Figs and Teale share a session deeply exploring a moment of reactivity outside of their relationship for Figs and the ways anger and shame can subsequently show up in their marriage.
Figs and Teale share a session deeply exploring a moment of reactivity outside of their relationship for Figs and the ways anger and shame can subsequently show up in their marriage.
Figs: So welcome back, everybody, to Come Here To Me with Figs–
Teale: And Teale!
Figs: So we're really excited to share about this particular couples therapy session we had.
Figs: Yeah, this was a little different because we primarily spoke about one of us,
Figs: –as opposed to, you know, our relationship. So I think that'll be interesting just to talk about. But before we kind of got into it, I've kind of been dying to tell someone the way you got me so good. Today is Sunday, you got me so good on Friday.
Figs: You want to set the scene?
Teale: Yeah, I think I'll set the scene just because people should know that sometimes [whispering] I win.
Figs: You do.
Figs: You definitely won this time.
Teale: [Laughing] And twice. Oh, I'm so excited. Yeah, so we're so privileged and lucky to get to have a housecleaner that comes every two weeks.
Figs: Exactly, yeah.
Teale: Alright, our house is nasty, okay?
Teale: And we need help. Like, we've just decided we need help. This has been something we've established. And so our house cleaner was going to come at a particular time. Now I'm-
in contact with her and I knew that she was going to be a bit late. Totally fine. Late works for me. Usually it takes me a while to get things ready. So I had a big plan to go to town, right?
Teale: The town side here in Hawaii. And I had, you know, packed a bunch of beach stuff. The two kids were already in the car. That was my big accomplishment. You thought we'd been gone for like 20 minutes.
Figs: Exactly. I thought you'd already left the house and I was alone in the office upstairs.
Teale: [Laughing] Right. Little did you know, I was just right downstairs in the parking garage with the kids in the car trying to like, organize towels and goggles as though I'm like some organized person. No, I'm not. Just like, make sure everything's there. And so I run back in because I realized, "Oh, gosh, darn it. I forgot — I know it's kind of lame, but it was like an afternoon toothbrush situation that I wanted to do for the kids. I ran back in to get that toothbrush. And I decided to have a quick pee while I was in there.
Figs: As you do.
Teale: As I do.
Teale: What does that– Okay, thank you. What– weird. Anyway, moving on.
Figs: No, you pee a lot.
Teale: Okay, well, that's for another episode.
Figs: Alright, okay, go on.
Teale: So I ran back in, had a quick pee. The door was open. You know, I'm comfortable. I knew the house cleaner wasn't gonna be here. I knew Figs was here. I was like, "Everything's fine." I grabbed a toothbrush. And then I hear this very tentative, like timid Irish voice coming down the stairs, "[mimicking] Hello!"
Figs: That's not exactly how I sounded.
Teale: No, your voice was so polite. It was like, "Hello!" And so I just returned, with a slight accent myself, "Hello!"
Figs: [Laughing] See, I felt really bad. I realized I was upstairs in the office without a mask. And all the masks are by the front door. So I was running down to grab a mask and tell the house cleaner like, "Oh, I'm in the house."
Figs: Right, so that they wouldn't get afraid. But as I start, you know, going towards the front door, I see the downstairs bathroom, the doors open, and I can hear someone peeing. So I'm like, "Oh my god, they must have been dying to pee. And so they raced into the house and had to pee immediately. And then they assume no one was here. And so they started peeing with the door open. Aw, bless them, the poor little devils." So I was doing everything I could to try and help them not feel embarrassed. Like, "It's okay that you're peeing right now with the door open."
Figs: I was trying to be really, really nice.
Teale: But you can just hear in Figs' voice like how truly nice he is. Like, who is going to suddenly go into this like deep counter shame themselves. Like you're going to hear Figs, he feels people's embarrassment, Like, he's more embarrassed for people than they are embarrassed. And that is what's happening here. Like it really clouds his judgment. And he completely misses — I mean, you guys, I'm going to exaggerate, so now I'm going to like scale it back. I think it was like about a seven minute — that's a non exaggerated version of how long the conversation went on from here. With me as–
Figs: I can't remember the name you said.
Teale: I probably said, "Clarissa." And I had a little bit of a Swedish accent, if I may say so myself. I don't know, I probably butchered it, but I was just invoking this Swedish accent, and you know, playing out a fantasy. But I will say, Figs and I, for the listeners back at home, we josh each other.
Figs: You do. This is your best one. But let's tell them the dialogue because I think the dialogue is the best part. So look, I come down the stairs, and, "Clarissa" is peeing in the downstairs bathroom with the door open.
Figs: And so I'm like, "Oh, I just want you to know that I'm here and I'm sorry we didn't tell you beforehand." And then your, "Hello!"
Teale: Oh, I said, "Hello. Oh, I'm just having a little pee-pee."
Figs: [Laughing] Yeah.
Teale: And then you're like, "Oh!" and I can hear my Figs' wheels spinning and it was like laughing because I'm like, he sounds so polite. And then I throw it out again thinking he's gonna be like, "Okay, babe, get down to the car. The kids are probably like eating each other alive in there." But now he thinks I'm Clarissa. And so I say, "Don't you want to come see me having a little pee-pee?" Like, I'm so embarrassed to say this now, like it's disgusting, but it's just we're just like having a good time.
Teale: I'm having a good time. He's in like a very serious, serious role.
Figs: No, I well, because I just felt bad. I thought, actually, look, if there was a young woman like in the bathroom–
Teale: We know she's a younger woman.
Figs: The house cleaner.
Figs: Yeah, and she came into someone's house, thought no one was there, that I could see like that she could start trying to take back control. Like this is the way my mind– like is there a way it makes sense that someone would invite me to see them peeing. And I'm like, I could see that they would do that because they felt they didn't have any control over the situation. So I just was saying back like, "You know, no, I don't really want to see you pee, it's okay. Take your time."
