Emily Gindlesparger was eight years into a relationship when her partner admitted having a crush on someone else. Her responsive tailspin of anxiety, jealousy and self-doubt led to curiosities about her own true desires and gradually stepping into them. Learn much more in this week’s Girl Boner Radio episode!
“Opening a Relationship, Claiming Self-Worth: Emily Gindlesparger”
A Girl Boner podcast transcript
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Intro music/VO: “What would it take to arouse your life, to experience more pleasure, more connection, more realness – in and out of the bedroom? I’m August McLaughlin and this is Girl Boner Radio.”
Emily: And that really started to rub up against my sense of worthiness and I was able to recognize that this actually isn’t about a crush. It’s not about opening our relationship, really. For me, this is about figuring out how do I take my sense of self-worth — and clearly I’ve anchored that to my relationship and my partner — and how do I pull it back into myself so that I can feel worthy regardless of what happens here?
[encouraging, acoustic music]
Emily Gindlesparger is an author, book coach and ghost writer who says she explored versions of herself she’d kept hidden after saying yes to an open relationship. But the road there wasn’t exactly breezy. Years before, in her youth, she was trying to understand something else that had been largely hidden: the ins and outs of S – E – X.
Emily: I am old enough that when I was starting to come into my own, that was also the beginning of the age of the internet. And so there was this whole world of, you know, chat rooms that you would just wander into. And there would be all sorts of random people and lots of people who were talking about, sex, which really shocked me. But also I was really curious about.
And I never got super deep into inappropriate conversations with people online, but I realized that that was all very accessible and that there was this kind of whole sexual world out there that I was not ready for as a kid.
She remembers one specific night when she was in about sixth grade.
Emily: We went to see a drive-in movie and we’re hanging out on the lawn. And this other kid that I’d never met before, just like his whole topic of conversation is sex and what he knows about orgasms. None of us watched any of the movie. We basically just picked this kid’s brain about what he had researched on the new internet about what sex was.
So by the time her dad attempted the classic sex talk, she already had some idea.
Emily: I remember my dad was in the garden watering flowers and we’re having this conversation where he starts off saying, you know, “do you know what sex is? And do you understand what happens?” And I’m trying to describe that to him. And we’re having this conversation, just not looking at each other. You know, we’re both staring at the plants and I’m staring at my feet. But it was really, it was really a sweet and connective moment.
But that moment was one of the only times that she, or other kids, weren’t the instigator.
Emily: I think that the imprint of most of the information I get, I get in secret, I go look it up on my own. I go have these conversations without adults around. And the imprint of that kind of secrecy stayed in my sexual life for a really long time. It was something that I knew I wanted to explore and learn so much about, and especially the pleasure side of all of it. And yet, I was way too nervous to have actual real adult conversations about any of it.
August: I get that. Yeah. So in your sexual self-discovery journey that so many of us start through exploration and kind of feeling things out, were you excited to explore sexually, like say in, you know, your early twenties? Was that something that you pursued?
Emily: Most of my sexual exploration in my twenties was pretty like standard cis woman, straight sex stuff, you know, dating guys and having a couple of boyfriends in sort of just like a string of relationships.
All of that was pretty— gosh, it’s interesting… I was about to say normal, but I’m really redefining what normal even means to me these days. But all of that was pretty standard with the American, heteronormative narrative. And it wasn’t until I was in my thirties that I started to really have a deeper exploration of who am I sexually and who do I wanna be with, and what does that look like?
And then started stepping outside of just defaulting to experiences that I’d had before with men and started entertaining experiences with women, too, and wondering what really is it that I desire?
Emily wrote a memoir about that wondering and where it led. It’s called Please Make Me Love Me. In the opening scene, her long-time partner, Jordan, asks her a question that sends her reeling.
Emily: So the way that I remember it today is that it was a conversation that my partner had in the morning as I was getting ready for work. He had a different schedule than I did, so he had the day off. And he’d spent the previous evening, hanging out with friends at a bar and had hung out with this woman that was a new friend in that group. And I had met her before but hadn’t really spent much time with her. And I had not gone out on that particular night cause I was getting early sleep for work the next day. I was a school teacher.
