Figs and Teale process wounds around their daughter's difficult reaction to the early pandemic and explore the triggers and cultural context around their parenting style differences.
Figs and Teale process wounds around their daughter's difficult reaction to the early pandemic and explore the triggers and cultural context around their parenting style differences.
Figs: Hey, welcome back to Come Here to Me with Figs
Teale: and Teale! I forgot who I was for a minute.
Figs: What am I supposed to say?
Teale: [Laughing] Who am I?
Figs: You know, actually, we just hit record really quickly because I thought like, we're already having this, I thought, a really good conversation. Why don't we share?
Figs: What did you say what you were saying about?
Teale: Sure. Figs is such an important mentor for me-
Figs: That's not what I meant that you're going to compliment me. That's why I said quick, quick record. Okay. Say something.
Teale: Okay. I'll talk about myself that we were talking about making fun of ourselves, in our sessions with our clients. And I was like, “oh, yeah, let me give you an example of when I thought I did this the other day,” and here I am, I’ve been a couples therapist for like, what is it like a solid, six years worked with like, hundreds.
Figs: It’s been more than six years.
Teale: Well I’ve been a therapist for longer, but specifically in just couples.
Figs: Like, almost 90% couples? Yeah.
Teale: And doing, you know, a lot of hours per week. So it's been a lot, but I was like, “oh, yeah, let me give you this example.” Because I talked about our relationship just a little bit with my clients, and this example of me making fun of myself was actually me putting Figs down. [Teale laughing]. And he's like, he was so good about it, he's like, “oh, yeah, you're, you're kind of making fun of me.” And I was like, “oh, well, I mean, I'm just trying to like, counter shame people that they're not so bad, like, you're this bad. [Teale laughing].
Figs: Counter shame in look, that I have a crap spouse and partner too.
Teale: That's what I've been doing. And I've been thinking, gosh, I'm so you know, transparent. I'm doing some good transparency about this. And he's like-
Figs: Well, one of the things I do, and I try and guide the therapists on our team, to be able to do the same, is it's very hard to reflect somebodies reactive self, like the parts of them, that come out in relationship to make things worse. And to make sure that someone just doesn't feel criticized or like that they're seen negatively. And because if someone feels really criticized, they're not going to be able to take in the reflection, right? They're not going to be able to take in this feedback you're giving them. So something that I do is, [laughing] because it's so easy for me, [Teale laughing] is, whenever someone tells me like, “look, I was really upset, and I yelled at my partner. Oh, you know, I was really upset, and so I left the house and didn't talk to them for four hours. Oh, I was really upset, so I went to bed and pulled the covers up my head,” whatever it is, like, honestly, there aren't too many things someone could tell me that I'm not like, “oh, yeah. Oh, have I done that,” [both laughing] and then some, you know.
Teale: And it not only helps your clients, it helps our therapists on our team, we have these amazing therapists that work with us. It helps me so much like every time I'm feeling crap, like sometimes I just, you know, couples therapy, there's never a dull moment.
Figs: No, there's lots of opportunities to feel like you're a failure.
Teale: Exactly. And you sometimes just need hooking up but phase has been there those six couples therapists years with me, just saying, “oh Teale, here's when I was crap.” And like, it helps me so much just feel like “oh, I'm actually good. And okay, Figs has had a hard experience of this.” But I was just telling Figs, because he kind of was like, “oh, so you're making fun of me.” And I was like, “oh, my God.” The reason why he wanted to turn the video on [Teale laughing] is because I said, “honey, I just said, my first successful moment of truly making fun of myself.” And I did it twice.
Teale: And it was like, I'm pretty funny, Figs is really funny. But I'm pretty funny.
Figs: Thank you.
Teale: And I made this couple laugh, so hard!
Figs: So good!
Teale: Like, it was like this moment, and I could tell they were very disarmed, and I felt good about it. It was just like, so I was kind of bragging to you about how I made fun of myself and you were like, so proud of me. I love that's like- we want to give each other props.
Figs: Well, I love that I just appreciate- I mean, obviously, you giving me credit, as always nice, you know, for helping you. And I don't think we both fully grasp just how hard it is to truly see the parts of yourself that you know you might be proud of. And then really own them [Teale laughing] and tell them to someone else. But it's such a wonderful gift because like what you're doing is you're helping them make it a little easier to shine their own light on you know, there are stuff I do in relationships that are really hard. And I don't have to beat myself up about it, nor do I have to deny it, or dilute it.
Figs: Because one of the things I notice often is sometimes I'm trying to help people to really see look, you really did like, you did get really critical of your partner, and they will think they're actually helping themselves by going “well, you know, I wasn't actually being critical Figs I just had some questions I needed answers to.” And I'm like, look, you're actually acting against your own interest right now. It would actually serve you better to see I was critical, you are right, now interesting, because that will actually help their partner go, “oh my God, thank god they can see themselves.”
Teale: Can I give you an example of this?
Figs: Yeah yeah, please.
Teale: Like this is such an important- but I'm also like laughing because earlier today, earlier session, yes I work on the weekends. I told a client I said, so it's basically like you kicking someone in the dick and saying, “oh, what? Well, they just needed a little kick in the dick.” [Laughing].
Figs: Exactly. Exactly.
Teale: I thought it was like, really inappropriate. [Laughing].
Figs: Very inappropriate. [Teale laughing] I’m sorry for anybody who are sensitive to hearing about other human beings being kicked there.
Teale: [Laughing] Well now I am embarrassed that I shared that.
Figs: Well, look, I’d rather be kicked in the dick then the balls though, I have to be honest.
Teale: Well I should have said that now.
Figs: Getting kicked in the testicles is more painful.
Figs: But good to know that that's how you're talking to your clients.
Figs: No, it’s so good. No, it's absolutely good. Yeah, look, our was it? Jesus- [Teale laughing] the expression that the client said, like, this is a long time ago, that I had never heard before that really shocked me, like it was really shocking. They said their partner was trying to explain how they're not actually being mean. And this client, this particular client, their partner said, “don't piss on my head and then tell me it's rain.” [Both laughing] I was like, oh, I was like, I didn't even know I was like, oh she got you there, that was a good comeback. There was not my- I would have to like, applaud. No, actually, I was horrified. It was pretty harsh in the moment, but it was like, whoo, but I like that word. You know, let's say like, you know, I was blaming you, criticizing, and you're saying like “Figs, why are you being mean? I'm like, “oh, me.”
Teale: Exactly. Exactly!
Figs: Like, that's actually worse than like, owning, “yeah, I'm in my reactive place, and I cannot stop myself from being Mr. Blamey-pants right now, [Teale laughing]. And, like, that's actually better than saying, “oh, I'm not being mean.”
Teale: This is-but this is one of the things, and listen, I know it's hard for Figs to take in, you know, validation, but this is one of the reasons why you are a brilliant couple therapist.
Figs: Okay..okay, stop being nice to me.
Teale: Don't, stop it. Let me finish my thought, because don't you worry, in the session coming up, I'm not too nice. Okay, so this, this is just warming you up darlin.
Figs: You're telling me the other side, too, but no, I appreciate you. being nice to me.
Teale: Well, I'm gonna get to it. Let me get to it. This idea of using humor, like, here I am for six years helping other people and believe me, I'm a good couples therapist, I think I am-
Figs: You’re amazing.
