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June 9, 2022

Trauma & Therapy & Writing As A form of Healing

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  • How do you begin to process trauma?
  • How do you know if you need to process past trauma?
  • Is it ever too late to process trauma?
  • What are some ways to process trauma beyond psychotherapy?
  • Why do we sometimes become “evangelical” about going to therapy?
  • How can writing be therapeutic?

Author and psychotherapist; Farzana Doctor – shares her personal story of breaking up, falling in love & exploring polyamory — all while going through peri-menopause. She shares insights on processing trauma later in life, rethinking self-disclosure in therapy, and writing as a form of healing. She also shares a reading from her new book of poetry, You Still Look The Same.

Stay up to date with Farzana; by following her on social media – Twitter and Instagram.

Special thanks to our new sponsor this week. Wherever you get listen to your podcasts, take a listen to Hot Money with hosts Patricia Nilsson (reporter) and Alex Barker (global media editor) from Financial Times.

And some wonderful news, WeVibe has extended my code for the rest of this week until June 10th. Check our their website and use code DRJESS to get 15% off all toys, including the We-Vibe TouchX, Nova 2 & the beautiful Melt.

If you’ve got podcast questions, submit them here. And please be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss an episode! You can find the podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotifyPodbeanGoogle Podcasts, Amazon MusicStitcher!

Rough Transcript:

This is a computer-generated rough transcript, so please excuse any typos. This podcast is an informational conversation and is not a substitute for medical, health, or other professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the services of an appropriate professional should you have individual questions or concerns.

Trauma & Therapy & Writing As A form of Healing

Participant #1:
You’re listening to the Sex with Dr. Jess Podcast. Sex and relationship advice you can use tonight. Welcome to the Sex with Dr. Jess Podcast. I’m your co co host, Brandon Ware here with my lovely other half, Dr. Jess. I like hearing your voice through the mic. It’s a different Brandon. Is it sultry and raspy? It’s better than real life Brandon. No. Yeah, it is. Well, it’s a little deep right now because you’re sick. But we’ll get to that. This week. We have a brand new sponsor, and it is a new podcast altogether, the Hot Money Podcast. So this is a new series all about the porn industry and the money that fuels it. It’s hosted in research by two Financial Times reporters who kind of started digging into the porn industry. And they found that even though porn obviously relies on performers to literally bear it, all the information about the people and the businesses and the money running the industry is hidden away like some sort of a state secret. So on the Hot Money Podcast, their hosts, Patricia Nielsen and Alex Barker, they’re taking listeners inside the porn industry to uncover who is really pulling the strings. So their reporting reveals a story that goes way beyond a single person. It’s really a story that includes billionaires and tech geniuses and some of the most powerful finance companies in the world. So this is the Hot Money Podcast. And you can listen to the Hot Money Podcast wherever you get your podcast. And hopefully you’re already subscribing to this one. So you can go ahead and check out Hot Money. Now, Brandon and I, you may be able to hear are under the weather. And actually we’re feeling really good, but our voices and throats are not. So we’re lucky that not too long ago we actually sat down with our friend and a former guest, Farzana Doctor, to talk about her experience with dating with trauma, with her new book, Writing as Therapy. As far as on a doctor, if you don’t know her, is a Canadian. She’s a celebrated author, activist, and psychotherapist. And we know you’re going to enjoy this conversation with her. So without further Ado, here it is.