And so in the morning I was asking him, you know, “how did the night go and what was it like?” And he had just casually said, you know, that he had been hanging out with this friend group and hanging out with this woman and that he sort of thought he might have a crush on her.
And I lost my appetite. I think I was holding breakfast in my hand and I couldn’t eat anything and just kind of stared at him blankly. And then just averted my gaze and started kind of robotically putting all my things in my bag for the workday and kind of like trying to shut that conversation off.
What I was really trying to do is I was trying to shut off the flood of fiction that my mind was unspooling, right? Like this whole future that I was suddenly throwing myself into of, well, he needs to do something about that crush. What are we gonna do about it? How is this gonna work? Is, you know, is our relationship in jeopardy? And of course it wasn’t, but there’s nothing that he could have said, or I could have thought that would’ve convinced me otherwise in that moment.
Emily and Jordan had talked about opening their relationship before, but it always felt theoretical. And crushes are common and often no big deal for monogamous couples, too. Still, his admittance really threw her.
Emily: We had had that conversation for years, but it hadn’t been one that either of us was particularly invested in this is a thing we want to do now.
So did a crush mean that had changed for Jordan? She didn’t know. And the two of them were having very different experiences that morning.
Emily: Basically the way my partner had approached it was very casual, very easygoing. He did not mean for this to be intent, an intense conversation, and I was the one who really responded in that way, and it was a way that surprised me. I started kind of shaking with anxiety a little bit and basically just tried to rush out the door to work as fast as I can and said, “you know, we can talk about this later.”
And I was distracted all throughout that day. I was really distracted the whole rest of that week as I tried to work out in my brain. You know, what I was really trying to come to grips with was, okay, now it’s not theoretical, it’s reality. My partner likes two people. He likes somebody else other than me. How do I fit that in my conception of my relationship and my self worth?
I think in that moment when he said he was interested in someone else, it was like I suddenly got smacked with the realization that I thought I was only worthy in that relationship if I was the only one. Rationally, that wasn’t what I believed or wanted to believe in my mind, but it was what I had been indoctrinated into with all sorts of movies. And most of the people in my family, all my ancestors, like married high school sweethearts. And I was really having to grapple with that history and realize that that’s not my life. That’s not what I wanna believe about how relationships work.
August: When you said, he kind of mentioned it in this casual way, he wasn’t meaning to have this big conversation, was this the first time that he had ever mentioned a crush? If so, I mean, it does feel like there must be a reason, right? Like was this the first crush or did you end up finding out that he was hoping that that would be maybe the planting the seed for an open relationship conversation? Or was this like purely just the sky is blue and I have a crush on someone, have a good day kind of thing?
Emily: (laughs) Yeah. It felt very much to me, like just an extension of the theoretical conversations that we’d had before. Like this was just another theoretical, “oh, I like this girl.” It’s the first time that I remember either of us talking about a crush specifically. We had both talked about, you know, you see attractive people on the street.
We had commented on people that we thought were attractive in that way, but the crush component seemed different. And I think because it was somebody that I knew he spent time with, that I didn’t also spend with him. I think that’s why my brain went to that kind of catastrophizing space was like, I don’t even know what their relationship is like so far.
You know, I trust him in that I’m sure he would’ve told me if it was more than a friendship already, but this is sort of like a black box in my experience.
That crush conversation did end up leading to the opening up of their relationship. But not because that was Jordan’s intention.
Emily: I’m very much an all or nothing person. So for me it was like, okay, this is a challenge. I just got a process, process, process. I gotta work on it in myself. I gotta figure it out, and then I’ll bring that solution to my partner. And that’s literally how it worked.
I kind of beat myself up that whole week as I was trying to understand, again, like what is my value in this relationship if he can like more than than me if you can like other people in addition to me.
