When looking to change things in your world, how do you let pleasure be the force that guides you? How do you fulfill desire while you fight for change? How do you take care of yourself while you transform? And how do you allow organic, sustainable change to emerge in your life - without feeling like you have to force things? Today we’re speaking with author, activist, and healer adrienne maree brown. Her most recent book, the New York Times bestseller “Pleasure Activism”, leans into black feminist traditions to challenge you to rethink the groundrules of how to facilitate change in your own life, and in the world around you. In this episode, you’ll hear more about how adrienne came to this work, and her thoughts on how to be imperfect, yet honest, in relationship. You’ll learn how to bring true integrity into your relationships - and ways to ensure that your health and wellbeing aren’t compromised while you grow and transform. 

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As always, I’m looking forward to your thoughts on this episode and what revelations and questions it creates for you. Please join us in the Relationship Alive Community on Facebook to chat about it!


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Visit adrienne maree brown’s website to learn more about her books and her other projects.

Pick up a copy of Pleasure Activism by adrienne maree brown on Amazon.

Listen to Episode 12 on the Healing Justice podcast for a Somatic Centering practice.

FREE Relationship Communication Secrets Guide - perfect help for handling conflict and shifting the codependent patterns in your relationship

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Visit http://www.neilsattin.com/amb to download the transcript, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the transcript to this episode with adrienne maree brown.

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Neil Sattin: Hello and welcome to another episode of Relationship Alive. This is your host Neil Sattin. I want to start by saying that I believe in the power of synchronicity. I believe that when synchronicities happen it means something. And so to me it meant a lot when I was walking into a bookstore with a new friend of mine in New York City and she grabbed this book off the shelf and she said, "Given what we've just been talking about how you want to make this huge impact with your work and with the Relationship Alive podcast you need to read this book." And she handed me a book called "Emergent Strategy" by adrienne maree brown. 

adrienne maree brown: Oh wow. 

Neil Sattin: Yeah. And after reading that book and being so moved by what I read there both in terms of the promise that it holds for how our lives can unfold in a way that's really organic and natural and suited to who we are as people and also how that can impact the communities that we form whether it be our micro communities our family, our friends, or our larger communities, the movements that we become a part of and how we create change in this world. It was just super inspiring to me and I was delighted to see that adrienne was coming out with a new book called "Pleasure Activism," which just hit the New York Times Bestseller List and I thought you know what, like, I have to talk to this person and hopefully they'll talk to me. So. So I reached out and fortunately here we are today to talk to adrienne maree brown, who is a social justice facilitator, focused on black liberation, a doula, healer and a pleasure activist and a coach. And the list goes on and on. And honestly I can relate and I love that about... 

adrienne maree brown: Yeah. 

Neil Sattin: About her work. And so we're gonna be here to talk about emergence and pleasure and how this all unfolds in the world of relationship. The relationship you have to yourself, the relationship you have to your beloved or beloveds, and the relationship you have with the world. As usual we will have a detailed transcript of today's episode which you can get if you visit Neil Sattin-dot-com-slash-A-M-B as in adrienne maree brown or you can always text the word "passion" to the number 3 3 4 4 4 and follow the instructions. And that will get you the transcript and the show notes and all that good stuff. 

adrienne maree brown: Oh cool. 

Neil Sattin: I think that's it. So adrienne, thank you so much for being here with us today on Relationship Alive. 

adrienne maree brown: Thanks for having me now. I'm excited that a podcast it's about relationships in this way, exists. So I'm like yay! Let's talk about it. 

Neil Sattin: Awesome. Yeah I've been thinking about a good way to dive in without asking you like a ridiculously broad question, but I might have to start with a ridiculously broad question.:. 

adrienne maree brown: You're like, I tried! I can't. It's ok. What's the  ridiculously broad question. 

Neil Sattin: Well. Yeah. So let's start with this idea about pleasure and activism and what does it mean to have pleasure be the center of how one operates in the world?

adrienne maree brown: For me, you know, I got this terminology, was taught to me and I learned the words from an organizer named Keith Cyler, who was the founder of something called "Housing Works," that's based in New York that raises resources and all kinds of resources like financial resources, but also does trainings and other things like that for people who are dealing with house-lessness, dealing with HIV, AIDS. And I was really moved by his genius and his work. But, one time we were just sitting around having a good time and he talked to me about this terminology "pleasure activism," and it stuck with me over the years so I kept being like "Oh. Like what could that mean? What could that mean? What could that mean?" And especially as I I grew, you know, I've always been very aware that there's a lot in the world that is broken that is hurting that is traumatized, and inside of that reaching for how are we meant to connect with each other? And somewhere in there this idea of pleasure activism kept returning to me as I was doing voter organizing, returning to me as I was learning about harm reduction, returning to me as I was supporting people to do direct action, nonviolent civil disobedience. It just kept coming back. And when I was working on my last book emergent strategy, I had to include it as a concept and I wasn't sure at that point like am I going to flesh this all the way out? Like there's a lot here. But then at some point I was like, "Let me just.... Like what would it look like." You know, what would it look like to actually flesh this out? And I had been reading Audrey Lorde's text "the uses of the erotic:: as power," which I got permission to reprint in this book. And I really loved her use of the erotic. And yet I just kept coming back to this idea of pleasure. Like that pleasure includes the erotic, but also includes a lot of things that may or may not be erotic, and so I was like, what is pleasure. And I looked up and its just like happy, joy and satisfaction. And I was like, "Gosh it seems so simple and yet there's so much resistance to it. There's so much fear of it there's so much control of it. And. And for those of us who are like actively trying to change the world in some way there's a denial of it, right? Like it's like, "We are not allowed to have that. We need to be fighting for this you know future that's off in the future somewhere.". 

