I Can’t Stop Worrying! – Giulia Rozzi

I Can’t Stop Worrying! – Giulia Rozzi

The Moth Grand Slam winner, standup and podcaster (Hopefully We Don’t Break Up) shares about being raised by Italian immigrant parents who worried a lot and her “high school brain” that still worries about being left out or gossiped about.

Follow Giulia on Twitter @GiuliaRozzi
Visit her website www.GiuliaRozzi.com
Check out her podcast www.HopefullyWeDontBreakup.com
Follow her on Instagram www.instagram.com/grozzi

This episode is sponsored by Young Health’s Probimune. Sign up for automated delivery and get your first bottle free (plus $6.75 shipping). Go to www.Probimune.com and use offer code MENTAL

This episode is sponsored by BetterHelp. For a free week of online counseling go to www.BetterHelp.com/mental

This episode is sponsored by MadisonReed. For 10% off your first color kit plus free shipping, go to www.Madison-Reed.com and use offer code HAPPY

This episode is sponsored by ZipRecruiter. To post your job ads free go to www.ZipRecruiter.com/first

This episode is sponsored by Zola wedding registry. Receive $50 when you register and use Zola. Go to www.Zola.com/mental

For info or tix to the live recording of the podcast in Oakland on Feb 22 & 23 (Wed & Thurs) go to www.EastBayExpress.com/mental

Support the podcast by becoming a monthly donor via Patreon (and get free rewards from Paul) www.Patreon.com/mentalpod

Episode:

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Episode notes:

Follow Giulia on Twitter @GiuliaRozzi

Visit her website www.GiuliaRozzi.com
Check out her podcast www.HopefullyWeDontBreakup.com
Follow her on Instagram www.instagram.com/grozzi

This episode is sponsored by Young Health's Probimune. Sign up for automated delivery and get your first bottle free (plus $6.75 shipping). Go to www.Probimune.com and use offer code MENTAL

This episode is sponsored by BetterHelp. For a free week of online counseling go to www.BetterHelp.com/mental

This episode is sponsored by MadisonReed. For 10% off your first color kit plus free shipping, go to www.Madison-Reed.com and use offer code HAPPY

This episode is sponsored by ZipRecruiter. To post your job ads free go to www.ZipRecruiter.com/first

This episode is sponsored by Zola wedding registry. Receive $50 when you register and use Zola. Go to www.Zola.com/mental

For info or tix to the live recording of the podcast in Oakland on Feb 22 & 23 (Wed & Thurs) go to www.EastBayExpress.com/mental

Support the podcast by becoming a monthly donor via Patreon (and get free rewards from Paul) www.Patreon.com/mentalpod

Episode Transcript:

Transcription services donated by Accurate Secretarial LLC. You can find them at www.AccurateSecretarial.com.

 

Welcome to Episode 318 with my guest Giulia Rozzi. Today's episode is sponsored by Probimune, a liquid probiotic that promotes intestinal health and contains a unique blend of bacteria not found in 99% of other probiotics. It's easy to use, easy to travel with and doesn't require refrigeration.

Right now you guys can get your first bottle of Probimune free when you sign up for automated delivery. That's a $34.95 bottle of Probimune free, and all you pay is $6.75 shipping and handling. So, go to Probimune.com, that's P-r-o-b-i-m-u-n-e dot com, and use the promo code MENTAL at check-out to get your free bottle today.

I'm Paul Gilmartin. This is the Mental Illness Happy Hour, a place for honesty about all the battles in our heads, from medically diagnosed conditions, past traumas and sexual dysfunction to everyday compulsive negative thinking. This show is not meant to be a substitute for professional mental counseling. I'm not a therapist. It's not a doctor's office. It's more like a waiting room that doesn't suck.

The Web site for this show is Mentalpod.com. Go fill out surveys. Please go fill out surveys. We read those on the show and maybe we'll read yours, and it really helps us get to know you. And I finally fixed the link. We had the wrong link up for you to vote for your favorite episode of 2016. That has since been fixed. But we've got about a dozen different surveys you can take and it really contributes a lot to the show, and there's all kinds of other stuff you can do at the Web site.

What did I want to mention? Oh, San Francisco, I'm going to be in the Bay Area doing two live recordings of the podcast, it would be Wednesday and Thursday, February 22nd and 23rd. And I'll put a link on the show notes for this episode, but you can go to EastBayExpress.com/mental, and get more information or buy tickets, but I'll put that, again, I'll put that link on our Web site.

I got an interesting e-mail from a listener who wrote, let's see, what does she want to be called? Ah [chuckles], her name is Sally, but she wrote, my name will, because sometimes I'll ask people, can I read this on the air, if so, how would you like to refer to me, and she says, my name will suffice, but Sugar-Crazed Somnophobe would be closer to the mark.

Anyway, last week's episode was about misophonia, which is an extreme sensitivity to certain everyday sounds, and we also talked about synesthesia, synesthesia, yes, which is where you see colors associated with certain things, maybe like sounds or numbers or stuff like that, and so Sally wrote in and she wrote, you guys were talking about synesthesia. Since I have it, I thought I'd give you my perspective.

Every person is different who has the condition, but for me it basically means that whenever I hear a sound I see a color in my mind's eye. This is especially prominent with musical instruments, so if I hear a flute, the sound is red. If I hear an oboe, it's yellow. A clarinet, it's peach, and so on. Every sound you can think of has a color for me, and it's always the same color.

Days of the week also have colors, as do months of the year. People's names and letters of the alphabet, oh, and of course numbers do, too. Voices also have colors. Yours is kind of a sandy color with flecks in it, by the way. Hey, as long as those flecks don't go gray.

So, I find it really easy to identify by their voices because the colors are so distinctive. Again, I can't speak for other people, but for me, the condition enriches my life greatly. I can't imagine a world where you would only hear sounds without seeing them as well.

The only time it causes me issue is when I hear, say, a fire alarm or something like that and seeing the colors as well as hearing the sound is a bit too intense. I also find having a TV up really loud while somebody is talking to me really tricky because I am seeing and hearing the sound simultaneously, so it makes it really difficult to concentrate.

I'm sure you'd be able to find more concise and clinical information on Google, but I thought you might appreciate the perspective of a human being rather than some medical shyte [chuckles]. Thank you for that, Sally.

I've mentioned before that we are sponsored by BetterHelp.com. They provide online counseling. It's a great service. I use it. I believe in it. And listeners have tried it and, in fact, one listener in particular, he wrote me an e-mail, not necessarily about Better Help but about a different issue with having trouble cutting contact with his mom, and I'm going to read you what he wrote to me.

I've been neglected, emotionally abused from both parents, and because of that I've suffered with depression and anxiety for most of my life. His name is Henry, by the way.

I'm 18. My dad left when I was 10 after having affairs, and the anger my mom felt for my dad was kind of shifted towards me. I didn't realize this until, well, pretty recently, actually. I moved out to L.A. about a month ago and did recently realize how weird and wrong the relationship with both of my parents is.

He writes, the reason I ask is because, at this point, my mom is guilt-tripping me into talking to her and I just can't handle the stress and anxiety that she's causing me. She isn't mentally well either. I just really want to cut her out of my life, but I don't know how to do it. I feel so incredibly awkward about the whole situation.

It might be some weird codependency thing, but I don't feel comfortable causing my mom the stress and pain of her son cutting her off while she's halfway across the world, yet, at the same time, I can't continue like this, living under my mother's rule for the rest of my life. It's going to tear me apart. I tell her time and time again that I don't need to be messaged every day, but she doesn't listen.

I really like what you're doing with your show. I also really like the Better Help Web site that you've been promoting. I've found great success in talking to psychologists there.

And, first of all, thank you for using one of our sponsors. That helps the show greatly. And about the situation with your mom, you told her, I don't need to be messaged every day, I would say to your mom, I don't want you to message me every day, or please don't message me every day, it stresses me out or, you know, I just would prefer less contact for now. Whatever amount it is that you want to set a boundary with, you need to start doing that if you want things to improve.

And a healthy parent, though maybe disappointed or concerned about why a child wants a break, would respect a child requesting to take a break. I'm talking about an adult child, because that parent would want what's best for their child, and it sounds like your mother doesn't. It sounds like she wants what's best for her, and I highly recommend, in addition to keeping up the therapy you're doing, checking out some support groups, some codependency support groups. There's some great 12-step ones. There's one for children of dysfunction, there's a 12-step group for it. There's tons of non-12-step ones as well.

But do not try to change your mom, because you can't, and it will only drive you crazy. And that's what the support groups and therapy will help you with. It is a very long, confusing, emotionally difficult process. At least it was for me.

I still get pangs of guilt five years later, but I know it was the right thing to do, and I finally had to be the parent to myself that I, unfortunately, didn't get in childhood. Not to say that my parents didn't do some stuff that was right or great or whatever, but I just finally had to cut contact with somebody who couldn't hear what I have to say, and it sounds like your mom is having trouble hearing what you have to say. And she might need consequences.

So, support groups will help you with that. Your therapist will help you with that. And just, you know, hang in there. It's, in many ways, when you are raised with a narcissistic parent, it is, in many ways, kind of like a cult, because they have conditioned you, as probably they were conditioned as children, to believe that the parent's needs are always more important than the child's needs, and that can really fuck a child up, and it sounds like that's kind of what has happened with you, that you are more concerned with hurting her feelings than you are with your mental sanity, and I really hope you take the plunge and start setting those boundaries, because it's not going to get better on its own.

I want to share a story with you guys, oh, and for BetterHelp.com, by the way, the Web site is BetterHelp.com/mental, and go there, complete a questionnaire, and you'll get matched with a BetterHelp.com counselor and experience a free week of counseling, online counseling, to see if it's right for you. You've got to be over 18, and yeah, it's a great service, highly recommend it.

I want to tell you guys a story [chuckles], I don’t know why. This, there was a place that we used to go in high school called Wampum Lake Woods. I didn't even know what Wampum meant until like [chuckles], until I looked it up, honestly, yesterday. I thought I knew what it meant, but wampum are small, cylindrical beads that Native Americans used to use as currency and for other things, too. I think they were used in ceremonies and stuff.

But I was just remembering how exciting it was, when I first got my driver's license, I was the first one of my group to get my license because I have a January birthday, and so, that meant that we would always, when we needed weed, we would all get in my car, my [chuckles] diesel Rabbit, well, my parents' car, and we would go to Wampum Lake Woods.

And it was basically, it was a forest preserve about five miles from our house, and it was very unspectacular-looking, completely flat, little tiny lake, little tiny manmade lake, and you would turn left off of a road and it was just maybe 150 yards of just a straight road with straight-in parking both on the right and the left.

And you would go there on the weekend to score drugs, and, I kid you not, lined up in all of those parking spaces on the left and on the right were people saying, acid, coke, Columbian gold, coke, you know, whatever it was, mescaline, PCP, it was like a flea market, and I couldn't, it was so exciting to me because I had just started escaping into drugs. And I'm not trying to glorify drugs.

I guess the point of the story is, how bizarre that the first place where I felt like I had a sanctuary in my most angst-ridden years, because in high school I didn't have a lot of friends. I went to a different high school than all of my grade school friends went to, or at least most of them, so, and it was a huge high school. I went from being in a class of 40 kids at a, you know, little Catholic grade school to a class of 1,300 kids at a public high school, so, you know, I was basically on my own.

Everybody had started hitting puberty. I was the smallest kid, out of the 1,300, I’m pretty sure. And I had just discovered weed, so it was like, this was the world, this was like all I wanted, was to make sure that I could stay high all the time. And Wampum was this place that always had weed, but it was kind of terrifying because you would pull in and these people that were selling it were scary fucking people. They looked like Hell's Angels.

A lot of them were bikers, and they had that, I don't know how to describe it, but the way, what they would do is they would tell you what it is that they were selling, and if you were interested, you would slow down. They'd come up to your window. You'd say, how much? And they'd say, you know, 35 bucks an ounce. Yeah, that's how cheap weed was back then, but it was also shitty weed.

And if that sounded good to you, then you would pull right into the parking spot right there and then this person would say, stay right here, and they would run into the woods, which were about maybe 25, 30 yards away, because that's where they held the stuff, in case the cops busted it.

And the cop station? Two hundred yards away. But there was this weird rule where rangers were supposed to handle it, not the police, because it was a forest preserve, and the rangers were not equipped like policemen.

So, it was this kind of [chuckles] tense thing, like, I don't even know how to describe it, where you were like, I’m about to get my soothing blanket, but I also might get arrested or I might get shot, and when you would score it and not get ripped off, because sometimes you'd make the mistake of giving them the money first and then they'd just take your money and they'd just go into the woods and they wouldn't come back, and nobody's going to [chuckles] go running into the woods after a guy that, you know, has a tattoo of a skull on his face.

And I never got arrested there. I never got robbed. I never got beat up. But there was always that threat. You'd make that left-hand turn, and it was a town called Thornton, which was itself kind of a bizarre town, because half of Thornton had been dug up for the limestone, and there were these gigantic quarries. Thornton was maybe like a mile or two from my house. I grew up in a place called Homewood.

And like every day around 3:00, they would dynamite another part of the rock quarry in Thornton and the house would shake a little bit. And so you would travel through like these little rural roads through these quarries to this bizarre like Hell's Angel Lane. It was like a cul-de-sac founded by the Hell's Angels, with just a shitty lake and like sad trees [chuckles].

And just the way, I don't know if you've ever been around like hard-core drug culture, but there's a strut that people have when they're in a crowd. Like the guys will like really throw their shoulders back and kind of bob up and down when they go to do something.

And it just, I just remember thinking, everybody here is so sad and full of shit, but, God, I am, too, but I don't know what else to do, because this is going to have to do. This will have to be my home base until I can find something that makes me feel better.

And all these memories just came flooding back up when I thought of Wampum Woods and [chuckles], and really, what better way to pay tribute to the Native Americans, who were the original inhabitants of that area, than by buying weed through the window of a Trans Am?