And that really started to rub up against my sense of worthiness and I was able to recognize that this actually isn’t about a crush. It’s not about opening our relationship, really. For me, this is about figuring out how do I take my sense of self-worth, and clearly I’ve anchored that to my relationship and my partner, and how do I pull it back into myself so that I can feel worthy regardless of what happens here?
As Emily was thinking through these things, she met up with a friend for cocktails.
Emily: And this girlfriend of mine had been in a marriage with a man, had realized that she wanted to date women, had asked for an open relationship inside her marriage and her husband refused and they ended up after years of working on things, they ended up getting divorced.
And so as I was complaining to my friend like, “Ah, I don’t know what to do,” it just suddenly struck. “Oh my God, this is exactly what happened with you, isn’t it?” And she was like, “Yeah.” And I was like, “And I thought your husband was such a dick for not taking a chance on you.” And she was like, “Yeah, you did think that at the time.”
I was like, damn it. Now I know what I have to do, right? Now it would be such an insult to my own sense of integrity if I didn’t at least allow this conversation to stay open for.
Not long after that conversation, Emily and Jordan did start opening things up.
Emily: My partner took some time and really rolled out slowly, going on like a first date with that person that he wanted to date. And then I started thinking of going on dates, too. And so, the time where things really felt like, we kind of know what we’re doing in our relationship right now was when, I had gone on a date with someone and he had gone on a date with someone, and our relationship had transformed really beautifully to like, now we aren’t just in relationship with each other, we’re also best friends who talk about how we are forming relationships with other people.
That gave us a new way to connect. It gave us a really easy intimacy with each other that was even more solidly on a friendship level than just a romantic level. And there was something really beautiful too, about seeing my partner in this light of somebody who’s out there dating. It was like I could see the reflection of what’s awesome about him and what other people appreciate and admire about him. And, and then I got to kind of see that again in a whole new way.
That’s not to say that there weren’t challenges. At one point, Emily said she “kind of botched things.”
Emily: Neither of us had slept with anyone else at this point, and I was the first person to sleep with this other guy that I went on a date with. And before then I had gone to my primary partner and said, “Hey, I am not sure what’s gonna happen on this date. Would you be comfortable if we fooled around?”
I used that phrase specifically, and of course, “fooled around” could mean any number of things. It could mean making out or, you know, like going topless or having sex. It could mean anything but on purpose. I had used a phrase that was really vague because I felt so unsure about what I wanted to do and what the response to that was gonna be.
And so then when I ended up having sex with that person and then coming back and my partner and I had a conversation after the date, he asked point blank if I’d slept with him. And at first I panicked and said, no. And then like 30 seconds later, horrified with myself, I was like, “I can’t believe I just did that. No, yes I did.”
It was that 30 seconds of not telling the truth and of hiding that really affected both of us. It affected his trust in me, to some degree, and it affected my trust in myself. Like, can I even be honest about what it is that I want? And can I be honest with the people that I’m expecting to collaborate with and live this life with?
They both stopped seeing other people for a while.
Emily: Cuz that really freaked both of us out and we needed to heal from that. And then we were both interested in seeing other people.
The notion came up during a hike. Jordan commented that a woman ahead of them on the trail was cute — and was Emily interested in her? In her book, Emily described feeling excited when she realized that seeing other people was back on the table. “Things must be better with us,” she thought.
Emily: And so when I brought that up, he admitted that he still wasn’t comfortable with the idea of me seeing a man. But we were also toying with the idea of seeing a woman together, having a triad relationship.
Something about his lingering discomfort didn’t sit right.
Emily: And so I grilled him on like, “well, why are you comfortable with a woman but not a man?” I think part of it has to do with that previous history and, and my dishonesty. And I think part of it is just that emotions or emotions. They don’t follow logic. And that’s what he explained to me. You know, he said, “It’s not like I think it’s right to feel this way or that I feel good about feeling this way. It feels unfair to me that my emotions are responding this way. But for whatever reason, it just doesn’t feel uncomfortable to me to think about you being with a woman and I ill advisedly, like kind of in that conversation kind of turned it into this whole fuck the patriarchy. Like, why ? It’s not politically correct for you to be uncomfortable with one, but not the other.”
