Relationships & Finding your Personal Truth
• Love and Relationships
• Health and Well Being
• Freedom and Fulfillment
• Passion and Purpose
Emily is a ghostwriter and book coach at Scribe Media, where she helps authors tackle the emotional journey of writing, tap into the wisdom of their experience, and share this with the world.
She is the author of Please Make Me Love Me, where she shares that she thought she knew who she was until her partner wanted an open relationship. For Emily, the idea of opening up her eight-year relationship was terrifying. Even considering it sent her into a tailspin of jealousy, anxiety, and self-doubt. Except … maybe she did want it if she was being brutally honest. By saying yes, Emily realized she could say yes to a new adventure, and she embarked on a journey where she learned to love herself and others and find her own personal truth.
She is excited to share with our listeners the lessons she has learned and help you if you are still trying to figure it out and discover who you are.
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Intro: Welcome to the Heart Soul Wisdom Podcast, a journey of self-discovery and transformation. Moira Sutton and her amazing guests share real life stories, tools, and strategies to inspire and empower you to create and live your best life. Come along on the journey and finally blast through any fears, obstacles and challenges that have held you back in the past so you can live your life with the joy, passion, and happiness that you desire. Now, here's your Host. Create the life you love. Empowerment. Life coach, Moira Sutton.
Moira: Welcome to season four, episode 73, Relationships and Finding your Personal Truth with our very special guest, author, ghostwriter writer and book coach Emily Gindlesparger. Emily, we practiced this. Well, there I go. I'll be practicing more all real on this show, I'll tell you. Emily is a ghostwriter and book coach at Scribe Media, where she helps authors tackle the emotional journey of writing, tap into their inner wisdom of their experience in life and share this with the world. She's the author of Please Make Me Love Me, where she shares that she thought she knew who she was until her partner wanted an open relationship. For Emily, the idea of opening up her eight year relationship was terrifying, even considering it sent her into a tailspin of jealousy, anxiety and self doubt. Except maybe she did want it and she was being brutally honest with herself. By saying yes, Emily realized she could say yes to a whole new adventure and she embarked on a journey where she learned to love herself and others and find her own personal truth. She is so excited to share with our listeners today the lesson she has learned and help you if you are still trying to figure all this out and discover who you are. So, without further ado, it is my pleasure to introduce you to Emily Gindlesparger. There we go. Welcome, Emily.
Emily: Thank you. Thank you.
Moira: I did it. I did it. I said it right. Even if you practice right again, what we talked about at the beginning is we're going to talk about monogamy. And as I said to you, I wrote down, here the word. I could not say that yesterday, so hopefully today I don't blurb it over. If I do, I apologize, but I am doing my best. So, Emily, you do have a background in Ghostwriting. When did it come to your awareness that you felt, this is time for me to write and share my own personal story? When did you get that AHA moment?
Emily: Yeah. It was when I was leading and well, I was co leading an author workshop. And so, I was away from home spending time with these amazing authors who were figuring out how to codify their life's work into books and coaching them on the best way to make that happen. And there were a couple of memoirists in the group who we started talking about structure and how to really spotlight their stories in the most compelling way. And at the same time, what I had left behind to travel to this workshop was a bit of a mess in my own personal relationships. This was midway through my partner, and I haven't opened our relationship. I had started relationships with women, and I was really struggling to communicate clearly with my partners. I was hiding things about my desire and just not really. It was a bit of a dark night of a soul that I was in. I didn't really know how to show up authentically and really fully let go and love these people that I had brought into my life. And so, as I was coaching these authors on their own memoirs, I just thought, God, I wish someone would write a book that would show me how to get through what I'm going through. And then that's when there was just sort of this smack on the forehead moment of like, why are you waiting for someone else to write that? And I went back to my hotel room and started diagramming out what this book would look like.
Moira: That's awesome. So, a big, AHA, the hit on the hand moment. Did you ever point in writing this book? Were you hesitating at times like, oh no, I don't want to share this? Or did you come to moments like that, like difficult spots? Because writing a book takes a lot of work.
Emily: Yeah, and especially a book like this. For me, I was constantly stopping and second guessing myself at times. It was during the first draft of the writing, even just revisiting painful experiences and trying to describe them viscerally describe them as if I was actually there again, that was really difficult to do voluntarily. And so sometimes I would, for example, write out a scene that was difficult to access, and then I would have to kind of just take a break for a week and let all the emotions that that brought up settle, let myself think about that experience again from a calmer space, and then come back to it later to write. So, there were big, big gaps in my writing practice, which is generally pretty regular. I usually write every day, but I couldn't necessarily do that with this book. I really needed emotional processing time as well. So that was a big thing during the first drafting. And then when it came time to edit and in particular bring other people in to read this thing and give me feedback, I had very long stretches of just like, no, this is too much, and I would put it all away for like a month or two months. And luckily, I had a really great editor in Tucker, Max, who not only helped me really plumb the depth of my story in really important places, but when he noticed that I was not showing up and not giving him more material to review, he would kind of get on me and set deadlines and help me push through. Yeah. Community support is, I think, one of the best ways to try to make it through that kind of doubt.
Moira: Also, you showed up being very vulnerable in this book. That's quite the thing to do.