 

[Show intro]

 

PAUL: I'm here with Giulia Rozzi, and [chuckles] we just recorded a half hour and [sighs] I realized that her mic wasn't actually being recorded.

 

[Laughter]

 

PAUL: So, we are, we are going to start again. Let's dive right into it.

You come from a family of immigrants, Italian immigrants.

 

GIULIA: Yes.

 

PAUL: Your mom and dad are from Italy. You're a stand-up comedian. You were married once. You got a divorce. You do a show about it called Bad Bride. What am I miss-, oh, you are a GrandSLAM winner of The Moth.

 

GIULIA: Yes.

 

PAUL: And you were recommended by Christian Finnegan, who I love, loved his episode--

 

GIULIA: Yes, love, love his episode.

 

PAUL: And what are some of the issues that you struggle with?

 

GIULIA: Okay. Gosh, well, and by the way, I take the microphone not working as the universe telling us that all of that was not necessary--

 

[Laughter]

 

PAUL: Okay.
GIULIA: --so no worries. What are some issues? Definitely anxiety, anxiety and depression, and feeling, I have like a very high-school mentality still, in many ways, like of calling people cool and not cool, or being like, am I cool, do I belong? Feeling left out, getting super hurt when I'm not invited to things. Yeah, I have a little bit of high-school brain. I constantly say I can't wait to graduate high school.

 

PAUL: What do you think that comes from?

 

GIULIA: High school.

 

[Laughter]

 

GIULIA: Well, a few things. Well, so, Italian parents, raised with a lot of what will other people think. I mean, that was definitely, you know, shame, guilt, regret, those are like a few of our favorite things. And--

 

PAUL: Give me some snapshots of your mom and a couple of snapshots of your dad that you feel kind of encapsulate . . .

 

GIULIA: Sure. Okay, so Mom, housewife since she was born, she grew up with six brothers. She was the only girl, so she--

 

PAUL: And in Italy, you--

 

GIULIA: And in Italy--

 

PAUL: --you've got to do everything--

 

GIULIA: --oh, yeah. She would, you know, wash clothes on a rock and all that kind of good stuff, moved here when she was 28, met my dad, first guy she ever dated, married him, the rest his history.

Well, her version is, [in Italian accent] I met this donkey, I felt so bad for him, and then they got married. It's very romantic. And [chuckles], and she is hilarious. She's honestly one of the funniest people I've ever met.

And, but she's, I call her a diva trapped in a housecoat, because like when she gets all dolled up for like a wedding or, I mean, she's sassy. She's sexy. People think she's hilarious and charming. Then she goes home and she puts on that stupid housecoat and it's just like, it's almost like a cos-, it's so weird. It's like Superman, you know, like she's Clark Kent at home, just cleaning non-stop, plastic on the couch, obsessed with cleaning.

 

PAUL: And you would say OCD?

 

GIULIA: Yeah. Yeah, I think so. I mean, you know, it's her escape, I think. Well, you know, it's like I say that, I always have a hard time, because I like, I love to diagnose people, but then it's like, well, who am I to say? Because she says she loves it, so, I, I wish I used my obsessive thinking sometimes as something, you know, productive, like cleaning--

 

PAUL: Yes.

 

GIULIA: You know what I mean [chuckles]?

 

PAUL: Yeah, yeah. I obsess about shit that's worthless.

 

GIULIA: Oh, God. Like, I used to, when I first joined Twitter, I'd be obsessed with like who followed me back or whatever--

 

PAUL: Yes [chuckles].

 

GIULIA: --I'm like, that's not getting my apartment clean, you know, like I could have at least done something.

But yeah, I'd say a little OCD there, definitely anxiety. That's, and she admits that, and, you know, worries a lot, and again, these are like, the thing with mental health and immigrants, especially like a lot of these are like Italian stereotypes, so it's funny, but it's also, you know, it's also bothersome [chuckles] at times, you know.

So, she worries a lot. She's really, when she writes me cards, she's so poetic. She draws these adorable doodles. She's really creative. And like, I would say to her, you should go take a class or like do something with it, and she's like, [in Italian accent] eh, what's the point? You know, like there's sort of this, I don't want to say give up, but it's like this, eggh, like that, exasperated about, you know, tired kind of vibe.

And, but then, you know, and that's when she's in the house, so I think a little bit, well, she's at work, you know what I mean. So I guess if you're at work 24/7, you're going to be a little exasperated all the time, because that's her job, that house. You take her out of the house and like, I took her to go get a new cell phone six months ago. I mean, she killed at that store.

 

PAUL: [Chuckles]

 

GIULIA: It was like the best set of her life. She walked in, and I'm like, what phone do you want? She goes, [in Italian accent] ha, ha, a big, fancy phone because I’m a fancy lady, and she's like saying it loud so everyone can hear her.

 

PAUL: [Chuckles]

 

GIULIA: And then, I mean, I'm not even kidding, people put down what they were doing to just listen to her talk and like, she had to call my dad to get, you know, because he's on the account, to get permission to upgrade, and she's like, [in Italian accent] hold on, I’m going to call my husband, and like, but she's like putting on a show, and she's like, [in Italian accent] 30 dollars charge, he's having a heart attack, and everyone is like Showtime at the Apollo, like clapping and screaming.

It's, I mean, it's--

 

PAUL: [Chuckles]

 

GIULIA: --so it's this really like, it's not weird, but it's like I see one side of her that is sort of like tired and worried and like in the house and putting more plastic on the couch or whatever, but then it's like the second--

 

PAUL: Wow, what an interesting contrast.

 

GIULIA: It is. It's like she has the highest and lowest sort of, I don't want to say self-esteem, but like, yeah, diva trapped in a housecoat, that's like what I would call her memoir if I had to write one. You know, like she just--

 

PAUL: What do you-, go ahead.

 

GIULIA: No, no. She, you know, growing up we would watch like Dynasty and The Colbys and The Thorn Birds and she has this big, she has a big space between her teeth that she's always been self-conscious of, so she often will smile with her mouth closed, but when she watches these like romantic movies that are like, you know, Sophia Loren and like all this stuff or, she gets the goofiest smile, and you can tell when she's really happy because the space shows--

 

PAUL: Mm-hmm.

 

GIULIA: --and she's not self-conscious of it, and she just like, you know, that makes her happy and--

 

PAUL: Does that make you happy when you see it?

 

GIULIA: Oh, God, yeah. She just, she, if I could give my mom anything, it would be like, I don't know, I've told her since I was younger I was going to fly her to Hawaii for like the best vacation of her life. They can afford it, but I alw-, and like my mom will always joke, she's like, [in Italian accent] I'm still wait for Hawaii, but like I don't even know if she would go.

But that would be my wish for her, that I could just like, I pack her a suitcase filled with like the most like gorgeous dresses you've ever seen and just like send her to Hawaii, and whether or not my dad comes, I don't know, but like [chuckles] just this like romantic, amazing escapade of like where she's just, you know, waited on hand and foot. Instead she's at home like cutting her own hair, you know. It's just--

 

PAUL: What do you think her--
GIULIA: Thing is?

 

PAUL: --dreams are? If she had a dream, what do you think--

 

GIULIA: I mean, she tells me her dreams and all she wants is that we're happy, which--

 

PAUL: But for herself.

 

GIULIA: Exactly. I know, and that's like the Italian martyr in her. I think she probably, well, I think a couple things.

I think she probably would have been more of a traveler. It's weird, because she, I feel like there's a little bit of vicarious living that I do, and I think that motivates me a little bit, because she's an entertainer. She truly is, but, you know, two people at the cell phone store, and she's, you know, kind of fabulous when she has moments to be at like a wedding or whatever, but, for the most part, she's in her housecoat.

So, you know, when I'm taking new head shots or whatever, I'm like the first thing I get excited about is showing them to my mom, because she's like, [in Italian accent] oh, so sexy, you know, like there's this, she worries that I travel, like it, she's like, [in Italian accent] oh, my God, why? But then, she gets that goofy grin when I'm telling her about my adventures.

Like the best, the best moment I think I've ever had with my mom in my life was, I lived in L.A. in the early 2000s and, you know, my family, we had only, we went to Florida twice. Those were the only times that we took a plane ride, because planes are dangerous--

 

PAUL: [Chuckles]

 

GIULIA: --and they're expensive and, you know, even though they have, again, they're financially fine, but like they love saving money. And my mom has never traveled without my dad, so when I was living here, I don't know how we did it, but my sister and I somehow convinced my mom and my sister to come visit me, just have a girls' trip.

My mom came to L.A. for a week. We went to the Beverly Hills Hotel. She wore like her new, I don't even know, they looked like new heels but she had had them for 30 years, but she had them in so many plastic bags that they--

 

[Chuckling]

 

GIULIA: --look like they had never been--

 

PAUL: It paid off, it paid off.

 

GIULIA: Oh, yeah. Every time I complain about her cleanliness, she's like, because I wear a lot of her vintage dresses, she's like, but where did you get that dress? You know, like, anyways.

She came. I was a regular at the Comedy Store. I took her to the Comedy Store. She was like walking around, going up to everyone going, [in Italian accent] I got a feeling you going to make it, and like just totally boosting everyone's con-, just like hammed it up. She was, people were going up to her at the Comedy Store and they were like, are you Giulia's mom, because I do her in my act, and she's like, yes. And they're like, oh, my God, like they, like she was a celebrity in that little world, and you just, she was glowing.

And so I think her dream would probably be a little bit of that, whether, I don't think she feels like she's allowed to admit that, though, because she is a mom and a housewife and that's what she's chosen. And I think if she, she probably feels like if she were to admit it, then that would make her a bad mom or, you know what I mean?

 

PAUL: Right.

 

GIULIA: But it's like, I feel like there's a little vicarious living. And one of my greatest hopes is that I achieve everything I want to achieve while she can still see it, not because, I know she's proud of me. I mean, she's proud of just me as a person, but I want her to share this with me, and my dad, too, but like really my mom, like she just, she's so fuckin' fabulous underneath it all, and it's just this worry has just not let her fully experience the things she could.

 

PAUL: I think so many people can relate to that.

 

GIULIA: Yeah.

 

PAUL: Worry is so corrosive. It keeps us so small.

 

GIULIA: Oh, it does.

 

PAUL: It keeps us so fucking small.

 

GIULIA: It does, and I, I didn't think I had worry because I don't worry about, like I'm not a hypochondriac. I don't really have a lot of fear about danger. Like, I have a pretty good intuition as far as like, this is a dangerous place, and then we leave and then something bad, [chuckles] like I have, I don't know. I don't feel too worrisome in that sense.

I have a lot more of like, and not social anxiety in the sense of being weird at a party, no offense to social-anxiety people [chuckles], but more social anxiety in the sense of feeling like people think I'm annoying or not being included in something because everyone's m-, I always think people are mad at me. Oh, God, I, I'll send an e-mail to an agent. I won't hear back. I'm like, well, they're probably at the Giulia Rozzi meeting where everyone in the industry has decided--

 

PAUL: [Laughs] You're out.

 

GIULIA: Yeah, that I’m out or whatever. So, yeah, so it's a little bit of a, I thought, you know, because I'm viewed in the family as like the wild one. You know, I have a nose ring, wow, and, you know, I went to college out of state and all my, because all my cousins stayed local and, you know, I’m a comedian and like, I mean, you know, I was raised by these parents who, especially Italian culture, we're very open and honest with each other, but that's supposed to all stay in the house.

And then my parents' worst nightmare, my sister becomes a therapist, so her whole life is about opening up and sharing and talking--

 

PAUL: Right.

 

GIULIA: --and then I get on stage, and my parents are like, you're not going to tell people about the time we, I'm like, [scoffs] yes, I am.

 

PAUL: [Chuckles]

 

GIULIA: And it's been really cool because, in a weird way, you know, my mom has that kind of thing, she goes, [in Italian accent] don't talk about me, what did you say about me--

 

PAUL: [Laughs]

 

GIULIA: --you know? And it's actually sort of helped, I think in a way it's helped us heal from some stuff, because I've talked about things on stage and the reaction from people has been relating to it, and then it's sort of like showed my parents that it's okay.

I think that's kind of been my job in the family, like I sort of have flown away, and then I come back with a worm and I drop it on their doorstep and I'm like, see, it's not, it's just a worm. And they're like, oh, like it's kind of a neat, like that, so that's my mom.

My dad is short, angry [chuckles], sad, hilarious, also very, very funny. He uses it, I think, a little bit more as a, when things are getting too intimate, like we'll be at a wedding and they're giving a speech and the speech starts to get sentimental, my dad will very loudly turn to me, my sister and my mom and go, heh, when are we going to start eating here? And I'm like, oh, my God, like, I mean, loud enough for everyone to hear it. He's so uncomfortable.

 

PAUL: Where do you think that comes from?

 

GIULIA: Oh, I think probably, I'm assuming he was probably raised like, you know, be a man, toughen up, that kind of stuff.

 

PAUL: So maybe he's afraid that he's going to feel overwhel-, he's going to be overwhelmed by emotions or--

 

GIULIA: Maybe. I mean, I think he's, he is so, my parents want to fix everything, my dad especially, I mean, you know, both with the fact that he has like, you know, he's always carrying a hammer, like he wants to fix things in that way, show that he loves you by fixing something, so it kills him that I don't own a house, you know, because like, well, what do I fix?

 

[Chuckling]

 

GIULIA: But also just wants to fix things, like, you know, very much like, he's a victim-blamer, you know what I mean? Like, when I was a kid, if I got a cold, he'd be like, why don't you wear a jacket? You know, or like, I'd fall and it'd be like, well, why don't you watch where you're going?

Like, and it doesn't come from a mean place. It comes from like a, shit, well, I thought I did everything to protect you and it didn't, so just like, don't do that, stupid. Like, you know what I mean? Like that--

 

PAUL: So, his biggest fear is he's going to fail you.