But that’s beside the point because again, emotions are not something that we control. They’re something that arise and that then we take responsibility for and figure out what we’re gonna do with.
August: So you did end up embracing your queerness and you had relationships with a couple of different women. What would you like to share about that epiphany in your life and in your mind? What, what was that like for you?
Emily: It was so much fun, first and foremost, I mean, especially when I look back at the early days. You know, I ended up forming two really significant and longer term relationships with two different women, as lots of relationships go that don’t work out. Like there was a lot of drama and confusion and a lot of…I made a lot of mess in that time. But thinking back, even before those relationships solidified to like what it was like just to date and flirt with women. It really helped me connect with an energy in myself that I had not fully connected with before.
I really embraced my feminine side in a much bigger way and in a much more powerful way. I had a much greater sense of agency. You know, I think especially in my early years, like in my teens of dating men, I always fell back to this trope that we have in our culture, that men are the ones that make the first move.
And I had just kind of stumbled into a lot of relationships, letting other people dictate them. Sometimes I got unlucky – like with my partner that I’ve been with this whole time, I got really lucky. But this exploration was the first time that I really started to think about what I wanted and started to really go after what I wanted. And that was really, really amazing.
It also helped me unwind some of the biases and narratives that I had in my mind about what relationships are supposed to be and who’s supposed to be in them. Like I discovered that I had, not homophobia exactly, but I had some some deeply entrenched, really weird biases from growing up in the Midwest in a culture where I didn’t grow up around people who were openly gay, and certainly not openly bi.
And so I felt like, even though I’d known and had plenty of friends with those orientations as an adult, there was still a lot for me to accept those identities on a deeper level inside of myself. Watching other women really fully embody their own sense of who they are and having a relationship that is romantic and sexual and a friendship that’s only with women in it, I just think that there’s so much more that I learned about what it is to be a woman that I just hadn’t really examined before in my straight relationships.
[acoustic, encouraging music]
One thing many folks who are new to ethical non-monogamy often have to figure out is how to navigate new relationship energy: NRE. You might recall that past guest Rachael Rose called it candy to her ADHD brain. She said she really had to work on not letting it take over, leading her to ignore her primary relationship.
But every relationship is unique, and NRE turned out not to be a challenge for Emily and Jordan. In fact, it was the opposite.
August: How did you experience and navigate the new relationship energy, when a new relationship feels so exciting? Were you still able to have a sense of strong connection with your primary partner?
Emily: Yeah, I was. We did a really good job, I think, of maintaining connection, especially in the early days because we were so excited to share with each other. And much to my surprise, I thought for sure that if we started dating other people, I would be really jealous and have a hard time talking about it.
And it just turned out that that’s not the way that I felt. I actually felt really excited. And so we did a good job of making time for each other and we had so much more to talk about because we were essentially parts of our lives we were living without the other person in them. And so we had a lot to report back about.
As Emily’s outside relationships grew more serious, though, she met a different challenge.
Emily: I am sad to say that I think that I started to devote more and more time to whichever relationship was struggling and less and less time to whichever relationships were okay. And usually the relationship that was okay was my relationship with my primary partner.
And so there were a string of several months in there when things were at their messiest, where it was kind of like our relationship was just in the freezer a little bit. I just wasn’t really engaging much anymore. Or when I did engage, it was like I needed to process something going on in the other relationships and that wasn’t fair.
And so there were degrees to which both experiences happened where it opened us up and, deepened our connection and kind of flourished and ways in which it shut down at different times and riding the waves of that, I think, and seeing how we each cared for ourselves in those times has made us stronger now, today where we’re not, we don’t have other, partnerships happening at the moment. It’s just the two of us and that feels really beautiful and steady.