Teale: Like he's really like in this place like he–
Figs: And then you kept asking me.
Teale: And then I said, again, like, "Are you sure you don't want to see me pee-pee?" Like this was a long thing. You guys can imagine there's a whole dialogue going on.
Figs: Exactly. And so then I said, "No, no, no, look, I have two small kids. I see enough people pee." I thought that was a very clever way of softening and making it funny. And then this was the part, what you said next was when, I literally was standing by the couch with my dog and I actually looked at my dog like my dog was a person looking at her and going, "What the fuck?"
Figs: "What the fuck, Zephyr?" Because you responded– what was it you said exactly?
Teale: You're like, "Oh, no, thank you. I see people pee all the time."
Figs: Yeah cause I got two little kids.
Teale: Like, I was laughing. I was like, that's a good one. But then I say, "But don't you want to see a woman pee?" [Laughing]
Figs: Right, and that's where I was just like, "Oh, my God."
Figs: And so I was like, "No, it's okay. I don't want to see you pee." And anyway, this went on, and I feel like I'm so stupid. I didn't know it was you. But then eventually, the other thing you said, that seemed just bizarre, like–
Figs: And I'm like– look, I know there are crazy people in the world. So I'm just like, "Okay, this person is a little different."
Teale: You can just see how tolerant he is. Like, he's just like, "Mmm, yeah, this is happening. This is a real situation."
Figs: But yeah the other crazy thing that you said was, you're like, "Oh, you passed my test!"
Teale: [Laughing] But I had gone back into my Teale voice, which is just, "Okay, man."
Figs: Had you? I still didn't know it was you.
Teale: You still didn't [laughing] know it was me.
Teale: You thought it was just crazy, "You've passed my test." Like, it's going back into thinking this young woman had been caught red handed peeing, that she was trying to take back the power by doing this bizarre thing where she was in control.
Figs: Exactly. And then when you walked out the bathroom, I was–
Teale: Oh yeah, Figs was just like, "What the actual fuck," like had no idea you guys.
Teale: And now I think I'm not exaggerating. It was about 15 minutes, wasn't it?
Figs: I don't know.
Teale: It was a long time.
Figs: Well it felt like a long time, but I don't think you peed that long. You are a champion peer.
Tele: Okay, that is enough about my bladder, okay?
Teale: We'll talk badge matters another day.
Figs: Oh, yeah, right. Okay. But–
Teale: No, this part is mine.
Teale: Because you're gonna try to ignore for the listeners what happened next. So I had a big laugh, Figs was looking at me like, "What the actual fuck?" And I was like, okay, whatever dude, I gotta go. He's like, I thought you were and I was like, "I'm not even here for the explanation. I gotta go down to the kids." I started to hear the kid screaming. Went down
to the kids, gave them the toothbrush and realized, "Oh, crap, I forgot to put the toothpaste on there." And Kian was like, "But where's the toothpaste!" And I was like, "Okay, man, I
gotta go back." So I go back, and it's five minutes later because I did a little bit of organizing with those towels and goggles again. I ran back up, went back into the bathroom, and as I'm in the bathroom, I hear Figs' voice again, "Hello?" And so I do it again, "Hello!"
Teale: Just thinking this is like the Twilight Zone.
Teale: And then I just like run out and he's like, "What! I didn't know it was you."
Teale: It's the second time I got him. Like twice. It was just brutal for you.
Figs: You got me good.
Teale: I'm so sorry.
Figs: No, that was really good. You really got me.
Teale: He went and told every person on the street the whole story about how I asked–
Teale: –if I wanted him to see me peeing like a woman.
Figs: Yeah, well, it's roleplay. One of the parts of the show is we'll help couples spice up their relationship–
Figs: –by pretending you're the house cleaner.
Teale: Did it work?
Figs: Well, it sure got my blood flowing, yes.
Figs: Exactly. It definitely did. Right? It was terrifying, which is good. Terror is a stimulant or it's an aphrodisiac.
Figs: I guess. For some.
Teale: Yeah. Creates arousal.
Figs: Anyway, look, I love that. I love moments in life where the world doesn't make sense. It's just you know, stimulating, exactly. But brilliant. Hey, come here. Thanks for listening to our story.
Teale: Thanks for listening. That was a hoot.
Figs: So let's talk about the session.
Figs: And we'll try and do a quick setup, right?
Teale: Yeah, let's do a quick setup.
Figs: So here's the deal, like, you know, the session today, I was a little — which I usually am — nervous about going into couples counseling, because I didn't really have anything particularly, I wanted to process or talk about, about us. And it didn't seem like you did either in the early stages. You know what I mean?
Figs: You didn't really have anything you wanted to talk about.
Teale: Yeah, it's hard. Sometimes I can resist going to couples therapy, even though I want it so bad. But I was just kind of like, "We were doing good. We were overwhelmed." But there had been this situation.
Figs: Exactly. And so that's where like, look, I thought it was best — you know, as you'll hear in the session — I had had a moment a day before couples counseling, where I had a bad interaction with someone and I thought, "Look, I'd better talk about it, because when I feel bad inside, even if it's nothing to do with you and I, it ends up impacting the quality of my
presence with you and with the kids." And so, geez, it's better to tell you so at least you know what's going on versus it just seems, "Figs is kind of weird, or different, or off, or mean, or grumpy," or whatever it is. Right?
Figs: Whatever way it manifests on the outside when I'm trying to process something or desperately trying not to process something, which we'll hear us talking about.