 

GIULIA: Yes. I think his biggest fear is that he's going to be a failure in general.

 

PAUL: As a man and a husband, as a father--

 

GIULIA: As everything, yeah, because he, I mean, he's, we've talked about it. He felt very much when he was younger, especially high school, he really wanted to go to college. The guidance counselor told him he wasn't smart enough, so he has that like I'll-show-you kind of attitude, became very self-made in real estate, and still, you know, every now and then I'll get really sentimental with him and I'll be like, I'm so p-, like, do you understand what you did? Like, you went from growing up on a farm--

 

PAUL: In Italy.

 

GIULIA: --in Italy, coming to this country when you were 15, didn't speak the language. You graduated high school. You didn't go to college. And you, you know, he owns tons of property all over Massachusetts--

 

PAUL: He became an electrician, worked his ass off and bought property on the side.

 

GIULIA: Bought property, yep, and just, you know, I didn't, I don't have college loans. You know, like he really, I mean--

 

PAUL: That's pretty amazing.

 

GIULIA: Phenomenal. All by himself. And I know there's part of him that's s-, but he does not go on vacation. He, you know, dresses like a homeless person [chuckles]. I mean, does, I don't, my, my biggest wish for my dad is that he would just throw caution to the wind.

He wants to have enough money so that like his grandkids can go to college, and it's like, thank you, his great-grandkids, you know what I mean? And I'm like, but like what are you, like what about you? You know, he, I mean, his biggest joy is like when The Godfather is on TV.

 

PAUL: [Laughs]

 

GIULIA: You know, which is wonderful, but like, you can go to a movie.

 

PAUL: I get pretty excited when The Godfather is on, too--

 

GIULIA: Yeah, yeah, yeah. But there, yeah, so, I don't know. I just want them to like say fuck it and like take a fabulous vacation and get massages and, but their response, my dad would be like, massage? What, I don't want, why do I got to pay someone to touch me, huh? Like, it's just like they, we always make a joke about my dad that he likes to be near fun but not in the fun--

 

PAUL: [Laughs]

 

GIULIA: --because like my sister would have like a barbecue and she'd be like, are you going to come to the barbecue, like with her friends. He'd be like, no, no, you have fun with the friends, but that would be when he needed to pop by to like do yard work at the house next, you know what I mean, something weird. And he'd be like, I'll have a hot dog, but like he won't sit down and eat it. He'll just sort of like--

 

PAUL: Yeah, he wants to watch the rain but he doesn't want to get wet.

 

GIULIA: Yeah, exactly. He doesn't understand vacations, like, or napping. You know, he just--

 

PAUL: Oh, my God. He and I would not get along--

 

[Laughter]

 

GIULIA: Even though he always falls asleep, like when he was like sitting on the couch at the mall waiting for, you know what I mean? But he, yeah, he just, he, he's, my dad's obsessed with working. My mom's obsessed with worrying. And they're both super funny, but very overprotective and very afraid people.

I think that's the best word, just afraid of whether it's, you know, what other people think, of us getting hurt, making a mistake. Ach, don't make, if I had to hear the phrase, don't make a mistake, one more time in my life, life, everything in life is a mistake.

 

PAUL: Are you afraid of making mistakes?

 

GIULIA: Eh, yeah. Not as, not as, I've done a lot of like, you know, therapy or a self-help book, listen to this podcast, on and on, yoga, so I’m doing my best, but yeah, I do. I think it's what's held me back from, in the past, not committing to things, quitting, you know, trying a new sport or a new, playing an instrument, and the second it got hard I'd quit because I would rather, I would rather be the one to say that, oh, I just didn't want to do this anymore.

 

PAUL: Yeah, fail on your own terms.

 

GIULIA: Yeah, I wanted to fail on my own terms. I quit comedy twice because it got hard, and I, someone said no to me, you know what I mean. So, it's a combination of, the fear of failing stemmed, I guess, from like a lack of having the tools of knowing to just, that being hurt and failing is a part of success rather than, well, just protect yourself from ever failing and being afraid and--

 

PAUL: Right.

 

GIULIA: --you know, being hurt or whatever.

 

PAUL: And you learn from failing.

 

GIULIA: Oh, yeah. You don't learn anything from not failing.

 

PAUL: Yeah.

 

GIULIA: You know, so--

 

PAUL: Especially as a stand-up comedian. The bad shows--

 

GIULIA: Oh, yeah.

 

PAUL: --the self-reflection after a bad show can be the biggest turning point in your career as a stand-up.

 

GIULIA: Yeah. Yeah, definitely. So, so that was my parents.

 

PAUL: What are your fears? Do you have your fears written down?

 

GIULIA: I do.

 

PAUL: Let's get into th-, let's mix things up.

 

GIULIA: Okay.

 

PAUL: Let's get crazy.

 

GIULIA: And go in the middle?

 

PAUL: Yeah.

 

GIULIA: All right, so read all the fears?

 

PAUL: Yeah.

 

GIULIA: Okay. All right, I’m afraid my parents [chuckles] will die before ever truly enjoying life at this age. I'm afraid people think I’m annoying.

 

PAUL: Talk about that. What do you think is annoying about you?

 

GIULIA: That I, I think I'm honest to the point where sometimes maybe I, like I will tell people, hey, I feel really hurt that I wasn't invited to this thing, and I fear that like it gets an eye-roll of like, oh, God, Giulia is so needy, like that kind of thing, and I know where that comes from.

I mean, it comes from, in high school I had this horrible bully best friend that would tell me like, people don't like you, no guys would ever like you, you're so annoying. I mean, she convinc-, and I'd be like, no, but I'm really good friends with that person, she'd be like, oh, come on, Giulia, please. Like, she really gas-lit me, and . . .

 

PAUL: And you were saying that you would try to kind of break up with her as a friend--

 

GIULIA: Yeah.

 

PAUL: --and she wouldn't let you.

 

GIULIA: She wouldn't let me. She would, I mean, she was such a bully, but then she would do really nice things and like apologize and cry. Like, it was just, it was so dysfunctional. My parents hated her, and I didn't, but I was like, but she's my best friend, like I didn't know any better.

And then, then there was another incident, and it's so funny, like these small things, because when I think about it, I'm like, let it go, Giulia, but it was my senior year of high school, and she had left school at this point, so she left my high school junior year, thank God, and left to go to cosmetology school, and I remember thinking, like, oh, I'll have like this senior year, finally, to like maybe be myself.

And so it was like, I had a group of friends, and they were nice. I just think I probably, there was other people I kind of think I would have clicked with more. I really wanted a, I should have hung out with the theater kids, because that's where my heart was, but I didn't think theater kids were cool and I wanted to be cool.

 

PAUL: I was the same way. I was so afraid of being labeled, you know, a weirdo--

 

GIULIA: Yeah, which is ridiculous. Meanwhile, my bestest friend in the whole world is the theater girl that I became friends with like end of senior year, you know.

And, but my group of friends weren't that cool [chuckles]. You know, they were like, they just weren't theater nerds or whatever it was, whatever decision I had made in my head.

And it was like a Friday night and I called all of them to see what everyone was doing and everyone was busy, and then Monday morning one of them told me, they were like, well, I wasn't supposed to tell you this, but we all went to the movies without you Friday and we all lied. And I was like, why? She's like, because you're like really annoying sometimes.

That--

 

PAUL: How would that not kill you?

 

GIULIA: But like, I know it would, but in my head, I'm like, but there's, you know, there's people who are like truly abused and--

 

PAUL: That makes me, that makes me sick to my stomach, though, hearing that. I mean, that's like, I could feel the shame go from the top of my head--

 

GIULIA: Yeah.

 

PAUL: --through my face and my stomach to my feet, the thought of being on the other end of hearing that.

 

GIULIA: Well, and I think because, you know, having been raised by these parents that protected me so much, when I felt like whenever I did get vulnerable with people, because part of the overprotective raising is like, well, you don't need to let people know that that's how you feel. Like just, you know, we're your family. Like, well, you know, like there's a lot of being raised, Italians are always raised, don't trust people, people are out to get you, don't let people make a fool of you. That's a huge thing.

And so then, I was vulnerable with these friends. I was like, hey, I really wanted to hang out with you guys, where were you, and then it was really sad because it was like, in my little, you know, 16-year-old brain I was like, well, my parents were right, you can't trust other people, like don't be vulnerable, like that kind of stuff.

So, between the bully best friend and then this experience, it just like put me in this head space of just--

 

PAUL: How, how, yeah, how could you have a sense of self if--

 

GIULIA: Yeah. I was just always worrying that people were plotting against me, a huge paranoia of mine.

 

PAUL: You still have it today?

 

GIULIA: Not as bad, just because I feel like I’m in a pre-, I mean, I love, I trust all of my friends. I've only surrounded myself with healthy, good people. I'm in a good relationship. I have a good relationship with my family. Like, things have gotten good, but yeah, I mean, especially with social media.

I go online, I see a photo of an event, actually, I mean, yeah, I, like there was a few years ago, I had a group of friends go on vacation without me. And I found out it was because one of them was mad at me about something but didn't confront me, and I was like, is this fucking high school? Like, I'm like, why am I the target of this sort of like exclusive behavior?

So, but then I also am a big believer in like self-fulfilling prophecies, where I’m like, well, maybe I put this energy out there sometimes, where it's like if you're putting the energy out of, please don't leave me out, then sometimes people are like, ugh, we don't really want that around.

 

PAUL: I hate that feeling, though, when you realize that everybody else went--

 

GIULIA: Yeah.

 

PAUL: --went to some place and you weren't invited. That's, and we find it out on Facebook, that's called getting face-fucked.

 

GIULIA: Yeah. Well, I listened to the Guy Winch episode about that, and I remember like replaying parts of it over just so I would let it drill in my head. And actually, listening to that really helped me because then I was like, oh, like who--

 

PAUL: Was the episode on low self-esteem?

 

GIULIA: I think so. And he talked about like how--

 

PAUL: Or loneliness? Probably low self-esteem.

 

GIULIA: Maybe. Yeah, I think it was the low self-esteem one, because he talked about going on social media and it's a very real thing to feel left out. And, I mean, I'm, again, I've gotten, I think now that things like Twitter and Facebook and Instagram have been out for a while, I feel way more balanced with it, but like each media that came out, when it first came out, I went through a horrible phase with each one of them because I would get obsessed.

I would get obsessed with, you know, searching through someone's photos to see what they did without me, or like searching through to see who follows me back, or, and then like I hit a point where I was like, what am I doing with my time? Like that, to me, is a huge escape from avoiding something within myself.

 

PAUL: And it's so corrosive to your self-esteem that you would base it on your worth by, oh, well, if this person has 10 times as many followers, then they must be, you know--

 

GIULIA: Yeah. But it goes back to this high-school thinking that has probably been the biggest thing that I've had to work on, of trying to shake, of like, oh, I guess I'm not one of the cool kids, I guess I'm not one of the cool comedians, I guess, you know, like it's that.

It's a lot more in comedy than I think in regular social life now, because it's like I actually, when I got to college, that's when I really started to find more like-minded people and, you know, I was studying things that I was actually interested in, because I was like an average student in high school, like C's, B's, got to college, started getting A's because my mind was being challenged. You know, I discovered the joy of weed. I, you know, had a boyfriend. Like it was just, I finally figured things out.

So, I don't feel it as much with like my real friends anymore. With the gazillions of acquaintances I now have--

 

PAUL: I see.

 

GIULIA: --through comedy and the Internet--

 

PAUL: Is it more in terms of your place in the general world?

 

GIULIA: Yeah. And, again, it's like, I'm sure by the time this episode comes out I will probably hear that and be like, I don't even feel that way, because it's, I don't know, like in the past couple years, I think I just had the most, I've been the most dedicated to the undoing of this stuff, or probably just getting older. I don't know what it is, but I just, it's gotten a lot better.

 

PAUL: One of the nice things about getting older is you do truly begin to care less--

 

GIULIA: Yeah, yeah.

 

PAUL: --what people think.

 

GIULIA: Yeah, I really do. I mean, and it's not, again, like with the social media thing, it's not even about likes or retweets, like that stuff, because in the beginning it was that. It's not that. It's the feeling of just, I guess it goes back to my parents being like, don't be a fool, you know, I don't want to be a f-, I don't want to be the one that doesn't get included, like that you're all on a fucking trip.

I would make up, I would make these jokes from like, they're probably all playing charades right now, going like, [makes funny sound], I’m Giulia, like that--

 

[Laughter]

 

GIULIA: --and I'm like, it's not about me. You know, but I don't know, yeah. Yeah, I would say that's one of my biggest fears.

 

PAUL: Give me another one.

 

GIULIA: Another fear. I'm afraid of, oh, God, okay. Oh, ooh, this is a good one. I’m afraid one of these days I'll actually jump.

 

PAUL: Oh, you have that, too--

 

GIULIA: Oh, God.

 

PAUL: --where when you're on a bridge or you're on a roof--

 

GIULIA: Oh, my God.

 

PAUL: --you're like, you're afraid that there's a part of you that is going to take over.

 

GIULIA: The subway is the one.

 

PAUL: Yes.

 

GIULIA: I mean, but I also have it with throwing hot coffee in people's faces, holding a baby, I could throw it. I'm, I would never, and my friend who was studying human development told me something al-, I obviously don't know if this is medically, you know, what it means, but if you have those thoughts, it actually means you're a very careful person, because it means you're hyper-aware of danger, which kind of might feed into this I feel like I have a good instinct about danger, but yeah, I think, I mean, I thought, I had--

 

PAUL: I always, I’m always afraid somebody is going to, also, bump into me or push me--

 

GIULIA: Mm-hmm.

 

PAUL: --in front of the train, so I always--

 

GIULIA: Oh, yeah.

 

PAUL: --I always back up like five, five, six feet from it and look around.