August: Mmm. Were you able to talk about those times when your relationship with your partner was kind of on the back burner? Did it, did it kind of build to a place where you had a good talk about it? How did you turn that around?
Emily: That’s a good question… I don’t think there was ever a time we had one big talk about it. We had lots of smaller check-ins. You know, like we knew even while this was happening, we knew that it was happening and I made the assumption that like you know, I’ll just weather this storm and then I’ll be back.
And some of those storms just ended up hanging on longer than I thought they would. And, and that really saddens me to think back on those times and realize like I was not contributing to the relationships that were happiest in my life. It’s really to the credit of my partner that he’s very forgiving. Like he’s never held that against me. I think he recognized that as like, that’s where my attention is, that’s the energy that I have to give or, or not to give right now. And he let me know, you know, that that wasn’t what he wanted ultimately. And he also hung in there until I was ready and, and able to give what we both wanted to give to our partnership.
[acoustic, encouraging music]
August: And what can you share about the sexual experiences? Does one stand out? I know you write about different experiences where you’re having sex and it was pretty pronounced to you like enough to want to write about it and, and that kind of thing. Is there, is there one that stands out? I mean, I love all sex stories, but is there one that stands out that you could walk us through?
Emily: Yeah. It’s so funny, even when it comes to writing about sex I tried to be, I tried to tell specific stories because I think that’s so helpful for normalizing it, but find it easier to write about sex when I can get a draft down and think about it and be really conscientious about how I want it portrayed.I’m much less confident going off the cuff and speaking about it.
August: That’s fine.
Emily: I will say in broad strokes, you know, some of the experiences that stand out to me most are the first time that I had sex with one of the women that I developed a longer term partnership with. Instead of just diving right in with touching each other and doing stuff, I took off my clothes and she had me lay down on the bed and then she stopped.
She stopped everything and just looked at me for a while. And I remember how uncomfortable I felt. Like I think I even got the kind of goosebumps you get when you’re really cold and you wanna cover up with a blanket. It was like this, this like, oh God, no, I’m, I feel very exposed and I do not like this.
But then she just held such a kind and curious gaze that that nervousness on my part dissolved and I was able to get much more familiar with the sensations of being looked at and witnessed in those ways. I’ve had a lot of really beautiful sexual experiences with partners. But that one is the one that I felt the most.
It’s just the first time that I had been looked at for that long, and it was really interesting to feel all the different reactions that stirred up in my own body. Even a little bit of shame and a lot of nervousness and some anxiety. And then also a little bit of a thrill of kind of being on stage a little bit or being watched and being appreciated.
Emily told me that her sexual exploration influenced sex with Jordan — because it impacted how she felt about herself.
Emily: It shifted a lot about how I experienced pleasure and how confident I felt during sex. I’m happy to report that Jordan and I have always had a really strong sexual connection and it’s always been fun. So there wasn’t a lot in terms of like the mechanics or the experience of that that changed, but discovering that I had more than just a straight identity, discovering that I was queer and that I wanted to be with women, I had to speak up about my desire and be a lot more upfront and direct about it than I ever had before. And that definitely translated to even how comfortable I am talking about sex or talking to my partner about what I want.
It’s like it didn’t even really change the sex itself that much, but it changed so much about how I conceived of my own sense of agency.
That sense of agency, and the clarity that came along with all she’d been exploring, are big themes in “Please Make Me Love Me.” As Emily became more clear about her own identity and desires, she decided to come out to her parents, too.
In the memoir, she wrote, “I’d spent so long convincing myself that being queer and poly- amorous were just details of my sex life and that my parents didn’t need to know about my sex life. But these details about me have to do with much more than sex. By editing them out, I was editing out all sorts of details about how I spent my time and who was important to me…I edited myself out.”
Emily: Oh man, there’s so much that I could say about that. When I look back at this entire story , when I look back at this experience of opening relationships and shifting my sexual identity, at the core of all of it really is integrity. It’s like, am I aware of who I am inside of myself and can I bring that out into the world?
