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121. The Psychedelic Experience of Non-Monogamy and Queerness with Fadl Fakhouri

Nicole: Do you have any questions for me before we get into anything?

Fadl: I, I mean, I'm sure you've been asked this a bunch just about Yeah. The origin story of this podcast and I, I find that it's really interesting actually, the approach of the previous person who's interviewed nominates the next person. Mm-hmm.

So I found that pretty interesting. Yeah. I guess like the origin behind the podcast as a whole, but then even more specifically, Why that nomination process? If there's something you're trying to get from it or, yeah,

Nicole: I think, I mean, the origin story would be being a feminist two years ago, going through grad school in the pandemic, just being frustrated about a lot of different things.

I grew up very Christian and so they're. Are multiple parts of my identity that have not been accepted from my own family. Right? So I feel like part of me wanted to bridge that sort of gap between their Mormon understanding of the world and my understanding of the world. Like how could we get closer?

How could we have conversations? I think that in terms of the nomination process, my lens existentially only puts me right here. Right? And so I'm not always seeing other things, thinking about other things. So when other guests get to decide like where it goes, then mm-hmm. The podcast is not so much just my lens and who I'm picking to come onto the show.

It's a reflection of like a much larger collective in that way. Hi, fat Cat. Hi. Mm-hmm. That's my cat.

Fadl: Hello. I also meow. That's great.

Nicole: And these days I've been enjoying it as like a theoretical space to also explore some of my like research passions. Um, in terms of, I'm doing my work, uh, dissertation research and non-monogamy.

Mm-hmm. And then my clinical work with psychedelics.

Fadl: Hmm. Oh, cool. That's very relevant to kind of where my mind is right now. Hmm. Yeah. Yeah. Tell me more. Well, I kind of have been microdosing shrooms for the past. What? Like I less than a month, for sure. Mm-hmm. But yeah, I, I don't know. I'm just finding my own sort of rhythm with that and Sure.

Yeah. I don't know. I feel like there's benefits to it, and then I feel that there can also be some negatives, but I think one thing that I have realized so far is that, It feels really easy to just start and stop. Mm mm-hmm. I haven't really noticed any. Yeah. I don't know. That's kind, it's, I, I feel like I'm using it or not.

I feel, but I'm pretty much using it as. A replacement or an alternative to an S S R I, where it's like, yeah, those have positives. But then just personally for me, I don't like what they've done for me. Mm-hmm. I try like different ones and, mm-hmm. Yeah. Yeah. It's kind of just like, I don't know. I feel like one thing that I actually do always is it's like, oh, is this right for me?

Uh, by whether or not music still sounds good. Mm. I, I, I had just had many moments in the club where I. It's like music is on and I just started an Ss SS r I and I am like, is this for me? Do I like the music? I know as a fact, like this is music. I would like. But yeah, sure, sure, sure.

Nicole: Yeah, I had my own journey as well with getting off of SSRIs and navigating all of that.

So it's quite the individual experience and journey. I'm glad you found something that's working for you.

Fadl: That's great. Yeah, no, definitely. Yeah, and it's interesting 'cause Laura kind of also told me that, you know, this conversation, interview, whatever you call it, isn't really. Intended to be that traditional in a way.

Yeah. It's so funny 'cause she was mentioning like, yeah, you might end up just like making like, I don't know, animal noises at some point or something, or like, who knows?

Nicole: That's the, that was the intro to the podcast. You might end up making animal noises.

Fadl: I don't know. Just like, yeah, I guess basically that you're a very open-minded person is kind of the impression that I got.

Ooh. Yeah.

Nicole: Yeah. Which is accurate and I hope to continue to foster that. Right. So yeah, it should be a fun play space. Theoretically. Let's get into it. How would you introduce yourself to the listeners? I.

Fadl: Yeah. Okay. First off, my name. Uh, my name is Fa Uri. I'm an interdisciplinary artist. I have a very research-based practice, but more traditionally my mediums are installation, performance, photo, and video.

Nicole: Yeah, very exciting. I'm. Looking forward to seeing where all of our conversation goes today. I'm curious what your story is, you know, take me through Yeah. Your journey.

Fadl: I'll start with my parents 'cause that's really easy. Sure, sure. Go for it. My parents were raised in Palestine, in the West Bank, um, a town called Halil, or also called Heon.

And, and they immigrated here in like the eighties, nineties. And yeah, and then I was born in San Francisco, which is where they immigrated to. And pretty much I stayed in the Bay Area, San Francisco Bay area until 22, 23. I'm currently 25 and back in the Bay Area. I mean, I basically was supposed to be a doctor.

I did the whole biology thing, um, worked in healthcare. I was really good at it. Did my undergrad at Berkeley, and then once I graduated, I just was left with this. Underwhelmed and overwhelmed at the same time by the fact that, you know, this is it. It's like I have to do whatever, like healthcare, science, whatever it is for the rest of my life.

And it felt very close ended for me, mostly because I was pressured to do it. Yeah. Well versus with the arts, uh, it feels. I mean, it not, it feels, but it can go in so many different directions. I mean, I don't know. I feel like sometimes I'm too harsh on science just because it's like, like you kind of traumatized me, but like I, I actually do have a great appreciation for it.

I think very scientifically when it comes to my artworks, I do a lot of sort of gathering data variables, experimentation, and then expected results. Yeah, so that's, I my brain still very much works like that.

Nicole: You found your groove. Now you were saying that your parents moved to America. Was it just you or did you have any other siblings?

Yeah, I'm, or do you have any other siblings?

Fadl: Yeah, yeah. Um, I'm the oldest. Okay. Uh, I have a sister who's year younger, and then I have a brother who is, uh, three years younger. Mm-hmm.

Nicole: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Yeah. Within your own family being the oldest, do you feel like there was a lot of pressure then to, like you said, to go into that doctor sort of profession?

