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In this episode of The Turn On, Erica and Kenrya talk to therapist Quinn Gee-Edwards about healthy dating post-divorce, loving the body you're in and the pitfalls of marrying the first person you have sex with.
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Kenrya: Come here. Get off.
Kenrya: Today, we're talking to Quinn Gee-Edwards, pronouns she and her. Quinn is the owner of Magnolia Mental Health and founder of Hey! Black Girl. She's a licensed psychotherapist who specializes in codependency, trauma and minority-related issues, including those that impact women, members of the LGBTQ community and people of color. Thanks for coming back on the show, Quinn.
Quinn: Thanks for having me, y'all.
Erica: So, Quinn, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Quinn: I used to want to be president, actually.
Erica: Me, too.
Quinn: I wanted to be president.
Erica: But it was just because I thought that it was running shit, and I didn't think about the responsibility part, now I'm like, "Fuck y'all. I just want to be rich and do nothing."
Quinn: Well I knew the presidency wasn't going to make you rich-rich because I think their salary, when I was coming up, was like $125, or $200,000 a year, and I was like-
Quinn: It ain't about the money, but I wanted to be the first Black woman president, I'll never forget that.
Erica: Me, too.
Kenrya: There's still time.
Erica: No, thank you.
Quinn: No, thank you.
Kenrya: Fine. So how did you get from there to here?
Quinn: I wanted to be a psychologist, originally, and I actually ended up needing therapy in college because I went through a divorce, and when I was in my own therapeutic process, that's when I realized that's really what I wanted to do, I wanted to do more direct work with people, and not saying as a psychologist you don't do direct work, but at that time, the pathway I was going to be going on was more research and policy-based, and not necessarily client-direct kind of work. And so after going through my own therapy, I'll never forget, it was a Russian white woman, I'm friends with her on Facebook now, but she helped me change my life and really reframe my marriage, and she was the first person that ever told me that what was happening in my marriage wasn't okay. I remember feeling so empowered by that, and I changed my course soon after.
Erica: That's really dope. In the book we read last week, it was called "A Taste of Our Own Medicine," there was a woman that was navigating life, post-divorce, and we know you work with a lot of women that are in that space.
Kenrya: And, as you just told us, you were in that space.
Erica: So when the book opened, Sonja, the protagonist of the book, she's starting an entrepreneurship class to help her get her business up and running. How often do you see people embark on new adventures like this after a divorce?
Quinn: but I see a lot of that, definitely. I'm trying to think, what did I do? I started dyking, that was it.
Kenrya: You're like, "Dick? Not for me."
Erica: You're like, "You know what? I like pussy." So why do you think people make such a big change?
Quinn: I think usually it's you want something so different from what you just had, you want to auto-correct, like rewrite your life in a way, to straighten it back out. We think of a relationship as pants, then the divorce was the wrinkles, and now you want to iron that shit back on out. Quite often, it doesn't work that way, but it does make you feel better to make these very surface, immediate changes.
Kenrya: That's real. So another thing that Sonja struggles with in this book a lot is negative self-talk, so she'll talk bad about her body, she called herself "stupid and weak," a lot of times in her head, but even sometimes out loud, like with the person who's trying to be her new partner. I know, firsthand, that when somebody has repeatedly told you who you are, you can start to believe it, and I think that that's a lot of what's happened with her, she has this terrible ex-husband who has really put a lot of negative ideas into her. What are some strategies that folks can use when they need to short-circuit this kind of thinking?
Quinn: Definitely remember the source of the original judgment. If you can remember the voice of the person who said that to you, that's really important because then you can assign it and give it back to them. Usually, we're not the architects of our own worst thoughts about ourselves, they usually come from somebody else in our environment. I'll use my own examples. Chris, which is my ex-husband's name, he used to always tell me I wasn't going to be shit without him, and, for a while, it started to feel like my words, like, "I'm not going to be shit without him. What am I going to do? I'm divorced, I don't have nothing yet."
