How can we expand our definitions of love? What does queering Valentine’s day look like? What are some daily practices that can cultivate self-compassion so we can love more? How do we change the way we talk to our inner critic?
Hear it all on this episode of the Queer Joy Podcast; where two relationship therapists explore what it looks like to see joy in queer relationships.
Put QRQJ into action with our free 5 question worksheet. Get it here: bit.ly/QRQJworksheet
Keely: I have this narrative, I have this story of Valentine's day in my head because it doesn't fit what society says it should and so I've gone the opposite and I'm like, well what if I actually kind of enjoy the day and just like, try this love thing all mushy, but not. It's not towards the romantic partner, cause I don't have a romantic partner currently. Well, hello everyone. Hi listeners and viewers to Queer Relationships, Queer Joy. I am Kelly C Helmick one of your hosts. Melisa: I'm your other host, Melissa DeSegiurant. Now that the traditional holiday has passed for all of the listeners and viewers, . We are celebrating all of the different forms of love outside of romantic relationships. Keely: Celebrating love throughout February. Just as we are also celebrating black history month, we want to recognize that and. just talking about love in general which is, I mean, obviously what we already do anyways, but before we get into that, cause I have a cute story that, that prompts this, and I'm also just want to thank everyone who has. And who may be listening, who attended our workshop this past week. We had a great queer relationship workshop. I thought it went well. I enjoyed it. Melisa: It was so fun to be able to connect with some of you like real time and have room for questions and feedback and a lot of resource sharing, which I always love to see. So yeah, lots of good energy coming off of that group. I hope we are doing many more in the future. Keely: Yeah, so quick introductions. My name is Keely C. Helmick. . I am the owner of Connective Therapy Collective. I am a queer non-binary femme white solo, practicing, dating, whatever that looks like. And also a licensed professional counselor and certified sex therapist. Melisa: And I'm Melissa DeSegiurant. I am a marriage and family therapist and licensed professional counselor working with Connective Therapy collective I am white, bisexual polyamorous, gender fluid, a solo poly. Happy to have you. Keely: Yay. So I am just digging. So specifically articles, people are probably seeing posts. And so when they hear this episode will have seen the posts around querying. Valentine's day, queering love, queering up what it means to love. And I am curious, I have a cute story, but I also, Melissa, when you hear that, I want to hear what he has to say about what does it, what is when you hear that? What do you think about queering up? Well, Melisa: I'll be honest. The first thing that comes to mind is my own Valentine's day, which consists of me and two cats. So that feels pretty queer. I'm also thinking about repotting all my plants. So not to be very stereotypical, but that's what first comes to my mind. When I step out of my own life, I guess when I hear queering up love, it makes me think of just creativity and fluidity and flexibility and moving away from rigid structures and definitions that are limiting of what love should look like and what counts and really embracing, like drawing outside the lines. Keely: Going outside the lines. Okay. Well, I think we had some quotes from the workshop that we talked about, what love is, and we were referring specifically to romantic love, but it could also be applied to love which Erik Fromme.... I don't have the quote in front of me, but the definition of love being that we are here to help support another person. Spiritual growth, spiritual and a broad sense, not spiritual necessarily just religiously, but just the whole being in that support of a whole person and really noticing that. And I, you know, so I read a, an article from Bitch um, from Bitch Media. And it talks about some of the, the great quote that I love was to be queer is to open up different types of love in your life. And so the article really talks about the ways that queer culture, queer community redefines family, so that kind of, that type of love and redefining, you know, we have the queer platonic relationships and really taking the opportunity to. To look at love and all facets. And so my cute story. I am obviously single right now and I will say, and I don't know how other people listening feel, but Valentine's day is definitely like this mixed bag of all types of experiences. A young person say, Melissa, I don't know if you can dive with this in high school. I, my group of friends and I definitely had moments in theater where we would have Valentine's day where we'd wear all black. Yeah, like protesting Melisa: Valentine's day, Keely: totally anti Valentine's day. And so I've gone from that to well, I ended a marriage on Valentine's day. That was, that was an interesting situation. And as I was thinking this morning and what inspired this, there's been multiple things that inspired this. But I was in the shower and I got out of my shower and went into my bedroom and on my bed was a bunch of flowers and a handwritten note from my 14 year old child. I love that. That's so beautiful. And I started bawling. Welcome to the day! Seven 30 in the morning. And it was this mix of like, I mean, it was totally happy two years, but also it was this recognition of really embracing what I've been saying, because. I will admit I am a sappy romantic. I've