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148. Exploring the Nuance of Fundamental Christianity, Therapy, and Psychedelic Healing with Liara Roux

Nicole: Welcome to Modern Anarchy, the podcast exploring sex, relationships, and liberation. I'm your host, Nicole.

On today's episode, we have sex worker and writer, Liara Roo, Join us for a conversation about finding empowerment after the abuse of religion. Together we talk about learning to leave relationships, empowering others to choose for themselves rather than giving advice, And normalizing sex work. Hello, dear listener, and welcome back to Modern Anarchy.

I'm delighted that you're here. We have another episode, a new guest, in the long lineage of, uh, nominations of nominations, so let's dive in and see what today's episode has in store for us. Yeah, thinking about a feminist rebellion on Christianity. If you've been listening to the podcast for long enough, you know that I have a lot to say on this topic.

I have talked about this again and again in various conversations on the podcast, and so there's no way that I'm going to try and cover it all right now in this intro. Instead, I'm going to direct you to check out a couple of episodes from the past that I have talked about spiritual trauma. There's so much more to dive into here.

I'm thinking about Episode 134 with Dr. Rachel Smith that's on healing from the grooming of purity culture. Or, even going back to one of seven with Kayla Fenton, recovering from spiritual trauma through psychedelics, or even one of the recent ones with Juliet143, kinky Christianity to relationship anarchy embodiment.

I mean, there are so many conversations on the podcast about, uh, fundamental religion and how that impacts feminism and all people, right? Of course, all people and our access to pleasure. And damn, you know, I have had my own painful journey with that, and I see it often in my work that I do with clients who are trying to access their pleasure, right, the ways that Fundamental religion, purity culture, really impacted their access to their embodiment.

And it's neat though to see that as I continue to go down this podcast journey, I don't know if you've realized that the conversation has kind of shifted. Less talk about the spiritual trauma, more on the play. And moving past that, and I guess if there's any sign of healing. It's the fact that that conversation that piece is less of a sticking point for me and I'm starting to branch out into different areas, right?

We're always locked within our existential realities. And so what I'm drawn to is a little bit moving beyond that rather than the processing there. And it's exciting that I have all. Of year 2024 content planned for you, dear listener. Is that not the most romantic thing you've ever heard? I have so much stuff for you.

I have so many sweet journeys, sweet conversations planned for you that I'm just waiting on. Each week I'm editing and wrapping up for a little bow for you to enjoy. So yeah, when I look out at the content for the rest of the year, I Didn't spend a lot of time talking about spiritual trauma in the ways that I certainly have in past years So it's definitely a joy to be on this healing journey with you, dear listener And I wanted to provide a little bit of an update from last week.

I mentioned my Exorcism celebration and you know what dear listener? It was amazing. And yeah, just thinking about the content of today's episode, you know, fundamental Christianity really taught that I needed to submit to the authority of my husband, that I would be quiet, and that I would only have sex with him for the rest of my life, let alone queer sex.

Let alone multiple people, right, and gosh, just to be able to have such a beautiful experience in my body of play and intimacy with some of the closest people in my world, I really find it divine that I could have such joy. In my interactions, in my embodiment, coming from the trauma of purity culture and coming from actual physical trauma in my life with sexuality.

And so it's been such an amazing journey to get to the space of where I'm at now, where I can feel safe enough to explore pleasure with multiple people and in different settings and truly to be able to embody play. Bisexuality. I, gosh, these days I cry tears of literal joy for how beautiful it is to connect with people in a sacred energy exchange and it's a pleasure to continue to explore this and I am very passionate about speaking to this in a public space because I do believe that this is how we end rape culture.

It's bringing these conversations out and into the light into our communities so that we can talk about what's going on. Not in a way that's to be naughty or anything of that caliber, but to really honor the fact that we are all exploring intimacy in different ways. And the more that we can have these conversations in the light, the less harm that is going to go on in the world.

And so I want to invite you to take steps towards that in your community of talking about your pleasure in all the different ways that comes. through in your body, and I will certainly be in the space continuing to do that, speaking to you about all of the ways I am growing and learning, messing up and learning again, um, as I go down this journey.

So with that, dear listener, I am sending you, uh, so much love and let's tune into today's episode. So then the first question I like to ask each guest is, how would you introduce yourself to the listeners? Thank you. Uh, hi,

Liara Roux: I'm, uh, Liara Rue. I'm a sex worker, writer, and organizer, and a lot of the organizing that I do is specifically around, uh, freedom of expression online.

Nicole: Great. Well, I'm really excited to dive into these topics. And I know you had sent over a couple that you wanted to talk about. So you had said psychedelics, religion, and moving past trauma.

Liara Roux: Yeah. Mm hmm. Good bunch.

Nicole: Yeah. Anything sticking out to you that you want to start out with?

Liara Roux: Hmm. There's so much there.

You know, psychedelics could be something that kind of ties all of it together, maybe. I think for me, like, psychedelics really helped me. Move past a lot of my, uh, religious trauma in particular, I think, because of the environment I was raised in, even though, you know, when I grew up, I. Decided to leave a lot of the things that I was taught in my very fundamentalist Christian upbringing behind, I think I didn't realize how much of it was still sticking with me until I started doing psychedelics on a regular basis and was really able to see.

