there is nothing wrong with you
this is growth
this is transformation
getting lost in the noise
figuring it out
this is fear
this is processing
this is surviving
this is being alive
[home body, 2020]
To my [soon-to-be] clients...
I’m gonna give it to you straight on this page. Or, at least as straight as a non-straight person can. [insert obnoxious winks and finger guns here, because I think I’m really funny.] This page is likely going to call you the fuck out. You’re not going to like it. I'll say you’re welcome now, but you can thank me when you're ready.
Right away, that probably made your skin crawl just a little bit (and not from my comedic prowess, either). You’re teetering right on the edge of wanting to be seen… really seen… AND that being the scariest thing you can imagine. The anticipation of what may come further down the page has your anxiety on red alert.
Ready to continue?
Let's take a breath first.
Okay, here we go.
Who am I talking to right now? What are you looking for?
[Individual Therapy Clients]
Top three words that have been used to describe you:
You wear these adjectives like a badge of honor. They bring you a sense of value, of purpose, of belonging. After years of honing in on them, they are your core personality traits. They’re great traits, really. And I’m willing to bet that there’s much more to those words than just the surface definition.
Allow me to attempt a little translation:
You’re constantly prioritizing others before yourself. You know what it feels like to hurt and you are hypervigilant to ensure that those around you don’t experience the same. You feel guilty as all hell when (if) you do choose to take time and space for yourself and your needs.
You’ve been through a lot of shit. Whether that equates to family issues, toxic relationships, battling with your own identity, or some combination of struggles, you have faced countless obstacles with no choice but to power through each one. You’re the master of the “I’m fine / it’s fine” mask you wear while the world around you comes crashing down.
You’re a textbook overthinker. Your brain is able to see every angle of every scenario, every conversation, everything that could ever go wrong, all in the name of preparation and self-preservation. You can think yourself out of any feelings and convince yourself that something is no big deal because logically [fill in the blank with whatever excuses you need]. You are impatient with your own growth or progress because you have MUCH higher standards for yourself than you ever do for others.
This is probably the point where you’re starting to feel attacked, exposed, or even downright angry with me. Hell, you may even be contemplating closing this whole tab* because fuck all of this. I get it. It’s hard to read these words and have your experiences resonate within them. That’s not to say that any of those translations are news to you; it just hits different to see it spelled out so explicitly (especially by some rando on the Internet).
Here in the Midwest, so many people engage in what I tend to call ‘sidewalk check-ins’ with those around them.
You know the drill:
Hey you! How's it goin'?
Pretty good! How are you?
I'm good, thanks.
[Conversation fades to silence and y’all go on with your days.]
Now, maybe there are variations in the actual words. Maybe it even includes my personal favorite: Just livin' the dream! The point is that there is an expectation of brevity and of positivity or, at absolute worst, neutrality. You think no one really wants to know or hear how you’re doing. You believe no one actually cares if you’re struggling. You know that sharing the truth of your experiences will make others uncomfortable, so you swallow your feelings and stick to the script.
You can stand in the middle of a crowded room and still feel entirely alone. Your identity, your emotions, your mental health struggles…unseen. Unacknowledged. Or worse, debated and discredited.
It's lonely as fuck.
Don’t get me wrong—I know you’re guarded for a reason. I know the other side of this loneliness coin is self-preservation. I know that letting people in can feel like you’re just setting yourself up for disappointment. And it doesn’t have to be that way. Together we can put some windows in those walls you have built.
More often than not, humans tend to overcorrect behaviors after negative experiences. Something hurtful happened to you and you built up a fortress of walls. You read what I said above about adding in some windows and [likely] you felt a spike of anxiety or dread as you picture Miley Cyrus swinging through on her wrecking ball. The solution doesn’t have to be so drastic. At least, not at first.
Together, we can practice exploring your feelings and thoughts just for yourself. We can learn how to communicate them with just one person (hint: that person is me) and how to determine with whom you feel safe truly expressing yourself, building confidence until you’re ready to SLOWLY install some nice doors in your walls. Quick fixes are great in the short-term. I’m here for the long-term, sustainable changes and healing.
Not only are you empathetic, resilient, and intelligent. You are compassionate. While some may use empathy and compassion interchangeably, I see their difference mainly within the intensity of the feeling. Empathy allows you to feel what others feel. Compassion allows you to feel what others feel so deeply, it may as well have been your feelings to begin with. Compassion is a phenomenal gift; the world couldn’t function without human empathy and compassion. AND, if I’m being completely honest with you…
Compassion often comes with really shitty boundaries.
