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99. So, I Need To Have More Kinky Sex Burnout, Passion, and Systematic Change with Karla Scherf

Welcome to Modern Anarchy, the podcast featuring real conversations with conscious objectors to the status quo.


I'm your host, Nicole. On today's episode, we have therapist, Karla Scherff join us for a conversation all about having patience for larger systematic change. Together we talk about the balance between activism and self-care, having faith in the unfolding process, and following your passion. Karla met me in this conversation at a time of feeling a lot of burnout. I had just started having therapy clients and feeling the weight of that work and hearing about the large amounts of trauma that exist out in the world and the pain that exist out in the world. And even if you're not a therapist, the pain we see on the news, the pain we see on social media felt like, my god, no matter where I look, there is a fire that I can be stressed out about.


And then on top of that, as someone with privilege, I'm always trying to deconstruct the ways in which that has blinded me to how I'm throwing out microaggressions or other sort of unaware biases that I have in my own privilege. And so then it's on top of all the fires, I need to be doing this work, I need to be serving people, I need to be reading more, I need to be doing this. You can feel it in my voice here, this rising of I need to be doing more and more and more, and there is never enough that I can do to actually change the whole system. And I've heard a lot of friends feel this way in activism and social justice spaces, this feeling of constantly needing to do work and constantly needing to grow and to serve.


And at the same time, that's how we can hit that wall of burnout. And that's why I so deeply appreciated Carla coming onto the show and meeting me where I was at in this conversation and helping to invite all of us to have a wider perspective on the systematic change that we are hoping to bring about. And yeah, to remember that the first person who started the mural might not see the end of that full painting, but their role was crucial, right? And all of the people that have stood before us to get us to the space of liberation that we're in right now, they're not seeing how far we're going to keep going. And the same for us, right? We're in this space wanting more change, wanting more revolution, and also knowing that that will probably happen beyond our lifetime and being able to sit with that and honor that. And in our time here, the need for us to have self-care and community care for one another, right? Holding one another in the work that we do and remembering that the fires that are going on outside are out of our control in many ways. But one of the main things that is within our control is our ability to be present with others, our work, and ourselves, right? That alone is power and will slowly over time create this larger systematic change we are all dreaming of being able to be present with one another.


So whatever it is that you need to have that, you know, Howard Thurman reminds us in one of those famous quotes, don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it because what the world needs is people who have come alive, y'all. I want to invite all of you, myself included, to focus on the things that are within our control. How can I show up for my community today? How can I show up for myself with self-care today?


And how can I follow the things that I am passionate about that bring me alive because that's what we all need to be doing. Our small little corners of passion work and that alone will change the world. We don't have to do the whole thing. We can trust that there are other people out there doing this work and together we're going to bring about the change that we're all longing for. And again, that might be beyond our lifetime. That might be for future generations, but we're doing the work. We're showing up each day and it's conversations like this that are hopefully going to inspire all of us to put our mask on first and then keep fighting the good fight.


Y'all enjoy today's episode and tune in. Well then, I'd like to ask first, how would you introduce yourself? My name is Carla. I'm she, her, a licensed clinical therapist over at Best Therapies.


Great, great, great. And I know we were talking a little bit about the different type of clients that you work with. Could you give me more of that story of what populations you're passionate about working with?


Yeah, absolutely. I had originally started, well, I actually started Group Home for Kids many years ago, but I started at really figuring out my journey when I was at Alexian Brothers behavioral health hospital and I would float to all these different floors. And what I realized is there were certain populations I gravitated towards.


I set a law of hours working on the eating disorder for both inpatient and outpatient, adolescent. I realized working with adolescent families, obviously, within a lot, no matter where you go, you run into a lot of LGBTQ. And I just eventually realized that I really enjoy this identity work.


Even if it's under these different frameworks that I really enjoy working with different people, being able to kind of the secret to life, right, figuring out what my, what's my right path and what's right for me, even if it's not like we just said, what the neighbors are doing next door and being able to figure out what's right for me and go through that path and then letting it evolve and change again. Yeah. So I gravitated to the population that that work really, really happened. Yeah, definitely, definitely. Could you say more than about how identity is connected to eating disorders and eating disorder recovery? Oh, yeah, absolutely. A lot of times when we, when we go into it, it's funny because you'd be surprised how much it manifests in different ways. So it might be a somebody who was in wrestling and was told, hey, you have to be under this weight.


You have to be over this weight. It may be that adolescent who's trying to figure themselves out. And if I am trying to fit some identity that is realized that I saw in a magazine and it may be sitting and working with a 30 year old individual who was assigned male at birth and realizing like, hey, unless I starve myself, I will never fit that frame of a female, which is my true identity, right?


Especially if I was born with broad shoulders. So I can't put it into one little box, but at the end of the day, when we're looking at eating disorders, what we can do is we can, of course, we're doing the, hey, let's let's start to figure out what's physical, emotional, different forms of eating, how do I replace anxieties and different feelings so we can replace the food. But half of the work that we're doing is actually working on what would your identity be if you didn't need this to be able to grasp control of that?


What would it look like seeing people really evolve and butterfly and turn into their true self? Yeah. Yeah.


Yeah. I think some of the pieces I was thinking about as you were speaking were that a lot of eating disorders, it always is this, I don't know, this sort of conceptualization that this only happens to people who are assigned female at birth. And that's kind of the narrative around it. So I appreciated that you kind of mentioned different ways that this shows up. Could you kind of speak to that?


Yeah. You know, And like I said, it kind of can start at the school age level because there's different pressures, especially in sports in different areas to fit a different norm. But I think that we're seeing when actually, I'm not that old, but when I first came out, it was very female dominated. And I don't think it's because there was a lack of other genders, but at the time you didn't see social workers walking around with a clipboard that had a rainbow on it.