Um, how it had shaped my, my worldview.

Nicole: Mm hmm, mm hmm, mm hmm. Yeah, that's definitely been a running conversation on this podcast. Spiritual trauma and how those, you know, forces have impacted us. So if you feel comfortable, I'd love to hear about your journey and, you know, where you started. You said fundamentalist religious space.

I'd love if you could take me and the listeners back to, yeah, your journey, your story, wherever that begins.

Liara Roux: Yeah, I think for me, it was really, you know, I was raised in the type of church that was very into quiverful ideology. I don't know if you're familiar with it. But they were very into the idea that women should have as many babies as possible and that women's place was really just to be, like, subservient and very obedient to their husbands who were sort of like the head of the household, um, in a very, like, strong hierarchical, hierarchical sense.

And that really, um, even when I was young, just rubbed me the wrong way. I felt like I really wanted to be able to make decisions for myself. I didn't. Agree with the teachings that women, uh, were supposed to be lower than men. Especially because in the Bible, there's conflicting messages about that even, like, I think my church taught a lot from the, the Old Testament, which is really, you know, much more of the traditional fire and brimstone, shitty gender roles stuff.

But I was really into the Jesus part of the Bible where, you know, he's very much about forgiveness and about loving people and sort of meeting them where they're at. But when I would try to have these conversations with, you know, other members of the church or leaders of the church, they would really just.

Dodge them, they wouldn't answer them directly and would just, you know, sort of say something vague about, oh, you know, like God is unknowable or, you know, it's a mystery why, you know, but he knows best, you know, we just have to listen and obey, which didn't sit right with me.

Nicole: Yeah, which makes sense, right?

Yeah. Seeing it where you're at now, right? Yeah, these are always such tricky conversations, right? Because that respect for culture and then when does that culture cause harm, right? Like, I think you're pointing to some of the pieces here of, yeah, what did they say about women and their place? Yeah,

Liara Roux: you know, you, you definitely can talk about it in a broader way.

I think. It is hard to generalize too much because it did seem like there were certain women in the church who were perfectly content with this sort of setup, you know, and I think, I think for them, you know, a lot of them actively went out of their way to choose. This lifestyle like they had come from a more secular family and they were just really drawn to this style of relationship and I think that's totally valid, you know, I think the issue for me is having it be forced down everyone's throats and this sort of push for for everyone.

to live the same way. You know, I have no problem if, you know, a woman wants her husband to make all the decisions, you know, that's fine. I mean, even in BDSM, you know, there's like this idea of the 24 7 power exchange where, you know, it, it, it can happen both ways where, you know, a woman is in charge all the time or a man is in charge all the time or someone non binary.

I think for me, The most important thing about all of these is, is consent.

Nicole: Right, the choice. The choice factor. Which, for you, did you grow up in the religion,

so didn't have that choice? Or yeah, how did you step into it?

Liara Roux: Uh, yeah. I grew up in this fundamentalist church.

What was your religious background like?

Nicole: Yeah, I I was non denominational Christian, and then I would say I went to school in that sort of framework. So I got, you know, the Bible study, the Bible class, all those sort of paradigms, and then I dated someone during that time in my life who was very fundamental.

Christian. So that influenced me in a lot of different ways. You know, maybe similar to your experience. I was told that I would have to stay home with the children. I was told that I would be subservient to his divine authority and that he was closer to God. And eventually we started to argue about that.

And I didn't like where that trajectory was going. And That's kind of how I started to step out of it just because it felt so wrong, you know, we started to be in college together and it was like, I'm getting a degree too. Like, shouldn't we have whoever makes the most money stay at home? Like, isn't that, or shouldn't we have whoever makes the most money keep the job and then have the Another person stay at home?

Like just basic ideas that really pushed up against the ideology and so then that's when it started to kind of crumble and turn away. But I just always remember looking up to the authority of men and then when I think about the ways that that's impacted my dating life. Yeah. I think it's there. I think it's really there.

Liara Roux: Yeah. Yeah, it's, it's interesting. I feel like I rebelled so hard against it in certain ways, and a lot of it really didn't end up sticking with me, but it was just a few things like sort of strange. Beliefs that I had that I didn't even necessarily realize were coming from Christianity. Like for me, probably one of the largest ones was this idea that you should always just try to make a relationship work.

Like, you shouldn't try to break up. You should just like, stick it out and try to, you know, talk with the other person and compromise. But the thing is that really doesn't really necessarily make sense, especially if it's early on in a relationship. It's one of those things where. You know, if you're like a year in and you're fighting a lot and like, just not feeling good, then it's time to go, you know, I think, in longer term relationships there, there can be a lot that can be gained out of compromising and and figuring out how to make things work, but.

If it's something that's just not feeling good for you, the way to make it feel better is not necessarily to try to work it out, but sometimes it's just to, to walk away. Um, something that really didn't sink in until I, you know, went through like a, a more serious relationship when I was an adult.

Nicole: Mm. And then how to learn that lesson for yourself, tough, very tough.

And I think you have that like religious structure, right? And then we have the structures, um, at least in America of this idea of like, you need to work, you got to put in the effort, you got to make this happen, you know? So then we get into this paradigm where that's what we think we have to do in these relationships.