Quinn: And then some of the work that I did in therapy was reminding myself that I was shit before him and I will be shit after him, but this little anomaly in my life is not the sum of who I am, and the anomaly was our marriage. And once I was able to give that kind of critique his voice, and I immediately had a reaction, I remember thinking, "I don't listen to nothing this nigga got to say, this nigga is stupid," and immediately felt better. But it does take practice, some days are easier than others, some days you will fail, but it's also really good to have people around you echo who you are back to you, have good friends that remind you that you're beautiful, you're not what he says about you or they say about you, that you are valuable, even when you don't do shit for people.
Quinn: Also having things that also make you feel good about yourself available to you. Like being able to work out or run, or if you're in school, taking a class that just feels good, instead of one that's for your major or something, things like that, like being able to pour back into you because it's going to be a difficult process, decoupling of any kind, but it's even harder when you don't have a good sense of who you are.
Erica: Another issue in this book is sex, and it's always a problem when you marry the first nigga you ever had sex with, and of course that is what our protagonist did, she married the first nigga she ever had sex with, and never once had an orgasm when she wasn't masturbating.
Kenrya: That's the ghetto.
Erica: What'd you say?
Kenrya: That's the ghetto.
Erica: The ghetto!
Quinn: It is.
Erica: Well, you with a nigga. It was to the point where she thought it was her fault that sex was boring, she thought something was wrong with her. And so she has a hard time believing that she's attractive and believing that this younger man is really attracted to her, and she's embarrassed when he makes her cum. Is that a common response?
Quinn: Yeah, absolutely, especially if you get real wet or you squirt or have some very external orgasmic reaction, definitely a lot of shame associated with that because it's unladylike, or some kind of whore-type complex shit, or even the shame or guilt that "I am able to do this with this man that I wasn't connected with under God, but somehow I'm doing it with this person who I haven't had this deep connection with, so it must be something wrong with me." It's really important to have people in your corner to remind you, "Nah, that nigga was just giving you"-
Kenrya: Trash dick.
Quinn: Mediocre dick.
Erica: Welcome to the world of good dick.
Quinn: To make it inclusive, trash strap for all them years, you know what I'm saying? So that's what we are. I think it's important to just know, one, that's common for a lot of people who experience that, but also knowing it ain't your fault, this is just the body, your body is going to respond to shit even when your mind don't want.
Erica: So, Quinn, in the book, the character, Sonja, had a really tough time disengaging from her manipulative ex who, as we said earlier, pumped her with info about how she wasn't shit, told her kids information about her and they used it to accuse her of being a bad mom. So how can we set boundaries that keep our kids out the drama that an ex can bring when we still have to co-parent with them?
Quinn: I think probably making sure that you, on your end, never bad-talk the parent or former partner in front of the kids. Also making sure that you are trying to keep as close to the routine that they had when they lived with both of you. And the best thing is always family therapy because divorce takes a toll on kids, even when they're witnessing a relationship that was unhealthy and they have relief when it ends, it's still a grieving process and it does take some adjustment, and it's important to make sure the kids feel like they have somewhere safe to deposit those feelings and someone to talk to.
Quinn: Of course, a good [inaudible 00:10:18] would be, for you as a parent, allowing them to express their emotions because, quite often, we just want the kids to be okay with the big decisions that we make, as if it's not happening to them, too. When a kid's got an attitude, or they frustrated or they get mad or get an attitude, we get mad at them for doing that and punish them for those feelings, and think about what's that saying to them: when something bad happens to you in your life, or different, or a big change, you are not allowed to express your feelings because it's going to be met with some kind of negative impact. And that's not fair.
Quinn: And kids ain't got as many coping skills as adults do. We can get in the car and go somewhere, or go to the gym, or go out on more dates, have a drink or whatever it is, but kids can't always do that, so they have a limited ability to express their emotions, and then we box them in by telling them that their feelings don't matter, that's not fair. So it's really important to make sure that you give them an environment to express themselves.
Erica: That's a really good perspective.
Kenrya: Another theme that comes up is body image, which rang super true to me, especially if you marry young, that body that you had when you was dating, that ain't the same body you got when you reenter the dating pool. So how can we shore up our confidence in this area when you are in a space where you are now undressing in front of new folks?
Quinn: I think just coming into it knowing that if your foundation is good about how you feel about yourself, that generally you like yourself, you think you're attractive, or whatever the case may be, I think it'll be fine, especially if you acknowledge, too, that it's going to be anxiety-inducing getting undressed in front of a new person, like it just is, even if you are most comfortable, confident person in the world with your body, getting undressed in front of somebody that you have a new relationship, it's still awkward.