These experiences really showed me that I wasn’t good at that for a while. Case in point, my relationship with my parents, I had convinced myself that — well, for one in my family, sex is just not something that we talk about.
And so I hid the details of my relationships and the people in my life under the premise that like, oh, if I’m having sex with them, my parents don’t need to know. But it caused me to also be like, if that’s the starting point, then it’s like, okay, well do I explain that I have girlfriends? It kind of snowballed into all of these things that I realized were connected eventually to sex and my sexuality. And I decided not to say anything for a long time.
And the consequence of that was really subtle. It was that I stopped talking about much of anything that was important in my life. If I did, I ran the risk of exposing who I was spending my life with and what we were doing. My conversations with my parents got more and more surface. There was less and less that I was willing to talk about. I was even less and less motivated to call them and connect with them because it’s like I didn’t feel like I had anything that I was willing to share.
I think the first time I really noticed this was when I was gonna go on a trip with one of my women partners. We were gonna go on this little road trip. And I realized I was gonna call my parents and tell them, “Oh, I’m going to this mountain town for the weekend with this woman.”
And it felt absurd to me to say that and not, not explain like who this woman was to me, not explain that she was important to me. But I still didn’t feel like I had the courage to say anything. And it was only months later, after thinking about that moment a lot and thinking about what intimacy means in my family connections, really. Like what it means to me to be known by my family and realized that these parts are pretty inescapable if I’m going to try to deepen and try to sort of reclaim my relationship with my parents.
So she decided to come out to them, starting with her mom.
Emily: I knew I wanted to tell her first because I was more comfortable talking to her first. But I also felt so nervous talking to her about it that I waited until we were alone. And the only time I found that we were alone, she’d come to visit me cause we don’t live in the same town.
And we were driving back in the car from the hardware store. And I was like, well, we’re alone. We’re trapped in this car. Nobody can go anywhere. Now is the time! I’m just staring straight ahead out the windshield, not looking at my mom, hands like death-gripped on the steering wheel at 10 and 2 and trying to tell her that my partner and I have an open relationship and I have a girlfriend and I’m queer now.
And it was just so much information in such a tight space that she just kind of froze, you know? She didn’t know what to do with that, I don’t think. And we were nearly turning into the house and it was like, there was this pressure to finish the conversation before we were gonna walk in and my partner was gonna be there and it was it was just an awkward little mess.
And because that conversation got so stymied cuz you know, my setup was so brilliant. I convinced myself then for months afterward that like, Oh, my mom reacted weirdly to that, so she probably doesn’t wanna hear anymore about it. Which wasn’t true. I mean, it was true that she’d reacted weirdly, but for so many reasons.
She did want to hear more about that and she later told me that she didn’t know how to broach the subject cuz I didn’t seem like I wanted to talk about it. And so it was just this self perpetuating loop of like, neither one of us is talking because I’m the one who has the experience. I’m the one who’s in control of this conversation, and I’m the one refusing to open it.
I’m happy to say that after months and some therapy, I got the courage to revisit that conversation with my mom. And our follow up conversation was just so beautiful where we both spilled out to each other like, “oh, I felt so awkward and I’m sad.” “I felt so awkward cuz I love you.” And it was all, it was all just fine.
And then when I told my dad, it was just a non-issue. Maybe because my mom had secretly told him, but yeah, when I told him, he was just like, “Oh yeah. All right. Well, thanks for telling me. Have a great day. Have a great life.” You know?
August: Oh my gosh. As you were sharing that, the hardware store drive conversation, I thought you could have said, “I love Kleenex,” and you were so tense that it would be like, “No one talk about Kleenex.”
Emily: (laughs) Yes, exactly. “Emily’s got a weird thing about Kleenex. Just, just don’t, you know, just let, let her sit with that. Let her bring it up when she’s ready.” Right? Yeah. Totally.
August: Ah, I’m so glad that they were supportive and have been supportive though that. That’s really encouraging to hear because they probably grew up with even less information about all of this.