Emily: Thank you. It was. Yeah, it was. Part of it was that I wrote this book for me, as the origin story of the book suggests, I really focused not on what would make a cool story. I instead focused on what's the deepest truth I can access about this moment. Because if I don't get there, I'm not really getting what I need out of this out of writing this book.
Moira: So, a lot of healing and transformation that you went through for this journey of your book. Please love me.
Emily: Yeah, absolutely. I think I was also in therapy while writing this book. I think both of those practices were really helpful compliments to each other, and I don't think that I could have come to grips with this part of my personal history as quickly or as thoroughly without both of those practices. I really think they helped me go into all of it and discover compassion for myself, even in the times when I was carrying a lot of guilt for what I had done and how I had acted in my relationships.
Moira: So, let's go there. Let's go with the emotions that you went through. When your partner, Jordan of eight years, said he was interested in exploring an open relationship, did you know what this was? Was that like a ton of bricks? Like, what how did you deal with that, and what were the emotions that came up for you?
Emily: Yes, I did know what an open relationship was, and it was still a ton of bricks when it came to us thinking about practicing it. We have a really open and lovely partnership. And so for years, leading up to that first conversation of opening our relationship, we had been listening to podcasts, reading books, and talking about non monogamy in theory and talking about things like jealousy and how that works in relationships, both ours and what we were seeing in other people and talking about we would listen to the podcast Savage Love, and there were always people calling in asking for advice on how to open their relationships and what to do about conflicts that they were experiencing. And so we would go on road trips and pause and then stop and talk about, like, well, what do you think that we would do if that was us? And so, we had a lot of mental theoretical experimentation already under our belts. We talked a lot about it, and yet still, when the moment came that Jordan expressed interest in doing that, I still had this flood of not jealousy, exactly, but insecurity mostly of like, oh, man, this means I'm not enough. That was my very first thought that I must not be worthy. I must not be cool enough. I must not be the right kind of person for this person that I love. And all of those things are, of course, fictions, right? Or at least partial fictions. I don't think any one of us is enough to be the only person for anyone that we love, right. We need whole communities, whether those are romantic or not. And so, I really had to sit with why do I feel this deep, deep insecurity specifically in this relationship? And I kind of freaked out in the initial conversation. Like the opening chapter of the book is basically him telling me that, well, I'm getting ready for work and then I just freeze and don't engage in the conversation and just get out of the door as soon as possible. And I kind of avoided the entire topic talking about it, at least for the week that followed. But in my head, I was obsessing over it. And in my search browser history, I was searching for all sorts of stuff about non monogamy and how people grapple with their emotions. And I came across a blog that wrote about how jealousy is not its own emotion, that jealousy is usually a secondary emotion that arrives from some other sense of insecurity. And when you can start to root out what your own sort of manifestation of that insecurity is, you can start to understand it better. And that was indeed the case that happened for me. As soon as I read that, I thought, okay, yeah, my insecurity is that I am not enough, not just for my partner, but just not enough in general. And I was using my partnership with Jordan to prove to myself that I was worthy. And so, anything that threatens that I'm not the only one threatens that sense of security that I had built and thus why it felt like the world was crumbling. And so, I was able to sit with that and realize, like, okay, that is actually intolerable to me, to hold my sense of security outside of myself and pin it on someone else, which is what I had done to my partner. And so, I realized that the journey ahead of me was actually not to come to grips with whether we were going to be in an open relationship or not. It was a journey of how I move my sense of security back inside of myself.
Moira: What did you do on this journey to start that? Because there's this, I am not enough syndrome everywhere to some degree, like that we compare. Or I was thinking when I was preparing your heartfelt discussion that we're having now is I was thinking back to gender when I was given Barbie dolls, right? Ken and Barbie. And Barbie was quite busty thin wife. And I think we played with those so much and our parents wouldn't have known any difference. And that was sort of the, hey, that's what I'm growing up to do. I'm going to be a Barbie and I'm going to marry a Ken kind of thing. Did you know with you growing up, did you ever know or was it later when you had the first experience with a woman that you knew that you were queer, like you were attracted to women? Did you know before? Was there signs of that?
Emily: Some of my best there were signs, but I didn't know it. It's a really interesting thing that I imagine isn't just my experience of coming out queer in my 30s, which is that I didn't recognize that I was queer until I had experiences with women. You know, again late in life in my mid thirty s. And then once I realized how much I my identity was shifting with those experiences I started to look back at my past and realize oh, there were signs all along and I just didn't pay attention to them or I didn't think of them in that way. I can remember being attracted, for example, to female friends that I had as a kid and just brushing it off as like, well, that must be how everybody feels about their friends, right? For me, intimacy wasn't a binary between romantic intimacy and friendly intimacy. It's just like all one soup and it's like I feel it for some people and it's acceptable for these people to express it in this way and it's unacceptable to express it in this way. That was kind of the conditioning that I had inherited. And it was luckily when I did come out in my thirty s, I had a group of really supportive friends around me who not only were investigating the same things in themselves but were also kind of several steps ahead of me on that journey and far more confident and secure in themselves than I was. And so, I had all these beautiful models to look at for like how am I going to express that for myself and how am I going to accept that within myself? It made it really much easier to accept those parts of myself because of the friend community that I had. But that wasn't what it looked like when I was growing up. I grew up in rural midwestern United States where I can't remember ever coming across someone and not spending significant time with anyone who was gay and certainly not by like that wasn't even really a thing that I was aware of. The culture that I grew up in was a lot less diverse and so it took a lot of time in my adulthood to unpack what that had wired into me about what I think is normal and not normal.