Fadl: Yeah, I mean, there's always been a lot of pressure in so many different ways. It's very much a case of what, like reaction formation or something. So I end up doing the opposite. So one would expect, oh, like the oldest son is gonna be. Just like very traditional, like normative sort of roles. And then I'm actually the least normative in the family.

I'm like also the most silly and that's kind of always been a thing. Um, I think for many people with many identities, this insecurity of trying to validity or having authentic identity, Kind of like, oh, what do I have to do to maintain this security I have? And that ties to, for example, queerness.

Nicole: Yeah, yeah.

Are those various identities that you've experienced yourself in navigating the world?

Fadl: Definitely queerness in my own. Relationship to that. And I mean, first off it, we all know that it wasn't, it didn't carry the same connotation or meaning that it does today, where, you know, before it was a slur and it's more like something that people claim and own.

And yeah, I mean, I've always been more of a fan of queer than anything else, just because it is supposedly more elusive. I, I really hate being captured, you know? Um,

Nicole: sure, sure, sure, sure. Yeah. Yeah. It's also the label. I like queer. I've always liked it. It felt expansive enough to be anything and everything, and confusing and a little political and push it back.

Right. And that reclaiming

Fadl: Yeah, as expansive and elusive and whatever you can be within. Language, you know, because Sure. Anything that is named right, it's gonna be sort of like pinned down. But if there was a way to just be without being named, I don't think that really, I don't know. That might be an interesting thing to discuss more like I feel like that doesn't really exist just because we have such a desire to know, and there's such a discomfort with uncertainty.

Mm-hmm. Um, but yeah.

Nicole: Yeah. Mm-hmm. Yeah. Yes. Uncertainty is one of our biggest fears, right? Change all that sort of thing. But like, even if we have some sort of label like queerness it, it never pins it down, truly, right? Mm-hmm. Because to some degree, like what I say is queerness and what you understand that word to be are completely different to some degree, right?

And that's like the limited reality of any sort of language, right? If we really look at it and pinpoint it, like we're always stuck in our existential lenses to it. So it's like, even then there is no like, Queerness all across the board. 'cause everyone's gonna have a different lens to seeing that and what that means, which is cool.

Right. And exciting. So I'm curious too, I mean, we're recording this, you know, it's June 1st. I know it'll be released in August, but you know, happy pride, I'm curious, right?

Fadl: Yeah, exactly. I keep getting the notifications and I'm just like, happy LGBTQ plus one.

Nicole: I'd be curious if you'd wanna talk a little bit more about your story to your queerness. And I, I feel like everyone has their own journey to that, but if you'd be willing to share, I'd love to hear it.

Fadl: Yeah. Uh, my story's not the most fun.

Nicole: That's okay. And if it's not, I will promise that there are other people who resonate with you and wanna hear that.

Fadl: Yeah. Yeah, I mean, full clarification, like I am pansexual and I didn't really start identifying as that until what, last year or something. Sure. But it's really ironic because first off, like my story, um, doesn't really involve like a crush or anything. Mm-hmm. I kind of, I kind of wish that it did because that seems more romantic and fun.

I don't know. I'm very like, Not aggressive with my flirting. Sure. I'm the exact opposite and I just kind of wanna do like nice things and whatnot. But yeah, I don't know. Let me know if this like makes sense to you. Basically, it's just that like I, I really don't know the words for this, but Okay. That's okay.

Yeah. Yeah.

Nicole: Okay. Well, well then take me even further back. Let's start from the very beginning, like, yeah, your first, you know, sexual desires or first expansion in that space. Like where were you at, what were you experiencing? What was taught to you, right? What was the family structure, ideas and beliefs that were shared with you?

You know, show me, show me your world.

Fadl: Hmm. I mean, it's kind of always been just like, I don't know what's going on. Like, like mom pick me up, like, like help. I don't dunno what's going on. Sure. Like, yeah, I, I always just liked people as people. Yeah. I don't know. I kind of just like did what everyone else did, which was pretend to be straight.

Mm-hmm. Yeah. But always feeling like, I was different and yeah, I don't know. I also, for example, I went to Sunday school mm-hmm. Which is like, it's interesting because I was raised most of them, um, I'm not religious anymore. Sure. I, I haven't been actually like, love was kind of my way of becoming less religious and whatnot.

But yeah, I used to go to Sunday school and I always felt I was different in that I wasn't really like, I. Into the religion or into the rules or into whatever, and that I was kind of just like trying to basically like get a good grade in. Mm-hmm. Holiness. Mm. Yeah. I don't know. I kind of just like kept that up.

For years. And then it was in, uh, college where I started thinking like, wait a second, I think I'm queer. Mm-hmm. Like, I didn't, it just like happened to me, to myself thinking backwards. Once I did realize that, and I, I feel like I still do that, you know, it'll be like maybe next year I'll realize like, oh, when I was doing that, or like when that happened, like, that was totally because I'm queer.

Right. Um, yeah. I, I feel like I'm just like a paradox in that I'll be at both ends of the spectrum in terms of guilt and shame or whatnot. Yeah. It's like, oh yeah, I should do this because it's fun. But then at the same time it's like, oh, I shouldn't do that 'cause it's not allowed or something. Mm-hmm. I, I just like allow myself to do things and then just like, Live with it, I guess, but Sure, sure.

Nicole: Yeah. Living into the answers. Feeling into the answers. Allowing space for you to navigate that, feel it all out. Yeah. I am curious given my, you know, areas of expertise in sex and relationships, like what was your sex education like? Yeah.

Fadl: Yeah. I grew up in the US and like in California, in the Bay Area, like a very like liberal, so-called like progressive place.

And yeah, I mean I, I had sex education like a class or two in, yeah, I think it was in high school.