There were no clubs. There was no like, hey, it's safe to talk about this stuff. And if you look nowadays, we're opening up more and more that like, hey, let's let it's OK to be who you are. And if that's who you were assigned at birth, do that walk, right?


And you're going to be accepted. And with that outcomes, people being able to be more open about these battles. So I truly believe that even that when I first started, the battles were going on, but we weren't necessarily seeking the help or getting those things.


We were kind of sitting in dysphoria and living our life. In fact, I've worked with quite a few older individuals who said, hey, I did the thing because it's what I was supposed to do, the traditional marriage, the traditional thing. I act as the act of husband throughout this life. But now that my wife has passed, I finally feel free to just like openly admit I'm not a male, right? And I'm sitting in dysphoria for the last 30 years.


Let's talk about it. How would I even start that journey at this age? And so we get to talk about it and they get to slowly and a lot of it's trial and error, trial and error and find what's right for them. It can be a really exciting journey, but it is a journey of working through dysphoria in different ways. A lot of times when we are dealing with that form of the eating disorder is actually a byproduct of as opposed to somebody who might come to me. Literally, it's strictly this eating disorder because it's what's been ingrained by my my parents, the coach, so on and so forth.


Right, right, right, right, right. And how that can go outside of not just restriction in terms of eating or those sort of like typical ideas and maybe what an eating disorder is. And also maybe there's some discussion about body dysmorphia. How do you feel about that sort of language? I mean, I don't like any of this like pathological language that we use to describe these things that are systemic because of, you know, the expectations of what it means to be in these bodies that are quite literally not normal, in my opinion, right, of like the stick then figure or this other thing, this sort of, you know, the Barbie aesthetic that is quite literally not proportional to real humans, you know, sometimes. And so I don't like pathologizing any of it. But yeah, I think there's also been some space created with the idea of body dysmorphia as a another way to understand the struggle that this can be when you feel like your body doesn't fit and you're not necessarily restricting food.


Maybe you're working out really compulsively to like get into this. Yeah, what do you think about that? Yeah, I love that you say that because I tell all my clients, hey, this is going to go off. But I promised I have a point to bring it back on. I will tell them every single individual experiences, depression, right? Every single individual will at some point have some obsession or compulsion or need to check a doorknob, right?


Or so on and so forth. It's where we hit on the spectrum on if we call it a diagnosis, right? We need these terms to be able to communicate, to talk about it or to be able to make sure that there's insurance coverage for the said client to be able to get what they need. But at the end of the day, I actually tell them, please don't become whatever diagnosis is given, but let's just look at you individually. And I'm glad you say that because you're right. We can get really hung up on the terms.


And I'm it's really huge. In fact, I've actually seen that occur by first time was actually that a group home for kids, my very first job had a little girl come in. Given the term ADHD, and she was just having a little trouble, trouble struggling with her homework, but I saw the way that all the different clinicians interacted with her. And by the end, she couldn't focus. She was running up and down the hallway. She was doing this and that. But it's what she was told that she had.


I'm like, you guys, I worked with her for like two months without any of this, right? And so we can easily give people that impression if we go towards a title. But instead, I believe in meeting the person where they're at, seeing where they're at and then working in there. We can do the work. So if the struggle really is, hey, I know that I am this identity or that identity or I'm not finding love for myself because I feel like my shoulders are too broad to ever be my true feminine self. We can start to talk about how do you do the work? Absolutely. There's certain things we can do and explore, whether it's HRT or whether it's just I want to just start wearing a binder, right?


Or something to that effect. But a lot of the work is actually cognitive. It's internal.


It's in here. So we will spend a lot of time looking at, okay, let's talk about body dissatisfaction. If everything in my, in my like, scroll in my feed is all of this one body type females, this and that. And the other thing that that's who I identify as, it's a lot harder to be able to step into some idealized self than if I actually look at, start to look at what is it I'm passionate about? I want to be a woman who makes a difference.


So now I'm going to go volunteer. I want to be a woman who's very fashionable and gets into, enjoys fabrics or personality types. And I teach people do not just change that for themselves, but it's the way I think about others. So if I am, I am constantly focused on these pictures and I'm, or if I see a person and decide, identify like their exterior beauty, I will end up telling that same, that same voice will speak to myself that way. But if I do the work and actually go through and start to notice the fabrics they choose, whether they have a kind smile, are they gracious in holding a door? Are they like walking in a way that I feel like, see how confident they are. I want that confidence and start to step into those pieces that I really want for myself. I can find a self love that actually has nothing to do with the size of my shoulders. Yeah. And so I can actually step into that, that true self in a different way than if I just sit there and stare at a mirror and pick and pick and pick all day. Right. Right. And I think what we're talking about then is like, what is that idealized self that we dream of being or feel like is the most coherent sense of self?


And then how is that also affected by the water that we swim in? That is, you know, this environment with Instagram and other sorts of things, a lot of marketing, other sorts of things that present, you know, cause even media at its highest levels is controlled by people. Right. And so when we have narratives that only show one type of being and you don't see yourself in that, the level of shame and internal, you know, negative feelings that you can feel about your own body. I mean, this is why it's important to have diversity in our, you know, casting of shows and other stuff to show different able bodies, people, right? To be able to have these examples so that you can see yourself in that and not try to like fit yourself into a mold of things.


You know what I mean? I don't know how to do that. I don't know what that is.


Right. There's nothing more rewarding than working with my teens who are just, well, this is what I'm supposed to look like. This is what I'm supposed to look like for a girl. This is what I'm supposed to look like for a guy and so on and so forth. So they're making all these changes. And then they hit colleges and they're doing this identity search and they realize, actually, this is what I would supposed to look like if I were me.


This is what I want to be and are able to move away from that. And you see them flourish and become really beautiful. And it makes the work off amazing. Yeah. Do they start to take in like maybe different Instagram feeds and other sorts of things? Oh, absolutely.


They start to change what that identity is and start to realize like I need to. It's a part of that. is their brain is still developing at the adolescent stage, right? It's in the early 20s.