Teale: Whatever, you know, I'm not saying I'm crap. I'm just saying, oh my gosh, doing all this work thinking I'm being who I am, vulnerable, authentic, crying with people, laughing with people. But here I am thinking I'm like doing some vulnerable reframe. And I'm talking about you.
Teale: And I'm not talking about me. It just helps me claim it-well look at what my husband did you know, or something like that. And it's just like, it's so simple. And it's so right here, and it just helps me claim it with humor. And that's one of the brilliant things is that this way you make fun of yourself, you throw yourself under the bus. And I started today, and boy, it felt good. And I got some good laughs.
Figs: Yeah, that was a high five. And because you're wondering what’s slapping.
Teale: Slapping something [laughing].
Figs: I knew as soon as I said slapping that you would take it in a direction that is not appropriate for our podcast. But yeah, let's talk about our session, and that was just the conversation we're having. So I felt like shit, we should share some of what we're actually talking about before we hit the record button.
Figs: Yeah, we talk about couples counseling all day long.
Figs: What a wonderful life we have, right? But so come here, this shorthand again, for-
Both: Come Here to Me.
Figs: Now I'm going to get all conscious about saying it all the time. In this therapy session that we just had two days ago. We talked about parenting.
Teale: We did talk about parenting. I wonder if you'd be open to sharing kind of after that you were sort of thinking like, “oh, okay, another one about how Figs is this bad guy.”
Figs: Yeah, we'll look at the start of the session. You know, when you told me, “look, I have a list of different things that we could talk about.” I'm like, oh, Jesus, right. [Teale laughing]. This is great. Like what I hear when you say the list, these are list of grievances and a list of further evidence to be given to our therapists. About what a shit partner and spouse I am, right?
Figs: Well, there was another part of me that was relieved that you had something to talk about just because I didn't really have anything that was really burning.
Teale: I always do so no worries.
Figs: That's good.
Teale: So never feel bad about- [both laughing] Here's a little side note for our audience, people that process like me in relationship, we can often be list people.
Figs: List of things that are wrong.
Teale: List of things that need to be resolved.
Figs: Or could get better.
Teale: And I have seen clients come in with lists, and it's always the person who processes around those lines of the relentless lover, the pursuer-
Figs: Right, the one that can feel abandoned and not considered more than their partner typically.
Teale: Yeah, exactly. So oftentimes, we can process like that. And that scares the crap out of our partners, I was in a good place, and I just wanted to be really conscious about how I brought this stuff up. Because I don't want figs to collapse into shame and being pissed off, I want to have like a collaborative conversation. So what I thought was interesting is that after the session ended, like the taste in your mouth was kind of like, “okay, that was good.” And like another thing where things has this problem, and I kind of felt like bad like,” oh, gosh.”
Figs: Well, it's about where it starts. The first thing I was left with, “oh, my God, another session, where we talked about how I'm the one who's difficult. And because of the way I'm difficult, or I do things wrong, it makes everything worse for everybody else.”
Figs: That was the story I was in.
Figs: Again, this is my perception and not saying it's true. But the perception I was living with was, “oh my god, we did another session that was predominantly about the way I'm crap.”
Figs: How I make things difficult for everybody.
Teale: Yeah, that’s what he was sort of initially thinking. And then of course, that felt really bad to me. And I thought really differently. But I did see what he was saying. And so I kind of felt empathic. I didn't- well, I was really struck by the moments in the session where I was sort of owning something that felt really bad, and I felt really ashamed of. So you know, and yeah, and we'll get into that with the clip. But I think one of the really important things to share as well, is that this was a successful way [Teale Laughs] of me bringing things up, because so often in parenting struggles that Figs and I have, it's so messy, and we don't really go back that often to it or Figs kind of as a capitulate to me because I'm strong and, but this wasn't about you-
Figs: Strong willed.
Teale: Strong willed, and strong smellin’.
Figs: [Laughing] Oh jeez
Teale: [Laughing] It’s really humid today! I do have my rose deodorant
Figs: You do actually often have way too much like essential oil, you're like a little too hippie, right? Like you constantly like lavender rose, what did you go rose such and such?
Teale: I don't know what you're talking about. And I actually don't do essentials-
Figs: And you also don’t know how to turn your watch off. Like you put your watch on silent.
Teale: I’m like a technological egypt.
Figs: I am glad you said that, not me. If I said that now, we would have to change this introduction session into a session.
Teale: A processing session. But hey, I felt very different and what was so helpful was watching it back. And what Figs and I were really struck by was how traumatizing it was for us to talk about parenting, and actually a part that included our amazing six year old daughter, Grace. And with that said, we're going to talk about some challenges Figs, and I have each in parenting setting boundaries, sticking to consequences, planning on the front end, how we navigate some conflict between our daughter and son together and how he and I navigate conflict, some parenting differences and parenting similarities. We are going to talk a little bit more specifically about our daughter and a part of her mental health that was affected in relation to COVID.
Figs: Yeah, the pandemic and lockdown.
Teale: Yeah, and I actually have saved this as a surprise for Figs because he said, well, did you get to talk to grace because we wanted to see how she felt about us sharing parts of our-
Figs: Grace is six.
Teale: Grace is six, our therapy session that included information about her kind of vulnerable information about her. And you know what she told?
Figs: What she say?
Teale: She said, “mom, if it would help other kids that had as much worry as me and help other moms and dads, or other parents, I would be happy if you shared it with other people.”
Figs: Aww that’s so sweet.
Teale: It just blew me away! I was just like, “aww Grace, thank you.”
Teale: Yeah, because this is, you know, it's just private, but it also- it's to help other kids and other families who had a situation like we had to learn how to work with it. And we just had to work as parents in general and fix it. I don't have it figured out as you'll hear, but we've got some ideas.
Figs: Thanks Teale, like, I'm hoping that us sharing about our challenges with parenting and just being really honest and both what's difficult for us but also how we can feel bad about ourselves inside. And people getting to see us talk about the challenges we had with finding out, you know, our daughter had this acute onset OCD due to the pandemic, it was really hard, it is a hard thing to talk about. And so I'm just hoping that us sharing with you might make it a little easier for you to talk to your partner, spouse, and acknowledge to yourself and each other that look that was really, really hard with like, even if it's ongoing or past tense that even if we're surviving, and we're doing all the right things, it doesn't mean we shouldn't slow down and really feel “wow, this is really hard,” and just be with each other and how hard it is.
Teale: Absolutely. I mean, it really makes me feel the privilege of having very able bodied kids. And, you know, I'm just thinking about all the families out there with more complicated neuro diverse issues and physical complications and psychological complications, right? We just dipped into this world and it blew us away, we were not really expecting it. And as you'll see, it touched really deep places of shame for both Figs and I, that this happened. And you'll get to see a little bit more about what that was like for us. But we navigated this session, I think in a really potentially helpful way for other people.
Figs: It was very helpful for us. So I'm, you know, it was a really fun bonding experience for us. And something that I thought was just going to be a Figs is terrible.
Figs: But so yeah, so look, let's watch it. And again, don't ever hesitate to email us our write to us comment.
Teale: And maybe you've had experiences similar or different, or have a question about this. Yeah, we're beginners and learners and a lot of these things. So yeah.