done all the things based on what society told us we should want Melisa: I'm there Keely: too. And so, and then it gets even better because in the note she says, mom, even if you never have another romantic relationship. You are very loved. I can't like, how did I just not, how did he even get to work without just bawling all day? And so it got me thinking and it, what I noticed is this reframing. You know, we talk about narratives and we talk about reframing narratives and queering things up is, is changing narrative of things, changing the escalator, you know, the relationship escalator. And I really just recognize that I have this narrative, I have this story of Valentine's day in my head because it doesn't fit what society says it should. And so I've gone the opposite and I'm like, well, what, what if I, what if I actually kind of enjoy the day and just like, try this love thing all like all mushy, but not. It's not towards the romantic partner, cause I don't have a romantic partner currently. Melisa: I hear you kind of saying, embracing the energy and spirit of love and feeling like what that feels like, but also then how that expands out to so many different people that isn't just this cookie cutter romantic. This is my Valentine. Kind of love. Keely: Yeah. And like how much of us did we, how many, you know, I'll own it, that I fell into this CIS heteronormative patriarchal view that if I don't have this romantic love on this day, Then, oh, I'm the person eating ice cream, crying into my ice cream and watching TV. Like those are the two it's just like, it, it reminds me of the Virgin whore dynamic. Like you're either a Virgin or a whore. So you're either in a romantic relationship and let's call it. You're either in a relationship with a CIS hetero man or a cis hetero woman and have all the romance or you're crying on your couch. Sad because you don't have that. Right. Melisa: Cause you must be, if you don't have that, you must be sad. Yeah. Necessarily. Keely: I thought of you of course. And I'm like, oh my gosh. Melissa's do like, what can we play off of, you know, this solo journey. Melisa: Yeah. This is definitely a whole, like, I love myself day Keely: today. Hey, everybody Cardinal the cuddly crypted here to let you know that we now have a free relationship check-in worksheet. You can get to help you put into practice. Some of the things we talk about here are in queer relationships. It has five exercises to help you determine personal goals from relationship goals, identify possible power dynamics, engage your level of vulnerability in your relationships, complete it alone, or with your person of choice. Find it at bit dot L Y slash Q R Q J worksheet. Or by clicking the link in the show notes. Okay. Back to Kelly and Melissa. Well, and so I wonder, you know, talking about this and the topic or bringing this into a topic for listeners is how do we do this? Keely: Okay. So we can lip service. Yeah. We can talk all day everyday. See all the meme, see the posts of like, love yourself. I mean, yeah the other classic going on right now is this image of flowers and an image of vibrators. So instead of getting flowers, this Valentine's day, this Valentine's month getting vibrators instead. I mean, it could apply to all year because you can get flowers and vibrators all year long. Melisa: Right? Right. Well, actually I'm glad you just said that because that's one thing that it was kind of occurring to me is that if you're not a person who is actively practicing, self-love like day to day. Practicing it one day on Valentine's day might feel very artificial and fake and forced. And that doesn't mean don't do it, but it also might be an invitation. This needs to be a practice. If it feels really foreign to you, perhaps you're not tapping into that enough for me, this doesn't feel strange to have this day of self-love. And, you know, I mean, I've talked about some of the dates I've taken myself on recently, or self-affirming shopping sprees, you know, and to me, this is an extension of that with a little bit more energy in the air around it. Keely: Yeah, and I think about the ways, so if we're broadening love, just in general, focusing on self-love then what does that look like? If, if we are someone who is looking to have romantic love, but also if we are already in a relationship or already have relationships that are romantic and or sexual, but then also, how does all of this coincide into improving all of our relationships? Like we're saying yes with ourselves and how are we changing that dynamic or just improving it, shifting it for all of our relationships. Melisa: Well, I think, gosh, think about when we have that energy in our systems of, I I'm resourced. I'm happy. I mean, if we can't get to the, the self-love place, say that's not a familiar framework of what that energy feels like, think about when you've slept really well and you wake up and you're like, ah, I'm just, I feel awake. I feel rested and you're full. Think about how that changes every single interaction you have throughout that morning versus when you're really depleted. And you're really exhausted, right? Like for me also not a morning person, more information about me. I would have really grouchy crabby mood. If I'm not properly resourced. And so I don't think that this idea of self-love, as we've talked about so many times it takes away from loving other people and connecting. I think it enhances it, you know, the energy that we can walk around the world with and then share with other people, whether that's, we've talked about those one-off conversations with like the barista, you know, or the. Doing