Moira: You've shared a lot right there that mentors are important because I was going to ask you did you have mentors and people role models that you looked up to? But it sounds like community there similar to you was very supportive for you to start to find yourself and like you said, self acceptance and self love.
Emily: Oh, absolutely. Yeah. I don't know that I would have been able to discover these parts of myself if not for the friends that I had and the community around me. I think I would have continued to just brush off my sense of attraction either, because it can be scary to put yourself out on a limb in a way that you're not used to. It was scary at first to flirt with women who I didn't know if they were also into women, for example. And so, getting to watch the ease with which my friends had those experiences helped to show me that that can be an easeful experience. It doesn't have to be tortured and weird and awkward, which is what I assumed it would be in my own mind. And so, I don't know that I would have had the courage to step into that awkwardness if I hadn't had people to show me that it didn't need to be awkward.
Moira: Would that be as you're sharing your own personal experience, would that be what you would say to people who are struggling with their identity? They could be lesbian, gay, transgender, and the LGBTQ community. There's a lot of people who are struggling with their identity. One of the reasons I want to do here today, I know people who are struggling with that, and it's really hard. They don't have maybe community, like you said, and they're nervous to go and even say that, step out of that zone, but not to do that. You can't fully live your life if you identify, self identify as either lesbian, gay, transgender, or the people in the LGBT community. I think this is all new in many ways. I think in many ways, people who are gay or lesbian are more accepted than people who are trans.
Emily: Yeah, I wouldn't say it's new. You can go back into yes, I know history and see examples all over. Right. But I think that our cultural dialogue we're at a specific point of our cultural dialogue, even globally around these things, that is more open, certainly, than it was when I was a kid. And that's really important, and I think to what you said about some folks are struggling in these kinds of pieces of identity without the community and friends around them to support them. And one of the really beautiful things about this day and age is, like, even if you don't have that in your physical, local community, you can tap into the whole world now. Right. I found the community that I was in not because these were people I already knew. I joined a community that existed through a Google search of just figuring out, like, okay, my partner and I are interested in opening our relationship. Are there people in this town that are doing that? Right. And there was a Facebook group of folks that were super active and held functions that we could just go to and hang out and meet people. And so, I think not the only scary part, but I think the biggest scary part that puts a lot of people off of finding the communities that they need is that we have to be vulnerable to say what we need in order to find it. And I've seen, for example, since publishing this book, I've seen a lot of my friendships transform in really positive ways because I was, of us, the first in our relationship to say, like, hey, these are the experiences that I've had, and these are the desires that I've had and how I went about that. And then I couldn't believe how many people reached out to me that I hadn't talked to in years or that I'd talked to, but never about these kinds of themes. Suddenly telling me, oh yeah, I struggle with that too, or I have that in my life. I really resonate with that. And so sometimes to find your community, you have to be the person that's willing to go first a little bit to open the conversation and find out who's going to engage in that conversation with you.
Moira: That would be very scary, I would think, for a lot of people. But like you said, either reach out to a community or start a discussion. But yeah, honor yourself, right? Because all relationships, I believe, start with self love. You have to love yourself before you can love another truly. And you have to love yourself for all the good, bad, and ugly. We all have little tummies or something that we have about our body, I think, that we say, and it's just a story because you talk about that. The stories that we tell ourselves and others are very powerful. And our body is always listening. Our body is listening to that story. So it doesn't know you're not talking about even when you talk with somebody else. I used to say that people wouldn't point fingers and say something about somebody else that's that pointing fingers, three fingers back to yourself, that they don't realize that your body thinks you're talking about you. So, when you're talking about that person over there but yeah, telling powerful stories, creating stories in our life. So, you talked about a little bit about intimacy there. Did you feel like you were sort of trapped with Jordan? Was that sort of like frustrating for you sexually? No, that wasn't there at all.
Emily: But you had yeah, not at all. I've certainly spoken to other couples who chose to open their relationships because of that, because there was a sense of being trapped or needing variety, needing something else. For us, it really was far more out of a spirit of adventurousness. And I think that is ultimately what made it easier. I described having this freak out moment when the first conversation happened around it. And I also think that was a necessary piece of development for me. I hold myself back in a lot of ways when I think I'm not worthy of something, and so I'm actually grateful that that first conversation uncovered that and helped me work on it. But going forward from that point, I hate to say that it was like flipping a switch, but it really was. It was like once I understood, oh, I'm putting my sense of agency and security outside of myself and onto him, and I want to take that back, suddenly having other partners in our lives didn't feel threatening at all. And in fact, when we first started dating people, it was just like this really fun adventure of one of us would go out on a date and then come home to our partner and gab about it like girlfriends do. It actually brought us closer in a lot of ways.
Moira: Thank you. How do you monitor things like sexual risk management and the time that you spend with your partner and then with the other partners, the people that you both start to see? How do you juggle that? I think, again, I don't want to put out like we all are, but busy life, things that we want to do, and how do you deal with that, like not worrying about that? Do you monitor that? Is that part of what you do in your relationship?