Nicole: Do you remember what they covered?

Fadl: Uh, honestly it's so funny 'cause I feel like I can only really recall like three memories. One is like a birthing video and then one is like how to put a condom on. Mm-hmm.

And then what else could there be maybe a little bit on contraception methods other than condoms?

Nicole: Yeah. What was the, um, situation with the birthing video? Was it like to try and scare you or was it this sort of like, this is what could happen? Or was it like, this is what will happen, you know, that like intense fear?

Fadl: Yeah. Huh. It, it, it was kind of in the middle, I guess I would say. Like, yeah, have sex, but like, be careful. Okay. It wasn't like be abstinent. It wasn't like that at all.

Nicole: Was that this within a religious context or a public Yeah, more liberal school. I'd be curious too, like what was the religious context at the time for you?

Fadl: Right. Yeah. 'cause I did basically have like two educations, uh, in adolescence. Right. It's like, but that, that was more so for, um, yeah, my high school, like Monday through Friday, um, not the, on the weekends. Um, I don't think there, there was never any discussion of it during Sunday school. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And, and if there ever was something that kind of touched on that or sort of like approached that topic a little bit, then it was just like, I use my hands a lot, so I don't know if this podcast will like only be audio.

It's on audio, audio, audio. Yeah. Right. So it's like you can't, what's the word? Like, just like we're not gonna talk about it. Yeah. Just like we're not gonna talk about it. Yeah. Get that away from me type stuff. Sure.

Nicole: Because I went to a conservative Christian school, so then I didn't even get any sort of sex education.

Like I didn't get a birthing video or a contraception video or even the condom thing. Like I never got the, like, let's put the condom on a banana. So then I only realized later that you like there's an actual orientation to the condom that you need to put it on the right way. Like things that I just, you know, I didn't get that education.

Where do people learn these things?

Fadl: Yeah, we actually, they gave out condoms at my high school actually. But you had to go to like the office or something. Damn.

Nicole: Yeah. Yeah. A I mean, that's better. I mean, we were taught very much so like, uh, abstinence only, you do not have sex. Mm-hmm. And even if you, uh, got pregnant in my school, you'd get kicked out.

Mm-hmm. Or what they would say is kindly ask you to leave.

Fadl: Mm. There was, um, yeah, there was something, my high school was very interesting actually, because there was this sort of like mini school. On the same campus. And that was sort of like for the troubling, not, what is it? Like the kids that got in trouble.

Yeah. A lot like troublemakers, that's the word. And um, so it was kind of just like kids that kind of got caught, like doing drugs or like anyone who got pregnant was kind of like sent to this like random, like little mini school. Yeah. I don't know. I don't, it's so weird how much stuff kind of just like goes like over your head when you're younger, like mm-hmm.

It's such a weird structure.

Nicole: Yeah. Maybe not the best structure. Yeah. I don't know. Just asking, you know?

Fadl: Yeah, no, exactly. It's very like, uh, ostracizing and isolating. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Nicole: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Was queerness welcome within your school setting?

Fadl: Yeah, I would say yes, but there wasn't any sort of like explicit.

It was mostly like, if it comes up, then like, don't antagonize it. But what do you mean? There's like, if, if there's like a classmate or something that is queer, like don't bully the classmate got or whatever, that's a good start. We love that. Yeah. There wasn't anything that kind of like emphasized. Sort of visibility or, which is like a whole other like discussion too.

Nicole: Hmm. Interesting. Yeah. So again, yeah. I'm hearing that it sounds like at your school was a little bit more liberal 'cause queerness was definitely not accepted. Mm-hmm. In my conservative Christian school, that wouldn't be a no. I don't think I saw anyone who was publicly out about their queerness at my high school at all.

That was not a safe space for that.

Fadl: What was sort of the setup? Was it like a co-ed school or,

Nicole: yeah, it was, it was a private Christian school in Southern California. And yeah, it was all co-ed and there was a range of people there, some people that went just for the private school, some people that specifically went for the Christian fact of it.

And so, but yeah, I mean I had bible class throughout the week and then I had chapels throughout the week. Mm-hmm. And then I'd go to youth group later at night and then have Sunday. Service at the family, you know, so like, it was, it was everywhere. And as a queer person myself, like I definitely didn't know I was gay at that point in my life.

Um, so that was a whole journey and a half, you know.

Fadl: Yeah. Yep. It's a journey. Mm-hmm. Yeah. I'm curious about your experience where, you know, even though you go to this very like religious school, there are still opportunities outside of that for you to, like, did you have opportunities to explore

Nicole: my queerness?

Fadl: Yeah. Or kind of like, was it kind of once you got to were able to like leave home?

Nicole: Oh yeah. Once I was able to leave home and I went out to college in the Midwest. Mm-hmm. And you know, I was doing the sorority life. Thing. And then, you know, you're drunk at a party making out with a friend and you're like, woo.

You know? So like, yeah, I think there was space to do it then, but even the college I went to was religious, so there was still that undertone there. Mm-hmm. Um, even though, you know, in college there was probably a little bit more space. I mean, what I find fascinating is that I didn't have any idea when I was in high school, right?

Mm-hmm. I was. I had seen, you know, movies and had responses in my body and other sorts of things, but I think there was so much cognitive dissonance going on in a world where I was taught that that was one of the most abominable things I could do in my lifetime would be to be gay, right? Mm-hmm. And so like, I just think there was so much cognitive dissonance that I couldn't even, like, Fathom that being a part of myself.

And so like you said, like it took being out. I, I guess it took alcohol enough to like turn that my brain down enough to explore it and then afterwards kind of sit with that and then have to sit through all the decoupling of internalized homophobia that was so, so, so, so deep that I, I still think personally continues in some ways today.

