
Therapist: You don’t need to.
Teale: Well, I think it's nice that we're going to end soon. And then I can just kind of go back into my own type of suppression. But, but yeah, so my mom and my dad, they signed the divorce paper, they've been trying for a long time to have a child, there were some, you know, just medical problems with conception. And they were both kind of this free love of the 70s and each kind of experimenting with other people because my mom was a scientist living in the Caribbean, my dad was back in Northern California. But they ultimately, you know, signed some divorce papers and, and kind of had a last hurrah, and I'm the product of that. You know, that experience after so long of trying and so many failures, and then my mom moved to Hawaii to pursue her PhD and that's where I was, that's where I was born. And then, you know, yeah, so they each had a string of other relationships after that. But I did you know, kind of, I think there's probably like, more like 90/20 or 90/10 custody. goes with my mom 90% of the time, but it's summers and Christmas, I go to California and spend time with my dad. And, so yeah, didn't feel that triggering in the end. But, yeah–
Therapist: So there’s a stepdad.
Teale: Yeah, there's a stepdad who actually I'm close to now,we're getting closer to now. But but um–
Figs: He literally lives close.
Teale: He literally lives close now. And we have a good, somewhat good relationship, very superficial relationship. But so there's him, but it was just hell, he was hell for me.
Figs: I mean, it was good. And then it was Hell.
Teale: Teah, it was good. It was good. And then it was hell. So that's just like, you know, the challenge of connection and then loss of connection was really traumatizing for me. So I think I've got, obviously, I won't go into it. But I've got some kind of like, really early trauma around loss of my dad, he came when I was born and left on like, day three of my life. And so I think I've got some really, really young wounding around that loss, you know, and then I have, I had some, you know, so I feel like I have an abandonment wound from my dad. And then I have a rejection wound from my stepdad. So those are, you know–
Teale: If we want to be open about my biggest traumas, and obviously had tons of privilege and– But anyway, you know, I also had a really, you know, really special mom throughout all of that and–
Therapist: Is she alive?
Teale: Yeah, yeah, my mom's alive. And she's part of why we're back in Hawaii. My mom just had a really serious bike accident. And so, yeah, she's, she's in she's recovering now. So you know, I'm very close with someone who has pretty significant trauma, physical trauma, she has her own a lot of emotional trauma, and then she's had kind of chronic pain for most of my life. So that's, that's me.
Therapist: How are you feeling? How are you feeling sharing all of that?
Teale: Um, good, kind of emotional at parts of it. Like there's a lot of unresolved pieces with my dad. He and I don't have a great relationship. And so it's a daily journey. I'm just being really gentle with myself about that relationship. And– I guess that’s heavy.
Therapist: To create your own family must be healing to be able to create your own family.
Teale: Absolutely. Yeah. And to have and, you know, obviously, this is also for another day, but Figs has been, you know, such a blessing in terms of how I feel protected around my dad and you know, someone– And I feel I feel Fix's commitment to me, like, you know, we talked I thought it was really powerful last week talking about, you know, kind of healing each other in different ways from some of our deeper attachment wounds. And anyway I've just– Yes it is so good to be able to make my own family and that I get to be doing it in Hawaii and that you know, kids are so special and my husband's so special.
Figs: Thanks, sweetie.
Therapist: You know part of that, there's a positive–
Teale: I want to hear you say something.
Figs: Yeah. Well no I look I'm it's very– It, you know, it touches a lot of sadness in me. Just to hear what happened to you as a kid and being abandoned and rejectedand just when you're talking like I really really felt you know, my own like tears and sadness, like for you. And it's just a good reminder like, like, I love being here and being someone now in your life that you know, that you didn't have when you're little. And so I love you. Thank you for letting me be here for you.
Teale: [laughing] Yes.
Teale: Yeah. I'm, I cannot believe that I like found Figs or he found me or whatever. I'm just so lucky. So.
Figs: Yeah, I feel very lucky too.
Therapist: I feel that there is loyalty between the two.
Therapist: I was going to say that that’s fierce Irishman in your loyalty.
Figs: Right. Yeah. yeah. You know, it's really By the way, no, no, no, like, sometimes I'm really shocked. Like, there I meet people all the time that they feel the responsibility or the loyalty of relationship is a burden. And for me, it's like, I don't know, it's like I look at it as the most beautiful– You know, it's just as beautiful inspiring thing. You know? So– yeah
Therapist: It shows. You're sending off that beautiful love.