Emily: Yeah, I know that a lot of people have a lot of different strategies for dealing with the sexual risk piece of it. And the amount of time you spend with people is a whole different topic that I'll tackle separately because that's a really important one as well. But sexual risk really comes down to having open conversations with everybody that's involved. And I was really lucky because when we first started this out, I would say that that was not my strong suit at all. Talking openly about who are we having sex with what kind of sex are we going to have, what kind of protections are we going to use, who's going to have sex with who after that so that we are aware of where that might. You have to have really detailed conversations about these things to make sure that everyone is safe. And I was not good at that. Luckily, my partners were very good at that. And I think that this is common with people who are at least familiar with the non monogamy community, is that they recognize that this is a fundamental piece that you have to learn and advocate for. And so, I was lucky that my partners usually drew that out of me and we were able to come to arrangements that felt good to everyone. We also all knew each other. We typically didn't have relationships that were separate, although, as I know you read in my book, one of the partners that I got with later, I didn't talk about with my other female partner and that resulted in a mess for this very reason. Right. And so having that open communication is really important. And I think following this trope that people have probably heard before, like, if you're not ready to talk about the kind of sex that you want to have, then you are not ready for the kind of sex you want to have. I think just following that guideline helps a lot with that particular piece of it and then the time investment piece that is a really big one. I know polyamorous couples, couples and polyamorous groups who share open Google Calendars with each other so that everybody can literally see where people's open and windows, and they schedule the time that they're hanging out with each other so that they know who gets what day that is to a degree. What I ended up doing with my partners. And unfortunately, I gutted all of the time that I needed for myself. I just didn't leave any alone time for myself on my own calendar. And in the end, that really burned me out and among many other reasons, I think ultimately the partners that I was with were good partners for a certain time of my life. And then I think that we kind of grew in different directions from each other and it was important for us to separate for many reasons. But the time component was a big thing for me that kind of burned me out on that as a lifestyle because I didn't know how to boundary my own time and make sure that I was having enough time to just relax and not be attending to another person or another partner. And so, for me, it's a lifestyle that I am not practicing now and I'm not interested in going back to that lifestyle anytime soon. I know lots of people who just thrive on tons of social engagement and really enjoy having that to be full of time with partners and it works really well for them. So, I think it's a really individual thing that comes down to not just how do you want to spend your time with the people that you love, but how do you want to allocate the time that you have in your life, period and what do you want the shape of your lifestyle to look like?
Moira: I was going to ask you that closer to the end. Where are you today in your relationship? Like you were just saying a little bit now. Where are you in general in your relationship?
Emily: Yeah, Jordan and I and I are still together going strong. I ended the other relationships that I was in, and he did as well. And so now we're functionally monogamous. We're not really monogamous as a rule or anything, but just because that's what feels really good to us right now and that's what's fitting both of us right now. And I have a sense that, at least for me, that's probably going to continue to be a good fit for a while. I feel like the time of my life when I was in so many relationships, it was a really huge time of growth. And I feel like now I'm in a really, really huge time of rest after that. And so, I'm really my life is a lot smaller, it's a lot slower, it's a lot calmer, and that is just perfect for me at the moment.
Moira: That's beautiful. Can I ask if there's anything like a baby in the horizon?
Emily: No. In fact, the second book that I'm currently working on, and I don't promise to publish this, but I'm working on a draft about choosing not to have children and how I came to that decision and how I still grapple with uncertainty around that because it's such a huge piece of life to decide on.
Moira: I think it is, Emily, and I think it really again, I have one son, and first of all, you get married. When are you having a baby? You're just married, right? And then when you have your baby, you have the baby, and when are you having the next baby? And it's like, what is this? And I didn't meet Cliff till I was 30 and he was 40, but and we're 31 years together, married. And, you know, I look at that and think back then, even at 30, I was still doing things for others quite a lot, like not having another baby, but just in a sense of, you know, all these people that I allowed to sort of say, like, have not have healthy boundaries right, with people. So well, this is part of your book, again, that I wrote this about honesty, open communication and boundaries are definitely important in all relationships. How did you learn to set those boundaries?
