Episode 66: Michaela Watkins
The bitter divorce between her sexually repressed mother and left-brained mathmetician father who openly complained of his ex-wife’s frigidity left an indelible mark on Michaela’s view of sex, intimacy and relationships. A moment of clarity changed her path when she realized the men she felt close and safe to had no sex appeal, and the men who had sex appeal made her insecure and crazy. Listeners may recognize Michaela from Saturday Night Live, Wanderlust, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The New Adventures of Old Christine and Enlightened. She is also a member of the Groundlings.
Paul: Welcome to episode 66 with my guest Michaela Watkins. I’m Paul Gilmartin. 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. You give us an hour and we’ll give you a hot ladle of awkward and icky. This show is not meant to be a substitute for professional mental mental counseling, it’s not the doctor’s office; it’s more like a waiting room that hopefully doesn’t suck. The website for this show is MentalPod.com. All kinds of stuff there, you can go on a forum, take surveys, you can support the show financially, you can, shop through Amazon and support us that way, all kinds of interesting things there. What did I want to mention? I want to read a survey response to kick things off. This comes from a guy named, um, he calls himself “the self- hater, procrastinator, masturbator” so I like him right away. He’s straight, he’s in his 30’s, was raised in a stable and safe environment. Ever been the victim of sexual abuse? He writes, “No.” “I’ve never been sexually abused.” Deepest, darkest thoughts, not things you would act on but things you’re ashamed of maybe thinking about. He writes: There are currently three things keeping me from committing suicide, my girlfriend, my cat and my debt. So I will sometimes fantasize about my girlfriend and my cat dying in a car accident so and then I can get enough money from the accident to pay off my debt. That way I could end my life without guilt.” Well first of all before I go any further, this has to be the nicest depressed guy I’ve ever met. Most people, the plus side to committing suicide would be that you didn’t have to worry about your debt. But this guy is so nice that he, uh, wants to clean up his debt. God bless him. Most powerful sexual fantasy, he writes, “I fantasize about being in a threesome, but what guy doesn’t?” Would you ever consider telling a partner or close friend your fantasies? He writes: “never, I don’t see how anything good could come out of disclosing these thoughts. Plus my sexual fantasy is just that, fantasy. Nothing I would ever act on.” Um, deepest darkest secrets, he writes “nothing. “ Um, do these secrets and thoughts generate any particular feelings towards yourself? He writes “my thoughts about my girlfriend dying just so I can commit a guilt-free suicide makes me feel like an absolute piece of shit and sends me into a deeper depression which makes me want to commit suicide even more, which I can’t do unless my girlfriend passes away. Are you starting to see the downward spiral?” Any comments or suggestions to make the podcast better? He writes “the main survey page on the website states that I can skip any question on the survey. But when I try to skip one of the questions, it told me that doing so would invalidate this survey. This seems very shady to me.” That made me laugh. That was an over-sight on my part. Um, because as I started sorting through the surveys after they’d been up for a couple of months, you get a lot of people who bail half way through a survey and they’re kind of not that helpful, having a half filled out survey. So to kind of to pair em down, to make them easier to go through I started deleting the half filled out surveys, and I thought, ‘you know, what would really help would be to just not to have to weed through these.’ So that’s why I’ve tacked that thing on there, so sorry for any “shadiness” on my part. I’ve gotten rid of that language on the website; that says you can skip any questions you want. I suppose you could still take it and just write not applicable if you didn’t want to fill it out. Um, but, sorry if that came across a little bit shady. Um, and I wanted to read this email I got from a listener named Heather. And she wrote, “Hey Paul I just listened to your latest podcast and something my therapist once said came into my head as you were talking to Mike Carano about suicide hotlines and support systems. I was telling my therapist at the time, that I thought support groups were bullshit and that people just quit one addiction and get addicted to the meetings. Her response was, “but you can’t die from going to meetings.”
Intro: Everybody I know is bizarrely beautify fucked up in some weird way, I couldn’t stand you in the audition, I couldn’t stand you, yes awful, I was, and I learned I could solve my problems, and said, through violence since I couldn’t communicate, lonely yes, I’m afraid that my gentilia is ugly, that’s hurtful and what was your role in the robbery I mean you never knew what you were going home to, I had a jar that had teeth in it, I was a wreck, other peoples teeth, yeah, ha!
Paul: I’m here with Michaela Watkins, who uhh, I got in contact with you through Jeanee Dembo, she gave me your name although you and I worked together very briefly, one day of shooting for a friend’s short video, film, whatever you want to call it; a piece Alan Keller, a friend of ours had written something and I knew of you as well, but I was so glad that you agreed to come be under the light bulb of integration. Uh you know Michaela from, she was on Saturday Night Live for a couple seasons, you’re a member the Groundlings, one season
Michaela: one season
Paul: You’re a member of the main stage, the main company of Groundlings her in LA, highly, highly respected sketch, improve troupe, is there much improv at Groundlings or is it all sketch?
Michaela: Yeah, no it’s both.
Paul: Ok, I was and looking at your IMDB thing last night, and you’ve been on just about every tv show imaginable. So, that is, am I skipping something, oh you were also Christine
Paul: On New Adventures of Old Christine, pretty big role on that one, you were Lucy?
Michaela: Yeah I was Matt’s girlfriend, her brother’s girlfriend.
Paul: Anything else I’m leaving out? That people might know you from
Michaela: Um, WonderLust, nobody saw it.
Paul: Curb your Enthusiasm
Michaela: New girl, Enlightened, season two
Paul: Um where to begin, you’re from New York.
Michaela: Well I always feel like I need to…Syracuse NY, which is a big difference from New York New York.
Michaela: And then Boston I sort of split my growing up between Syracuse and Boston.
Paul: And you went to BU.
Paul: Studied theater and drama
Paul: Where would be a good place to start with your story? Actually let me ask you first, what made you say yes other than your probably people pleasing sickness. What made you agree to be on the podcast because you weren’t aware of this podcast and Jeanne just sent you an email and said “I think…”
Michaela: I listen to it and then when I listened to it I thought this is a really great thing, I was really impressed.
Paul: Oh thanks
Michaela: That it exists, um sort of like a born out of um, and that most of your guests are comedians, I think that’s interesting, um, so it doesn’t feel precious at all. And um I think I just felt like this, these are the kind of things I talk about. I have a problem with small talk. I can’t do small talk. And I’m really social awkward around small talk and I always thought I was just socially, you know just a social reject, and but then I found out that just can’t do that one part of socializing which is the first part.
Paul: I’m so glad to hear you say that because I you would think someone doing the podcast like this that small talk would not be a problem, but I can’t stand small talk because I feel like there’s an elephant in the room shitting all over everything and no body’s saying anything. You know I’m just dying to say, ‘Hey do you every feel like jumping off a bridge?’ or ’do you feel an emptiness inside your check at night that is going to swallow you?’ But you can‘t say that at a cocktail party
Michaela: I can, yeah I know I just sort of feel, I’ve gotten really good at just cutting to the chase, just getting to the thing I want to talk about, otherwise I’m so bored. I can’t pretend
Paul: Yeah, now are you talking about with friends or with strangers?
Michaela: Yeah both
Paul: so you’ll launch into a fairly deep emotional conversation with a stranger
Michaela: If there’s a window otherwise I find myself like this overcome, well, (cat meowing in background) I have a cat.
Paul: That’s her cat Joe.
Michaela: Sorry that’s my cat Joe. I have another cat that’s radioactive in the basement. She had some iodine therapy for her thyroid. So she’s quarantined; and my other cat is having a wicked hard time with that right now.
Paul: Your Boston just came out
Michaela: Ohh yeah
Paul: Your Boston is showing.
Paul: So if there’s a window you will open up
Michaela: Yeah, if somebody says…
Paul: It would scare me if someone said I’m dying of cancer. Honestly I’d rather talk about the crab dip honestly right now.
Michaela: Yeah exactly there’s that. But if some creates a tiny little window that could be a bigger conversation let’s um talk about that.
Paul: What about your, experience, yourself, makes you kind of relate to the show and think this would be your cup of tea, other than enjoying talking about those things. Let’s talk about your crazy I guess is what I want to say
Michaela: Well let’s just jump in, I sort of wondered if I was a good candidate for this show, but I figure, we’ll see where it goes, you might decide I’m incredibly boring and you don’t want to air this because I’m not addicted to drugs or alcohol, or…
Paul: We have a lot of guest that aren’t addicted to anything.