Thank you so much for joining us, Farzana. How are you doing today? I’m doing well, and it’s so nice to be back. Thank you for having me. That’s right. This is your second time. Last time we were talking about female genital cutting or female genital mutilation because you had written an award winning novel. It’s a really good one. And this time we’re really shifting gears because you have, as I said before, written a poetry book and you’re going to read us one of those poems. But also I wanted to talk to you about poetry itself and your writing process. You wrote these poems in your forty s. You were going through a long term relationships break up. You had explored polyamory, explored online dating, began to understand old trauma and loss, and then you fell in love again, all while going through paramedopause. The paramedopause is still happening. All right. It’s there. That’s a lot. So I’m really curious what motivated you to write these poems and were they always intended for publishing? Yeah. Thank you. So I’ve been writing poetry since I was a child. Poetry is one of those really accessible mediums. We get taught some of it in high school, even in grade school. So I’ve been writing it my whole life. It was always my play medium. When I moved into writing novels, I would write poetry on the side to kind of get ideas or feelings out. And I never really had any idea of how to write poetry, so I just kept churning them out, and I did a lot of it in my forty s. And then when I went back to look at how many I had, I realized that I had enough for a collection. And then I had to go through the process of working with Editors and figuring out which of them were actual poems, which of them were belly flops, which ones I could fix, and how would I fix them. So I started learning more about poetry as a way to revise and also create a collection that has some flow to it. But it was a very kind of fertile decade for me because of all of those changes and all of that angst and all of that pleasure as well. These heavy topics that you said you were exploring, like processing old trauma in your forty s. I think that can feel like a lot. I’m curious why it was important for you to go back and process old trauma or understand old trauma and loss for you individually, but also your therapist. So maybe after we could talk about how it might apply to clients. Yes. Well, for me, the trauma came knocking at my door, and there was no choice. And I think that’s often how clients also experience that they’re having all these symptoms and disruptive, intrusive things happening. So for me, it was having body memories and nightmares and freezing up during sex. Those are all the things that made me go back to therapy and say, okay, time to process this. I was also doing a lot of activism. And in the early days of the activism, when I hadn’t yet done enough of my own therapy work, I would do some kind of public speaking thing and then feel so terrible for a couple of days, I would be dissociative, my body would hurt. And so that was also a sign that if I wanted to keep doing the activism, I needed to do some more work. So that’s how it was for me. It was just like not much of a choice. It just felt like my body was saying, go finish this work right? Staring you right in the face. And so what about people who feel it’s too late, maybe they don’t want to dig up old trauma. Is it important to explore it? I don’t know about too late. I don’t think it’s ever too late to have a better quality of life and to understand ourselves better. I don’t think you have to do it. If you’re feeling like, okay, it’s not really bothering me. It’s not impacting myself or my relationship, then maybe you leave it alone. I don’t know. I think a lot of people as well. I’ve had clients who will come and they’ll do just a little chunk of the work. And in my mind as a therapist, I’m like, if we did this and this and this, this would be much better for you. But they’re done the initial piece of work and maybe they’ll come back in five years. I don’t know. So I think we have to gauge for ourselves how we’re feeling and how much comfort we’re having in our lives and bodies. That makes me think about people who tell other people they need therapy.