 

GIULIA: Oh, yeah. Or like that I'm going to trip or like whatever. I mean, with the jumping, I mean, if I was ever going to kill myself it wouldn't be jumping anyways. I'd do like the least painful. I'd do pills [chuckles], if I had to.

But I've gotten, I don't, I would never kill myself, but I've definitely had moments where I wanted to disappear and escape, and I don't know the mind of someone who's actually done it, obviously, but I get it. Like, when I hear that someone's killed themselves, I'm never like, how could anyone do that? Like, I get it.

 

PAUL: Mm-hmm.

 

GIULIA: You know, I wrote a suicide letter before, threw it away [chuckles].

 

PAUL: How old were you?

 

GIULIA: It was right after I got divorced.

 

PAUL: So, not that long ago.

 

GIULIA: No, not that long ago, yeah.

 

PAUL: What was the stuff that was leading to you feeling that way?

 

GIULIA: Well, so, what happened with me was, so I graduated college and I had, I stayed with my college boyfriend throughout my entire 20s, which was great to help me avoid not growing.

 

[Laughter]

 

GIULIA: And he's a wonderful person. We're still friends. He was one of my best friends. And if I had to redo my 20s over, I probably would have broken up with him right after college, done whatever, found myself, blah, blah, blah. That's not how it went.

So, we stayed together, and I don't think I, he was, he is, you know, all-American, you know, very functional family, or at least what it seems, and parents very much in love. You know, my parents are, they exist [chuckles]--

 

PAUL: Your parents argue a lot.

 

GIULIA: Yeah, they, they often will say, you know, we love, we love ea-, you know, who else is going to take us at this point, you know, that kind of, it's almost like a reality show, like whoever is going to go first, which means they're both going to be here till 102, so that's good.

But, you know, he seemed like he grew up with a really healthy example of like romantic love and love and all that stuff and, you know, whatever, and I don't really think I had a lot of room to explore my shit in that, because his reaction to me when I would get really upset about stuff was like, oh, let me take you to dinner, and it was a little bit more of that overprotective stuff. And he didn't do it because he, we were kids and he wanted to protect me.

And so, I think I went from being, having parents that protected me from truly going deep with my pain and failing and all that stuff into a relationship where it was very safe.

And so, when that ended, so basically, when I got married, I knew I was probably going to get divorced, because I got married when I was feeling really down and I hated my career and I thought it was time and I should. I got married because I thought I should get married.

And I very dramatically quit comedy and moved to the suburbs of Boston into a house my dad owned across the street from my high school to really, you know, because that feels good, and I got married and I was a mess. That was probably the most I was ever drinking, the most I was ever eating, like just stay out really late, like completely behaved inappropriately for someone who was engaged and married, and just was just a mess.

And so when we split, I, there was this one night, it was like about a week after we split, and I told this guy that I had, you know, and oftentimes, I think when you are about to go through a breakup or a divorce or whatever, there's sometimes someone who will come into your life as a messenger, that you think is going to be the next person you fall in love with, but they're really just there to let you know you shouldn't be in the relationship you're in, if that makes sense.

 

PAUL: Mm-hmm.

 

GIULIA: So, I thought the mess-, this guy, the messenger, was going to be my next boyfriend. I had been out of my marriage for a week, right?

 

[Chuckling]

 

GIULIA: You know what I mean?

 

PAUL: Yeah.

 

GIULIA: But I was like, oh, I was panicking, and he essentially in, you know, no other terms, told me, you know, why would I want to be with someone going through a divorce? And I was like devastated by this.

But what I was devastated by was the fact that I was alone for the first time in my life, and I remember going home and I was really upset, and I felt like there was nobody that I could talk to about it because my best friend was gone, my husband, and I didn't really know who to call as far as friends because I felt like I was being a real asshole because I just got rid of this guy who was great, my husband was great, to try and hook up or whatever with this guy who wanted nothing to do with me.

And I was like, well, who's going to want to hear this st-, like, I'm a jerk, you know what I mean? I just had my parents spend all this money on this wedding that I didn't want. Like, I just felt the most shame and guilt I've ever felt in my life.

 

PAUL: And loneliness on top of it.

 

GIULIA: Oh, God. I felt like, I've never felt that alone in my life, because I'm really good about, when I feel down, you know, I'll take space for myself, but I'll like call a friend or go to my ther-, like I really, I'm really good at asking for help, for the most part, but this was one of those ones where I was like, I don't deserve help, like I'm just fucking garbage.

And I remember crying the most I'd ever cried. And I wrote drafts of a suicide note and, [chuckles] and I talk about this in my show, so I don't mean to be like quoting my show, but the, I’m so glad the drafts were so shitty because I kept writing and I was like, oh, is it spelled wrong, and I was like--

 

PAUL: [Chuckles]

 

GIULIA: --kept throwing all the drafts in the garbage, and I didn't have my glasses on and I didn't have my contacts in because my eyes were like so puffy from crying, and I saw, I thought it was a hairball next to the trashcan but it was actually a cockroach, and I didn't know that, so I picked it up with my bare foot to throw the hairball in the garbage and then--

 

PAUL: It climbed up your--

 

GIULIA: --it climbed up me, and it like woke me up. Like, it just snapped me out of this, again, I don't think I could have gone, I didn't have a plan on how I was going to kill myself. I just wanted the note written just in case I didn't get through the day.

 

PAUL: It sounds, too, like you just wanted, you also wanted to get your feelings out--

 

GIULIA: Yes.

 

PAUL: --in a way that you could have some objectivity about what the fuck you were feeling.

 

GIULIA: Yeah. I mean, I didn't even get through, every draft, I wrote one sentence and threw it away. I mean, it was like, it was, it made, it was making no sense.

And then, so I ended up spending the next hour trying to kill the roach, and then I kind of forgot, not forgot, but I was like, all right, like I can, if I can do this, which doesn't sound like, but I ha-, I, I am the biggest, biggest baby with bugs, mice. Like I don't know, if I ever have kids and they're like, Mommy, there's a [chuckles] spider in the room, I'm going to be like, sorry, like I can't, I'm sure I'll change.

But so, the fact that I was able to kill this roach was so huge to me. And I called, so when I saw the roach, I called my husband at work, and I was like, there's a roach in the apartment. And he was like, what--

 

PAUL: We're divorced.

 

GIULIA: Yeah, like, figure this out. And it was so symbolic of like, and he wasn't being mean. He has a right to say that. But it was so symbolic of, it wasn't just like figure out how to kill this roach. It was like, like figure out your life, like you can't keep hiding behind people.

So, it was actually one of the best moments of my life, in retrospect, because it was like such an awakening that I had been so afraid of things, yeah.

 

PAUL: So afraid to be alone.

 

GIULIA: Oh, yeah, just so afraid to be alone. That's probably, that's where, gosh, I guess that's probably where like the afraid of being left out, afraid people are talking about me, because I'm, whenever I, so like when I find out that someone doesn't like me, very rare because I am charming--

 

[Chuckling]

 

GIULIA: --but whenever I think someone doesn't like me, I'm very, well, one of my other fears, I'm very afraid of having ever hurt somebody by mistake and not knowing it, because I never want to hurt someone on purpose.

I feel bad, you know, for people I've dated that I don't talk to anymore just because it's a healthy thing, but I feel, I feel bad that they think I hate, you know what I mean, like that kind of stuff.

 

PAUL: Mm-hmm.

 

GIULIA: So, whenever I get a vibe that someone doesn't like me or I hear someone doesn't like me, I feel bad if I hurt them, and then I get afraid that they're now going to tell everyone that I'm a horrible person--

 

PAUL: I do, too. I have that.

 

GIULIA: --and that I'm going to be alone.

 

PAUL: Yes [chuckles], I have that. In fact, I was just talking about that in therapy last week.

 

GIULIA: Yeah.

 

PAUL: I was saying that's, that's a fear.

 

GIULIA: Yeah. It's a huge fear. Like I--

 

PAUL: That I don't have an accurate view of who I really am--

 

GIULIA: Yeah.

 

PAUL: --and I’m actually a terrible person and, or just uncomfortable to be around, like people endure me.

 

GIULIA: Yeah. But this is the weird thing, though, and I'm very aware of it. My therapist calls it your head versus your heart, and I think I'm going to say it right, but like my heart, I know that I'm great. Like, I really do.

And it's, also it's kind of like, I don't know if I said it on this one or the one that didn't record [chuckles], but like it's the same way, like I know my mom thinks she is like gorgeous and smart and funny, because she's said it, but then something will shift and she'll think she's garbage.

And my dad, I know that he's proud of himself and that he thinks he's done well, because he carries it like that, but then something, he'll get in a mood and all of a sudden he's like, oh, I've accomplished nothing. So, my whole family, and I think my sister, too, like we all have this like very black/white kind of view.

So, like I know that I am sweet and kind and funny and all these qualities that make me a likable person, but then something will like shift in my head, like someone will look at me the wrong way or the mood I'm in, and I'm like, oh, I'm a fraud.

 

PAUL: Yeah.

 

GIULIA: Like, they're going to figure out that I--

 

PAUL: It's like the bottom drops off and all of a sudden you're just like--

 

GIULIA: Yeah.

 

PAUL: --I didn't know there was a trapdoor, oh, God, it's, that is a terrible feeling--

 

GIULIA: It is a terrible feeling.

 

PAUL: --it is a terrible feeling.

 

GIULIA: And I feel like my heart is winning more as I get older, like where, because the funny thing is, is that every time I've done something that I thought, like, for example, like when I got divorced, I mean, one of my biggest fears was that my ex-husband and all his friends and all our mutual, I thought my family, I thought everyone was going to hate me. That was how I felt, too, when I was writing this letter. I was like, everyone hates me. I have never been so supported in my life.

I mean, his friends, like we had to go to, we went to a wedding together while we were going through the divorce, just because we had plans to, and, I mean, his friends came up to me, pulled me aside and they're like, look, no matter what happens, just know like we've always loved you, and I'm like, really?

And like, actually recently, I got, he has a new girlfriend. He has kids with his girlfriend. And we connected on Facebook, and I wrote her and was like, I think this is so cool that like you guys seem so happy together, and she was like, oh, my God, all he, every time your name has come up, he has said nothing but the nicest, like you seem like one of the best people ever.

And it's like, yeah, of course he said the nicest things, you know what I mean? Like, we had a very l-, like we're both loving, wonderful p-, but, you know, that fear for like so long of like, I’m a horrible person because I'm making a decision for myself--

 

PAUL: Mm-hmm.

 

GIULIA: --that's really what it is. I think the biggest fear is like doing something that’s going to make me happy, other people are going to think that I'm selfish or an asshole, well, who does she think she is?

And I know I get that from my parents, because they, my mom's not going to travel the world and be this fabulous woman, because she is supposed to be a mom and what will people think. And my dad's not going to go blow all his money because, you know, what will people, like it's--

 

PAUL: In his mind it's blowing all his money--

 

GIULIA: Yeah, meanwhile, it's like you're going to get a pizza without a coupon, you know what I mean [chuckles]? Like, it's not even . . .

 

PAUL: Yeah.

 

GIULIA: But, yeah, it's that, it's like, and I think a lot of people go through, it's like that Marianne Williamson quote of like, our biggest fear is not that we're inadequate. It's, do you know the one I'm talking about--

 

PAUL: Is it we're magnificent or something like that--

 

GIULIA: Yeah, it's like our biggest fear is not our darkness but our light or whatever. It's just basically about like our biggest fear is that we're actually wonderful.

 

PAUL: Mm-hmm, because then you're in a state of vulnerability because your defense is gone.

 

GIULIA: Yeah.

 

PAUL: It's so much, to me, it's so much safer to think that I'm this flawed person that people don't want to be around because I know how to operate from that place.

 

GIULIA: Well, and then you're not a fool.

 

PAUL: Yes.

 

GIULIA: You know what I mean? So, if I know that I'm shit, and then someone calls me shit, I'm like, yeah, I knew that all along, you know--

 

PAUL: Right. It's why I make fun of myself first--

 

GIULIA: Yeah, exactly.

 

PAUL: --is because I, I don't, you know, it's why I'll say something embarrassing about myself on the podcast, because the worst thing would be to hear somebody say, hey, did you hear such-and-such about somebody.

 

GIULIA: Yeah, yeah, yeah. But then, and, but the thing is, then after a while, though, what ends up happening is that people don't want to be, not you, but people won't want to be around somebody like that, not because they were ever annoying to begin with. I've been making this joke of like, you know, people say like I suffer from anxiety and depression. I'm like, my friends are the ones that suffer from my anxiety and depression--

 

[Laughter]

 

GIULIA: --because they're constantly like, you know, how much can you talk, like, you know, but also, talking about it, that's why I love doing comedy about this stuff, because people relate, you know, and that's really, at the end of the day, that's all I really want out of this world, is to like talk about this shit, laugh about it, and just be like, what else can we do, you know?

 

PAUL: Yeah.

 

GIULIA: And I guess you could jump, but--

 

PAUL: [Chuckles]

 

GIULIA: --I don't really want to [chuckles].

 

PAUL: Give me another fear.

 

GIULIA: Oh, boy. Let's see. I'm afraid of not having kids, that I'll miss my window. I think I want them [chuckles]. And then I think I'm also afraid to have kids, because I know they're going to have something fucked up with them, and it's probably going to be my fault.

 

PAUL: It's the responsibility of having kids that has kept me from ever--

 

GIULIA: Yeah.

 

PAUL: Like, I look at what parents have to do in a single day to be a parent, and that's a deal-breaker for me, let alone 18 years.

 

GIULIA: My sister is one of the best moms, and I don't just say this because she's my sister, but, and it's like, it's non-stop. And also just now, like I’m afraid to have kids in a technological, because, I mean, it's, I'm overwhelmed with this at this point. I can't even imagine what's going to be out there when I have kids that are like 10, 15.

