Speaking of Sex - Mutual Aid & Generating Care with Aida Manduley


In this interview with Aida Manduley, LCSW, we examine Mutual Aid as an embodied ethos of erotic justice.

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Mutual Aid is an ethos of care that has risen out of multiple communities – including the disability rights movement immigrant communities- that invites us to consider our interconnected webs of strengths and vulnerabilities, needs and assets. Rather than relying on “charity” models of giving that maintain power imbalances and systems of harm, we can step into modes of giving and receiving care that center mutualism, consent and solidarity.

In this interview with Aida Manduley, LCSW, we examine Mutual Aid as an embodied ethos of erotic justice.

For all of our resources to support you through the global coronavirus pandemic, go to PleasureMechanics.com/Care

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MORE ON MUTUAL AID COMMUNITY CARE

About Aida Manduley, LCSW

Aida Manduley, LCSW is an award-winning Latinx activist, facilitator, and presenter known for big earrings and tackling taboos. Their politics are radical, their life is ridiculous, and their penchant for irreverence as intimacy is notorious. Trained as a sexuality educator, social worker, and nonprofit executive, they’re working to make the world a more equitable place and get us all more comfortable with hard conversations. With a focus on liberation and communities marginalized due to race/gender/sexuality, their perspective aims to maximize kindness while retaining both a sense of humor and a sense of justice.

With over a decade of experience and degrees from Brown University and Boston University, Mx. Manduley’s areas of specialization include trauma, anti-carceral justice systems, and the integration of technology for change efforts. They are well-known for their leadership with The Women of Color Sexual Health Network as well as various other national and regional coalitions. They’re currently based in Boston where they have a thriving therapeutic practice at The Meeting Point

You can find them on Twitter (@neuronbomb), on Instagram (@aidamanduley), and on Facebook (http://bit.ly/FBaida) as well as their personal website, www.aidamanduley.com

More Podcast Interviews With Aida Manduley:

Transcript for Speaking of Sex Podcast Episode #369

Podcast transcripts are generated with love by humans, and thus may not be 100% accurate. Time stamps are included so you can cross reference or jump to any point in the podcast episode above. Thanks to our supporters on Patreon for helping to make podcast transcripts possible!

Chris Rose (00:00):
Welcome to Speaking of Sex with the Pleasure Mechanics. I’m Chris from pleasuremechanics.com and wherever you are in the world as you are hearing this I am sending you so much love and support. It is mid April 2020. We are here in New York and we are just sending so much love and solidarity to our global community and beyond as we get through this global tragedy together. We are here with you, we are listening to your emails as they come in about how we can support you. And if you come on over to pleasuremechanics.com/care, that’s pleasuremechanics.com/care, you’ll find all of the resources we are gathering for you. And you will also find the sliding scale community access codes to all of our online courses. We know that so many of us are in financial free fall right now. So we have thrown open the doors to all of our online courses. If you feel like they can support you right now in connecting with your own erotic body or with the people you love, come on over to pleasuremechanics.com/care and dive a little deeper with us, learn massage, practice mindful sex, and let us support you through this. That’s pleasuremechanics.com/care.

Chris Rose (01:25):
On today’s episode we have a powerful conversation about mutual aid and it is inviting you into a stance and ethics on giving and receiving care. I hope this episode challenges you and opens your mind and opens your heart to knowing the boundless nature of what we have to give to support one another with. We’re not in this episode just talking about cash, although we are talking about that too. We’re talking about care and love and time and resources and talents and skills and all of the things we have to share together as humans to care for one another, show one another love and support one another’s lives and well being. This is an urgently true conversation right now. We hope you get benefit from it and if you do, please check out the show notes page for further resources. Resources that will support you and ways that you can support others with all of your gifts and talents.

Chris Rose (02:34):
Yes, so definitely check out the show notes page on this episode, it is a treasure trove of resources for you and come on over to pleasuremechanics.com/care where you will find this episode along with all of the other resources we are gathering for you and our sliding scale community access codes. That’s pleasuremechanics.com/care and on with our conversation, here we go. Welcome to Speaking of Sex. Can you get us started by introducing yourself and the work you do in this world?