Neil Sattin: Right. 

adrienne maree brown: And I just remember landing and like. Wouldn't it be so radical to listen to Audrey Lourde had taught us about engaging the erotic now, engaging our full aliveness, in this moment. And for black women who, you know, that's who is at the front of my mind when I wrote this text, you know, I was like there's a lot that has intentionally cut us off from our relationship with joy and happiness and pleasure and contentment and satisfaction. It's been trained into us that we're not allowed to have those things so I got very... Then I got very light lit up with this idea, that I was like, "Oh what if we could have these things? Like what if it's a measure of our freedom to reclaim pleasure?" And so that kind of sent me off down this path that has been really exciting. And you know it's interesting because activism in general is not where I land right? Like I, I've often been like I'm an organizer! And for me the distinction you know, I think activists or folks who are really like advocating for something like using their public sphere to advocate for something, going and talking to friends. Organizers to me or folks who are like, "I'm actually trying to move a strategy amongst the people." Right? Like I'm going to go find those who are not going to just easily be reached and I'm going to knock on their doors and I'm going to find out what they need and and build an analysis and a vision together. And so you know it's like, "OK is activism OK for this? And it felt like actually for this, it is it is important that as many people in the world as possible begin to come out and advocate for all of our rights to have pleasure to have pleasure be an organizing principle of how we structure our relationships in our society. And then it starts with reclaiming our own, and moves out from that place. So I'm excited that it exists. I'm excited that it came together and then I've been really blown away by the responses. So I'm like, OK this... I really for a while was like, "This is not the time to be putting out right now. We need something about justice or we need something about like you know I kept having this strategic idea around if this current administration is starting fires all over the place. I kept thinking like, how do we conjure up water? How do we vaporize ourselves in some way to come up and over and rain down on them? And I was like, I got to go write that strategy book or whatever. And then I realized I was like, "Oh this is actually it," in a way? 

Neil Sattin: This is that book. 

adrienne maree brown: This is actually that book and that's been clicking to me that I'm like: This is it. This is the way that we become more powerful through pleasure, through what we can release rather than what we can contain. So. Yeah. 

Neil Sattin: I love it. It's to me... What was I mean there are so many threads that came together for me as I was reading the book, and even just in hearing you speak right now. Primarily, that way that people are so.... Many people, I should say are so exhausted right now, with with just the state of affairs and.... 

adrienne maree brown: That's right. 

Neil Sattin: ...that's political, it's environmental it's economic. There is a lot that's taxing us and that's something that regenerates us when we can find the sources of pleasure within us and in how we connect with the world that I think allows us to bring more of ourselves to the world and and also highlights the places where we are denying ourselves or denying others that inalienable right for... 

adrienne maree brown: That's right. 

Neil Sattin: ...the experience of joy. 

adrienne maree brown: That's right.:I mean it blows my mind to really think about, like, what people what people have survived, like often when I stand in a room of people and I'm giving a speech or a talk or a training or something. There's a lot of me that's present with that moment but then there's also a part of me that's kind of thinking about all the lineages of all these human beings and how some of them in this moment have landed in a place of power, or privilege, and some of them haven't ended up in a place that's not that. But that those lineages all include some survival, some fighting to exist some taking a risk, some you know, moving out into the world with an unknown response you know, like we don't know what's going to happen here. We don't know if we're heading the right way. We don't know if we're going to survive and that there have been so many things that have have you know, like so much of our human history has just been about surviving, right? Just like can we make it? And so there's something interesting to me now to be like, I think I think we have shown that like oh we could make it like we could figure this out. We could be on this planet technically. But what is the life worth making it for? Like, what is worth surviving for?:

Neil Sattin: Yeah. 

adrienne maree brown: And now I think we're actively in that question. That is like, all of us deserve this relationship to pleasure. And when you look at like who thinks they deserve it or who is encouraged to have it, it's actually a very narrow small grouping of human beings. And I think that's because of capitalism. You know, I really think that as an economic system, capitalism thrives when we believe that we are not good enough and that we need to buy something outside of ourselves in order to experience pleasure. And I love the trick of it which is like, if you actually just drop down into your own body, which is the only thing in your entire life that you ever truly have, from the beginning to the end, if you just drop down into it, it's wired for pleasure. And those wires may have been crossed, you know, there may be some like dysfunctional parts of it because of trauma, because of pain, because of... which I now, also when I meet everyone, I'm like, 'I know you have some trauma," right? Like, I know you have some. 

Neil Sattin: Yeah no one escapes that. 

adrienne maree brown: Yeah. I don't know what it is. I don't know how severe or central it is to your life, or your life story it is to your life, or your life story. I don't know if you had the resources to recover or not, but I know it's there. And so I think like, "oh." What we're dealing with is like, what is the relationship between that trauma that's everywhere. And this system that's telling us that we can't heal ourselves we shouldn't even feel ourselves. We should just kind of outsource that to something we can purchase. And, and, then how in that do we find a way to be in RIGHT relationship with each other on this planet. Right? So that's the stuff I keep, I keep floating around with us like I want to, I want to leave a world behind me that people like I like I feel very compelled. I want to be here. It feels good, right? And that doesn't mean that I think we will solve the climate crisis in my lifetime because I do think... You know...  I really believe in Gopal Dayaneni, 1who works over at Movement Generation and talks about, like, there's things that we have already set in motion that we are gonna have to face the consequences of as a species. And I don't deny that that's what's coming to us but inside of that I think we also have to be actively fomenting pleasure and actively fomenting like reconnecting ourselves to land and to each other because as the changes happen we're still going to need to be able to feel, feel pleasure, feel satisfaction feel like being here. Otherwise we'll just depress and numb and you know kind of slip away. And I think that would be an unworthy end to our species. 