Michaela: I like them, but I’m not addicted to them.
Paul: And I’m envious. What I kind of look for is somebody that has a part of themselves that they need to hide, or used to, or some part of themselves that they don’t like that they can’t quite reconcile with that, just a strong negative voice in their head.
Michaela: Definitely the later, the strong negative voice, I’m worked so frickin’ hard on myself for definitely the last twelve years so things are getting better, You know, if I were addicted to anything, I read this book called, Facing love addiction, and I’m like, ‘that’s me, that’s me.’ So you know it probably be inter personal relationships that I defiantly something I’ve been working through and have gone through really, really, really, really rough, rough times with and the thing about it is, and this is why I’m really boring guest is because I’m coming out the other side and I’m definitely still working through stuff, still processing stuff, but coming out the other side, like there’s, another side, life gets better. Like, you can improve your life. You can dramatically improve your life.
Paul: I’m so happy that you just said what you just said because I’ve wanted to talk about this topic on my show. And it’s such a, love addiction is such a complicated topic because everybody’s version of what love is completely different and most of us grow up not knowing what really healthy love with boundaries is and we get it confused with neediness. And we just feel, think if we have an intense feeling in our chest that that must be love,
Michaela: Or in your groin
Paul: Or in your groin, is that how it kind of manifests itself for you. Is it…are you a sexual person by nature, more than average
Michaela: I am now, I just wasn’t. I mean, I always was, it just was something sort of um you know I feel like if you take like a snow globe you know, a friend and I were talking about this, and you know how there’s that bubble in it, and no matter where you turn it that bubble is going to find its way to the top. Um, you know you can suppress a lot of things but that bubble is going to come out. And for me it really blew up my life, realizing that I was sort of suppressing the fact that I was a sexual being. I thought that sex was something very separated from me; I almost had to become a different person to have it.
P Wow, why do you think that it is?
Michaela: I come from a mother who is incredibly repressed sexually and a father, who when my parents split and he started dating you know, his sexuality was suddenly in my face and I was between the ages of nine and twelve which are very..
Paul: Those aren’t formative years.
Michaela: Not formative at all. You’re questioning yourself and your life and everything and so I think I split off from something. I mean, my father would call my mother frigid..
Paul: In front of you?
Michaela: Yeah, it was an ugly, ugly divorce, and I’m only recently realizing the gravity of how traumatizing divorce is. Like I wasn’t molested and so I always thought, well if you can skirt molestation you’ve had a good child hood. And I wasn’t beaten so I’ve had by all, you know, normal marks a great child hood. When I went to drama school and everybody was crying about these things that happened in their lives, I don’t have, I wasn’t beaten or molested. So um I guess I can’t be an actress.
Paul: And that, one of things that I hope to accomplish with this podcast is for people to, who listen who haven’t been beaten or molested, to understand that it, you can feel an emptiness inside you that a feeling that something is missing in your life and that doesn’t make you a baby for wanting to seek that out and try to better yourself and having compassion for yourself. Because often times it’s just an emotional need was not being met as a child, something was being suppressed.
Michaela: That’s what I’m saying I’m only now realizing , Jesus, thirteen years of therapy, had a big break out yesterday, about just about, um I’m doing this cool thing called EMDR. Do you know what that is?
Paul: Oh electro magnetic resonance, or something else?
Michaela: You’re saying words that could be EMDR, but I think it’s eye movement something redirection
Paul: Oh yeah yeah,
Michaela: Its where you…
Paul: Jeff Lang sang back up.
Michaela: I think you try to re-pattern your brain so you don’t have the same triggers.
Michaela: And it’s great if you have PTSD or traumatized in some way or low self-esteem. It’s good for that.
Paul: They give you a smaller headset for that though
Michaela: They do it with tapping. She’s, I have this incredible woman but she you know she just tapped into something yesterday that was so. I’m so afraid to cry. I’m just crying so hard.
Paul: Does it feel good
Michaela: For the last 24 hours I’ve felt amazing. Basically that I wasn’t getting my needs met as an eight year old, a nine year old, and I didn’t know how to ask for them, because no eight or nine year old knows how to ask for these things.
Paul: They don’t know what normal needs are.
Michaela: Yeah and my parents got divorced in the late seventies, no one was getting divorced in our town at that point. They were the only ones I knew so there was no handbook. So they thought it was totally cool to scream at each other and fight over candlesticks on the front lawn with all the neighbors watching.
Paul: Put on your earth shoes and leave.
Michaela: It was something where I had to split off a part of myself to really protect myself and really if anybody asked, well my parents would be like, “I understand that these things are supposed to be hard for a kid.” So I guess I should ask you, “Are you okay?” and so it just felt like a badge of honor. “I’m fine, I’m glad you guys are getting divorced.”
Paul: It’s such a passive aggressive way to go about it. To so I understand you know, it’s like, you don’t really want to do this, but I need to make this effort because that’s what I’m told.
Michaela: Yeah, yeah, and I always had low self-esteem I think. I know I did. And the one thing that I could cultivate was the sense of humor, so sense of humor and sexuality didn’t really seem to hold hands with each other. I just felt like I had to shut down one to do the other. I had to like not be pretty if I was going to be a goof ball.
Paul: You know it’s funny you mention that because I think that’s something particular to females not so much as for males, because males seem to be, uh, females seem to be more accepting of a goofy male or a male with a sense of humor much more than the other way around.
Paul: Can you talk about that some more?
Michaela: Well I mean, like you wouldn’t see Joan on Madmen going like ‘bleh bleh bleh, I’m Joan’
Paul: Look at my big beefy two titties.
Michaela: Weee weee weee, gotta get me some of that Joan. It was one of those things like getting intimate with a guy, funny voices, funny voices, and then you have to become somebody else. I have breasts and a vagina.
Paul: You actually had a news conference when you revealed you had breasts and a vagina. Which I thought was really formal.
Michaela: I hope everyone is paying a attention, I have a breast and a vagina.
Paul: So, at what, what would be the best way to kind of navigate talking about your childhood? Since you and I don’t really know each other, it’s always a little, I want to tread carefully, to make sure I don’t miss something but I also don’t want to put words in your mouth or just some seminal moments from childhood that stick out other than divorce?
Michaela: There was one moment that happened as a kid that I really, it was more than I could take and I really, it was more than I could take and I totally cut off relate my relationship with my dad, but I don't think he'll ever listen to this because this is sort of outside of his realm. He's a mathematician. So he wouldn't.
Paul: that's the great thing about podcasting. All of us with complicated relationships with parents, we can talk about the ugly. I'm banking on the fact that my mother will never learn how to listen to a podcast, but if does, so what.
Michaela: No my mom will find it because she's totally enmeshed with me. If she wasn't my mother, she'd be a stalker. She Google's me all the time.
Paul: That's a t-shirt we have to have made up. That’s a t-shirt we have to have made up: 'If my mother wasn't my mother she would be a stalker'. I never told her I did this Funny or Die video called Tight which is a parity of Hung.
Paul: it was really funny I saw it and it was written by
Michaela: Diablo Cody, Jill Soloway and I are, we all collaborated on it but it was, Diablo birthed the idea. And my mother, like I never told her and she wrote me like this epic email. It was my mother had her legs spread and had all these guys on her.
Paul: So she was hurt so she felt violated.
Michaela: I mean I think the words she used were, “You’ve ruined your career.”
Paul: Does she not understand comedy?
Michaela: You known she should, she’s definitely inspired it. She doesn't understand, no. She saw that show called Master Class then called and said, “You gotta have a look.” She called me one time in college and goes, “you know about that the casting couch?” I said well in theory yeah I know about the casting couch. She said, “it’s men now, men are on the casting couch.” She calls me with breaking news. When I went to college she wanted, she’s just so, she’s caught up in her. She’s very overly concerned about what other people think. And we never ever talked about sex. I said the word masturbate to her recently she just she just made a face and said, “Horrible, horrible word, why do you know that word? But she, when I went to college she had to talk with me, about AIDS I think. I was doing laundry and I was caring laundry from the main floor upstairs and she was going down to the basement from the main floor so we’re on two different staircases and she yells up,” you know about AIDS?” And I said, no no I'm totally screwing up this story. It's funnier if I told it this way which is the truth of how it went down. “You know about the pill?” I had been on it for two months at that point. I said, “yeah.” She goes “it takes a year to work.” Then she goes “don’t pregnant don’t get AIDS.” End talk.