Figs: Thank you. Yeah, love you sweetie.
Teale: Yeah, yeah, I mean for just like, I mean, I think the fierceness is obviously part of like what makes you a badass and so like, I just want you to know like, I see it yet kicking the things around and you don't he doesn't really kick things but like maybe ripping the dog food bag and like I can find the humor in that because first of all, you're really expressive physically and being huge is just amazing. But also just, you know, the passion and obviously I get it Figs has been dancing. Tom, he's been dancing like so first of all Figs is an amazing, amazing dancer. I know. Like really really really gifted dancer.
Therapist: You mean like freeform?
Figs: Yeah, freeform.
Teale: Freeform. Yeah, and, honey, I haven't seen you dance this much since this since the last couple days. Do you know it? Like he said our kids are just like, “Oh my God, , my parents are freaks.” Because we just like bust out together.
Therapist: Wait until they are teenagers.
Teale: Yeah. Oh my gosh. Like the awkward couples therapist.
Teale: Which we already are. But I was just saying that you know the passion like it comes out in a lot of ways in ways that I love and you know, getting triggered–
Figs: In ways that aren't so good.
Teale: Yeah, and there's and there's ways that I can get triggered by it and have my own
Therapist: Yeah, it's good to cover the whole spectrum today rather than just–
Figs: Exactly you know, some of it like both of us. These things are our blessings and curses wrapped up in one. Right? Like, you know, me being fiery is terrible sometimes, but it's also good and sometimes.
Therapist: That's what we're talking
Figs: Yeah. So–
Teale: And me pushing things to the last minute. Can annoying sometimes, sometimes like dinners on the table?
Figs: Right? Well, and also you make us do awesome things.
Teale: All the time.
Figs: Well, she gets it done. She may as she gets experiences done, right. Like, you know, “Let's go, we have an hour. Of course that's enough time to do something.” Which is great.
Figs: But, um, thank you, sweetie. I love you.
Teale: I love you.
Teale: I love you. Thank you.
Figs: Thank you. Love you.
[50:43 Session Ends]
Figs: So, yeah, like what was that like to listen to or watch? By the way, we never actually said that. Please email us, leave a comment, leave a review. We'd love to hear what it's like to watch us in couples therapy and to hear us blab on about ourselves.
Teale: Can you relate to myself? Can you relate to Figs? Or do you have a totally different story? And anyway, all of it is welcome. I just noticed as I'm watching, wow, it's such a meaningful moment between us.
Figs: Which moment?
Teale: Where we get to towards the end. Where it's like I can see myself, you know, it's pretty vulnerable for me to share about my family.
Figs: Right. You were really great. I really appreciate it. During the session, for those that are watching the actual video, like when you started talking about your family history I'm like, “Oooooh God.”
Teale: [laughing] What did you think was going to happen?
Figs: Well, I was imagining you were going to, you know, start crying a river. But I'm gonna be honest, I was a little worried that you are going to say we can't share this with the audience. Like I got, like, I was worried that like, oh no–
Teale: That i'm kinda private.
Figs: Yeah. You can be very private.
Teale: Yeah, exactly. I am typically kind of like a more internal, private person about my– But look at what I'm doing right now. It felt vulnerable to me. And I think there were parts of myself. I'm like, “No, don't share. I'm not ready for this.” And, did I leap over some of those parts? I think I did. I felt sturdy enough, even though I had some resistance.
Figs: Some of the parts about you feeling your abandoned parts and rejected parts as a kid? And that you can feel those parts and relationships?
Teale: Yeah, I mean.
Figs: It is okay if I keep the summary like that?
Teale: Yeah, absolutely. But I think even for me, it's talking about my attachment history where I was like, “I don't want to share those parts, those parts are private for me.” And kind of like very activated, you know?
Teale: But you are right, and it is nice, how you can tell, you know, it's kind of like looking at, oh, some of the work I've done that I'm able to say, “Oh, here's I went from this. And here's my win from that.” So maybe that'll help you as the listeners to kind of recognize, A: you can kind of learn more about Teale, you know, my history, and maybe some of that stuff connects with you, and maybe it really doesn't, but also to just see, “Wow, I claim those wounds.” It's kind of like looking at scars and being like “Fuck yeah.” You know, and you are there. And what I was gonna say is, I see myself, I need you so much in that moment. Like a therapist is not enough for me. If I was an individual therapy, I'd be, like, freaking out. And I’d say, “I need you to hug me. I need, like, you're so important to me.” Because you're this attachment figure for me now. So even just sharing this, I'm like, “I'm relying on you so much.” And you're just there, you gave me a hug, you're looking at me. And then you share your tears with me. And you know, what was it like when you started to kind of feel a lot of emotion come up inside for you, Figs?