Figs: We are, especially with the parent that came.
Teale: Yes, aww.
Figs: So let's let-
Teale: Rock-me- daddy!
Figs: Rock-me-daddy, play the tape.
Teale: So it just I think it will just help me because you know, as kind of pursuer, I can have, like, you know, a list of like things that feel, [Figs chuckles] you know, like a, like disconnecting things that I want to work on, and I want you to work on, I want us to work on together. And so I'm just gonna say it so I don't have to hold that list by myself. I'm not gonna say a whole list, I'm just gonna say a couple things.
Figs: Go on.
Teale: Do you not want me to do-
Figs: No, I do. But look, part of me is happy that you have a list of things to work on, and part of me is obviously dreading it, like both things are true, like when you say I have a list, I hear, “do you have a list of complaints or evidence of my badness” but so yeah, but this is fine, that's all. Go ahead, I don't want to interrupt your flow any farther.
Teale: Yeah, well, just remember, it's always a cycle. I don't see myself as an angel in the relationship. Right now I'm not, but sometimes I do.
Figs: I know.
Teale: Okay, so some things that I'm excited for us to talk about as a group are sex and intimacy.
Figs: Oh come one, you can’t put that one straight out.
Teale: [Laughing] Well, I’m not saying we need to talk about that today, I’m just saying let's hold it all together.
Teale: The second one is, and it's a little bit more like, up for me right now. Is parenting and like, maybe parenting differences between Figs and I. And I personally feel like I'm coming out of like, what has been a really hard period with my son between myself and him. And, you know, I thought we might talk a little bit about that, and a little bit about what can happen between Figs and our daughter, actually, or whatever you want to talk about. I'm happy to start and talk kind of about where and how like this, you know, it's interesting, because we, um, we did- it was kind of cute, like we did a- we did a couples sessions with this parenting coach at the beginning of Coronavirus. And she was like, “do you think you need couples therapy? Or do you need to do this-?” [Teale laughing]. No, but we kind of discovered that, because we were like, we realized something, we had a really big insight about some of the struggles that come up for us or in parenting. And around kind of what it can look like maybe on the outside like one of us siding more with one of our children and the other one siding more with the other one.
Figs: Right, right, that's an issue. That's an issue for us.
Teale: That's an issue for us. So it sounds like maybe want to talk about that?
Figs: Sure. We can talk about parenting.
Teale: Yeah, let's talk about parenting.
Figs: Okay, go.
Therapist: Last thing you said about parenting was taking sides, is that where the juice is?
Figs: I mean, I guess, that's a good way to entry point.
Teale: Yeah, maybe we'll break-I'll break it down for you like just what, what can happen and I think that there's a lot of, you know, anyway, we'll wrap- hopefully we'll do a little bit more of a 360 degree.
Teale: I think it's different, I actually think we've grown a lot since we kind of identified this as a negative cycle or a little bit.
Figs: No, I yeah- it's interesting you bring it up now, I feel a little bit of backsliding into the sides thing this week, for me.
Figs: So maybe you're not but I feel a little triggered back into that.
Teale: It’s funny, because last night- so yesterday morning, so our Sunday
Figs: You say taken sides like this to be like, we've gotten in trouble where I feel like you're, you, you think I'm unfair on grace our oldest daughter, and I feel you can be unfair on Kian, our son.
Teale: Exactly. Yeah. So yeah, we both feel like-
Figs: I'm too harsh on Grace, and I can think Kian gets blamed for everything.
Teale: Yeah, exactly. And that I can be like, “wow, you're really harsh on Grace.” And then I can be a little bit more like, you know, lovey dovey with her, and then I can be, I feel like, because Figs is a little easier on Kian I can be a little harder on him. You know, there, I think there's just a weird- there's a weird dynamic that's formed and part of like, listen, I have so much I am, I'm floored by how much I have to learn as a parent, and I don't have it figured out. And, you know, listen, if people, if people looked at my parenting from the outside, they'd be like, this is a great parent. Like my mom tells me that, people tell me that, they like give me positive feedback. I do think I have strengths, but I still threaten, bribe, I still guilt.
Figs: Threatened, like, you won't get to, you won't get to watch TV, or something like that.
Teale: Yeah, we weren't, we're not gonna be able to read a book tonight unless you get your- and there’s nothing like, there's no we don't use corporal punishment, we don't we don't put our kids in timeout.
Figs: We did have a thinking chair, but that backfired because he took it as a punishment. “I have the punishment chair!” It wasn't supposed to be a punishment chair but-
Teale: I actually think that it did, it did what we needed it to do at that time. And I think he grew, I think he grew as a result of it. Anyway, the point is that we are both learning a lot as parents.
Teale: I had some really negative judgments of you this week, just in how you were interacting with our daughter, a couple days in particular, and I get into just a very critical place. And I get really worried and, and, you know, I'm kind of in that story of Figs and Grace and get worried, you know, about the future and their relationship. And I'm sure, yeah, I'm sure I know that I know that you've been worried about how I can interact with Kian. And, you know, and I think that you had legitimate concerns, I don't think it's been good between him and I, and I think we're kind of coming out of that. So anyway, I'm scared to say I had negative judgment of you, because I don't want you to feel like bad. I just want to be able to talk about it, you know, in a way, in a more open way.
Therapist: You want to say, do you want to say what you saw as example of what you felt when you saw it?
Teale: Maybe, why don't you, if you what, why don't you lead us in that I feel like I've kind of said enough and don't want to like, you know, shame you I want you to maybe say how do you feel about how you interacted with Grace?
Figs: Well, yeah, I think what you're kind of referring to is there like I can get frustrated with Grace in a couple of different ways. You know, like I find her complaining and being unhappy and asking for stuff. Relent, you know, I find her to be relentless at times that I can be really impatient and mad at her critical of her in moments, like, you know, and I get it like in a moment like this, that somehow my ex-, I don't think my expectations of her in those moments align with what is a fair expectation to have of her. But for some reason I get upset or hurt when I think she should be able to respond to a moment differently than she's doing. I have a much greater expectation of her than I do have Kian, like our three year old. So I can be mad at her, critical of her, or disappointed or, you know, she knows how to say, “oh, sorry, sorry, sorry.” But she's not, she knows what to say to words, but it's like, you know, she's just saying the-
Teale: She is very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very persistent.
Teale: And it'll be a strength as it is a strength, it will be a strength.
Figs: Like her mother.
Figs: You’re very persistent.
Teale: I am, thank you, can we work on you right now?
Figs: No but look, well, here's something that happened yesterday-
Teale: She pisses me off, and what I'm saying is like, I have moments where I lose my shit at Grace too.
Figs: Well, maybe it'd be easier to describe yesterday because I feel bad about the way I talked to her. Like I picked her up from school, and from the moment I picked her up from school, she's like, “can I go to Ellie’s house, can I go to Ellie’s house, text Ellie’s mom!” And like, I just like-
Teale: She has a new friend.
Figs: It hurts, that there's no time to be like, I'm happy to see you. It's just like, I want to go to Ali’s house, and then we get home. And then it's like, she's like, I don't know where you home yet? And then she’s doing it to you.
Teale: Yeah, she starts asking me.