Emily: Still learning. Still learning. Pardon me. That was a multifaceted journey for me and continues to be for me. I think that not having boundaries was a norm for me, basically for my whole life until I started consciously working on them. And so, I vacillate around all or nothing relationships with people. You're either totally in with me or you are totally out. I didn't really have the skills to figure out how to get in conflict and repair, and that was in large part because for me, lacking I lack boundaries often because I am so prone to dive into other people's realities. I'm a really deeply empathic person to a degree that I can lose myself if I'm not watching it. And so, I think that this is really evidenced a lot in the descriptions of conflicts in Please Make Me Love Me, conflicts that I had with my two partners, Christine and Eve, were so often because I had made some mistakes and then just could not forgive myself for those mistakes, primarily around communication and hiding my desires and. My partners weren't ready to forgive me either. And so, I just kept punishing myself, punishing myself, punishing myself because I was in their reality that, yeah, I am a terrible person that did something terrible to you, and that's all. And so, Finding My Boundaries was first about finding my own experience as separate from another person's. It was about being able to experience all of my own emotions and recognize the difference between what I'm feeling inside of myself and what I am. Kind of forcing myself to feel, like in the form of guilt or shame or self punishment because of how I assume another person is feeling. And so, part of my practice was physical. I did a lot of yoga to literally feel in my body. Like, where am I storing different emotions and where am I struggling to stay flexible? I mean, that is a physical practice, but it's also a very literal one for me. In my body, I did things like emotional flossing, which is a technique I learned from a therapist, where you essentially go through acting out all of the basic emotions, from fear to anger to sadness to joy. And literally, just even though it sometimes felt cheesy, like I was acting, just going through the motions helped me unearth, like, oh, yeah, part of myself is feeling that way. Part of myself is feeling fearful, and it's safe to bring that to the table when I'm acting out fearfulness, and part of myself is feeling angry, and it's safe to bring that up when I'm acting out anger. And so just getting used to what those emotions felt like in my body was a huge piece because then I could identify when I was in conflict with a partner, okay, this is what's inside of me, and this is what's inside of them that I'm also feeling. And then the second big piece around communicating boundaries was practicing just saying no, even when I knew that that was going to be uncomfortable for the other person or that they wouldn't like it or that they would be upset. And there's a pivotal scene in the book, actually, where I'm in the car having a conversation with Christine about how I want to continue dating this other woman and she's really upset about it. But that was what was in my heart. And I let myself just say it bluntly, that this is what I want, and if we're going to stay together, I need to see that she's working on that. I don't even necessarily think that that's like a right or wrong thing to stand up for. But just practicing putting that out on the table and letting it sit and then letting Christine react in whatever way she needed to be really important so that I could see, oh, yeah, it's possible for other people to be upset with me or to be upset with my choices, and I can still hang on to my center.
Moira: Well, it's a lot. It is a lot. It's quite the skill that you developed. And yeah, I love that you talk about also with yoga and the physical body and you know, because we have physical, emotional, spiritual, and other areas too. Like today, like, again, you have the actor. There's different actors out there right now who are in open relationships. I'm thinking about Will Smith and his wife, and they've been out there now talking and their daughter Willow as life partners for life. Whatever they're going through there, they're going to be there for each other for the rest of their life. Whatever, you know, I think that's quite beautiful. Do you think that you know that many couples here have started to explore this area, you know, in non monogamous relationships? And do you also think that during the pandemic that of people who are now maybe too close to their partner a lot more hours, they started thinking, maybe I want to explore something else? Do you think that happened?
Emily: I think for the first category of people who are exploring more in their relationships, I know that to be true because people have started telling me that since publishing my book, right. I've now become sort of a safe person to come out to in that regard. And it's been really amazing to see that. I think a lot of people, even if they're not identifying as non monogamous or polyamorous, I see a lot more people interested in talking to their partners about non monogamy, interested in even just little things like flirting with other people and accessing that side of their energy. I'm seeing a lot more openness to those ideas and I don't know if that's actually representing a bigger change in the culture or if that's just a function of, I published a book about this and so now I'm becoming a little bit of a center point for that kind of a conversation. But I have been really surprised at people that I didn't expect and people who had I'd known for years and didn't ever say anything then later telling me that, oh yeah, we were experimenting with this too. We had similar experiences. And so that's been really beautiful and connected. And then I think the pandemic affected people in many, many different ways. I actually saw a lot of the friends I had in the polyamorous community shut down. Several. Like, it was a time that caused them to really clarify their relationships. People who were used to doing a non monogamous style of dating, a lot of people casually started to have to question, is that still something that I feel safe doing or are there one or two people that I'm going to kind of really settle in with during this time? And I've seen a lot of those relationships last past the pandemic, which has been really interesting. And I think on the opposite side, there was also a sense of folks feeling really stuck together like you described, right? We're in isolation together. We discover we don't actually really work that well in this close quarters, and now we're looking for something new. I assume that that effect must be happening as well. Although for me and my community, mostly what I'm seeing is people actually investing more deeply into their closest relationships as a result of having to spend this time contemplating what kind of connection they want and when they want to be alone and who their lifers are.
Moira: It's quite beautiful. I want to talk about Radio K. How did you come up with that and tell us what Radio K was in your story and how this also ties into how your self sabotage yourself. So, let's talk about Radio K. I thought it was a really novel idea, so let's dive in.
Emily: Radio K. Yeah, I have Anne Patchett to thank for that label. I can't remember if it was just in a blog post somewhere or if it was from an interview that I heard, but she had this really brief aside about how everybody has this station. Everybody has lots of different radio stations playing in their head. And for most of us, we all have one called Radio K-F**** that is just the station that's static and blaring criticisms just all **** day. And I thought, yeah, I definitely have that. I nicknamed that inner voice Radio K in my book. And for me, that was the radio station that I accidentally dialed into the most often and used to spend the most time with weirdly, because I think that those hypercritical voices inside of our heads, or at least the one inside of mine, it was the one that I trusted to tell the truth. It was like I was more willing to believe the worst stuff about me than the best. And so that was the station that I tuned into thinking, oh yeah, this is the way that I know what's real in the world is that this Radio K monitors my behavior and tells me all the times that I'm being stupid and tells me when my face looks weird in public.