Quinn: So it's important to just know there's always awkwardness in sex, it always is, and so that's something that, as adults, sometimes we get in our head this idea that sex has to be in perfect harmony and all of that shit, and, nah, you could be sweating, body odor, somebody might fart, awkward positions, there's all kind of shit that goes into it. And if we can accept that there is always going to be some anxiety around sex because it's just about a performance and your pleasure is immediately measured, I think that that'll help, too.
Quinn: But the biggest thing is just feeling confident in your own body, being okay with being undressed in front of yourself because you're usually your biggest and most vocal critic, and if you're all right getting undressed on your own and you enjoy looking at your body for most of the time, then I think that'll help a lot.
Kenrya: In the book, Sonja struggles to take care of her kids and her sister and sometimes her ex-husband, and it becomes clear pretty quickly that she's codependent, putting the needs of everybody else in front of her own. You recently blogged about your own struggles with codependency. I'm really interested in how you manage your own mental health while you help other people with their journeys.
Quinn: I mean, my team around me is amazing. Honestly, I don't know how I got so damn lucky to have such a team because they see me even when I can't see myself, and it's important to have people around you that can just pull you out of your own cloud of bullshit sometimes. I think that the biggest thing for me is just, one, knowing ... I used to always know when I was in that fog, but recently I've had trouble seeing that I'm in that fog, your eyes adjust to the light, and it's important to have somebody around you who's just new to that environment, like, "What the fuck?"
Quinn: And so, for me recently, I haven't always been able to self-correct like I usually do, which is like making sure I take lunch breaks, making sure I have at least one day off during the week, not working outside of my scheduled hours, and so I hadn't really been consistent with that, but even when I did implement that, I still was feeling the same, and that's because it was part of a larger thing, I didn't realize I had a relapse in codependency.
Quinn: It was really good to have my people around me to put some fresh eyes on what was really going on, but I had to be honest with them, and that part was the hardest part, being honest with myself and being honest with them. Since I did that, what's been helping me is going to my therapist and making sure that I eat, even if it's some bullshit in the morning, at least it's something I enjoy eating. The other day, I made some breakfast pork chops, and right before my 10:00 session, I was like, "I know I smell like pork," I was just in my head about it for like 10 minutes, and then I was like, "Fuck it, it was some good pork chops."
Quinn: But I do try my best to do the things that I know have worked for me, like taking my lunch breaks, keeping my hours, being really good about my time in sessions, make sure I have food in my fridge downstairs, but, also, being honest with other people around me and having them tell me, "Okay, you're doing too much. Ain't nobody ask you for all that yet. Wait on them to ask you to do all this shit," and so that's really good, too.
Erica: Does the fact that you've been through a divorce impact the way you counsel your clients?
Quinn: I guess yeah and no. I feel like I know how far to push some people when it comes to their relationship stuff. Sometimes I always step over the line and I'm aware of it and I always try to make amends at their next session or later on my own. But I think that it helped me because I would try to work from my feminist perspective, and I work from a very body-positive perspective, like very fem women, minority person, supportive perspective, and so I advocate very much for people who I have shared identities with, and so, yeah, because I [inaudible 00:17:33] those people in my life and I have those experiences, that is the therapeutic perspective I chose.
Quinn: But, also, I think sometimes giving some clients some information about my own experience helps them feel more comfortable because a lot of my colleagues do a lot of co-therapy, and there are advantages to that, absolutely, where they're a little bit more removed from their clients, but that hasn't been where I've been successful, I've been my most successful with clients and in my practice by pulling my skirt up a little bit and letting them see what's underneath. It's important for them to know, "Hey, I have been through this process, it's not just me telling you some bullshit, I have been here, let me tell you how it might feel and might look on the other side of it."
Kenrya: So, speaking of which, on our last show, Erica and I talked through our post-divorce relationship histories, what we learned and how that impacted the way that we approached dating after the fact. What did dating look like for you after you moved on?