Do you ever run into this? Right. So a partner will say to a partner, well, you need to go to therapy oftentimes because they’re diagnosing them with something that they perceive as a deficit or that they perceive as a threat to the relationship. And they’ll say, you need therapy. And other times it’s because the first partner is in therapy and has discovered therapy and is getting so much out of therapy that they believe the whole world ought to be in therapy. And when I say therapy, I don’t mean different modalities that are therapeutic. They’re saying, no, you need to be in kind of psychotherapy in talk therapy. Do you run into this with people who want to tell other people what to do? Yeah. It’s almost like people would become a bit like evangelical about it was so good for me, you should do it. And I think they’re also saying, and I want you to understand me, I want to have some of the same language that we can start having these kinds of conversations. Like, for example, if I’m working on boundaries and my partner doesn’t really have a clue about what that language is, how do I talk about those boundaries? So I can see why people do that. But I also see clients who maybe it’s a couple session that I’m doing, and one person is really pushing the other to go to therapy because they want to fix the problem and they perceive that the problem is their partner. And really it’s a couple of issues. Right. Both people need to work on things like attachment, wounding, and so on. Right. And I guess we can only do what we can do. We can’t force anybody to do anything else. I think that the way you describe it as evangelical is so accurate. One of my observations is when something works for us, we tend to universalize and generalize and say, well, it will work for everyone else. And the truth is that obviously we believe that therapy is a very important option or tool, but it’s actually not always going to work for everyone, right. Especially if someone feels pressured into going, especially if somebody feels as though the therapist is inevitably not going to be an ally. We know that that’s the most important thing. Right. That therapeutic alliance. How do you feel about your therapist? Do you trust your therapist? Do you feel that they have your back? So for folks who do have old trauma in their lives, because I receive many questions about people struggling in the bedroom or in relationships or with attachment who did experience, for example, abuse when they were a child or a traumatic event in their teens or in College, how do they take the first step to start getting help? Because I do think that there’s a natural and evolutionary avoidance, because if I have to go tell somebody about it, I might relive it again. It might feel more intense. It might make things worse for a period of time. How do you get over that? I think you just move through it. And I think it is true that when you start delving into it, it can feel worse for a while. It’s like you’re embarking on this project that isn’t really fun. It might be really helpful and it might eventually lead to something much better. But initially it’s like you’re going to be in a difficult soup. So I think you just move through it and you just accept that it’s part of the process. And I also think that there are so many ways to heal. Right. So as a psychotherapist, I have a bias. I think everyone should go, but maybe it’s prayer for some people. Maybe it’s self help books. Maybe it’s listening to these kinds of podcasts. Right. And processing your feelings afterwards. Maybe it’s talking to your best friend. There are a lot of ways to heal, right? Absolutely. And it doesn’t have to be therapy for everyone. But I do think it’s important if you are looking to find the right person for you. I think there’s this fear that a therapist is going to force you to talk about a traumatic event. And I think maybe people need a bit of reassurance that you move at your own pace. You might encourage someone. You might say, hey, this might be worth exploring, but it’s not like you have to go into the session and share everything at once. You’re going to get to know them. They’re going to get to know you. Therapy has changed so much. Radical therapists we share about ourselves. Right. And actually, I should ask you about that, where you trained to kind of never self disclose and have watched the evolution of the value of self disclosure that I think is a lot less hierarchical. Just to give people some context, I think an old school psychotherapy. There was, like, the expert who was listening, and you never knew anything about them. Right. Like, you may not even know their first name. They were just doctor so and so. But there’s been a real shift. I was talking to a social worker who’s a therapist the other day. She meets clients for coffee. Other people will text with their clients. These are things that 20 years ago were unheard of. It was considered unprofessional, but really rooted in hierarchical notions of people who know their stuff and have their shit together versus the clients who are supposed to be a mess, when in fact, we’re all human. So we’re all equally messy. Yes. I was totally taught to really limit self disclosure. And when I did it, it needed to be almost rehearsed, like, you have to think it through before you did it. And I have seen a shift, and I think some of it has to do with the world we live in. I see amazing therapists on Instagram sharing pieces of themselves. And when I first published my first novel in 2007, I realized that I needed to have a more public presence. And I really grappled with how do I move from that very hidden therapist place to a therapist where people are going to be reading my books and gradually over time, that’s become easier and easier to do. And sometimes people have listened to interviews and they’ve heard about the female genital cutting piece, or they’re listening to how I went through my own process of therapy. And I think that that’s okay. There are going to be some clients, I think, though, who might prefer to have more of that clear slate because they have a tendency to worry too much about the therapist. So, oh, I can’t tell my therapist about this issue because I know that’s a vulnerability for her. Of course, it’s not true that you can’t do that, but some clients, maybe parentified children, might feel like I’ve got to protect my therapist. So with some clients, I might not share very much about my life. That’s interesting. And so how do you gauge that from the onset, or is that something that you have to kind of information you Garner over time? I think it takes time. Right. It’s about the relationship building and then using your intuition as well, you notice a lot of things along the way. Right. Just how we interact and what the boundaries are like. And then you figure it out. Absolutely. All right.