And then. at least in my experience, if you add something like purity culture on top of that. Oh God. Yeah. Right. So then, you know, at least in my own lived experience, staying in relationships that were not healthy because I was worried about the fact that I had already had sex with this person. So then if I add another number to that, then I'm further degraded, right?

So, so now we're adding multiple layers onto that, you know, and then whatever stigma exists within that culture. Um, for a divorce, you know, I, um, my family is Mormon, so I know that their, uh, ideologies around marriage are that, you know, it continues in the afterlife. This is a forever commitment, right? So then we're talking about all of that into the milieu of, do you stay in this relationship or do you go?

And that can create really difficult situations. Is there anything you'd want to share about what you learned in your relationship with this process?

Liara Roux: I worked with this really amazing therapist while I was in that relationship, and she was the Person who really, you know, just helped me realize, like, how to listen to myself, which sounds so basic, you know, but I think when I was really young, I just didn't know what I wanted, um, because no one ever taught me how to listen to myself and listen to what I wanted, like, so much of my childhood was really just about, you know, pushing.

Anything, all of my desires just down, you know, like even things as basic as bodily functions, you know, like if my family and I. Would be going somewhere like if we were on a a train and I had to pee or something And I told my mom like hey, you know, I have to to pee. Can I use the bathroom? She'd be like, oh just like try to hold it until it would be a time That was like more convenient for her, which of course is something that you need to learn how to do, but it also you know when I was very young it would put me in these really painful situations where I was always like pushing my limits physically, um, to try to please other people.

And I think I really adjusted to that. And it was only when I started seeing this therapist and was doing psychedelics in a very intentional way to kind of work through all of these beliefs that I really started to understand this and why I was seeing her at one point, I was talking about the relationship that I was in and I was like, oh, you know, like, I sort of want to break up with her.

But like. I don't know if it's that bad. Like, I don't know if, like, the relationship is, like, bad enough that it's okay for me to leave. And she was like, it doesn't, like, there's nothing, you don't have to have a good reason for breaking up. She's like, you can just break up with someone and that's that.

That's fine. Like, you can break up with someone because, like, you decided you don't like the color of their hair and, like, that is actually, like, a very valid reason for you to leave. Like, if you don't want to be with that person anymore. Then you don't need to I had been so trained to be like, you commit to something you need to just like, see it through no matter what.

And this idea that I could change my mind and I could choose the thing that made me happier instead of just doing. What was best for the other person or what the other person said they wanted was just totally mind blowing

Nicole: Huge huge. Yeah that autonomy that you have right and I don't know if this resonates for you But we've definitely talked about on the podcast, you know Within fundamental religious spaces.

There's this narrative or at least it resonates with me and my lived experience of God I I went back and read my journals from that time and I know, yeah, and I read and I, like, literally in my writings, like, please take away all of my desires so that God can move me for His mission and His plan. Please suppress my flesh desires and the sin that comes through me.

So, from a young age, we were taught to quite literally negate whatever you are feeling so that you can be this open vessel for the divine movement of God, right? But then what happens when you live in that paradigm and you never listen to your intuition, you never listen to your gut because you always frame that as sin, you know?

I think it contributes to a little bit of what you're talking about, but I'm not sure if that resonates for you.

Liara Roux: No, it totally does. It totally does. I mean, it's really incredible that you wrote it down so literally. I'm glad you used that journal.

Nicole: Yeah, it's wild to look back and read, you know? Like, just, it's just like a whole different world.

I don't know if you feel that either. I, I, like, literally think back to that time as like a completely different human than who I am today.

Liara Roux: Yeah. I feel like, for me, there does feel like there's more continuity. I feel very much like the same person, but my parents were also like engineers, and like they had this very scientific background, and they were constantly encouraging me to question things, to like You know, dig deeper like this was something a quality that they were really proud of me for.

And I do think that that was really what helped me kind of get out of the trap a bit. I mean, my parents even encouraged me asking questions about the Bible. Like I read it. like front to back when I was in second grade and they were like super proud of me and then I just like really wanted to go to like the adult sermons even when I was really young because I was like oh like they would talk about the Roman and Greek like origins of the words and I was like this is really interesting and so they never really actually had a problem with me asking all these questions it was more like it was the other adults at the church.

Sure. I were really just and end upset by it. That was maybe why I was able to sort of break out of, of the weird cult basically. Mm-Hmm. that I was a part of. Mm-Hmm. . Mm-Hmm. . Mm-Hmm. .

Nicole: And I know you mentioned that your therapist was really helpful for that time. I'd be curious if you remember what she was saying to you about it at the time that really resonated and created this movement for you.

Liara Roux: Well, she actually didn't really say very much like she was like a somatic, like a, or a lot of her modalities actually were nonverbal. Like she did a lot of art therapy. She did a lot of like sanitary work, but with me, she mainly did somatic work. She. You know, what always kind of laugh and say, like, oh, you know, like, the sand tray or like, art therapy is often more for people who have problem, like, verbalizing what they're feeling, but she said, you don't necessarily have a problem verbalizing it.