Paul: Wow, wow
Michaela: I always wanted one of those mom, like hippie moms that you can talk about anything with, over a joint.
Paul: But do those people grow up to be funny, to have comedy careers? I’m tempted to say no.
Michaela: Yeah I don’t know.
Paul: But it does seem to like it would be a great tradeoff. I would almost rather have a 9-to-5 job and like a big parent who when their name comes up on my phone I don't feel dread. That would be, you never know because that is your normal you don’t have anything to compare it to. So the moment,
Michaela: So my dad on the other hand started dating a lot. He had this one girlfriend, my mother is very uneasy, he had visitation so I had to go to his house and what not. And just one night I could hear them, and I was like ten and it was loud. I was really I was so, I just woke up and I just was bawling and I just wanted to throw up and I just didn't, whatever it was I didn't want to be around him anymore and I could never tell him and unto this day I can't and he never, there’s this window that I stop talking him from when I was from fourteen to eighteen. And he, to this day doesn't understand why.
Paul: If you're if you know your kid is within ear shot…
Michaela: Right it felt aggressive.
Paul: It it it is and here’s the point that I want to make about why if you haven’t been fucked by a parent or molested or had the shit beaten out you. You think that you don't have a reason to feel compassion for your, your pain here’s why you would be wrong in thinking that because the message that are sent by all three or four those things is your feelings don't matter. Him doing that no one could you can probably hear it and would be fucking creeped out. He has to know, doesn't he? That that that sends a message that..
Michaela: And my sister one time we are living, we had gone to France. That’s why it started at fourteen after this year, my sister had mentioned to me once when this same woman came to visit. She says “yeah you can hear them right?” “You too?” I'm so relieved and she said something to me because I was sitting on this, what felt like what it must feel like to be molested because I just was like this dark horrible thing I'm so shamed of and I can never tell anybody but I didn't want to be around that person anymore and but yet it depended on and loved him, it was so I just felt like, he was trying to show me this is what marriage is, what a happy marriage looks like. Even though he wasn’t married but you know this is what this is what you parents should like. And because he was my dad and it was the time you know when you're being told to be careful of strangers, don’t get in anyone’s car, anybody could molest you even your uncle who everybody loves could molest you that when my father sort of showed himself like a sexual being all of a sudden then I shut that side of myself down. And I started to hunch and hide as I was getting boobs and I would hide them by hunching over and I didn't really got there later that year but hit but either way you know, my mosquito bites, I was very sensitive about them and and I just never wanted him to look at me I would wear in summer really baggy clothes so that I never looked womanly I think I just really shut down my femininity and my sexuality.
Paul: Did you feel like there was part of your father that was, not sexually interested in you but was, we’ve used this phrase on the podcast before, “drinking you in with his eyes?”
Michaela: Not necessarily maybe I felt that way or I felt like there was the fear, I had the fear that I could feel that way. I think it was more of a fear. I had a friend, who was so developed when she would come over and and she’d kind of flirt with my dad a little bit and it just made me so uncomfortable.
Paul: How could it not? And would your dad flirt back?
Michaela: Not really no, no. But my dad is like, he’s got, I don’t want to defend him, I don't really know he was thinking and I think I'm worried that I'm sort of putting what he was doing because I had to have it make sense for me so I'm not sure how true this is but I will say, that my dad is, this part is true because my dad is a real, he's hundred percent left brain. He is just like very, not 100%, he is very mathematical and inquisitive and borderline Aspergy. So he doesn't, he’s the kind of guy who would pick me up at a friends’ house and say to the mother, “Hi, oh boy, you’ve put on weight.”
Paul: oh okay
Michaela: Yeah and not understand that you can't do that.
Paul: So he doesn't understand the delicacies of boundaries, right social niceties.
Michaela: Well that’s what he thinks is social nicety, to be honest. The right way to be, he’d say “why should I, you know like I don't go in for platitudes.”
Paul: The other thing that strikes me about what you said is the abruptness of it I think is probably also had to hurt because like if you were raised in that hippy family where you saw the parents being affectionate with each other and you know there was a comfort with the body and it wasn't a big deal in there and one parent you didn't have the one parent who was uptight so wasn't a big deal if you happen to hear your parents on one night you’d be like I’d care not to hear that but it wouldn't be jarring and it wouldn’t be a damaging but to me it seems like because it came out of this vacuum, it had this weight to it that must've felt..
Michaela: and it was so much animosity between the two of them that it did feel little like “see there's life after mother.”
Paul: And in a way, it’s almost like him bringing you into the bedroom to watch it in a way but just with your ears. Yeah so yeah I think that makes sense to me I don't think that's making too big of a deal of it and ultimately we have to deal with those feelings no matter what the truth is whether we're blowing it out of proportion or not or we’re still gonna have to work our way through those feelings and to just ignore it and say you're making too big a deal of it I think is never a good idea. I think that feeling should at least be explored and maybe you come out the other side and say ”oh I was hypersensitive or this or that” but you don't get to you never did find out if you just lock that door and push them away.
Michaela: It’s just sad that happened because I think that we probably would've always had somewhat of a strained relationship because my dad is just naturally more difficult to relate. I will say now he’s really evolved into a very emotionally open person which is crazy. I’ve started noticing in the last few years, he’s just gotten older and I think he stopped playing oboe which is a super anal-retentive instrument and start playing the trombone I feel like it's really affected his disposition.
Michaela: Yeah it now and he's got older and I think he's looking at mortality and I think he's starting to understand things a little bit better he's still awkward but but it's just sad that that happened because what my dad doesn't really understand is that triggered the whole series of think fallout that lasted years which is, you know I stopped talking to him and I, but I still wanted a dad and it was hard to…
Paul: Because you felt creepy when you're around him.
Michaela: I felt a little creepy around him and then when I was you know older I didn't depend on him, I still had trained my brain to feel creepy around him even though there was no reason to feel creepy around him. And then, I remember my dad said to me “you need to talk to me because if you don't this is gonna be problematic for you later.” And I was like “Fuck you and then I just spent you know my 20s and 30s trying to get men who were unavailable in way or another to love me.
Paul: Which is love addiction, right?
Paul: Because it's a bigger hit, it's a bigger catch if you can turn that person I can get their attention you know that's that's the ultimate prize anybody can get somebody who's willing and available but if I can get this person was unavailable to open up then I am special and I am extraordinary.
Michaela: and then once, I was like serial monogamous was always in these long relationships which probably doesn't sound like love addiction but it was like always in a long relationship that where would stay on you know long past their expiration date and because I felt like who am I to walk away from from this and then if they walked away from me, I’m sure it was all ego but I just felt so abandoned just felt so so sad about it, not every time but now couple times.
Paul: What would the relationships look like the long-term ones, was there like a possessiveness or neediness on your part or jealousy?
Michaela: It would be, you the problem is that they would be, this is going to sound so stupid right now but I I just like a cool girl and so I would end up in relationships because I wouldn't be jealous I wouldn't be possessive I wouldn't be any these things and it but yet I was really fun to hang out with if I say so myself. I was really jokey, kind of tom-boyish, like to smoke pot and play Sega.
Paul: So you were sort of a guys’ girl?
Michaela: I was a guys’ girl and I think eventually..
Paul: Were you doing that because there came organically to you? Or that's what you thought they wanted you to be?
Michaela: both and. It came organically but then I would get like needy some point and then that would probably be a turn off so I would suppress that out and then I said they were attracted to me because I was so frickin’ hot they couldn't stand it and had to have me. So the sexuality was something that you know it was there in the beginning and quickly it would go away and I just wanted someone to just, like I just wanted to cut them open and wear them like a skin suit. It was just like if I really loved them love them I couldn't get into them enough, you know. But yet I somehow, it was a lot of work because I had to somehow had to maintain this notion that I wasn’t jealous…
Paul: It sounds to me like you wanted emotional intimacy.
Michaela: I did, I really did. I didn't know how to get it I did not I didn't know how to seek it I didn't..
Paul: We don't know what it looks like you know I think that thirst is innate and genetic in us we don't know what it looks like it because we don't have, our parents weren’t models for it and we certainly don't know how to ask for it.
Michaela: Yeah yeah and then and then this is so horrible but like if it turned on me if that's what they wanted from me I would push them away so hard just like ohh, yuk…
Paul: Talk about that that's that that's the one that really baffles me why when somebody gives us what we want why the luster wears off it.