So when we talk about therapy versus activities or tools that are therapeutic, writing is one of those therapeutic tools. And so I presume that writing this set of poems was a therapeutic process for you. So I’m curious, how do you see writing as therapeutic? How do people use writing as a therapeutic tool? It’s a way of expressing feelings, first of all, rather than suppressing feelings. So that’s one of the therapeutic elements. And I want to say that there is a difference between therapeutic writing and, like, art writing, writing for the purposes of publishing something artful or universal. And I think that’s in the editing process, so the raw stuff comes out and that’s maybe therapeutic in the first drop. But I’m somebody who might do, like, 20 drafts of a poem. And so by the time it gets to the 20th, it’s a little further from me and my own process, and it becomes something. I’m looking at the word play, for example. I’m looking at the rhythm of the lines. I’m looking at where does one line stop and then start? So then it becomes looking more at how do I edit for art? But the initial process, I think, is about the expression and just getting it out and identifying the feeling with more clarity. And so do you assign or encourage therapeutic writing to clients? I always do. People don’t necessarily want to do it, but I always suggest that people write about their experiencing. I also encourage people to keep a therapy Journal so that after the session, they can write down some of the important things that came up so that they can keep processing it versus forgetting about it. I mean, I do that. Absolutely. I have a therapy Journal. It’s not a Journal. It’s a running email, like just an email window where I jot down my takeaways from the session because I think my therapist is brilliant and she’ll say things and I’m like, oh, crap, her name is Carla. Carla is like, right? So I’ll write it down. I’ll also write down, I guess, homework. Like, she never says, this is your homework, but if she says something that resonates with me and I think, OK, I should probably try this. I’ll also write down reminders to myself. So this is how I personally and this isn’t how everybody. But this is how I make therapy more effective for me and for me, nothing actually exists unless it’s in writing. So people probably know I do like to talk, but I struggle with focus to really process what people are saying. And so I can obviously, it was my job for a while, but it’s very, very tiring for me, like, for me to sit and listen for an hour because of the way my brain is wired is a lot of work. Honestly, it feels like I’ve just ran a marathon. And so whereas reading, I can read in volumes and volumes and volumes, and I read quickly. And so the written word is so important to me to write myself, but also to read from others. So, like, for example, in our relationship, if Brennan writes something to me, it stays with me and is more impactful and honestly, more meaningful than if he says it out loud, which, again, may not be other people’s experiences. I don’t know. Do you care about things written down versus said in words. I know that I do care about having them written because I find it’s something that I can reflect back on. There’s no mincing of words. There’s no things getting lost. And I’m guilty of that. Like, I find when we’re in a discussion, a debate, an argument, I get flooded. I say things and I don’t remember what I say. And I don’t mean that. I say mean mean things. I just mean I say things and they’re not factual or they could be wrong. And then I have somebody who I’m lucky enough to have a partner who remembers absolutely everything verbatim. It’s like you said 123-4567. Did I? I’m like, oh, man, I probably did say that. Hang on. Was the luckiest sarcastic lucky, yes. No. But in all seriousness, I’m lucky in that respect. So I find that when I write things down, like, what’s effective for me is writing it down, sending it or showing it to Jess and then expanding upon it in conversation because it’s easy for things to get lost in translation, saying something. So it’s just the writing down really helps. And then I like to discuss as another layer on top of that, I can explain what I mean and maybe more detail, but I find it brings me much more clarity. But where I get not frustrated, but I get lazy is I’ll write things down. And I don’t have, like, a dedicated Journal or a book or something in the heat of the moment, I’m writing something in my iPad or I’m writing something as a text message, and then I’m sharing it. So I think it would be helpful for me to have, like, a dedicated Journal that I don’t know, goes in a fire safe or something. So I never lose it can go back, because looking at the ten Journal entries that I’ve ever written, in all seriousness, they go back like 15 years. But it’s also a nice way to kind of reflect on how it’s thinking or how I was feeling and what I was thinking at the moment. Yeah. And the couple’s therapist in me says it’s really good, just that, you know what your owner’s manual is, and then you communicated it right to Brandon. So then you can talk to each other in a way that is going to work. Absolutely. Yeah. There’s one thing I’m good at telling you what I want. Oh, my goodness. Seriously, it’s a list. It’s better in writing. Everything is better in writing for us. Well, that’s really interesting. And I’m sure we’ve talked about this on the program before, but so many therapists and experts will say, do not argue over text message. Do not argue over email in writing because it lacks tone, it lacks nuance. You don’t pick up on the body language. I have found the opposite for us over the years that any time it’s been a long time, but any time we’ve had, like a really intense argument. We always resolve it over text. There’s something about slowing down with your thumbs versus speaking that really works for us. I can think about years and years ago, I think like I was on a park bench writing to you and you were probably on another park bench writing to me and resolving these issues. And again, I’m not saying that’s what other people should do, but that’s what works for us. I’m curious, in your experience, because the overarching messages don’t do it. Do you see couples who do this? Well, I see people fighting over text not resolving over text. So if you’re in a mindset of we are trying to figure this out, you’re going to be slower versus if you’re fighting, then you’re just blurting a lot of crap across to each other.