Aida Manduley (03:09):
Absolutely. My name is Aida Manduley I’m based out of Boston my pronouns are they/them/theirs in English, ella and elle in Spanish. And the work I do is the work of healing and liberation broadly defined. So that means that I have a private practice as a therapist out of Boston, which is now all virtual, because of the coronavirus pandemic. But I also do consulting, education, presenting across the US and abroad. So it’s a lot of sort of micro work with individuals and relationships and then macro work that’s larger in scope. I also am fortunate to be part of a bunch of different collectives and sort of larger groups that do things on policy or larger advocacy because I love to put my fingers in all pies. And so I want my desires that span honestly like, my sexuality and my work desires are very sort of greedy in that way and I say that positively rather than negatively, so. Putting stuff kind of everywhere.

Chris Rose (04:19):
Thank you for naming this. We’re recording this on April 11 2020. And we’re in the midst of the global coronavirus pandemic. But what I’m finding now is so much of what is always been true is urgently true. And so I invited you into this conversation to talk about some concepts that are always true for me within the human family but are now urgently true. So whenever you’re listening to this conversation, hello into the future. Whenever you’re listening to this conversation, I hope you find resonance in this and can apply it to both your immediate situation and the global situation, however you’re finding it as you listen to this podcast. So we’re going to talk about mutual aid as an embodied ethos of erotic justice. Mutual aid as an embodied ethos of erotic justice, and we’ll move through this sentence together. Because a lot of these concepts will feel new to you as you’re hearing them. But I also invite you to feel into the truth that perhaps you already feel about them.

Chris Rose (05:32):
So I invite you into that already knowing this that might be rising in you. So can you lead us off? What is mutual aid and how is it risen as an ethos, as a framework of care?

Aida Manduley (05:45):
So mutual aid is not a concept that I invented by any means. I want to make that super clear. But mutual aid is something that comes out of different fields like philosophy, organization theory and anarchism things like that. And at its most basic, the idea is that people are caring for each other and people are exchanging resources and services for mutual benefit, right? And the mutual is actually really important there because that is one of the things that distinguishes it from charity. Where charity is more, top down charity is more Oh, we the people that have things will give to people that don’t. And it’s a little bit of a head pat kind of situation. Mutual aid is more about solidarity, the way that I practice it, it’s about seeing what are the gifts that I have to bring to the world? And what are the things that I need? And how do I connect to people who might be a good match for that, right? So if I have a resource, or a capacity that someone else would benefit from, I would like to give that to them.

Aida Manduley (06:54):
And the idea of exchange within that again, some people will say, “Oh, I don’t want to exchange anything. I just want to freely give, and when I need something, I hope that someone will freely give it back.” That’s a beautiful interpretation of that, that also has a lot of roots in anarchism super support it. For some people, it feels really important for a lot of reasons and sometimes, from a history of freely giving and never getting anything in return or getting care back, it feels really important to clearly see the exchange. But in a nutshell, that’s what it is. And the idea is that it’s voluntary. It’s not something that is forced or there’s an entitlement to. And so if we look at the values within mutual aid or the values adjacent to it, there’s ideas of mutualism, there’s ideas of collectivism, and interdependence. And these are contrasted with individualism and independence, which are values that in the sort of modern United States are pretty prevalent and don’t align with actually a lot of communities that either have been originally here before the modern us was quote, unquote, founded. And they don’t actually match the values of a lot of other countries and other communities that are coming into the US.

Aida Manduley (08:11):
So this conversation by nature requires looking at things like race, class, immigration, etc. Because a lot of us have been steeped in the, bring yourself up by your bootstraps, you have to get everything done yourself and if you don’t, it’s a personal moral failing rather than, oh, maybe there are some other factors that play a part in this not just yourself.

Chris Rose (08:35):
And I want to draw up this piece that you were saying about what moral and ethical positions our traditional charity models tell us about giving and receiving help and care. And how deeply that infects our psyche down to how we can accept love and care from even our most intimate partners. How does this show up for us when we’re trained that giving and receiving is a power dynamic, that giving and receiving requires some sort of subordination of the receiver? How does this infect the humanity and dehumanize kind of all of us in the process?

Aida Manduley (09:18):
I’m going to get meta for a moment. One of the things that people often think is, oh, we have to prove with facts that people need help or that this is the right thing, and this is the wrong thing. And one of the things that I’ve learned as a therapist, as a fundraiser and as a community organizer, so three different fields, all kind of saying the same thing. People actually are moved by feelings rather than facts. Doesn’t mean that facts don’t matter. It means that you have to have an emotional frame and context for whatever ask you’re making for it to actually have a higher likelihood of success. So stories are the ways that humans have been communicating for millennia.

