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Episode 20: Gina Grad
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Radio & Podcasting personality Gina Grad talks with Paul about her Pink Floyd-like panic attacks, growing up in a loud Jewish family in conservative Kansas, and they both weigh in on the repercussions of having sex when one person is not that into it.


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Paul: Welcome to Episode Twenty with my guest Gina Grad, I'm Paul Gilmartin, this is The Mental Illness Happy Hour.  An houa of – an houa of? An houa of honesty.  An hour of honesty about all – I could have redone that take, but I want you to see how just fucking confident I am as a human being that I'm leaving

that edit, unedited right there – look it another fuck up. I'm going to leave that in. Because I'm confident, so fucking confident it's not even funny. This is The Mental Illness Happy Hour an hour of honesty about all the battles in our heads from medically diagnosed conditions to every day compulsive negative thinking, feelings of dissatisfaction, disconnection,  inadequacy and that vague sinking feeling that the world is passing us by. Give us an hour, we'll give you a hot ladle of awkward and icky.  But first a few notes.  Thank you for taking the survey. All of you. The link to take the survey is at the website, the website would be: mentalpod.com. That's also the twitter name if you want to follow me on twitter.  The survey is a great way for me to get to know you guys and find out what's fucking with you. Find out what your fears are, and I really enjoy getting that information from you guys. You can also email me, you can leave a voice mail message at my voice mail the number for that is:  818-574-7177 and that's free I believe. It's either free or it either costs a thousand dollars.  I forget which one.  But why don't you go ahead and roll the dice and find out which one it is. As I've mentioned before there's a couple of different ways you can support the show if you like what we do here.  You can support it financially by making a donation through Paypall,  there's a link to that at the website, the aforementioned website. You can support us non-financially by going to Itunes and giving us a good rating. That helps boost our ranking and that brings more people to the show, which I like. I'm trying very consciously not to do my – sometimes I fall into this  - when I have headphones on and I'm listening to my voice, I fall into this, into love with the sound of my own voice. And I'll just kind of subconsciously start talking a little deeper. (in a deeper voice) And ah, yeah there we go.  Just like that. (back to normal voice)  And when I hear myself do it, the level of disgust that I feel toward myself... I think the reason I hate it so much is that because it reminds me of the battle that I feel like I've been losing my whole life which is to try and feel more powerful. And I think if I have a deep voice then that some how imbues me with some type of power that's going to impress you when in reality – if I were probably the closest thing to my voice, the real voice that's inside my head would probably be  (higher wispy voice) somewhere closer to that. That's probably what it would be. (normal voice) But an hour and fifteen minutes  (higher wispy voice) of that might be a little hard to take. (deep voice) That might be a little hard to take, rocking out the Quad Cities! Here's a little Bachman Turner Overdrive. (normal voice)  All right I think I've fucked around long enough.

 

What do I want to kick the show off with?  Let's talk about somebody that took the survey. This guy put for his nickname,  “Nomadder” N-O-M-A-D-D-E-R.  He's a male in his thirties.  He was raised he says in a “strict religious environment” and it fucked him up.   He lives with a lot of suicidal thoughts and he says that he's been hurt by spirituality and as a result is reticent to seek it again.  And you know to that,  I would say if it fucked you up, it's not spirituality.  To me the definition of spirituality is something that lifts your spirits, that makes you feel good and easy to live in your own skin. I have the feeling what you probably were raised on was an oppressive style of organized religion that was probably closed minded and full of shame. I could be wrong.  But spirituality has given me so much that I thought was going to come from money, power and fame. And the little taste I've had of money, power and fame were never enough. But the little tastes of spirituality that I've have have satisfied me on a level and brought me a peace I never thought was possible. Now that peace is not there twenty-four hours - I go back and forth between feeling really peaceful and feeling fucking nuts and insecure and full of fear.   But the difference is that those things used to rule my life and fear doesn't rule my life anymore.  Spirituality has given me many things, including herpes.   See, I was being a little too serious there, and I lost confidence.  I felt like I was starting to sound a little too new-agey, a little too pompous so I had to take myself down a peg. And there we have it.  Let's kick things off with this thought. Whose approval are you living for? Somebody elses, or your own? Sibilance!

SHOW INTRO

Paul:  I'm here with Gina Grad who does the Pretty Good Podcast with, what is the name of your co-host?

Gina: Randy Wang.

Paul:  Randy, and then you have a third person?

Gina:  We have our pro, our producer, Elijah Black. I don't know how we've done so many shows without him. It's a good little trifecta.

Paul:  Yeah, I really enjoyed the show that I listened to.

Gina:  Oh thank you.

Paul:  Cause my wife had suggested you as a guest, and Martin Willis who helped me launch the website for this had recommended you as a guest and I when I listened to that episode I was like 'ok I can see why they think she'd be a good guest.'   Because you're very open and honest and two things that this podcast kind of depends on.

Gina:  It has to be.

Paul:  It has to be. So you also do voice over work, you do animation work, you do impressions. You were on....

Gina:  KLSX.

Paul:  On the Tim Conway Show.

Gina:  Tim Conway Junior before that whole dynasty just imploded.

Paul:  Yeah I don't know what happened over there.

Gina:  They couldn't pay FM talk. They just couldn't pay five morning show salaries a day anymore.  It's easier to plug in an Ipod and there you go.

Paul:  I guess so. But in some ways it's good because then it drives listeners to our podcasts.

Gina:  Absolutely. It was actually a really wonderful blessing for some of us. But also really sad too. But boy did we get an education over there. We're really lucky.

Paul:  I bet. I bet.  And you guys, it sounds like you hit the ground running, because you were just telling me before we started recording - the numbers that you're getting for downloads of your podcasts.  Wow!

Gina: Yeah I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that we do it every day. We're already at five hundred and seventeen shows. We just got in a groove and we never stopped. I've never done anything five hundred times in my life. But we just kept going.

Paul:  That's awesome. That's awesome. So, I'm glad you're here. You're also friends with Teresa Strasser who I love.

Gina:  One of my BFF's if I do say so. You know Teresa as well?

Paul:  I do, just from when I would go on Adam Carolla, we just kind of always hit it off.

Gina:  She's awesome.

Paul:  She is awesome.  She was in kind of in a really vulnerable place when I met her because she had just started doing the show.  And I think she and Dave were having, Dave Dameshek were butting heads or something,

Gina:  Oh yeah.

Paul:  I didn't ever really get the low down on it but she, am I wrong here, but she tends to wear her emotions on her shirt sleeve a little bit?

Gina:  Actually, I sort of learned a little bit more of that from her, because I thought you had to go into this completely tough, completely poker face, nothing bothers you – but guess what? That makes horrible radio.

Paul:  It really does.

Gina:  Yeah and I didn't really realize that until she pointed it out. And not even telling me but just learning by example. I did learn so much to just open up, allow yourself to be vulnerable because that's what people appreciate, not sitting there with the shudders over your eyes.