Like it's hard for me. Yeah. Mm-hmm. To imagine a world like married to another woman because I can't imagine taking that. Woman home to my family, right? Mm-hmm. Like that's, it's just a part of the reality of living in that narrative when that is your space. So I'm still deconstructing it, you know?

Fadl: Yeah, it's, it's like that, like, we'll, we'll be deconstructing it for a while.

Yeah. I mean, yeah. It's definitely better now. I mean, personally for me, and I'm definitely assuming for you that it's definitely better than when it first, when you first Yeah. Got that hint. Totally. You know, like, yeah, yeah. Thinking about the things that, or the way that I would think about it was just very like, Like phobic, like in a way, you know, like Sure, yeah.

Like looking back, I'll think like, oh my God, I can't believe that I said that or like, thought that. Which is like how a lot of the world thinks too, which is like wrong, but like that to be, uh, To be gay, you have to be a bottom. Mm. It's like one thing too, or like, yeah, I don't know. I'm trying, me just like trying to pull out like more problematic thoughts that I used to have, like

Nicole: Oh, sure.

When I look back on my journey, I, I, I laugh. Uh, I, I remember being in college and we, I was in this sort of Bible class and we had to pick different topics that we wanted to debate upon in the class, right? And one of the topics was homosexuality, which I was like, Oh yeah. Like, let me come in. I know the Bible.

Let me throw down the law and like show them what's up. Yeah. And so that is a hundred percent the topic that I signed up for and I got up. Mm-hmm. And I was like, yeah, the Bible says that homosexuality is a sin. It's very clear. Here, here, here, here, and here, here.

Fadl: That sounds so traumatic. No.

Nicole: For the classmates or for me to have said it and then found out I was gay later.

Right. Both.

Fadl: Yeah. Uh,

Nicole: I know. Well, I think that that I think is an interesting thing when we think about like cancel culture and other sorts of things, right? Yeah. Yeah. Mm-hmm. Navigating that reality between like holding people accountable for stuff and also that like some people, I. Come through in a lens, in a world that is reinforced by their community structures, so much so.

Mm-hmm. That they can even have deep internalized homophobia about their own identities and like yeah. Just have no awareness. And so how do we keep those people accountable and a restorative justice framework? Mm-hmm. Without having to cancel and ostracize people, but also hold them accountable for the real pain they cause.

Beyond my pay rate. My pay grade right?.

Fadl: Yeah. I mean, for me it's kind of just like, there's people, I mean family, for example, and I'm just like, It's just like a capacity too. It's like, do I have the capacity to deal with this right now? And then it's kind of just like, you know what? Like maybe let me just like I'll, that's not for me right now, basically.

Yeah. Yeah. It's interesting. Like back to psychedelics for example. Sure. Yeah. Throw it. Yeah. I mean like talking about my most recent trip. Yeah. It was shrooms. Mm-hmm. And I remember there was this succulent and I was kinda like laying down near it. And it was like pointy, right? And it was against my back.

And I was just like, ouch. Like, because it hit me. Sure. And I was just like, you know what, like I can't be mad at this cactus succulent thingy. Like it's literally just there. Like it's, it's just not for me. Mm-hmm. You know, that was that sort of like the, and intro to that trip. So that's, so something that I've kind of been trying to internalize more is just, just 'cause I'm not involved doesn't mean that like, Either of us are bad.

You know, it's just like, just that thinking about compatibility and whatnot. Like we don't all have to be friends. We don't all have to think the same thing. Just like, don't harm me. Right. But you know, like in some ways us being together is harmful. Mm-hmm. What do you mean by that? Or like, there's different ways to figure out to be with each other.

Mm-hmm. So it's like, there is a way I can exist with this. Cactus that isn't harmful. Mm-hmm.

Nicole: Which is space. Don't touch me cactus. No,

Fadl: literally. Yeah. But it's just like, it's just not for me right now or Oh, totally. Thoughts like, yeah. Does that make sense to you? Like, yeah.

Nicole: Yeah. That you had a, you had a profound moment on the medicine of this kind of reframe of how you interact with the world, right?

Like this object's doing its own thing. I can do my own thing and maybe I just go in a different direction. That sounds like it was a powerful experience that you wanna keep reflecting on and integrating into your life.

Fadl: Mm. Yeah. And I, I don't know if you experienced this on shrooms as, and consistently I'll have these very sort of like foundational thoughts mm-hmm.

While doing shrooms, thinking about the beginning of time or whatever. Mm-hmm. So just thinking about, oh, humans, like we exist at such a weird time in evolution. Yeah. It's like we're animals but then we're not allowed to be animals. Kind of things that are. And this is something that I try to tap on into my, uh, art practice as well, is either over performance or under performance.

So, for example, you know, thinking about this blanket, or even thinking about a scarf being used for comfort, it's like there's a limit. You know, like there's a limit to you merging with this object. Like if the scarf is too tight, then it's not even gonna be comfortable anymore. Sure. Yeah. Or even water, you know?

Too much water, you'll drown. Right.

Nicole: Yeah. Too much of anything is mm-hmm. Is maybe not a good thing. I think as you were thinking, as you were speaking, I was thinking about the thought. I've always kind of joked where I'm like, yeah, like you always watch, you know, I have a little cat. You saw my little cat come up earlier, like, you know, We'll giggle because we'll put a box out and then a cat will like hop into it and be like, oh, I like box.

Right? And it's like we do the same thing as humans. Like here I am, I am this, this, this, this, this. Here are boxes to put me in of who I am and what I do and where I'm at in the world. Because like you said earlier, right, like the unknown, the unknown being so scary, the unknown. The uncertain change, all those pieces.

So we like to like pinpoint our narratives, our experience in these things that are static in these boxes, in these various identities. When maybe it's much more fluid than that. Hmm, hmm. Just thoughts.