Emily: He's very busy. He's a very busy radio host. I think that there is a role for that. If I have something in my teeth, I want my inner voice to tell me so that I can take care of that and be presentable. But my Radio K takes it way too far and not only tells me the things that I'm doing wrong but attaches it to my identity and tells me that I'm a terrible person as a result. And I started experimenting with writing out this as a separate voice and even as a character. Well, previous to writing this memoir, I was experimenting with fiction that I never published, where this voice was its own entity, like walking around and talking to people. And so, it seemed really natural to me to bring it into this book and externalize it as a voice. And what I think is interesting is I didn't do this on purpose. But throughout the book, Radio K gets a lot of airtimes. In the beginning, you see a lot of him, and you see a lot of what the ****** stuff he's saying to me. And then it's like as I'm starting to find my own center, as I'm starting to tap into my own emotions and tap into self compassion for myself over the course of the book, that Radio Cave voice starts to fade out. And it's almost nowhere in the ending, which is really cool because it reflected what actually happened to me. That came out just as a natural response to writing what felt real to me moment by moment. And what I discovered once I started thinking about Radio K as an externalized voice was when I would sit down to write. I would also think, okay, well, if that's only one voice, what are the other voices that want to speak to me about this part, this memory that I'm writing about? And I started to hear this very soft, slow, calming voice of what I identify as my inner wisdom that would speak to me. And so, you know, the first time I would draft a scene, it would almost be like Radio K was writing it, and it would be really self deprecating and grating and just really nasty to myself. And then it was like I would read over that and hear this other voice saying, oh, it's okay, honey. You're still practicing being you, right? Like, you're still practicing finding compassion. Let's figure out where we can do that here. And then I would kind of edit with that inner voice in mind. And what has come out as a result is a balance where both of those voices appear and you kind of see them battle it out a little bit for territory in my brain. Yeah.
Moira: I'm thinking when you say that I'm thinking of the image where they have, like, the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other one. Right. And who are you paying attention to? Who are you really listening to? That just came to my mind. When you're talking, you do refer to your inner wisdom in the book. And I wrote here that your inner wisdom never uses her words. Is that something you just started to learn, to be able to express yourself and use words?
Emily: Yeah, it's funny because now she does. I have a really strong meditation practice, and I can actually hear full sentences from my inner wisdom now when I sit down and get quiet. But I couldn't back at the time that the events of this book were playing out. And so, the way to access my inner voice and honestly, the only reason I couldn't hear her before was because everything else was so chattery. Right. Like I would sit down and get quiet, and the only thing that I would hear is Radio K, just yap, yap, yap, yap, yapping. And so, the way that I learned to access that softer inner knowing early on was through things like yoga and through things like rather than doing a strict sitting meditation practice, I would do walking meditation. I would let myself sway or move or just kind of ask like, how does my body want to move?
Moira: I love that.
Emily: Yeah, I love it too, because what I accidentally discovered, and pretty much any physical, spiritual tradition will teach you this. So, it's not like this is my own, this is my invention. But I discovered that when I asked my body to move the way it wanted to, it would put me in shapes that brought up different emotions. It would stretch my side, and suddenly I would feel like I wanted to cry a little bit. And that was how I realized this connection between my emotions are locked in my body, my body remembers, and my body can help me figure out how to release this. And so mostly I thought of my inner wisdom coming through in that physical form, and it also came through in images and in vision kind of images and in dreams. But it was usually much more symbolic and harder to understand. And now that I've gotten a bit more fluent with it, we can actually hold conversations.
Moira: That's beautiful. I have a dance background, and movement is huge to me. And just to allow yourself to move wherever. I know I mentioned, too that Cliff and I just came back from a cruise and my mom asked me, did you dance? Did you go dancing? And I said, we got up a few times, but it's interesting. I used to do that a lot, but I really didn't feel like being on the dance floor. But when we walked the deck or that we would dance and sway, because it was for us, I wasn't being on stage, and I really didn't want to be on stage. This was sort of a private moment between us. And so, we've done that many times, danced theaters at the end when everybody laughed, when we used to go to theater. But that movement and what I love what you're saying with that, when you stretch to the side and how you had an emotion come up, and then you allow that emotion to be and to be expressed. Because, again, I feel that many of us, speaking about myself also, by the way, that I don't want to go to that motion, so I just ignore it, right? Which isn't healthy. And I know I said to Cliff, this was a month ago or something, I was feeling really emotional. And I said to him, I'm in my 60s, so I don't have a period anymore. So, I said to him, I guess this must be because I was very emotional, and I wanted to cry. And I said, oh, this must be if I was having a period, I'd be having it now, because my body was still having those emotions. Right. And then he says, just cry, and to allow yourself to do that. I think that's a great message for people to hear today, for sure.