Aida Manduley (09:59):
We have been telling stories about our families, about our peoples for so many years. And that’s actually a better way, again if we’re getting into cognitive science, those are better ways to actually remember information. We’re not great as a species in remembering random facts. We’re great at remembering stories and sort of a more robust thing like that. A lot of us when we give, or we’re taught to give, have been told that the stories of our money or our resources are not the important thing, and that we shouldn’t really be considering them. That the stories that we need to judge are the stories of the people with need. And so there’s this imbalance of vulnerability, where the people who have needs are told, you have to show me like your blood type, your immigration status. You have to give me records for the last 10 years of your life, receipts for every coffee.

Chris Rose (10:55):
Isn’t that all proving your worthiness to receive help?

Aida Manduley (10:57):
Right, exactly. And so that brings up this not just the concept of the vulnerability imbalance but, whose story is invisible and thus seen as the default, right? Or as irrelevant to the choice of giving, when in fact, it is actually central to the choice of giving. So to do a slight departure, but again, I’ll stay on topic, I promise, Jeff Bezos, he has given to charity right? And he has given some of his wealth. And to most people in the world, it seems like a lot of money. Because for a lot of us it is. However, if you look at the context of his money, how he got his money, what his actual net worth is, it is pennies, actually less than pennies. And because we don’t often ask for that context, right? Of what percentage of your income is this? What percentage of your worth and wealth is this? When it is so easy and there are such a disparity of wealth, we have to ask some questions.

Aida Manduley (12:00):
So, vulnerability, disparity, lack of context, the story piece also brings up this idea of deserving poor, also deserving immigrants or undeserving immigrants, undeserving poor. And so as you were saying, Chris, there’s this story of, I’m going to give from this place of scarcity and out of context, and there’s going to be a humiliation and that giving.

Chris Rose (12:27):
And how does this, I’m so aware of how this model that I was trained in as a white person has disciplined me to position giving and receiving in certain ways, even in my erotic life. Like I felt like an erotic superhero for so long because I had so much to give. And I had all the tools to give, but receiving remains really hard for me and it was hard for me to ask what I wanted. And then when I became sick, it’s struck me so deeply how we are trained that if we need help you hire help. You don’t ask for help, because asking for help means you’re weak and have a vulnerability and that’s not okay. And because of need, I flipped into this model of radical vulnerability asking for help, showing how weak I had become, and what started emerging were really beautiful, intimate offers of care.

Chris Rose (13:27):
So I’m trying to make this bridge in between like how we think about giving and receiving philanthropically and charity wise versus mutual aid which calls upon all of our strengths and vulnerabilities. So some of us have hard cash, some of us have physical strengths, some of us have ability to make spreadsheets, some of us have ability to organize people and network. And when we tap into all of that, we realize how boundless all we have to give is. Where am I going with this? So there’s this link between like mutual aid and receiving oral sex that I’m trying to make here.

Aida Manduley (14:03):
I got you. I got you.

Chris Rose (14:05):
And in your life you, also I want to talk about the community element of this because so much of what I love about how you use social media, which is I think the main place we’re connected I guess. You make beautiful, bold, specific asks, and then you see this outpouring of willingness and care. And it’s almost on the daily. So can you talk about how you embody this in your daily life, your community, and perhaps even your erotic life?

Aida Manduley (14:35):
Absolutely. I mean, part of what you’re talking about, right? Is receiving and giving. Or receiving and asking versus offering and all these different things. One of the things that I would encourage everyone to think about as you’re listening, right? To this podcast is, again, what are the stories that you’ve been told about these things? What do you remember from your childhood about how it was okay to ask for help or not ask for help or offer help or not offer help. There are things that we are taught to invisibly receive, such as privileges, for example, right? So some people are trained in, “Oh, you got this trust fund, don’t question it. That’s just inheritance and that’s normal and you get to keep your inheritance forever and then pass it down to someone else.” Folks who get trust funds are rarely told, “Hey, you could just give this away. You could put other people as executors to your state.” While some people don’t even know what an executor to a state is.