Figs: And then she's asking me again. And at some point, oh, and then you said, “look, it's up to you and Figs,” and I don't know what to do. And so I was feeling powerless inside and she's asking me and at some point, I said, “Jesus, do not ask me any more, we're not going to Ellie’s, you're not gonna go please stop asking me. I've had enough of you complaining. Stop trying to get away from us.” So then you know, I said it to her frustrated like that. And look, I don't think I should have talked to her like that.
Therapist: Well, I mean, I think particularly the last sentence could have been shaming for her.
Figs: Well, absolutely. Absolutely, I don't think I should have talked to her like that. And no, yeah, it's terrible. Like, I wish I was, again, better able to not feel overwhelmed. When she's asking me the same thing over and over again. Right? I wish, you know-
Therapist: I wonder if there was a trigger?
Figs: Well, one of the things that happens with look-
Teale: Can I just say something?
Figs: Go on, yeah, yeah.
Teale: What I think is, is you and I need to do work on the front end, so that we're doing kind of proactive parenting instead of reactive parenting. I deferred it to you because I literally was super overwhelmed. I was like, “should you go to Ellie's house?” I have a session like this, you know-
Teale: But she doesn't go into this person's house, they go play outside, they, you know, it's a new friend, and it's really exciting for Grace to have a new friend, she's in a new place, the girl happens to be in her class, they're very different from us, Grace has been introduced to Barbies, which is something that we really resisted. So it's all sorts of like- and the little girl is fabulous, and, you know, can challenge Grace in ways that we find a little hard. So there's just a lot of mixed feelings. And so like that-
Therapist: I like the front end idea. I think that you guys are getting on the same page.
Figs: It's actually what I was gonna say, I actually think going back to the earliest days of our parenting issues. Like it's not, to me, the way I interpret, like, kind of make sense of why I was less resourced in that moment is sometimes, like, I think back to when Grace was two, and you would say, “go get Grace dressed.” And then Grace does not want to get dressed, and I would feel like you gave me an impossible task, like, you know, and she really doesn't want me to dress her. I remember it was always just like, look, we have to leave in five minutes. And Grace has to be dressed, right? And I'm like, I can't do that. Like, I would literally be like, I'm not, that is like, and if I don't do it, you're gonna be upset, I always felt like there was this thing I was asked to do that I'm not capable of doing.
Figs: Um, so I'm left now I’m going to have to force Grace, I'm going to like literally have to, like, hold her down and put socks on as she's fighting me. Or turn like, it just feels like an impossible situation. And so yesterday, so there isn't a there isn't an immediate on the front end relational piece between you and I, I didn't know what to do. And I was overwhelmed with her asking me over and over again. And then I had asked her to ask you, [Figs laughing] and then you sent her back to me.
Teale: Which we don't do very often.
Figs: It was, it was a bad setup on the front end.
Teale: Go ask your, you know, it's like sometimes, like when I'm in session, Figs is in charge. If she asks me something, I do say ask your dad, he's the one in charge. Like, I'm not gonna make a rule for their time when I'm not available. So we do that, and I think it's functional. But I think yesterday it was not quite functional. And it was a little out of it. Like I was like, I just didn't know what to do. But listen, I'm just grateful that we're having this conversation. I feel really grateful for it. And we're taking- you're being very good as we talk about it.
Figs: I feel really bad, there's no, there's no defense, there's no excuse for getting that frustrated with Grace all of a sudden, for whatever reason, I do feel like sometimes weather things I'm asked to do that I find it hard to see how it's going to be possible. And that's where, like if I start if I feel powerless, again, not saying that, obviously I don't think this is good, but I'm more likely to have one big reaction on the outside you know, just because I don't know how to handle- it's literally my brain is frying like I literally don't know how to do this like doing this is probably going to be worse than not doing it but not doing it is not okay. Like sitting in the middle of that I kind of frickin- I kind of have a little bit of a fit, like, you know, when our daughter was two she wouldn't wear shoes. And I remember in the middle of winter in San Francisco walking down the street and bare feet. Right? And this woman saying under her breath, this woman walked by and went “shoeeees” to me.
[Therapist and Figs laughing]
Figs: Like, you know, isn't this obvious? Yeah. Oh, exactly.
Teale: It’s like “Thanks I know!”
Figs: Hey, I'm like “hey, you put them on her because I can't do it.” Like, but that's like, I wouldn't be in these- look, if I walk her around without shoes I'm in trouble, if I don't walk her to where we need to go I'm in trouble. And that's a moment where I'm likely to, I'd like be really frustrated. And look, I feel terrible, I feel terrible that it impacts my daughter negatively. Look, yesterday Grace's like “daddy, you take some time to relax” right? Like even the fact that she says stuff like that I feel really terrible, right? Like that shouldn't be something in an ideal world that she has to be aware of daddy's mood. Right?
Therapist: Well, the two things that I think we've talked about that help you is the front end stuff.
Figs: Exactly. And the other thing that will help is the triggers. You know.
Figs: Right. When you say the triggers, what do you mean? I understand the front end stuff between Teal and I.
Teale: Front end stuff is you and me but also us communicating with Grace. “Hey Grace, here's how many audio books you can listen to a day.” “Hey, Grace, here are the days that you can hang out with Ellie.”
Figs: That’s the front end stuff, but what's the trigger stuff? Like what do you mean with a trigger?
Therapist: That was like from the last session, like what happened with you in the neighbor and the dog?
Figs: And that makes sense, but when you say triggers, do you, like help me- like, you know, so the front end stuff seems like, “oh, yeah, we could work on the front end to be better prepared. So I'm not feeling powerless in a moment so that I'm reacting.” Right? But, you know, that all makes sense that we could do as much as possible to limit those things. But the trigger part, like triggers are going to come off. I mean, look, I can, I can work out, I can eat better, sleep well, you know.
Teale: Well, a trigger would be, correct me if I'm wrong here, is like, Grace not wanting to spend time with us of her-
Figs: I understand that, but maybe, you know, usually, I'm not that focused on the actionable part of something. But when you say the other there are two things you can do. One is planning on the front end. And then the second is the trigger part.
Therapist: What I mean is like to start to say, for example, what makes me so reactive, when she says, “I don't want to go home, I want to go to my friend's house,” or, what happens to me when I get overwhelmed.
Therapist: And feel like I don't have an answer for whether she should go to the friend's house or go home.
Figs: You mean just get to know what's really happening inside.
Therapist: Well know how you respond, and being more mindful about how you respond, even if you don’t know.
Teale: One of those places is how you and I interact like your fear and anxiety about am I going to be disappointed like Figs, you know, like we've talked about he can be more prone to you know, let the kids watch TV he knows that I'm going to be disappointed if I come down from my session and they've been watching TV. Like so, It's kind of like your fear of disappointing me and me being critical of you.
Teale: You know that it helps me understand you know, the bind that you can feel like you're in and you know.
Figs: And they did only one hour of TV this week.
Teale: Well, I gave Kian TV because every time I needed to nap. But, but it actually helps me if you do just one hour of TV a week. It really helps because I can then give one hour of TV a week you know, with 20 minutes of a show while I sleep in the middle of the day because I've been waking up really early here.
Teale: So, but I did see you repair with Grace. I did hear you and I think that means something to her but I guess there's a kind of ache in my heart like you said that she is someone that knows that you have moods. And that, and I think, you know, there was a period of time when we we went before we moved to Hawaii, it's like sounds like such a luxurious life and it really has been, you know, there's been a luxury.