Many of the folks that I work with are what I like to call recovering people pleasers. Over the years, working with them (and, in all honesty, working on those same tendencies within myself), I have learned a couple of things about the how and why of people pleasing. Many people are consciously aware of their tendency to prioritize others ahead of themselves. Many even actively know that they do it specifically to avoid conflict, to avoid others’ hurt or disappointment, and/or to keep others liking them. Far fewer, however, have conscious thoughts about how their people pleasing habits protect them from themselves.
Here’s the potential mic drop: most of the people I work with continue their people pleasing habits and prioritize others because it’s ‘easier’ than naming (or even finding) what needs they may have within themselves.
Please notice the quotes around the word ‘easier’ in that sentence. They are not accidental and they are not there because I’m quoting my clients. Behold the limiting nature of text-based communication—I cannot exaggerate punctuation while typing. So, instead, I will add a little bonus commentary. That word was stated with the BIGGEST air quotes, and an accompanying skepticism in my eyebrows. (If you choose to work with me, you will quickly learn I can have very loud faces; it’s the Latin queer in me.)
The word easier generally accompanies false solutions. It’s the choices that are made to get you through the day to day living. Yes, they work…for now. If they actually worked or really were easy, we wouldn’t be having this conversation about therapy. The word that we are actually looking for is familiar. Putting others first is familiar, which means no extra thought to the behavior, thus creating the illusion of ease. Doing something different, then, is unfamiliar and necessitates additional efforts and intentional thought. By comparison, change is absolutely harder than staying the same.
But staying the same isn’t easy.
Together in therapy, I can help you shift your relationship to those ~*evil*~ concepts of self-care, boundaries, and more. I will poke so many holes in your logic, it will start to look like swiss cheese. After making some progress in the mindset, after you can allow some room for doubt in your beliefs about selflessness, we get to entertain the idea of trying new things. I can help you determine where you are yearning for care, what boundaries look like in your life specifically, and how we get to keep your identity and core traits (i.e. empathetic, compassionate, resilient, etc.) while still making intentional changes in how we engage with those around us.
Again, none of this work is easy. I promise there will be days when you don’t particularly like me. I am willing to bet that you will even hear my voice haunting you outside of session time, encouraging you to continue doing the hard things. It will absolutely drive you up the wall. And when you inevitably tell me that I was haunting you, I will likely giggle and get great joy out of the healthy irritation you have for me. That may drive you further up the wall.
Therapy at Redefining Fuerza is not for the faint of heart. I practice therapy with love and care through blunt [and sometimes snarky] feedback. My clients are motivated, introspective, and willing to say and do some really hard shit because they are focused on the long-term gains that come from it. If you aren’t currently in a place where you are able or willing to engage in direct communication about your own role in your life and your relationships with others, Redefining Fuerza may not be a good fit for you. If you need a therapist that is soft-spoken, gentle, and whatever else Hollywood portrays therapists to be, I am likely not who you need. That’s okay. I know that I’m not everyone’s cup of tea.
If, however, you are willing to face your anxieties head on and let me poke around your mind, I would love to hear from you and see what kind of growth we can achieve together.
As a licensed marriage and family therapist, there is a common misconception that I only do therapy work related to marriage and families. To the contrary, my education, license, and experience allow me to give you a therapeutic journey that encompasses the context of the world around us. I am able to use my training to help you realize that so much of your story is bigger than any perceived character flaw(s). Rather, it is a culmination of your identity and the relationships you’ve had, along with the overall systems of the world in which we live. I am able to draw connections between your struggles with boundaries or emotions, your gender, and the ways that society and capitalism have taught you that’s exactly how you are supposed to be. I can normalize so many of the human experiences you face and help you zoom out to gain deeper perspectives and understanding of the way this version of your life story came to be.
I have spent much of my life explaining or justifying my story, who I am, to others. My exasperation with those experiences allows me to prioritize your expertise without a burden of proof. I am able to see you exactly as you are, through every stage of our work together. Not just see you, but accept you and celebrate you. And that very well may be precisely what has you unsure of whether or not you want to make the leap to therapy. I understand how disarming and, frankly, terrifying it can be to feel so exposed and accepted. Maybe it is even the discomfort you know will come with being validated or praised in session that has you hemming and hawing. While I will be here whenever you are ready, I will also remind you that you’ll never *truly* feel ready to experience something so vulnerable. We don’t have to wait for fear to pass; we can do it scared.
