Dive Deeper with Leah Carey
I have been through the fire and come out the other side. Now I’m here to walk with you as you do the same.
I will help you take a stand for yourself, your desires, and YOUR PLEASURE.
It’s been a tough week. With the decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, fully half of the American population has lost the ability to make health care choices for our own bodies.
We are now more regressive on reproductive health than countries like Mexico.
In this episode, we look at the grief many of us are feeling; the frustration of being a cis woman supporting our male partner’s grief journey; and tactics to get help to people who need it most.
Abortion funds by state (direct links below) – https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/abortion-funds-support-states-most-181225570.html
Guttmacher Institute report on the effect of overturning Roe v. Wade – https://www.guttmacher.org/state-policy/explore/abortion-policy-absence-roe
The “Comfort In / Dump Out” theory – https://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-xpm-2013-apr-07-la-oe-0407-silk-ring-theory-20130407-story.html
Resources from the pro-choice podcasters collective – podvoices.help
ABORTION FUNDS BY STATE (Sourced from Yahoo article above)
Alabama – Yellowhammer Fund
Arizona – Abortion Fund of Arizona
Arkansas – Arkansas Abortion Support Network
Georgia – ARC-Southeast
Iowa – Iowa Abortion Access Fund
Kentucky – Kentucky Health Justice Network
Louisiana (North Louisiana) The Goldstein Fund
Louisiana (NOLA and Gulf South) New Orleans Abortion Fund
Michigan – Midwest Access Coalition
Mississippi – Mississippi Reproductive Freedom Fund
Missouri – Missouri Abortion Fund
North Dakota – North Dakota Women In Need Abortion Fund
Oklahoma – Roe Fund
South Carolina – Carolina Abortion Fund
South Dakota – JEN (Justice Empowerment Network)
Tennessee – Mountain Access Brigade
Texas – NeedAbortion.org
Utah – Utah Abortion Fund
West Virginia – Women’s Health Center of West Virginia
Wisconsin – Women’s Medical Fund
Wyoming – Chelsea’s Fund
LEAH: Hey friends.
Before we get to the episode, I want to let you know that I’m partnering with hundreds of other podcasters to address the June 24, 2022 United States Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe versus Wade. The decision stripped away the right to have a safe and legal abortion in half the states. Legislators are already talking openly about using this as a springboard to ban abortions in all parts of the United States.
Everyone should have the freedom to decide what’s best for themselves and their families, including when it comes to ending a pregnancy. This decision has dire consequences for individual health and safety, and could have harsh repercussions for other landmark decisions including legal access to birth control, gay marriage, and even sticking a penis into any orifice except the vagina (yes, even oral sex and heterosexual anal sex could be outlawed in their effort to control gay male sex.)
Restricting access to comprehensive reproductive care, including abortion, threatens the health and independence of all Americans. This decision has opened the door to an unimaginable string of other decisions.
Learn more by visiting podvoices.help. If you’re able to support others, please consider donating to abortion funds.
I encourage you to speak up, take care, and spread the word.
There’s more information about each of those actions in the main episode, so let’s get started.
LEAH: Welcome to Good Girls Talk About Sex. I am sex and intimacy coach, Leah Carey, and this is a place to share conversations with all sorts of women about their experience of sexuality. These are unfiltered conversations between adult women talking about sex. If anything about the previous sentence offends you, turn back now! And if you’re looking for a trigger warning, you’re not going to get it from me. I believe that you are stronger than the trauma you have experienced. I have faith in your ability to deal with things that upset you. Sound good? Let’s start the show!
LEAH: Hi friends,
It’s been a tough week. As I record this, it’s been five days since the Supreme Court of the United States came down with their decision about abortion.
A quick programming note before we get started – between recovering from COVID, getting very close to completing the first draft of my book, and the news, my schedule is completely thrown off. In order to get this out as quickly as possible, I’ve had to press pause on the episode that was scheduled to release next week. It’ll be an extra week before the next regular episode comes out.
Okay, let’s dive in.
I know that many of you listening are still reeling, as am I.
I also occasionally hear from listeners who are staunchly anti-abortion, so it’s likely that at least a few of you are celebrating. This episode is going to firmly center the belief that bodily autonomy and the ability to make choices about our own health care are basic fundamental rights.
Yesterday, one of my coaching clients showed up to our session already on the brink of tears. I asked her how she felt and she said, “I have periods when I’m okay, then I have periods when I’m not okay at all.”