I don't want to quote the exact statistic because I would have to check and make sure also. But it's in the early 20s. It's earlier for females and males.


Sorry, males. It just happens to be a biological thing that it's fully developed where I can understand someone else's experience empathetically is very separate from mine. That's why as a child, it's very, very me and I'm the object centric. And you get the teenagers and you see that me centric.


What they're doing is they're starting to realize I can have a separate identity. I can figure out what that is, but that feels very scary because there's so many options. I get to trial and error, but about those 20 years when we hit 20, it can be a lot of fun.


Now that I can fully see the opposite and I can separate, I get to have some trial and error, go out and explore, and then start to identify what is right and leave behind what isn't. That doesn't necessarily mean that has to be the age. Like I told you, I can work with that 60-year-old, always secretly identified as female, but males live their life. And now they're like, I get to go out and explore and find who that is. And it can be a really fun journey.


And then once you get it all figured out, it may evolve and that's okay too. Absolutely. Absolutely. I'm thinking about the power of the internet in this in terms of shaping your reality.


It really is pretty wild when you think about it. And before the internet age, you saw the people around you, your models of what was not, I mean, and the media. The media is always there. But now to be able to construct your own feed of what you see and how that can shape your reality. It does shape your reality in the same way that when you're in a community and you see all the same people around you that shapes your reality. It's kind of wild when we think about the power of things like that. We're actually in more control of it than we think. It can still be out of their control.


Yeah. And I think you're talking about the most obvious level is that I change my feed. If I'm really into jumping out of airplanes and doing this, if I fill my feed with that instead of these versions of what the society says I should look like, then my identity is going to look different in the way that I see it. And it's really all a cognitive trick, right? It's what my mind chooses to focus on. Yeah. Yeah.


Yeah. I think I watched a video somewhere in this internet life of someone who specifically had an eating disorder and their work with TikTok to try and change their feed, how like even after being very intentional about clicking on other videos, trying to teach the algorithm how to give them other content, they would still occasionally get this more like, yeah, eating disorder, restricting thin and sort of things that would still pop up, even though they have done really intense work to try and change the algorithm for that. And that's kind of, it's just so fascinating to me how like, yeah, we do have to do this work now to like change these algorithms that are shaping our perspective of society.


I really like that view. Like, what about the algorithm in my mind? Yeah. Which I think comes back to mindfulness for me is what I'm thinking about too, how like, you know, like in many ways your reality is shaped obviously by systemic factors that are in your reality too, but within that experience, it's also shaped by like what you see and what you perceive and what you focus on, right?


And how like, yeah, if that's what you focus on, then that's your reality. Everyone's doing this. This is what I should be doing. This is how I fit in.


This is how I achieve connection, all these sorts of things. And yeah, you're right. It's definitely in our control, but it's fascinating to think about how we have to actually push back against something like an algorithm.


Yeah, yeah. In reality. I tell my parents, I tell my clients about a theory that this is not an official theory. It's something that I tell them, hey, you know, it's real, but I made it up from sort of thing. And I call it the like McDonald's theory that like, hey, do you think the first person who ate a McDonald's cheeseburger said this is the most delicious cheeseburger ever?


This is what I'm going to go for from now on. In fact, could I not drive to the local pub and get myself a delicious cheeseburger for the exact same price as a happy meal that kind of blows that little McDonald's burger out of the water? Why does everyone line up and wait for this tiny little cheeseburger, right? And the reality is, is they do great marketing.


They tell you the same message over and over. McDonald's is fabulous. McDonald's is here. Look, here's Ronald McDonald. We give money back. Let's show some hipsters together.


Let's show a happy family. Yeah. The point where this means that you get to take a break. This is a treat. So much so that when you eat this disgusting little cheeseburger, you're like, this is so amazing.


I get my break and your brain believes it and you're happy and it reduces it releases the right things. So but it took them telling that message over and over again, we just weren't aware that the marketing was constant, right? And so the same thing is true with my clients, that if they are telling themselves the same message over and over again, and it's a negative like, well, I'll never fit this, this identity or this or I'm not worth some as much as someone else or this or that, that's what they will believe.


If I actually counteract those thoughts, right? If I use that McDonald's, if I get a message or an algorithm on my, my Facebook feed and I choose I'm cutting down the time, or I'm changing my social media to something that will be positive for me, then what you see is them being able to cognitively change what they believe. So much so that if I do get one of those messages, like, yeah, whatever, you know, that's not the difference. The difference is I do tell my clients, we're actually selling something way more awesome because it's you than a crappy little cheeseburger. I love that.


I really love that. Yeah, as you were talking, I was thinking about, I think one of my mentors had used the metaphor of like a path, you know, when you're going out in the forest and someone has walked down this path multiple times, what ends up happening? Sorry for the ecology, right?


It destroys that little, you know, I was, you know, the ecology, it's destroying that piece of where the nature was thriving on its own, right? And so it creates this path then that is much easier to walk down every single time because it's already been walked down. And sometimes when we think about our thoughts in that way, if you're in a specific place where you think about things in a certain way, that's kind of your path that has been built. And so there's, it just feels easy to walk down that and to start to step outside of that path is almost like walking through the weeds at first, because it's just a different path and it feels uncomfortable.


Growth is uncomfortable, right? And as you were talking about the McDonald's, I was also thinking about the research studies in the past where I don't remember, I'm sure it has like, you know, like basic psychology 101, like a term to this, like the prison Stanford experience, you know, but the ones where they would like ask people which lines were the same, I think was what it was. And they had like the first four people be actors. And they would all pick a line that were clearly not the same. And then they would get to the one participant in the study who didn't know that the rest of the people were actors. And then that person would end up picking that line, even though they might have like originally thought like, all these people are crazy, but because everyone else is doing it, I must not be understanding.