Emily: Yeah, I think, too, for me, I just want to pin this for in case anyone else is feeling as closeted as I did in the early days of practicing this. It took me a really long time to be able to find spaces that felt safe enough to go all the way there with my emotions. And I started doing it when I was totally alone in the house when my partner was at work. And I would just sort of house take over, like yell and punch pillows and do whatever and be super obnoxious. And then when the pandemic hit, my partner was home with me. And so, I had to go through an adjustment period of like, how do I do this thing that I know I need to do? But I also know that my partner can hear me in the other room, and that feels really vulnerable. And so, for a little while, I was kind of hiding it and only doing many quiet versions of that practice, and it wasn't really getting all the way there. Yeah, I couldn't really get it all out. And then one day, I had not closed the door all the way to my office, and I was, like, rolling around the floor doing weird stuff, trying to get emotions out, and my partner peeks in the door and is like, hey, what's up? And I just froze. And I was so embarrassed. I didn't want him to catch me the act. Right? And I had all my little crystals around, and there's candle lit, like it's looking really witchy wild in here.
Moira: Yes. Well, I am so woo! I'm relating to this.
Emily: Yeah. And by the way, my partner, he doesn't really have much woo in him at all. Like, he doesn't he doesn't follow the same kind of spiritual bent that I do. And so, I was initially just horrified. And I think I must have given him this bug-eyed deer in the headlights look, and he was like, oh, honey, do your witchy stuff. Like, this is really good for you. I'm going to close this door. Don't mind me. That interaction was so perfect because I haven't been embarrassed about my weird floor rolling around since then.
Moira: That's fantastic. When we moved here to Nova Scotia, we downsized in our home to have more land. And I'll show you the lake after, but the lake and everything in lifestyle. We chose lifestyle over material stuff and the big home. But because we're in a smaller home, we don't have really a lot of private space. So there's days I would really like to maybe I'll just punch a pillow when I feel like I love it screaming, or go out in my car, drive somewhere and then scream. That might be better to do.
Emily: I have done that as well. Yeah. At least then if other people see me in my car, we're strangers and they'll probably never see me again.
Moira: Emily, if you were thinking that you want to share some wisdom, dropper wisdom gem I don't like wisdom. Bomb. So, wisdom Jam, with your younger self, what would you say to your younger self with all the growth that you've gone through and all the personal truth and your journey to find yourself through all of this? Yeah, there's probably a lot. So, you can share several, for sure, yeah.
Emily: I mean, the first thing that comes to mind is so often when I think of offering wisdom or advice, I think of it as coming from this place of like, I want to save you from the terrible thing that you may not necessarily have to go through. Right. And so often advice comes from like, don't do this thing or do this thing better than you might be inclined to do it. And actually, when I think of my younger self, I want to let go of that kind of advice giving. Because instead, what I want to say is, honey, there's a lot of weird stuff coming for you, and it's going to be okay. And you're going to be tempted to try to wish that it wasn't happening or that you could get out of it, or that you could stop it somehow or go back and do something different. And the reality is that the power that lies in all of these experiences is in letting them be without trying to change them. Because that was ultimately how I discovered so many more parts of myself, so much more richness to myself, that was locked to me before because I was constantly trying to change and fix and heal and make myself better. And I'm not saying that all of that is bad to do, but it does all come from this place of like, you're not good as you are and something in you needs to be changed rather than just looked at and held and accepted. And I have learned so much more from just practicing, staying with myself, and accepting without trying to change. And then change happens naturally as you realize what works and what feels good and what doesn't. So, yeah, I think it's more like be willing to weather the storm and stay by your own side.
Moira: That's great advice, Emily. Again, I know that's going to hit home for a lot of the listeners in this community, so thank you for that. Where do you see your life and your relationships ten years from now? So, we've gone back to the younger one. Where do you see ten years in the future? Do you see the bigger vision? Or do you really, like you said, are you present every day, or have you set out these major goals? I know now you are a person for people to come to as somebody who can help others. I think we sat here for literally finding themselves and knowing how to love themselves and self accepts and all those things. So where do you see yourself ten years from now, Emily?
Emily: Yeah, I mean, when it comes to relationships, I do feel that Jordan and I are for life. I think we'll still be going strong ten years from now, and if we aren't, it'll be because that's the authentic choice for both of us. And what I've been thinking about recently when it comes to both kind of my future and where I see myself in the world, but also when it comes to relationships, is learning how to build community better. And I think that even this experience that I had building romantic relationships and really learning how to make myself deeply vulnerable and how to be hurt and hurt people and repair and find a way through, I think that's taught me a lot about not just the microcosm of a relationship between two people, but a bigger macrocosm of what it means for us to be connected in groups to each other. And so, I'm really curious about at this point. I don't feel a huge urge to put the same energy that I had put into my romantic and sexual relationships, but I do feel an urge to put that energy into my greater network of connections and have a deeper sense of community, of people who are truly connected to each other and not just acquaintances and passing because we all kind of belong to the same group. And so, I think the future for me probably looks like, especially as a writer, part of my purpose in writing is to try to rally people around experiences of being more human and trying to kind of open the dialogue of that. So, I hope for an expansion of that, and I hope for more people who are around willing to have deep conversations in those veins.
Moira: That would be a great community to start. I think a lot of people would come aboard there and listen and at one point share. If they feel like sharing or stepping into that, that would just be great.
Emily: That's what you do, for what it's worth.
Moira: Yes. Thank you, Emily. But I'm hearing you from slightly more focused. Exactly. Yes. This show is about, as we said earlier, about living life on your terms, loving yourself, living your best life, and how that looks for you, not buying into the Barbie Ken doll thing. Emily, I would love you to read a passage from your book. I love hearing the author read from their own book, and I would love for you to share that with us.