Michaela: It feels just so ugly all of a sudden it feels like it's just that I mean nothing that you can really if you continue to work on yourself you can come out on the other side because now I'm with somebody who demands that from me and fuck, I love him so much. You know it's like I always felt that before that men would really be in one of two categories you know that they would either be just drive me mental you know that I just wouldn't give you a crack to do just dole out a little bit of intimacy enough to keep me coming back for more but not really give himself over or it would be someone who was just like a brother you know you don’t even want to touch. But you have a great time with you like get along great tell them everything about yourself you’re two kids in clubhouse you know each other secrets but you don't want to touch each other in the privates.
Paul: You know what I think is that, that is what emotional intimacy is but when we hate ourselves we can't love somebody back who gives us that intimacy because we automatically reject it comes in and it hits that self-hatred layer around our heart and bounces off.
Michaela: Oh it's so true that we project what we feel about ourselves onto the other person and if we're feeling good we think they're great and if we can… just like recently I just was feeling very uncreative and sort of sad about that and feeling kind a like the fears, right, like, have I peaked have I this have I that, am I done? And I'm for the first time in my life with somebody who isn’t a creative person by trade you know he's creative but he’s not a writer, actor, comedian or anything.
Paul: Can I say what he does?
Michaela: Sure, do you know what he does?
Paul: Yeah, because I researched you on the Internet your mom was sitting right next to me. She told me all the pages to go to. He works for an organization that monitors the genocide going on around the globe.
Michaela: Wow you did do your research.
Paul: JWW yeah yeah yeah and it stands for Jewish World Watch.
Michaela: It was founded by these old Jews basically who were like, ‘Holocaust is bad everywhere not just for Jews but for everybody.’
Paul: I love that so much because so often certain ethnicities become so wrapped up solely in what their pain in their history is that it is happening somewhere else and that something can be done about that and that I find that so moving when I see people actively putting in their money where their mouth is, walking the walk.
Michaela: Yeah you know and they they're focused in Congo and obviously there's so much brutality happening but they’re.. it’s a good thing. He does a good thing, but know we were in the car looking, we’re engaged so we’re looking for wedding venues and I'm just had this moment the first moment, we've been together almost two years and just like oh my God he's not funny. We’re not doing bits in the car, I'm not doing funny voices and bits, I’m not generating new characters. This is what’s going to happen, I'm just gonna be going to like fund-raising dinners in my life.
Paul: He's gonna snuff my light out.
Paul: Yeah that’s it. Oh fuck, what have I done? It’s just because I wasn’t.. I’m never going to be bored with this man. He is so interesting to me and continues to like expand me and scratch me in ways that I'm not comfortable with. Um but he but he we don't do bits, but that’s on me, I have to find that for myself
Paul: Yeah friends can provide you that.
Michaela: Yeah and I used to obsess about men who had, you know, I’d always go for the shiniest bulb in the room, I’d always look for that person and it doesn't mean that they had to be you know they had have something that I thought was spectacular and it was really always me.. my friend, Jill Solloway, who I just think it's just a genius
Paul: I love Jill.
Michaela: You get so smart and she just says like you know I was really obsessed over this guy and she just says,” go find out what you like about him and go get it for yourself, do you like that he's really articulate and he reads a lot of books, start reading books.” And I did and I realize I didn't get kind of dulled that need to go consume that person.
Paul: That's funny because my wife has this saying that, she sees some young woman with like a, some guy that just seems inappropriate sure she will, say: “women fuck what they want to be.”
Michaela: she's smart. She's right she's right you know and and I had been in this really stormy relationship …. he just, I didn't trust him you know because as Jill Soloway very poignantly pointed out, “you want the person you’re with to be the most interesting person you’ve ever met on an airplane, not most interesting person everybody's ever met on an airplane.” I did meet him on an airplane.
Paul: Well he sounds like he has the ingredient that is essential for emotional intimacy which is compassion. I think we can't let somebody else's compassion at least our intimate partner we can't let their compassion sink into us until we have compassion for self and we can have compassion for ourselves until we work our issues out with an objective person.
Michaela: Yeah this person I’m with, it's tough because he's a mirror. And it shows me what, I’m …it was easy to point things, be with people who were broken in all these ways and it would take all the spot light off of me and all my short comings. So now you know I look at him, like, you’re so well adjusted, Jesus Christ. All right fine I’m overreacting right now, but we had a bet for a month that if I over reacted to something, like that if my reaction to something wasn't proportionate to what was actually happening that I’d make him dinner naked. Just the thought of cooking naked sounds yukky. So it was enough for me to be like..
Paul: And did you win?
Michaela: I did win. But I have to say, it was nice too because that is a loving thing to do, to cook somebody dinner naked, so either way it was ok. So it was a fun game, it wasn't, it didn't feel like I was going to pull out your butt hairs with a tweezer one at a time, it’s not torture.
Paul: Were there any other seminal moments in your life that you wanted to talk about?
Michaela: That I want to talk about?
Paul: Or that would be good for the podcast talk to about?
Michaela: I can tell you that there was a moment that I'd lost, um, there was a point where I thought I literally had ruined my life. I’d been in this long relationship for really long time and I didn't, that’s what I’m talking about when that bubble will find its way to the top and I I realize that I was a sexual being and that I couldn't be that in that relationship, I didn’t know how to take that leap and I'm not saying…
Paul: Because it had kind of taken on the brother sister vibe?
Michaela: Yeah, so much so that…
Paul: Eere you not turned on to him or he not turned on to you or both?
Michaela: I don't know, I think, I just was, it wasn't that I wasn’t turned on by him I just didn't know, I couldn't get there, I could see, we would, it’s not that we would never be intimate I could see it I just didn’t know how to get there. I could see how we could be, I could imagine it in my head, oh we could have this kind of relationship that it was too painful to walk, too painful to expose myself enough and be that vulnerable to get there and I chose, well I'm just gonna, I'm gonna pull the cord and I'm going to like Jetpack out of this thing.
Paul: And did you?
Michaela: And I did. And at the same time, like very best friend from childhood died. She had cancer and she died and I felt like the person who knew me the longest and knew me the best were gone and I, the empty, I mean I wasn't suicidal but I felt like if a boulder fell on my house and spared my cats like, that's fine. I wasn’t going to do it, I just didn’t see any reason to..
Paul: I know that feeling so well. You wake up and you’re kind of like, yuk, another day, another fucking day.
Michaela: waking up was like, you wake up with that thing of like, ‘the day’, oh I just remembered who I am, ‘oh my God, I can’t live.’ I don’t, and just cry, cry myself to sleep every night and cry myself awake every morning is just, it is seemed interminable.
Paul: It must of been incredibly painful, to go through that with losing your friend at the same time.
Michaela: This is the same time, but it wasn’t just that he had moved on, you know and I pushed away I pushed him away. He wanted to work on and I had pushed like a real jerk away and and so he had moved on started dating somebody else and in my mind they had the most amazing relationship.
Paul: Of course.
Michaela: It was phenomenal and I just was like, I've ruined my life I've ruined it, of course he should be with her because I'm despicable I'm horrible awful awful person and I deserve it and I’m 35’
Paul: And I’m never gonna find somebody else.
Michaela: Yeah yeah I'm never, my choices are not that I’m going to be with some jackass who doesn't love me and know me, doesn’t appreciate me and…
Paul: You’ve gone to the back of the line.
Michaela: Yeah, or I’m that lady, the lady with the cats in Echo Park, just like not eccentric, not charming anymore but she’s just old. I’m painting a really beautiful picture.
Paul: Yeah, watching her stories and wearing out vibrators. I want to go back to the thing where you felt like you couldn't get there, um with this guy because you didn't, is it that you wanted something in the sexual realm emotionally from him you didn't know how to ask for it? Is it, that it felt weird when you're with him I just act I don't really understand what that block was.
Michaela: Well I should say, I wasn't crazy because now he and I are very best of friends so I knew that he was my best friend I wasn't wrong about that but we, I think we fulfilled something for each other which was the both had sort of our own version of the hole that you're trying to fill and we took care of each other we are very affectionate and very sweet to each other but I couldn't you know I just couldn't become a lady I couldn't become a girl, I couldn’t become a woman with him, felt like I only knew how to be a kid on the playground with him I didn't know how to become a woman without it just feeling so stupid.