Paul:  Yeah they want the flaws.

Gina:  Absolutely.

Paul:  And I think that's one of the reasons why radio was really going into the shitter. It's because they think that slick and mistake-less is better.

Gina:  No.

Paul:  But It's really not.

Gina:  I can't relate to that person in my life, how can I relate to them on the radio?  Radio is so intimate.  I don't have any presets in my car that are music stations.  I just happen to love talk radio. And when I'm in my car or when I'm at home and I'm just relaxing, It's just me and that person. It's a very intimate situation and nobody wants to be talked down too.  I certainly wouldn't let someone in my home that's going to sit there and belittle me - why would I want to hear that on the radio?

Paul:  Right. Exactly. Exactly. Well, I'm glad you're here today.

Gina:  Thank you.

Paul:  I literally met you twenty minutes ago.

Gina:  It was an awesome greeting by the way.

Paul: It was an awesome greeting. My two dogs that bark... To say that they bark is a pretty big understatement.  It's a cacophony of sound when you come through my door.

Gina:  Yeah.

Paul:  But they quieted down pretty quickly. I think they sensed that you're not dangerous.

Gina:  No. I've been called a lot of things. Dangerous is not one of them.

Paul:  Dangerous is not one of them. So you were raised in Kansas, I was looking at your website...

Gina: Yes.

Paul: What was that like?

Gina: It was really white.

Paul: Yeah.

Gina:  And really boring.

Paul:  Yeah.

Gina:  I don't ever want to dis my home land, but it just was not that eventful. But I can see how it would have been a great place to raise a kid and I'm glad I was there. I just have no plans on going back.

Paul:  You go back and visit family?

Gina:  Every once in a while. Yeah my mom's there but we try to bring her out here. It's more fun.  I guess I mean this is a good way and a bad way: It was nice. It was just nice. I was by far the most exotic thing they had ever seen because I was Jewish. I always felt very special and I always felt like I kind of stood out. I went right from Kansas to New York and I just deflated.  I walked into my first audition, and I go home and I call my mom just sort of shell shocked.  She goes: “How did it go?”  I go:  “Everyone looks exactly like me.” I didn't know what to do. So I had to learn to adjust real quick.

Paul:  What did you go to New York for? To get into broadcasting?

Gina:  No. I had no interest in it. My dad's in broadcasting and so I thought radio was just for old dads. Boring old dads. I had no interest in it until I moved out here.  But I went there to do theatre. I did a lot of strange stuff. A lot of Kabuki, and sort of Greek theatre -  that's what I studied in college, that's what I gravitated towards. Not a lot of kitchen sink dramas.

Paul:  Right.  Now were you doing the Kabuki stuff because that's all there was, or because that's what you wanted to do?

Gina:  First of all, it was not all there was, it was hard to find! But I think that honestly, it made me feel special. It made me feel like I had a skill that not everybody in New York had. Because I had studied Kyogen and Noh which are two different types of Japanese theatre, classical Japanese theatre and I felt very special having that in my back pocket. And I actually went and lived in Greece for a few months to do theatre with a sort of Asian slant to it. It was just something I knew I could do and a lot of people couldn't.

Paul:  I can't imagine that that paid anything.

Gina:  It literally paid nothing.

Paul:  Yeah.

Gina:  Yeah.  I did that a lot.

Paul:  Yeah. But I think that's so important - You were a theatre major?

Gina:  Yes.

Paul:  Where did you say you went to school?

Gina:  University of Kansas.

Paul:  Ok.

Gina:  Oh yeah.

Paul:  What was your childhood like? Were you raised in a safe stable family?

Gina:  Sorry that was (coughing noise) that was just my reflex. Yes and no.  I was a very nervous child. And everyone says, “Oh my God, you're so carefree, and you're such a type A personality.” And nothing could be further from the truth the way I see myself. My neutral face was a very worried face. I always had a furrowed brow and constantly my stomach was in knots my entire childhood.  And always afraid that something terrible was just about to happen, right around the corner. So I didn't have that carefree fun childhood. I mean I had moments of it...

Paul:  Were your parents anxious?

Gina:  A little bit. They're fantastic. But you know instead of it being -

Paul:  They were Jews in Kansas. How much could they relax?

Gina:  That's the thing! I would go to all my friends houses  and there would be these quiet waspy families and you know not three words are shared at dinner. And that is not the way our family rolled. We're loud and rambunctious and you gotta keep up and a lot of fun. But I think some of that translated into some nervous energy for me. I know it did.

Paul:  Yeah. My family was the - I like to joke that my family was like the movie Ordinary People without the big laughs. I don't know if you ever saw that movie. But very, very few words. Very close to the vest. And I was always envious of the families that were boisterous. And even if they argued at least they were getting some emotions out. Describe a typical day, if you can, growing up. What it was like.

Gina:  To be honest, it's pretty hard to remember my sort of nuclear family being together because my parents were divorced when I was young.

Paul:  Here we go!

Gina:  I got to tell you I'm sort of cocky about this because I know it doesn't happen to every body. My parents, these days? Best friends.  Inseparable, lean on each other like you wouldn't believe and both have completely separate lives.

Paul:  Are they both remarried?

Gina: My dad is. And I mean, they are still as close as they could ever be. And that for a kid, even though I'm an adult is just such a relief.

Paul:  I can't imagine how great that must feel.

Gina:  It's awesome. Because it wasn’t always like that. But they found a place, to get back to that place. It just makes the world easier.

Paul:  There are few things in this world to me as selfish as divorced parents being petty to each other and having no clue on how it affects the children. My parents never divorced, they should have, but they never did. And the parents that I've seen that divorced and then put the kids in the middle -  I just want to slap them in the fucking face.

Gina:  Absolutely.  I know kids who you know they had joint custody and half the summer here, and half the week here - That would have really pushed me over the edge.  I think they both decided,  Look: you stay in the house. You stay with your mom. I'll be here every day. I'll be here when you get home from school. We were so lucky because of that. I couldn't imagine getting in the car with a suitcase every other week.  It just makes me sick to think about. I don't think I could have handled it.

Paul:  You talked earlier in the interview about the importance of being vulnerable, to being an interesting personality on the radio.   And I think that - vulnerability comes up a lot on this podcast as a topic -  and I wonder if the fear of being vulnerable when you're going through a divorce or post divorce,  that feeling that I can't be weak because I'll be getting taken advantage of and both people just keep doing that, and then do you think that just feeds into that cycle of -

Gina:  God get out of my head -

Paul:  Middle eastern kind of....

Gina:  Yes. As an adult it's the first time in my life I've ever felt safe being vulnerable. I went from one extreme to the other. Now I do it with a mike in my hand. It's very therapeutic to me. Because I used to think, well,  I'll just pretend to be someone else because even if they hate me, they don't know the real me. They hate that facade.  So I'm still safe. And then I realized there's nothing safe about that. There just isn't.