I know the feeling. There are moments when I can get completely absorbed in what I’m doing, then I remember that we’re on the brink of having all the hard-won protections for women, non-heterosexuals, trans and gender expansive people, and anyone else who isn’t a cis white man erased.
So when my client said, “This feels like grief,” as if that were a strange overreaction, I had to remind her that this IS grief. It is appropriate to grieve the loss of basic protections over your own body and well-being. So if you’re finding yourself in the midst of unusual mood swings, or you’re too numb to feel anything, or you’re flying off the handle at tiny things that wouldn’t usually push you over the edge – you’re not being oversensitive. You’re not overreacting. You are grieving, just like you would if a pet or close friend died. Sure, maybe you knew for a few months that their health was failing and the end was near, but there’s no way to prepare for the finality of them disappearing from your life.
This is grief. And it’s not only reasonable, it’s necessary.
This client yesterday said that her husband has gotten very depressed in response to the SCOTUS decision and dealing with his feelings is filling her with rage. I can’t tell you how much I relate to this.
I love my partner deeply, but watching him process his feelings about this is hard because he is a straight, white, cis, formerly Christian man. His rights are not on the chopping block, while mine are in multiple ways, so I honestly have limited tolerance.
Part of the problem is that we don’t train our little boys how to deal effectively with their emotions. They are trained to believe that going to therapy is weak, and that crying is unacceptable. Later, when they have emotions as adult men, we haven’t provided any coping mechanisms for them to handle it. The average man isn’t great at even recognizing when he has an emotion, let alone dealing with it. So things build up and build up until there’s an explosion like punching a wall or taking their pain out on someone else in a destructive way.
One of the things my partner does when he gets upset is to catastrophize and stop listening so everything turns into a monologue. Which is why I’ve spent a lot of time biting my tongue this week as he takes a moment to empathize with my feelings, then launches into a monologue about how people don’t understand how painful it is for him to watch what’s going on. It’s not malicious on his part, but he didn’t learn the skills of processing his smaller emotions as they happen, so when big emotions happen he gets overwhelmed and self-obsessed.
And I’m going to admit something tender to you – I usually don’t talk about anything on this show or in public that hasn’t already been processed or dealt with. But this is something I haven’t talked to him about yet. It’s something that’s still very active. And the reason is that if I bring this up with him right now, he won’t be able to hear me. He’s too deep in his own process and trying to explain how his words and actions are affecting me will be destructive instead of effective. In a few weeks when things are slightly less raw, I’ll bring it up. For right now, I’m biting my tongue with him and doing the vast majority of my emotional processing with friends.
I don’t know if this is the best way to handle things, and it’s certainly not something that would work for everyone. But I know from numerous past experiences that when he emerges from the tornado inside his own head, we’ll be able to have a productive conversation about it.
I’m letting you into the dysfunction of the current moment because I know many of you are cis women navigating similar dynamics with your male partners. The rage you feel at this partner whose fundamental rights are not on the verge of being overturned makes total sense. You’re not alone.
I also know there are a lot of cis men who listen to this podcast because it provides you a window into your female partner’s life. I’m also telling this story because your partner may not be able to express how your grief and upset is landing for her.
An image goes around social media periodically that I find useful. It’s sometimes called “Comfort In, Dump Out” or the Silk Ring Theory, named for Susan Silk, the woman who conceived of it. There are resources in the show notes if you want to learn more.
Imagine a person has just experienced a tragedy – a cancer diagnosis, the loss of a loved one, etc. For this example, let’s say Tammy has received a cancer diagnosis and her primary support person is her husband, John. Her best friend Margaret helps with grocery shopping and driving to appointments, and is generally around for whatever physical or emotional support she can provide. Tammy has a group of five women she has been friends with for years and they try to get together about once a month. She also has her work friends – people she enjoys kibbitzing with at lunch and who have her back when her boss is being difficult. She has a wide circle of casual friends and acquaintances, and then there are the community gossips.
Here’s how the rings work:
Place Tammy’s name at the center of a piece of paper – she is the person at the heart of the crisis. Now draw a handful of concentric circles around her name.
Place John’s name in the first concentric circle – he is the person closest to Tammy.
In the next circle, place her best friend – the person closest to Tammy who isn’t her primary caretaker.