Figs: We’re very fortunate.
Teale: We’re very fortunate we, we went to Portland for a month, you know, working the staycation kind of during the pandemic, and we won't go into it, but our daughter had an acute OCD.
Figs: epidemic, pandemic induced OCD
Teale: OCD, which is something that will like, like OCD is part of her, you know, physiology.
Therapist: And she’s seven? Six or seven?
Teale: She’s six.
Figs: She is 99% better, she had, like very sudden, maybe was, you know, moving from San Francisco to Portland was a much bigger deal.
Teale: Huge. It makes sense that something happened.
Figs: But she's 99% better.
Teale: She'd been so stable, and then suddenly, we had this thing where she wouldn't touch doorknobs and she would hold spit in her mouth, because-
Figs: So yeah, she thought the water inside her body was even dirty. It was really scary.
Teale: She would have phobias about spiders, spiders and poisons and germs.
Figs: She would get glitter on her and she'd be freaking out that we, you know, you can't wash the glitter off.
Therapist: That whole feeling was in the ethos in the first part of the pandemic.
Figs: I know, listen, look, I was a chronic hand sanitizer, sanitizing the kids hands when they touched every railing I'm following after them when we were-
Therapist: Washing the groceries.
Figs: Washing the groceries, you know.
Teale: But we went really big like a lot of us did. But we actually did family therapy between Figs and I, and Grace and Kian to kind of help heal the narrative that mommy and daddy were really scared at the beginning of this and that it makes sense it scared you guys. Anyway, so the whole point, kind of bringing it back, that it's kind of an important topic for us, we'll probably revisit what happened with Grace.
Figs: It was really terrifying.
Teale: And It's 98% like symptoms are gone for her. But there is a piece inside where her anxiety can manifest in specific ways. And, you know, and I would say that I'm someone who has experienced the obsessive and compulsive part. So that's something in it is a genetically passed piece. So that's something that I have that I believe that Grace was influenced by. And I think Figs has some obsessive pieces. Not, I wouldn't say that isn't the same exact way where it can be kind of more on the counting, you know, weirdness, but actually healing Grace has helped me heal some of my OCD.
Figs: Right, it’s been amazing to learn some of the cognitive behavioral pieces as being really helpful.
Therapist: What did you do in a nutshell?
Figs: Well, one of the most amazing things is just is not reassuring people helping them find that voice inside themselves. Like if someone says “is this clean?” It’s just asking them, do you have a voice inside yourself that knows it's clean?
Figs: Which again, it's not but you know, at first we were like, I would literally be- she's like, “is this clean?” And I'd be licking it!
Figs: Like, I'm like, “look how clean this is!”
Teale: And your kid is like, “is it safe? Did someone sneeze on me?” And all you say is like, “of course they didn't, no honey,” giving them hugs. But what happens for the OCD person, it's like, they actually feel like they can't trust you.
Teale: They think your lying to them.
Figs: You're denying like, again, if you think about the OCD person as a separate person inside them, and then you keep telling them that you're invalid. Like they just learned yet they're like, I better just put this on the ground now because clearly you're not going to actually um, so yeah, exactly like validating the OCD one, the one that’s scared and then seeing like, “hey, is there anyone else in there?” Yeah, like, you know, yeah.
Teale: We worked with a great specialist.
Figs: That was really helpful.
Teale: And we did workbooks. We did. We did books about worry. And I feel like-
Figs: She loves the work books. I feel like we should read those.
Teale: Exactly. I feel like Grace came into our time in Hawaii, I feel like she came into her current school experience in a stronger place. I mean, she has an awareness of mental illness and health, mental health and like Figs and I were really scared for time. But going back to the point, which is that when this was happening figs and I both had our world's turned upside down because I I'm like, shit, I have all these things, not just since the pandemic, I've been doing some weird shit, “don't touch money Grace, wash your hands!” You know, like, it's part of my OCD to have some ways that I leaned in, and it wasn't too extreme, but it was enough your kids notice. And so I just felt like shit. I'm like, “oh, my God, I have created this in her,” and plus that genetic component, I'm like, I didn't realize this was my thing. And now I realize and it's like I, you know, so I had this big like, oh, vulnerable, like crack in my heart. You felt really bad about being so extreme about the hand sanitizer and the grocery washing.
Figs: Right. And talking about it openly like, you know, the way like- I didn't realize how Grace took in ev-ry-thing, right? Because she said nothing, she seemed totally unaffected until she was affected.
Teale: Exactly! Grace was like, seemed oblivious to- like, yeah, she's like, she's a visionary child. And she's not her feet aren't always on the ground, so she just was like, no recognition. But like you said, and it was like, but when it dropped it was like boom [explosion sound]. Another part of this is that you started, you started to really analyze your behavior with her and you, because when COVID first started, we were so stressed and all like all of us were. And Figs said, “you know, I think my frustration has been a part of you took this on”
Figs: it's scary to think that the way I can be frustrated whether, you know, has made our nervous system more prone to being anxious-
Therapist: Before you really knew the level of OCD that she was suffering with, you kind of got impatient with her.
Figs: Well, yeah, like I said, there's been I would have unrealistic expectations, not grounded in where she is developmentally, probably all like, for a long time, right?
Teale: This was before the OCD, just to be clear, Tom, it wasn't like, oh, once it started then Figs was really frustrated with her. It was like, we were both looking at who we had been as parents and some of our weaknesses, our challenges-
Figs: Is there some way that I’ve interacted with Grace made her limbic system more scared, like alert or something, you know, which is hard to look at you know?
Therapist: How have your repairs been with Grace? How have they worked?
Figs: I mean, I think repairs are in- I mean, again, pretty good. And the terms of look, you know, they, you know, I I'm able to acknowledge and admit, look, I was I'm really sorry, I talked to you that way I look at you know, like, I wasn't able to be there for you in the way you need and make sense. Your feelings are really hurt, like, you can tell me about it, I'm really sorry. I'm here now, I love you.
Teale: And she just loves Figs. I mean, she's not like- and she loves me, like just, we both had to work on repairing with her like-
Teale: And that's part of what we did in a facilitated way, which I think was really strong for us and our family. I think, and, I think that what do you- if you want to stay with that, I didn't want to cut you off. But I think it's brave to say like you're saying right now and like I can feel inside of me. Oh, my God. And you know, we're ways that I was neurotic, how did that form Grace's OCD? Just like in ways that I was frustrated, how did that inform Grace's OCD? So it's a really vulnerable place.
Teale: And and you were just saying it's kind of hard to talk about it, because-
Figs: Well, I was- I feel terrible to think that some of my reactivity has impacted Grace, which of course it does, we know it does, like that's the way it works, right? That as parents we impact in good ways and bad ways our children, right? And it's still really, really hard. But in terms of repairing just to be like, again, you know, the one silver lining is on the back end, I feel you know, I'm pretty good at seeing my shadow and my negative parts and acknowledging them fully and taking responsibility for it, you know. I wish that it won't happen again, but I'm pretty good at repairing.
Therapist: Does she take it in?
Figs: I think so, I think she really takes it in, you know.