 

PAUL: Porn being--

 

GIULIA: Oh, cyberbullying.

 

PAUL: --sent into their pupils.

 

GIULIA: Have you watched Black Mirror?

 

PAUL: Nh-nuh.

 

GIULIA: Oh, God.

 

PAUL: What is it?

 

GIULIA: Black Mirror is this British mini-ser-, no, no, it was a series, but it's sort of like Twilight Zone, where each episode is its own story. There's only six episodes. And it's all about the future and technology, and it is, but it's set modern or current or whatever. It is such a mind trip, because it's going to happen.

Have you seen Idiocracy?

 

PAUL: Oh, I loved Idiocracy?

 

GIULIA: I mean, that's already what's happening.

 

PAUL: Yeah.

 

GIULIA: That's one of my biggest fears. I get more, you know, again, maybe this is like another age thing, too, but like more and more my sadness, it used to be more inward. Now I get more sad about like the state of the world.

 

PAUL: I do, too.

 

GIULIA: Because I have done all this work on myself to like myself and be a good person and be kind and compassionate, and then I see people who are just such monsters succeed and it makes me panic about where do I fit, you know, like--

 

PAUL: I don't have that about where do I fit. I have a fear that they're just going to keep gaining more and more power--

 

GIULIA: Well, and that's what I mean.

 

PAUL: --and the gap between rich and poor is just going to keep getting worse and worse--

 

GIULIA: Yep.

 

PAUL: --and then it's just going to be a revolution that's chaos and every man for himself and there's no secure food or water--

 

GIULIA: Oh, God.

 

PAUL: --and people roaming the streets with shotguns and you've got to put bars on your windows and I'll have no choice but to have to buy a gun and, to defend myself, and I'll have to shoot somebody to survive.

 

GIULIA: Oh, gosh.

 

PAUL: That's where my brain goes.

 

GIULIA: Oh, so my brain goes [chuckles], why is that asshole getting an hour special?

 

[Laughter]

 

PAUL: I went through that in my 30s.

 

GIULIA: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

 

PAUL: I went through that in my 30s.

 

GIULIA: But, no, but more so I guess my, no, you know what it is? Where I said like, where do I belong or fit, I just, you know, and people minimize this a lot, but I don't think it's something to minimize, the fact that you can go on the Internet, create a fake account, say horrible things to other people without taking any responsibility and being held accountable, it is like, forget the fact that it's hurtful and mean and stupid.

It's like just poison, you know what I mean? It's bad energy that's traveling into one person's eyes to another person's fingertips to another person's eyes, and I know it's like, yeah, well, don't read comments. I'm not talking about me getting hurt, because like, I mean it, like that stuff hardly bothers me anymore. It doesn't feel good, but I don't take it to heart.

 

PAUL: Mm-hmm.

 

GIULIA: I'm not going to quit comedy because someone didn't like my video. But I'm just saying what gets me sad is the fact that there are people who do this.

 

PAUL: Who do that.

 

GIULIA: Especially because, when you think about it, you have to sign up for an e-mail address, make a fake account, find a fake photo, get it approved, you know what I mean?

 

PAUL: Mm-hmm.

 

GIULIA: Like, the steps you have to go to to be mean, that's what scares me, that people, and then there's like--

 

PAUL: And that that's their choice of how to spend their time that day, how much pain must they be in--

 

GIULIA: Yeah.

 

PAUL: --to want to do that.

 

GIULIA: I really, I empathize. I mean, I get really furious, but I also just, but then I think on top of that what makes me sad is that we have a culture that I think rewards them in a way, because there is entertainment out there that's really mean-spirited and there is--

 

PAUL: But that has no longevity. It doesn't.

 

GIULIA: I hope so.

 

PAUL: It doesn't. Stuff that has love in it, that stuff always has longevity, and that's the stuff that positively sends ripples out into the world that truly changes people's lives for the better--

 

GIULIA: Yeah.

 

PAUL: That's the, you know, you see, you know that professor, Randy, I forget what his name is, who he gave a lecture when he had terminal cancer about, you know, do this while you're alive, do that while you're alive, you know, and he said, [inaudible] love out into the universe, and, you know, stuff like that, that's the stuff that people are going to remember.

They're not, when they're on their deathbed and they look back on their lives and the things that influenced them and brought meaning to their lives, they're not going to think of the asshole that said something on Facebook to them.

 

GIULIA: Yeah.

 

PAUL: They're going to think about, oh, that person that inspired me, and then that changed my life and I did this and I inspired that, you're going to think about the chain of inspiration in your life. That's my opinion--

 

GIULIA: Yeah, no, you're right--

 

PAUL: --is that the stuff that is the cement of our spiritual lives and our, you know, our emotional lives.

 

GIULIA: I guess I just want more of that. I just feel like there's just so much--

 

PAUL: Have you ever done any volunteer work or anything like that?

 

GIULIA: I've done some volunteer work. I want to do more of it. Like it's something that I keep saying I'm going to do and then I don't.

 

PAUL: It's a great place to start. And it's a great antidote to that mean voice in your head that tells you, you're a piece of shit, you're three steps behind the universe--

 

GIULIA: Yeah.

 

PAUL: --you're not doing enough with your life, you know, your life is going to be forgettable, that part of your brain just shuts down--

 

GIULIA: Yeah.

 

PAUL: --on that day, at least, when you do some nice thing, expecting nothing in return. Those, at least for me, those are the days that I rest my head on my pillow and I just go to sleep like a baby.

 

GIULIA: Yeah.

 

PAUL: Yeah.

 

GIULIA: I try to do, years ago, well, so I was, hm, bulimic-ish, I say -ish only because I'm such, I'm so bad at committing, like the whole quitting thing, I didn't fully give in to it [chuckles], if that makes any sense, but I, there was like a few years of my life in college and right after college, and I tried to start doing speaking and like stuff like that around it.

I tried to make it funny and like I was trying to incorporate like humor with it, and it just, I couldn't do it, because I kept meeting people that were really more in need of true help and not just like me being cute and doing vomiting jokes, you know what I mean.

 

PAUL: Mm-hmm.

 

GIULIA: So, sometimes, I've tried to do a lot of things that incorporate humor into kind of healing stuff, but it doesn't always go the way that I want it to, if that makes any . . .

 

PAUL: I tried to do that with my stand-up for 20 years, and I could never, I just could never get to that, it just never rang true. It's like the comedy club wasn't the place--

 

GIULIA: Well, but, you know, I did have, I think one of my best moments ever, and I was really young when this happened, too, it was my early 20s, and I was at the Comedy Store and I was doing a show in the main room, and I did a joke about having like, you know, a scary Italian dad that's like, you know, throwing his fists in the air and just, you know, I just got really, I just started heavily talking about what it's like being raised in an immigrant home, and the room was dead quiet. Everyone was so uncomfortable. It suddenly wasn't comedy.

But there was this one Hispanic guy in the front who was like, covering his face, crying, I mean, crying laughing--

 

PAUL: [Chuckles]

 

GIULIA: --and so I just turned to him and I was like, you have immigrant parents, don't you? And he was like, mm-hmm, mm-hmm, mm-hmm. I'm like, did your dad used to beat the shit out of you? He's like, yes. And he was, he just let out this like hysterical, maniacal laugh, and I just started laughing with him, and then the whole room started laughing--

 

PAUL: [Laughs]

 

GIULIA: --and then we just like, I just like kind of played all my jokes to him, and it was, like whenever I feel like shit about comedy, I think about that moment, and I’m like, I want more of that, like that, to me--

 

PAUL: Yes.

 

GIULIA: --is why I do all of this, because it's helped me heal. It's helped, you know, I show, my dad has not seen me do stand-up. He's, well, I mean, think about it. If he's the kind of guy who will punch, I mean, if someone didn't, I could imagine him being like, you didn't laugh, and like hitting them, you know what I mean? He'd be so protective.

 

PAUL: Mm-hmm.

 

GIULIA: But I've showed him videos of me doing comedy, and I've showed him, I didn't have that show taped but I had a set taped where I made fun of my dad's temper, and I showed it to him and I was like, are you mad? And he was like, eh, I mean, it happened.

And it was just this like really cool moment of, it happened, so, yeah, I mean, if you want to talk about it, go for it, it's funny. And it, what else can you do?

 

PAUL: Yeah.

 

GIULIA: You know, so that's kind of been a neat thing.

 

PAUL: Give me another fear.

 

GIULIA: I'm afraid I'll never be able to fully express the thoughts that I have. I get really excit-, I have a million movies, speeches, books--

 

PAUL: Me, too [chuckles].

 

GIULIA: I try to write as much as I can, but then it's like, well, then you've got to get the funding and this and that. Like, I just, and not even just that I'm not going to have time to get all the thing, but, I mean, even just getting, I always wish I could just put like a little machine in my brain and have it type it up for me, because I don't even sometimes know how to fully express what I'm trying to say.

 

PAUL: I see.

 

GIULIA: I get so excited, and also, just typing is like so exhausting. I really--

 

PAUL: Did you ever take typing classes?

 

GIULIA: No.

 

PAUL: Oh. It's, for all the problems that [chuckles] my mom has bestowed upon me, her telling me, almost making me take a typing class in high school, I am so, so grateful for.

 

GIULIA: Oh, wait, no, I think we did take typing. I think it was a requirement, to do a typing class.

 

PAUL: I don't know if ours was a requirement, but it's one of the things I’m most grateful for.

 

GIULIA: Yeah.

 

PAUL: Are you afraid that you're going to die and not have been fully known? I don't mean known in terms of fame, but known, your emotional life and who you, the core of you won't be known or recognized.

 

GIULIA: No.

 

PAUL: Really?

 

GIULIA: I don't think I am. I think I used to be. I've had, in the past especially six months, I've mel-, I also went back on Zoloft, so maybe that helped [chuckles]--

 

[Chuckling]

 

GIULIA: Just a little, just a little 50 milligrams, or five milligrams, whatever the little half a pill is.

But, and I started doing yoga.

 

PAUL: Oh, yeah, yoga is great.

 

GIULIA: Yeah. I mean, I--

 

PAUL: I hear [chuckles].

 

GIULIA: I've done yoga since college but sporadically, and I just, my boyfriend and I just started going about three, four times a week together, and it has calmed me down significantly.

 

PAUL: I’m working my way up to it. I'm doing yogurt.

 

GIULIA: Yeah, okay, that's good.

 

PAUL: That might be a great joke or the worst joke ever--

 

GIULIA: [Chuckles] I love a terrible joke, so--

 

PAUL: Yeah, all right.

 

GIULIA: I mean, I don't, well, okay, here's how my brain works. I just said no and then a little part of me was like, wow, you sound, you sound pretty confident in yourself there, Giulia, like--

 

[Chuckling]

 

GIULIA: --I know someone's going to be listening to this and being like, well, who does she think she is, thinking she'll fully be known?

 

PAUL: I have these moments where, after I say something, I truly don't know if I sound like a nice guy or an asshole.

 

GIULIA: Yeah. But the thing that I'm learning, and again, all these things I say, I'm not saying I fully embody them, but I'm starting to try to convince myself, look, people know I'm not an ass. If you really know me, you know that I’m a good person. I'm allowed to brag a little bit here and there, you know, like--

 

PAUL: Mm-hmm.

 

GIULIA: --considering the amount of people that brag non-stop and, what are they even talking about, you know [chuckles]--

 

PAUL: Mm-hmm.

 

GIULIA: --like, it's, no one's going to think you're an a-, it's going to, I feel like it's going to take a lot for someone to think . . .

 

PAUL: There's some leeway between being confident and being an annoying braggart.

 

GIULIA: Yeah, yeah.

 

PAUL: You know, it's not hard to, to be in that middle ground.

 

GIULIA: Yeah. But I guess, I mean, yeah, I hope that people fully get who I am. I feel very, I have a, my sister and I, we have like almost like a twin relationship, so I feel, do you, is that what you mean, like really understood by someone?

 

PAUL: Yeah, yeah, understood by, you know, enough people that you feel like you left an emotional legacy, in other words, where there was, somebody looks back at, you know, let's say you pass away and somebody will remember you and there won't be any mistaking as to what was really going on inside you as a person--

 

GIULIA: Oh, gosh. I mean, I don't know if that's even--

 

PAUL: That people understand your pain, your joys, your dreams, your fears. That's what I want to be--

 

GIULIA: Yeah, yeah.

 

PAUL: --I want to be known, because I, I don't know why.

 

GIULIA: I think people, well, I mean, I think they will, first of all because you have a podcast where you're sharing so much about yourself and you have such a fan base from it. I mean, I feel like I knew you very well before I came in here and I’m sitting in a predominantly empty building, I think, with a complete stranger, so I, I feel pretty safe--

 

[Chuckling]

 

PAUL: And you feel, you feel relatively safe.

 

GIULIA: Yeah, I feel pretty safe. No, but yeah, I mean--

 

PAUL: It's probably one of the reasons why I keep doing the podcast. You know, when people say to me, you know, it's such a, you know, a grand gesture on your part to do the podcast, I always say, I get as much from it as people do that listen to it.

 

GIULIA: Yeah. Well, that's, I mean, that's how I feel about my comedy, my solo sh-, I know my solo show helped a lot of people, predominantly me, first and foremost.

 

PAUL: Mm-hmm.

 

GIULIA: And I feel like, yeah, I mean, I feel like right now I'm at a place in my life between, like my sister and I, we have like a twin sisterhood, so I feel extremely understood in the sense of I don't even have to tell her what I'm thinking and she gets it.

I feel pretty understood by my parents. I have friends that I can't even believe aren't related to me, that understand me, and I feel the most understood in the relationship, like I've never felt this understood by a partner--

 

PAUL: With your boyfriend.

 

GIULIA: Yeah. Like, that's something, like I could cry right now, I feel so understood by him.

 

PAUL: That's nice. How long have you guys been together?