the groceries, you know, bagging the groceries for you. Certainly anyone that we talk to with more regularity, whether that's coworkers, friends, romantic partners, even, but I really do think that when we can, when we can foster that kind of a self-love energy and I think it naturally seeps out to everyone else that we come in contact with. Keely: Yeah. And I, I still think people are gonna be like, how do you do that? Do you have a favorite? I think about like heart opening or like I, of course I go to meditation. Do you have a favorite heart opening meditation or a resource when you talk, when we talk about this, like softening. Cause I think that sometimes when we're looking at talking to folks about connection, it's that there's been some kind of trauma or experiences that have really shut people off from love. Or has shut people off from loving again, not just romantic, but how are those relationships and the rest of your life? How has trauma affected ability to connect with self and connect with others? Yeah, I wish Melisa: there was a one size fits all, like do this, and then your trauma will be addressed. But I do think it's really individualized. I think if people are looking for more of a broad one size fits all type. Thing to try, I would say, look up love and kindness meditation. It's a very specific, kind of a mindfulness meditation. It's quite repetitive intentionally, so, and it's specifically fostering self-love then you practice extending that out to someone else, someone else beyond that, someone else, maybe the whole entire universe. And it's, if you type that in Google, you'll find a million resources right away. Again, that's not a cure-all, but it is a practice and how we embody. Love how we actually embody that. I think, yeah, there's also the trauma work and some of that's going to be the cognitive reframing and, and, you know, changing the narratives that you may have about love or about yourself or your lovability. That's all relevant to, but also the, the mindfulness, the body practices where we're just embodying the, the kind of love we want to see in the world. Keely: Yeah. And when you're saying that, I'm thinking about. Kind of revisiting some of the themes we had in the workshop, which was so great was how to do these things on a more consistent basis. I think that something that happens sometimes is where someone will be like, I want to be more connected to myself, or I want to form friendships or I want to have better connections. And it becomes this piece of like, I want to do that right now, instead of trying to do it in the moment when it feels most intense versus how is this in a daily practice? How is this in a routine? How do we shift it up? And so what does it look like to extend love to ourselves and to others? And I'm in a smaller daily practice, which of course, yes. It could be a meditation. It could be. Sending little notes. It could be I mean, this is where, like, I know classically affirmations, daily journaling gratitude, but it is also shifting, like you said, how we talk to ourselves, how we talk about ourselves to ourselves, that voice in the back of her head, how we talk to other people. Noticing that pause. I mean, th th the same skills that we talk about when communicating in a relationship when communicating with someone else and like nonviolent communication style, it's also applied to this idea of increasing love and connection. Melisa: Yeah. You know, and, and when we're talking about the way that we talk to ourselves and that nonviolent communication, the other piece of this is we have to learn how to talk to our inner critic. I have to learn how to talk to that part of ourselves. That's trying to knock ourselves down. So often our response is, oh, no, stop, stop. You know, and even, I think even sometimes I see this in session when we're first practicing, like in CBT, we had this intervention of thought stopping. So when you have an unwanted negative thought, come in. Stop it, but we can get really nasty and mean about that and almost shame ourselves. So we're actually creating more shame and more tension and tense energy, and our assistance forces meeting that part of ourselves with love. With nonviolent communication. Like, wow. Okay. You feel for me, oftentimes when one of those like big negative narratives come out and it, it goes extreme. It doesn't even necessarily have to do for me with what's happening in the moment. It's like, I go to, like, everyone hates you. I hate the world. Like that's the most extreme, I hate everything. And I'll say that out loud, sometimes like catch myself. I'm like what? And what that means for me is, Ooh, Wow. We're feeling really vulnerable and feeling really insecure right now. That was really uncomfortable. Huh? It's a much gentler way of talking to myself then. Why would you say that? That's stupid. Stop saying that. Say something. Yeah. The second one doesn't work. Keely: Well in the classic, I mean, the classic of self-compassion is that idea of how talk to yourself as you would talk to someone else, would we sit there and look at a friend or a stranger we're sitting next to on the bench and be like, you're being stupid, stop being stupid. You're an idiot. Like. Talk. I mean, we may talk about some people like that, but we're using the model of how you would talk to a friend, how, you know, self-compassion that beginning piece. Can be sometimes how we're talking to somebody else. Yeah. Melisa: Yeah. And, you know, I think to your point too. Yeah. Sometimes I think some of my friends would be like, yeah, you talked to me a little bit that way all the time in a playful