Figs: So I thought it was great example of how, look, even when something has nothing to do, it looks like on the outside, with your relationship, sometimes it's a really good thing to talk about, because it'll end up impacting your relationship, if you've something big going on, and you don't talk about it.
Teale: Such a good point, right? And so we did talk about it, and I won't go too much into it, but I just was really appreciative of what Figs was sharing. And I just wanted to say as a kind of clinical piece, other people in couples therapy, a lot of times — especially in the beginning several sessions — you're going to do lots of little scoops, hopefully, with each person. There's not going to be one person that kind of gets a big amount of time.
Teale: But because of where Figs and I were at–
Figs: In the early stages of couples counseling, you only spend a little bit of time with each person versus a lot of time with any one person, why's that?
Teale: Well, yeah, yeah, that's a good question. It's because of escalation, right? That's what I would say is that oftentimes people are in a bit of a tougher place — you stay with one person and the other person's over there fuming, you can’t always tell. And actually, that's even happened with a couple minutes of one of us stayed with by our therapist. It's even happened between us.
Figs: Exactly in the earlier sessions.
Figs: And [laughing] it'll happen again.
Teale: It'll happen again. And we've had, you know — for those of you that are following this in sort of chronological order — we've had some pretty kind of volatile sessions. Even the last week, even the week before, not like volatile, like really bad, but just we were really getting into it.
Figs: Yeah we were in our cycle, the way we have a negative fight with each other, negative communication pattern.
Teale: Yeah, communication pattern, and we were actually pretty good with each other. We were feeling pretty bonded, okay, tired, you'd had this interaction. And always happy to kind of hear about it. Of course it impacts me. And I was also just kind of witnessing and appreciating you as someone who's talking about something they don't feel great about.
Figs: Yeah, yeah. And look, I'm really glad you brought that up just about like, it's a good indication that you're doing well in couples counseling, if we can spend more time with one person and the therapist doesn't have to be talking to both of you quickly back and forth. So I actually thought like, that's actually a good sign that we're in a good place. That it was okay. It wasn't activating or triggering, bringing up like us into a fight that we were talking about me, and that's everything wasn't so disorganized, There's 20 things we need to talk about today!"
Figs: Which, you know, we've had sessions where– the fourth or the fifth session that we already shared with you, where it was very hard to organize what's actually going on. And so we end up kind of tiptoeing around. But anyways, good sign where we are in the process, and with our therapists, that things are kind of coalescing and organizing so we can just do one thing at a time.
Figs: That's great. And the other thing I wanted to say before we get started is look, you know, I — whether I should or shouldn't be so honest about my own internal process and the way I can feel bad about myself and share my own reactivity, the kind of behaviors I have that I'm not proud of — the reason I do it is I believe everybody has these things.
Figs: Like, everybody has places they can feel bad about themselves and everybody has ways that they respond when they feel bad about themselves that are not very helpful. Right? And so the idea is that, can you actually come to know those hurt places inside yourself, those shame filled places inside yourself, see the way you react, and actually own it, accept it, start to be able to share it with other people, as opposed to spending your whole life trying to deny it or just trying to work on beating that part of you into submission by meditating more.
Not that those things are bad, but we want to do it from a place of acceptance. So I'm, you know, trying to model — I mean, it's real I'm not performing, it's what I really feel. But I'm also hoping what you get from this is like, "Yeah, like, I have places I feel bad about myself. And I have ways I respond, quote unquote, 'negatively,' and it's okay." What's not okay is that you stay in a place of justification as a way to protect yourself and not feel the weight of your own shame or hurt place. What's not okay is you stay in a place of being obsessed that it was the other person that was the problem and I was just a pure victim in the situation, right? Did you do at some point, start to be curious about yourself, find what that vulnerability is, and, you know, be kind to yourself, and share it.
Teale: It takes guts. And in fact, even doing the session, I got in touch with an interaction that I had had earlier that day, didn't go into it, but just inside of myself, and I think I just named at some point during your sessions like, wow, just you've been kind of brave and humble and feeling shame around this. And just, you know, talking about it actually helped me realize like, oh, man, I didn't respond in a way I wanted to this nicely. So anyway, yeah.
Figs: Yeah. So let's watch the clip and then we'll talk about a bit more specifically on the back end.
[Session Begins 17:43]
Therapist: What do you want to talk about Figs?
Figs: Well, I have something going on right now that I thought might be good to talk about the name just because it's going to it's stuck inside me. And even if it's not immediately related to you, and I, it will- it is kind of- it'll impact you and I, you know, because it's inside me and I feel bad. I had a terrible interaction with one of my neighbors.
Figs: And this is really unfortunate, this type of interaction, I would say, literally, if I've had five over the last 10 years, all five of being about my dog with literally all of the- you know, where I end up in an altercation with another person, It's always around our dog.
Teale: Not a physical altercation.
Figs: No, but you know, like, part of what makes it feel bad as it gets- It feels like it's literally moving in that direction.
Therapist: Do the dogs get into it somehow?
Therapist: Is that what starts it?
Figs: Yeah, I'm actually just like, have a little bit of PTSD. Last year, our dog, you know, we've a Labradoodle, you know.
Teale: Like, really, really important to us.