 

GIULIA: It'll be a year at the end of June. And he has never really had a long-, like a super-long-term relationship. He's enjoyed himself. And I, I was, I gave myself a full year of being single, because I went, so I got, I was married, divorced, I got into another relationship a few months after the divorce immediately, because that's what happens to people sometimes, and then I was like, I've been in relationships for 11 years non-stop, like what am I doing?

So, I think a lot of this shift in my thinking has been a result of I just had a year alone. I dated. I hooked up. I, you know, but I had a lot of space to sit--

 

PAUL: But no committed.

 

GIULIA: No committed. I could sit in the shower and weep without anyone knocking on the door and being like, are you okay, can I help? Like, I didn't want help. I just wanted to feel. It was excruciating.

 

PAUL: Were you crying about anything in particular--

 

GIULIA: Everything.

 

PAUL: Loneliness?

 

GIULIA: Nope. Not loneliness. Like, I just, well, because I--

 

PAUL: Sadness?

 

GIULIA: Yeah, and also just letting myself feel it, because I think I said earlier, I’m really good about when I'm feeling sad, I can reach out to someone, and what I learned that year that I had on my own was, because I always had someone, I always had a boyfriend or a friend or a family member I could go to, and I started to teach myself to, when I was feeling upset, rather than call somebody to make me feel better, which there's nothing wrong with doing that at times.

 

PAUL: Right.

 

GIULIA: But every now and then I'd be like, I'd pick up the phone to call my sister or someone, I'd be like, let me see what it feels like to not call anyone and just sit and let--

 

PAUL: And embrace it.

 

GIULIA: Yep. And let whatever memory, insecurity, paranoid thought flow through me and basically v-, I mean, very similar to bulimia, like vomit it up via tears--

 

PAUL: Mm-hmm.

 

GIULIA: --and it felt almost like an exorcism, in a way.

 

PAUL: That's the lightest feeling afterwards--

 

GIULIA: The lightest feeling, when you just, and sometimes I didn't even know why I was crying. I just wanted to like really feel and have nobody protect me, have nobody tell me it was going to be okay, just like, I mean, I cried about everything.

I cried about those girls who didn't invite me to the movies. I cried about, you know, my dad saying this, my mom, you know, like everything, and it, yeah, I'm not saying I, there was definitely a shift in my being after that year, and it's, so it's sort of no wonder that I met this person who we just light each other up, very, very positive influence in my life.

 

PAUL: Well, let's do a couple of loves--

 

GIULIA: Loves?

 

PAUL: I know you're pressed for time to get out of here.

 

GIULIA: Oh, man, I don't want to leave.

Okay, let's see. I love eating in bed.

 

PAUL: I love when you're listening to the old Blue Note jazz records and you can just barely, you can't really tell what they're saying, but you can hear the band members talking to each other while somebody is soloing, or, you know, or in between solos, and you just, it's so intimate. There's like, there is no musical recording that is more intimate than those old '50s and '60s, like the Village Vanguard jazz records.

 

GIULIA: I love looking at pictures of people when they were kids, myself included.

 

PAUL: Yeah.

 

GIULIA: I love pictures of me as a kid.

 

[Laughter]

 

PAUL: Thank you for admitting that. I do, too, because there's, it's almost like a reminder, like oh, I do exist.

 

GIULIA: Oh, yeah.

 

PAUL: I do exist.

 

GIULIA: And goddamn it, was I cute.

 

PAUL: Yeah.

 

GIULIA: Yeah.

 

PAUL: Give me another one.

 

GIULIA: I love the bond that I have with my sister over television as far as like sitcoms. Like, I'll get a text from her at like 2:00 a.m., she's like, what was the name of the guy on The Jeffersons with the hat [chuckles], like that, and then we'll just, we cackle-laugh together. I love the sound of her cackle.

 

PAUL: I love seeing siblings laugh together--

 

GIULIA: Oh.

 

PAUL: I love, love seeing that, or families laughing together--

 

GIULIA: Oh, God. Yeah.

 

PAUL: Although I feel a little jealous--

 

GIULIA: [Chuckles]

 

PAUL: So, yeah, pretty jealous, really jealous.

 

GIULIA: There is moments sometimes where the four of us, my sister, my mom and my dad, and my mom, we will be laughing to the point of tears in public over something, no one else would get it, and it's like, and then sometimes you're la-, and you're crying and you're like, I don't even know what I'm feeling right now but it's just, oh, it's the best.

 

PAUL: My family has never done that. One time I remember us all laughing together and we were all drunk.

 

[Laughter]

 

GIULIA: Well, it happened, right?

 

PAUL: Yeah, it was nice.

 

GIULIA: I love being Italian.

 

PAUL: Oh, that's awesome.

 

GIULIA: Yeah, I do. I think we're so fucked up, but, God, I love it.

 

PAUL: Florence is probably my favorite city in the world.

 

GIULIA: Yeah?

 

PAUL: Yeah. I don't know. Give me another one.

 

GIULIA: I love dancing like a stripper [chuckles].

 

PAUL: Really?

 

GIULIA: Just I love, whether I'm home or if I'm like out, I'll start doing splits and whipping my hair around, and it's just like--

 

PAUL: [Chuckles]

 

GIULIA: --I just don't give a shit when I'm, I love it.

 

PAUL: That's awesome.

 

GIULIA: Yeah.

 

PAUL: Give me another one.

 

GIULIA: I love, oh, I love travel brochures and travel Web sites. I could sit on like Orbitz or Booking or one of those Web sites and just look at hotel room amenities--

 

PAUL: Mm-hmm.

 

GIULIA: --because I love hotels. It definitely started when I was a kid. I wanted my family to go to Disney World. I was like seven. And those ads for Kissimmee-St. Cloud would come on the TV. Do you remember those?

 

PAUL: Is that in Florida?

 

GIULIA: Yeah. It was like, but it was near Disney World or whatever, and they would have 800 numbers to order catalogs, we would get catalogs in the mail, I would just order Florida catalogs every week and just, I'd look at them and I'd hang them up. And then we finally went to Disney World after I pestered them. I just love hotels.

 

PAUL: I enjoy looking, it's almost like pornography, looking at land for sale--

 

GIULIA: Oh.

 

PAUL: --and I'll look at parcels that there's no way that we could afford, but I'm like, then I picture myself living, you know, in a cabin on that plot overlooking, you know, that bay in Alaska and it's just like a little, it's like a little escape.

 

GIULIA: Yeah. I love being proven wrong about somebody. Like if--

 

PAUL: Oh, that's an interesting one.

 

GIULIA: Yeah, I love when I don't think, like when I don't think I like someone or they don't like me or when I think someone's an asshole and then it turns out they're a really great person--

 

PAUL: Oh, I thought you meant the other way around, like--

 

GIULIA: Oh, no, no, no. No. I mean it, I mean it when I don't get a good vibe from somebody--

 

PAUL: I see. And then you--

 

GIULIA: --and then I'm surprised by how cool they are.

 

PAUL: I love the relief when you thought somebody was mad at you but then there's a reason why they didn't call you back or text you or something like that--

 

GIULIA: Because they have a life?

 

[Chuckling]

 

GIULIA: Yeah, because they're not next to their phone the whole time. Oh, God, but I know that feeling.

Gosh, I love mutual understanding.

 

PAUL: That's a good one.

 

GIULIA: Yeah. I love lingering with my laptop, eating a lox bagel sandwich and drinking coffee.

 

PAUL: I like running my battery all the way down on my laptop.

 

GIULIA: Yeah.

 

PAUL: There's something nice about, I don't know, it's almost kind of an OCD-ish thing.

 

GIULIA: Yeah.

 

PAUL: Like I gave my laptop a workout--

 

GIULIA: Yeah, yeah.

 

PAUL: --and now I'm going to recharge it again. Like it purged itself, like my laptop got to take a shit.

 

GIULIA: Yeah [chuckles]. I love the sound, I always put the volume up when I'm emptying the garbage on the laptop, that crunchy [makes crinkling sound]--

 

PAUL: Mm-hmm.

 

GIULIA: Oh, God.

 

PAUL: Yeah. It feels light.

 

GIULIA: Yeah.

 

PAUL: My laptop is a little lighter now.

 

GIULIA: Oh, I love doing technology purges. I love throwing stuff away, love it.

 

PAUL: This is a total audio file one, but I love old, actually they make new ones now, too, but Universal Audio is an audio maker, this is this gear that this piece my laptop is sitting on right now is one, and they have some gear that has the old-school like needles--

 

GIULIA: Oh, cool.

 

PAUL: --and it lights up and it just, it kind of glows, and the sound is also fucking amazing on their gear, but I just, I just love the look of an old piece of, a vintage piece of audio gear--

 

GIULIA: Yeah.

 

PAUL: --that has just a pristine, warm sound to it.

 

GIULIA: Nice.

 

PAUL: Yeah. Give me one more and we'll let you get on your way.

 

GIULIA: I love, gosh, I love cheetah print and gold and like gaudy sort of--

 

PAUL: You are Italian.

 

GIULIA: I know. But I like it in like a cool, hip, like vintage, you know, like a, you know, I don't know, like a boudoir, you know what I mean, like an old den with like, I don't know, I want to live in like a lounge.

 

PAUL: You would like my office.

 

GIULIA: Yeah?

 

PAUL: My office has a velvet ceiling and--

 

GIULIA: Ooh, yes.

 

PAUL: --and then I have little hand-painted, you know Christmas lights, you know those little globes--

 

GIULIA: Yeah, yeah.

 

PAUL: --little tiny, and they're hand painted and they circle all around the ceiling of it. The center light has been replaced by a red light in the ceiling--

 

GIULIA: Oh, my God.

 

PAUL: --and then all of the walls are vintage jazz album covers.

 

GIULIA: Love it, yeah. I like that.

 

PAUL: It's, I told the person that helped me decorate it, I said, I want it to be an opium den, and they're like--

 

GIULIA: Yes.

 

PAUL: --I understand, and they knew exactly what to do.

 

GIULIA: That's awesome. Cool.

 

PAUL: Giulia, thank you so much for coming--

 

GIULIA: Thank you so much.

 

PAUL: --and sharing your life with us. And if people want to get a hold of you or come check you out, they can go to your Web site.

 

GIULIA: Yes.

 

PAUL: And it's spelled G-i-u-l-i-a R-o-z-z-i dot com.

 

GIULIA: Yes, yes.

 

PAUL: Thank you so much.

 

GIULIA: Thank you.

 

PAUL: Many, many thanks to Giulia. And that episode will soon be transcribed and available on our Web site. Many thanks to Accurate Secretarial for donating their time and helping out the show.

Yeah, that episode with Giulia was recorded almost two years ago. I record more episodes than I can air, and so a lot of times people's episodes get backlogged and then they think that I hate them, and I don't. I don't.

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As I mentioned just a little bit earlier, I recorded this almost two years ago with Giulia, and one of the things I forgot to mention is she is now doing a podcast, called Hopefully We Don't Break Up, and she's doing it with her boyfriend, who she is still with, and they talk to other couples about love, how they met, how they stay together, stuff like that, and you can find out more about it at HopefullyWeDontBreakUp.com, and I'll put all these links on the Web site.

I decided to mix it up a little bit with interviews, or the surveys this week. You know, usually the bulk of the surveys that we read are from the Shame and Secrets Survey and from the Struggle in a Sentence Survey, and also the Happy Moments and Awfulsome Moments, and I just wanted to take a little break from the Struggle in a Sentence and the Shame and Secrets survey, and so I kind of delved back in to a survey that I haven't read from in a while, and it's called the Shouldn't Feel This Way Survey.

And I'm just going to read, this one was filled out by Venus the Girl, and she's straight, in her 20s, was raised in a stable and safe environment. What would you like people to say about you at your funeral? I would like people to say that I was bright and adventurous, that I was always a faithful friend who gave sage advice, advice that I practiced in my life, too.

How does writing that make you feel? It feels weird. I think people are supposed to say nice things about you at your funeral, but writing out what I want them to say feels disingenuous. Lately my depression and anxiety tell me I shouldn't brag on myself, even in my own head, that I don't deserve it, that my past accomplishments don't matter if I'm not making strides in the present.

Wow, you are so hard on yourself. You [chuckles], what you said, you know, that you'd like people to say, it was so beautiful and it's amazing how the mean part, and I totally identify with you kicking the shit out of yourself, but it's amazing how we can say something so beautiful and just think, oh, you know, I'm being so full of myself. I'm going to wager a guess that Venus was raised in an environment that was maybe a little emotionally invalidating. Could be wrong.

If you had a time machine, how would you use it? You can't change history. You can only observe it. I can only say that I would stay out of mine and my family's history, not that it's all traumatic or anything, but it makes me squeamish.

That is actually a very rare answer for this one, because the most common answers are people want to go back and observe either their parents when they were first married, their parents' childhood, or their own childhood. Those are the big ones.

Write as many of these as you feel. I'm supposed to feel blank about blank, but I don't. I feel blank. I’m supposed to feel proud about my accomplishments but I don't. I feel like I'm paralyzed and will never move forward again.

How does it make you feel, writing your feelings out? Actually kind of good. I was having one of those down days where I stay trapped in my head all day, feeling like my chest will burst and a nasty, green anxiety goblin will jump out. It's hard to talk to actual people, even loved ones, whenever I feel this way, so this is kind of therapeutic.

Do you think it's abnormal, feeling what you do? Not really. But some people around me make me feel like I am or that even with medication and therapy I should be, quote, over my latest valley already.

That's why I created this survey, the shoulds. Oh, the fucking should've-could've-would'ves.

Would knowing other people feel the same way make you feel better about yourself? It would make me feel less alone on days like today. Well, Venus, you are not alone by any stretch of the imagination, and thank you for filling that out.

I also decided to print out some of people's answers just to the time machine question, you know, which is, if you had a time machine, how would you use it. You can't change history. You can only observe it. So, I'm going to read a bunch of those.