Neil Sattin: Totally agree with you and a word that popped into my mind that I would like to add to that, is resilience. 

adrienne maree brown: Yeah. 

Neil Sattin: The more that we're embracing our capacity for resilience in terms of how we heal our lineage of trauma. Or present moment traumas in terms of how we make things right when they've gone wrong, and do that in the context where what we're shooting for what we're envisioning is something joyful blissful like that actually has ease and pleasure connected to it. 

adrienne maree brown: Yeah. Yes. 

Neil Sattin: Then that that makes it worth it and gives us kind of a... I hate to use the word technology, but like a technology of continually adjusting to get there. 

adrienne maree brown: Yeah. 

Neil Sattin: You talk in "Emerging Strategy," about adapability... Yeah. 

adrienne maree brown: Exactly. Yeah exactly. Yeah. Well, I was just going to say, I was like, yeah. You know, like, to me emergent strategy and pleasure activism really go together like they're holding hands, dancing across the field of ideas and I really think that this this idea of resilience. You know I have a teacher Alta Starr who's always pushing me to be like you know, resilience is beyond even harm, right? It's sort of like this natural capacity we have to learn to adapt, to like grow, to learn from whatever changes come. And it's hard for me because I'm still like "Well. But also when someone hurts us, you know we had to be resilient." And you know it's hard in a city like Detroit because you know resilience can be weaponized. Like if people like you bounce back from anything, like, we'll just keep doing anything to you. Like you know we'll add an incinerator to your neighborhood or whatever you'll be fine. And so I think there's something about, Oh to me, like how do we have a transformative resilience right. How do we have resilience that is not just like we can recover back to conditions that we weren't very happy with in the first place. And being like oh you know when I look at like what am I recovering? I'm recovering something that's beyond my own origin, you know like I need to recover something that goes back past the many hours that my grandmother overworked, and I need to recover something that goes back past my enslaved ancestors, and recover something that goes back past my kidnapped answers, and you know, ancestors, like I feel this long, long, long arc of the work that I'm in right now where I'm like. Almost everyone that came before me was trying to work towards some joy some freedom some sense of safety for their children themselves. And now I am awakened so like I am aware of all of that and I have an option in front of me to be resilient across time and space right. And that feels very exciting. You know, I think as hard as it is to live in this age of hyper connectedness because I think it is really hard. My friend angel Kyoto Williams talks about this, that like, we we are given access to so much more information than we've ever had access to before but we're not given the tools to handle it all, right? Like we're not taught here's how to meditate. Here's how to pass what's overwhelming back to the earth or back to God or back to whomever you trust with it. We're not given those those technologies, right? So we kind of flailing a lot of the time of like, I'm receiving all this, I'm trying to care about all of it and we find ourselves stretched so far but I also think the really beautiful thing about that is like we can see how many people believe what we believe, how many people are trying to practice what we're trying to practice so we can find each other. You know you and I would have never found each other if it wasn't for this modern state of connection. And to be able to say like, "Oh you're out here in Maine fomenting these ideas and I'm out here in Detroit fomenting these ideas and we have very different lineages. And yet we both have arrived in this place where it's like this is a path. This is a way to move forward it's important. Paying attention to relationship is important." And so that you know, that gives me hope inside of the the struggle of this overwhelming moment where there is so much that is hard. It's also there's so much that is overwhelmingly beautiful and overwhelmingly good and there's so many ways that you know also we live on such a resilient planet. So, I often think about this that I'm like, you know, and I feel like I'm trying to remember whoever first said this idea, because I was a Oh snap! That's a game changer! It's like, the Earth is gonna be OK. 

Neil Sattin: Yeah. 

adrienne maree brown: Right? Like the earth is gonna be OK. Like, it might be, she might go through an Ice Age or something, but like if we're not here she'll still be OK. And like if we're not here she'll recover from whatever we've done. Like how we've remixed her nature into other kinds of things. And, I don't know if you saw this story came out last week about the white-throated rail, did you see that? 

Neil Sattin: I hadn't but I saw you wrote about it on your on your blog. Yeah.