Figs: Yeah, this is our baby or child. But, you know, she got bitten last year and had to carry her, you know, to the car, to the vet to get surgery, you know, a big gaping hole in her. So I'm really sensitive to her getting attacked and stuff- like yesterday one of the neighbor's dogs like a terrier, and like some Scottish terrier or something like was off leash and attacked their dog. And so I was trying to get our dog, my dog is on a leash, our dogs Zephyr is on a leash. And I was like, you know, trying to get the dog away and at first I use voice command but it actually stopped the little terrier, it stopped and then it um each started going again and there's the this little kid is trying to grab the dog and I said listen, look grab your dog, I will kick your dog. [Figs laughs] Like you know, this is- I will kick your dog, like if it actually goes for my dog, and I'll end up kicking your dog and and then eventually he gets hold of the dog and then the dad comes out, and the dad is like “what's the problem here,” and I walked toward he's walking towards me I walked towards him and said look your dog just attacked my dog, and he goes “this little guy?” And then you know and and I said it to him like look man look my dog got it got bitten last year so you know- and umm now I'm saying all of that very calmly right now, but I said that as an Irish person before so there's a lot more “fucking this, fucking that crazy dog going for my dog.” And so- towards the end of it, the guy is like “keep walking,” and I of course, in my Irish way, the last thing I say is like- “you’re a fucking cunt.” [Figs laughs] You know, and I feel- I just hate- I feel so bad about myself you know like getting into that I don't think I handled the situation very well, I mean there's no blog is dogs on leashes dog, my dog is on. There's so many like factors I could point to where like, you know, it kinda makes sense that I was upset but I also think that I- you know, I didn't- I while I might have like started deescalate- started deescalating the situation by moving away, like, you know- and stuff like that there. There's ways in which I don't feel- it makes me feel really bad when I get into those kind of conflicts with someone.
Therapist: I think we all do, it's like a road rage thing.
Figs: Exactly, I feel really bad that you know- anyway, so I just actually- part of why I'm glad we did the recording this morning is I literally wake up this morning feeling really ashamed and really bad about myself, and so doing the recording this morning, like I did something good and productive today. So I don't have to feel as bad about myself because it really weighs really heavily on me. Like having- getting really angry at someone and like being you know, cursing at them. I feel- I just that's- really heavy inside me feeling bad about myself.
Teale: Can I just say I really appreciate you like bringing this up and like just, you know, naming this is something that's like really sitting with you and I had a weird interaction today, by the way with the like, parking lady at Grace's school not like, aggressive, but it's like, I know what you're talking about. And I just think I don't know what the solution is. I just know that talking about it, is probably is- it's helpful for the people around you. And I think you're good- this is one of the reasons why I loved Figs from the beginning of us being together was that like, you share like you- you're not like someone that's like, “this didn't happen, I'm not going to talk about it.” You're like, “oh, gotta share,” but there's people that don't do that. Right?
Therapist: Yeah, there's such a sense of available for intimacy in Figs.
Figs: Well, thank you.
Therapist: I think both of you actually. But Figs, I was gonna ask you, sharing the story with us, how did that feel? Did you notice some shift in the shame or anything?
Figs: Well, yeah, like- well, one of the things I noticed inside my when, when one of the main ways I know I have to talk about something is when something bad happens, and it’s always flashing through my head. Like, no one was here, I never have to tell anyone about this. And that actually is- I've now turned into an opposite, like that now means to me, I definitely have to talk about this.
Therapist: Oh, that's good. That’s great.
Figs: So that's why yeah- the talking about it is really important, because otherwise, I'm literally- it takes so much energy to bury it. Yeah, you know, that I have a temper, I'm not very good- I'm not as grounded as that as I would like to be in certain situations, right? With the kids, you know, when our son is like acting out, or the kids are playing and one of them falls off the bed. I don't make those situations better. I said- I make those situations worse. Right? Because I'm so like, “what happened?!” And the kids, you know, my daughter's scared, “I didn't mean it,” you know, like-I don't make those things better. Right. And like, with this situation with the dog, I feel it's that same part of me that I didn't- I didn't help make that situation better yesterday.
Figs: Right? And that just sucks. I hate that. And- but it's better to share it then be left alone with it silently, you know. And I appreciate your validation, like- one of the things has been really weird in the past, we had a moment, we had a moment before where this guy spat at our dog in the park. And I walked up to him, and he was with a girlfriend, right? And at one point, I told them, “you're a brave cunt.” Right? [Figs laughs] And the girlfriend, her reaction. She let out this, “ohhh” like, you know, like this sound, and I was very rude. You know-
when I told Teale and her friend this, they loved it, they were really happy and proud that I was in spiel, it's such a weird juxtaposition, that I'm not proud of that, but like, like, you know, I and- I don't feel good about it, and again, it's always with our friggin dog. Like, I'm gonna end up getting shot on the street because of an altercation with our dog.
Therapist: You always feel bad, even if, in different cases, it might feel more warranted than other cases?
Figs: Yeah, but, you know, warranted or not, like when I gave you- having a reason, like just being abusive, insulting someone, trying to make them feel bad, exerting power, like, you know, I'm six foot three, and 225 pounds on a good day, to 235 really, like, you know, like, I'm really big and imposing. I'm like, making people feel bad. I just feel awful. Like, I just, it makes me feel really bad about myself.
Therapist: Do you have a sense that in these situations, you have an ever increasing wherewithal to make some kind of repair?
Figs: Yeah, yeah. And look, one of the things again- I really- one of the things I've learned is- one of the first things I've learned is in situations like this, I move towards people, and I've learned over time, you know, sometimes it's really confusing for me that people feel- it makes no sense to me that people feel I'm very threatening because I move towards people. And so one of the things I've learned to do is, I move away from people anytime there's a- you know, and it seems so basic, but I realize that I'm very comfortable. Again, some of this is- It's very normal for people to be shouting and cursing at eachother.
Therapist: It's not that big of an impact.
Figs: It's not that big of a deal. It's a normal thing, “aye shut up you mouthy bollocks,” right? Like, that's a norm. That's not that abnormal interaction right? But, two people moving towards each other shouting insults at each other, It's just like, that's not that's okay. And whereas here is not okay, right. And so I've learned to step away because it looks like “oh my God, this person is actually really going to fight me.” You know, but, but yeah, look, I mean-
Teale: Can I just-
Teale: I'm like, I'm a little afraid to like-
Figs: No, please, please.