You just have issues really feeling it and letting yourself really, like, actually experience these things that you understand abstractly. And so often she wouldn't say very much at all. She would just like sort of ask these like, almost like Socratic questions, you know, or like ask like, Oh, if a friend brought you this situation, what would you say to them, you know, and so it really forced me to, to define all these things for myself, which I think when someone is coming from these experiences.

Where they're kind of primed for abusive relationships, which I think the church really does for women. She didn't give me advice, or she very rarely would give me advice, it was only like in very key moments, where she would say like, I really, you know, don't necessarily think that's a good idea, or I don't think that's ethical, you know, but.

It was only because I was forced to to really think for myself in these sessions and really define she gave me complete freedom to define what I thought was right and wrong. I went in 1 time and told her I'd been thinking about killing myself, even and a lot of therapists when I had opened up to them about things like that, they would say, like, okay, like, I'm going to need to call, you know, and get you hospitalized or something.

Maybe, you know, if you're really serious about this, which I understand legally, you know, they're. They're supposed to do that. Um, but what she said was, you know, like, if you really think that's the right choice for you, you know, like, if you're really suffering, and I had, like, a medical condition that was causing me a lot of pain.

So it was really like, uh, it was a consideration for me. And she was like, then I really. You know, I think, you know, what's best for you. And like, she's like, I'm totally here for you to just talk about this without fear of like, you know, me sending you to the hospital. Like, let's just talk about this, what it would feel like, what it would look like, you know, and having her hold that space for me was so transformative.

That's what I was going to ask as a follow up was how did it feel to have that space? Yeah, it was, it was really amazing. It really totally changed my life completely.

Nicole: Yeah. The space to be seen, have companionship in that, that dark moment of where you're at, right?

Liara Roux: Yeah. Total non judgment and just guidance really allowing me to just sit with myself and not telling me what to do was actually much more instructive than offering advice, which, um, most therapists.

Really do give a lot of advice and I think people, I mean, I think it can kind of stem from ego, you know, and, um, maybe for certain patients, they respond better to it, but I think, I think it's something that more therapists and people that are friends with each other should think about is, is not necessarily.

Leaping right to giving advice or telling someone else how to live, but just saying, you know, what is it that you want? Like what would make you feel good in this situation? Like, what do you think is happening and really giving people space to to be themselves?

Nicole: Yeah, and our personal lives, you know, it can be so powerful when our friends, uh, family, lovers are struggling to ask them, you know, How do you want to be cared for in this moment?

How do you want to be supported and to allow them that that space to name what they want, right? And have that can be really transformative.

Liara Roux: Yeah. Have you ever had like a really. Powerful moment in therapy, right? I guess I shouldn't assume that you've been therapy necessarily.

Nicole: Sure. Yeah. I've I've been in therapy for the last like 5 years.

I guess there's been a multitude of powerful moments. You know, I don't know if I could think of 1. Specifically, other than the reality that, yeah, I mean, that space has been so transformative, um, to have that love and, you know, a space where I could be met where I was at, you know, when I think about like me, five years ago, entering therapy to where I'm at now, like, Those are radically different points and you have to really like meet people where they're at in that and hold the space for them to figure out your path and kind of like your therapist, my therapist never came in and was like, you need to do this, this or that.

She really just met me where I was at. And, and I think 1 of the powerful things I felt in therapy was that she was moved. by my reactions, right? And I think that's how I try to work as a therapist, thinking about the relational dynamics. And I remember telling her my sexual assault experience and having her like tear up as I was tearing up and that movement of of knowing that I was impacting someone else who was caring for me and seeing me in that moment.

Was very transformative, and it's 100%, you know, part of how I see my work now, you know, of what I do, um, so yeah, it's definitely been quite the journey.

Liara Roux: Yeah, I mean, it's interesting to like, I really love that, you know, everyone's needs from therapy or are totally different. Like, It's interesting hearing you talk about how the crying was really transformative for you because one of the things that I really liked was that my therapist never cried or seemed like particularly disturbed or moved by what I was saying, like, you know, sometimes, you know, she would be clearly like.

You know, maybe concerned about me or, you know, understanding that something had like a certain gravity, but I never felt like I was being too much for her. Yeah, or I had to be concerned about whether I was making her feel sad or. Whether later on, like, she'd be upset by what we had talked about.

Nicole: Totally.

That's a very important piece of that. When we're talking about like being moved to not my therapist, never. Um, I don't know. I don't like the words fell apart. That sounds a little negative, but like her tier was maybe one tier that came down as I was like sobbing, you know what I mean? So like, so, so that space where your therapist can hold the ground and be there and be that.

stable base because we're thinking about like emotional co regulation, right? So to have your therapist be that so important. So, and then, yeah, and it can bring up a lot too. If the therapist does have that, then, you know, is the client starting to care take and, and having to be worried then about the therapist and that dynamic.

So, I mean, Yeah, therapy is one hell of a dynamic game, right?

Liara Roux: I think, you know, I have some friends who really like their therapist does maybe get more emotionally involved with them. Like one of my friends, he opened up about like some really intense childhood trauma with his therapist. Um, and the therapist did really start crying and You know, told him like, at the end, he's like, you know, I'm going to have to go home and like, have a drink tonight.

Oh, wow. That's interesting. And I think, you know, if a therapist said that to me, I would feel really terrible. I would too. It felt like he, the gravity of what he was saying was really being challenged and that was what he needed to hear in that moment. Obviously, you know. It's the job of the therapist to sort of to sort of navigate this.