Teale: I think she does too. And I think she's very forgiving, and yeah, I think what Figs and I just want to, you know, bringing it back to the cycle that happens between he and I, you know, I think we're both kind of in like, we're both yawning we have like, so I think it's- traumatizing to talk about-
Figs: It’s hard, it’s terrible to talk about and think about the way it negatively impacted our children. And by the way, like, I feel bad talking about Grace's OCD, and it is a factor and you know, this thing that's a trigger. Like, look, she gets something in her head, like suddenly now it may not be about like, “is this safe, is this safe?” But if she's like, “I want to go to my friend's house!”
Teale: It's this idea, its persistence.
Figs: It's pretty obvious, it's you know, she’s gonna be very hard to get her off that track. Right? And that's, you know, I'm not so, I can feel worn down [deep exhale].
Teale: It does, It does. And I'm with you here, there's no way that I'm not like, “Jesus fucking Christ, stop it!”
Therapist: We have a couple of strong willed daughters and deal with them a lot with mixed deals like “okay, today, you go to your friend's house, but tomorrow is a family day.”
Figs: Right, yeah. Well see, this is interesting you say that part of why I have a big plays for Grace and I have struggled with each other, and this way of saying like, I haven't always had a realistic sense of what I should expect of her is I make deals with her that it wasn't fair to expect her to carry through. Like, you know, like, you know, that she's not, she's just you know, that six is getting a little better, but if she agrees to something on the front end, like because she wants what she wants, like, she's not going to necessarily, well, want to like want to follow through on the back end. You know?
Teale: And I think there's a piece here that both of us are working on persevering on, which is following through with boundaries wide set. And, you know, that's been a work in progress for me, too. I like this idea, but you know, the thing, I think the key word of what you just said and I think is really important is looking at expectations.
Teale: I think sometimes I can feel very triggered because, even it happened the other day with something, with reading and Grace's learning he's like, “why doesn't she know this?”
Figs: Me? Oh yeah.
Teale: And like, I think, for me, especially in this last year of homeschooling, and now she's finally in person school is like, hun, we teach, we are supposed to teach her from the ground up. And so I think I can be like, your expectation, I think sometimes can be here, and I can be more like, I feel like I really understand Grace. And I think that's strong, I think that's good.
Teale: And I think I think you really understand Grace too like, let's just be clear. Figs reads to the kids non stop, like Grace cuddles, Grace will not go to sleep without Figs, she cuddles his back all night. She's like, she's head over heels for this person, and it's not because he just reads to her and lets her touch her back. You know, they laugh together, they wrestle. You're like, you're a fun dad, you're a good dad, you're an engaged dad a lot of the time. Right? And I think just the expectation, so sometimes it's like, I don't know, I don't even want to I don't want to be talking about your experience, but I want to say what happens inside for me is around expectations for Grace, I feel like I almost feel like there's this like intergenerational thing, this expectation of a child, knowing something or as though, as though she's not doing it right. And it's like, I guess I feel like shit. We got to, we got to teach her that, we got to set her expectations like we did. We haven't done, I haven't done the front end work of saying, okay, Ellie's house today and family day tomorrow, like I haven't been ordered.
Therapist: So then she feels blindsided.
Teale: She feels blindsided, she just pushes she- and kids do this, they see the weakness between their parents, “oh, we don't know what's going on, and Mom's going to be working Dad, dad will be kind of vulnerable, because Kian will want to do this. Oh, that means I can go” she's like, she's smart. She's all this stuff, and then she just presses on it. And we're usually stressed out and tired by the time we pick her up. So yeah, no good. I don't know. I just think that the key thing is when we realize a parenting struggle is just reflection just reflecting about it. So I love that we’re talking about it. But there was this period of time after we did our, during Portland, where I just felt like you were so soft with her.
Figs: Well, look, it's good to keep revisiting and re- you know, reset. And I would like, you know, I want to really work on being softer with her and not being frustrated with her. And I think you and we're a big part of that is, like I said, you and I doing work on the front end.
Therapist: Figs, I really think that'll help your reactions.
Therapist: If you know what the plan is.
Teale: It sounds so simple now, but why haven't we done this?
Figs: Yeah. And look, you know, late to bring it up, like, like in the session you know, you just have very strong opinions about stuff, right? Like, you know, and he uses his silly example, like, like, if I'm saying like, “so there's a doctor and he…” and then you’re like, “he, or she, or they” right? Like, you know, you like, you know, you correct things like a lot, right? Yes, yes, you're right, like he, she or they. And with parenting, like, I just, I can get stuck in the little bit of- in which look I grew up with, you should eat everything on your plate. And you can't be like, I don't want this, so we won't make like Teal's philosophy is we won't make, they don't have to eat their food on their plate and if they want something else, we give them something else. Right?
Teale: Not necessarily.
Figs: I might be exaggerating, sorry.
Therapist: It's not black and white.
Figs: It’s not black and white, right. But I end up feeling like my natural thing is, is like- I look, I grew up I probably just, I don't I'm not saying it's right, but I'm like, look, you gotta eat the food, like you're up to some- you gotta eat the food that you're given.
Therapist: I get that, you know, I was raised by a dad who's from the Depression and he made us eat it, and I wanted to do the same with my kids. But it was not helpful.
Figs: Right. Right. No, I get it. But did look, I understand, but I can just feel corrected a lot right? And you know, I've never seen you, you will, you will correct other people like, you know?
Teale: Yeah, I think this is part of a strength of mine?
Figs: It’s a strength, exactly.
Teale: And I hear that it happens, and I think the biggest thing, you know, especially, you know, talking about front end, preparation, something like food and how we interact with our kids around food is something that I don't know how to do it, it was done a very different way for me too. And what have I done? I've researched, right, like, I have an actual parenting style. And I have listened to audiobooks and art, I've read articles I've been in, I'm informed. And so and part of that has not just been, I can send those articles. You don't know, you've never really read those. But you and I have talked and you said, “I get it and I'm on board.”
Figs: Yeah, yeah, yeah, so listen-
Teale: And everytime I see slipping, and then I see this kind of authoritarian versus authoritative type of parenting happen. And then I really get my feathers ruffled. And then I correct in front of the kids-
Figs: It creates a cycle between us. And I'm not saying that the way and so- there are two different things, look, I think it's better that our kids grew up with a different, a different relationship to food that I had, like, you know, one of my memories or food as a kid is, you know, it's probably the same kind of as the Depression era stuff like, you know, small farmer like inner city, like where my parents are from. Like, I would be told as a kid, you see that Saltsman, the potatoes, when you're a man, you'll be able to eat all of those potatoes. Like so, you know, eating everything, and eating a lot, eating a lot was really a sign of like, your God. And so I don't know, I don't think my relationship to food is something I want my kids to take. And even though I think you have a, it's a good idea, I think some- for sometimes I get in the cycle because I feel hurt when I feel corrected in front of the kids by you or yeah, it's more about what's a relational piece between you and I versus a philosophical piece.
Teale: Well, that makes sense.
Therapist: That makes a lot of sense, Figs, that's vulnerable, appreciate that vulnerability. I mean, stereotypically, it's not always the case. The moms, they carry the child, they breastfeed the child, they have a heck of a lot more motivation to be attuned with all of this kind of stuff and learn about it. Then they're the expert.