Paul:  There's nothing to gain from that.

Gina:  Nothing.

Paul:  Maybe you don't lose anything. But you don't gain anything.

Gina:  Nothing.

Paul:   And it's such a small life to live life that way.  I've always said that cynicism, is the easiest thing to do because you don't risk anything.

Gina:  I absolutely agree.

Paul:  But by being joyful and vulnerable,  and not faking it - If you're not joyful, certainly don't fake that you're joyful but... I spent a day around a famous person a couple of weeks ago. And this person is joyless. And it was a drain. By the end of the day after having spent time around this person, and this person was raised in a joyless environment so I don't think they know how to be joyful. But everyone then around them is afraid to show joy.  And there's that dynamic in families that is so corrosive because you're afraid of showing certain emotions because there's no template for it.

Gina:  Absolutely. I was very lucky. I'm sort of all over the place with my upbringing because people think well it was loud – was it abusive? Well no, it was loud, and loud whether it was happy or sad was scary to me, a little girl. It was just too much noise.

Paul:  How many siblings?

Gina:  Just one brother who is awesome and quirky and ...

Paul:  Older or younger?

Gina:  Older. And the only two questions anyone ever wants to know about us when they see us together is:  Are you blood related? And Gina, you're younger? Because he's just tatted up, and earnings and tattoos.... By comparison I'm just the normal one, which I don't get very often. I'm really lucky in a lot of ways but I'm growing up enough now to see life in the rear view mirror.  And so you know what, it wasn't perfect. And you know what, that's ok. I just have to hold on a minute while I fix a few things so I can move on with my life.

Paul:  Any history of any type of mental illness in your family, or addiction?

Gina:  Not really but I haven't spent too much time researching the family tree on it.  But that's something that I went from... I used to say 'I'm just moody, I'm just nervous.'  And that launched into 'no, I have anxiety and a little hint of depression.'  And just being able to put a name to it and sort of fix it, because I'm very solution orientated, and be able to move on has helped me tremendously.  Because living under that fear of I don't know when I'm going to have a “spell” is terrifying.

Paul:  Describe what the spell is like when it's bad.

Gina:  Well, I've blacked out before.

Paul:  What?

Gina:  Yeah, walking, I used to live in New York. I blacked out on the street. Because you know, it's that impeding feeling of you're either going to throw up, or pass out or die.  But there is no other option. Those are your three and you pray that you don't die.

Paul:  Sweaty palms, heart beating fast, shortness of breath, describe -

Gina:  That's interesting because I haven't thought about it physically in a long time.  Your chest gets tight but it also tickles. Your whole body tickles from the inside. And I don't know how else to explain it. The light and the sound will kind of go:  (making sound) whoah whoah whoah and sort of like pulsate. And the shortness of breath is what trips everything off.

Paul:  Are you sure that you're not thinking of a hippy party on Dragnet?

Gina:  (laughing) And that's the thing! I swear to God that's why I'm not a huge fan of recreational drugs. Because I'm like - I'm inducing my own panic attack.  Why is this fun?

Paul:  I had a pot induced panic attack before and it was horrible.

Gina:  It's the worst!

Paul: I was convinced that the next second was going to die in an earth quake. So, how often would you have these?

Gina:  They started when I was about twelve or thirteen, right around when my parents got divorced,  and lasted till, God maybe my late twenties and I'm in my early thirties now. So, I'd say maybe on the average,  three or four times a year from that point to this point.

Paul: And how long would a panic attack last?

Gina: The actual episode?

Paul: Yeah.

Gina:  Um, God it could-

Paul:  Twenty two minutes without commercials?

Gina:  (laughing) Yeah right! If I could control it, if I could sort of catch it before it got crazy maybe five minutes. Otherwise it would last all night.

Paul:  What would you do to catch it? So you had some semblance of control over it?

Gina:  Once I started going to therapy I did.

Paul: What age did you start going to therapy?

Gina:  I've sort of been on and off forever, but when I went as an adult that could control my own destiny -  in college.

Paul:  So you had a good seven years of untreated panic attacks.

Gina: Oh yeah. And I thought I've always been nervous,  I'm just nervous, this is my cross to bear. And very ashamed. Because in that point in your life you're so worried about what other people think of you and you're in these social situations. And all of a sudden, aww Gina's getting a stomach ache again and Gina's getting nervous and crazy. There was just nowhere safe.

Paul:  Your friends would say that?

Gina:  I don't know to be perfectly honest if looking back they actually said that or if that's what it looks like to me in retrospect. I don't remember. But I did find a huge cure for panic attacks. And it just sort of came out one day. I had one that lasted pretty much for about ten days. I went out of the country for the first time in my life. I went to Israel on a group trip. They had to call in doctors. They thought I was anorexic which is hilarious because I'm not exactly a stick figure. I was sick the whole time.   I was bed ridden for ten days. It was just a panic attack that just wouldn't subside. And then later that summer I was going to Greece to do theatre and I said I can't have this again. So what I did was, I took the friends that I really trusted that were going to be on the trip and told them what happened and what could happen.  And ever since I told them it didn't even come up. Because it was bottled up inside me and I was so scared. So now, as an adult what I say to some one is 'hey by the way this dinner part sucks right?  But anyway I feel like I might have a panic attack and I'm just going to let you know.'  And then it pretty much a hundred percent won't happen.  Because I'm connecting with someone who I trust, who I feel safe with,  and all of those demons and all those feelings just sort of subside.

Paul:  Wow. That's beautiful.

Gina:  I'm really lucky with the people in my life that are like 'Oh really? Well, do what you gotta do.  You gotta stick me with a fork? Pull me into the bathroom and I'll do a funny dance?' Take the bigness of it away.

Paul:  And I have to say I think that ninety-nine percent of the population would greet somebody saying something like that with positive loving energy

Gina:  I like to think so.

Paul:  I think most people feel privileged to be let in on somebody elses crisis. I think as long as it doesn't get into the 'I'm calling you every two hours and I don't want to seek professional help, I'm just going to drain you.'

Gina:  Absolutely.  And it's almost like you know when people fly, a lot of people I notice snap a rubber band on their wrist?  That sort of my rubber band, just letting somebody I trust know and taking the power of the problem out of the situation.

Paul:  That's awesome. Not awesome that you have panic attacks.  (Gina laughs) It's funny because what we fear the most, which is often connecting to other human beings, sometimes it's our biggest fear and yet that's in many ways the biggest solution.

Gina:  Absolutely.

Paul: But how do you get past this if you're, if you're kind of a misanthropic and you don't really have the tools to connect to people...Or you feel like you, you don't know where to begin. What would you say to somebody who doesn't know where to begin, who doesn't really have friends.

Gina:  Oh man. Honestly, it's going to sound like I'm saying 'well just go buy some!'   But I think if you really don't feel like you have someone that you connect with, you gotta get yourself into therapy.   Because you are guaranteed, this is your money going to a trained professional who is just here to listen,  to offer advice, to not judge you. And for me it's changed my life. And I know a lot of other people that it's changed their life.