Listen, you’re almost at the end of this spiel. We both know you already know whether you want to work with me or not. If you are still reading this, I imagine it’s because you don’t love the price tag that comes with therapy. As most people that choose to work with me are those that consistently put themselves last, I can’t even pretend to be surprised that you may hesitate to spend the money. Yet, I’m also willing to bet that you wouldn’t give a second thought to loaning a loved one the same amount of money if they were in a bind. Or even spending it to gift a meaningful experience or item to someone you care about.
The difference is that you don’t think YOU are worth the investment.
Just another way that the symptoms of empathy, resilience, intelligence, compassion, anxiety, depression, and whatever-the-fuck-else present themselves in your life.
I believe that you are worth investing in. I believe that you deserve the same care that you thrust upon others. I believe that you are spending just as much on not seeking support; it is merely disguised in a different currency (time, energy, tears, etc.).
At the same time, I know that money is a necessary resource in all areas of life. While I would love to live in a world without money, without accessibility issues and systemic oppression, without the need to budget for basic care, I understand that reality is not that simple. Maybe you can take advantage of out of network benefits through your insurance. Maybe you start saving money now and reach out to me in a few months. Maybe you just say fuck it and we go for it now and figure it out later. All I ask is that you make an active choice in your care, whether with me or with someone else. Don’t let your life be run by your reflex to stay small.
I’m here when you’re ready and I can’t wait to talk to you.
*unless you're one of those with 50+ tabs open always. We can work on that when you come see me, too.
I'm going to start this section off with a little bit of a preamble...
A lot of therapists would refer to this section (and the work) as couples therapy; and don’t get me wrong, I love doing couples therapy. AND I love working with partners who are non-monogamous / polyamorous, or with throuples, or relationships that otherwise involve more than two people. So, for me, the phrase ‘couples therapy’ feels limiting to the complexity and the context of the work I do. Therefore, I will be referring to therapy with more than one person in it as relational therapy instead.
As I dive into this section, designed specifically for that aspect of the work, I am also going to be very intentional about the language I am using to talk directly to you. I love working with people of all genders, all sexualities, and all relational structures. To that end, I will likely be using the word “y’all” to refer to you, your partner(s), and your relationship(s) throughout this section.
[No, I’m not a Southern Belle; it is a word that found me in my years of restaurant work that has yet to leave my vocabulary. I promise you’ll hear me say it in real life, too.]
Okay, got that settled; now we can get to the main event here. *clears throat*
[Relational Therapy Clients]
Y’all are happy, really. Things are good. There’s just this one thing… [spoiler alert: it’s never just one thing.] Y’all continue to have the same fights and patterns over and over and over. It’s almost laughable how predictable they have come to feel. And despite being able to damn near write the script of these patterns, you feel powerless to stop or interrupt them.
No, but really, the spark is there and things are great. Y’all laugh a lot, have all of the shared interests, and feel so safe and secure. It’s just when it comes to sharing your true thoughts and feelings, things get a little… let’s say filtered. Y’all just don’t want to ruin this really fantastic thing you have going. I get it.
Y'all want to connect on a deeper level, but something keeps holding you back.
Maybe it’s sexual difficulties. Maybe it’s trauma from past relationships. Maybe it’s fear of being a burden if you actually share your needs with others. I don’t know what it is yet; you can tell me what you know and/or we can figure that out together. What I do know up front is that it’s really fucking hard to simultaneously have healthy relationships and be constantly waiting for something to go wrong (and yes, I hear you thinking about how the past has always shown you… something WILL go wrong). Everything you have learned about life, relationships, and love has been learned for a reason. I don’t fault y’all for holding on to those hard-earned lessons. Maybe it’s time to let yourselves learn some new lessons. It’s exhausting to be on red alert all the time and, honestly, that shit is keeping y’all stuck at this point.
The fix is simple though. Ready to hear it?
Whew! Okay now y’all know, so go ahead and solve everything. JUST KIDDING!
Just because the fix is simple, doesn’t mean it’s easy. And it definitely doesn’t mean you’ll like it. That’s okay. I don’t need y’all to like it yet, just hear me out a little longer. My entire practice is built around embracing the nuance and redefining the rigidity of words like strength, vulnerability, compassion, etc. Vulnerability will look different with each and every person I work with and finding what vulnerability and growth means to y’all is my favorite therapy puzzle.
Think y’all are ready to work? You can hit the button right here and fill out a form so we can chat.
If you’re not quite convinced yet, keep reading below because I have plenty more I can tell y’all.
When it comes to communication, saying y’all have different styles is… generous. Maybe one of y’all has to talk everything out right away to know where you stand and maybe one of y’all need five minutes of pure silence to form a singular thought. Maybe y’all experience very different versions of the fight/flight/freeze/fawn response in conflicts. Maybe one of y’all is an absolute master of reading into every word, facial expression, and change in posture and/or tone, determining every possible read-between-the-lines conclusion. [We often call that hypervigilance, just so y’all know.]