Quinn: I immediately started, and start dates are fuzzy in some people's memory, but I was seeing a stud soon after I left my ex-husband, and there was some good times, she was in Gospel choir. There's something about a church-loving stud that just ...
Kenrya: Do it to you?
Quinn: Yeah. And she used to sing and shit in random places, unexpectedly, as a romantic gesture.
Erica: Aw, that's nice.
Quinn: I don't know, I want to let everybody know, I hate singing and dancing, I hate that shit so much, I fucking hate it. I don't like to see, unless you are a paid performer, and I'm talking marquee, I don't want you to be singing and dancing in front of me, it's so cringe-worthy, I hate it.
Erica: That reminds me of a time I went on a date and a dude started singing in my ear in a bar.
Kenrya: Oh God, you lost it.
Erica: I was just like, "What do I do?"
Quinn: Do you nod? Do I pretend I know the song? What the fuck? She did at my birthday party, I'll never forget.
Erica: Wait, was she singing church songs? Or just-
Quinn: No, neo soul. I want y'all to know this about me, too, I don't like neo soul.
Erica: You're like, "Now you singing some Boosie? Good."
Quinn: Now, listen, she could have beat the odds.
Erica: You are such a bird, I love it.
Quinn: I'm just saying, don't sing ... oh my God, I was so embarrassed, I was like, "Now I can’t even eat this damn gyro because you done sang to me in front of all my goddamn friends and now everybody laughing in their head because they all know I hate this.”
Erica: Because you just had to go fishing for a stud at church.
Quinn: I didn't go to church, no, I met her on campus at school, now be clear, this wasn't because I was seeking out the Lord, I met her in class, and she happened to love the Lord and sang for him at school. After her, I actually dated five men named Chris in a row.
Erica: Well, that was easy.
Quinn: Yes. I got my ex-husband's name tattooed on my hand when I was 19, so it's Chris on my hand, so every Chris I dated was like, "This for me, ain't it?" "Sure, nigga."
Kenrya: "Sure, nigga."
Quinn: It was just really bad, and they were all abusive in some form, emotionally, financially, physically, sexually, it was just some bullshit. I'll never forget, my friend, she was just like, "Why not after the first Chris we didn't realize Chrises wasn't shit?" And so I was like, "Solid point." So I started dating just randomly, I dated a sex addict for a while, which was really rough, and it really fucked up my self-esteem. Then I dated ... I guess my baby dad is somewhere in there, but it was a blip on the radar, I was popping. I don't know. My baby daddy was before my husband, nevermind. Wait a minute, he was before my husband.
Quinn: But after that, I was just dating men, I dated a really socially-reclusive man who was very rich, and that was nice for a while, but then rich men usually want you to do weird shit, and so I couldn't get jiggy with it. But I actually was dating his girlfriend, and that's how I met him, so ... it was a long night, and it was a good night. I'm just saying, I ran off on the plug, if you know what I mean. To be fair, I continued to have a relationship with both of them, and both of them knew.
Erica: You don't want to leave anyone left out.
Kenrya: Equal opportunity.
Quinn: No, I am very inclusive. Yes.
Quinn: But after a while, she was annoying. And I'll never forget, she came to my house in some flare-legged jeans-
Erica: Nope, we're good.
Quinn: And I was like, "This is it. I'm good."
Erica: "I need an excuse."
Kenrya: "Final straw."
Quinn: She had flare-legged jeans, and she had her hair flipped in the back, I was like, "Girl."
Kenrya: I used to rock the fuck out of that flip in high school.
Quinn: Same, but this was like 2014, and so I was like, "Girl, what is this? No thanks." It was Memphis though.
Erica: Well, okay.
Quinn: But after that, that's when I met my wife on Twitter, and that was September 11, 2015, I believe.
Quinn: And I thought she was cute, and I asked her did she like girls, and she said yeah, and then I asked her for some nudes because I was trifling back in the day.
Erica: Something tells me that trifling didn't end, but okay.
Quinn: No. And so she flew to Memphis, I made her some fish and spaghetti, took her to a Martin Luther King museum, and bottle of some whiskey, and we've been together ever since.
Kenrya: Yes, courting.
Erica: So you said you met your wife on Twitter.