adrienne maree brown: I was so moved by this. So this like little bird...:The debate is basically this bird re-evolved, right. Like it went extinct at 136,000 years ago, roughly. Because like,  these things are hard to track but like... Now this bird has has re-evolved has come back into existence. The same little -- it's a flightless bird. There's something about that that just I, I read it and I really was like moved in a way I was like, I didn't know I needed to know that that was possible. But, I was like, I need to know that that level of resilience is possible, like somewhere down in the programming of this planet. There's there's some code that's just like white throated rail.: And just because we can no longer see the creature, it doesn't mean that it's, it's disappeared like there's some aspect of it that DNA that's in there. And yeah, it made me feel like OK. Like there's mysteries on mysteries on mysteries when it comes to this planet. And there's so much that we can't understand. And so inside of that I'm like, you know, I love thinking really big grandiose thoughts. But then I try to bring them back down into very small tangible practices. Small ways of being with each other because I'm like, I can't imagine how we'll get through the climate catastrophe that we're in right now. But I can imagine being in right relationship with the planet around me and making better choices about this local place that I'm in and being place based and loving. Even though I travel a lot but I'm like rooting myself into the soil in Detroit in all the ways that I can. Like this is where I bury my compost. This is where I play with children. This is where I go find like where's the Detroit grown foods every summer and I am really cautious now. I've made a major shift in my life around how I produce waste. Like what kind of waste I will put out so that I tried to really shrink down my garbage waste to the, like the very very you know, it's like if I can rinse it and I can clean it off and it can be recycled. It's gonna be recycled if it's food if it can go into compost it goes into compost like I used to have a massive garbage bin that I was putting out. And I'm like I live alone. You know all of that with stuff that like other things can be done with. And now it's like you know a huge portion of what comes out of my home is gonna be recycled and reused again. And, I'm aiming at zero waste. I'm constantly trying to figure out where is and where other places where I can... I just bought this new set of like ziplocks reusable kind of Ziploc thingies, that so you know because I'm a, I'm a fan of Ziploc bags like I'm like you've put anything in a Ziploc bag. You can go anywhere you have it I carry like in my suitcase there's always like five Ziploc bags just like folded just in case because you just never know what you're gonna need a Ziploc bag for. And so I'm like, oh that's a next frontier that I need to like, you know, figure out a way to advance through and I'm like, oh I can do this, right. So anyway all of that to say to me I'm trying in my personal life to get in right relationship with nature and my body is a huge part of that. Like if I'm not in right relationship and respecting the miraculous, like, Stardust nature of my body then how can I even begin to be in my relationship with the rest of the living world. 

Neil Sattin: Yeah. 

adrienne maree brown: Yeah. 

Neil Sattin: So, OK. So first, I'm so moved when I hear you talk about not really being able to read the code but seeing the expressions of the code like.. 

adrienne maree brown: Yeah. 

Neil Sattin: ...the bird coming back into existence from extinction and even when you were describing how you and I could be doing different work in different places and yet here we find ourselves together having this conversation. 

adrienne maree brown: Yeah. 

Neil Sattin: To me that is an expression of the power of something that's ineffiable, that like we can't understand but if we're willing to to follow that path and and follow the ways that it's growing and things are emerging then, then at least that inspires hope in me that there's like an antidote to disconnection, to destruction. 

adrienne maree brown: Yes. 

Neil Sattin: To... 

adrienne maree brown: Yeah. 

Neil Sattin: ...all the forces that were that were working against and in terms of relationship the ways that people are, you know, experience this desire for closeness and connection. You know part of our, our wiring as you were mentioning earlier is to be connected to each other. 

adrienne maree brown: That's right. 

Neil Sattin: And yet, it becomes such a source of pain partly because we either intentionally or unintentionally traumatize each other and then also because of the social structures and their impact on us. When you talk about pleasure and relearning pleasure, getting in touch with your body and and I like that stand that you take for for the personal being political that fractal nature of... 

adrienne maree brown: Yes. Yeah. 

Neil Sattin: ...transformation. I think about how many of us are just kind of following the script of romance and love and sex and pleasure and needing... 

adrienne maree brown: When did you become aware that there was a script? 

Neil Sattin: Oohh. Well that's it's been an unfolding for me, for sure. And I think probably I became most aware of it when I inadvertently hurt someone. And like had no idea that that was happening for them and found out later and then you know, thankfully we've had our moments of amends and talking and all of that. But, in restoring ourselves. That was probably the inception of it. And then all through college. 

adrienne maree brown: Yeah. 

Neil Sattin: And then in my current relationship, I'm so blessed to be with someone who's taken a strong stand for her own boundaries around her own healing, her own trauma. And it forced me to even go even deeper into like, "Well, what am I looking for in relationships?". 

adrienne maree brown: Right. 

Neil Sattin: What am I looking for in sex? Would it like what is this rejection, quote-unquote, that I'm experiencing in this moment and what is that really about? And and so that has forced me to ask deeper questions, and to get progressively more and more honest with myself and with her, to a point where fairly recently I feel like I've hit ground zero. But it's it's a process it's definitely been an unfolding and watching those layers fall away. And then once they do being like, All right well how do I replace this? If I'm going to do sex the way that I thought I should? Or you know I think it was an essay that you wrote where you mentioned a babysitter who was watching Porky's when you were... 

adrienne maree brown: Yes. 

Neil Sattin: Yeah. And the way those things inform our sense of, of what's what's erotic, what turns us on, all of that. Once I peel those things away and come back to, this moment and what's real. Well... 

adrienne maree brown: That's right. 