I must be the one who doesn't get it. So I need to conform with the group. And like when we take that sort of lens to everything that we do, it's crazy to think about how deep that affects us with things like marketing, when you're sold, you know, this is what everyone does.


This is how you do this, you know. And I think the other thing about this that I find really particularly fascinating is the meaning making of all of it, right? Like what do you make out of the fact that you are a person that goes to McDonald's? versus a person that goes to a five star restaurant. What does that say about your sense of self?


Like my existential perspective to this always comes in of like what's the meaning making that I am a person who goes to McDonald's versus I can pay for a steak and how does that change our sense of self concept and identity depending on these things? Yeah, yeah. So I love that. I love both of those studies that you're referring that's definitely, you hit a really good point. I do think that it really does come down to what is that meaning making up with things?


I love what you're saying about the second one especially. I think as we do that, I think that's where you have that choice where do I just, and it's okay if I actually find my true self is actually comfortable in this group because they share my values and this is what's right for me, awesome. Absolutely.


But if it's actually not, how do I make sure I don't sell into that meaning as opposed to figuring out what mine is? We're coming to the day, like I said, there wasn't clipboards with rainbows and different things before, but now we're coming to the day where it's okay, you can be who you wanna be and it's almost fun and cool to be your own individual self, no matter what that is, as opposed to, hey, we've gotta fit in the box and be a 1950s separate wife. Yeah, absolutely. You know, it's cool as I stepped into Target the other day and they actually had this design set up for all the holiday bags that you were able to buy and they set up this piece where it had a little bit of description from all the different artists that created the bags and even on that description, it was like, da-da-da-da, as a non-binary artist who represents people of color, da-da-da, as a queer artist, blah-blah-blah, and I was just like, you know what? If this is the space we're getting to where capitalism is learning to profit off of our, individuality, but do it in a way that increases awareness about different ways of existing in this world, I'm all for that, you know what I mean?


Like, if that means that someone who's never heard the word non-binary before steps into Target and learns about it from that, that's great. I think, obviously, I think it's also wrong to profit off of people's identities in that way, so I think it's like, yes, Anne, but like, Yeah, I'm glad you, I kinda battle with that too. Sometimes it's a question when you see it's almost becoming commercialized, and it's like, wait, becoming your true self should not be commercialized, but on the other hand, I mean, if you look at other areas, it's been done for many, many years, it just happens to be there finally adapting and accepting this as a norm, like you can be your true self, and sometimes that does mean that I fit in queer LGBTQ trans, polyamorous, so on and so forth. Yeah, absolutely, I know, it's one of those ones that I tried to hold the nuance for, of like, yes, this is bad because we're profiting off of that, and also, I'm happy if this is where capitalism is trending, do you know what I mean, towards listening to the people and honoring that, like, talk about collective power in that and maybe being able to shape a different direction where maybe eventually, capitalistic people have to actually listen to the desires of the people and be more reflective of that than this top-down sort of problematic nature of education. Because the first step is we have to get people talking, right, so what you're talking about, and it's like anything that will get it out there and normalize, like, hey, this is something that, like, we need to accept you can't just call people, she and he, if they want to be called they, you need to honor and respect this, right, and if we can normalize that, then the education piece comes. Now that you know that this is a thing, that's where we have to educate, because if your only message is that, like, hey, Target sells these rainbow handbags, and that's what this means, you either, like, set that norm or you don't, that's actually not what it's about, right, actually about understanding what that means, that education piece, that, hey, this whole rainbow was created after they realized that there's a concern that all the, when you look at the different communities, that lesbians and gays did not necessarily commune, or even if they did commune, they were not accepting of trans, so on and so forth, right? But what this rainbow means, it was the beginning of putting, I mean, we started with a very small acronym, and now we have a plus at the end of it, of LGBTQIA plus, because it just keeps growing. The whole idea is what we're trying to do is umbrella and bring everyone together and let there be equal acceptance for all in understanding instead of, like, well, if you're within this group, but we'll oppress if you're trans or whatever that thing is. So it's actually educating them, this is what that rainbow means, not just, hey, you're a cool team because you are openly clear and bought a rainbow purse, but instead you need to understand the education piece. Then with the education piece, we can start to direct with more people understand, but this is not just to this.


I mean, if you look at any battle of oppression, first people need to know that it's even a problem with that let the rainbow in, then we need to educate. Right, which makes me ask the question, is that setup of targets display in rural Iowa, right? Like, is that there or is it just in Chicago because that speaks to a different demographic of the type of people that are in this city? I'll tell you what, let's do a road trip. I'll go to the beach, I'll go, let's go, let's go find out. I know, because I'm like, I'm going to bring one and leave it there. I know, because you know, it's probably not.


Do you know what I mean? That's definitely, yeah. Yeah, that's marketing too.


If you go to Paris, you can get a veggie burger on the menu for McDonald's, but if you come here, you'll never see it. It's marketing to the demographic. So it is unfortunate when it comes to, hey, we're trying to educate and create a general consensus that all are welcome and all are accepted in understanding what that means, so that way I'm not causing microaggressions across.


Yes. And so this is where I've been feeling about this, I'm thinking, so hear me out here of this, like that person who's in rural Iowa, that's not getting that experience of the target set up, that's not their fault. None of this is their fault. I understand that they need to be responsible for your level of existence within these structures and within the patriarchy and doing the constant work to be reflecting on that and growing in that and doing that, like this is no way negating the level of responsibility we all have in the system to be reflecting on the ways that we're enacting microaggressions and other sorts of things. And also at the same time, it is not their fault.


None of this is any of our faults. This is the results of years of systemic oppression that have created this system where this is where we live and what we think connection can be and should be and the amount of space we're able to hold for other people. Like I just wanna be able to hold that nuance of not hating that person who doesn't understand because this is not their fault in the same way that generational trauma is not the person's fault at the end of it. We are all in a system of generational trauma around oppression and white supremacy and colonialism and all these things, right? It's like, again, not to negate any of our responsibility to do the work in that, but also not to look at these people and be like, what the fuck is wrong with them? The system is wrong with them, the system. Well, change takes time.