Paul: I see you you didn’t know how to reconcile the two halves of yourself with this guy, cuz you could be the funny silly hanging buddy. But you didn't know how to be…
Michaela: Yeah and then we went to counseling, and you know talked about all the things that we would like to become with each other but we just couldn't and that was that was great because then we could finally part ways with an understanding that we just were going to do that for each.
Paul: That’s amazing that you did that amicably.
Michaela: It wasn't amicably at first and I I was like filling the hole with, literally figuratively with him with someone else who was like made me feel like a woman but maybe feel like a woman circa 1952.
Paul: I was gonna say, if the sex was good he to be treating you badly. I don't know why that is, why when there is some type of shame or other emotion, some type of accessory emotion attached that is negative attached to the sex why it is it the turbo for the orgasm but it seems to be and that is one of the universe’s crueler tricks.
Michaela: Yeah but you know to his credit like it did make me go you know what, I can't go back and I'm a woman who likes to have sex.
Paul: So you're your sexuality was kind of dormant before before that with everybody but this guy kind of opened something up in you.
Michaela: Yeah he did, where it was just sort of like this is part of who I am this is an something I could become this isn't like a costume I have to put on you know. This is, I am into it.
Paul: Was it that you were less silly around him or you just happen to be you know, womanly and it just worked out?
Michaela: I think because I was so raw emotionally at that time, that I just didn't and didn't have the energy to hide behind any kind of façade and and it was a high for sure. I mean I felt like I was on drugs I felt crazy I felt, the way I was with this person I've felt like I would say to my friends, “I now know what it feels like to be a crazy person.” I know I'm acting crazy I was manic I was talking really fast all the time drinking and drinking and drinking my talking and crying and I couldn’t, I mean I couldn't go to the store and buy milk I couldn’t do normal everyday things I only yeah I only knew how to be just I'm on the high or on the low.
Paul: Depending on where where he was and how he was treating you.
Michaela: Yes and usually where he was and how is treating me with dependent on whether I have given over to the relationship or not as soon as I decided like this is fucked up but I'm in, he was gone.
Paul: So he could not be with somebody who was available.
Michaela: Right. And as soon I was protective then I was really am pursued.
Paul: Yeah that is such a common dynamic in relationships that hide and go seek, it's like the two people never meet in the middle of the field it's always I’m not going to look for you.
Michaela: And it was a roller coaster and I was really every every area of my life is suffering, every area, financially, career wise, actually the career was kind of going up and down but I just felt like physically…
Paul: You feel you feel literally as sometimes hung-over as you are after drinking sometimes, if you've been through the ringer like you, with a romance. I remember when I was much younger a girl breaking up with me and being in the fetal position.
Michaela: You know it just oh my God, the tears and that's when, well a couple things, one I am signed up for Outward Bound with. You know what Outward Bound is?
Paul: I do.
Michaela: So I signed up for a 30 and over, and I just was like I have to, something has to change because I'm a love junkie, I am a sex junkie, I don’t know what I am junkie. I’m just not a functioning human and I went and it was unbelievable.
Paul: Were you an outdoorsy type before?
Michaela: I am, but I hadn’t done much.
Paul: Outward Bound is hard-core.
Michaela: It is hard-core but I hadn't I hadn't been doing a bunch of that or anything.
Paul: Describe for the listener what Outward Bound is.
Michaela: Outward Bound is about you know, depending on your program,10 days or so in nature, either like on a sailboat, or in the mountains or in rock-climbing or something where you're just dependent on each other and on the land. You learn how to survive basically in the wild and I did one in Yosemite and it was the biggest turning point of my life it was I would say you know a moment of divine intervention.
Paul: Yeah, really?
Michaela: Yeah. Something really profound happened to me out in the woods. And one of things I learned is that for me I was never a spiritual person before, but the concept of God really eluded me. And I feel like I touched it and feel that God for me is nature. And that whenever I feel disconnected it means I have to get back closer to nature. That for me is where I connect to myself the most. Um, and then if you believe that God is an energy force and it’s in all of us you might think, for me that’s like my church where I need to be to connect with the God force that’s in me and around me.
Paul: That makes total sense to me. And I experience the same thing like once a year I have to get up in the mountains; I can feel it in my body. I need that. How can you not humble when you’re in Yosemite. There’s no way to not be humble.
Michaela: I was just broken down. The people I was with, it was a perfect mix to really understand myself. Because there was this woman who was one of the leaders and she reminded me of my step-mother who was a challenging relationship for me.
Paul: She was loud when she came?
Michaela: She wasn’t the one but yeah she might be. I think my dad’s into that. But she just reminded me of her so it was a weird way to work out, that relationship while I was there and there was just other people who posed challenges for me and I just, but I didn’t know them. So it was an interesting way to sort of, you know instead of being petty. ‘I got the fucking water yesterday, you’re not going to get the water, you’re going to laze around and write in your journal, you’re not going to get water, we need water, we all need water?’
Paul: So what would you do? Would you confront them or get the water yourself.
Michaela: No I would get it myself and then I‘d realize I would do it because I can. For whatever reason they’re not able because they have their own thing, but I can so I’m going to. And not resent them for it. And that was something that I’d definitely taken with me. But there was this, the real moment, we did a solo where you’re by yourself and at that point you’ve learned, you fast so you don’t eat, so you’re weak, they just break you down, they take your knife, they take your watch you, you have no idea what time it is and you’re just out there suspended in the wild and I just…
Paul: For how long by yourself?
Michaela: For 24 hours. Which doesn't sound like a lot but it just feels like forever and especially when you're afraid of the dark and afraid of being alone and..
Paul: And what kind of cell phone reception are you getting up there?
Michaela: Just four bars. So but yeah hard, hard to download movies.
Paul: and for some reason you're very unimaginative if you watched Into the Wild.
Michaela: Yeah I watch that and Deliverance. Um, but I just reached this level of acceptance that I can't bring my friend back that I can't get my ex-boyfriend back, that he’s with somebody else and that's just the way it is and that I need to you know, accept, accept accept; accept was like the banner word like accept everything, you don’t like it, just accept it.
Paul: You don’t have to approve it.
Michaela: Yeah but you have to accept so that you can move on because I just was bumping up against everything that I wasn't accepting everything was just this wall and when I just felt like accept I came back and felt my world open. I felt everything all the tensions all the aggravation all the jealousy all the all the things I couldn’t control everything just fall away and none of it mattered and I could be was present and be connected to the people I was with, and have conversations, I could feel them I could feel their energy I could feel everybody's energy, I sound like one of those crackpots, like Laura Durn does an exceptional job as this woman Amy on the show Enlightened who like comes back comes back from one of these things and walks into her corporate office like ‘hey guys we’re all one. And I was that person, and just as clumsy about it too and but I have to say like within two months I got my dream job and I went to SNL and I got another shot at my ex-boyfriend and that's when we sort of went through the paces and realized we were not going to be that but I got another chance you discover that you know like I said we’re best friends but I, I just said “acceptance” and I keep forgetting it and I keep getting away from it, and then I remember it.
Paul: I think that it's a lifetime journey of remembering that and trying to sort things almost like triage what we have control over what don't we have control over and the things we don't control over accepting them not necessarily approving of them but accepting them that that is the path to sanity I found. Um but what a beautiful, beautiful story, out there picturing you just out there by yourself going through that ,facing yourself, facing your demons and having the universe kind of reach out and sounds cheesy but hold your hand.
59:19Michaela: It does, it meets you. That's what was so weird but you have to leap and you have to and I was so afraid of leaping and I'm still I still come up against it all the time and I'm holding on like white knuckling like holding the ridge of life all the time, I’m like “’just jump, just fucking jump and I can't I'm so scared I have all these fears and it's just every time I've, I've leapt I've been met and I don't know why I refuse to leap.
Paul: I don't either, I experience the same thing but what a great segue into our fear list. Would you like to start or would you like me to start?
Michaela: Why don’t you start?
Paul: I'm afraid that I will never feel pure joy again.
Michaela: Oh you won’t, no.
Paul: What do you know? Who have you talked to?
Michaela: I’ve got a… You feel like you’ll never feel pure joy again? God that’s a horrible fear.