Then in each of the concentric circles moving outward, place her close group of friends, then her work friends, then her casual friends and acquaintances.
The closer you move into the center, the closer and more intimately involved the people are to Tammy. The further out you move, the less intimately involved they are.
Silk calls this the “Kvetching Order.”
Here’s how she describes it: “The person in the center ring can say anything she wants to anyone, anywhere. She can kvetch and complain and whine and moan and curse the heavens and say, ‘Life is unfair’ and ‘Why me?’ That’s the one payoff for being in the center ring.
Everyone else can say those things too, but only to people in larger rings.”
So John can kvetch to Margaret and Margaret can support. But if Margaret wants to kvetch, she should go to a circle further out, like the close friend group or the work friends. In other words, you provide only comfort to people closer to the center, and you dump all of your feelings to people further away from the center than you are.
You may wonder why I’m telling you this when what I’m talking is the right to bodily autonomy which affects far more than just one person. Because no matter how much you love a woman, a trans person, a gay person, a BIPOC person, if you are a cis white male, you are not at the center of the circle. In this instance, you are not even in the closest ring to your loved one. At this moment, on this topic, you are in the ring furthest away from your loved one. You should ONLY be providing comfort in. Any dumping out you need to do should happen with other people in that further out circle – namely, other cis men.
And while us white women LOVE to center ourselves all the time, we need to remember that there are people in much more tenuous positions than we are. If I were to draw a series of circles for our current mess, it might look something like this:
Trans women of color in the very center.
White trans women in the next circle.
Then non-heterosexual people of color.
Then non-heterosexual white people.
Then straight BIPOC people.
Then straight white women.
Then straight white men.
And there’s lots of other complicating factors – rich people will always be further from the center than people without resources. Unhoused people will be closer to the center than people who know where they are sleeping for the next month. People with mental illness closer to the center. People with mental, physical, and emotional disabilities toward the center, able-bodied and able-minded people further away.
This Kvetching Order also informs how we should be focusing our resources. I’m seeing a flood of posts that invite friends to “go camping” as a euphemism for traveling to another state to get an abortion that’s illegal in your own state.
I appreciate that we’re thinking about how to help each other, but here’s where it falls apart: the people in your circle probably have roughly the same resources you do. But the people who desperately need our help are closer to the center: unable to take time off of work to travel for several days, without access to the funds that kind of trip would require. The camping analogy goes only so far as to help other people who look a lot like you, but they’re not the ones in the most danger.
Here’s how I described it in a recent Facebook post:
If you’re concerned about helping people go camping…
The people most in need of a camping vacation aren’t able to access the time off or transportation to get to camping sites near you.
BUT: camping equipment is available through the mail that can be used in their own back yard. This equipment is considered extremely effective and safe, and it allows our friends to get the vacation they need without leaving home.
The most anti-camping states have made it illegal to order at-home camping equipment through the mail, so our friends can’t order it directly.
However, I am able to order camping equipment to be delivered to me. If I send a personal package to a friend and camping equipment happens to fall in without my notice … oops. What they do with that mistaken delivery is up to them.
In our desire to offer support and help, let’s make sure it’s accessible to the people most in need.
To take that out of the realm of metaphor – medication abortion is known to be safe and effective and, unlike the morning after pill, there is not a weight limit.
One of the tactics being used by anti-abortion legislators is to make it illegal to order these medications through the mail.
So here’s one way that I am willing and able to support any listener:
You can let me know that you need help and we’ll make arrangements for medications to be sent to me. I will then send you a personal care package, and if the medication happens to fall in to it … well, then you get to decide what to do with it. I’ll cover the cost of postage to you. Unfortunately I’m not currently in a position to finance the purchase of the medication, but the cost is still significantly less than taking days off work and traveling to another state.
The other way that we as a community can get help where it needs to go is to send our financial resources to organizations that have been preparing for this moment for a long time. They have networks and plans in place for exactly this eventuality. They know how to operate in their own communities by providing transportation, funds for hotels, and funds for the procedure itself to people in need. Let’s not duplicate the work they’re already doing – and far more effectively than any of us could.
The Guttmacher Institute has identified 22 states where the reversal of Roe has already or will lead to significant or total restriction of abortion. Each of those states has at least one fund to help people in the state access care. I’ve put a list of these funds and links to articles in the show notes so you can find one that’s of most interest to you. Donations to these funds are a material way that we can provide direct support to people most at risk.