Yeah. I'll tell you, when I did a bunch of work with human trafficking, and so a lot of people will start off thinking, I'm gonna go and I'm gonna help do this and that and it's gonna make this big change, but they don't realize that actually takes years and years of change. The example that was given to me given to me by the missionaries who had literally been in Indonesia for years trying to work with an organization agency, literally just to build the relationship. We're not actually looking or making change at we have to build the relationship, or they're not even going to build into the change.


So when you go there as a missionary being like, I'm going to go and change everything. That's not how it works. It actually takes generations of kind of showing, hey, this is okay. There was a really great example that they gave us. They said, hey, look, when you look at chapels and these huge paintings, and then when you travel, they happened over generations. It wasn't the first painter. They were actually the great, great grandfather of the person who completed that ceiling, right? They never got to see that end. And we actually have to look at like, when we're talking about great systemic change, especially around oppression, and realize that this is something that we all need to be active in, but we also need to accept that I may not be painting that final flower on the ceiling of this chapel, that it takes a lot of time, especially if something has been so ingrained into the minds and into society.


So yeah. Yeah, those are the moments where I feel kind of powerless in this profession and seeing that and feeling that. So I appreciate that reframe and my mentors have been trying to give me that too of planting seeds and the time that it takes for things to grow in nature and in the same way for like larger social movements.


So I think it's also, it's like very demoralizing and feels very powerless when you look at how big this is and how little we can do to change it. And I mean, I believe in the ripples. I believe in the conversations that we have in spaces like this and being able to share them. It's just like, it doesn't feel like enough. And then being able to balance that between like your own experience of trying to enjoy this life and not spend your whole life trying to like fix this problem that could be, it's not could be is generational project through all of humanity to deconstruct these, right? And like, how do you, how do you be an advocate for that and also have a personal space that allows yourself to enjoy this life? I'm, that's where I'm at.


I love it. That's two different things. So I'm going to hit the first one first. Absolutely.


So is the second person who painted that ceiling, did they have no impact or no power in the mural on that ceiling? That's important. Yeah. Right.


So that last person won't get to see and stand in a world where many people just come in to see a finished ceiling. Yeah. Yeah.


They're great, great grandfather didn't spend the time, even though when they ended all it was was the outline sketch, right? And so you have to, that's where it's tricky, right? We have to trust the process. Social workers are taught at an early age and I get that doesn't come out because I might see like at Alexi and brothers, it was a crisis center, right? Like you go in there for your while you're in Christ and then you go to the outpatient client or I may see a client who gets so far and then they're going to need to go to two more therapists before they're finally done with battling anger, right? And I actually have to trust the process that some of the work that we have, even if they're not ready for it, we'll kick it or click in two years when they are ready for it sort of thing. Or I have to trust the process that I was a piece of that person's walk as they went from consistently struggling with suicidal thoughts to actually self love, right? Right.


Even though I saw them at that one moment in time. And so I think we get a step ahead with that battle. But I want you to know that like that, that each person they ran into or interacted with was just as important a piece that well the work that you're doing is just so important. It's just as important even if you don't get to sit there and see that final product. So that would be my answer to you is you are doing it.


You just don't you don't get that immediate like and here's the finished product. Yeah. I mean, we've definitely certain people obviously when gay marriage became legal in certain states and stuff like that. So many people actually got to see the fruits of that. But there's many people who actually laid the groundwork who are not alive and did not like that.


Right. Did they not matter? We wouldn't have had that day had they not done the work. So your work matters. It does. Yeah. Yeah, I think.


Yeah, it's hard to see that. I guess and speaking, this is my first year doing therapy and being able to work with clients directly in that sort of way. And I think it's it's hard to remember that, you know, because you it's it's such an interesting profession to not. Yeah, you might not see all the results of the relationship that you had with that person or how you affected them or years down the line. And so to like understand change and growth and expansion in that sort of way, kind of like nature of, you know, planting a seed that turns into a sequoia over decades and years and like being able to have that patience with that and see that I think is an interesting space to be stepping into. Yeah. Yeah.


You go get the wins too. You know, you might realize three years later when you're working with a client. Oh my gosh, when you did come to me, you really struggle with that. So now I'm seeing you really kind of have this pattern down that includes so much more self love or more confidence in social situations or whatever the thing is that they're working on and realizing they've got it at maintenance stage. Right.


So you will get some of those wins. Absolutely. But when you talked about the work life balance, I do want to make sure I didn't. Hit me.


I had two pieces there that hit me too. I can give my whole life to missions and do all of this work, but I actually have to have that balance because it's the whole oxygen and mask thing, right? And explain that I don't actually take care of myself and I hit burnout. I can't provide that to others. And I tell that to my clients all the time too. So it's not just a social work issue, but it's all of us. Anyone who's out there being an activist, anyone who's out there trying to make change, anyone who's out there trying to take care of a sick mother, you know, that we actually that balances healthy. You can't give my guess is that guy who was painting the ceiling.


He clocked out for the day and he went and he did things that he was passionate about in his life that was with us. Yeah. Yeah.


So that was okay that maybe I won't be here when the ceiling finishes, but it was a piece of my life. Not the whole thing. Absolutely.


Yeah. Having that, I think that always comes back to the understanding of utilitarianism. I remember studying that when I was minored in philosophy and my undergrad and like this concept of, you know, the idea.


I don't know. Do you know a lot about utilitarianism like that philosophical idea? I know some. Yes.


Okay. It's not necessarily the study that it, the direction that I went into and study, but I know. I haven't looked at it in a long time, but from what I remember, it was like the idea of, you know, ethically your decision is to weigh the pros and cons, right? And like if the pros that way in terms of goodness to the world, the cons, then you go with that decision, which like taking, taking at its full context would always mean taking off your mask on the plane because you could help other people with all of that. And so it adds to more goodness in the world in that way, but would completely deteriorate your own existence, right? Like I could always be giving my money money away to other people.