Paul: It is. That’s one of the things that sucks about having depression, is when the depression sets and you are convinced you're never gonna get out of it again and you may start to slowly rise and then it kind of goes back sometimes it's your meds that you need to just sometimes it your spirituality you need to work out sometimes you need to exercise more or change your diet but you never know which one it is and sometimes it's just fucking tiring. But that’s a fear.
Michaela: I fear that I have..
Paul: And yours don’t to have to relate to mine and we are we don't have to we don't usually comment on them unless you feel like you need to. We just go back and forth.
Michaela: Okay then I'll just have to start. That there is a lurking tumor.
Paul: I'm afraid I'm wasting my time in therapy.
Michaela: Watching my house burn down with my cats inside.
Paul: I'm afraid my hope of me becoming more disciplined and getting in better shape is a lie and allusion I keep telling myself so I can put it off forever.
Michaela: That I’ll be... let’s see, I wrote this one down off the top of my head… that'll be doing a love scene and fart a really deadly fart that disgusts my scene partner to know end and I won’t be able to recover because he’ll be so disgusted by me and my name and everything I ever represent to him in the history of ever.
Paul: That is one of the best ones I've ever heard. That is, if we do a like a top 50 list of fears that is definitely getting in there.
Paul: I'm afraid I will never be organized enough and will die in a dusty shack that makes people shake their heads and in disgust.
Michaela: You wouldn’t be alone; there's a lot of people that would be with you. That there are rumors about me that I don't know and I can't defend and that those rumors cost me work and friends.
Paul: I'm afraid I have a health problem but haven't identified it yet and I won't until it's too late.
Michaela: That my fiancé will wake up one day and just be done with me.
Paul: I'm afraid one or both my dogs are going to get loose and never be found.
Michaela: That I’ll drive away my fiancé and everyone I love because I become a bitter person.
Paul: I'm afraid very few of my peers ever think of me.
Michaela: That I stop laughing and I have a colostomy bag. I’m not sure why these go together, but I don’t laugh and I have a colostomy bag, like it’s not bad enough you don't laugh but I also have a colostomy bag in this scenario.
Paul: I'm afraid that I will have to work until the day I die.
Michaela: That women's rights will fall away and it will become like the handmaid’s tale.
Michaela: So Robert Duval is going to star it? He was in yet it wasn’t he?
Michaela: Yes he was. Who was that green eyed Irishman?
Michaela: Richardson, no Natasha, what’s her name?
Paul: Richardson, yeah Richardson.
Michaela: Was it Natasha or Miranda? I always get them confused.
Paul: I think it was Natasha.
Michaela: And then the gorgeous Irish guy.
Paul: Liam Neeson?
Michaela: No, a different gorgeous Irish guy. It will come to me.
Paul: Is it you or is it me?
Michaela: Oh yes I think it's you.
Paul: I'm afraid I will never again be the top downloaded self-help podcast on iTunes.
Michaela: You’re top dog?
Paul: I was. And this last week I got I got bumped down and it just sent me to a funk.
Michaela: Oh really, now it’s like… Mental Illness not So Happy Hour.
Paul: But I know it's just that it's just a number and it doesn't…
Paul: It doesn’t ultimately matter until I get back to number one. And then it matters.
Michaela: Exactly. It’s almost better you’re number two and because now you can strive and you know you know how to like want things.
Paul: Yeah, that’s not working.
Michaela: But trying to stay on top takes a lot of effort.
Paul: The thing that I liked about being in the top spot was it shows…when I do get up the energy to market the show it's it, it's a nice thing to be able to say. I was getting ready to do press release and well now I can’t send it out because I’m not the top downloaded thing. So maybe I’ll wait until, if, I inch back up. Sorry to make that all about the the…
Michaela: Which you will, most likely will, very likely will. It’s a great podcast. I’m not saying that to make you feel better about, I'm sort of saying it to make you feel better, I wouldn’t have said it if you hadn’t told me that you had of fallen.
Paul: I debated whether or not to say that one. One of the things I want this show to be is you say the stuff that even makes you cringe as it comes out. Because you know they're gonna be people that are going to hear that and go: ‘oh he’s trying to tell people that he's number one podcast but he’s just making it seem like…’ and I know there’s going to be people who think, that but fuck it. I wanted to say that anyway because it’s a fear of mine.
Michaela: It’s a fear. It’s hard. Somebody said you know your evolution, sorry what you do is your evolution. What others think about you is their revolution, evolution. Revolution, what am I trying to say? I’m drunk. Is their evolution, meaning, it’s not your problem. But I mean I get it. It’s your podcast. I don't know. I mean I I was let go from SNL after one year.
Paul: I wanted to talk about that. What was that like?
Michaela: If people don't watch the show they go, they must think oh you must of been bad and it's like I don't, no, I wasn’t bad. Like the reasons I'm not there are probably really horrible ones I don't want to think about, like you’re too old and ugly or something.
Paul: Neither of which you are by the way and you were very funny on it.
Michaela: Well thank you. I just mean that you feel like it's everything in me not to sometimes be like oh no no no, I was ok, I was fine. I wasn’t terrible, I could’ve been worse. But yeah, and then, so it is one of those things, well you weren’t terrible so what did you do? You must have been a...
Paul: A bitch.
Michaela: A bitch, or hard to work with, just weird, that girl who nobody wants to hang out with. I mean, I was shocked that there were definitely moments where I was, ‘what if I am that person?’
Paul: ‘What if I’ve been that way my whole life and I don’t know it?’
Michaela: And I just, Oh God, it’d be so sad, but what can you do?
Paul: How long did it take you to make peace with that? Have you made peace with that?
Michaela: You know it’s a good question. It pops up every once in a while, and I realize like maybe, oh I never really fully looked at this. Because I think I just, sort of still….drinking the Kool-Aid from my Outward Bound experience. Shit happens, gotta accept it, worse things have happened, this isn’t the worse thing to happen. And I was also surrounded by people who were very cherrleadery and were, this is going to be great, you don’t want to be in that show for seven years. You have other things you need to go do. But that year after I left, I mean… I was….it was bad, like, every area of my life. I mean you can go up and then you can really fall. The year after, I didn’t work that much, I went on unemployment for the first time in my whole life. I had skirted it my whole life, part of it was ego. I can’t be on SNL and then go wait tables. So, but good things came out of it, really good things too, because you know I went through a really bad break as happens. I was on unemployment, pretty low and my writing partner and I, he wasn’t my writing partner at the time, this guy who I’m friends with said I have this idea for this thing that I think you’d be great for.
Paul: Is this Damon?
Michaela: Yeah. And I said ok, and I knew he’d been going through sort of a rough time at that time so I said let’s see what happens and we got together and we just like processed so much amazing stuff together. We wrote a script, and we turned around and sold it and I’d read this book called Cupid’s Poison Arrow. I don’t know if you know about it.
Paul: I’ve heard of it.
Michaela: It’s basically a book that talks about not orgasming. And it’s not what you think it’s just, it’s about how you can build up these other chemicals and have more attraction, more intimacy with the person you’re with and just saving that energy not like sort of spilling it all over the place. It’s not saying that orgasms are bad, no moral judgment on it or anything, it’s just more physically what happens to you and you know, and if you’re someone who’s physically orgasming a lot it probably kicks in a lot more habits, depression because you’re peaking out your chemicals all the time. So for six months, I’m not going to. And it was incredibly fruitful time for me, incredibly fruitful.
Michaela: Creatively so fruitful. And then really comfortable with myself. Just and of course what happens. You meet the man of your dreams.
Michaela: Yeah. It was a down time but I just I kind of, I don’t feel sad about him anymore. Because I’ve realized every time I’ve had like a really bad low it’s been followed by, if you do the work, you know try…I heard myself really being upset about this guy and crying about it. And this is so intimate I can’t believe I’m saying this now. I heard myself say…I just want to be…he started dating someone that was like 20 years younger than him, I don’t want to trade places with that girl but I just wanted to be your little girl. I heard myself say that I and was like, oh what. So I realized I needed to… there was a problem. Like I was going to keep picking bad men unless I confronted my relationship with my dad. And so I did and that was so hard. It was so hard. And I said it to my dad, ‘you know how long... like pretty soon there’s not going to be a time that we can’t do this so we have to do it now.’ I’m getting emotional, he got emotional. I’ve never seen him emotional. I said ‘you know these are things I needed and I wished that they’d happen and I just need to tell you that.’ He talked about how it made him sad too that we had really ….I’m totally emotional now.
Paul: That’s good.