Paul:  I know there are people out there that don't have the money to go to therapy...

Gina:  Sliding scale...

Paul:  Some will do it on a sliding scale. And there are also, you can get student therapists.

Gina:  That's where I started.

Paul:  Did any of them do it for free? Or practically for free?

Gina:  I think it was ten bucks a week when I was living in New York.

Paul:  I would imagine if you're fucked up, or feeling fucked up you can find ten dollars a week to get started.

Gina: Absolutely.

Paul:  There really is no excuse other than not wanting to get into the solution to try to get some kind of help.  The other thing that I think helps a lot is sharing on a group level and being in some kind of support group. Because as good as the one on one therapy can be there's something – have you ever been in a support group situation?

Gina:  I have, I have, and the idea of it is still very intimidating to me. And I'm sort of working my way through that. I know it worked for so many people so it's gotta be me.  It's scary.

Paul:  Understand that everybody there is scared though.

Gina:  Right. Right.

Paul:  Everybody there. Nobody walks into a group therapy thing – and I've been doing group therapy or support groups for seven or eight years and there isn't a single time that after I open my mouth I don't think:   “Oh you're such a douche bag. Oh why did you say that? Oh you pompous ass.  Oh you long winded fuck.”  And after a couple of years I realized everybody feels that way after they open their mouths.

Gina:   And you just gotta let go. One of the times I shared an experience about myself in that sort of situation,  I was so on the defense and I was so afraid of everyone in the room – I launched into five minutes of stand up.  And I saw all these confused looks on these people faces and I forgot -   'Oh my God I'm not here to entertain them. I'm here to be a part of the group.'  I didn't know what to do with all of these eyes, and all these supportive people. I figured they must want something from me so I better be funny, I better do something. And then once I realized I didn't have to do that, the world sort of opened back up to me.

Paul:  Nothing will push people further away from you than trying to manipulate them with tap dancing and this or that.

Gina:   Absolutely.

Paul:  Humour is certainly nice and it has its place but I've been in support groups where people use it as a stage. And it's really draining. Especially because I've been doing stand up comedy for twenty years and I've sure people have thought that about me sometimes when I've been insecure and tried to hard to be funny while I'm talking, but resist that temptation to connect to people by impressing them.

Gina:   Absolutely.  Because what I realized in that moment, and I say this all the time now as a joke,  if I didn't do that I would have never stopped crying.  And I didn't feel comfortable enough in that situation to do that at that time. And I always say -   'If I didn't laugh at this I would never stop crying.'  I think there's nothing wrong with crying, but sometimes there's got to be a time and a place for it. If you don't have the recovery time, sometimes a joke is quicker.

Paul:  And I think, I'm only speaking for myself but I think most professional comedians aren't funny because they choose to be, we're funny because we have to be. Because it's just too painful to live with those emotions and those thoughts clanging around our skulls.

Gina:   And you know, I absolutely agree with you but in the same sense just because I've been having this conversation with various artists I feel like in the past year -   I have friends that are writers,  I have friends that are actors, friends that are comics that are troubled in some ways and they feel like they would benefit from some sort of counseling or possibility medication but they're afraid that it's going to take away the soul of their art and it's so aggravating to me.

Paul:  And it's such bull shit.

Gina:   It's such bull shit. It's such bullshit. Because I don't think I'm exactly Lilly Tomlin, but I'm happy, I'm treated, I continue to be treated.  And I feel freer than I've ever felt to express who I am and some people don't and that's their prerogative.  But some people like who I am. And that's the fire that fuels me -  the people that make me feel safe and supported that I can be this person and I can be honest and I can be as fearless as I can be and not feel like  'oh but the darkness that was weighing me down really was who I was.'  That's not who you are.

Paul:  I think that your art then takes on an added dimension that wasn't there before which is the embracing of life, what life has to offer instead of just shitting on it.  Which is the only note that the cynic has to play as an artist is “how am I going to shit on this.”  I think that's one of the reasons that the alternative stand up scene came into being because stand up had just become this awful evening at the Improv, smug, sarcastic -

Gina:   I agree.  Abusive...

Paul:   'I don't offer anything about myself, I just shit on the world.'  And it needed to change. I forgot what the point was. Oh, the point that though is after you get help, I have found that not only does your art take on this other dimension to it, but it comes from a more pure place.  It comes from a place that is of who you really are inside. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Gina:   I can try. I mean, what I think about what you just said I absolutely agree. I just think before you get that help all of your art everything you are is coming from a fear based perspective. And when you clear that fear out man you really feel like you can do anything.

Paul:  The fear never goes away. It just doesn't rule.

Gina:  Exactly.  And it's funny I tell people this, and it sounds kind of silly and cliché  but I swear to God it's true and anyone who has ever asked me for any advice doing this stuff this is always what I tell them. It's taken me, I used to be on KLXS for a couple of years and I've done a lot of other radio shows, Playboy radio, and we've done this podcast for over five hundred episodes -  And It took me about three hundred episodes and about two years at KLAX to make this huge scenic tour circle all the way back around to who I really am.  I was putting together algorithms, I was polling people, I was watching, I was imitating,  I wanted to build the perfect shell so that I would be as likeable to as many people as possible.  And boy did that house of cards come crashing down on me.

Paul:  It's tiring.

Gina:  It's tiring, it's exhausting. And guess what? At the end of the day it really is six of one half a dozen of the other.  Half of the people are going to like my show, half of the people are going to like the real me.  And it is so much easier to be the real me.

Paul:  What were some of things you were doing? You were just trying to find out what they wanted? What was popular?

Gina:  To be perfectly honest I thought to survive in this medium which is so dominated by men, listened to and enjoyed by men, you had to be this combination of just oozing sexuality at every turn and being one of the guys. So I got myself into all kinds of situations that I was not comfortable with, saying things on that air that at that point in my life I was not ready to talk about.  All in the guise of the goof. And I would always leave feeling really shitty about myself and really ashamed.

Paul:  Compromised.

Gina:  Absolutely.  But I thought that's what you have to do.  And you know, I'm well endowed so I guess I'm not supposed to hide that either.  One of the biggest compliments I can be given - this is going to sound so stupid but when people are like: “Oh you're so funny, you're so charming”   and the “trolls” on the internet – 'is she hot?' 'Absolutely not, but I like listening to her.'  I know that's supposed to be a dig but God it is so nice to be in sort of a theatre of the mind and being appreciated for something else. Because you know I'm curvy and that always felt like it had to be a focal point or who knows I wouldn't be worth much.  And it's so nice to be liberated from that.

Paul:  And you would have a shelf life. Which is terrifying.

Gina:  Gravity has been very kind but I don't know how much longer it's going to last.