Neil Sattin: Yeah. That's what my journey has been like and I've, I've certainly tried to surface that a bunch here on the podcast and and I'm really excited to hear your thoughts about that unfolding for yourself and, and you mentioned meditation earlier. Yeah. What are the the pathways into, kind, of breaking down the, the unhealthy learnings? And coming back into right relationship with with ourselves as relational, sexual, erotic, pleasure oriented being? 

adrienne maree brown: Beings, right? I feel like... a couple of things. I mean I think one is, there was a period of time where I was, I was really convinced that sex didn't have anything to do with me or what I was feeling. Like, I was really like what is the other person feeling and like that's that's what's important right now. And like my job is to make sure that that experience is a whole good one. Right? And, and I feel like, I remember like, there's just moments in most of its relational right. Like most of it is like just other people reflecting something back. And it's like "Girl, it doesn't had to be like that." You know? People talking to me, reading stuff. I remember reading the work of Andrea Dworkin. Have you read her? Like she she talks pretty scathingly about marriage and pornography and like, a lot of things that I was just I took for granted, were like those are good things that you try to get to in life. And, I don't agree with everything, you know, I feel like there's a lot of brilliant thinking in what she said and I feel like there's also not a lot offered of like here are other true pleasures, you know, like here's the ways to get them. 

Neil Sattin: Yeah. 

adrienne maree brown: But there was something that blew open for me where I was just like, I want to be able to consider this. I want to be able to consider that everything I was told about where pleasure in my life would come from and, or,  was, was and wasn't allowed. That maybe all that is wrong. Right? And then Audrey Lorde's writing, Octavia Butler's writing. There were just all these different people who were giving me. It was never just about sex. It was never just about the body. It was alway, have a revolution about how you think about how things work in the world. Start to ask questions and get curious about who benefits from these systems. Right? So, I remember, I remember having a quest-, you know, a conversation with a friend about marriage and just being like, who benefits? Who benefits in marriage, right? And, uh, and being pretty like oh my gosh. No one should ever get married. I was like, "No woman should ever get married!" Like I felt very strongly like, Nope it's not, it's just not a good idea. Like you will work forever in a labor that will never ever get acknowledged. You will not be able to pursue passion, work, things that you actually care about. You'll not be respected in the process. And then you know, and then he'll cheat on you. Like this is the arc of  it, right? Because you know he'll need something younger and prettier and he's worked you out, right? And I remember having that conversation as like, NO! You know? Like, and then be like well no that's just one way that's a model that is... The system that benefits from that is patriarchy. And if I can understand that then I can be like let me target patriarchy. Let me... And like I, I'm very lucky that I came across the work of Grace Lee Boggs where she really is like: Transform yourself to transform the world. And this is something I say probably every day of my life. There's some place or some way in which I say this to someone else or to myself. So I was like oh Where is patriarchy in my own practice? Where is patriarchy is showing up in how I'm approaching a relationship? And some of the interesting places were how quickly I would be dishonest for the sake of connection. And I say connection in quotation marks there, right? That I was like Well I don't want to be alone and, like, being alone is a sign of someone who's not a good person or whatever. Right? You have to be like with someone to be like a part of the human experiment or whatever. First you know, that that is...  I no longer believe that, but like you know. But at the time I just like, ok, I don't want to be alone. So I would go out on a date or someone, you know, I feel like I was I feel like I came up like right at the end of dating, also. So it's like right at the end of like when you would actually say, "Let's go on a date to a place and get to know each other." For maybe three or four times we would do that before we are actually alone in either of our places. And you know something else would happen right. I'm like I come from what feels like almost a chaste time before the apps kind of popped off into, just your place or mine. Like what's good? You know? And I talk about apps as if I know what I'm talking about I've never really used that apps to, that's just not how I meet people. But, but, I know that the majority of people in my life that's now how people connect. But so you go out and you're having these initial conversations and my practice was to just kind of listen for what I thought the other person really wanted to hear and then delivered that somehow. And you know, I grew up as a military brat. I moved like roughly every two years, so you get really good at figuring out like what is the, what are the rules here, and how do I adapt to be safe within them? And it can be hard when you get good at that to also be like. And then what is what is fundamental to me like what is the me that I'm also carrying to each place that needs to adapt? And the same thing in dating like what is the me that's showing up? And like might adapt in some relationship but like why am I rushing to not just adapt, but like completely contort into something? Why am I so desperate for being in relationship that I won't even be there? Like I wanted it to be me that shows that. Yeah. So I feel like I had rounds and rounds of that and it never worked. I kept having this heartbreak, that was really almost never about the other person. But it was about facing how much I had contorted to get in the door, and then how little I actually wanted to be inside that house, right? 

Neil Sattin: Yeah, yeah. 

adrienne maree brown: Whatever house it was. And so, I feel like I took... 

Neil Sattin: Which by the way is a super common problem that people have. 

adrienne maree brown: It's every, it's everywhere. You know when, I do a bunch of you know like you said coaching and mediation and stuff like that, and I find like that is the number one thing. That's the number one thing is that people are like you're just not who you've said were. 

Neil Sattin: Right. 

adrienne maree brown: And how could you not be who you said you were? And how could you not uphold the promises that you made? And it's just like I was lying. I was, I wasn't even there. Like I don't even know I'm sorry. You know. 