Michaela: So it was heavy, it was heavy but it was also it really, I think put to bed the idea because I always felt like I said, there was two kinds of men, there were the men who were you going to be best friends with or the men that were going to make you mental. And everybody said, there’s the middle, there’s somebody in the middle, and then to be with somebody who I want, I want to have sex with but they can be there the next day and I still want to have sex with them. Like it doesn’t mean they’re not going to be...that they’re going to leave in some way.
Paul: Yeah, seeking is like thee greatest gift the universe can give you. The desire to seek, then you’re never standing still and you get the opportunity to change.
Michaela: That is actually on of my fears that I will stop trying to, what did I put, um…that I’ll just stop wanting to improve and settle with ‘that’s the way I am.’
Paul: You don’t strike me as that person at all, from hearing your story it’s like you’re constantly evolving.
Michaela: But when things get it hard you do think, ‘I’m just fucked up, I’m just fucked up.’ This is how I am and ‘I’m just fucked up’ and you know you project like horrible scenarios for your life.
Paul: I think we can’t constantly be seeing ourselves improving there have to be the plateaus that drive us to bump it up or change something. That’s kind of my take on it.
Michaela: And now that I’m standing on the side where I’m not, bleah...I do love, I do look back at these lows and go they’re hard as shit but oh my God where I’ve moved the dial on my life, where I wanted it to be more me now you know. Everyday I’m becoming more and more me and I can feel parts of my life coming back to me and you know that I had to sort of had to cut off to toughen up. It’s really, I’ve had this defense with my parents where I don't, I'm I'm, I was always in such a bad mood around them and it was because I was trying to anticipate that they were going to disappoint me. You know if I told them good news they weren’t going to reflect it the way I wanted them to, like ‘that’s great’ instead it was more ‘uh huh’. And so I just would prepare myself by being more, already mad at them and I find that you know, in my intimate relationships the closer I get to somebody I start to get more my defenses come up more because I’m trying to anticipate that they’re going to disappoint me in some way, and to try to pull away and I feel I feel like that the childhood openness that I sort of had to step away from coming back to me because I never saw, I never thought of myself as a little girl ever like when I never wanted kids because I thought kids were for just like little adult assholes. And I just never wanted like a little Hitler telling me what to do all the time so I just felt like I don't… I'm around kids all the time because all my friends have kids and I'm just really like, God, I can't believe my parents trusted me with all this shit at that age like looking at this little kid I'm going God, I mean I wouldn't I wouldn't expect this kid to understand anything. So so when I imagine in my head what you know like a nine-year-old Mickey Michaela look like you know, she's like, got her own business, owns her own business, she’s in a little suit. I don’t think of her as a kid.
Paul: Who did the last one? Oh, I think I did and then about the iTunes thing and then we got off on the whole of the whole other thing, so you’re next.
Michaela: Watching my husband to be or children to be suffer and I can do nothing to stop it.
Paul: I’m afraid I will never again have an amazing orgasm.
Michaela: That there will be another holocaust and I will get used for medical experimentation.
Paul: I'm afraid this is the best I will ever look.
Michaela: That I lose my POV comedically and in everything else.
Paul: I'm afraid at all my dreams and hopes are delusional.
Michaela: Dying alone in a nursing home without my memories because I can't recall anything after the age of eight.
Paul: I’ve had that one. I'm afraid my meds are are going to be less and less effective and eventually I will be hospitalized or kill myself.
Michaela: Becoming my mother in every way I'm sure that’s in everyone’s list.
Paul: I'm out do you have anymore?
Michaela: Living my life without sight or hearing or hands and that I peaked and oh, here's one, raped in silence. Like I’m raped and then I can't I can't…
Paul: Say anything?
Michaela: Say anything because you know that they escape conviction like I have such a …
Paul: No justice
Michaela: Justice is a big thing for me, it’s like where so much of my aggravation and depression comes from.
Paul: When you feel like…
Michaela: When I feel like somebody's getting the shaft, I can't stand it.
Paul: It drives you crazy.
Michaela: Drive me crazy and I like that masochist because I’m always going on Huffington post all day long ‘who's getting shafted now, who’s getting shafted now?’
Paul: Do you want to do a love off?
Michaela: Sure I feel like we should.
Paul: We got to go off on the positive.
Paul: I love sitting in a recliner with a hot cup of coffee caffeinated.
Michaela: My cat’s breath.
Paul: I totally get that one. I love looking, watching comments accumulate on iTunes.
Michaela: That's like the best thing and the worst.
Michaela: Doesn't it make you like, ehhhh?
Paul: Um, I think because of the nature of this podcast it's, it's kind of vulnerable and self-deprecating I don't really get many mean comments they're usually pretty nice and pretty uplifting, so I'm I'm kind of fortunate in that.
Michaela: I guess I’m thinking more the need to need them.
Paul: Oh right.
Michaela: I always feel like I can feel that…
Paul: Oh, that hunger, I like the first six months of the show maybe in the first nine months of the show it was kind of a desperate, like every day I had to check. But now I’ll check less frequently. But I don't feel like that, I'm gonna disappear.
Michaela: My fiancées chest falling asleep there every night.
Paul: I love how ridiculously cute baby shoes.
Michaela: A fridge after the grocery store.
Paul: The feeling of peace after a hard days’ work.
Michaela: Arriving at the place you're going to start hiking.
Paul: Big plate of french fries perfectly salted.
Michaela: I loved the 80s and the 90s when people would be waiting for people to arrive at the gate at the airport and you would see all these smiling of faces of people to be greeted. We don’t see that anymore.
Paul: Oh, yeah fucking security. I love when my wife and her sisters laughed until tears run down their faces and I get swept up in it.
Michaela: Oh, that makes me so happy that one. At the moment in my poker night when I am sitting with four people I feel 100% comfortable with and we joke and we over share.
Paul: I love the curves of the Stratocaster guitar.
Michaela: That halfway point into your first glass of wine. It’s just never as good before or after that. I’m sorry is this the wrong podcast for that.
Paul: No, no. I love reading someone describe my same kind of crazy in a book and I feel more hopeful.
Michaela: Yeah. I love laughing so hard that no sound comes out and it’s almost painful. It’s been a while since I had that one.
Paul: I love when Paul F. Tompkins does Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Michaela: I always listen to his peanut butter brittle, his peanut brittle, peanut butter brittle, is that what it’s called?
Paul: Peanut brittle.
Michaela: Yeah yeah, peanut brittle. Yeah have you ever heard that?
Paul: No, it’s a bit about peanut brittle? I’ll have to look it up.
Michaela: I have it on my iPod and every time it comes on all the time and I laugh like it’s the first time I’ve heard it every time. I love when I first put a sketch up at the Groundlings and you don’t know where the laughs are at yet. But you get a big monster laugh that surprises you.
Paul: Yeah. I love when a contestant cries happy tears on a tv show.
Michaela: Donuts on the counter when you wake up at someone’s house.
Paul: I love the people who are pitching in and helping with the show and wanting nothing in return.
Michaela: The opening theme song of Madmen.
Paul: I love meeting someone new and feeling instantly at ease.
Michaela: When my fella and me and both cats are in bed and we’re reading.
Paul: Someone pulling off a ridiculous accent.
Michaela: Coming over any bridge into Manhattan.
Paul: Watching fathers and sons play on same hockey team and having fun.
Michaela: I love um…this is a weird one but every time I go visit my mom she shows me her jewelry. She just like, she has these drawers with little artifacts and fun things that she has, we always have this thing the way…she just, it makes her so happy to show me her treasures.
Paul: I love congratulating someone on the good goal even though they play on the other team.
Michaela: I love going to the grocery store with my fella and I just feel so relieved to not be there alone.
Paul: I love the laughing during the game with opposing players.
Michaela: I love when you love someone and they love you back.
Paul: Um…this is my last one, I love the harmony in Crosby Stills Nash and Young's song, Teach Your Children Well and remembering hanging out with a girl named Beth in her dorm room freshman year of college and feeling included, safe and turned on all of the same time.
Paul: What do you got?
Michaela: That’s it. I would’ve done more but the doorbell rang.
Paul: Your doorbell rang?
Michaela: Yeah it was you.
Paul: Well that’s perfect we both ran out at the same time. Well thank you so much for opening up, to be willing to do this sight unseen and just so vulnerable.
Michaela: It kind of surprised me. I didn’t, I was just really sitting here going, he’s going to leave here feeling disappointed because I don’t have anything to say.