So maybe that’s the difference, right? That mindset of are we trying to resolve something together or am I trying to be right? Because I’ll tell you, with you in arguments like we’ve been together for a long time, I think we’re coming up on 21 years just around the corner. Yeah. I don’t feel like you are ever trying to prove that you’re right. No. Often I’m trying to figure out if what I’m saying makes sense. But you know what’s beautiful about us exchanging and debating over text or email or whatever it is we’re having an argument is that it gives me a chance to take a beat, because in the heat of the moment, I will say things that don’t make sense. I don’t want to say that. I’m mean, I don’t think that I’m mean, I think that I’m always trying to express that I care about you. But in the moment, it’s hard to not feel like, oh, I’m angry about something, but I tend to blurt things out without thinking about them. So when I’m forced to write it down, it gives me just a few seconds to think is what I’m putting in writing, what I actually feel. And it also gives me a chance to just say, you know what, think about the person on the other end of this. I care about this person a lot. Is what I’m putting in writing going to affect them? Like, is it going to hurt them? Because I feel like once you put it out there, it’s hard to take that back. Yes. I’m often thinking about, am I making things worse here? Am I creating more threat? What we want to be doing when we’re resolving is being really friendly in our tone. Right. We want to be reminding each other that we’re each other’s people rather than enemies. I’ll credit Brandon with that. Over all the years we’ve been together and every fight we’ve had, and of course, there’s been many over 21 years, there’s always this reaffirming of commitment. Like he’s always saying, I want to work this out, whether it’s with his time or his energy or his eye contact, or his body language or affection or his words. And so any fear of abandonment that is in me either from previous experiences or just from that human nature, like fear of being abandoned is always assuaged. And so no matter what he says or no matter what we’re disagreeing on or even no matter what I’m feeling, I feel as though I always know that he’s here. Like, he’s not leaving, he’s not wavering. There’s just no threat to the foundation of our connection. And you always have communicated. And I’ve learned from you because I wouldn’t think about that, honestly. I’d be like, Screw you, you’re wrong. Suck it. You know what it is, too. I think for me, years and years ago, I did things that were gameplaying. You storm out and you don’t say something and you do something that maybe makes the other person feel threatened, even if it’s like in the middle of an argument, you just storm out of the house and you walk away and it’s late at night. And then your partner thinks, Where are you going? Are you coming back? Are you safe? Are you all of these things? And I remember thinking, you know what? I’m a Dick. Let’s be honest here. I’m being an absolute Dick. I’m wielding control or power over the other person’s fear or vulnerability. And I’m like, what am I trying to accomplish by doing this? You know what I mean? Yeah. And when I started thinking about this, it was like, this is just a game. So you know what? Stop playing a game. Your goal is to resolve this. To resolve this, it means you’re going to have to, like you just said, kind of deal with that suit that you’re in at the moment and kind of take ownership over what’s happening. Knowing that my goal is, of course, as always, to make it better. I don’t want to be in a fight. I don’t want to be in an argument. I want to find some resolution. Because when I do, when this relationship is happy, when I’m happier, I find I’m more effective in everything. So it’s like, of course, sort of confront it head on and deal with it. And that’s been most effective, at least from my perspective. Yeah. And one thing I’ll say too, and I don’t know if we’ve again talked about this, Brandon, is that when you do need a beat, when you do need space, like in the middle of an argument, some people need space. You communicate to me like, I’m coming back or I just need a minute to cool off. We are going to talk about this. And so you’re very aware of how your behavior could be read by me and the story I might tell myself. So I really appreciate that about you. But let’s go back to Farzana and your writing. We’re just getting free therapy. We think about writing as therapeutic. I want to just quickly mentioned and I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this yet, but a couple in one of my groups the other day was saying that each night they write one another a thank you note in the thank you Journal. They take turns. Like one person writes on Monday and the next person writes on Tuesday and they read the note before they write theirs the next night. And they’ve been doing this for four years, and they have four basically couples gratitude journals to reflect back on. And I think about all the different ways we can use writing, whether it’s creative or therapeutic or just simply for communicating and reminding one another what we appreciate.