Or perhaps y’all are brand new to the world of ethical non-monogamy or polyamory and, despite having great tools for communicating on a daily basis, you’re left scratching your head and wondering…
What the hell are healthy boundaries?!
How do we extend those into additional relationships or interactions?
The paralysis that comes with having to think about all of the moving pieces— how to talk about quality time and scheduling, sex and intimacy, how much information is too much information, and so much more– is overwhelming. It seems like just as you answer one question, five more grow in its place. It’s almost enough to make you hide from the world in a blanket burrito. Almost.
Together, we can slow down that train of thought and make it sit at the station for a little bit. I can help y’all understand the way your patterns and tendencies interact with one another. I can help bridge the gaps when y’all get lost in translation. And, though you may not always want to hear it, I will tell y’all when you are doing entirely too much and need to take a damn breath for a moment. We can collaborate on boundaries and needs amongst yourselves and with others in your life.
Again, the solution is not easy, but it is simple: trust. Throughout the course of therapy, I will be asking y'all to trust one another, to trust me. I will be asking y'all to trust that there are good intentions behind every conflict, and to trust that every failure gets us one step closer to success… Essentially, I will be asking y'all to trust in the messiness that comes before the dust settles. That trust may or may not come naturally to y'all; it will, however, be a required ingredient in our relational therapy.
To be clear, much of this is purposefully oversimplified because I work with a wide variety of relationships and relational goals. That being said, the core theme that fits across most, if not all, of the relational therapy that I do is that the partners I work with have a baseline respect for one another and are all invested in making progress through hardship. If y’all are experiencing high conflict and/or betrayals and are questioning if you even want to make it work anymore, we may not be the best fit (I highly recommend looking into what is called discernment counseling in this instance!). If y’all are hoping I am going to be the referee that picks a side and tells you who is right or wrong about a given scenario, you’ll be sorely disappointed.
Relational therapy at Redefining Fuerza is for folks who are motivated, introspective, and willing to have open dialogue about a lot of hard shit. I approach therapy respectfully, mindfully, and bluntly. Y'all may not be ready to hear me tell you what I see in your dynamics and explore those observations; that’s okay. Timing is everything. Plus I know I’m not for everyone.
If you’ve made it this far down the page and are still scrolling, y’all must be at least vaguely curious about me or therapy with me. What’s stopping you from taking the leap? Reach out for a free fifteen-minute consultation call so I can answer any questions you may have. I’m just a button click (and brief contact form) away!
Look, I got the fancy degrees; I did additional education in sex therapy; I put in hella clinical hours and took a couple more tests to be fully licensed as a marriage and family therapist in the state of Minnesota. But that’s not what y’all actually care about. I have prioritized working with relationships from the very beginning of my clinical career, finding my passion for working with non-monogamy and kinky folks right away in my internship year. I may be young* and my business may be new, yet that does not mean I am inexperienced. I am confident that I can hold space for whatever y’all are coming to me to talk about. As someone who has spent her life feeling like she needed to tattoo her forehead with identity labels just to be seen, I value and prioritize seeing y’all – exactly where y’all are right now and where y’all want to end up. That is the part that makes me great at this work.
At this point I hear y’all being damn near convinced that I would be a great fit for your therapy journey (and if that’s not the case, I’m honestly impressed that you’re still reading all of this anyway!). Just as y’all are about to submit that contact form and get started, that little voice whispers out to me...
"but Morgan, therapy is expensive and you’re not in network with my insurance..."
You’re right; I’m not in network with any insurance. Maybe your plan has out of network benefits that can help reimburse some of your costs, maybe it doesn’t. Regardless, therapy is absolutely an investment. It costs your money, your time, your energy, your tears, and, likely, a fuck ton more. This shit isn’t easy. And not going to therapy costs just as much.
Think of the time lost to having the same fight for the fifth time this month; think of the energy drain, the tears. Imagine being at exactly this same point six months down the road, whatever that means for y’all. Would you be okay with that?
At some point, the cost of staying the same becomes so much bigger than the cost of change. That may entail the finances required to participate in therapy or something completely different. Either way, if you are ready to take the leap, the button to contact me is just below. If now is not the time—for any reason—that’s okay, too; I support your decision. I’ll still be here if that changes.
I believe that the best relationships are the ones built and fostered with intention. So what do y’all say? Want to be intentional with me? Let me know!
*Young is a relative term that I may or may not be playing fast and loose with at this point in my life; just give me this one, okay?