Paul:  So, what were some of the things that you would talk about, or that you felt that you had to be – can you think of examples of where you talked about something and then afterward were like 'Oh God.'

Gina:  Yes, two incidences come to mind. First off all I did something that I just wasn't ready for and I shouldn't have done.  We have a behavioral hypnotherapist come on KLSX one night. He was very good and he's amazing at what he does and none of the hosts wanted to do it. 'Gina you do it'  Ok. So we went into the green room and he relaxed me and we talked and went on the air with a mike when I'm in this in this relaxed open state and started talking about problems with my boyfriend and with relationships that really had no business in that platform. At that time. I really spent a lot of time sick over that and regretting that.  Now it's my choice, it's my show when I do my show. I feel very empowered.  But in that situation I just felt kind of tousled around. And it's not to the fault of anyone I worked with, it was something that I decided would make me accepted.  And the other example which I don't know,  I regret it but I also don't because it was very funny.  I was the new girl, I was new on the show it was all guys and they all decided that we would do a weigh in.  This was about five years ago. All the guys took their shirts off, their pants off, their shoes off, and got on a scale and we filmed it.  And they come into my room and they're like:  'Gina, you in?  You one of the guys?' I just started, I can't say no now. So as I went into the studio, I'm taking off my pants cause I knew I had cute underwear on.  And cause my dad's in broadcasting, just into the mike going:  'Dad I'm so sorry.'  Taking my pants off, taking my shoes off, I had this little polo on and these little shorts and got on the scale. Of course then I was thinner.  You know, just wanted to be one of the guys.  So I don't know if I would make that decision today.

Paul:  I think a lot of people trying to find their voice as comedians or broadcasters or whatever go through that thing. And you go back and you roll your eyes and you think – I mean for years the stand up that I would do, I'd do a little bit of stand up for me but for the most part if I didn't think an audience would accept it I wouldn't even venture down that area.   It can be so limiting just trying to please the audience. I think you have to find that line between what's accessible and what is really something that you want to talk about it.

Gina:  If people can't relate to it they're not going to relate to it. But that's doesn't mean everything has to be like 'toothpaste huh.'  I did stand up very briefly and what I've learned in life and what I learned in stand up was vulnerability is funny. Vulnerability is sexy.  And vulnerability is this thing that draws people to you. I don't know why we're all so afraid of it. No body wants to be rejected but man it's scary.

Paul:  It is scary. It is scary. Like sometimes I'll go on the internet and see what people are saying about me.

Gina:   Don't do that.

Paul:  Oh it's so stupid.  It's so stupid. But it's such an artificial -  now that I don't do drugs or alcohol I suppose that's my high. Because it's the easiest way to get a quick buzz. But often times, it's fucking laced with poison.

Gina:  It's a risky little game.

Paul:  It really is. And I don't know why I do that. I don't know why I do that. I guess 'cause I'm a sad little man.

Gina:   I don't think that's why.  But I think maybe people like us, I've felt this in the past, there is a sick comfort, not a pleasure but a comfort, in seeing something terrible about your self. I was at a place in my life where I would go online and I would get high off of the compliments and I would get this sick high off of the offensive things because it didn't feel good but it felt familiar and sometimes that was enough. Anymore I don't bother, I really don't,  because the people that are supportive, their voice is loud. And the people who aren't -

Paul:  The trolls.

Gina:  They can type away and it's really not my thing.

Paul:  And I think most of the trolls out there are probably jerking off to some porn that brings them shame. They just want to let that shame out of themselves and put it on somebody else.

Gina:   And I love coming up with scenarios of what they're doing. That's one of my favorite past times. But I think in general they're people who feel powerless. And if this anonymity and abusive language makes them feel power, it's sad but it certainly doesn't have anything to do with me. One of my favorite, I'm going to mess it up – it's a Doctor Seuss quote that I always tell myself and it's something to the effect of: “Do what you do and say what you will, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.” And I always remember when I'm afraid I'm going to be rejected.

Paul:  That's a really good one. One of the things I asked you to bring to our interview today is some fears.

Gina:  Yeah. I have two pages.

Paul:  Do you feel like doing a little fear off?

Gina:  Sure.

Paul:  I've probably shared I don't know, maybe eighty fears of mine so far on the show. Hopefully I won't be repeating any. But if I do, go fuck yourself.

Gina:  And it can be anything right?

Paul:  Anything that you're afraid of. But it has to be something genuine.  And it doesn't have to be anything you're constantly terrified of, but something that pops into your head -

Gina:  Triggers some -

Paul:  Triggers something that you think could actually happen. And so the way this works for those of you who haven't heard it before is we just trade off fears until one of us runs out and the other person is the victor and gets to dance around and mock. And I feel that I am entitled since I've shared so many of mine on previous episodes, I'm entitled to have some of the folks that emailed me I'm able to use some of theirs to bolster my team.

Gina:  I'm coming in raw.

Paul:  So it's me and the listeners against you. Why don't you start off with you first fear.

Gina:   All right. I am painfully afraid that I'm going meet a new guy and we're going have our first night together or take a nap and I'm going to drool on him. To the point where I will stay away all night.

Paul:  That's good.

Gina:  You don't know. Seriously,  I think that would be a real deal breaker. It scares me to think I could lose a really great person because I fell asleep and drooled on them.

Paul:  Wow. And by the way, I think that ninety percent of the ones that I hear are completely baseless and crazy so just in the interest of not slowing this down by telling you how crazy each of your fears are,  just know that ninety percent of them -  I think are are nuts. I have a fear that the show will become repetitive and boring.

Gina:  Crazy. That one of my former boyfriends or deep loves will get married.

Paul:  I have a fear that someone will take the idea, the premise of this show do it better and then no one will listen to me.

Gina:  I have a terrifying fear of eating with strangers.

Paul:  I have a fear that 2012 is real. That the world really is going to end in 2012.

Gina:  Tell me I didn't hear that, I'm dealing with that too. I'm afraid of not being able to get needy people to leave me alone.

Paul:  I am afraid that my mom is sad. And I don't call or visit more because, she's sad because of that.

Gina:   I'm afraid that if I fall asleep against a window in an airplane that side of the plane will fall off.

Paul:  I am afraid that I'm going to become arthritic and the pills are just hiding the fact that I'm already arthritic now and I just don't know it.

Gina:  I'm afraid that people won't see me as a special person.

Paul:  I'm afraid I'm never going to be on a fun hockey team again.

Gina:   (laughing) I'm sorry. That's cute. I'm afraid of getting pregnant. And also of being responsible for another living thing.

Paul:  I have a fear that a friend of mine is, who I tried to do this with, is going to keep his fears pushed down inside and he is going to use drugs again and die.

Gina:  I'm afraid of missing out on opportunities because I'm not thin enough.

Paul:  I am afraid that my comedy is not respected by people that I respect.

Gina:   I am afraid of being accused of betraying someones trust.