Fadl: Yeah. No, definitely. It's just how, for example, language is, um, a compromiser, it's a sort of way of negotiating, like, uh, for example, identity.

Like how can a word speak to. Existence, or I've been thinking about Bell Hooks a lot too, actually. Sure. With how she kind of starts off the book, or very early on in the book, she states that love is a verb. Mm-hmm. Yeah. So it's kind of interesting too to think about that in terms of any sort of identity.

It's like I. Uh, doing and whatnot. Mm-hmm.

Nicole: Yeah. What does that mean to you? Love is a verb. How do you interpret that?

Fadl: Just to keep on putting in the work and putting in the actions and behaviors and whatnot.

Nicole: I'm curious, have you heard the word new relationship energy? Mm.

Fadl: Uh, no, but I feel like I can tell what that means.


Nicole: Yeah. Right, right, right. Yeah. Within the, um, non-monogamous, open relating community, there's like this common term around that of like new relationship energy. You know, you might be in your stable relationships and then you meet someone new and then all of a sudden you're. So excited, so about them.

So in it, right, and it's, it's interesting to talk about the neuroscience behind that of the various, um, chemicals going on in our brain that actually mur mirror cocaine, so that it's like that new relationship energy is a drug, right? And you get so high up in it. Into it. I was just, um, having an experience with that myself where I was like, okay, how do I be a responsible drug user?

How do I stay calm in my, like, super new romantic stage? Um, because like the reality is that stage of excitement and all of that doesn't necessarily. It transforms into a different feeling. And that's what I was thinking about when you were saying that love is a verb. Right. You know, like especially in that beginning stage of love and excitement mm-hmm.

And rapture and all that. It's so heightened and exciting and Yeah. You know, compared to maybe that stage of finding stability and finding security and then love being that choice of like, I'm going to show up for this person. I'm going to be here, I'm going to grow with you in that. And it very much so being a verb rather than this.

Transient feeling state that we have, particularly at the beginning of a relationship.

Fadl: Mm-hmm. Yeah. No, definitely. And, um, I'm wondering also about, um, you know, when you keep doing something, it gets easier. Mm-hmm. Like in certain relationships it, it'll feel like, oh, wow. Like I, I remember learning how much of a, an effort, uh, relationships are.

I mean, at the beginning, you know, and once you pass the whole like, Honeymoon stage or whatever, like all this euphoria, and then it's like you kind of come down to earth and it's like, oh, damn. If I want to like keep those, uh, good feelings coming, then I have to like put in work. Mm-hmm. Sort of, uh, or invest, yeah.

Rather, yeah. You have to invest time.

Nicole: Yeah, certainly. Yeah. 'cause the work idea, I'm like, Ooh. I guess it is work in some ways, but I guess I, I don't necessarily see it in that frame. Mm-hmm. I don't see watering my plants as work. I guess I see it as an investment, right?

Fadl: Like Yeah. Yeah. Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, like more so work in the.

I mean, it depends like what sort of like definition you're using.

Nicole: Totally, yeah. And it, and it depends on the relationships, right? Yeah. Like some, some relationships do quite literally take a lot of work. I would say that connecting with like, kind of like we were talking about earlier, right? Relationships with maybe my family who's more conservative, like.

Hmm. That does take more work in my relationship to, to check various parts of myself that might not feel safe to share various things that maybe they don't understand and like to still invest in that relationship. Mm-hmm. Does take a lot of work and time and energy. Right. So, yeah. But I, but I guess that what I'm saying too is that like my romantic and sexual relationships have felt like play.

They haven't felt like work lately. So then that's the other. Piece of it all.

Fadl: Yeah. When it's so new, it feels like work in a way, or like it just feels more scary and whatnot. Mm-hmm. And then you, like, you keep doing it, and then it's just, you don't, you forget that you're even doing it. It just be like, I can do this with my eyes closed type of situation.

Nicole: Right. Yeah. That's been my experience with like jealousy a little bit. I would say in terms of this process, like you had said, like things that get easier over time. I'd say definitely in my relationships with, um, open relating like jealousy has been one of those things that has like significantly gotten better with time.

Mm-hmm. That I wouldn't have been able to predict, you know, a couple of years ago in that way.

Fadl: Mm-hmm. Yeah. I'm curious about what that looked like for you. 'cause I feel that it's also gotten easier for me.

Nicole: Sure. Yeah. I think that I. The first time that someone had mentioned non-monogamy to me, I was like, well, you don't love me enough.

I was like, if you love me enough, then you would wanna be monogamous with me. And that's kind of how I started into this world. Um, and then eventually realized that I was having my own feelings for multiple people and kind of started to step into what that would look like, navigating that space in a, you know, in open communication and dialogue.

But mm-hmm. I think that, The first time that you do it, I've definitely talked about this as its own form of psychedelic experience, right? Mm-hmm. If you have been raised in a reality where it's all monogamy, it's all the romance of like you meet that one, the one and the only one. Mm-hmm. Then to step on any sort of reality that is not the typical is I believe its own form of psychedelic experience.

Mm-hmm. So you can expect those same sorts of things when that first time that you have that. Experience where reality starts to bend. And it's a little bit scary because we're like, what's going on? You know what I mean? Yeah. Compared to maybe if you've had multiple times in psychedelic experiences and comfort with the different ranges of what those can be.

Right. Like those, that practice, um, really helps. So I will say at first it was, it was scary and it was a lot of like open conversations with my partner of what that meant. And, you know, Even noticing now there's still times where like it brings up certain things in my body and I'm able to like breathe through it and talk about it.

And now my metamore, my, uh, mm-hmm. Partner's, other partner is like one of my closest friends and mm-hmm. That's magical. I could've never thought that that would happen in this journey.

Fadl: Yeah. No, exactly. Yeah. I think also just 'cause I, I used to kind of have this sort of approach where, I would be more like solo polly or just kind of like single in a way.