If you are a regular listener, the ARC-Southeast fund may sound familiar. That’s because I talk each episode about donating 10% of my income from Patreon to ARC-Southeast.
This is something I feel strongly about. It’s even the source of my favorite 1-star podcast review of all time from LAZY 4B:
“I have learned so much on this podcast and it has really liberated me on so many things. However I was so sad to find out 10% of donations were going towards a pro-abortion organization.”
Right now, 10% doesn’t feel nearly enough, so this month I am donating 100% of my Patreon income to ARC-Southeast.
If you want to make your own contribution to the fund of your choice in any amount, please do.
If you’d prefer for me to make the contribution so you don’t end up on mailing lists, you can support my Patreon and I’ll pass the money directly to ARC-Southeast.
LEAH: Are you aching to explore new vistas of your sexuality? Do you hear me talk about concepts on the show and think, “It makes sense, but I need help applying it to my particular situation?” That’s where personalized sex and intimacy coaching comes in.
When you work with me, I promise to help you feel safe exploring your sexuality. Together, we’ll look at your needs and desires without judgment and help you figure out how to fulfill them. There is no single answer that’s right for everyone. So, I’m going to help you discover what’s right for you. And we’ll go at your pace. That’s the space that respects your emotional needs, your boundaries, and your nervous system. Because going too fast can send you into shutdown while going too slow can be infuriating and exhausting. The goal is to find what’s right for you.
I work with clients who are motivated to explore many different areas of sexuality including things like expressing your sexual desires to current or future partners, exploring if you might be queer, challenging body image insecurity in sexual relationships, dipping your toes into BDSM, exploring consensual non-monogamy, learning to date after a long time out of the dating pool, exploring you sexuality for later in life virgins, and so much more. I want you to have a deeply fulfilling intimate life and together, we can help you get there. For more information and to schedule your discovery call, visit www.leahcarey.com/coaching. That’s www.leahcarey.com/coaching.
Finally, we need to recognize that this is a fight that will take years, possibly decades. We’re worked up now but it’s hard to sustain that motivation and energy over the long term. It’s important to recognize where your passion lies, what your skills are, and what your capacity is so that you can stay active and engaged.
Your passion, skills, and capacity are likely to change over time, and your choices about how to spend your time and energy may also change. And that’s all totally normal.
What I want to call your attention to is the word “capacity.”
Too often we think about the amount of time we have available and how much we can fit into that time. But availability is not the same as capacity. Capacity isn’t just how much time I have available, but now much energy do I have available in that time?
For instance, I spoke recently with a friend who was in a dilemma. She had been invited to a birthday party for a friend who lives two hours away. “I have the time,” she said. “But I don’t want to go and I feel so guilty.”
I asked, “Why don’t you want to go and what do you feel guilty about?”
“I have the time to make the drive, but next week is busy and I’ll start out the week exhausted. But that’s so selfish – it’s her birthday and I should be there for her!”
“Just because you have the time available doesn’t mean you have the capacity to do it. If you’re familiar with Spoon Theory, you may have enough space in the drawer, but you don’t have enough spoons to fill it.”
“That’s true!” my friend said. “But she might be mad at me or really hurt if I’m not there.”
“If this is a party, you might not even get to spend much quality time with her. What if you offered to visit on a long weekend when you have a day to recover and the two of you can spend one-on-one time that will be special for both of you?”
A few days later my friend messaged me to say that she’d never thought about how the fact that she has time available doesn’t necessarily equate to having the energy to do anything with it.
My goal here is not to give you a pass on doing anything. Instead, I encourage you to pay attention to when you’re making commitments with your time that you don’t have capacity to fill.
For instance, friends frequently invite me to go to protests and marches. And every time I feel guilty about saying no, because the voice in my head tells me that I’m not doing enough.
However I also know this: the preparation to go to a large gathering like a protest fills me with anxiety. The times that I have pushed through the anxiety and gone anyway, I’ve had a panic attack. It’s not a good atmosphere for me. When I have a panic attack, not only am I not helping the cause myself, I’m distracting other people from the cause because they end up taking care of me.
Do I have the time to go? Yes.
Do I have the capacity to go? No.
So I look for other ways to use my skills, passions, and resources.
Those things all come into play with this podcast – I believe that helping women to feel more ownership and connection with their bodies is a step in the right direction. And it will ultimately lead to more women advocating for the rights and autonomy of all.