Neil Sattin: Right. And then there's that additional layer of oh wait a minute. Now we also have to deal with your shame around who you... around your truth. yeah. 

adrienne maree brown: Exactly. And it's the shame and the still absence of yourself. Right? So, so often. Now I've been doing a lot of support for people who are in their mid 30s to 50s and a lot of the folks I'm supporting are going through major breakups of fundamental relationships. And it's interesting because they're like who am I? Like, who am I? You know like so much was defined in relationship to this other person? And that's how so many people get trained to become themselves. It's like now, now I'm ugly, I'm half of something, and now that's who I am. And so much of the work is being like; "You're a whole something. You're a whole something." And I think the thing I'm always watching out for is not to send people all the way to the other side of the pendulum, right.:To me the personal is political only as it relates to being part of a collective effort to be political about what is personal, right? So I feel like this is you know someone was asking me I did an interview yesterday, and they're like what about the GOOP, like what about the like white women taking bathes, or whatever. And I was just like "Yeah. Like you know that so much of self care is about that. It's like white people with privilege go off to the spa and that's when you know, often, I mention to people they're like, I'm not about all that, you know? And I'm just like, "Yeah I I don't think that that's political, necessarily, either right?" I think it becomes political in relationship to your identity. I think it becomes political in relationship to the community you're a part of and how you're making sure that everyone has access to the beautiful good parts of life, right? And so you know I'm part of a community. I'm part of many communities. And there's a particular community I call the goddesses. And it's a bunch of women, we all went to school together. Right now everyone's like slaying dragons in all these different fields of life, and we have started to really, like, have each other's backs and hold each other down in a way that like we didn't know how to necessarily do back then. Right. But we've rediscovered each other and been like we need to like all you know like how about half of us, half of the people are moms. And so it's like we need to go places where like everyone here gets to relax and be taken care of. That we get to be part of something that's close knit and intimate, but that we get to have massages or we get to be in a hot tub or we get to you know just cook for each other or take each other out to the best places we can find to eat. And like, there's so many small pleasures that feel really important, like it wouldn't be great for me if I was just like I'm over here living my best life and all my sisters were out here struggling. Like, I don't think that that's a way towards freedom, right? For me it's very important that as I have access, I increase access for everyone else and I particularly increase access for those who have less access than me. Like that to me as part of the political commitment I'm in for my lifetime.:

Neil Sattin: Yeah. 

adrienne maree brown: Yeah. 

Neil Sattin: Yeah. There's... I'm just thinking here about the, uh, the commodification of self care and I think that's part of what you're talking about, right? Is that like... 

adrienne maree brown: Yes. Capitalism!

Neil Sattin: You actually have to... Yeah. There it is again. There it is again.

adrienne maree brown: it's always there. Yeah. 

Neil Sattin: One thing that popped up for me when you were talking about structures and like, I would never get married! And you know and then and then that sense of like well OK. It's just the system and who does it benefit and maybe there's a time and a place. What popped up for me was this question around the dance between safety and I think it was because you mentioned, you know, when going out on a date, like part of what's happening there is deciding, Am I safe with this person? 

adrienne maree brown: Exactly. Yeah. 

Neil Sattin: And. And then that because safety is right up there with connection in terms of something that we, that we require in order to function as humans. That's right. So and that's interesting as you start pulling apart the structures because one thing that marriage can be really good at... 

adrienne maree brown: Is safety. 

Neil Sattin: ...is supporting safety. Exactly. And so how do you start to loosen those tethers in a way that still supports people being held. Because if you're not feeling safe, you're not growing in a way that's probably generative for you you're just like scrambling back to safety for the most part. 

adrienne maree brown: That's right. You know I think I love this question, Neil. I think this is like, this is an essential one. To me it's like, OK how do we balance these things. And a couple of thoughts leap to mind. One is that I think people feel like they have to choose between safety and like, being their whole selves or being their, being in their dignity, like all of it. And that first part, that feels like it's not true. Right, I'm like that's part of the lie that we've been told is that you have to choose. So you can either be safe in a marriage where you don't get to be fully realized as yourself or you can be fully realized as yourself. But like, you know, without that stability and I've seen it, I've seen the case more often than not be that you find that deep safety within yourself. It's a feeling not a story that you're telling about your life, right. Or a projection you're giving for someone else but it's actually like some, a felt sense, like I feel it in my life. Most of my life now, I feel safe right? And I can feel when that changes. Like sometimes I'll be in a space where there's just too many people, too much energy, something's off, you know? And I can feel it and it heightens my senses, it heightens my awareness, it makes me pay attention to what's happening around me. But then I think something like marriage, it's that kind of commitment, what I see so often happening is that people get into it and then they're like, "This isn't the safety that I thought it was going to be," right? Maybe it is for the first month or the first year or even until the first child or whatever, you know. But then there's some moment where that falls away because what you, what you thought you had, was like, I know you and you know me. And what's really happening is you're changing and I'm also changing and so I've officiated a few weddings and one of things that's been exciting is that the people asked me to officiate are like we want to commit to changing together, right. That to me is the kind of commitment that I can get behind where people are like I know this person again and I'm not going to change but I'm so curious about who they are and who they will become and I want to be there for that ride. And so it's not about marriage as entrapment and like catching you into one single identity, or any relationship, because now I'm like, you know I had to get married to be trying to trap someone in your web and I really like the model which I'm sure you've heard of of relationship anarchy. I don't think anything is perfect perfect thing that I really like it because so much of it is like, you know safety. You know, I think you were talking about with safety to me so much of that is rooted in trust. 

Neil Sattin: Mm hmm. 

adrienne maree brown: Right. It's like, Oh I trust that you're gonna do what you say you do. You say you're gonna do. And I trust that I can tell you my truth or whatever it is. And in relationship anarchy, which I think is like someone in Sweden, Andie Nordgren or something like that. 