Aida Manduley (15:36):
And there are ways that we are taught to give invisibly again, in parallel to IRAs. So if we look at emotional labor, jobs, or if we look at the managerial tasks in a household, often that falls to women. And again, not exclusively, but a lot of the world is heterosexual sort of, so I guess that is relevant. So there’s a lot of things that some of our bodies are told, you are supposed to do this job without complaining and it is your role in life. And so I would encourage all of us to look at what are the invisible things that we’re being asked to give? What are the invisible things are being asked to receive? Because actually starting to name that is one of the steps in actually moving outside of the models of scarcity and actually being more intentional with this work. Right? And so for me, being intentional with that has been shifting some of the stories I’ve been told about how to give.

Aida Manduley (16:36):
Some of the stories that I’ve grown up with about giving is that you give quietly or alternatively, mega loudly, right? And so for me the ways that I’ve started to shift that is, as an adult, I have tried to be louder about my giving, not from a place of let me brag, but from a place of how can I motivate other people to A, give and be in solidarity, and B, see that there are so many things we can give that are not cash, right? Cash is actually deeply important. I very much encourage people to give cash. But for those of us who may not have as much as the next person, what are other resources that we can feasibly give? And so for me, a lot of it is I want to be loud, I want to model some of this so that other people are motivated to do it.

Aida Manduley (17:29):
Which is why I’ve also put out a lot of offers, especially recently during the pandemic, to like, help people out thinking through this, because it can be really overwhelming, right? Because technically, what I’m asking people to do is okay, I want you to look at all the stories you’ve been told, I want you to start challenging those stories, find alternative stories, start taking action, inventory all your resources, start sharing them, etc, etc. That’s a lot. I’m asking a lot. And it doesn’t have to happen in five minutes, right? So the other piece that I sort of bring up in how to bridge this is, looking at this as a long term project, that is a marathon, not a sprint, but has a sense of urgency that will actually not go away and will just increase over time.

Aida Manduley (18:17):
So for me, erotically, right? In my personal life, this means that I have and I’m having more now, because I actually didn’t have this for many years. I’m having more explicit conversations about resources and finances with all my partners. This means that when I am sexually engaging with someone, I want to talk about kind of the same thing. What are our resources? What are our gifts? How do we want those to play with each other? So that sometimes means “Hey, here’s my like, two million sex toys that I have here from years in the field of sexuality education. What of these are you interested in, if any? It might mean ,”Hey, I need this particular form of care or sex because of a trauma response.” Or I need the X, Y, Z. So the skills around asking, around grounding and feeling, are actually super helpful in the sexual arena as well. Right?

Aida Manduley (19:23):
And that might seem more obvious because we usually talk about sex and feelings rather than feelings and money. But what this means is that for people who are more comfortable talking about sex, instead of money, you already have some of the skills in there to talk about money and vice versa. So that, Chris, that resonates with what you were saying earlier about, you already have some of this knowledge, you just have to kind of feel into it. I’m trained as a social worker. And one of the big ways that we talk about skill development is strike space. There’s already a lot of strikes in all of us that we just need to sometimes discover or hone, but that we don’t have to necessarily look externally for everything. There’s a lot of resources within us. And so that’s the other frame that I would bring to this. Strikes based, what do you already have, that can be a gift to yourself and the world? You are part of the world, so that’s inseparable.

Aida Manduley (20:26):
Rather than, “Oh, I have to do all these new things that are really scary and overwhelming.” You already have a lot of that within you, and you’re not alone, right? And if you are, for whatever reason, that is something that doesn’t have to be that way forever, it’s something that can change.

Chris Rose (20:42):
I want to pull this thread of specificity, because it draws out that we all do have specific gifts and talents. And we all have very specific vulnerabilities and means and it is a matchmaking process. And this is one of the things you do so beautifully, because I’ll see you post something like, “I need someone to work on a spreadsheet to organize this part of my life with me. Does anyone have time and effort for that right now?” And you get this gleeful outpouring of like, “I live for spreadsheets, there’s nothing I’d rather do.” And I’ve seen you do this over time to know that whatever your ask is, you have this joyful outcry of, I have something to offer here. And what we see in that is that offering what we have, what we know, what we do well, feels good. And part of the feeling good is that we’re doing it together.

Chris Rose (21:37):
So this is that erotic bridge I want to draw out here because when we’re talking about the erotic in the Audre Lorde sense of feeling big feelings together. There are so many ways to seal feelings together.