There are so many ways poetry is something that I’ve really never explored. I was an English teacher, but my English teachers really turned me off of it because they made it so structured and analytical that I didn’t really see the art in it. And I definitely didn’t feel the feeling. Like I remember actually doing a project on TS Elliot’s the Wasteland, and I remember sort of being enthralled by the content, by the writing, but then being totally offput by the way I was forced to break it down. Like, it really just took away from that experience of feeling something and play as well. Poetry can be such play. I actually had a good experience in primary school, and it was when I got to high school and University that I got turned off of writing. So it was a journey to come back because I had these very stern, critical teachers voices in my head. So you just have to replace it with your own eventually. Right. And I’m glad you came back because you have for us your poetry collection. You still look the same and you’re going to do a reading. Have you done a reading yet? Because this is a brand new book, haven’t. Yeah. Because the book doesn’t actually drop until May 1, technically. So I haven’t. And I think this is my first interview as well. So that’s kind of fun. Yes. Actually just wanting I’m going to read a different poem, but I wanted to say that I’ve written a few love poems in this book that are dedicated to my partner. And I think that’s one of the ways that I make sure that I expressed to him what I’m feeling. So I think it does end up having the sort of impact. Right. Of showing a lot of care. Yeah. Beautiful. I’m going to read something from the earlier stages of my experience in my 40s. So, yeah, I did go through this big break up, and for the first time in my life, I was exploring online dating, like, imagine doing that as 41, 42 year old. And I was also exploring non monogamy. And so my brain was just flooded with a lot of new ideas and experiences and a lot of people as well. So I’ll just go ahead and read it. Thank you. Okay, so this poem is called Swipe Left. The research question. What’s it like to be a straight girl looking for love? My design may be flawed, but after many dates, countless online interactions to understand your customs, I’ve reached an interim hypothesis. Your men are a problem. Perhaps that’s not accurate. I have no control group, and my subjectivity is the consistent dependent variable. My data suggests direct communication is not a norm. There is much baby baby smile for me and jokes that go one beat too far. I don’t profess expertise in linguistics. A colleague suggests my sample is skewed that there are precisely 21 straight CIS dudes ruining dating apps for everyone. I don’t disagree with that theory, but doubted accuracy. It’s easy to recruit subjects. An ounce of ethanol, a single survey question, they’ll follow you home. I stand by my method of observer immersion. An interesting finding. They think they are taking you to bed even when it’s your key turning the lock. My funding allows me to employ my dog secondary researcher to assess subjects at door. I document carefully the length and quality of each sniffing episode and whether she rolls her eyes or sits for a treat. A confounding Variable once and only once did she snarl at a tall white man who wore a fedora and smelled of desperation. I dropped him from my study. Quixotic reliability. Each and every time I introduced queer theory into the interview, the subjects reveal one identical porn fantasy. The most significant part of the experiment is not the most pleasurable, and vice versa.