Erica: I'm not sure how long you were married and stuff, but did you feel like the dating landscape changed? We talked about this on a last episode, how before we were married, before we both went into our marriages, online dating really wasn't a thing, nobody was really shooting their shot on Twitter, maybe MySpace, but it just wasn't happening. Once we got out, it was a completely different world. Did you experience that?
Quinn: Yeah. In that block of time after I stopped dating the Chrises and I started dating my wife, a couple of men that I met were online either through OkCupid or Plenty of Fish, "Plenty of Gonorrhea" is what it should be called.
Erica: I hate you.
Quinn: And even Craigslist. So I was meeting guys online, and that was easier for me because I didn't know it then, but it's obvious now that I had a lot of social anxiety, so going out and meeting, if I was going to clubs and shit, where you would normally meet guys, I really wasn't doing that. But by the time I started dating my wife a couple years later, online dating was a thing, a lot of people I knew had met their partners online, some good sites were still trying to find their way. But for the most part, a lot of people were doing it online.
Kenrya: We have a few friends who met their husbands online, but they all got married after we did, I feel like there was a boom of it after that.
Erica: Yeah. Okay, so, we like to ask our guests “would you rather questions,” so I got one for you.
Erica: Would you rather live your life stuck to your partner, like stuck to them, like y'all sewn together, or would you rather only see your partner for one day every year?
Quinn: I would rather be stuck to my wife. Man, my wife is my best friend, like we travel well together, that's our favorite fucking thing is just traveling, and sitting the fuck down is our favorite thing, we love that shit so much. There is a quote by the great Eddie Murphy, Jerry Seinfeld asks him, "What's your favorite thing to do, what do you like doing?" And Eddie Murphy said, "My favorite thing to do is nothing," and that shit changed my life when I watched that. So that's our thing, we love to do nothing and so much together. Like right now, we're going to go to Trader Joe's, it's date night, but guess what we're going to do? Come the fuck home and sit the fuck down and eat.
Erica: I love it.
Quinn: And watch animal documentaries, high as fuck.
Kenrya: I like it. I'm all for it.
Quinn: I can tell you so much shit about the Earth. Listen, if we are in some general trivia about the Earth or animals or the ocean, I know everything, everything.
Erica: Okay, so Quinn is on our Trivia Night team.
Kenrya: Yes. Because I don't know nothing about none of that shit.
Erica: You buggin’.
Quinn: That come from hundreds of hours of high watching shit. I probably don't remember nothing right, but I can tell you what it feel like.
Kenrya: You got enough of the pieces.
Quinn: Yeah, I can piece it together.
Erica: Yeah, you have definitely inspired my evening.
Kenrya: Well this has been delightful, thank you so much for coming on again. For folks who missed the first time Quinn was on, it was maybe Episode 6.5 in Season 1, go back and listen to it, do yourself a favor, we were talking about hoteps. And so for folks who want to find you outside the show, where should they go, Quinn?
Quinn: They can go to MagnoliaMHealth.com, they can find me on Instagram, MagnoliaMHealth, or Memphissippian. I don't think I've ever said that out loud. Because I lived in Memphis for a long time and I'm also a Mississippian, so Memphissippian. And you can also find me on Twitter @MagnoliaMHealth.
Erica: All righty.
Kenrya: All right, well thank you for joining us and thank you, listeners, for being here, too, that wraps up this week's episode of The Turn On. Peace.
?Erica: This episode was produced by us, Erica and Kenrya, and edited by B’Lystic. The theme song is from Brazy. We want to hear from y'all, send your book recommendations and all the burning sex and related questions you want us to answer to TheTurnOnPodcast@gmail.com. And please subscribe to the show on your favorite podcasts app, follow us on Twitter @TheTurnOnPod, and Instagram @TheTurnOnPodcast, and find links to our books, transcripts, guest info, and other fun stuff at TheTurnOnPodcast.com. And, remember, The Turn On is now part of the Frolic Podcast Network, you can find more shows you love at Frolic.media/Podcasts. Thanks for joining us, and we'll see you soon, holler.
The Turn On
The Turn On is a podcast for Black people who want to get off. To open their minds. To learn. To be part of a community. To show that we love and fuck too, and it doesn't have to be political or scandalous or dirty. Unless we want it to be.