And then like, oh, I would catch feelings, fall deeply in love, and I was just like, ah, I want you for myself, or like, I want to offer myself to you. And then I had this really real awakening where I kind of just realized you can't even possess in monogamy. You know, like we're all free to do what we want to do.

Or like, you kind of just have to trust, for example, that people aren't gonna hurt you or, mm-hmm. I was like driving the other day. I mean, this is like such a dramatic example, but like I was driving the other day with a friend and it's kind of just like, oh, the trust that like, for example, that like one of us is not gonna like fuck with this driving, like make like, you know, like, like we just trust that like, No one's gonna like pull the wheel suddenly or something.

Mm-hmm. Like super dramatic. Like when I ha you know, you don't, do you ever have these like, random thoughts that are just like the worst thing? Like, like it's just like a possibility that like your brain calculates like, yeah. Like, please don't do that.

Nicole: Right. Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. That's sort of like worst case scenario.

Yeah. And I think for me, like I, I am a total romantic in 110 different ways. Right. And like I, I hold space for the beauty and the sacredness of a monogamous contract that people, a sacred contract that people embark upon together. And the beauty and the richness of that. I will say for me, it like I. I don't think that possession is the highest form of love.

Mm-hmm. I will say as a romantic, it's scary, right? Like, because the person could leave, but like you said, in monogamy, they could leave at any point as male. Yeah. Mm-hmm. So within that framework, You know what actually feels really good to me, the reality that my partner is a bird that is not in a cage, and my partner could fly around the whole world and have mm-hmm.

Any partner that they want in their life because they have that freedom and you know who they choose to spend time with every week. Mm-hmm. Yeah, and every time that they come to see me it is free and it is not because we've made some sort of like forced commitment in that way, even though obviously we do have commitments to one another that are beautiful in terms of like promising to be there for one another and whatever shape our relationship takes over the years in terms of sexual, romantic, platonic, like that's sort of commitment there is so beautiful.

But. It feels, to me that feels super romantic. I don't know. I think we, I think we need a new open relating romantic framework, which to me is that, yeah. My partner is choosing me.

Fadl: Yeah, exactly. I mean that's kind of the, this is kind of um, an ironic thing that like happened to me where I was worried, like back when I really wanted to like, Both possess and be possessed.

Sure. Is that, you know, we were, we basically were monogamous before in that, like, we were spending all of our time with each other and only with each other. And then I, I still felt like, you know, like, why don't, why don't you just like say it? Or like, you know, like, why don't we just like say that we're like in a closed relationship or like, let's close this.

And it was just like, it kind of like by action or behavior or whatever it already like was closed in that case, you know? And then, Um, even thinking beyond that, it's like if you're in a, a non-monogamous relationship or you're poly or what, whatever it is you wanna say, um, that you, I, I it is like always closed in a way, if that makes sense.

Hmm. Like, so like, I mean that, not, not necessarily closed, but like there's a trust, like you are bonded to each other. You are attached to each other, like, Um,

Nicole: yeah. Think about your best friend, right? Yeah, exactly. Like you have a commitment to them mm-hmm. That has maybe been unspoken in some ways, right?

Like, you trust your friends are gonna be there without having to have this sort of, you're my only best friend and only no one else can touch you. And like the ownership thing, like. That's where kink comes in for me. 'cause I'm like, yeah, own me. Let's play with that. Right. Let's go there, let's do all of that.

Right? Like, yeah. And I, and I like to play with that, right? Like we have a very, um, fun dynamic with one of my partners. We're like, that is a hundred percent what we do. Like, I like to feel like his object, I like to feel like his own possession that he can walk around and parade around as his thing. And like I love that.

And also, I have the freedom at any point to go explore whatever I want with anybody else. Yeah. Mm-hmm. So it's like the yes. And to that of like, I want to feel owned and I am in some ways, and also absolutely not in any ways at all. You know what I mean?

Fadl: Yeah. I mean, non-monogamy is such a good way to unlearn feelings of shame.

Yeah. That's something for me that, and I'm still working on it 'cause that's like, that's gonna be a process and whatnot. But yeah, it's nice to just feel. That my feelings aren't wrong. Right. And that they're literally like, the feelings that I have to be attracted to more than one person is just like everyone, like for, I mean, not everyone, but like, you know, like it's a very common, very, very, very common feeling and it's nice to not feel some sort of shame, like how, right.

I used to not even look at other people because I'm like, I can't right now. Like, You know,

Nicole: this is a hundred percent the romance myth, right? That has been perpetuated that, you know, when you fall in love, you only have eyes for one other person, one other person, no one else. You're so enwrapped, you're so excited.

And I think as a society, as a culture, we're starting to deconstruct that more and hold. Space with the reality that like, yeah, other human beings are art and I wanna be able to go out. And whether you do it monogamously right, or open relating right, because you can acknowledge beauty and sexual attraction with other people and choose to maybe not spend your time and energy there because the reality is of open relating, you're diversifying your time and energy across multiple people, and some people might not want that.

Mm-hmm. However, coming to a space where we can normalize the reality that. Other people are attractive. You're gonna have crushes on them, and then you get to decide what you wanna do with that. That's huge for society. I think it's important to continue to talk about that because a lot of people, like you said, will have shame if they're in this like super loving relationship and they have attraction for someone else.

Like, oh no, doesn't that, that is a hundred percent what has been in every like romcom and all the bullshit media that says the second you love someone else, those like Tumblr quotes. Mm-hmm. The second you love someone else, you should leave because you never loved the first one. Really? And I'm like, oh my God.

Fadl: It's so toxic and yeah, it's like I don't wanna hate on monogamy, like, you know.