Figs: Yeah, thank you, sweetie. So I mean, over again, I just want to reiterate that I really appreciate you. Very, very brave of you to share about yourself so openly and honestly. And you know, our listeners or viewers may not know it, because we're just doing this. That is a really big deal that you're sharing your private internal world, it's not as easy. I know, this is not as easy for you as I've made.
Figs: So in terms of what it was like, for me, you know, we had a couple of interruptions, like I noticed, like, I was feeling so much love and empathy for you when you're hurting. And I was feeling this vulnerability and like, like, my heart was, like, swelling with love. And I could feel like I was about to cry. And then our son interrupted the session.
Figs: Yeah he woke up. And then I remember thinking, “Shoot! I was just about to, like, have the thing that makes Teale happiest that I'm actually sad for because I love her so much. I don't want to be there. And it got interrupted.” I actually, thinking about it, like, you know, if you're like having sexy time, and you're getting to like the best part. And then you get interrupted, you're like, how are we gonna get back to that?
Teale: That’s a good analogy.
Figs: And then it also like, how it turns out it wasn’t so hard to get back to this place.
Teale: And that’s for another session.
Figs: Exactly. and it turns out, that's what it was like, I was worried I lost it. But, you know, because it's not as easy for me to be super, really, really soft. And stay. And that's always because I don't like to be seen there. So it's–
Teale: It’s vulnerable for you.
Figs: It's complicated. Yeah. And so when I was there with you and then it got interrupted. But then like, I really felt that again. Just in terms of, I love being able to be your person. That you can be that part of yourself that actually feels abandoned and rejected and hurt so much. And now you need me and that makes me feel so good to get the love view and support and give you all that love and care that you deserve. Yeah, so that was just really powerful and just I could see. I loved that did the the gesture. “Yes!” With your hand.
Figs: You know, reverse first bump like, “Yes!” Quarterback just threw a touchdown. It seems such a small gesture. But that's almost like this victory lap of the little kid where, you know, like, you were never there for me when I was a kid or like, rejected me. But here I get to see you really love me. You're crying for me because you love me.
Teale: It literally felt like rain on a scorched desert.
Figs: That’s sweet.
Teale: No, but legitimately, and it was like that victory like this.
Figs: Right? Anytime you see my tears. You're like, yes. And I know, because it touched you so deeply.
Teale: It did that you care that much about me. Like, I'm still integrating it, watching it. It's like, wow, you know, it's something that will continue to work wonders for me. It was a powerful place for us.
Figs: Really powerful. And you know, it's interesting watching it back, like when we had the session. I’m like, “Wow, that was so powerful and it was so intense!”
Figs: And it really was what was happening inside. This is the place that we really were, the only reason we fight is we're trying to get to this place.
Figs: And when we're not there, it feels so painful. And we're trying to get there and we got there with each other, we're like, you're hurting, and I get to love you and you felt loved by me. And we feel pretty connected, like this, like perfect paradise for the little wonderful ones inside. But you know what I was really struck by looking back at it, it doesn't look that dramatic on the outside.
Figs: So this is huge for me when I think about them with my clients because you know, I think I'm guilty of it. I know other therapists on our team can be guilty of, because we feel they we need to have them in such a deep, vulnerable place before we can go for this kind of connection.
Figs: But you can't always see what's happening inside. Like it was the deepest, most profound loving experience. And if I was the therapist, or the listener or viewer, I could have easily not seen or picked up just how important and pivotal this is between us.
Teale: Such a good point. It is such a good point. And it really is important. It feels crucial clinically for me as I think about my clients and really have a reverence and respect for– You know, it's one thing you see someone crying, see some tears come up. Whoa, you guys, we all know what it feels like to feel super sad and emotional. But that's an internal world of tears. A tiny byproduct of that, how can we really get that for someone? So I feel like it created this understanding of our clients. And also it's a bit of a trauma piece, I think for you and I. It is a little bit of a still face. You know, I see myself retelling my history and how functional and put together I look. Not like the hair and makeup, but I'm not like melting down. Your insight of how you thought I would be. That's how I felt inside.
Figs: Right? I thought you were gonna really be like, you know, needing five boxes of tissue.