Neil Sattin: Yeah I forget. 

adrienne maree brown: Yeah I have to go look at her name but there's you can look a bit like a "relationship anarchy manifesto." Right. And I love it because it's like trust is something that we build together over time, and like we start out with a default of trust like rather than starting out with the default of like, you've got it, you know like your trust is at zero and you have to like somehow bring it up to a hundred and never let your stuff like, never fuck up like never ever break my trust in anyway, or I'm gonna hold that against you for the rest of time. And I'm like instead you start from a place of like I have an abundant sense of trust for like my place in the world, for what I'm up to in the world, for like the work that I'm here to do, my purpose and then I meet you. And I'm just gonna offer you trust as a human being and what I am counting on is that if you break my trust, then we'll figure out how to recover together. Right? And sometimes that breaking of trust might be, we're not supposed to recover together. You know, like we're sometimes, the breaking of trust will expose something like, you're more committed to... uh... Like I see this happen sometimes where people are like in an open relationship, but still do cheating type behaviors. And I'm like, Oh, OK like great. That's good information, right? Like you're still very committed to a certain kind of secrecy. Maybe that's what turns you on is the forbidden. Something along those lines. And that's not compatible, right, with the kind of relationship that I'm trying to build or whatever kind of relationship this person is trying to build. And so I get really excited about stuff like that, because I like then you in a, you know, then it's like we just got clear about it and like we can trust each other to take the step back and transition into some other form of relationship. Versus, I think what happens now which is like, I offered you a false trust that you could never live up to that I was waiting for you to somehow live up to, you broke it and now I don't, I never want to see your face again. Right? Like you let me down so thoroughly, that I just I don't even want you to exist and I'm like I don't think we have enough people for that way of being with each other. Right? That we can just keep being like if you're not perfect, perfectly trustworthy then I kick you out of my community forever. And I say that you know the same thing you said is that you learn some of this from causing harm. And I'm like I learned from breaking people's trust. Right? 

Neil Sattin: Yeah. 

adrienne maree brown: There are people who I love and care about and I, I broke their trust and I have, I've had to do like a lot of work, a lot of work around like, Am I a trustworthy person? If the answer is No. How would I become a trustworthy person? Right. And again so much of that initial line of inquiry was just like about other people. Like how can I let them know how can I show how can I prove that I'm trustworthy? And of course the answer is I have to be trustworthy. Like I have to be able to feel in myself. And I'll tell you I'll tell you a little example of this. 

Neil Sattin: Sure. 

adrienne maree brown: I was in the airport like last week and I was running through and a lot had been happening and I went and sat down on a bench and there was this coat next to me and I asked around like, "Hey anybody is this your coat." And everybody was like no, you know whoever this coat is they just left this coat here. There's no bag there's nothing else around it. So I let it sit there for a little while and then I'm like Oh the nice coat. It's a nice coat. And so I picked it up to look at it and it's like a designer coat and it happens to be my size, right? So I'm like, This is a very nice gorgeous designer coat that someone just left here on this bench and like who knows if they're ever going to make it back, right? 

Neil Sattin: For you! 

adrienne maree brown: But, that, yeah part of my brain was like a gift from the universe! And I was like. And I picked it up and I looked at it and was like that would not be a trustworthy behavior to just take this coat and move on with life. Right. Like there's a chance that that person is still in this airport and that they're like running back here to get their very expensive, nice coat. Right? Or and, right. They'll call Delta. Like do you know where my coat is? Or whatever it is. So I took it over to the, um, you know where they check you in for the plane. I took it over to one of the guys there and I was like this was left over there. They're like, oh my goodness. You know like that's so sweet, you know. And it was just like, I felt the burden lift off my system that I'm like oh I was about to really just take someone's coat. But I didn't. And it is a small thing, like it's a really small thing that like no one would have known if I had done the wrong thing... 

Neil Sattin: Except you. 

adrienne maree brown: But I would have known. And like trying to get to that place in my life where like I don't make the mistake because it would hurt my integrity and my wholeness and my dignity outside of anyone else's. And even if I know it, that creates a shadow. Like how do I turned to my lover and tell this story? How do I walk into a room where I'm offering people, like let's be trustworthy people, and I'm standing there in a coat that I stole from some poor stranger, right? So to me it's that. It's like is my relationship with myself intact? And then from that place can I be in contact with another person and say, now this is intact? And if it gets harmed I commit to helping us get to intactness and sometimes that looks like a boundary. I keep repeating these words my friend, Prentis Hemphill, made this, made this, had this thought last week and then spread it all over the world basically, but its boundaries are the distance at which I can love you and me, simultaneously. 

Neil Sattin: Mm hmm. I love that. 

adrienne maree brown: And I keep thinking about that that I'm like sometimes... Right? Isn't it beautiful. And sometimes it's like that. It's like sometimes in tactness is at a great distance. It's like we're good as long as you're two thousand miles away from me. We're fine. It's good. Like don't cross that boundary and it's all good. 

Neil Sattin: Right. 

adrienne maree brown: And so I think about that I'm like, you know that's one of the things I talk about in "Pleasure Activism" is like our "No,"  makes a way for our "Yes." Like the good boundaries are actually so crucial for the good relationships. 

Neil Sattin: Yeah. What seems contained too, and what you're offering, is the necessity for healing, like, to recognize like, OK if we're not in right relationship we're all each on a healing journey to getting there. 

adrienne maree brown: Yes. 

Neil Sattin: It's probably rare, the person who's learned, who's reached their 30s or 40s or more, you know, and hasn't experience some sort of disruption of their integrity. 

adrienne maree brown: That's right. 