Emily: Oh, absolutely. Yeah. And that’s what my mom said to me. She was like, “This just wasn’t in our experience,” and it didn’t mean that she wasn’t prepared to love me when this was in my experience. And that was really the gap that I didn’t get. I had been so worried about coming out because I knew that neither of my parents had people in their lives who were gay.
I knew that they just didn’t have a lot of contact with that. I also had in my head all these narratives from TV and movies about disastrous coming out conversations. As a high school teacher, I’d known teenagers who were kicked out of houses because their parents were so upset over their sexual identity.
And I also knew that my parents were not those people. But I think that those narratives still really sank deeply in my psyche in unconscious ways, in the same way that straight narratives sank into my psyche before I started exploring my queer identity.
As Emily mentioned, her relationship with Jordan feels very steady today and neither of them have other partners. The whole dynamic between them, she said, “looks really simple.” At the same time, it has a new depth.
Emily: We have a house together and a dog together, and just like a, a really beautiful life. We take adventures together. In some ways, our relationship today does not look any different from how it did before we opened our relationship.
But I know that internally, inside of myself, I am now so much more courageous about what I’m willing to talk about. I’m much more transparent about what’s going on with me, and I know how to express my inner experiences and desires, and I know how to express my inner emotions in ways where I can now take full responsibility for them. And so it’s not as scary as it used to be to really show up fully as myself.
August: Mmm. I love the title of your book, which is all about that: Please Make Me Love Me.
Emily: Thank you.
August: What do you most want people to know about your memoir?
Emily: I think often this book gets pegged as a story about polyamory or about relationships with women. But really to me it’s a story of going from not really knowing myself and my intrinsic worth to figuring that out and figuring out how to be in greater integrity and honesty with myself. And so for me, the important thing about the book is like the external stuff about how the relationships went and the way that those stories unfolded.
That’s almost just – it’s just the format, or the architecture for this deeper inner story of really getting to know myself and getting to look at parts of myself that I had not been willing to look at before.
August: As someone who did not learn to talk openly about sex, and I know it’s only one piece of your story, but you write very beautifully about your sexuality, too. Before all of this, did you ever imagine that you would write a memoir that includes your sex life?
Emily: No, no, not at all. (laughs) In fact, before publishing this book, I joked with friends that like, really the only reason I’m publishing it is cuz I’m playing a game of chicken with myself. As long as I put it out in the world, I can’t then take it all back and pretend it never happened.
That’s being a little bit glib about my purpose in sharing. I think that we all learn from each other’s stories in all sorts of really beautiful ways, and I wanna share my story and service to other people. But there is also an element of the parts of myself that I portray in the book are parts that even still today are sometimes hard for me to look at.
And they’re parts that if I don’t actively tend to, I will sweep them under the rug and then, you know, another decade will go by and they’ll rear their heads and create a mess of my relationships again. And so it’s like this is a part of myself that I’m not particularly proud of in some ways, but that I don’t wanna forget, because this past version of myself taught me so much about how to be true and honest.
As far as advice Emily would offer, related to her story, she said it ties into fears she’s had around talking openly about her desires and sexuality.
Emily: Like I said, with that conversation with my mom, where the outcome of that really just reflected what my own internal state was. I think if I had been a little bit bolder to experiment with having more of those conversations earlier on and getting used to having conversations about things that feel a little scary to talk about, I would’ve had more reflections back to me that these don’t have to be scary things. That there are all sorts of people out in the world who can love me with this as part of my personality and part of myself.
If I could go back to my past self, I would ask her to be just a little more brave, just have a couple more conversations and really experiment and test the water and just see what can you be more intimate and open about that will allow you to get the reflection back, that this isn’t so scary and that it actually can bring you closer together with people.
And, if you’re enjoying Girl Boner Radio, I would so appreciate a rating and review and if you’d tell your friends about it. Thanks so much for listening. [outro music that makes you wanna dance!]