Teale: But I'd like, I'd like to relate this to, to us more specifically. Like, I think, for me, I think with outside altercations, I have been like this, I actually have found it like a- as a bonding experience for us, because I feel like I can be supportive of you. I can, you know, like, I listened last night I listen, you know, and I'm not like, you know, I think most of the time, like-
when you've had tough interactions, you can say I'm scared to tell you something.
Teale: And that 99 I think 100% of the time, I've been like- some of them have been like, that's not that bad. Or I've been like, oh, that sucks.
Teale: But I'm not like, “oh, Figs.”
Figs: Yeah, you're not like me, like, disapproving of me.
Teale: But I was just saying, I think that this actually has been bonding for us. And hopefully a little bit of counter shame stuff that happens just because, like, I'm not like, “oh, my God Figs is this monster.” Like, I think you're so great for being able to tell me, I think people have these moments, I do think there's cultural differences. I- you know, when I hear that you don't like this feeling.
Figs: Right, exactly.
Therapist: But I think the remedy that you're going for maybe, or I am- is make it easier to talk about it. So the shame, can, you know, evaporate.
Figs: Exactly, yeah. And that's why that's, that's why like, on the surface I get like, it doesn't seem like it's immediately related to us, but when I have these things inside me, and I don't- I I leave them sitting inside me, it then impacts us for the rest of the day. Like cuz I'm not really fully- it takes so much to keep that inside, that it impacts my spasms.
Therapist: It's got a whole history with you. That whole rabbit hole. The more you talk about it, the more you come out of it. Right?
Figs: Exactly. Yeah. Yeah, I know some of it just as time- but I want to be better, I just, I'm just blown away. Again. I can't think of any other instance these days without it being about a dog. You know, it's crazy. That having a dog you get to interact with humanity in a different way.
Therapist: Oh, yeah.
Teale: I guess I don't want to be a solution finder. But like, I just know, I know, the guy you're talking about. And obviously, I don't think you should do this, but I wonder, just as a philosophical idea is, you know, this guy is suffering too, like that interaction, and he's thinking about it, you know, military culture, we don't know that much about it. We know, we've actually had experiences here that have been different than what we, you know-
projections that we have, we've had nourishing experiences with military people and have mad respect, and also have some limiting views that I think have stayed, and- but, but I just wonder like, I mean, is there repair, and what does that look like? And maybe that's silly, and it- I don't think it needs to go towards anything, I just wonder. It's funny, I just, I'm kind of concerned about his mental health around it too. Just because you're kind of someone like you, have a therapy experience and you can talk about it. And like you're someone that can process around it. But for someone that's not able to talk about it, that has that shame on the inside.
Figs: No, no, I'm open to approaching him.
Therapist: And what would you say to him?
Figs: I probably say, “look, I have feelings that I'm going to express it through improvisational dance-”
[Teale and Therapist laughing]
Figs: “I process my feelings, and I think they're so complex, I think movement is the best way to share it with you.”
Therapist: And I usually do it naked. [laughs].
Figs: Yeah, exactly. So no, I look, I look- I would probably tell him, look, I again, I would just try it on my part and really try not to expect anything from him. Look, “I didn't handle that well, I'm really sorry.”
Therapist: Mhmm, that’s good.
Figs: Like, I wish I handled it better. You know, what are shudders and like, I do have a bit of trauma around our dog being bitten and yeah, I wish I handled it better. I'm sorry.
Therapist: It does. It does feel a lot better when you make a gesture like you just modeled.
Figs: Yeah. Yeah, I think it would feel better.
Therapist: You know, one thing that keeps coming up-
Therapist: -that feels rich is the sort of the rabbit hole experience that you have, you know?
Therapist: And lifelong, maybe?
Figs: Exactly. Yeah. Yeah, I mean, rabbit, when you say the rabbit hole right now, what I think, what comes up to me or for that is where, where I feel out of control, like not resourced to deal with a moment, and then I'm likely to be angry.
Therapist: And then shameful, and then shameful.
Figs: And then shameful, exactly.
Therapist: And then you kind of want to move to Alaska.
Figs: Exactly. You want to like, you know, move, move to Alaska. Whether that's just internally and make sure no one knows that happened, or whether it's, yeah-
Therapist: Yeah. And the whole thing, It's a pretty simplistic notion I have so far, because I have known you long but, you've described it well, and it feels like a place of suffering, that you're trying to get quicker relief from.
Figs: Yeah, I mean, look, I can feel really bad about myself, like, you know, you know, that I'm, I'm not better at- you know, being mindful. I hate to use that- as the word is so you know, like, the, like, cliche.
Therapist: California. [Laughs].
Figs: Yeah. But I- look, I wish I was better resourced more of the time, that I could meet moments of chaos, with a little bit more- I mean, dignity, or like, togetherness, you know, then, then escalating situations, right? Like a dog attacks my dog, and I make things worse, like, that just sucks.[Laughs]. Like, it's already bad enough, but I don't make things better. You know?
Therapist: Yeah, what you were talking about earlier?
Figs: Exactly. So, yeah, you know, and I think on the back end of stuff, I'm, I'm, you know, relatively good at it just amplifying myself and sharing it and giving-
Therapist: Yeah, you're great.
Figs: But I don't know if I look after myself that well, to ensure that I'd be less likely to end up in these situations, like in terms of self care.
Therapist: I think that's well said, from what I've seen is like, the fire comes on quickly.