Aida Manduley (21:54):
I really really love connecting people. That just brings me a lot of joy. I love looking at this idea of strange bedfellows, right? Who isn’t talking that might have a fun time talking? Who isn’t collaborating that might have a fun time collaborating? So looking at, okay, I care about sex and queerness, but also environmentalism is really important. Have we done anything about that intersection? If not, let’s make it happen. And so that’s sort of the nice part of where that comes from for me. The harder part is overwhelm. So part of me doing some of this more public asking and more public matchmaking is just the deep sense of grief and overwhelm personally in my own life, but also, there’s so much to be done in the world. It is absolutely bananas. It is, if I look at the enormity of it and sit with it, which, I do regularly and it’s actually important, so don’t just ignore that context and intellectualize it. Like I invite all of us to feel that every so often.

Aida Manduley (23:00):
It is awful, it feels so big. But for my own peace of mind and my own mental health, knowing that I am not alone in that is actually super helpful for my mental health and for my existence. Knowing that I’m part of a web of people, knowing that people have done this work before me and will continue to do it after is amazing. It makes me feel more powerful, because I know I’m not trying to tackle capitalism, global hunger, climate change by myself. This is a group thing and so if I can help foster the group, and if I can help nourish the group, that’s beautiful. To build off the bridge that you mentioned, right? So this piece around connecting as well. A lot of people like to give. A lot of people feel good when they help meaningfully. A lot of people feel alone and unnecessary, and that’s a bad feeling for them. So when I think of asks, I don’t just think about it from a place of I am weak and need help.

Aida Manduley (24:10):
It’s, I am offering people an opportunity to use their gifts. I’m offering people a chance to show reciprocity and care because I offer a lot of reciprocity and care too. Right? And even if I didn’t offer any care, or if I had very, very high needs comparatively to my quote, unquote, output, this is an offer, right? I am letting people love me, I am letting people care for me or others. And if we look at, the love languages that get talked about a lot in relationship circles and sexuality circles, one of the love languages is service. And service doesn’t usually feel really good if it is just foisted on you. But if you are giving someone the opportunity to offer it. Right? This is a gift, right? Giving service and receiving service is a set of gifts. And I think that’s a useful reframe for people who think that asking is burdening people, or who thinks that having needs is bad.

Aida Manduley (25:16):
It doesn’t have to be that way. We can think about it differently because it can be different. And if we ask specifically, that’s the other part of it. To me, this bridges with consent. I want to let people know what they’re getting into. I want to be responsible with my request, as much as I can be. Right? Sometimes we don’t know what the hell we need. And it’s messy, and that’s okay. But being clear about the messiness is important. To me, it feels important to again, as much as we can be clear, because that also mirrors my values around consent and transparency, which I use in my sex life as well. Sometimes I’ll tell someone, “Okay, hey, I’d like to have sex with you.” What does that mean? Really have no idea, but let’s figure it out together. Sometimes it means, “Hey, I’d like to hook up and do X, Y, Z, are you interested in that or something else.”

Aida Manduley (26:12):
And so again, the skills that we have in one arena can very easily translate with a little tweaking sometimes, into sort of building a new capacity or skill set that we need for the betterment of the world.

Chris Rose (26:26):
So my next two questions were on enoughness, and on consenting care. So I think we’ve pulled both of those threads a little bit. I want to circle back to enoughness. Because I think this is one of the big mental barriers we throw up is how could it possibly ever be enough? So how do you approach the idea of enoughness? And do you find that the more generous you are, the less you ask that question?

Aida Manduley (26:51):
Yes. Honestly, the enoughness is often just not the point. Right? I think we’re missing the point. The point is, how do we do more healing? And there’s not a magic number of what that looks like. There will always be need in the world. But that doesn’t absolve us of the responsibility to work on it. And, to me this idea of enough, I see it in two different ways, right? So there’s the good enough versus perfect. And so, I would want to separate that from, did I give enough to be worth it? Because those are different. So, perfection versus enoughness in the first scenario, often means that people are looking for again some quote unquote objective measure that if they are not meeting, they are bad if they are not perfect they did a poor job, they should fly into the sun. Perfection, right? And here’s a very cliched phrase, but it’s useful.

Aida Manduley (27:59):
Don’t let perfection be the enemy of the good, right? Don’t let this unattainable ideal of Oh perfect prevent you from making progress. Right? So I like to think of it more as and here’s where we get into math from high school. I like to think of it as an asymptotical relationship. And basically what that means is, we are always striving, never reaching. So it’s just like, edging. We’re just sexually edging but emotionally. And-

Chris Rose (28:32):
I love this so much.