Nicole: Well, right. It's, it's beautiful. Monogamy is beautiful when that's what people are choosing and wanting to do, right? Mm-hmm. Like there's so much sacredness to deciding that you're gonna focus all of your energy, all of your sexuality to one person.

Mm-hmm. However, that's not the greatest thing for all people. Some people really enjoy a world where they're able to explore, find out different parts of themselves, and you know, You could have one best friend your whole life and there's nothing wrong with that, right? Like that's how some people live, like in complete solitude and join one best friend.

However, that is not the life I live and I have multiple best friends and I learn parts of myself in these different relationships. Mm-hmm. Including the sexual ones. Mm-hmm. I'll have some dynamic with one person that brings out a part of myself that has. Never come out in my other dynamics, just like our friendships and we have other friendships that bring out parts of us.

Mm-hmm. So it's like there's nothing wrong with having one best friend, but maybe that's not the life you wanna live. And you've been sold a model that said that's the only way to do this. And so yeah. Hence here I am talking about it. Right?

Fadl: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. There's, I feel like there's so many things to talk about and more, but

Nicole: how has your journey been with polyamory?

Fadl: Uh, I mean, it's, I'm still learning to, to be honest, like I haven't been, uh, and I dunno if I ever will be in, um, Like two relationships or like two. What is it like having two partners at once or like two? I mean, uh, just 'cause of like time and whatnot.

Nicole: Sure. Relationships. 'cause you're, I would assume you probably have multiple relationships in your life.

By relationships do you mean like sexual and romantic?

Fadl: Yeah. Yeah. Okay. I mean, I'm still like, yeah, it has to do with like time and commitment and because I wanna be fully present for people and give them my all. It's just like in this time of my life, I want to dedicate a lot to my art.

Nicole: Yeah. I feel the same, you know?

Yeah, I felt the same way with grad school and the dissertation and the podcast. I'm like, y'all, I have a relationship with a podcast. Like, no, literally, yeah, I gotta show up every week to that date, you know?

Fadl: Yeah. Yeah. But I mean also, and my relationship with myself. Totally. It's interesting too because I've, I've learned that you can build a relationship.

Or a positive relationship with yourself, or like, for example, learn to love yourself by being in love with other people.

Nicole: You know, psychology would be like, yeah, that is how we form a sense of identity is through our relationships. Yeah. So like, yeah.

Fadl: Yeah. No, but it's, it's interesting because I feel that a lot of us are told that.

You can't love anyone else until you love yourself. And it's just like, how is that even possible? Like how are you gonna learn even to like this sort of like language of love basically if you're not speaking it Well.

Nicole: Totally. That's where we can deconstruct the idea of like a western concept of self, which is so individualistic.

It is so like you are the individual. Figure out who you are and like we could definitely blame. The patriarchal field of psychology for creating that sort of reality, right? Right. Here's a diagnosis, place it on the person, all of that sort of stuff. But the reality is like we, our sense of identity is shaped through all of our different relationships, including our relationships, to like a higher power.

I. Society, family, friends, like we internalize those. Mm-hmm. And then that's who we are and how we move through the world. So like all of this language of like, yeah, you need to learn to love yourself first. I, I feel like the intention is, is good, right? That like, there's maybe parts of ourself that need healing, which you do in relationships, by the way.

Yeah. Whether I say that's in a capitalistic therapeutic model or community. So like, How are you gonna learn to love without those relationships? However, it's like, I, I see the intention there of like, learn to love yourself so that you're not putting so much of yourself worth into the other people, right?

Mm-hmm. Learn to see who you are as a beautiful mm-hmm. Gift to humanity. But it's also like, like you said, the way that we learn how to do that is when your whole Humana. Community looks at you and says, you are valuable. You are worthwhile. Because if you grow up in a home where everyone looks at you and says, you're a piece of shit and wrong, how are you supposed to love yourself?

Yeah. And that's also where we can talk about society, right? Thinking about pride, queerness, mm-hmm. All of that, right? Like if society says you're worthless and all that stuff. So look at that person. Be like, wait till you love yourself to find community. Like no. No, we're all suffering with someone who came in with some sort of negative message that we weren't enough, that we were wrong.

And so it takes literally, quite literally takes relationships to change that. But all of this is a relationship where they mean romantic, sexual, right. And this is where I start to feel really big disconnects with like the society or like people who just say, yeah, like a relationship. 'cause I'm like, which one do you mean?

'cause we have so many. Mm-hmm.

Fadl: You know? Yeah. That's why like I get lost with the terminology sometimes. Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Because it's like, yeah. 'cause everything is a relation, like you have a relationship to everyone and Yeah. Yes.

Nicole: Yeah. That's the frame, right? That's the shift. People starting to think in that way of like, oh yeah, this is a relationship.

And like you said, they take time and energy, right? So like thinking about. You know, this is your garden. Like, how much do you wanna pour into this relationship? And it will grow accordingly. Maybe you have a cactus friend, you know, who's like super chill, doesn't need lots of watering, you know, like you get to make your garden and like, what do you wanna plant?

And so, you know, build. Hmm. It's exciting. I, I find it exciting. I find this so exciting, this world where people can build these relationships that make them happy instead of trying to, one of my guests has used the, um, Idea of like a Lego manual, right? Like taking out the Lego manual to say like, here's all the blocks, right?

What do you wanna build? And that's scary because then it's like, well, there's no manual, Nicole, how am I supposed to do this? What am I supposed to do? Where am I gonna be in 60 years? Right. It's like you get to make that reality.

Fadl: Yeah. And also just living in the present, but you know, making sure that you can.

Get to the future.

Nicole: Yeah, yeah. Right. Which is tricky 'cause you can't think too far ahead. Right. Yeah. Like then we can get into like Buddhist things like Uhhuh, you know, staying in the present moment, but like planning, it's just, oh yeah. There's so much there. Mm-hmm. Yeah. It sounds like you're deconstructing a lot and exploring lots of new things.