Figs: Fire comes on quickly. Exactly. And there's, you know, one of the ways I've thought about it is look, you know, I did so much you know, most of us in Northern California, like I just did so much personal development work, you know, even in Aslan, and workshops and workshops, and, dancing, and all that, like therapy and like just like- all the therapy sessions on ending, and I got married and I had kids. And I often liken it to, I had a big bank account of self development and like I had this huge, like balance. And I took withdrawal after withdrawal after withdrawal.
Therapist: [Laughing]. The Bank of Canada is getting you now-
Figs: And that's what I keep thinking about this Ernest Hemingway quote, like how did you go bankrupt and it's like, “slowly at first and then all of a sudden.” And I just feel that I didn't notice for years and years that because I had- there was a balance that now all of a sudden, like, like I just don't even know how to do self care anymore. You know?
Therapist: Everybody, everybody that I've talked to says that parenting is the hottest path, right?
Therapist: The hottest fire- the hottest fire and good that you're continuing to work because you're gonna need it with the teenagers. [Laughs].
Figs: Oh my god. Yeah, I know, that's the thing. Jesus No, I have visions of me, unresourced me, with a six year old and a three year old is one thing, unresourced me with a 15 year old or 16 year old like holy shit, like I better- I be- in truth, It feels really good, It did feel really validating just when you said look, like you know that it's the hottest path right, the parenting, and then also and- I do think I need to do more work on being able, you know to take care of myself because yeah, I don't think it'll get, you know, I think we're gonna have our hands full when their teenagers, at least if not before him.
[Teale enters room]
Figs: He's okay.
Figs: Good job.
Teale: You guys. I mean, you can continue to session by yourself if you want?
Figs: No, I'm happy you’re here.
Therapist: We're just-
Figs: We were just talking about parenting being the hottest path, right? The most demanding. And challenging, yeah.
Therapist: And it's interesting that teenagers are sensitive, just like young kids, just like we all are sensitive. And if you get triggered, even though it feels like they deserve it more, for you to get pissed off at them, it feels like they deserve your fire. Right? They get shamed really easily. And it just doesn't. It doesn't help. It feels so warranted, though. [Laughing].
Figs: Right, exactly, I can only imagine. Yeah well look, and that’s where I want to be able to have a better grasp of my reactivity, just because I understand that it really hurts just like, you know, this guy's a stranger. And regardless of how macho, he looks on the outside, it hurts, right? I just got hurt, fundamentally hurts human beings to be in a situation like that. And then of course, it really hurts you, if I have a moment, I'm not resourced, and I'm reactive to you. And it definitely really hurts our kids. So like, I want to do work on the front end, not just, you know, I'm good at doing the work in the back end to repair, you know, but I'd like to be better at looking after myself. So that I'm more resourced in these moments. You know?
Therapist: What do you think would help? What kind of work on yourself? The most?
Figs: I feel bad even saying it, like, but even just exercise is huge. I mean, there's just some basic stuff, right? And exercise is huge. I think doing this is really good. Like this whole, just the counseling the seeing ourselves, being you know, doing the project together feels really good.
Teale: So it's like with all these, there's like a lot of good things, but, but some of the like more basic life stuff, like exercise and diet are things that Figs and I are still trying to figure out how to incorporate into our life and how not to get derailed by life.
Therapist: Yeah, it’s hard with young kids.
Teale: Your kind of saying that, that as much as there's a lot of good this week.
Teale: We've had some breakthroughs with kind of like, stuff and on the back burner that has been really stressful, and that we have this project and that we're learning sort of emotionally but you feel like you're kind of under-resourced in other ways.
Figs: Exactly. Yeah. I, you know, like, I almost don't want to say it just because I'm worried I'm not gonna follow through, like, the exercise is something I have to follow through but like, just, like, even the stuff like, you know, like, do you know who David White is?
Therapist: The poet. Oh, yeah. Yeah, I know him.
Figs: Look, like I’m not gonna dance and stuff these days. But, you know, certainly not dancing over zoom with people is bad enough being in a room with people, like, dancing on zoom is way too hippy for me. [Teale and Therapist laugh]. That's not gonna happen.
Therapist: But you did do it with clients in the room? Did you do it?
Figs: No, we're like, you know, or like a bunch of people dance-
Therapist: Everybody's, like, sweat your prayers or something's-
Figs: That is not happening, I draw the line at zoom dancing.
[Teale and Therapist laughing].
Figs: Sorry, but ,but I would like one thing that would probably be great for me is like to get it- like to be part like to more actively do like, like something like a David White workshop, like something that's again, like I'm not particularly Mr. Spiritual pants, but I do find it very helpful for me to get in touch with something bigger than just practicality. Right? And, like, even, you know, I'm very practical and everything I do. And so something like David White, you know, as a communicator of emotional spiritual wisdom, I find it really good to connect into something much bigger. Right? Like, it's all you know, and, you know, a much bigger concept of self and the universe and, you know, umm.
Teale: Do you know what's so cool about that, and obviously, something when Figs and I first met, like, we were both doing things that we've lost now.
Teale: Things that were really major is part of what was so attractive about one another, right? And like those, obviously, we've stayed, you know, attracted, but there's, it's like, life took us over, you know, and we've lost those things. And so I just think it's so cool to even hear you talk about this, like getting in touch with the desire to do a David White workshop.
Teale: And I know it's, it's easier said than done to make it happen but it just sounds like even though you're not like diving off into some spiritual path that you're feeling, it's like somehow this spirituality and connecting with the reactivity that happened with this fellow neighbor.
There's somehow- there's like a tie there and you're like conscious of it when you spend a- little bit of time with it. Right?
Figs: Absolutely. Yeah, I think that's really good. There's a really good, there's something about losing contact with the universal human suffering and the condition, that makes me more reactive in a given like, personal moment, you know, and that's what I like these kind of whether it's dance or poets, that even if it seems cheesy, there is a way that there's an invitation to something much bigger, like connecting to humanity, or you know.