Paul: No, I feel like energized and happy and like peaceful like it one with the world and then connected. That's one of the things I love about doing the show I can be in the worst mood and feeling terrible about myself and I do this, it just reminds me like that moment you had in Outward Bound when you feel that nature around you I feel, I feel that when do this show was just like electricity going through me.
Michaela: Nice. I’m so glad you do this. I can’t imagine people are seeking this out don't feel comfort.
Paul: Thanks Michaela.
Michaela: Thank you.
Paul: Many thanks to Michaela Watkins for a great interview and being just so open and honest and that I think a lot of people are going to be able to relate to to her her story of learning to find out where her strength is and how to surrender and yeah just loved talking to work. If you're in the LA area go check her out at the Groundlings and be sure to check out the DVD which is out now, of Wanderlust, which she is on. And also if you're in the LA area, tonight, Friday night I am going to be at Nerd Melt Theater be a guest on Alison Rosen's live taping of her podcast Alison Rosen is Your New Best Friend, so come out and check that out and say hi. I love meeting listeners in person. A couple of things before I go out with a listener e-mail, just want to remind you there're a few different ways…oh, I want to thank the people.First I want to thank the guys who help keep the spammers out of the forum. I want to thank Jennifer and the team of transcribers who are busy at work transcribing all of all of our episodes. I want to thank the audio collection team headed up by Matt. And a lot of work being put in by those people especially Megan who was, was a guest on the show Megan Karpinski working her ass off. I appreciate all your guys working of course Stig Grev who who designed and runs the website. Many many thanks to you guys. I could not do this show without you and I'm sure there're other people that I'm forgetting to thank, but go fuck yourselves, that’s my go to, ‘go fuck yourselves.’ When I, I figure that’s better than umm… probably not. I wanted to remind you that if you want to support the show there's a couple of different ways you can do it. You can do it financially by making a donation on the website. There’s a little PayPal box there you can do a one-time donation or you can do my favorite thing which is to become a monthly donor, some people have started doing that and it means the world to me. Even if it's only five dollars a month to you guys it adds up and gets me closer to my dream of being able to do this as my, as my full time job. So consider that but I know money's tight, the economy’s bad so I certainly don't hold it against you if you if you don't want to. Um, you can also support the show financially by shopping at, through the Amazon search like box on a website. Amazon gives us a couple nickels and it doesn't cost you anything. You can also buy a T-shirt at the at our website. Um you can also support us non-financially by going to iTunes and giving us a good rating. That really boosts our, our ranking and it brings more listeners to our show. And any way that you could promote the show would really be much appreciated, on Facebook on Twitter, Tumbler, anyway that you can spread it if everybody just does a little bit, that really helps get the word out there that the people aren't broken and they’re not alone. So I would appreciate if you guys would do that.
I want to read a couple of letters from from a listener that she e-mailed me a couple of days ago and I e-mailed her and then she e-mailed me back and then she e-mailed me again and so I want to read you excerpts from that communication. And the reason why I think this is important is because we frequently talk on this podcast about how the brain to, avoid pain will will bury memories or minimize the importance of them. And this e-mail all I got from from Wendy a couple of days ago she writes: “I was shocked to hear you refer to the book that my own therapist just weeks earlier had mentioned during our session, The Emotional Incest Syndrome. Over the past few years I've slowly come to the realization that I have been my mother's surrogate spouse since I was old enough to put her needs before my own which was probably around four years of age. I have defended, protected and consoled my mother since I can remember. I was the perfect child reassuring her constantly that she was a great person despite my older brother being what I now realize, is a sociopath. My father was there but not present so it was my responsibility to make sure she was happy. I had constant anxiety that she would die and I would be left alone with my fire setting, animal torturing, sexually molesting brother and my absent father. As a small child I would wake up in the night and go into my parents room to make sure my mother was still breathing but like a parent would do with a newborn baby. She was my best friend. I was unable to relate to my peers and rarely had any friends my age. This relationship continued well into my twenties she moved in with myself and my then husband to escape her abusive third husband. It embarrasses me to admit this, but she would insist on taking baths with me and I would allow it because I didn't want to offend her. She would make comments on my body and act like it was completely normal even better than normal that we were so comfortable with each other we had no boundaries. Needless to say our relationship creeped other people out, in response we just banded closer together despite the fact that I acted like everything was okay I had always felt that something was off in our relationship. Around age 28 I started having panic attacks when I saw her and felt like I was always holding back huge wells of emotion I feared that I would start sobbing and be unable to stop. I held those emotions in and because I was terrified of offending and her felt responsible for her feelings. Plus I couldn't explain it, even to myself what was wrong. Since I turned 30 got remarried when she strongly dislikes, probably because he encourages me to maintain boundaries and had a baby I’ve started to understand that our relationship is not healthy. I've learned to say no to her and stand up for myself a little bit more though I am far from perfect. It has been the hardest thing I've ever done I completely relate to your stress about refusing to helping your mother move and your anxiety about explaining why you do not wish to communicate with her. I’ve gone through this same thing with my own mother. Whenever I think things are getting better I am reminded that I cannot count on her to consider my needs after this past Thanksgiving which I thought had gone reasonably well. She sent me an ugly email about how she thinks my husband is abusive. Her email cost me such distress that I came down with shingles, shingles! Even worse than that the shingles virus can cause chickenpox, so my 10-month-old son came down with chickenpox a week later. All though what was incredibly difficult, I told her not to come to my house for Christmas as we had planned. I told her that her email I distressed me and that I needed a peaceful Christmas and that she should stay home. She didn't believe me the first time I said it, or the second time but she finally got it the third time. I've never met a single person who is experienced a similarly twisted relationship with their mother. I've never told anyone that my mother took baths with me until I was 28 years old. It's mortifying and I’m ashamed that I allowed it even though I was really uncomfortable with it at the time. When you describe the icky feeling you get when your mother touches you, or the panic you feel when you see her number come up on your cell phone I am reminded that I am not alone. I'm truly sorry that you had to deal with emotional incest that you continue to struggle with relationship with your mother but I'm so grateful that you have shared your story with me. It comforts me to know that I am not overreacting and I'm not crazy. I just had some crazy things happened to me.”
So then I basically wrote her and said ‘I feel like you're my long lost sister I want to jump through the computer screen and hug you, can I read your email on the show?’ And so then she writes “yes you can use my email you can refer to me as Wendy if you could just let me know when you plan on doing it I can plan my panic attack accordingly. I never told my therapist about the baths. I’ve never told a single soul except you and to answer your question, my mother would alternately complement and criticize my various body parts, or point out bumps and bruises. To be perfectly honest I didn't get the baths a second thought until I heard you talk about how your mother made inappropriate comments and grabbed your butt. I thought at least my mother hadn’t didn’t do anything like that and then I realized that she had. I’ve gone back and forth just like you have, am I overreacting, making something out of nothing? And then, I try to remind myself that, no it is completely abnormal for my mother to insist on bathing with her 28-year-old daughter. From a completely objective standpoint it was just not right okay, now I'm crying but it's a good thing. I'm grateful that you took the time to respond to my message. I'm glad there's someone out there who is dealing with these issues, honestly and I thank you for reminding me that I am strong. I forget sometimes.” So I wrote to her and told her that I would like to read it and tonight's episode because I think it's important for people to understand how easily our minds burry pain and she wrote me back, “I know there's a fairly slim chance that someone would recognize my story and talk to my mother about it but it's still a little scary and empowering. I feel like I'm jumping off a cliff by putting my shameful secrets out there. But you've also made me feel safe and respected so I know it's going to be okay.” Then she attached a picture of her little baby boy. She wrote. “I’ve attached a picture of the reason I stay in therapy and take my meds, even when I don't want to. He's the reason I continue fumbling to set boundaries with my mother. He’s the reason I'm trying to heal from my past so that his life won’t be tainted by my negative life experiences.” Wow. I'm just so touched and honored and moved and thank you. Thank you for making me feel less alone and I hope anybody listening to Michaela’s story or my story or any of the surveys that I read I hope you feel that connection that is honestly saving my life, this connection that it that I have between people who feel these feelings that make me feel like a three like a dog sometimes. It's nice to look across the room and see another three-legged dog and say ‘it's okay it's okay to not have four legs.’ I don't if that made any sense it doesn't, go fuck yourself. You're not alone. Thank you for listening.