I’m not always certain how to code pillow talk. Qualitative data tumbles from lips, leave stains on my pillowcases outlines lingering for weeks. I’ve recorded 31% tenderness, combined with 66% white supremacy and 72% mansplaining. At the end of the project, I will deactivate my account, ghost. My participants won’t present any findings. I have never online dated, and I don’t want to now, although I’m always telling people that it’s the norm. And obviously I do know many people who have found more than 31% tenderness. But it takes a lot of sifting. It sounds like it does. It takes a lot of sifting, and I’m glad I did it. One of the amazing things about dating and dating non monogamously is you meet a lot of people. And for me, I found myself being attracted to and wanting to keep connections with kind of the same person over and over again. And it wasn’t working out for me. And then I had to really look at myself and say, well, what part of this is me? And I did a deeper dive around attachment theory. At that time. I had learned about it, and of course, I was working with it in my practice, but I did a much deeper dive to understand myself. And that was a really good thing. And it seems like the way it’s described in this poem. So much work. Yeah, you know, at the time, I felt like it was fun. Right. It was novel good, and it was kind of exciting. And then after about a year and a half of it, I felt like, oh, gosh, I’m kind of getting tired of this. It was a project. It felt almost like a hobby with the amount of time I was putting into it. Yes. I was really glad to meet my partner. How did you meet? How did you meet? We met at a dance, so we met in person, not online. And I think that that was helpful. I experienced something really electric between us when we were dancing, feeling each other’s bodies, breathing each other’s hair. There’s something about that that gives you different input around. Am I comfortable in my body with this person? Right. So much of the intuition when you don’t bring your dog on the day to let you know with a sniff or a snarl. I’m curious. Because you were dating polyamorously, what sites, what apps were you using? It was just on okay, cupids. There was another app that I can’t remember what it’s called, and it didn’t last very long because there weren’t enough people. But, yeah, I just used. Okaycupid. And then you indicate that you’re dating multiple people, so you’re open to polyamory. Yes, I did, because I didn’t want to encounter people who would be offended by that or upset by that. I wanted it out in the open.

Did you find that non polyamorous people would approach you with, I guess, misconceptions about what dating polyamorously meant? Like, for example, would married people approach you and think, like all married people who were supposed to be in a monogamous relationship? I didn’t get much of that. I think because I had written my introduction in a very kind of intentional way, I didn’t get too much. But I think all of us are only taught about monogamy, and so there can be so many misconceptions about non monogamy polyamory. And I had all of those misconceptions at some point in my life, and I had some of them as I was experiencing all of it as well. In the end, as I was doing this deep dive around my own attachment style, I really realized that for me, monogamy worked best. In the end. I loved how dating multiple people created complexity and interesting experiences, but it also created a little bit of internal chaos for me. Right. And that’s different for everyone. And I guess we have to learn that about ourselves, and it works for lots of people. Right. Of course. And so I’m curious if the writing throughout the dating process helped you to better understand how you are feeling and what worked for you. Yes. I wrote this poem while I was doing the online dating. And it’s really easy when you’re in the midst of an experience to kind of skip over some of the things that are flags. And I don’t mean, like, relationship flags so much, but maybe pushing aside the things that you’re saying, I don’t think I like this, but I’ll go along with it. And so to write it down was a great way to identify. Oh, yeah. I actually feel this way about it. Right. Because some of those things can kind of we can feel them in our subconscious or don’t take the time. As you said, we’re maybe not intentional about noting how those feelings show up in our bodies. So whether people are dating or happily single or polyamorous or solely polyamorous or in monogamous relationships, if they do want to explore writing as therapeutic to support their overall fulfillment, but especially relational fulfillment with self or others, where do you suggest people begin? Like, how do we know if we want to write poetry or lists or prose? I know what works for me, but it’s only because I’ve tried other things. So where do people begin? I think you just try. The other thing is, let’s say you’re interested in a particular style. So you’re maybe thinking, could I write poetry? Start reading other people’s poetry. Find the stuff you like, the stuff that really gives you pleasure that you enjoy. If you’re reading poetry and you don’t get it or whatever, it’s not resonating. Stop. Go and find stuff that you like, and then you’ll find yourself emulating that poetry through your own experience. But I would say free writing is a great way to start, right where there’s no rules, there’s no structure. Just get a notebook and write. And I think writing with a pen or pencil gives you a different kind of access to your emotions. And it’s also slower than typing. So I like that for writing poetry, but I also write using a keyboard, and I’ll have my phone out to write things as well. So just find a way that’s easy, right? Whatever feels comfortable for you. And as you said, if you need some inspiration, people can check out your book coming out in May. You still look the same. Farzana Doctor, thanks so much for joining us. Thank you for doing your first reading with us. I’m going to have to put, like a sticker on it so everyone knows. Exclusive first reading. Yes. First drop. You still look the same. Thank you so much for chatting with us today. Oh, it was a lot of fun. Thank you.

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