Therapist: But also just really conscious somatic work. It's like yoga or dance, even that is helpful in that way.
Figs: It's very helpful. And that's like, look, when we met, I was telling you- I would dance 10 to 12 hours a week. And now we're done zero hours a week, right? So it's a big, and that's not your fault. I mean, that was something I chose to do in order to be here the way I am. And you know, when no one asked me to do it this particular way, I stopped dancing, and I stopped having friends, in a way. Right. That's what I- that's what I chose to do. And yeah, it has an impact on my whole personhood.
Therapist: And dance is so great, because it's music. It's movement. It's aerobic. It can be aerobic.
Figs: Exactly. Oh, yeah.
Therapist: And you know-
Figs: And it's connection. Right?
Therapist: Yeah. And connection. And if it's with other people, but the exercise just alone. I mean, I take my dog out if he hasn't had a walk in a day or two.
Teale: And he is aggressive. He's aggressive with us. He's aggressive with other dogs, I let him off leash in the field, he runs like crazy, goes crazy eights running all over the place. And then we bring him home and he chills with other dogs. He's- it's just simple, right? Neuro- neurobiology. [Laughing].
Figs: Exactly. I'm just like your aggressive dog that didn't get any exercise.
Figs: I know, you're right. No, it makes, it makes a huge difference.
Teale: I just want to acknowledge what what you just, you know, I think, like, maybe you were- I think what's cool about this is and I don't know, if there's no solutions is just kind of
standing at the top of the mountain and looking at like, “wow, how did I get up here?” And so it's like, it's feeling good, and that you're actually at a place where you can look down. And I think even getting in touch with the grief of “wow my friends, my dance, my art my- this stuff that’s been sacrificed away.” And I think sometimes when we're in it, we can't even see the grief. So it's like, hey, I just note- I hear that you're kind of in touch with the loss at this moment.
Figs: That's what you know- we made choices on like, where like, you know, attachment parents, right? It's like- we’re like, you know, we'd have friends and stuff that would have gone away for a week or something. Like from their kids. Like, I don't know, if we spend, do we- have we ever spent time away from our kids? Ever? We've never spent time away from our kids. Now, I don't want that to be any different. Right? I don't want to spend time away from our kids but, there is a price there's a big, big price, right? Like, you know, so-
Therapist: It's some of the things that Teale was just naming.
Figs: Exactly there’s a huge price to the way we've made a choice and a particular type of parenting that just feels intuitively right for us. And, and there are consequences, you know, to us on the other side of it.
Teale: There is no time that the price has felt more high than during the pandemic.
Figs: Right. Exactly.
Teale: We’ve been the primary parents and school teachers and so on. And now that's in our- for our kids and for where we're at and the geographical location we're having a little bit of opening and claiming open air space a little bit locks on our own.
Therapist: That’s nice.
Figs: The ocean is just some phenomenal, nice weather healing.
Teale: But I just thank you for just for also just sharing about, you know, feeling bad about this interaction with this guy. And, you know, it makes me want to speak out more about my bad interaction today. And actuallyI think I'm going to do an action with this lady, because I don't feel good about it, but it's not gonna be like baking cookies, I'm just gonna be really really friendly with her. But it just helps me- it's like it's like a modeling and mirroring what I feel ashamed inside to actually be able to talk about it and not squirrel it away. That's, that's developmental and so anyway, just I feel like it's brave for you to talk about it's vulnerable and I feel like it's bonding for us. And we're also it's okay to feel grief about the things that we've lost and that you're you're just like so in touch right now with like, that the spiritual connection, that longing.
Figs: So I'm just noticing your time, but thank you, sweetie. That's really, yeah.
Therapist: Yeah. You guys. I'm glad I like the top of the mountain notion that you guys maybe have a little breath right now.
Figs: Exactly. We do.
Therapist: And maybe you can see what you can put back in.
[Session Ends 48:42]
Figs: So what was that like for you Teale, to just watch our session back?
Teale: Yeah, I mean, I think if anything, it really warms my heart, it was kind of an example of you feeling bad about yourself and not staying in the story of this other fellow. And I really liked how you even related it back to our relationship and parenting and recognizing that, that mood that you can be in from processing something like this and feeling shame, and from all these complicated feelings can affect us in the family. But just as your friend and like I named in the intro is helped me get more in touch with how, when I can do that, and I think we need more of that, in this world, when I can be not kind when I can be reactive with the outside world with you, with the kids, we need more of this ability to be heartfelt and reflective, we make mistakes, and all we can do is reflect about it and then share it in relationship and be hopefully not ashamed. And you know, like, “why did you do that?” But like, loved up like, “dang, that sucks?” And I, yeah, I just feel like it was kind of bonding for us.
Figs: Well, thank you, I will say it's counter shaming, it makes me not feel so bad. But that's how you see it and hear, you know, because I can still look, I can feel bad that I have a fiery temper, I hate even saying it, but you know, I can have big reactions in certain moments. And like you hear me say in the clip, like my dog getting attacked was one of those places that I'm not very grounded. But you know, the other thing, just seeing it a couple of days later, I know in the session, I say like that, I will say something and say sorry. And I just wanted to name that I haven't done that yet. I don't know when the opportunity would be to do that. But I haven't actually done it yet. You know?
Teale: And you know, I think it's less about actually doing that. I mean, did you do that? Would that be cool? Sure. But it also just being available, like obviously, it's more like getting to the process of being in.