friendly, whatever tone. But it, it reminds me of the point I brought up when we were interviewing Robyn about like watch out for the self-deprecating humor, watch out, you cause it may be in the like, oh, I'm just giving myself a hard time. Perhaps, that's not what your self needs in this moment, perhaps you need some genuine kindness. Keely: Well, I'm doing these things, taking the time to do these things and thinking about these things is part of getting off or never getting on the relationship escalator, because this is the piece when we say queering up and changing things is re is. I almost said radicalizing out of is that extreme, but just looking at things through a different lens and for starting with, I think starting off with this self-love is then being like, or just even just liking ourselves, maybe it's sometimes it's just like liking ourselves that day. That then oftentimes leads to not only interacting with people differently, but who we choose to interact with. Hey, hello. Hi, Cardinal, here, your behind the scenes, buddy. You know what else goes on behind the scenes as you like it? Adult toy shop eco-friendly fat friendly, queer friendly. They truly are for everybody and every body find them firstname.lastname@example.org and use code CTC therapy. That's all one word at checkout for 10% off that CTC. Therapy at as you like it, shop.com. Okay. Back to the show. Gosh, when I'm thinking about my own previous impulses towards relationship escalator, there was a part of me that felt incomplete. I needed to find this partnership to prove my worthiness, to prove. Both to prove I'm lovable to prove I've got my life. I mean, to prove lots of different things, but when we're really embracing the self-love piece, I feel very, and where I am now. Melisa: Right. I feel very fulfilled in my relationship with myself, meaning I am complete in partnership with myself. Do I hope to have other connections? Yes. And I actually do again, cause we're talking about like, So much love for my friends. I mean, I have very, very close, deep, meaningful relationships in my life with lots of people who I'm not romantic or sexual with necessarily. But when we're that filled up on our own. There. Gosh. Think about the energy again, that we're bringing into connections. It's not this desperate need, like please fill this part of me. Yeah. It's not a scarcity. Keely: It's not saying I have to have this. I need this. Like, you can be fully complete. Yes. Melisa: An abundance we're showing up going like, look at all the stuff I got. What'd you got Keely: like, what do I have? I have all this. And yes, simply I don't have this one specific person. No one is fulfilling this romantic piece. Okay. that's okay. And that's how we're queering things up and saying like, okay. The idea of existing in this world and being a fully awesome human doesn't equate to whether or not you're connected to another human romantically . And that's the continual deconstructing. These like really deconstructing that narrative, like really looking at where it is, because let's be real. I think most people already know this, but I think it bears to say that how did marriage start? Like really looking at romance and the idea of romance and marriage, a man and woman joining to share property. Ownership and property. So romantic! It's capitalism. Yeah, it's capitalism. Melisa: Well, and that's the other piece that I wanted to add too, is like part of the reason it's so important when we talk about embodying this and doing all our own work is we still live in a society where there is systemic support for a certain kind of love and a certain kind of couple and a certain image. And that still. And so if we want to combat that, yes, there are, there's the activism, there's the legal routes. There's all of that. But we have to, I mean, maybe the radical really is a big part of this actually came up. Like maybe we didn't need to go that big in terms of what we're embodying, because we have so much systemically working against us. Keely: Well, yeah. And the, and the pressure and the images that we see and the, the content is so geared towards patriarchal capitalism, white supremacy. How do all of these structures act to support and influence these ideas. And so then as queer people were just like, well, fuck that narrative Melisa: I'm wearing all black on Valentine's Keely: day and high school is wearing all black, but then, then also again, reclamation of being like, I'm going to take this, these, this concept of love and make it our own. Yeah, Melisa: plus still we need another like day to wear all our pride stuff, besides just in June, like isn't this a great day to like, bring out all my rainbows and my hearts and like just spread love around the world. Keely: Yeah. I have my transects on like, like pull up my high, you know, my high knee trans socks. Yeah. And go out and find all of the queer bakery shops and food trucks and like get my love of food on. Yeah, for sure. Oh, and of course, hang out with a friend who was also a ex yeah. Got it. Make it as queer as possible. I kind of shared a queer joy already, but I let's start with you, Melissa. And I can always add another one because just the more queer joy, the merrier, I love it. Well, especially like. Melisa: You know, coming off of this holiday for some people, this, this was a tough day and is still a tough day. And so let's bring all the joy we can, you know, for sure I'm coming off as the joy of the glorious weather we had up in Portland this last weekend, it was sunny and warm. For me. I don't know if some people were really still bundled up and I was outside with