Paul:  I am afraid I'm going to need back surgery

Gina:  I am afraid not understanding what an impatient person is trying to tell me. And having to ask over and over again.

Paul:  I'm sorry I didn't have the time to listen to that.  I don't know if I did this one or not but I'm afraid I'm going to become the old person who doesn't know that their house is smelly. I think I might have done that one already on another show.

Gina:   I'm afraid of throwing up in public.

Paul:  I'm afraid that if I do become more successful that I'll change and I won't know it. I'll become an asshole. Some people would say 'become?'

Gina:  I'm afraid I will come into a lot of money and success and people will take it from me.

Paul:  I'm afraid that if success does come my way I will become overwhelmed by the responsibilities that come with it. Look at that, almost identical fears at the same time.

Gina:  I'm afraid of not getting enough time to myself.

Paul:  I'm going to listeners now.  This is from Leanna and she's afraid she's going to drive off a bridge or cliff into water and drown because she can't get out.

Gina:   I'm afraid of having to move into a friend or family if I lose all my money.

Paul:  Leanna also says she's afraid she'll never be content with her life. And she's never going to get married.

Gina:  I'm afraid that if I'm at a really great height that I will be overwhelmed with the fear to jump. I've also been afraid that if I'm sitting in an audience overwhelmed with the desire to run up on stage.

Paul:  Oh my God I've had that.

Gina:  Yeah. A little impulse control problem.

Paul:  Yeah. So, when you're at the great height you’re afraid that some part of your mind is going to make you jump and you won't be able to stop it. Yes I've had that.  Oh God.  Leanna is also afraid, she's afraid of being rejected by men. I would imagine that's pretty common.

Gina:  I’m afraid of choking on stage during a comedy show.

Paul:  Choking literally, or choking having a bad set?

Gina:  Having a bad set. I think I would feel better if I started choking literally.

Paul:  I've realized your fear about two thousand times. There's is nothing worse than doing forty-five minutes to silence.

Gina:  Forty-five minutes? I've never done more than seven. Oh my God. Time stops.

Paul:  Not pleasant, not pleasant. But it's why God invented drugs. Leanna is also afraid that everyone I'll ever meet– she's afraid of being rejected by men and afraid that she's going to be rejected by everyone she'll ever meet.

Gina:  I’m afraid of having to let someone down who's in love with me who I'm not in love with.

Paul:  Leanna is afraid that the anger she has for the people who made fun of her in high school is going to drive her insane for the rest of her life

Gina:  I'm afraid of people getting really angry or loud around me. I don't like volume which is ironic because I'm loud but I like to be ironic.

Paul:  Plus it's rude because it interrupts you from thinking about yourself.

Gina:  Exactly.

Paul:  Mimi writes that she has a fear that she's going to live an ordinary life. And she says, “I fear that I have articulated that fear so many times that I set the reality of it into motion so in effect I fear that I will fulfill the prophecy of my fear because I have inadvertently creatively visualized it.” And of course she says:  “I obsess about it all the time.”

Gina:  I'm afraid that I'm not done gaining weight.  I always think with every pound well 'I've topped off!'

Paul:  I certainly couldn't let myself go anymore than this. I relate to that one. This one comes from Shaun who says “I'm afraid that anyone I haven't heard from in a long time is mad at me for one reason or another. “

Gina:  I'm afraid of taking a recreational substance and never coming down.

Paul:  I am out of fears. So if you've got one more you will be the winner.

Gina:  I have seven more should I just pick one?

Paul:  Let's just blow through all seven.

Gina:  Having more panic attacks, not being important to people, moving to a town where I don't know anybody, wasting my life doing something I wasn't meant to do, no one taking me seriously or not believing in me, and not being able to contain my jealously.

Paul:  Nicely done Gina Grad. I think you are the first person to beat me in the fear off. Congratulations you sick fuck.

Gina:  Thank you it feels good!

Paul:  I wish I had enough money that I could after someone beats me in the fear off,  where I could have a production team of a hundred people come in and make every one of your fears immediately come true. Wouldn't that be awesome?

Gina:  You are so sick. You are such an a-hole, I had no idea.

Paul:  Yeah. I am.  I am. What are some negative thoughts, one of the things that I ask guests on the podcast to talk about are negative thoughts that they have about themselves that constantly fuck with them. The big three that I always like to mention are: I don't have enough, I don't do enough and I'm not enough.

Gina:  I think you just covered it.  I think everyone's examples are just more specific but that's what it all comes down to. That I'm not pretty enough, I'm not smart enough and I'm not selfless enough. And something that I actually learned in therapy that, it seems so common sense which happens so often I think in therapy, but I said I've always been afraid of not being pretty enough and being looked at as a bitch and she goes 'well, you just nailed the two things that play on womens fears more than anything -  that they're not attractive and they're not nice. ' And those have been my two biggest fears for a long time.

Paul:  You said something in the episode of your podcast that I listened to that I thought was really important and I think it's worth repeating.  You were talking about the danger of girls being raised with the belief that they always have to be nice. Can you talk about that?

Gina:  Absolutely. And I know I don't have to preface this, but for my own sanity I'm going to do it anyway:  I am blessed to have the parents that I have, they are my biggest support system and I love them dearly. But contrary to what I always thought they are not actually superheros. They are people and always - 'Be nice, be quiet, be nice, be quiet, go hug that stranger, he's Uncle So-and-so.' Things that don't make you feel like you're in control of your body and in control of yourself.

Paul:  Your space.

Gina:  Absolutely. So one of my biggest problems, and one of my biggest fears as a kid was that I was always going to know the difference between right and wrong immediately but I was not going to be able to say anything. That doesn't come from, at least that I can recall,  a real a traumatic or specific thing.  It's just a lot of instances together of:   'Just shut up and be nice.' And that has held me back I think in a number of ways.  But as I've become older,  I think time either exasperates it or deflates it and I've been lucky enough that it's deflated that. I think that me respecting myself is not a way for me to disrespect you.  And I don't think anyone wants to be abandoned.   'And if you're not nice they're going to leave.'  I think that's a ridiculous fear, I've realized it's exactly the opposite. When you show people that you love yourself they love you more.  It might take a little adjustment period because you've shown them how to treat you and sometimes it's not great. But everyone will get there if you want them to get there. It's been great.

Paul:  When I was growing up and going through puberty and just starting to fool around with girls in my teens and my early twenties – I come from a very Catholic neighborhood and there was this kind of vibe among girls where if you enjoyed sex you were a slut.  So there was this kind of, you had to resist, you had to put up some type of an argument why you couldn't do it.   So you were always used to as a guy that you had to wear the girl down a little bit. Which is so dangerous because then you don’t realize when you are encountering a girl who really doesn't want to but is just being nice.

Gina:  'No means next week.' I'd venture to say that has probably gotten more intensified with generations below ours. I absolutely know how that feels.

Paul:  Can you think of specific examples?