Figs: Well, that's true, there's two different things. One is at least knowing like, look, I'm not glad you said in the story of the other person, you know, and translating that to our listeners and viewers, you know, is basically that I'm not continuing to think about a story of a person that they were mean, they didn't take responsibility, their dog being overly is ready notice, like, it's very easy to come up with all the reasons why the other person really was bad. But actually starting to notice I'm in the story about the other person starting to then be curious about, well, what's happening for me. And I realized what's happening for me is like, I actually feel really bad about myself the way I handle that situation. And I see the way I was reactive, and I was angry, and I was kind of you know, mean to him. And so then I can start to then, okay, so if I was going to share something just like I shared right now in the session, at least with myself, and at least with you. And now of course the audience, right, that I talk more about me that I'm talking about what the other person did wrong. And that actually sets me off if I am going to make a repair with this person, right? And you know, if the opportunity arises, I will commit to that. I can now talk to him about what I did, regardless of how he receives that right? Regardless of how he receives it, I can actually let him know, look, I didn't handle this situation very well, I wish I had done differently. And I'm sorry, now, I don't have an expectation that he will do the same. If he does great If he doesn't, like look at all those things that are still true about me. Right? I'm not waiting for him to show up. You know, in a similar way, in order for me not to be upset, what should be the other thing, you know, like we said on the front end, but I just wanted to go back to if you have some big process inside you, and especially if you have a little voice that tells you, “you know, no one knows about this, you could keep this to yourself,” that's pretty insidious, you want to be very careful about anytime you have a voice inside your head that actually says “you know what, you don't need to talk to anyone about this, or there's nothing for you to look at here. This was all the other person.” That's the kind of messaging that one voice inside you is saying, to try and help you not feel your vulnerability. So I do hope you're willing, just as you've seen me do is to just take a real honest look, at what are the ways you're hurting and get to a place that you feel safe to share with someone who's safe which obviously, not only are you safe in general, but you're very, very safe for me and in this session.
Teale: Yeah, you’re so welcome, and I just feel tenderness as you're talking about it. It just is such a human piece. And it's revolutionary to do this. It's really, really important. And you know, just a word about shame, it’s like, it likes to live in the dark corner of the room, and definitely exceeds on aloneness and not being seen. And that actually perpetuates it. So what you're doing is bringing it out into the light.
Figs: Exactly, that's a beautiful way to put it, as a really beautiful way to put it, you know, and again, that just I think it bears reiterating. I don't know if any of you are anything like me, when I have something that's stressing me out, or I feel bad about it inside, I can get very, very internal, and my brow can furrow, and I want to stay in there, like, you know, like working out what the problem is, and part of being in a relationship and a marriage and a family for me, like, you know, my particular case is I have a big impact on other people, I'm
immensely important to you, to our kids. And even though it's totally understandable, if I've got something going on, but I'm going to be in a process inside myself, it's also true that the quality of my presence is now going to be seriously impacted, and it's going to have a huge negative impact on you and the kids. If I let myself stay locked inside my own internal process without giving him the light or air space, to it. So including you, is actually the best I can do so that we at least can be together. And I don't have the hold this “was so- don't talk to me right now I'm busy processing something I feel bad about.” Like, you know that I can actually not have to hold my process so tightly. And it helps me and I think it helps.
Teale: Iit definitely helps me and it helps our whole family. It's an example of your and our success doing this. Now, I just want to be clear that we are not always successful about this.
Figs: It takes a while to be successful. Yeah, sometimes it's messy before we get there.
Teale: Yeah, and I'm just saying that I think in our daily life, we're processing stuff about our clients, we're processing stuff in our own spheres about our parents, I am processing, I'll just speak for myself here, because that's really real for me, and sometimes I can be reactive, and I don't even know, it's like, we don't always have to know, that's what we're doing, we're gonna get into ruptures and repairs, I might be processing something about my mom or dad, and then be like, a little grumpy with you because I've done something that doesn't feel so good, which happens a lot. There's complicated relationships there for me, and then I'm going to be reactive or short with the kids. And then we get into a negative thing. And then I'm just feeling like, “oh my gosh, it's all bad.” And so I think in those cases, we can claim a repair. And you know, I think I was in this thing, and I think I bit your head off, and so here's actually what was going on. So just reiterating, you're not always going to catch it on the front, like Figs did. This is “you caught this,” and sometimes I don't catch it, or you don't catch it and neither just doesn't catch it. And that's not bad. You don't have to be, you know, the Archangel.
Figs: That’s true. Most of the time when I end up having to tell you look, I'm feeling bad about myself because it started leaking out and reactivity in ways I was grumpy or like not wanting to participate and stuff. And then I have to like work it out and tell you because clearly Neil trying to keep all this on my own is making things worse and other ways now between you and me. So that's a really good point is that sometimes we get triggered and even though it's not about a relationship, and then it creates a negative cycle in our relationships, and that is normal. Let's not try and work out like “ well, who hurt who first'', right? It just regardless of how it started, even if I was upset because like Ireland just lost at rugby again, which now it's normal, no point getting upset, not very good. But like if I'm like grumpy for the rest of the day, because Ireland lost at rugby- like look at some point in another day, we just end up on our side go, our negative system that is both of us, there's no point in trying to like trace it back to make Figs was the source of all of this.
Teale: Absolutely no. And then we get into a cycle that we both have to do, but that's another good point.
Teale: So many good points! Mind blown!
Figs: But here look, thank you again, like you know for listening and for watching, you know, the sessions if you're watching these and we're looking forward to coming back and being with you again in two weeks.
Teale: Can’t wait!
Figs: So stay tuned and please listen, subscribe and share with anyone who you think would love to listen to two people talk about themselves.
Figs: There must be someone.
Teale: No, for people that want to listen to how funny I am that I got you twice! [laughs].
Figs: That was the win of win! I don't think I will ever be able to fully get you back for that one.
Teale: I don't think so either, it’s just so good! [Laughing].
Figs: Good job. You are Clarissa forever to me.