Emily: Yeah. Thank you.
Moira: You're welcome.
Emily: I chose a chapter that's kind of late in the book, so apologies. It's maybe a little bit of a spoiler, but I also chose this one because for me, this represents kind of the biggest moment of transformation. And, well, yeah, I won't lead the witness too much. There. I'll just dive in.
Emily: I was sitting in my therapist big, plush love seat, shoulders hunched, so I sank back into the pillows like a turtle into its shell. I stared into the plastic cup in my hands, watching the lemon wedge and mint leaf floating on the surface of the water. I feel like a coward for not having talked to my dad yet, I admitted. I guess I just assume he'll be confused and upset, because why wouldn't he? It's a pretty non normative lifestyle to roll out all at once. Not just the being queer part but having multiple relationships. Suddenly, my therapist held up her hand and I stopped mid sentence. My therapist had never interrupted me before. She is the most patient person I have ever met. Patience is her superpower. It's how she gets spiraling clients like me to land our own revelations by the end of the hour. But on this day, she held up her hand and leaned forward. She waited a beat until I took a breath and looked her in the eye. It is normal, she said. Then she straightened up, folded her hands in her lap, and stayed silent. I broke down, sobbing. This had never occurred to me before. It is normal. I am normal. All this bullshit I was projecting onto my dad's reaction, the imaginary reaction he had in my head, it wasn't about him or what he thought of me. It was only ever a reflection of what I thought of myself. Jordan and Eve and I drove out to Galveston again to meet Eve's parents and camp by the beach over the long Labor Day weekend. We arrived late at night, which is my favorite time to show up at the ocean. The first time I saw the ocean was on a road trip my family took to the East Coast. I was eight. I'd fallen asleep in the back seat and woke into the sound of tires on gravel than the gentle lurch of my dad pulling the parking brake. It was the middle of the night, but we weren't at the hotel. My dad had driven to the ocean instead. He knew it was more important to touch the ocean for the first time than to get an extra hour of sleep. Now, anytime I drive to the beach, I love to time out the trips so that I arrive at night. I love to go straight to the shore, and even if it's freezing, I pull off my shoes and splash around in the water. I remembered how much my dad loved the ocean and how rarely he'd been there. I wished he was there with us. And then I was a little torn, wondering if he'd be able to relax around all of us, or if my having two partners would be too weird for him. I decided finally that I needed to know. I was done wondering whether he would accept me. It wasn't a question I could answer on my own. I just needed to tell him I still accept myself either way, I thought, I know how to stay by my own side now. The last morning, we were at the beach, I woke up before everyone else. I took my phone and a set of headphones down to the ocean, and I started walking. It took me a while to muster up the courage to call my dad. I kept looking out to the horizon, focusing on how calmed I was by the straight line where the ocean met sky and divided two shades of blue. I focused on my footsteps, one after the other. I listened to the waves. Then I dialed my dad. He picked up. He was working at his wood shop on Labor Day, sanding some cabinets. I could hear the scratch of sandpaper in the background. He could hear the beach around me. And he asked me where I was. I told him I was on the Texas coast with Jordan and Eve and Eve's parents. We're here together because I paused. I almost let the sentence go unfinished. But then I took a breath. Because Eve isn't just a friend. She’s, my partner. And Jordan's partner too, were here, celebrating with her family. The scratch of the sandpaper stopped on the other end. There was silence for just a moment. I stopped walking. I can be okay if he's not okay. Well, my dad said slowly, I'm very happy for you. I took a breath, and I looked out at the ocean. My dad and I talked for about ten more minutes about other things. And just before I hung up, my dad said, I wish the best for you, baby girl. Say hello to Jordan and to Eve. And I knew everything would be okay because I am okay.
Emily: Thank you, I think.
Moira: I would like to take a pause from that. You're writing in that. Emily, you know this. It just draws you in like I was listening to every part of your beautiful voice. Thank you for sharing that. That was beautiful. Thank you. Take a breath. Okay, we're coming to the end here of our heartfelt conversation, which I'm just having a joy talking with you. Yeah. Emily, I'll have each one of my guests share a unique gift that they'd like to give to the listeners. It's a thank you to my community. Even when I had a television show, I used to have contests to just say thank you for taking the time to be here. And for my listeners, please note always all the links to Emily and what she's up to so you can find her. And her gift will be below in the show notes. If you can. Share that, Emily. That would be wonderful.
Emily: Yeah, I have three paperback copies that I'd love to send out to the first three folks to rate, share and subscribe to the show. Thank you all for listening.
Moira: Thank you. That's wonderful, Emily. Thank you today for sharing and every day I know you share from your Heart, your Soul, and your Wisdom today on relationships and finding your personal truth. Namaste.
Emily: Thank you.
Outro: Thank you for listening to the Heart Soul Wisdom podcast with Moira Sutton. I hope you enjoyed today's episode. Please join our email@example.com and continue the discussion on our Facebook page. Create the Life You Love you will be part of a global, global movement connecting with other heart centered people who are consciously creating the life they love on their own terms. Together, we can raise our consciousness for the greater good of humanity and for our planet.