So they eat so much so that I stop eating myself and like trying to find that balance. them between, like it's not always weighing the good versus the bad outcomes, but rather more so like you said, the plane on the mask, you know, you have to put on your mask first before you can help others. I think what I struggle with is that, like, I'm part of the problem, right? Like, I'm a white cisgendered, you know, granted queer Kiki polyamorous person, but like, I'm fully a part of the problem.


And so it's like that question then of like, how do you find balance between knowing that and wanting to do that work and also needing to like, just go relax outside under the sun, you know? Yeah. Well, I think you actually said it in that sentence, I did, but I'm also this, right?


I don't give up. Because you're actually acting and as an example, right? Like, so even even when I look at a client, I can't look at them and say, Hey, you have to find work, like balance, you have to do this and that and then not do it for myself. But also, I need to stay healthy.


I need to do these pieces to be able to come back and I can't preach it if I don't live it. Right? Right. Some of that is, Hey, I identify as openly queer, I identify as kinky, I identify as whatever you just like whatever that goes.


And I'm going to actually actively go go through that search. And what you're actually doing is you're bringing back a stronger individual because you're not saying, Okay, let me sit with you and talk to you about what I read in this textbook. The textbook says you should have counter thoughts.


Right? The textbook says that you should have some anxiety here, but eventually go to acceptance, right? Like, no, those things I actually went and I lived and I actually let myself evolve and I'm happy with those pieces, so that I can bring back someone who's whole even if in our profession, we may not share every piece of that walk.


Yeah, that battle is real. And if I'm feeling not my full self inside, but I'm sitting down with another person. And I really, is it really a symbiotic relationship?


I need to be during the week to absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah, that's resonating. And I think for me and my what I'm passionate about studying with sex and relationships, I've been trying to get into the space of yeah, what is pleasure? Like what is pleasure in our sex lives and relationships?


Because that's just an area of discourse that isn't talked about for a lot of different reasons, including shame and taboos and yada, yada, yada. So that's my whole space to of it, where then like, yeah, what does it look like to live a pleasurable life? And then I always come back to well, that's a privilege that you get to have that, you know, and it's like, whoof. So then it's like, I've been just sitting with that a lot, I think, and I really appreciate what you're saying of that, like, you have to live the walk to and be able to speak from your own lived experience of that and then be able, you know, it's like feeding yourself a nutritious meal before you go run a marathon, you know what I mean? Like you can't expect it to just like not give yourself the nourishment that you need to be able to go out there and do that work.


But yeah, the navigation of that. And then I think when you start to think about like how much you charge for clients and navigating that and all these pieces in this capitalistic game, I'm just so like, how do I not enact more harm by being a psychologist in this game? I'm just like, well, you know, when you're talking about pleasure, especially when you're talking about sexual pleasure, you might actually enjoy, I don't know how familiar you with Sensei Thurby.


I have the book quite literally. Okay, yeah. Okay, so I brought it up because you mentioned mindfulness before the methods that I actually use with couples, or an individual who might come to me and say, Hey, I want to understand myself more, actually, or I need to learn how to let go, I'm carrying so much of that anxiety. And so it's literally going into and utilizing those five senses and getting to know the self, changing the association that I may have. Maybe I didn't like I, whether I didn't want someone to touch my belly because I don't like it, or because I had gas one, if I continue to let them because they're my partner, eventually, I can't hold their hand, which makes no sense at all, right? I can't let them hold my hand because I allowed that negative association to happen in a time that we have to remove that we use the five senses to bring it back to create a new association and new environment, right? But the same thing is true with your practice. If I am sitting here working with somebody and I'm talking to them about self love, I'm talking to them about mindfulness, or I'm talking to them about what it might feel like and how difficult it is to go to school and tell everyone that I'm openly changing my name from Tim to Sally, right?


Or whatever those things are. But then I'm actually, I'm not actually doing it for myself. I can create negative association as a therapist, because I'm not living, I'm not doing those things, I'm coming in, I'm giving it to them.


But if I eventually, because I let my partner touch my belly when I was not feeling right, now can't hold their hand anymore. The same thing can happen with social work. You've got a part of what you're doing, is you're actually helping your clients by going and actually taking care of yourself, living your life, speaking out where your identity is, making sure you take that that to yourself, yeah, going out and dancing or whatever it is, if your thing is painstaking, you know, and living that because then when you come back, you're speaking from something that you have positive association, you're speaking from passion. It's funny because you had started, I think when we talked about this, you're like, what are you passionate about? And I'm like, you have to come from that place of passion. And if you let that die because you're like, I'm going to give everything to the cause to change it, you're actually like impeding the process.


Right? I can bring that passion because I continue to go back to care of myself and spark that passion, find my true self, and then put the energy into, there will always be someone who's interested in a different part of the fight than you, right? So if my interest is actually sitting with the clients, awesome. But if I have zero passion for that, and I went and did that, the practice wouldn't be good, right? Maybe I'm more passionate about going to lobby to the state to make change to change laws so that way that that everyone has the right to change a name on their passport to whatever gender and name that they choose, right? No matter what, it's okay, there will be someone who will do the other piece of the fight. Figure out your passion, you can't do that if you don't healthcare. You don't go and you go find out who you are as an individual, kinky, openly poly person, then you're missing, you're missing a piece, right? And your clients will know the difference.


The difference between reading a textbook and sitting and saying, alright, let's do this thing. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So you're saying I need to have more kinky sex?


Yes. You can blame me for that. I hope you do. I hope later you say, you know what?


I talked to Carla. It's part of my research, okay? No, but it's so true, though, and I really appreciate you saying that of these pieces. And I think this is applicable to anybody, not just therapists, right?