Figs: Exactly. Yeah, I know. I'm, by the way, absolutely Teale’s again, to your point you've done you've listened more, you've read more, you are the expert.
Teale: Well, I'm also a big sister like I've had, I had three little brothers growing up.
Figs: You’ve had so much more experience than I do.
Teale: I came into rearing children just being like, I've done this, I've done this a bunch of times, I had brothers that are 10 and 11 years younger than me. So is it like a primary childcare person for each of them, one of them in particular. But anyway, getting back to the reality is, I think you have, and had a natural way with our children and with children in general, it's one of the things I fell in love with you about animals and children, this man is wonderful. And what I hear right now, that makes sense and that's something that I can be, I think the thing is, I can feel out, out of power disempowered, around, enacting change, and I just get really critical but what you're helping me understand right now and see if you can let me know if I get it right. It's just the feeling criticized or feeling corrected.
Teale: She, they, or kind of like, micromanaged in front of our kids.
Teale: It is really uncomfortable.
Figs: Yeah, it just hurt. But listen, the main thing, I just feel really bad, like I again, I feel my inadequacies, as a human being and them affecting our kids. It's just like, the worst feeling.
Figs: You have to weigh them against all the positives that you know.
Figs: It's true, it's no, absolutely, but you know, I'm glad to look at them, and I want to use it and like you said, like, you know, like you said before, like not to get weighed down by feeling bad about yourself, but by taking in the, like, what's the feedback that it's worth taking in to change, right? And I look, I I'm not gonna get weighed down, like grit, but I do I, I want to just like, I feel like we've been, I've been talking about this on the very surface level, because part of me is really scared of really disclosing and being in touch with the way I'm a bad parent. And again, I'm not just a bad, I'm a good parent, like I'm many things, but it's hard to really, really sit and like there are ways I fail our children. Now again, I'm, I feel good about that I'm actually, I'm a good repairer, but even if I fuck up, like I I'm able to repair but of course, it's still nuts, not I want to fuck up as a parent less and less and less, you know, I really want to do it.
Teale: I think that’s really brave, and I just want to also lead that part of I know, this, for me, it's a grainy feeling in the pit of my stomach where I feel like, I feel totally scared to think about the ways that I have been harsh with Kian, like maybe over the last several months, and all I'm preoccupied with is like “I hope that hasn't really damaged him.”
Teale: And so I know what you're talking about honey, and it makes me feel sick to my stomach thinking about it. And I'm just, it's amazing I am- he gave me a little bit of extra opening love, and he was a little de-escalated, Kian, and I found myself moving towards them with love, and now we're in this positive feedback loop and like, and now we can see it and I'm I'm living with regret, which is like, oh, but I think you know, I love this idea, and I'm not going to go into, it's a parenting technique that people use rubber bands for it in fact, I have one negative interaction with my child, and so I take off all the balloons [laughing] or the rubber bands- balloons are a big theme in our house right now. And so I have to have seven positive interactions to earn back those damn rubber bands, which it's like, and I really feel like it works with our kids, it's like I was shit, and now I'm brilliant, and now I'm brilliant. And now you're looking at me and you're snuggled up, and I just want you to know I'm in it with you. We can talk about my thing with Kian, because I know it affected you.
Figs: But I appreciate the way you brought it up today and that it wasn't, you know, let's talk about how shit Figs is.
Therapist: Can I just say that don't be so hard on yourselves either- about thinking that you've permanently damaged your kids. I know with young kids and not knowing it's just feeling oh my god. I mean, they're more resilient, then you think I mean, see them as teenagers and you feel like you should have been harder on them [laughing].
Figs: [sarcastically] Yeah, yeah, why didn't I lock them in that dungeon more often? Exactly.
Therapist: I also thought that Teale maybe there's a way that when you're sort of quote, “want to impart your expertise about parenting to Figs,” you could make it more of a humorous thing? “Can I be the expert now or something?”
Teale: Yeah! Yeah. I think that's great. You know, sometimes we're kind of process oriented in here, and sometimes it feels good to just, especially when parenting because we’re desperately like we need to work on this today!
Teale: I do.
Figs: Yeah, that's it. And I noticed that, and this is the last thing I'll say, it is more, you know, when we talk about just our emotional process, I'm not that into what are the solutions, but with parenting, I'm like, “what do we do?!” [Teale laughing] I’m just like, what do we do? [Figs laughing]. Like, yeah, the rest of the stuff is like no, it’s about our feelings.
Teale: Yeah. Well, I appreciate you, acknowledging-
Therapist: You’re doing a lot of reading.
Figs: Exactly, well, thank you. I am really grateful for all the reading you do, I really am. You know, like I can get triggered when you suggest stuff, but I actually am- thank God, you're doing the reading.
Teale: Thank you sweetie.
Therapist: Yeah, really.
Figs: Jesus, thank you.
Teale: Thanks for saying this was a successful way to bring something up, it actually sends a good message to me [Teale and Figs kiss] about how we can do it.
[Session Ends 1:01:22]
Teale: Wow. All right. Well, what was it like watching it again, for you sweetie?
Figs: Yeah, it was rich, it was rich. It's amazing. It's just amazing how much more there was that happened than I had first remembered, like, watching it again. Like I picked up so many other things. You know, the first thing is just again, I was really struck by how easy it would be if we were in a really bad place with each other that that session would never happen, because as soon as you started talking about your list, or like I was talking, you know, you could have already been upset because it seemed like I was avoiding doing any work by trying to talk about what happened last week. Like, you know, we so easily could have had to just debrief a present moment fight what we call a cycle between us. But luckily, no, you know, I wasn't you were pretty good about just like, even though you're pretty bossy pants, [Teale laughing] just like, you know, not being too upset with me that I seemed like I didn't want to do any work. And then also, I wasn't too reactive with you right? When you were like, “I've got my list!”
Teale: I thought you were great. I'm like, oh my gosh, watching myself back. It’s like, I didn't want to even give out therapist any time to talk. I think, I like shut him down several times, anytime you talk, I'd be like, okay, and let's just wrap that up there. Let me let me get back to the point.
Figs: Yeah, you were.
Teale: I feel like you guys were quite tolerant of me. But you know, I had an agenda and I think you're right, but I was skillful in that. It wasn't just Figs-
Figs: You are skillful with that-
Teale: I was sharing, I was actually, and this is how I feel like sometimes we have situations where I look really controlling and critical of you with parenting. But believe me, I'm a 360 degree person, I feel my inadequacies so big. And so I think about it, and actually quite a lot of equality. And I think I was able to represent that, so going back to the list, it's often not effective for us pursuers, we can scare the crap out of our partners. That's like, I don't want to have the list, but how do I share about myself? And have you actually, you know, be engaged and not be upset with me and shut down, because of the shame? How are we in this together, and having a conversation, and somehow, it's like the magical ingredients of the soup, we just were right. And we were able to get into the belly of the beast, which is actually a very traumatic event for us. I didn't know we were going to talk about this over the summer.
Figs: I had no idea even when we started talking about parenting, it never entered my mind that we would end talking about just the trauma, right, that we all went to how terrified we all were when you know, Grace suddenly starts just going from oblivious that anything happening in the world I was really cared about was running and skipping and listening to audiobooks right? Toworried about everything, you know, to do with cleanliness.
Teale: Yeah, yeah.