Sharing information on social media sometimes feels like shouting into an echo chamber, but just the other day thanking me for helping to keep her spirits up and to stay in the fight.
I may not have the capacity to go to protests myself, but I’m always looking for ways to use my resources in support of the cause.
What’s your version of this?
Let’s imagine that you also are unable to go to protests, for any number of reasons.
Maybe you can go to the state house when your state legislature has hearings on whether they’re going to restrict abortion and other rights.
Participate in a letter-writing campaign.
Ask your friends who will be going to the protests what they need – whether it’s protective gear, snacks, or supplies to make signs – and make some purchases to help them out.
Something a friend recommended to me is to keep some packaged snacks in my car to hand out to unhoused people looking for food. It may not be directly linked to the fight for abortion, but ultimately the issues of all underrepresented people are connected. I now buy fruit snacks in bulk to keep in the console between the front seats of my car. It costs me less than a dollar to hand several to someone on a street corner, but it can make all the difference in the world to the person I give to.
I also collect all the cans and bottles we use in our home that have a return deposit on them and every month or so I take bags down to the homeless encampment near our apartment.
None of this is world changing on its own. Unfortunately, outside of becoming legislators, judges, or vastly wealthy, most of us are not in a position to make substantive change on our own. But I firmly believe that every time we step up to support someone in a circle closer to the center than we are (in ways that they tell us they need to be helped), that makes a substantive change in that person’s life. And better that than sitting on my hands and worrying about the kind of difference I can’t make in the broader world.
This has been an incredibly shitty week, so take the time you need to grieve. Then let’s get up and push back.
Support in, dump out.
Make our resources work for the people most in need, rather than the people who are already privileged enough to have options.
Find the places where your availability and your capacity overlap and start there.
I’d love to hear what works for you, so send me a message at email@example.com or call the listener line at 720-GOOD-SEX.
And if you need someone to send you the pills for a medical abortion without tying you to the order, email or call me. I’ve got your back.
Take care and I’ll be back with a regular episode in a few weeks.
LEAH: That’s it for today. If you’re enjoying this show, please take a moment to leave a 5-star rating and review on Apple Podcasts or if you’re using another podcast app, go to www.ratethispodcast.com/goodgirls.
And remember, there’s a treasure trove of audio extras available for free at Patreon. Go to www.patreon.com/goodgirlstalkaboutsex. While listening to those extras is free, producing the show is not. If my work is meaningful to you and you have a few dollars to support it each month, I will gratefully accept your patronage at Patreon. I donate 10% of all Patreon proceeds to ARC-Southeast, an organization that supports women in the Southeast United States to access reproductive services that are increasingly difficult to obtain. Find out more and become a community member at www.patreon.com/goodgirlstalkaboutsex.
Show notes and transcripts for this episode are at www.goodgirlstalk.com. Follow me on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube @goodgirlstalk for more sex positive content. If you have a question or comment about anything you’ve heard on this show, call and leave a message at 720-GOOD-SEX.
Good Girls Talk About Sex is produced by me, Leah Carey, and edited by Gretchen Kilby. I have additional administrative support from Lara O’Connor and Maria Franco. Transcripts are produced by Jan Acielo.
Before we go, I want to remind you that the things you may have heard about your sexuality aren’t true. You are worthy. You are desirable. You are not broken. As your sex and intimacy coach, I will guide you in embracing the sexuality that is innately yours no matter what it looks like. To set up your free discovery call, go to www.leahcarey.com/coaching.
Until next time, here’s to your better sex life!
All archived Good Girls Talk About Sex audio extras are now available for FREE! They can be accessed at www.patreon.com/goodgirlstalkaboutsex.
I’ve done this because not everyone has the means to pay for access, and I know this additional material can be deeply important for some listeners. But creating this show isn’t free, so if you’d like to support the work I do, I am grateful for your contributions at www.patreon.com/goodgirlstalkaboutsex.
I donate 10% of all Patreon proceeds to ARC Southeast
Rate the pod – Leave a rating and review at www.ratethispodcast.com/goodgirls
Have a question or comment – Leave a voicemail for Leah at 720-GOOD-SEX (720-466-3739) – this is a voicemail-only line, so I promise you won’t have to talk to someone in person!
Be a guest on the show – I’d love to talk with you! Fill out the form at www.leahcarey.com/guest
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