Aida Manduley (28:36):
So we’re always getting closer but never getting there, which again, for some people who like edging they’re like, “Oh, perfect. I just always want to be doing that.” For some people who like the actual maybe climax or I do actually want to get there. What do you mean I just have to edge myself until I die. The other way of looking at it is, the edging is global. But you can have milestones and you can have reachable goals. And in fact, that’s actually really important. So we need a little bit of both. We need the very zoomed out, “Hey, we’ll never necessarily fix every problem. But if we zoom in here are some milestones on the path that we can actually do. Right? So if we think of fixing, lack of abortion access globally, that is really overwhelming. But if we think okay, in my state, what can I do here to address abortion access? That becomes more manageable.

Aida Manduley (29:34):
And the idea is to find the sweet spot between this is small enough that it is manageable and big enough that it is challenging. And the same thing goes for giving financially. We want to find the sweet spot of this feels bold, but also this is not ruining my entire life. And because those are things that are attached to feelings, we have to usually not do that by ourselves. Because what our feelings say is sometimes not accurate, right? Our feelings are always valid, but they’re not always true. Right? So maybe me giving $5 a month feels extremely dangerous and it might be extremely within my financial capacity and then some. So one of the things I encourage people to do with this concept of enoughness is to have buddies and at least have one other person that they’re checking in with about it. And ideally, someone who is not of the exact same social standing or position that they are. But have one buddy that has more or less. Have a little bit of a challenge here in terms of who you’re talking to.

Aida Manduley (30:51):
So that’s one big cluster of enoughness. The other cluster of enoughness is around, did I do enough to be worth it? It’s always worth it, that’s the secret. Any work that we do to heal the world and heal ourselves and the environment is always going to be worth it even if it seems insubstantial, right? Because suffering is something that all of us at some point will have to deal with. And even if we can’t fix the suffering of 20,000 people, if we can at least address the suffering of one person, and that one person might be ourselves, it is worth doing that work. Obviously, I would also encourage us to think okay, how could I maybe expand the amount of people that I help or provide resources to or share responsibility with? Absolutely. And that’s where in terms of my training, therapeutically, there’s a type of therapy called DBT dialectical behavioral therapy.

Aida Manduley (31:54):
One of the big things in that therapy model is this idea of the dialectic. The idea of holding seemingly opposing and contradictory ideas or feelings at the same time. So with this sort of thing, and DBT in general, the dialectic is often between change and stay the same. So find acceptance, build acceptance for where you currently are, and also challenge yourself to shift and change. And that can seem really hard to do, and it is, but it gets easier with practice. And so that’s the other part around enoughness that I would invite people to think about. How do you build acceptance for what you’re doing right now and consider that enough, while also challenging yourself and considering Okay, maybe it’s not enough, what would it look like to change it? And that’s, again, that tension is honestly the sweet spot for me and I would guess for a lot of people as well, though it’s hard to cultivate.

Chris Rose (33:00):
So I want to ask you a little bit about the current cultural moment and especially how it feels, you have been living and loving in this field for many years. And now we have the governor of New York State saying, “We have to live for the we, not the me.” We have social distancing teaching us this massive lesson about public health and how we really are healthy and well as communities rather than as individuals. There’s this kind of accelerated massive spotlight on some of these concepts. What are your feelings about that? And what are your kind of calls to action so we don’t lose these as a temporary crisis response and instead start embodying them and living into them as a possibility for something to build a culture around.

Aida Manduley (33:56):
Absolutely. If we turn to feelings for a moment again, anger and anxiety can be really good motivational feelings that are just to do something. Which is where, I also like to reframe, again because I’m therapist, I also like to reframe some things that we might find as problematic, right? Like there’s a lot of gifts that those of us who have trauma or mental illness or whatever have to bring to this moment. So just want to sort of put a little pin in that. But in terms of feelings anger, anxiety can be really motivating. It can get us out the door. Those can’t really be the only fuel that we use. It’s not sustainable long term. Similarly, compartmentalizing things, not sustainable long term without ill health effects mental and body wise. So I would encourage us to use yes those feelings when we can to motivate us or get us out of bed or get us sort of rolling however.