Figs: So I was really blown away by just how valuable it was at that conversation to revisit. Just there's still a lot of trauma and grief that we haven't fully processed about how scary of times that was.
Teale: Right, yeah. I mean, I wonder why that is like, I wonder why this is like we haven't even I think we're-
Figs: We’re not even out of the pandemic.
Teale: Yeah, we're not out of the pandemic.
Figs: Now it's December, right. So, like, we're all surviving.
Figs: But by the way, that's one of the main takeaways I'm hoping for the listeners is like, one of the things I'm often trying to tell my clients is that some conversations are over and over again, conversations, right? Like, and I always use the example right, that it should be obvious to everyone I love you is an over and over again conversation. Like for example, when you and your partner first met and you told them I love you, you didn't then say to them “now you've heard that right? You got to- I don't need to say that to you again, right?” That would be crazy, and stuff like the big moments in your life, whether it’s the birth of your children, whether it's your wedding day, whether it's that amazing trip you had, just because you both know the story. That's not the same as purposely consciously revisiting and entering the experience of that time with each other and reliving it.
Figs: And bad experiences are really important, like, quote unquote, traumatic experiences are really important to revisit again, right? And without getting too technical, because usually what happens over time is we lose the part of ourselves accessed to the part of us that had the experience, whether it was a tremendous joy, whether it was tremendous fear or sadness, we lose access to that part, because the part that takes over inside a human being is the story making part, the part that has now made meaning in the story about what happened. So when we go back in, and we tell the story about what happened, there's a doorway back into the actual moment to moment to moment experiencing self and both of us. And I think that's what was most powerful about this session. And you could see it actually, I thought a lot in our sighs [deep breath].
Teale: There were a lot of like, yawns. Trauma release.
Figs: Right? Exactly.
Teale: I'm so taken with your description of this is like little doors and going from- because I think you and I have revisited the story and little brief things just sort of saying like, “wow,” like kind of noticing where Grace is at now.
Figs: The contrast is amazing.
Teale: Primarily come out of this, although there's probably parts of this that will resurface at times for her it's part of her physiology. But it's something that we know so much more about, and something that actually, we've explored in our own selves. I think I was kind of dissociated from it. And that's why bringing it up, it felt like oh, my gosh, we're walking into these murky territory and, and then it felt really intense.
Figs: It was really intense, and the shame, right? We talked about, look, we all have stories, and this is a very normal thing, right? Where something bad happens and some part of us goes, what is it that I did that led to this happening? And then of course, other people too, right? I mean, I can't tell you how many people would have, like, talk to me about parenting, like, you know, usually when there's something wrong or something that the parents did wrong. So like I even by the way, I just accessing this right now, it was hard talking to people when this was happening when it was really scary, because even the most well meaning people in our lives that love us would often be giving us [mimicking voice] “well there's this great parenting advice I have for you,” you know, and it's like oh my God.
Teale: “Take this supplement,” or, “hey, it's not that bad,” and I’m like, are you fucking kidding me?!
Figs: And it just is shaming, right? It just feels like you know, we're being blamed as the parents. And obviously, I have a place inside myself when, I know you have where we can blame ourselves.
Teale: And that's what you find out. So it's a real vulnerable dive for both Figs and I, and I think there was a beautiful equality in that, and hopefully we represent that.
Figs: Yeah, and we were a team with each other and supporting each other where we feel bad about ourselves and how we could have, whether you'd like, you're saying genetically for you, because you have a little OCD tendencies yourself. And whether it's like oh shit, like the way I can be like, reactive or big or angry if something goes wrong. And that Grace is kind of scared like, “oh, I did something wrong, oh, Jesus dad will be mad at me.” Like it was that kind of development of that neural pathway inside her has that led to an increase ability for her to worry to develop an OCD like, that we both have stories we can get stuck in, I want to be the best I can as a parent, having these conversations is a great- what we call it in a session is a great reset, and it's working. Like I really- looking at Grace and just with as much kindness and love as like, I feel it in my heart and accessing it and making sure she sees that in my eyes.
Teale: Aww that’s sweet.
Figs: I know you and Kian are still like beating on each other, [both laughing] fighting each other.
Teale: [Laughing] Well, and we're having fun while we are doing it.
Figs: By the way, you know, but I noticed what's going on a while, the other thing I wanted to say that I think is huge in the work we do, and it got really deepen in learning how to better meet graces OCD is this notion that stop trying to get rid of your bad feelings. Like when we work with individuals and couples, I always say like we're doing our best to try and help them feel their feelings better not trying to help them feel better. I'd like this is a paradox, if people feel their feelings better, they will actually feel better. And so that's the key thing to work on. You know, we touched on this in the session where we talk about it turned out the best way- which we went to see a child expert with OCD, even children, the best way to help someone is not to keep reassuring them when they're worried with OCD but is the See if you can acknowledge that yes, you are scared I'm not going to try and get rid of you're scared. And then see if you could help them, invite them, find a voice inside themselves that knows, actually, I don't have to be that scared, myself.
Teale: It was almost immediately Figs.
Figs: It was amazing. What a big difference it made.
Teale: It was so transformative, and because the OCD child or OCD person, they'll see it in adults too, is if you just say, “no, honey, everything's gonna be okay.” Right, they start distrusting you, and then they are totally alone in the world and when they can't trust.
Figs: But okay, so this is where this extends way past OCD. If someone comes into my office and says, “you know, because my husband is terrible, you know, or my wife is awful.” I'm not going to try and argue with them, you know, I don't think you're right, right? I got to like, acknowledge and be with them, really support the way they feel that way doesn't mean I'm saying like, “you're right, they are terrible.” But like wow, like, make sure they know I'm totally on their side, because otherwise, they're going to give even more and more and more and more and more evidence that their partner spouse really is horrible. And once they feel that I really am on their side where I really am with them understanding how they feel. Now I might be able to invite them, or they will naturally intuitively do it themselves, find the other voice inside them, which might be aperture to have a couple of good qualities. You know, but it's much better if they find that inside themselves, and the best way to do that is to support people and stop trying to change how they feel, right? It's this weird paradox, right? Stop trying to make people feel better, help them feel their feelings, and they will end up feeling better. So anyway, that was just, I learned that in an even deeper way where they would try to help Grace.
Teale: Well, thanks for sharing with that, just for you. I mean, it's always just, it just helps again, I think the waves of processing opening up the little doors, I can feel kind of a seriousness and a settling, and then, but you know, that's not bad. It's just a reverence. And I'm just so honored that Grace is my daughter, and she's so brilliant and deep and wise, and I'm so glad I get to do the parenting journey with you.
Figs: Thanks baby, likewise, yeah, you're, you are such an amazing mom and partner and you enrich our children's lives and my life every single day in ways where I would enrich the curvature of our couch. Right? [Teale laughing] But look, thank you again, Jesus, I've no idea, I really hope it's helpful that we share about our journey and we're here if you've any questions or thoughts you want to explore counseling or any stuff, how to have a better relationship or how to feel your own feelings better.
Teale: Let us know how we can help. Thanks for being here with us and witnessing our sticky icky, juicy, wonderful, weird journey [Teale laughing].
Figs: And hey! Two weeks, next episode.
Teale: Can’t wait!
Teale: That's a good one.
Teale and Figs: Bye!