But I feel like for me, that is something that I've been thinking about more and more with therapy is that a lot of the rules or some of the rules do feel particularly arbitrary to me, this idea that therapist shouldn't be moved or that they shouldn't be moved and focusing more on the experience of the patient and whether they feel they're They're benefiting from it or not.

Nicole: Totally. Totally. It's all very specific to the person like any relationships in our world, right? Like, you meet that person where they're at because. It's an interesting comment from that therapist because I'm just thinking about modeling coping skills right to say I'm going to go home and drink is an interesting thing.

And I think you would have to be, you know, particularly careful with that because you don't say that to the client who struggled with alcohol use right at the end of like, Hey, this is what I'm going to go do, you know, and just in terms of modeling, that's an interesting response for me to hear

Liara Roux: actually doesn't drink at all really.

So I think. You know, maybe for him, it's just sort of like a, like, I've seen him have maybe like five beers at dinner or something in the total time that we've hung out, which is, you know, probably, uh, you know, good 50 dinners or so. Sure, sure, sure, sure. I think for him. Yeah, it's like, that is an okay statement to make exactly for someone else.

It would be it could send them down a really bad spiral.

Nicole: Totally. Totally. Yeah. There's just so many different ways to show up in that space and to have that therapeutic support. So I'm glad that you had that in your life and I'm glad that you had the space to be able to process that and the support.

And I know you talked a little bit about psychedelics coming into your healing process. So I'd equally love to hear about your relationship to psychedelics and how those supported you.

Liara Roux: Yeah, for me, psychedelics really helped me actually move some of these blockers. Like I was saying before, there was a lot of things that Rationally, I understood, you know, but I never really process them like in my body or like on a deeper level.

It was always just sort of this, like, very like language part of my brain that was like, you know, this makes sense, but my body would just react in ways that weren't necessarily helpful for me doing psychedelics in an intentional way, like. By myself and just sort of like meditating while I was on them and really thinking about these things really allowing myself to look at the ways that I was behaving without judgment, you know, and let it sort of move through me really unlocked some things that might have.

Taken years in therapy. Otherwise, you know, I think I was able to make much faster progress, uh, because of psychedelics watching friends as well. I, I would just use mushrooms and acid, but I have some friends who've had really amazing experiences on MDMA or mixing MDMA with psychedelics, especially, I think.

Has done a lot of good for people for some people combining something like acid, which sort of causes you to question things and maybe look at the world around you a bit differently with a drug like MDMA, which of course sort of frees you from any sort of past trauma that you may have and really fills you with a sense of love and acceptance.

The combination of that can really allow people to be present in their body. In a, in a way that they wouldn't otherwise be able to be. Mm hmm. Mm hmm.

Nicole: Yeah, really powerful stuff. I'm, I'm holding the reality that, uh, in my training, my supervisor was talking about doing work with gang populations and how, um, the gang populations had talked about taking MDMA before going to do shootings.

Liara Roux: Oh, wow.

Nicole: Yeah, so I guess I, I say that because of just thinking about this world where we like, it's, it's just, it's all complex, right? Let's just name that as complex. Uh, but this world where we're like, oh, MDMA opens up MDMA does this. It's like, yes and no, right? Because the reality is people use those sorts of substances in a wide variety of experiences.

So I think it's so important to name. That these substances, it's not necessarily the substance doing it. It's, it's, it's a tool. It's a lubricant. It's a thing that will, you know, amplify our, we could talk about them as non specific amplifiers, right? So like you said, when you were doing that work with intentionality, with a focus,

Liara Roux: that's really why I specified it to, you know, I think people can use acid and mushrooms or.

Ayahuasca and these other psychedelics to sort of give themselves a sense of spiritual enlightenment and wholeness and oneness when the reality is that they're not necessarily doing the work and they're sort of evading this sort of necessary integration into the rest of their lives. I think if you look at a lot of the ayahuasca ceremonies that that do happen, especially they're often.

You know, I'm not respectful of the traditions of the plant and they often are causing harm to the native communities. That they're, you know, taking the plant from and often the people that are doing them are maybe people who they have a lot of money from from working at jobs that may be, you know, sort of ethically or morally dubious and they do these drugs to sort of get rid of that cognitive dissonance that they have.

About this, the nature of their work. And so I think there does need to be a lot of care in making sure that, you know, people don't use these to to avoid reality and instead, uh, meditate a little bit deeper on really, uh, really looking at themselves as they are. Yeah, sometimes we call that, um, in the community spiritual bypassing.

Nicole: I don't know if you've heard of that term. Yeah, that spiritual bypass, you know, sometimes. People will go and again, this is why I think it's important to talk about it as a tool, right? A lubricant that nonspecific amplifier, but people will use psychedelic sometimes as as looking for an answer as looking for the solve the fix.

Right? And then someone might go into that repeatedly, you know, multiple times a week, multiple times, you know, trying to get this answer. And Even specifically in the work I've seen, you know, people who will get a message of like, Oh, I need to do this, but kind of ignore it and then keep doing it and keep doing it and hoping for that other answer and keep getting the same one.