Fadl: Yeah. No, definitely. I, I could, I'll continue to deconstruct because things are always being constructed. I'll continue to construct and deconstruct. Yeah,

Nicole: yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Exactly. Yeah. And that's probably gonna be our lifetime, right. Until we're 81 day still deconstruct in the ways that society is affecting us.


Fadl: Doing and undoing. Yeah. Yeah.

Nicole: I wanna hold some space for. In case we didn't hit on anything that maybe you wanted to share or talk about today. Hmm. Otherwise I have a closing question. I ask all of my guests.

Fadl: Yeah. I guess just, um, an announcement about an exhibition. Sure, sure. Go for it. That's it.

Yeah. Yeah. But yeah, I mean, I've never been to Chicago. Uh, I'll be. Part of an exhibition called Double Blessings at the Roots and Culture Contemporary Art Center in Chicago. And so either opening August 4th or fifth, um,

Nicole: you can send me the link and then that way it will be in the show notes, so that way everyone can find it linked down below.

Fadl: Yeah, so first or second week of August till first or second week of September. Exciting.

Nicole: Well, congrats on that show and I, I really hope you enjoy Chicago. You'll have to, uh, make it out to the lake and Yeah. Get some time out in our beaches out here and enjoy it.

Fadl: Yeah, no, definitely. I'm trying to go to, Smart bar.

Nicole: Hey, smart bar. Yeah. I recently celebrated the end of my semester there with a dance or two. And that hazy fog.

Fadl: Yeah, I, it's just so, it's interesting 'cause there's all these different sort of like clubs around the world that you just hear about and it's just like, It sounds like it's still popping.

Nicole: Yeah.

Oh, it's popping. Yeah. I didn't know it was one of those, like more famous. Yeah. There's a lot of, um, dance and like music, dance and house music, which is really fun in that space. Mm-hmm. And I've had a good time, many a times on that dance floor.

Fadl: Oh yeah. I hope I will too. Yeah.

Nicole: Well then I, I'll ask you, what is one thing that you wish other people knew was more normal?

Fadl: Hmm. I don't know. I feel like sometimes I'm such a freak. It's like what is normal? Amen to that. What is, what is normal? I think just that literally every single person is self-conscious in a way. Mm-hmm. Like, yeah. I mean, we have to be like conscious of the self to be able to like, Do anything. I feel so, like people that are on stage, for example, like they're nervous.

Like everyone's literally nervous. Yeah. So it's just like, I feel like the, the disconnect, the, like, you kind of have to like do a disconnect in that, uh, point where it's like, yeah, I'm anxious about going on this stage or being in front of people or whatever, but you kind of just have to like keep doing it until.

It doesn't feel that way anymore. Yeah. And just, it's basically exposure therapy. Right? Right. Especially me. 'cause I do a lot of performance work and so it's like I will get nervous and I mean less so than before, but literally like everyone is nervous. Yeah. Like literally everyone is nervous. Like everyone's anxious and like, No matter how confident they seem.

So it's like, do the thing. Do the thing you wanna do, even if you feel anxious about it. Yeah. Yeah. And also people forget you. You're not gonna do so bad. The worst that you can do, I feel is like be underwhelming. Right. Right. Like, absolutely. Like, fuck up and like everything, like that's not gonna happen.

Nicole: Right? Yeah. The res the research shows that people tend to remember the beginning and the end of the experience. So whenever I'm teaching yoga and I like mess up and have something, I'm like, it's okay Nicole. They're gonna remember the beginning and the end, so finish strong. Right? I think that, um, yeah, everyone wants to be loved, right?

And everyone wants to be accepted. So anytime you, someone's stepping up onto that stage, like, We all humanly have the worst fear of being rejected. Mm-hmm. And so like we can get nervous and in that, and I think as someone who you know, is working in therapy with clients, like being able to hear how many other people feel the same way as someone myself who has struggled with social anxiety.

Yeah. It has been so eye-opening. Yeah. To realize how many other people feel the same way. And then when I am. Personally in spaces. I try to remember that intentionally of like, yeah, everyone's feeling the same thing. Like I can relax, like everyone is feeling the same like level of self-awareness, self-consciousness, and in that, that provides me some peace with the experience to know that, yeah, I'm not the only one feeling this way, so I don't have to.

Continue to spiral down it, right? 'cause it's that first thought of like, oh no. And then it's like, oh no, I'm having the thought. Oh no. Oh no, no, it won't stop. Yeah. Right. And it's like, ah. You know, and it just keeps going compared to that. Mm-hmm. Like first moment of like, yes, I have that thought. I know why I have that thought.

'cause I wanna feel safe, loved, and everyone else has this thought, right? And like then I go a completely different direction and then I'm dancing on stage, you know?

Fadl: Yeah, exactly. And you just go, go dancing on stage.

Nicole: Exactly. And that's how we dance. What was lovely to have you today. Where would you wanna plug, I know you mentioned your show, but is there anywhere else you'd wanna plug so that people can find your work and connect with you?

Fadl: Yeah, I mean Instagram, that's like the artist's LinkedIn basically. Yeah, these days, right? Yeah. You can follow me at at F Adl. F A K H O U R I. And that's also my, yeah, my portfolio website's there too, like Think that's it. Yeah. Great.

Nicole: Well, thank you for coming on the podcast and having a conversation with me today.

Fadl: Yeah. And thanks for having me.

Nicole: Of course. Yeah. Thanks for going with the free flow energy.

Fadl: Of course. Yeah.

Nicole: If you enjoy today's episode, then leave us a five star review wherever you listen to your podcast, and head on over to modern anarchy to get resources and learn more about all the things we talked about on today's episode.

I wanna thank you for tuning in and I will see you all next week.

1 Comment

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