In terms of like people who are socially minded and trying to be activists in the space of like, how do we balance the time between growing on how we are or reflecting and learning how we are the problem and also finding that thing that lights you up and brings you joy and spending time in the pleasure of that. I watched one video from the person who wrote Trauma Stewardship. Have you read that book? I haven't. I've heard of it, though.


I mean, it's great. Yeah, one of those like nice reminders in this of for anyone who's in a health helping profession of how to take care of yourself and have mindfulness and that. And she had done a TED Talk and specifically what she said in this world that we need is people who are present and on fire Because that's literally what we need is more people who are coming to this with that thing that lights them up That is their area of the fight of all this right and if we're all doing our work in that Finding that thing that does that for you will have a radically different society So it's not that we have to do all of it But rather finding that thing that does it for you that gives you that zest that Vitality to go out and do that work on the scales that you can and affect with ripples out through that Yeah, absolutely. I love how you worded that exactly you have to have that internal thought now Can you have that if you're not actually allowing that you're like nope? I don't have the time I have to be just in the mission Right.


I use buddy. I'm gonna give you even more of an okay to go have Kingie's X Right, it's me right now, please But I'm gonna say let's say that you are a king star and for you one of the ways that you can heal that trauma Is to be able to live through That piece where you get to be in control now Maybe your control was taken away at some point in your life in a traumatic way I can now go be dominant in this room and I can take control and I can find that piece of myself and Through that work of like having these kinky themes really learn to truly love myself and Grass that side and say I can be the stamina itself. Guess what now? I'm gonna go sit and I'm gonna go work with other people who are trying to figure out their trauma through that I mean, it's like a totally different world than saying hey, I read I keep going back to the next one But I read that yeah through dominance you'll find this but instead being able to say absolutely I'm passionate about you finding the way even if they don't choose kink right, but if they choose a different way I'm passionate about you finding the way that you can work on find your own internal healing through the trauma you experience Even if for you it's playing the drums, right? Not not that kinky scene But at the end of the day I can have that passion different because I went and lived That for myself and I can stand behind it in a way that isn't just the task What I said, so I'm giving you more permission to go go have that kinky sex if you want to yeah And I'll take that space to even double up the ante here in this poker game and say that that has been my journey as a sexual assault survivor right to Have that space where I have engaged in sexual dynamics with BDSM and even the power that has been a part of the process of being a bottom and a sub in that I've been able to Communicate my boundaries clearly and have them heard and know that they would be heard in a way that was not My experience during my assault right and so hot to have that space where you can play with those Dynamics and to be able to do it in such a safe way with so much communication and intimacy in that has been Utterly profound that like this is my my plan to start like write my first book on healing through kink And because I think it has been a story that when I've spoken to other people in the community who have had similar experiences of Transforming and coming into different aspects of their identity kind of like we were talking about and seeing yourself in a different way That has been my journey and so it is something that I directly want to research and study so You put it out there and I was like yeah, you're gonna have a lot of fun on that journey There's you're gonna be a lot of really wonderful people But I'm so happy to hear that yeah, that's exactly it and this is why you need to do the for yourself and what you're passionate Yes, yes Thank you all son that's my mom actually a therapist mom said it's okay As long as it's what's right for you and what you're passionate about You also have the right to try it out and it's not the right one thing and that's okay Then we'll try something else.


I spent a lot of time talking to my clients about how it. Hey life is actually just I'll try linear What if I do this thing and then it's the wrong thing and then I'm stuck in it forever and I go oh, yeah If you try that you're stuck in that forever. I just smile and they look back at me and they're like Okay Right, but there's one way as long as we're making sure we're reducing harm during the process Like you are when you're saying hey I want to make sure in this scene that at the end of the day that I get to fully negotiate and that I'm heard and I'm Respected even though I'm choosing to sit as a bottom I want to live that enough times that that one experience I had has a lot less power because I've had this many positive ones, right? Through that it's amazing. Yeah Yeah Yeah, I love that too of like you kind of don't know until you try in some ways, right? It's hard to say you don't like something until you know and once you do you have the beautiful awareness of knowing now That's the gift of this uncertainty of like should I figure this out?


I don't know if I'll like it forever It's like you're taking a sip of the drink That does not mean you have to drink and I stole this from some podcast guests that came on and told me I think that their dad gave them this analogy Of like you're you're you're paying for the beer and you take a sip of it If you don't like it, you don't have to drink the whole beer You paid to try it and now you know, right? And I think that's a beautiful thing and I think I hear a lot in the space of People saying you know take what resonates with you and leave the rest, right? Yeah, I love that Yeah, it makes me think of this. Yeah, I'm just like, yes, absolutely Yeah, I make me think of this and when we work with domestic violence. I had actually done my one of my internships for my master's at Layla at Family Rescue, which is a domestic we worked at district three police station and went to the courthouses And they kind of stood with people while they sat and stood to get an order of protection against the aggressor And one of the things that we would talk about because I spent many times sitting on the phone You're literally hearing the aggressor in the background and so on and so forth, but it's not my choice It's theirs. They have the right to choose if they wanted me to help them go to a shelter or to get somewhere They also had the right to change their mind as many times as they want But yeah, I'm sitting with somebody who's struggling with that perfectionism piece But what if I do this and then I end up this way and I'm like, wait, why don't you get the right to change your mind?


Right? And I think that we should always work on like I can try linear I also have the right to change my mind. I can eat this as many times as I want But at the end of the day, if it's not what's serving me, I also have the right to change that Thing and I think we get stuck in these boxes sometimes. So yes, I agree. I agree so much.


I like that beer analogy Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And I'm thinking about The ways that psychology even does that sometimes, right? So I think that's why I like more of a feminist theoretical perspective to psychology of avoiding those power over Dynamics of presuming where someone should go how they should do this in this world Like that's not enacting harm on its own way to come to that person be like you shouldn't be doing this This is how you should live your life ABCDEFJ, right? Like it's just we we have to be careful with that of like enacting, you know Expectations where someone's for someone's unfolding journey that may take a very different direction in this existential void than Anything I presume to be health, right?