Gina:  I can think of a number of specific examples. Where you just give in because it's about everything except the experience. It's about not being rude, hurting the guys feelings because he just must be made of marshmallows and peeps inside and God forbid he's offended that you're going home instead of staying with him.

Paul:  Have you actually had sex with someone you didn't want to have sex with?

Gina:  Absolutely.

Paul:  What is that like?

Gina:  It sucks. You don't feel a whole lot in that experience. You kind of separate from yourself. It doesn't have to be anything overly traumatic or overly abusive or an after school special, it just feels – you get that ick factor. You just feel bad. You think you're going to gain something from the experience. 'Maybe then he'll see me again, or maybe he'll tell me he loves me.' Or my favourite,    'He'll think I'm cool cause I have sex like guys have sex.' But the only thing you end up doing is hurting yourself. At least that was my experience.

Paul:  It had never even occurred to me until I was, I think I was about twenty years old and I with this girl I was going out with in college and she wasn't ready to do the deal, she was ready to other stuff but I wanted to do the deal.  She just finally got pissed at me.  And I was kind of shocked because it had never occurred to me, that it wasn't that front they put up so they don't appear to be sluts.   I think it's good that the whole 'no means no' campaign but I have to say for my generation there was none of that. No one every said that. I can't imagine how many women must have really gotten fucked up over that and how many guys never realized that somebody has a really icky feeling.   I would imagine that I have left a trail of icky that I don't realize out there. Sometimes it makes me really sad to think about that. There was a girl that I went out with in high school who I objectified. Flat out. She was blond, I wanted to see what a blond girl looked like naked.  I was a misogynist and I wasn't interested in what girls had to say.  And she was the head of her class, smart, funny. But my hormones were so raging and I was such a  - I don't know if an asshole is the right word, but she meant nothing more to me than 'this has got to be better than jerking off.'  And she could see that in me instantly and wanted to break up but waiting till we went to prom together because she didn't have the heart to do it before prom. And when I think back to how awful that must have been for her to be around this pig... I hope that I can connect with her at some point so I can apologize to her because it kind of....

Gina:  It's never left your mind.

Paul:  It's never left my mind. And I wish I could say that it ended then but it really didn't.

Gina:  And not to be, I'm certainly not a psychologist, but the first thing that comes to my mind is that you obviously feel so strongly about that and you feel a lot of guilt and I would probably say go easy on yourself. I had a professor in college that would always say  'you might have made a promise to yourself when you were sixteen years old that you weren't going to do this and that and this but raise your hand, how many of you would truly let a sixteen year old make your decisions as an adult. ' Nobody raised their hand.  They say experience is only there when you don't need it.

Paul:  Thanks. That does make me feel a little better.

Gina:  You weren't a grown up trapped in a sixteen year old body. You didn't have any experience. And now you know. And it sounds like you've parlayed that terrible experience into, I would think just from the vibe I get from you, really being aware of treating other people with a lot of respect.

Paul:  Certainly better than I used to. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly I will make a joke at the expense of somebody else to get attention. That is something that I really don't like about myself.  What are some things that you don't like about yourself?

Gina:  It's funny I was just having a conversation that was similar - every time I do it I just cringe. It is so much easier to say something terrible about someone than to say something nice about someone.    And I don't know what I fear that I'm going to be giving up by giving someone a complement.   But man, it's scary and I don't know why.  I am very sarcastic and that's kind of my thing. I say things and people laugh but I feel terrible. I have a very thin skin and being in a business like this you have to build it up a little bit and I have. But it certainly wasn't because I was born with it, it's because it was armor.  And at the end of the day I just want to treat people the way they would treat me if they weren't having a crazy spell. But that's one of the things. I hate that I still have a problem speaking up when something is right or wrong. I'm just terrified. I put everybody in my life as an authority figure over me. And if you were born a day before me, I think 'I'm going to default to you, you're older, you're wiser, you know. '  I hate that feeling.

Paul:  Wouldn't it be awesome if people's emotional maturity had to advance for them to look older. Cause then you'd see a kid who is like seven, and you're like 'what are you seven?'  He's like,  'No I'm actually sixty-five.'  And you think, oh you poor fuck. You’ve never looked inside yourself. You've never been vulnerable.

Gina:  Exactly. And that's why therapists love me at least as an adult cause they're like 'My God, we speed through these things.' I'm like, well come on, I'm paying you. I'm not going to sit there  anymore and defend myself or my family or my friends or my boyfriends - nobody's judging me, let's just get through it.  And it's exciting to me to be able to find solutions. I'm not afraid anymore.

Paul:  You do strike me as someone who has a very kind of youthful attitude about life. A real zest for wanting to live even if it's inconvenient or painful.

Gina:  I haven't always felt that way but I'm getting there. And I think that the excitement you might see is the fact that It's something I'm just discovering now and it's still kind of new to me. It's exciting.

Paul:  As you begin to drop those things that you've been carrying around your whole life like the burden of always having to be nice....  It's so freeing when you realize – one of the things I feel bad whenever I say something about my mom on this podcast that might show her in not a great light. But I think one of her coping mechanisms of having a husband who was an alcoholic, is  you begin to become manipulative to survive. And so, the typical co-dependent person can be incredibly manipulative because that's where they get their sense of power from.   And my therapist one time was trying to show me how my mom could sometimes be manipulative with her crying to get me to do what she wanted.  And she said “the next time she cries, let her cry.” Don't change to get her to  - I think I was in my twenties and I remember the power that I felt when I told her: “You can keep crying but I don't care.”   And I hung up the phone and I felt, if I hadn't gone through therapy I would have hung up the phone and thought: you're a bad son. You don't love your mom.

Gina:  How dare you.

Paul:  How dare you.  But it was such an empowering thing.  And to this day, it's still a really hard thing for me to do because I don't know, I just want everybody to be happy.

Gina:  Absolutely. I have plenty of experience with that move. Oh my God. That's why I always tell girls 'do not try to manipulate me. I'm not your boyfriend. I've done this a million times. For every one time you've done it, I've done it a thousand.'

Paul:  Can you talk about that a little bit?

Gina:  Sure. I was a real mess when I first started having real boyfriends in college and right out of college because I didn't know how to stay calm. And I didn't know how to have a conversation.   If someone said 'God Gina why can't you pick up your clothes.'   I didn't hear that. I heard: 'You're a bad person. You're a terrible person. And if you don't stop -  I'm probably going to leave anyway but you're going to make it happen faster.'  I would just fall apart.  And I would really regress. I didn't feel like a twenty-five year old crying. I felt like a five year old crying. And it felt and it sounded and it looked like that.  And the he'd go: 'Oh no, no no, I'm sorry. I'm sorry.'  And the cycle would start all over again.

Paul:  And you didn't even realize what you were doing.

Gina:  I figured it out later, but it came from a really real place at the beginning.  But then like a child I'd start noticing – when I start crying, he stops yelling.  He comes and gives me a hug, we watch tv, we laugh and then we keep it out of our mind till it happens the next day.