But like you said, there's not that integration process towards the messages that are coming up. But yeah, I mean, I'd be curious to when you were taking psychedelics for your own journey and your own healing, what were the messages that you were getting and how do you think it really supported you?

Liara Roux: Um, I mean, it's interesting.

I didn't necessarily feel like I was getting any messages at all. It felt more like I was just really sitting with myself and really sitting with my body. Like, it was nice because it wasn't necessarily about Yeah, I wouldn't it was just about like, what was coming up from me, you know, and really just like listening to myself and like, maybe like sitting with my subconscious a little bit or like sitting with, you know, this, this inner child that maybe.

Or maybe even inner child isn't necessarily the right term for it. It was like, more about like parts work. Like, I don't know if you like internal family system, but I think it really helped me talk to to all the different pieces of myself and really start to integrate them a bit more and really. Help them feel safe.

My friend who did the the MDMA therapy actually said that like IFS work while on MDMA It really helped like certain parts that were like really scared and terrified of being punished To actually come out and feel really safe because they could tell that there's just not really any chance that you know They'd they'd be punished.

Mm hmm. Yeah, you can use them for our thinking and creativity as well but I guess I've always gained the most benefit from just looking inward and stuff.

Nicole: Yeah, the IFS frameworks can be really helpful, whether we understand it as, you know, a metaphor of I have these different parts, or some people take it more literally to think I have these parts inside of me.

And, uh, I've seen a lot of the work and that's, it's frequently a perspective we draw a lot of use from in the psychedelic assisted psychotherapy, right? Because Kind of like your friend was mentioning, you know, we, we all have different parts of ourselves that are working, you know, or aspects, if you don't like the word parts, I, I really thought at first with the word parts, I was like, I don't like my psyche to be so like broken up, you know, so we can call them aspects, whatever we want to do.

But, you know. There might be, you know, and this, this goes with even, you know, experiences not on the medicine, you know, we might be coming to a situation where one aspect part of ourself is so scared, you know, like, Oh, I don't know if I can do this. And then the other half is completely angry and enraged and wants to set it all on fire, you know, and like, being able to have that dialogue.

That's a lot of what Richard shorts would do when walking through clients would be like, okay, you have this. part over here? Can you visualize it? Can you see it? How old are you? You know, and then you have that other part over there. And what happens when we put them into dialogue and we see what they want to say to each other and that being sort of the movement.

So it's a really powerful framework for a lot of people.

Liara Roux: Yeah, and I think psychedelics can help it feel. I mean, it, it just makes everything feel more serious in a certain way, but also more fun and goofy and it's like, very playful, you know, and I think approaching IFS with a playful attitude can be really healthy because you stop being like, Oh, like, Am I schizophrenic?

Like, talking to myself, like, you're just like, okay, I'm on acid. Like, I'm just going to be on acid and like, I'm going to do this ridiculous thing and it just like, doesn't matter because I'm on acid. So, I think for people who worry a lot about seeming crazy or acting crazy, it can really help you. Uh, just accept whatever's happening.

Yeah. I can give a playful perspective

Nicole: and it can also turn it into your worst nightmare. That's the tricky thing about psychedelics, right, is like, we'll say like, oh, it could be playful and you have that and then you have another experience, you know, and it could literally feel like you have been completely dropped into the depths of nothingness and no one is around you and you are utterly alone, you know, I think that's what's tricky about like psychedelics.

We can't. Just talk about them as positive and goofy and giving that playful perspective because the reality is that's not what it is for everybody, right?

Liara Roux: Like, I mean, it's really interesting because I've never had any experiences like that. Yeah Um, and i've actually been in places that are in situations that were scary or stressful and for me psychedelics really almost like helped me take a step back and like really Not be bothered by it in a certain way.

And so, I mean, it is, I think, sort of like therapy. It's like, if psychedelics are continuously bringing someone to like a really dark space that doesn't feel helpful. And maybe they just shouldn't do them or like, be really careful about. You know, set and setting and all that.

Nicole: Yeah, definitely the set and setting.

I mean, it's all about the frame too, right? You have that quote unquote bad trip, bad experience, right? But like, how are you, what is the perspective on it? What are you learning from it? You know, I think there's always a lot to learn there. And, and sometimes this can be very dose dependent, right? Like the higher you go up into dose on these things, the more likely that you're going to, you know, it's not, I guess it's not more likely, but I'm thinking about my

Liara Roux: I've always had experiences that were beautiful throughout.. But I, you know, I think I have strange brain chemistry anyways.

Nicole: No, it's, it's beautiful that you have that. I think I'm, I'm, well, as the podcast host, I'm holding a container where I'm speaking to you and then I'm speaking to a wider audience. So I'm thinking about if you've always had beautiful experiences, that's super great.

Yeah. And I'm thinking about the other listener who's, you know, had those experiences going, that is not what I've had. And I've definitely had experiences like that on high doses, you know, where like, I've felt like I'm not existing anymore. Or if you can't speak, you've gotten to doses where you literally can no longer verbalize your thoughts or ideas, and you can feel completely paralyzed onto the floor.

And that ego death, you know, it is terrifying out there. at certain doses for some people, maybe not for you, but I've certainly had those. I know those experiences. And when I'm working with clients, it's a part of what we have to prepare them for. I mean, this is why we, we start people off at very small doses and you, you start with a handshake and you don't drop them into that super high intense experience.