Like that's This mantle the field of psychology one day today one one step at a day, right? Yeah, I will tell you though as much as I see society do it as much as I see Different pieces the number one Place that that I should be in this box. It should be this way is actually the individual. We create these narratives for ourselves. So through that we can also free ourselves where it's a little harder for me to free if it's society telling me I should be. Yeah.


Instead of that. But we actually create that for ourselves. And then I see so many clients who finally decide, you know what, let me do this journey. Let me find out who I am and let me live my true authentic self and then sit and process shot like I really thought the world would never accept this. I really thought that was XYZ. But now I'm realizing they still like actually I'm surrounded by people I really love and love me now.


I'm realizing I held myself back like it was me. And so through that work we can also do things. Absolutely. Because at the end of the day we all want connection. We all want connection and community and love. And so there will become times where there's aspects of yourself because of whatever reason that might threaten that connection, right? For me it was coming out as queer to my Mormon mom, right? Like not being able to say that because what is that going to do or telling her I had an abortion, right? All these little pieces that are so scary. And so like in some ways, yeah, that is me holding that back or we could say that is my mom that's causing me to hold me back.


Or we could say that is the society that may be taught my mom that queers worse and full, right? Like all that sort of stuff. So it's like such a yes and for me of like yes, it is me and it is the system and like being able to like, yeah. And then being able to decide that I have the power though always like you're saying to choose what I bring out. I cannot control how that person's going to respond. Exactly.


And that's the tricky piece of doing this all with safety, right? Like if I come out as this will I get shut off and have lose financial security? Will all these things happen? And the answer is yeah, maybe, right? So it's like we always have that power and doing that with safety and boundaries and a whole thing, right? Yeah, absolutely.


There is a balancing act there. If you're going out, it's truly me. You might find I'm going to have to send you a book list later. There's a book.


I'm trying to remember the author of hand. But it was actually written quite a while ago, but it's some of the concepts are dated, but some are not. And it's about passing in our society. And talking about passing. And what's great about is approaches. It is passing isn't necessarily always a bad thing, right?


If it can be good, it can be bad. It's each person's journey to decide to what extent do I need to do that or want to do that. Or to what point is it actually healthy for me to burn all those bridges down and say no, this is truly authentically me. Or can I compartmentalize and why am I any less authentic? If I chose that's what's right for me to compartmentalize and have I'm passing at work.


But I'm this when I'm out with my friends or something. Yes, yeah, and the jury is still out. And I really believe it's each person figuring out the journey individually for themselves. Absolutely.


And then the education to the world and coming to accept them. But you're right. At the time, that doesn't mean it's all fixed tomorrow. Yeah. Yeah. Right.


Absolutely. And doing the self care in between until we get to that world that we dream of where this is no longer the reality for all of us. I want to hold a little bit of space towards the end in case there was something lingering for you that maybe we didn't get to as we come to the close of our time.


I always like to hold a little bit of space towards the end. No, I don't necessarily have anything specific. I know we talked a little bit about individual work, eating disorder. But I think we talked more about like the true authentic self, you know, that your group works. Your podcast has a lot about polyamory. That's an amazing but at the end of the day, that's identity work too. Because every polyamory couple or individual is their own unique thing.


Again, once again, it's not what who cares what the Joneses are doing next door, like it's finding that true. What's true and right for me and doing that individual work, I think, I guess if I said one thing to your listeners, I'd be like, go out there and enjoy that journey, you know, and then once you figure it out and you evolve again, enjoy it all over again. Yes, there's no one way to be in connection with other people. There's multitudes of ways to be in connection that are going to feel good, depending on your experience and your value system and your world. And so yeah, there's not just one way to do this. And I always appreciate the discussions of polyamory as another world to do that.


And I think even creating more space to do any sort of relational dynamic that ends up bringing you joy. I am all for that. Yeah. Well, then as we close our time, I have one question that I ask everyone on the podcast. Okay.


Yeah. And that question is, what is one thing that you wish other people knew was more normal? That's a good question. I think that it's actually doesn't even hit like any of the topics we've talked about LGBTQ, can any of that stuff, order, it's every single person that comes to me at some point will process and say, I don't do this. Like, I know everybody else has this except for me or like, why does everyone have it more together?


Or why does everybody have sex all figured out? And I don't. And like my biggest secret is that they don't.


Like it's forever evolving. And actually, it's what makes you normal is that we go through all kinds of anxieties, excitements, passion, like trauma, difficult times. And just, you know, you're not alone. I think that would be my biggest thing is that I haven't met one individual in the many years I've been doing this, that's exactly like another individual, every single person is so different. And they all go through this exact same thing. So just do you and stop worrying about what everyone else is doing and figure out what's right for you.


I think would be my message to spend the world as I'm sitting here preaching individuality, I think. Yes. Yeah. So what a exciting choose your own adventure. It might be some scary parts of that journey.


If I know anything about growth and expansion, it's been scary and really uncomfortable. But wow, what an adventure to unfold for yourself when you think about it in that way. Yeah, it's cool. Well, this has been so lovely. I really appreciate you bringing in all of your clinical expertise and your perspective and also giving me a lot of grounding in my own experience of navigating this that that was really profound for me to hear and something that I'll definitely be taking away. So thank you for that. Well, I want to thank you for your time too. It's been amazing to get to spend this time with you and I can't wait for our road trip. Yes, yes, let's go to Target. Let's do it. If you enjoyed today's episode, then leave us a five star review wherever you listen to your podcast. And if you're a part of the anarchist community, then follow us on Instagram or nominate a guest for the show by sending in a letter to modern anarchy podcast at gmail.com. Otherwise, I'll see you next week.

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