Teale: Exactly. And I felt like that, like I was kind of shaky and inside, but I just look– Like okay, let me just tell this, like, it's a thing. It's a story, that internal world, and how it matches the outside? Different story. Because that's really interesting. So you think about between couples. I feel all this on the inside. Do you see me? It's like almost impossible to be able to really get it. But in this moment, you do see me, you do get it. You're feeling it every step of the way with me once we get to a certain point, right. So– Pretty intense.
Figs: That’s the last thing we want to make sure that our listeners/viewers take away is remember, this is a journey to get there. And when I say the first 90 minutes of the session, we're actually activated with each other and I'm defending myself and you're pointing out how terrible I am. You know, that got us into the realm where those vulnerable feelings are actually accessible. We haven't accessed them yet. But by being activated, they're actually here, right? Then I do actually access my vulnerability and it helped soften you. And then we don't go deeper into my vulnerability, we just– The therapist directs to you and then we start to more deeply access your wound. But here's the amazing thing, even still, it's quite messy because even though we're starting to access your vulnerability, and as we're accessing your vulnerability, it's still mixed with your reactivity. Because, you know, you say at one point that like, "I'm not gonna tolerate the anger in my life." Totally understandable, but then remember, I hear that and it can make me get out of my empathizing with you, because that feels like my trigger.
Teale: Right. It makes sense.
Figs: When it totally makes sense that your vulnerability is still mixed with the way you protect yourself. But then you can go deeper down. Because you can see I'm really with you and loving you and haven't said anything yet. You go even deeper down into your little parts that are abandoned, little parts that were rejected, and you're out of any anger and pissed offness about it, you're just in a hurt place. And I get to share just how much I love this part of you. How full of love and this desire to be there for you. Like it's a gift to me to now I get the feel my own heart, my own lightness, and know that I have love inside me and I feel so good to feel that I get to share that with you. It feels amazing as a human being even though it's vulnerable. And I'm like, you know, giggling and you're giggling because this is so vulnerable to be doing it and then you let it in and that little one inside you gets to feel, “Oh my god I'm not abandoned and rejected right now I actually loved. Yes!” And I get to see that that really means so much to you and I get to be enough. And we get to do like big fist bump or big jellyfish celebrations. Right? Like that is huge is so healing but it did take the entire journey to get there.
Teale: Yeah. Every minute of the journey.
Figs. Every minute of the journey. And so the reason I say that it's like couples often, when you're in the middle of a fight, they're like, you think like, clearly we're on the wrong path. If we're fighting online, no, like this is just it's still the right way. But just like if you've got directions in Google Maps, and you hit a traffic jam. It's like, look, I promise you remember they bought Waze, I promise you this is definitely still the fastest way we're just going to have to tolerate this traffic jam.
Figs: But the more you try and avoid it right now probably the longer the journey is going to take. Stay with the process and if you're working with someone that knows what they're doing, we can transition you to a place that you end up getting even more connected to each other than you would have gotten if we never got into the fight at all.
Teale: Yes, amen sister.
Figs: And this session is a living, breathing example of how that's possible.
Teale: Yes, yes. I love that Yeah, what a journey what a wild ride and we did come out of this way tighter than when we went in and you know I love how we stay–
Teale: I know well as you can kind of hear I am sort of a bro.
Figs: You have a bro like qualities. Especially at wrestling. You're a better wrestler than any bro.
Teale: I fight dirty, let's be real. The bro and the angry Irishman. This is our new thing.
Figs: The thing about you and wrestling– Like, your nails are like 20 times stronger than mine.
Teale: I like to call them talons.
Figs: They are talons.
Teale: And my teeth are like fangs.
Figs: You can win any wrestling match with me within a split second because you just like, your nails — [mimics scratching sound]
Teale: You guys, Figs is such a softy. He tries to bite me back because I'm pretty a fierce wrestler. But he's like a dog that doesn't have teeth. [laughing]
Figs: Wow, I’m biting as hard as I can, by the way.
Teale: It's like he can't do it. He can't do a bite. What is up with your bite? We gotta look at that. Well, I like it. In a sexy way.
Figs: But no, that's like and now we're digressing. We're obviously gonna have to do an episode about sexy time at some point.
Teale: Promises, promises.
Figs: That has not happened and, oh my God, please. I shouldn't have put us on the spot. But I guess we will at some point.
Teale: I think we will. Yeah.
Figs: But here, thank you for listening and watching and we're looking forward to sharing more in the next episode.
Teale: See you next time.
Figs: Come out in two weeks.