Aida Manduley (34:59):
But also grounding it in other feelings and other values, because those are the ones that when everything else goes away are going to be at the foundation and at the core. If we’re only burning on spite and rage, I love rage, I use it all the time in my work. Many career choices have been made out of deep rage, and I will own that. Things like peace, things like desire, things like love even if that sounds super hippie dippie, those are the things that at the end of the day are going to actually maintain us long term. But they need that balance of the rage, the grief, the despair.

Aida Manduley (35:39):
And we also need time to freeze right? So giving ourselves the permission to take a breath. Giving ourselves permission to just have a day, where we focus on ourselves. Giving us permission to deal with our own health, rather than I only have to be giving to other people all the time and ignore myself, ignore my physical body or its needs. That’s a big part of it. Again, just not just shifting the thinking, but shifting the story around what we’re doing, why and how long it’s going to last. Because if we think that this is just going to be over in a week, we’re going to be A wrong and B disappointed. However, right? You can’t see me but I’m doing a lot of on one hand, on the other hand, on one hand, on the other hand. I gesticulate a lot, please use your imaginations everyone.

Chris Rose (36:33):
And I want to say frustrated in the gap between expectation and reality.

Aida Manduley (36:39):
Absolutely, absolutely. And on the other hand, right? Also thinking about, okay, what are the milestones? What are the checkpoints? And also sometimes it is measured in, do I feel better? Do I feel good? What does it look like for me to know that I feel better? How could I tell, right? Are my cheeks rosier? Is my sleep better? Do I eat without stress? What does that mean for me or you specifically? And getting involved in that part of things. So the story shifting expectations and thinking zoomed out, then also thinking zoomed in, thinking in smaller chunks that are achievable. We need, that little rush of I did it, building in celebration is what I’m talking about. So when we do this work long term, if we’re just moving from a place of rush and anxiety and anger, we often don’t give ourselves time to take a moment and celebrate what we just did, because we’re on to the next thing. So cultivating pause and cultivating celebration is super, super, super, super important in doing this in a way that is sustainable, and doesn’t burn us out and doesn’t leave us just hating everyone around us and then never doing anything again.

Chris Rose (37:59):
Right within our life positioned around aid and care and assisting and helping other people deeply and giving, what do you receive from generating joy and play in your life and sharing those connections with others?

Aida Manduley (38:13):
Oh my god, more joy and play. Frankly, there’s a conversation that happens in a lot of non monogamy circles about love is not a finite resource, the more love you have in your life, the more it generates. And I found that to be really true. And it doesn’t have to be love born out of I’m having sex with 25 people. It’s love that’s shared with those who we see as our family or those who we see as with us as comrades in whatever. And so one of the things that, for me, it gives us a sense of community, and that’s one of the things if we’re thinking back about giving and solidarity, charity, all of that stuff, we need to expand a lot of us, not all of us. But a lot of us need to expand who we feel for, who we feel as part of our kin.

Aida Manduley (39:09):
Not because we necessarily have to then give everyone the same amount of resources or care or personal time, but because empathy and knowing that we’re part of a larger web of humanity is really important. Obviously, while holding the differences that also make us really amazing. I don’t want us to just be like, oh, we’re all the human race. Amazing. We have no differences. But we are all the human race, right? Like we have to think about and expand who we think is worthy, who we think is disposable, who we think is worth existing. Because when we start dehumanizing other people, when we start turning them into numbers, that’s when things get real bad and dangerous. And sometimes we do that without even realizing it. So to me the joy and the play and the connection brings me pleasure, or just straight up pleasure. And it also brings me the bomb to dehumanization. Because I see what it is like to be in community. And yes, there is stress, there is rage, there is distrust, there’s all these things that we can classify as negative, but they also increase my capacity and likelihood of experiencing the positives and the things that feel really light.

Aida Manduley (40:33):
It can look like a lot of things. And so what I would again, what I would encourage people who are listening to think about is, what are the things that A, you currently find pleasurable and playful and silly that you could maybe do more of? And also think about the things that you’ve been told that is not appropriate for you to do anymore because it is too juvenile. And maybe it’s time to reclaim some of those.

Chris Rose (41:01):
Thank you so much. You’ve really been a guide and help for us as we continue to expand our capacity for feeling big, for generating and for giving and caring. So thank you so much for your leadership, for your life, for your vitality and for your joy.

Aida Manduley (41:18):
Thanks. The pleasure is definitely shared. Which is part of the point.

Chris Rose (41:24):
Thank you so much and we will see you next time on Speaking of Sex with the Pleasure Mechanics. Thank you so much.

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