If I can't change history, I would like to see exactly what happened last night. I passed out on a friend's couch and later found out that a man had sex with my sleeping body. I've only heard pieces and parts, and because I was passed out, I will never know exactly what happened that night.

I'm so, so sorry that you experienced that. I can't imagine how much that thought must plague you. If you're interested, you might listen to the episode, if you have any interest in hearing a story that is similar to yours, you might listen to the Heather Marlowe episode or the JoAnn Buttaro episode. They were both drugged and assaulted. But sending you some love.

Another person said, I'd go to the Middle Ages and hang out for a while and see how people lived their lives without things like cars, computers and meth [chuckles], and with things like feudal society and the bubonic plague, do a little problem-swapping. I think I could maybe deal with my shit better after that [chuckles].

That is a great one, that is a great one. Wouldn't it be funny if you went back and they were making the first batch of meth? Right there next to the iron for the sword.

This next one, if I couldn't change history, I would take a time machine back to April of this year, fly to my family in Alaska and be with my uncle before he was killed. If I could observe history, I would want to see who shot him and his co-worker so I could tell my family and justice could be served.

Wow, some heavy, heavy answers. Thank you for sharing that.

The next one says, and these are all different people, by the way. The next one says, I'd like to see my parents when they were married. They finalized their divorce when I was three and I can't imagine how they would have been together. I'd also like to see what they were like when they were in their 20s and my age, and I'd like to see my childhood that I've decided not to remember.

And the next one says, would I know then what I know now? If so, I would go to 92395 at the abortion clinic and maybe I would have been stronger and have walked out instead of going through with it.

Oh, I can't imagine, I can't imagine what, what regret around such a heavy topic would feel like, so I can't pretend to know, but I'm sending you some love.

And speaking of shame, or regret, you know, one of the things that I really struggle with is boundaries, especially with women in terms of conversations and stuff that I, I'll talk about. I just always make the mistake of assuming that somebody else is as comfortable talking about something as I am, and I made somebody really uncomfortable recently and I didn't know it until today. And I just felt sick to my stomach and just shame in my face and it's something I’m trying to work on and I, I just hate myself when I fuck up again and [sighs], anyway.

The show is going a little too long without me making it about me, and so I had to jump in there.

The next person says, nah, if I couldn't change anything and just observe, it would be just a lot of cringing and face-palming.

The next person says, I'd probably go way back, just observe the Native Americans living peacefully before our forefathers would come over there, exterminate them and take their land, all so I could be depressed in 2012.

That one was taken, this is how far back I'm going on this survey. This survey was created in 2012, and I'm starting actually at the beginning and reading these people's answers to the time machine question.

This is an e-mail I got from a woman who calls herself Mayberry. And she prefaced it by saying, before you read my first e-mail, would you mind adding that this was me playing with the boys I babysat 15 years ago, nothing sexual ever happened, and I’m hoping it's just my lifelong anxiety rearing its head in a stupendous new way.

Previous spikes have included, what if I have HIV, what if I die in my sleep, what if I’m gay, which would be awful because I worked so hard to overcome relationship anxiety and recently married a really wonderful, supportive man, and so on, so I’m hoping, quote, what if I'm a pedophile, is just the latest manifestation and I'm not about to be thrown in jail or have my life destroyed.

And so, her question was, I think you have talked about the difference between adolescent curiosity and child abuse in the past, and I was wondering if you could make the distinction for me. They are distinct, right? Or perhaps you could point me to an episode that touches upon the difference. Also, I don't know how far you are-, oh, you don't need to know that.

And so, I wrote back to her, and an episode that you might listen to might be the Don Howell. He talks about sexual crimes, but mostly what he talks about tends to be a little heavier. The first thing that, and these are, I am not a mental health professional, so these are just my opinions.

I think the first thing that's really important when you're trying to differentiate between what was, you know, childhood or adolescent curiosity and what was abuse is to put the legality of what happened aside for just a moment, and things to consider are the intent of both people and the consent on both people's parts. Was there a balance of power? Was it a balance of power through age or maybe somebody had leverage over the other person?

And most importantly, I think, is what the emotional impact it had on both of the people, or the one person who is wondering, and what was the emotional impact then and what is the emotional impact now. And that's really the place to begin, because I think until you can sort through processing what you felt then and how you feel about it now, because you will often feel different about it after you process it, and maybe even it will continue to evolve after you've, you know, quote, unquote, processed it.

So, maybe that's the place to begin before you start pestering yourself with the question of what was their intent, was I consenting in, you know, what I did or was I a victim? But it's, there's a huge amount of gray area in there, and the feelings, to me, again, is the most important, the most important part. So, thank you for asking that. That was a great question, Mayberry.

This person calls themselves, he calls himself Tumor Scoop, and he's straight, in his 20s. What you'd like people to say about you at your funeral? I would like to be recognized as humble, quiet, smart, thoughtful, but realistically think that there wouldn't be much of anything said. How does writing that make you feel? I guess I'm not really concerned with my funeral or remembrance after I die. We all rot the same when the game is over [chuckles]. Wow.

If you had a time machine, how would you use it? I want to see the whole timeframe of the railroads pushing to connect this nation after the Civil War. I want to see the West at any time it was still wild and dangerous.

That is a great one. That is a really, really great one.

I’m supposed to feel good about other people, but I don't. I feel angry, sad, disgusted, murderous, suicidal, annoyed, fed up and wishing I was deaf so at least I could finally stay in my head and not be burdened with other people's incessant need to make petty conversation about nonsense.

How does writing this make you feel? Weird. I try not to embrace my misanthropic tendencies too much or often. I'm not too interested to see where that one goes.

Do you think you're abnormal for feeling what you do? No. I just think maybe I struggle with it more. Would knowing other people feel the same way make you feel better? No. They're out there already in their own selfish version. Why I'd say I have the response of fuck it all.

Why I'd say I have the response of fuck it all. I’m not really sure what, how that is meant to be read. Or maybe saying, why, I'd say, you know, like, why, I ought to, I don't know.

This is a Happy Moment filled out by I Spent Five Minutes Thinking About This, and they're 16 and agender, and they write, during winter break I had to take care of my aunt's roommate's little boy. He's one year old and I ended up watching him often.

One day, his mother and my aunt were out working and I watched him the entire day. I was very stressed out over an assignment, and he crawled to me. I picked him up and he started dozing in my lap. When I thought he was asleep, I took him to bed, but as soon as I set him down, he woke up. He didn't cry, but just stared at me and reached out to me. I ended up falling asleep holding him for about three hours. I woke up feeling completely refreshed and calm. My mind was blank and it felt very peaceful. I haven't felt like that in a long time, and I haven't felt like that since.

That's beautiful. Thank you for that. God, it's so easy to picture that kid reaching up, smiling. I'm assuming the kid was smiling, reaching up, but just love, I think it's why I love my dogs so much, is there's just an innocence, a simplicity that is so doable [chuckles], is the best word I can think of. It's doable.

Back to the time machine question. This person says, I'd go forward about 10 years to see if I become the filthy, isolated hoarder I think I will be. Then maybe I can come back to this time with enough panic and motivation to change myself. Thank you for that.

The next person says, I'd go back to my early childhood. I don't remember much before seven, and I'd like to see what I was like. I'd like to observe how I interacted with my dad before he passed away and my brother before he committed suicide. I find those memories fading and it upsets me.

I'm sorry you had to experience that. Yeah, it's, just having memory fragments sometimes is so frustrating.

The next person writes, if I can only observe things, I'd probably start by going to every Frank Zappa concert ever, maybe go watch my wife being born, question mark [chuckles]? And then they write, ugh, mother-in-law vagina, never mind that one.

Maybe observe my diagnosis of type-1 diabetes when I was four. A lot of rock-fan-obsessed stuff, see the Beatles on Sullivan, Hendrix at Monterey Pop, KISS at Cobo Hall recording the live album. I could add to these all day, but there's coffee to be drank here and it's getting cold. Oh, hang out with Kerouac, Lester Bangs and Captain Beefheart.

The next person says, a lot of things. I'd like to go back to 1980 and watch my life until things started to go wrong.

The next one says, if I cannot change history, I would just have sex with the same girls when I was 18. Damn, that was good. I would like to relive it. Does this mean I am perverted?

I don't know, because I guess it would depend on are you your age now or are you your age back then? I'm going to have to [chuckles], I'm going to have to ask, what the fuck is his name? Christopher Lloyd.

The next person says, first I would go back to the '20s because I think I would become a better person if I experienced the Great Depression. I would also go back to my favorite era of music, the '60s, and pick some of those people's brains.

That's interesting, that you would want to go back and experience the Great Depression. Wow. I am really fascinated by, that would be like one of the last places I would want to go.

It's interesting, too, my dad was raised by an abusive father who was an untreated alcoholic, but he was an insurance, he had his own insurance agency and was Irish and Catholic and apparently, you know, back then, in the '20s, it was still, '20s, '30s, was still something where there was prejudice against the Irish and against Catholics, and despite that, I guess, my grandfather was really, really motivated and hard-driven.

And my dad told me that, at the height of the Depression, my grandfather was making $30,000 a year, which would, you know, what would that be in today's, compare that, that would be like, what, a million dollars a year, something like that, a lot of money, but like a lot of homes populated by driven, drunken tyrants, it was not a, it was not a happy home. I don't know what made me go off on that jag, but, oh, the Depression.

The next one says, this would probably count as changing history, but I'd go back and give my high-school self a hug and tell him he won't feel like this forever and will lose his virginity eventually so stop worrying about it so damn much. Maybe it wouldn't change my history, but maybe it would create some kind of branch, so at least that version of me would seek help sooner, or maybe it would resolve itself since my high-school self probably wouldn't take the advice of some weird [chuckles] 26-year-old giving him a hug. That is fantastic. Thank you for that.

The next one says, well, my first thought to the question is go back to 18 and have my tubes tied, but since I can only observe, I would want to go back to the Little House on the Prairie times and see how they did things, how they lived without all the excess we have today, to see the landscape before it was cleared to make concrete buildings, to see the animals that roamed.

I think about that one all the time, what would it look like without seeing telephone wires. You know, I heard an interview one time with the graphic artist, novelist, R. Crumb, and he was talking about in a lot of his pictures he purposefully includes the ugliness of telephone poles on a street with the wires, because he feels like it contributes to the kind of oppressive feel of modern-day life, at least urban modern-day life.

And I've thought about that a lot since and think, what would it be like to just see so much nature? I guess you can go to it, if you want it. But I, I wouldn't want to churn butter [chuckles]. I barely want to get up and go to the fridge to get butter.

Somebody writes, I wouldn't mind seeing the period before the French Revolution. Oh, you like, you like the angry French. The French are very sexy when they're angry.

This next person writes, can't change it, of course I would want to desperately, but if I could only observe, I would like to visit my ancestors from all sides of the family. I would love to do that, too.

I would also like to observe many historical events, especially the ones which have been written so little about with any amount of integrity, the Native American wars, the civil rights union, etc., but could I then report on those events even if I couldn't change them [chuckles]?

I like that they're asking me, as if this is something I’m controlling, because gaining proper perspective is the key to understanding history and, as Americans, perhaps the world at whole. I think we have missed ample opportunities.

Yeah, I heard somebody say one time, they were talking about, you know, the bias of different news media, and they said it's impossible for any news organization to not have any bias because just by choosing what you choose to talk about is in itself biased, because you can't talk about everything. And then I went and took a nap, because that was just too big of a thought.

This next person writes, I would go back to college and observe the parties that I missed because I was too self-righteous about underage drinking and, quote, I don't need alcohol to have a good time. I was close-minded. I could have gone and enjoyed myself without drinking if that's what I wanted to do. I can't change that, but it would be nice to see what I'd been missing.

I was at those parties. Nothing. What you missed was hot, sour breath, sticky dance floors, people who were in the dawn of their alcoholism, and it being enabled left and right.

Next person writes, I'm more desperate to see the future. I have so many fears that I will never find love or success. I want to know if it happens so I can change my present if necessary.

Next person says, I'd go to the future, see how humanity has turned out, whether we've totally fucked over the planet or not, if there's hope.

Next person says, I'd rewind to a time when my dad was shooting home movies of me when I was growing up and see the proud smile that I could sense would have been on his face.

That is so beautiful. That is so beautiful. Wow. What are you doing, listening to the show [chuckles]? You sound like you had a great childhood and are totally well adjusted. I cast you to hell. I cast you to hell in the promptest way possible.

This next person says, I would go back to some of the good times in my life and relive those because I already relived the bad times in my head. Maybe if I saw the good times it would take some of the power away from the bad.

Next person says, I would use it to go back in time to make friends. I feel like it's never too late to make friends.

The next person says, I'd go meet my father when he was younger to see if he was always this boring [chuckles]. After a nice night at the theater with President Lincoln, I would give Vincent van Gogh a hug and attend a party with David Bowie and Andy Warhol. Sounds like a good time, actually.

I can't think of anybody I would probably want to be around less than Andy Warhol. That whole obsession with celebrity and, you know what it, to me, it sounds like [chuckles] high school with paint and canvas. It was just, all the documentaries I've seen, and I can certainly acknowledge that, you know, he was a brilliant artist, but that whole scene just, to me, reeks of sadness and desperation. And [chuckles] I have enough of that. I don't need to order out for sadness and desperation.

Next person says, I would go back and see how my parents were raised.

The person after that, I'd go to the Jurassic period and look at dinosaurs.

Next person says, there's a few events I'd like to observe throughout history, Joe Jackson, Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Rogers Hornsby and a few other baseball players playing the game. The Constitutional Congress and various events involving the Iran-Contra affair.

That's an interesting affair, an interesting political or historical event that somebody would want to. To me, there are so many other ones that are more compelling than that. I'd cast you to hell with the other person. Enjoy each other's company.