Neil Sattin: So there's the healing component. There's also the compassion component. Like if I, if I expect you to be perfect and you fail me, and then that becomes this huge breach, then that's a much different problem than I'm trusting you. And I'm also wanting you. Like I'm, I'm willing to be okay with where you and I aren't perfect as long as we can be in full disclosure about that together. 

adrienne maree brown: Yeah. That's right. 

Neil Sattin: That's the honesty piece. 

adrienne maree brown: I like that. I like that. I feel like that', you know, because I also think about this. Like for people who are like, "Oh no you know I'm sure they're someone's not me I'm good. You know like I know what you're talking about. I don't lie to myself or whatever." Or like, so often the people who seem to be, who have it all together, who have it altogether. Are are in some ways damaging themselves the most like I feel like now I have stopped doing to myself the harm of trying to pretend I am perfect, right? 

Neil Sattin: Yeah. 

adrienne maree brown: And I see it. I mean I feel like that you know when people watch Beyonce's Homecoming, right? Like what was intriguing to me is that she was like I was pushing for perfection and it meant having to like learn all the stuff that I would never do this again. It wasn't perfect it was actually too much that I harmed myself. And but, I pulled this off, but I harmed myself and didn't... Like, there's even stuff like that. Right? I'm like, "Yeah, what are you denying of yourself. That's where you're creating a prison, right, for yourself. You're containing that part of you that wants to be alive and free and moving around. And I'll say I'm part of the generative somatics teaching body. And for me, Somatics has been the healing pathway that has opened so much. And there's a really beautiful episode of The Healing Justice podcast, that has a woman named Sumitra on it, as it was that, they basically the Healing Justice podcast, they do an offer and then they do a practice to follow up on that. And so it's a 30 minute practice something less than that but it's basically this, the core practice of Somatics which is just centering learning how to actually drop into your body and feel and center in real time. And the idea is that you don't center to feel calm or better you center to feel more. that if you can feel more... 

Neil Sattin: Yeah. To feel what is. 

: That if you can feel more, feel what is and feel more of it then you start to have actual agency in real time over the choices you make, over the connections you move towards, over the connections you can start to set real boundaries around, like I can feel when someone is not a good energy to have around me, right. That doesn't mean they don't deserve to have people around them. But it's not going to happen here, right. 

Neil Sattin: Right. 

adrienne maree brown: I'm gonna move towards those people who are like the right energy for me for, for me growing them. And for them growing me. Yeah. Yeah. So I want to offer that because when it comes to healing, I think it helps to be fairly tangible. Like, there's, there's some you know, I feel like that for me. Like I went to talk therapy for a decade or whateve, right? And I've been able to move so much more through being able to feel, because I feel like talk therapy I was still able to stay in my head and tell my stories and tell my lies. And like you know you know, you can do it if your therapist has to be on to you just move on to the next one like, here's my, here's my story, right, or whatever it is. And I just think there's something so beautiful about dropping in and being like I'm feeling, I'm in a community of people who hold me accountable to being able to feel myself. And even now like I've been touring this book I land in a new city, and I run into someone who's also a Somatic practitioner and they hold me and they're like Are you good? Are you centering? Are you good? How are you feeling? You know and I know that they really care and they want to know. And in that moment I can feel the connection and my aliveness just expand. 

Neil Sattin: So important. 

adrienne maree brown: Yeah. 

Neil Sattin: adrienne maree brown thank you so much for your words today for joining us. I know we could talk for easy another hour. You don't have the time, at least not today. Hopefully we can chat again at some point. That would be special. 

adrienne maree brown: Yay. Thank you so much for having me on. I really appreciate being a guest on the show and I hope it's of use to people. 

Neil Sattin: It is my pleasure and I just want to encourage everyone who's listening to check out all your work but especially your latest book: Pleasure Activism, Emergent Strategy. They're both written with such care and and I really felt them speaking to me and my unfolding and I know it would be a gift to any reader who's here with us. And it feels like a fun footnote that the friend that I met who introduced me to you and your work. 

adrienne maree brown: Yeah. 

Neil Sattin: We were actually both attending a somatic experiencing workshop with Peter Levine. 

adrienne maree brown: Yay. That's awesome!

Neil Sattin: So I love how it came back into Somatics here at the end. 

adrienne maree brown: Full circle. 

Neil Sattin: So far so important to find that truth of who you are and your experience in your body in this moment, and so much aliveness comes from there. 

Neil Sattin: Thank you Neil. 

adrienne maree brown: adrienne, if people want to find out more about your work, what can they do? 

adrienne maree brown: They can go to the website: allied-media-dot-org-slash-ESII. That's where you can get trainings, workshop, stuff like that. And then I'm on Instagram  @adriennemareebrown, and I, that's where I mostly post things into the world. 

Neil Sattin: Great. Well we will make sure there are links in all our stuff. And thank you so much for being with us today. And with me. 

adrienne maree brown: Thank you. Have a good one. 

Neil Sattin: Take care, adrienne. 

adrienne maree brown: All right. Peace. 

Neil Sattin: Same to you. 

Neil Sattin: And just as a reminder if you want a detailed transcript of today's episode, you can get that by visiting Neil-Sattin-dot-com-slash-AMB, adrienne maree brown, or you can text the word passion to the number of 3 3 4 4 4 and follow the instructions. And we will have links to everything that we mentioned here in today's episode as well as to The Healing Justice I think is what adrienne said the The Healing Justice podcast episode that she mentioned, as a gift for you. 

Neil Sattin: All right, take care. 

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