like a tank top goosebumps, for sure. But I'm like, SUN!!! So I just, you know, we did this great workshop. I had so much energy coming off of that. And I took myself on one of those self dates and went out and just got to enjoy some music and some people around and a patio and really took in as much sun as I could. And it kind of drained me. I forgot. And it's not even like summer sun. Sit out and you're like completely drained afterwards. sun, sun, Portland, February sun, but still I came home and was like, Ooh, I could use a nap. Like, what's great. So yeah, I I'm really, really grateful. I um, I'm a big. My space is really important to me to like aesthetics of where I'm living. And so I took down the snowflakes decals. I had little decals on my window to make winter like a little bit brighter for me in Portland. And I know we're not into spring yet, but I did take down the snowflakes. So we are, we're getting there. Keely: Getting close to spring. Yeah. Yeah. Well, I would say. My queer joy or one of the peer joys experience was just going out for dessert, getting out and hanging out with a friend. And it was kind of nostalgic. For those who listeners who are in Portland may know Papa Hydan's.. And it's been around for a long time. It's a desert only place, but they have like gluten-free stuff now they have vegan. They definitely did not have gluten-free when I was in high school. For sure. And I just had a nice time being outside. And like you said, yeah, it was actually warm enough to be outside. Just having dessert, enjoying a lot of food today, dessert, enjoying the dessert. So that was my end. It was a. Fellow fellow queer friend. And I really have enjoyed, I will say I am on this interesting journey of trying out dating apps and trying out different dating apps. I think that's going to be an episode. I can't wait to hear. I think we're going to have to do this. We just were looking at, Hey, if anyone's listening and wants to like, come on as a guest and does like the dating thing, please DMS. Who's an Melisa: expert on, on dating apps. Queer dating apps, queer dating apps, Keely: creating that data. Not because I'm in this place where I'm like, okay, I'll do the app thing, but can you help me create it? Because I don't know what the hell I'm doing. Oh, oh, oh no. I wanted to say, okay. I have another queer joy real quick. Yay. Had it because throughout my life I've been out as queer for many, many, many, many, many years. However, I often was like cis, hetero female passing and my haircut, I was in a lush store person comes up and is like talking to me, like total queer coded. Like they just like came out to me and started chatting about all the things queer and how they're a drag queen. And at lush, there was a display that said something, something my non-binary child I'm so proud of. Melisa: Oh, that's wonderful. Keely: Lush finally is like embracing and recognizing all the queers. Cause I mean, believe me, whenever I go into lush, there are tons of queer folks. Plus I would say like 80%. Are the people working on the staff are queer. So they're like recognizing so fucking queering up Lush. Hell yeah. So that was a very, very high up there. Queer joy. Melisa: That's like, it's just saying that I'm like, we need our list at well, I'm sure someone already has this. I still feel like I'm relatively new to Portland having moved in the middle of a pandemic, whereas I'm like Lush sounds like one of the spots on the queer hangout list. Keely: Oh, for sure. Yeah. To get your, queer joy. Oh yeah. And, and there's a Lush and then um, Petunias. Yeah. There's, there's definitely scenes. Y'all add your own thing. These are my things that are my queer joys. Add your others, but queer joys, I definitely involve a lot of queers. Harlow. Harlow's right by there. Shout out none of these people are, I mean, if you want to send us some products Lush, please do so. But by the way, no one supported us on this. So. That's a wrap for today. I do want to mention that we are doing our next workshop on March 24th. I kept saying March 25th, correction, correction, correction, March 24th. And then we have our group starting up. So we're really doing a lot of work around non-monogamy polyamory, all the things. And again, in a couple of weeks, we actually get to have another interview with a couple that has been practicing non-monogamy for many years. So that'll be fun and otherwise, anything else we want to plug, Melisa? Melisa: No, I think, I think that covers it. I would say, just keep reaching out to us. You know, the wonderful thing about the workshop was being able to connect with people in real time. I'm interested in hearing people's feedback episode to episode, as we've said, we're not like experts and, and the only voices, you know, to add to these conversations. So please let us know how things are hitting you and what also what you'd like to hear. Keely: Well, awesome. Thanks again for listening. And I hope all of you have a queer and joyful week. Thanks for listening to Queer Relationships, Queer Joy. A podcast by the Connective Therapy Collective. Hosted by Kelly C Helmick and Melissa DeSegiurant. With the audio edited and produced by me, Cardinal Marking. Intro music is by Bad Snacks. Outro music by Victoria Instrumental. If this episode made you smile or think, tell us about it. If you hated it, tell us about that. Review us on iTunes or Spotify. Yes, you can review on Spotify now. Or send us an email at info at Connective Therapy Collective dot com. For information on our workshops and for more queer joy, visit our website at Connective Therapy Collective dot com. Love ya. Bye