Paul:  But deep down a resentment builds.

Gina:  Absolutely. And they would have every right, looking back, to resent me for that. It just, I feel like, you know, I always tell my parents  'you are human and you love us and you did the best you could and your best is awesome. But there are a few things that I have to go back and fix and there are a few tools I didn't get along the way at crucial times. I'm just going to go grab those tools and learn how to use them now. I'm an adult, I'm going to take on that responsibility. '   But I'll never forget, this happened a few years ago, there was a person in my life who is a very volatile person. And dealing with them was always like -

Paul:  Donald Trump?

Gina:  Yes.

Paul:  I can't believe I got it on the first try. I can't believe that.

Gina:  I think you're physic. Dealing with them was like walking in a mine field. I never knew when I was going to step on a landmine. And when I did, I mean, it didn't just blow a leg off, it blew everything off. I was called every name in the book.

Paul:  Was this a work relationship?

Gina:  No. This was a personal relationship.  I'll never forget, it happened for a lot of years, and I'll never forget the last time it happened and I was called a cunt and a bitch just out of nowhere, I don't know what triggered it.  But I was crying and crying and crying and it hurt so bad and then I will never forget I heard this voice in my head that said:  'What are you crying for? You should be happy. Because you know in your heart,  that is the last time this is ever going to happen. And it just sort of lifted this weight off me. And it never happened again. And It got close one time,  I thought it was kind of funny actually. But yeah.

Paul:  Back up. How did you know it was the last time?

Gina:  I think I just internally, I think I just experienced enough pain and my subconscious took over and said 'we're done. We're not doing this anymore.'

Paul:  In terms of how you react to that person or in terms of that person treating you that way?

Gina:  Treating me that way.

Paul:  Because you would just extricate yourself from  -

Gina:  Exactly.

Paul:  So you knew you were done with that person.

Gina:  I was done with feeling like the victim.

Paul:  And did that mean you had to sever the relationship with that person?

Gina:  It changed a lot. I definitely have put a lot of space between us.  But if you take out the quantity, the quality has just gone through the roof. I will never forget we were in a situation where, about a year later everything had been fine – nothing had happened, he tried that tantrum stuff again with me and said something awful to me and said something like: 'I hope something terrible does happen to you and nobody's there to help you.'  And where that would generally make me so nervous and make me choke and get shocked and start crying, I looked at him and I just felt this calm, this power over myself and over my own emotions. I don't know if this was an appropriate thing to say but it felt really good at the time... I just kind of looked at him and started laughing and go  'You know what, I bet you do. I bet you do want that to happen to me.'  And he goes 'Well no, of course I don't!' And just took that power back.  I'm like, 'no that's ok.'

Paul:  Wow. How disarming. He probably couldn't hear himself.

Gina:   No he was expecting me to go 'How can you say that to me!' I go: 'I bet you do want to see me get jumped in an alley. 'Well I don't really!' It's ok. Whatever. That was a huge life changing moment for me. Huge. The two that actually come to mind was when a boyfriend who I had loved and loved and loved for years and still do but really really felt so attached to that I didn't know what else to do - he told me he was seeing someone and it was very serious. I hung up the phone,   threw myself on the floor and just wailed for hours. And then again, I get this little Jiminy Cricket in my head saying:  'What are you crying about? He's given you this gift.  Because for all of these years you've gone into every situation, every relationship, every date looking back wondering if he's still there. And you don't have to wonder anymore.  He's not there. You can look forward. You can keep moving.' That really empowered me as well.

Paul:  That's amazing that you were able to have that.

Gina:  I don't know how I did it. I don't know who that voice was but I heard it.

Paul:  I would think that having worked on yourself and gone to therapy and gotten other people's opinions..  There's something that you touched on – the idea of bringing space into a relationship with somebody. I think that's such an important thing.   I didn't realize that was possible until a therapist told me about it and said:  'you don't have to see people as frequently as they want you to see them.'  It never occurred to me that that I could have my own needs and my own desires and that I could say 'You know what, I'm not going to see you for five days in a row, I'm just going to see you for two days because that's just going to work out better for me.'  You don't have to tell them because 'you get on my nerves after forty-eight hours.'

Gina:  Exactly. You don't even have to have an excuse. I was always so jealous of parents who said 'you know, he just needs a lot of time alone. ' Why does he just need a lot of time alone and I'm a bitch? And my parents actually never said that to me but that whole idea of coddling someone and saying:  'well that's just the way they are.' Why can't I just be the way I am?  I'm the one who has to make the excuses, the apologies.  I'm really learning to let that go too.

Paul:  Well Gina I'm so glad you were able to come by and..... chat. I don't know what the right verb is.

Gina:  I'd say we were chatting.

Paul:  I don't think this is an interview because I interject too much of my bullshit.

Gina:  We are dialoguing.

Paul:  Are we dialoguing? Ok. I want to thank you for being so open and honest. I'm going to put a link on the website for this episode so people can go check out your podcast and go to your website.

Gina:  Thank you.

Paul:  One episode in particular I think they should go check out – the one I listened to, what's it called?

Gina:  I believe you listened to sexual reflections day.

Paul:  'Cause my wife told me a little bit about it. And she said it was a really good episode. And so I went, and yeah,  it was quite interesting.

Gina:  And I'll just warn people in general we're very PG, we say we put the PG in the PGP.  But sometimes we just want to go there and talk about some of our old experiences. And some of them are raunchy and ugly but they're real.

Paul: It was real.  The way you handled it and talked about it I thought it was insightful and oddly compassionate for somebody that might have not had compassion.

Gina: Thank you.

Paul: It's been really nice meeting you. Than you so much. If you’re out there and you’re feeling stuck, you're not alone you're really not alone.  There are so many people that feel just like you do. There is hope. So thanks for listening.

Paul: I want to thank Gina Grad for being so generous with her time and opening up.   I want to thank my wife Carla for always giving me great constructive criticism and unending support and patience. I want to thank Steve Greve for helping keeping the website going.  Thank you guys for all your feedback and support, your nice letters and voice mails and all that other stuff.  I would like to go out with a survey respondent. This person's nickname is Redperson Esquire. He's a male in his thirties. He suffers from extreme self-pity and self-obsession.  I'm going to tell you, those are two things that - self-obsession can't help but lead to self pity in my opinion. He is ashamed that he is still a virgin and one of the things he would like to make the show better is to mention help resources where people could find help. I only know of local ones so they wouldn't really be of help. So maybe you guys, if you know of national ones, since like I've said I'm not an expert,  if you want to send me some of those links for help on a national level or some type of organization that has that information, maybe we can put that on the website. Finally, Redperson Esquire to the question of If there is a God what would you say to God, he wrote:  “Sorry for all the masturbation you had to watch. Could have done without viscous jack-asses that litter the earth.”  Thank you Redperson Equire. And thank you guys.

 

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