But the reality is you can have that level of intense experience at small doses, high doses. And, and, you know, it's really about how you understand that. How do you integrate that moving forward? Forward, right? Because, you know, we can call it a bad trip, but also there is maybe a lot to learn from those spaces, right?

It doesn't have to be so negative, but I think it is an important part in terms of psychoeducation to prepare people for the reality that, you know, you might, you can do all the set and setting work. You can create that perfect set and setting and the psychedelics might still take you to this place that is really dark and really heavy and being able to, like, normalize that as part of the psychoeducation around it, I think is really important.

Liara Roux: Mm. Yeah. I mean, I think it probably doesn't help that I'm not too terribly afraid of darkness.

Nicole: Yeah. Exactly. That's, I mean, that's sometimes what my supervisor would tell clients too, is, you know, when you're. When you're doing that work, if you, um, see that dark and scary basement, you, you go into it, right?

You, you, you go deeper to see what it has there. And so being able to do that sort of work of exploring that scary part with your own bravery, right? Um, can be really therapeutic to actually get into it, to get into what that is. And, but doing that in a safe way, doing that in a way where you have supports, right?

Maybe. You have the, um, Fireside that's a group that does, you know, like, um, I forget what their hours are, but they do have online, um, and, uh, phone support for people who do psychedelics and who need support. So that's an interesting resource to throw out there to listeners who are. Um, just because sometimes you do get into that dark and scary space and we need community, right?

And being able to have support for that can be really helpful. But I, I do like to do them alone too. So I, I am with you and I'm, I'm also a rock climber, right? So I think, uh, there's lots of crossovers between like, Eagerness to hop into scary, difficult places and how we integrate that. So there's a lot of crossovers between this, but, um, I'm, I'm happy that you've had such great experiences on it that have been so helpful for your own healing.

Liara Roux: Yeah, I think, I think psychedelics really enabled me to do really deep work. And I do think for, for people who experienced trauma at a really young age. Psychedelics can be really especially beautiful way of healing because they do kind of bring you back to that childlike state. But being there, you know, if you had a painful childhood experience to it can reopen all that to and feeling like a child again could just be really scary, really terrifying.

Nicole: Yeah, exactly. You're hitting on the nuance of this, right? Is that just as much of there as there's nuance and therapy as there's nuance and relationships, you know, we ultimately are forming relationships to psychedelics, right? And that relationship is going to be nuanced based on your own history.

You've talked about the set and setting and all of that. So it's always going to be a very nuanced. Conversation my God, if I can hit anything in this podcast is I hope that it's nuance and frequently our world and self help and psychology on tick tock. It doesn't really hit that level of nuance reality, right?

And so needing that space to have the conversations of yeah, people do violence. On psychedelics, right? And people find healing on psychedelics. And so holding that space for the reality of both being present, I think, is an important conversation for society to step into in terms of, yes, so much healing, but also.

It's, it's healing with your work, like you hit on to, right? Like you came in with that intention. You did the integration afterwards and having that combo. It's never just the medicine. It's, it's the work that you put into it, that set and setting. And then, yeah, that integration afterwards. Right.

Liara Roux: Yeah, that really is just the, the forever theme is like letting people find out what works for them, even going back to the, the Christian ladies at my church that were really happy in their marriages and really loved taking orders all the time.

It's like, yeah, if that's. If that's what you love, go for it, you know, follow your bliss, listen to your husband and like pop out 10 babies and like, if that's really what you love, go for it. You know, that's not necessarily hurting anyone else. It's more about, you know, as soon as you start, like you said, doing that violence to other people or having these expectations that people should live life exactly the way you do.

But I think it starts to be more of a, more of an issue. Right. Exactly. It's all about that choice piece. Mm hmm. Mm hmm.

Nicole: Well, I'm glad that you stepped into a space of living into your own authenticity and your own path, and I'm curious if there's anything that you would want to say to your younger self when you think back to that time.

Liara Roux: Oh yeah, I mean, I had lots of conversations with the younger self. Self acceptance and also being okay with these kind of like gray spaces, you know, where you're not really sure what you want or how you feel and that it's okay to just like sit with that and that it's okay to change your mind. It's okay to make mistakes.

It's okay to, you know, have yourself get hurt by people even like it doesn't mean that you're stupid. Yeah, it's just about being nonjudgmental with yourself and with other people too.

Nicole: Powerful message. Our humanness, right? We all make mistakes. We all learn. I mean, my God, I'm making mistakes every day. You know what I mean?

And you, you look back on yourself. Go ahead. Absolutely. Totally. Yeah. You look back and you're like, damn, why did I think what was I thinking? Oh my God. Right. So being able to have compassion for the growth, right. That is the human journey of making mistakes and learning and hopefully getting stronger in that process.

Right. I think can allow us the space to be kinder to ourself. And then in that process, then we're kinder to others, right? When we're not as, you know, aggressive towards ourselves, it's much easier to extend that love towards other people. And then the ripples of how that can move through our communities to bring more healing, bring more love and connection is, is really powerful.

Liara Roux: Yeah. Yeah. Amen to that.