And then, I was the first person that filled out this survey, so here's the one that, what I said is that I would go see Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli play jazz in 1940s Paris. I would like to watch Pink Floyd record Dark Side of the Moon and Animals. Animals, a highly, highly underrated album by Pink Floyd. I would observe all my family members' childhoods, including mine.

And then I realized I left one out. I would love to have watched the Beatles record Rubber Soul and Revolver, I think two of the best albums ever made.

This was filled out by Whitaurus, and she is in her 20s and was raised in a pretty dysfunctional environment. What would you like people to say about you at your funeral? The exact opposite of everything I think about myself.

How does writing that make you feel? Maybe I should try to change how I see myself, but, no, I've tried and don't know what else to do. She didn't answer the time machine question.

I'm supposed to be excited about my engagement and the amazing man I'm going to marry, but I don't. I feel like I will only end up fucking it up, and I'm inevitably waiting for that to happen in every action, in every word.

I really encourage you to talk to somebody as soon as possible, especially if you're planning on having kids.

How does it make you feel to write your feelings out? I want to tell him how scared I am, but I'm only afraid it will scare him even more and the thought of hurting him fucking terrifies me.

Bring this survey in, or this audio clip, and, if you hear this, and play it for a therapist, and that would be a great starting point for them to help you.

Do you think you're abnormal for feeling what you do? Compared to my closest friends and family, yes.

I have the feeling maybe not, maybe not. And I'm talking about your friends and family. I can tell you, amongst the general population, no [chuckles], that's not abnormal at all. It's pretty common. That doesn't mean I think you should go ahead with, you know, getting married. I don't know, that's, I don't know enough information.

Would knowing other people feel the same way make you feel better about yourself? I believe I would find it comforting to know that I'm not the only one afraid of the future.

Oh, my God, not by a long shot. We are all [chuckles] fucking terrified of the future. We all have a black-and-white crystal ball that is so fucked up and inaccurate, we might as well be looking through, you know, insert bad device, opera glasses, broken telescope.

I kind of like actually the opera, what's like the, isn't there like a facemask that you put on but it's just the eyes, almost like Catwoman, that people would do that at parties? Like from, oh, what was the movie with Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman? Eyes Wide Shut. [Chuckles] I don't know why I, I found the need to go think about what that thing is called and why it's used.

This was filled out by Jumping Jesus on a Pogo Stick, and she is in her 40s and was raised in a totally chaotic environment. She writes, I honestly don't want anyone at my funeral. I don't want a funeral. I don't want anything said or any acknowledgement at all. I just want to disappear and be forgotten without a trace.

How does writing that make you feel? Relieved. The thought of dissipating into nothing sounds so freeing.

If you had a time machine, how would you use it? I would go back 20 years to my 22-year-old self and force her into therapy and alcohol treatment.

I'm supposed to feel grateful that I have a job, but I don't. I feel like I want to quit and punch everyone in the face. I'm supposed to be happy because I look on the outside like a normal person in every way, good job, good family, middle class, educated, but I don't. I feel dead inside and that all of life is pointless and meaningless.

I'm supposed to feel optimistic that I am 30 days' sober, but I don't. I feel like I am not sure why I stopped drinking in the first place, even though I almost died 30 days ago and my life was getting out of control.

I don't know what you are doing to stay sober, but if you are staying connected to other people who are sober and trying to stay sober, that might help, because you can take away the bad coping mechanism of abusing drugs or alcohol or shoplifting or whatever your thing is, but it, all you will feel is an absence of that thing if something healthy and connective doesn't replace it. Just my opinion.

How does it make you feel, writing your real feelings out? I wonder if anything will ever get better.

If you are trying to connect to people and open up, it will get better. It will get better. I was 40 when I finally admitted that I had a problem with drugs and alcohol, and it was scary the first couple of months because I just did not think getting help was going to work for me. I believed it worked for you, but, and lo and behold, it did start to work for me, and I have not had the desire to use recreational drugs or get drunk in 13 years, and I don't think I'm that much different than anybody else.

This is an e-mail I got from a woman named Ms. Emily, and she writes, greetings to you. My name is Ms. Emily. Please kindly pardon me for any inconvenience this letter may cause you because it may come to you as a surprise, as we have no previous correspondence.

Well, first of all, I am so flattered that she is worried about me being surprised by an e-mail as I’m going through my e-mails. I mean, that is, if nothing else, incredibly considerate.

As far as inconvenience, no. Hitting click and open is not that big of a deal, but I’m going to have to read more of her e-mail to decide.

She writes, I have something very important to discuss with you and, on hearing from you, I will introduce myself more to you. Which is very intriguing because this sounds almost like it's like an e-mail version of burlesque, bit by bit, she's going to reveal more of herself to me. And I've got to assume that whatever this dance is, it's going to be a very polite dance, where I'm warned about every potential thing coming around the corner.

I don't want to shock you. I just want to let you know that two days from now perhaps you will see an e-mail from me in your inbox. I hope this does not cause your heart to seize.

Anyway, she continues, thank you for honoring this invitation. I am expecting your positive response. Well, that took a horrible turn. That's a lot of pressure. And expecting your positive response is really pushy. It leaves me no room to have an irrational response, which is how I usually like to respond.

Generally, when I get an e-mail from somebody that I don't know, I call the FBI. Once they've blocked my phone, come to my house, interviewed me, released me, I call the CIA. I try to get them to find out information about that person. After they have arrested me, interrogated me, searched me, turned me away, then I respond to that person's e-mail, because I need to know that they're safe.

And the only way I know that that is an irrational response to an e-mail is other people have told me, Paul, I think you're going a little overboard. You know, at the very least, start out with community law enforcement. Why do you have to go right to the FBI, suspecting this strange e-mailer for having untoward motives? I guess that's just how I am.

But I’m going to have to think on this one, Ms. Emily. But in the meantime, I sincerely hope that you can find a special guy to settle down with and become Mrs. Emily, and then find out that you're not matched and go back to being Ms. Emily.

And I also wanted to read, this is a portion of a survey that we used to have called the, I think it was called the Mental Illness Happy Hour Basic Survey, and I took it down from the Web site, but I went back and did some stats on one of the questions there. Twenty-five hundred people took this, answered this question, roughly 2,500 people.

And the question was, I listed a bunch of emotions, as many emotions as I could think that we experience every day, the most common emotions. So, sad, sick and tired, blah/empty/vaguely unsatisfied, ashamed, lonely, anxious and restless, happy, hopeless, pretty angry, trapped, panicky, peaceful, connected and loved, left behind, jealous, satisfied, suicidal, and homicidal.

And I then asked people to rank how often they experience each of those individual emotions. And the choices I gave them were, never, I used to but not anymore, rarely, once in a while, quite a bit, all the time, and it's my defining mood.

And so, starting with emotions that people never feel, have never felt, the top five ones that, or the top group of ones, because I don't want to read every single one in descending order. The most common one that some people have never experienced is feeling homicidal, followed by feeling suicidal. And by the way-, nah, I don't need to start spewing numbers.

Followed by satisfied. Wow, some people have never felt satisfied. Followed by jealous, followed by left behind, followed by connected and loved. Oh, that's so sad, to think that somebody has never felt connected and loved.

But yeah, again, reminding you this is from, this is in descending order, which is a little confusing for this one because it's something that I've never, something they've never felt.

So, this is feelings that you used to feel but don't feel anymore, and the most common feeling that people used to feel but don't feel anymore is suicidal. And then there's a big drop-off followed by satisfied, followed by connected and loved, followed by homicidal, and then peaceful, hopeless, and then trapped, and then they're all kind of pretty close within each other.

I find it interesting, the one that people used to feel but don't feel anymore, the least common one is sadness, so that's good. Oh, no, that means they're feeling sad [chuckles]. I'm confusing myself. Oh, my God, I am so tempted to beat up on myself right now. Mean DJ Voice is kicking the door in to get at the mic.

Okay, then this is, what emotions do you rarely feel? And again, I gave them a list of emotions. This is incredibly unscientific. I gave them, people who do stats for a living have clearly shut the podcast off at this point.

So now, which emotions do you rarely feel? The most common emotion that people rarely feel is peaceful. And mind you, these are just our listeners. I don't know how different they are from the rest of the population. [In Mean DJ Voice] I'd like to think more intelligent and--

Wow, Mean DJ Voice, that was almost complimentary. [Stomach gurgling] Can you hear my stomach [chuckles]? I am so hungry right now.

So, the most, at the top of the list of emotions people rarely feel is peaceful, followed by satisfied, followed by connected and loved, followed by jealous, happy, and then pretty angry.

The most common emotion that people only feel once in a while is happy, followed by peaceful, followed by satisfied, followed by pretty angry, followed by connected and loved, followed by jealous.

Then the most common emotion people feel quite a bit is sadness, followed by ashamed, followed by sick and tired/fed up, followed by anxious and restless, followed by blah/empty/vaguely unsatisfied, followed by lonely, pretty angry, and hopeless.

Then the most common emotion that people feel all the time, from the list I provided of emotions to choose from, is lonely, followed by blah/empty/vaguely unsatisfied, followed by sick and tired/fed up, followed by trapped, then left behind, and ashamed, and anxious and restless, and sad, hopeless, panicky, jealous, connected and loved. Well, at least connected and loved isn't at the bottom of the list. Actually, it's good, homicidal is at the bottom of the list of emotions that people feel all the time.

And then I think the most heavily weighted category is the one called It's My Defining Mood, because, you know, I thought, well, isn't all the time the highest you could go on how often somebody experiences an emotion, but then I realized, no, not necessarily, because there will be several emotions that people will feel all the time, so you really need to pick one that stands out among the ones that they feel all the time, which is why I created this one.

You are so soundly asleep right now that I'm concerned that you were listening to the podcast while driving. Wake up.

So, the most common mood that people say is my defining mood is, blah/empty/vaguely unsatisfied. The second one is lonely, then anxious and restless, then sick and tired and fed up, then trapped. You know what, I'm going to read all of them for this one.

Trapped, left behind, sad, hopeless, ashamed, panicky, jealous, pretty angry, connected and loved, suicidal, peaceful, happy, satisfied, and homicidal.

I'd kind of like to end the podcast just on the word homicidal [chuckles]. Wouldn't that be nice?

I hope that was interesting to you. I found it interesting when I first kind of did that. Maybe the better way to have done that would have been doing the emotion and then saying how frequently, what's the frequency, the most popular frequency that people experience happiness, is it never, is it all the time, is it, you know, their defining mood. You know what? Maybe I'll do that next week, and you'll be sure [chuckles], you'll make sure to not tune in.

I actually feel like that was probably interesting to some people, and probably comforting to some people to know that they are not alone in that, because, like I said, 2,500 people took that survey, and yes, please go to the Web site and take the surveys if you haven't. It really, really helps.

And I know you're probably, some of you are probably annoyed that there's more advertising on the show now, but it really helps the show to survive and I have anxiety [chuckles], my abandonment issues are coming up that people aren't going to sponsor the show now, or be monthly donors because they see that I have advertisers and they'll think that I don't need monthly donors. I do need monthly donors.

So, and I'm worried that you're going to say, oh, he's got too many advertisers now, I don't, you know, I don’t want to listen to it. It always eases my anxiety when I'm able to say it out loud.

I want to end with a Happy Moment. This is filled out by Night Heron, and she writes, part of my responsibility at my job requires me to drive to various cities and towns within a 200-mile radius. During one of these trips, my agoraphobia was triggered and I went into a full-on panic attack when I came into five lanes of crowded traffic outside of New York City.

I nearly passed out but somehow made it safely to my hotel. I felt ashamed and powerless. I felt like a baby. I cried on the bed, feeling defeated, wondering if I would have to change careers.

Days later, I bought The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook and, little by little, started to use some of the strategies listed. A year after that panic attack, I took a one-month leave from my job and drove, by myself, 2,600 miles from my home in Pennsylvania to Florida and back again, stopping along the way at interesting attractions and at the homes of friends and family members.

I had to drive through several congested areas, which triggered the panic attack, but I worked through it, cheering myself on. I will never forget the dinner I had in Charlottesville, Virginia, my last stop on the month-long tour.

The sun was setting and a brilliant shade of pink settled over the restaurant's brick patio. I felt peaceful, positive and future-oriented. My agoraphobia wasn't healed. Anxiety was still no stranger to me. But sitting there, with my after-dinner coffee, I knew that even with an anxiety disorder I could lead a full and rich life. I would simply take it one step at a time, accepting each victory and defeat with equanimity.

Wow, thank you so much for that. You know, not only do I love being able to share that with you guys, but for me to be reminded of that as well, because as much as I talk about emotions and deal with all of this stuff on a day-to-day basis, I forget. I forget, and I need to be reminded of that. But thank you so much for that.

I hope you liked the new spin on the surveys. If you didn't, you know, go fuck yourself. And not like in a gentle way. I mean like in a vigorous, unpleasant self-fucking way.

I just totally ruined the end of this show [chuckles]. I just totally ruined it. [Sighs] [In Mean DJ Voice] As it should be, Paul.

Herbert's butthole says hello. Ivy wants you to know that she's pretty and she's the most popular dog ever. And I want to thank you. I hope you heard something that helped you, entertained you, compelled you. And if you're feeling stuck, just know that you are so, so, so, so, so not alone. And there's help, there's always help if you can take that uncomfortable first step of asking for it.

I'm glad I did because it saved my life, and now I get to do this awesome job that I get to do, where I get to learn about your lives and share my pain and struggle with you guys and have you support me and I try to support you, and then eventually we'll tire of each other and go our own ways, and once in a while we'll bump into each other at a truck stop or Disneyland and it'll be awkward.

I'll say, hey, weren't you that listener? And you'll say, yeah, you're that guy that did that thing that you ran into the ground? And we'll both say, it's good to see you--

 

[Closing music swells]

 

--and then we'll slink away, awkwardly. Anyway, you're not alone, and thanks for listening.

 

[Closing music]

 

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