Nicole: Ah! Yeah, totally. We go back to the religious, right? I always joke about it now. I'm like, oh yeah, dear God, please. Uh, this summer when I was going in the lake, I was like, oh, I'm ready to be baptized. Please lay me down. You know, like, there's a lot of, uh, humor now of how I go with that, so.

Well, I want to hold some space too as we come towards the end of our time. I always like to check in with a listener to see or check in with a guest to see if there is something maybe you wanted to say to the listeners that maybe we didn't get to. Otherwise, I can guide us towards our closing question.

Liara Roux: No, I feel, yeah, we covered a lot.

Nicole: Oh, okay, great. Well, then the closing question I ask each guest is what is one thing that you wish other people knew was more normal?

Liara Roux: I guess, uh, sex work, you know, like as a sex worker, you realize just how prevalent it is and how, um, so many people Have you been just like tried sex work once, you know, and maybe realize it wasn't for them.

Um, but a lot of women, especially I think in America have tried it and aren't necessarily open about it. And I think it's 1 of those things that's really important to educate yourself about and really understand what it's like for people and what motivates them to try sex work because. You never know who you're talking to, and it's something that really opens your mind on a lot of different issues.

Nicole: Mm hmm. Mm hmm. It's much more prevalent than people think, I, I believe, because of the shame, kind of like you were hitting, right, is that it's, it's unsafe in our world to disclose that, right? But the reality is that you know, and I know, is that it's much more common.

Liara Roux: Mm hmm. Um, it's a lot like being queer was, I think, in the 90s, opening up about sex work, de stigmatizing it, and understanding why it is that people pursue sex work in the first place, which is often, you know, motivated by real economic need, will really help us, you know, understand.

A, how to help people avoid getting into sex work if it's, you know, something that would be traumatizing for them. I think for a lot of women, it is a traumatic career choice. And so figuring out what social structures would have helped them avoid, avoid sex work. And then also. You know, for people who do enjoy sex work, who are drawn to it, which is more like me understanding what is the benefit that sex workers are providing to society because there is very real and very important work that sex workers are doing.

And so I'd encourage any listeners who, you know, if they're hearing me talk about sex work and they're getting really freaked out, you know, maybe maybe read a little bit about it. Yeah, this needs to be my book to, um, if people are coming from more of like, uh, an academic background, maybe, um, Laura Augustine's book sex at the margins is really great.

It's an ethnography about migrant workers and in Spain, who. Explores all their motivations for, for pursuing sex work and it really, uh, changed my perspective on the industry when I read it

Nicole: and you, you might enjoy some of the previous guests that have come on the podcast. I'm thinking about, um, uh, so lay who talked about the episode is, um.

sex education as a therapist will get you fired question mark. She's a sex worker, sex therapist, and licensed clinical social worker who is a part of, um, I believe it's called the Equity Care Act, Equitable Care Act, which is all about educating therapists on how to serve sex workers. And then another one that's really big is, uh, Raquel Savage.

And That episode is titled, Our Therapist Causing Harm When It Comes to Sexuality. And oh my god, I love how she just came in and like, just laid it out, you know? Like there's, it's again, like we've been talking about in so many different areas of this nuance, right? And when you say sex work, depending on someone's understanding of the issue, or understanding of the topic, They might specifically imagine, you know, a space where it's being forced versus someone like Raquel coming in and being like, I chose this, right?

And this is empowering and what I choose to do under this capitalistic structure as a radical pleasure activist, right? Like, there's just so much more nuance to how people come at these things than that initial, you know, potentially biased perspective on the topic, right? So I'm really. Thankful that you're willing to share your experience and hopefully spread more awareness to the variety of ways that sex work has been present for centuries.

And even, yeah, right, millennia even. Exactly, right? Long, long time. And I just even remember one of the dissertations I had saw at my school was on sugar babies, right? Um, whole phenomena and, uh, all of the data that she got from her research was that the people who were doing this were master's level and PhD level therapists in training.

So I think we have a whole community of, dare I say, therapists and psychologists out there who have done sex work. or are doing sex work, right? And I think that's not the narrative you usually hear of when you think about sex work, right? So I think that kind of like you're saying about queerness, you know, the more that we normalize these things and we let go of the shame, you know, you can even think about surrogate partner therapy, right?

Like bringing that in, you know, I mean, we are changing the paradigm slowly, but surely, and And hopefully we keep moving to a space of, you know, less shame for the realities that we're all sexual beings. And we all live under capitalism and we all get the choice of how we want to move through that world.

Liara Roux: Yeah.

Nicole: Well, I really appreciate you coming on the podcast today and sharing your lived experience with the listeners and co creating this conversation with me.

Liara Roux: Yeah, it was a pleasure speaking with you. Of course. Space for all of us.

Nicole: Yeah. Is there anywhere you would want to plug for listeners who want to read your book, connect more with your world?

How would they find you?

Liara Roux: I'm on most social medias at Liara Rue. I guess I may be most active on Instagram. Um, but I also have a sub stack that I update intermittently. And you can buy my book at most bookshops. I would appreciate it if you buy it at your local bookstore. Give them a little bit of support.

Um, but you can also order it on Amazon or wherever else. Yes, exactly. Yeah, thanks for having me. Of course. for coming on the show.

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

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


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