September 22, 2022
In our first ever live episode – recorded from Kings Place for the 2022 London Podcast Festival – Jameela is joined by actress and author Rebecca Humphries. They discuss Rebecca’s very public breakup with her cheating partner, why she missed the red flags in their relationship, what love-bombing is and what it feels like, why she felt she had to be the “cool girl” when dating, why it’s important for her to take accountability for her own role in the relationship, and more.
Check out Rebecca Humphries’ book – Why Did You Stay? – wherever books are sold!
You can find transcripts for this episode here: https://www.earwolf.com/show/i-weigh-with-jameela-jamil/
I Weigh has amazing merch – check it out at podswag.com
129 — Rebecca Humphries – LIVE
Jameela [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to another episode of I Weigh with Jameela Jamil. A Vodcast against shame. I hope you’re well. I am a bit nervous because this episode that you’re about to hear was recorded live in front of a large audience. And that is something I’ve never done before because I fucking hate public speaking. I know I seem very cocky online, but that is as with anyone who’s cocky online, a big fucking lie. And actually I was very afraid. So if I’m a little bit more intense than normal in my interviewing style, I apologize. But I was freaking out. I remember I’ve only ever done this podcast in my bedroom next to my wanking dog, so this was very surreal, but so cool to meet so many of you. And for those of you who weren’t in that room that night, I can’t wait for you to hear this conversation, cause I think you’re going to love it. You’re going to love my guest. Her name is Rebecca Humphries, and she’s so funny and she’s so smart and she’s so talented. She’s a comedy actor and now a bestselling author for a book called Why Did You Stay? Which. It’s partially around the thing that made her famous overnight, which is being cheated on by her relatively famous but deeply and significant other half when he cheated on her on a reality TV show with his dance partner. The photographs went all over our country, and it was Rebecca’s response of dignity, empowerment and hiding nothing about the relationship that really skyrocketed her to becoming the face of reclaiming your own narrative. In this chat, we talk about her book. We talk about what happened that night. We talk about her relationship. But most importantly, we talk about the system at large of abusive relationships, of gaslighting, and most importantly, the ways in which we can stop ourselves, hopefully from being so vulnerable to predators. And that is not to be victim shaming at all. That’s not the vibe of this podcast, but it’s more to empower us, to remind us that we have agency, that we can patch up those old wounds before we allow ourselves to be vulnerable to other people who may not have our best interests at heart so that we have some sort of self-preservation so that we have a fighting chance in the shit pool that is the dating world. And Rebecca, so, so brilliant in this chat and in every chat that she has are so lovable and so deeply relatable. And the vibe in the room was electric. So many people like a devastating amount of people resonating with exactly what she said and a lot of mmhmm happening all at the same time in the crowd. I loved it so much. It was so much fun that I now want to do it more and maybe I’ll be coming to a town near you some time to tour this further. But I really want to hear what you think. Please message me, please. DM me please dm. Rebecca for being so brave and so cool and for fuckin retraumatizing herself again and again and again by telling this story so that she can help all of us and warn us of all of the signs and and empower as many people as possible in ways that she did not feel empowered herself when she needed it most. She’s a legend. She’s an icon. She is the motherfucking moment. This is Rebecca Humphries. Hello. Oh. Jesus. Hello. Hi. Can you hear me? How are you? So many answers. Sorry, I’ve never done anything like this before and I’m petrified of public speaking, so I probably shouldn’t be here actually. But I just wanted to meet you guys because thank you for allowing my podcast to go on this long. Thank you for being here to support. I really appreciate you. I’m not as bold and brave as I seem on Twitter where I know I am a bit of a tramp sometimes. I’m much calmer in this format, but I am going to now bring on the real star of the show. She’s such a great writer, such a great actress, such a great human. Please get the warmest welcome ever. Rebecca Humphries. Hello.
Rebecca [00:04:45] Hi. Hey.
Jameela [00:04:48] It hasn’t escaped to me that we have accidentally dressed like Richard Gere and Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. I felt really sad that I hadn’t brought, like, a diamond necklace to close on Rebecca. Oh God hi.
Rebecca [00:04:59] Here we are. We made it.
Jameela [00:05:05] I know. How are you, my dear?
Rebecca [00:05:08] How am I? Uh, well, this is new. So it takes a minute to adjust to that. I’m well. My book is going quite well.
Jameela [00:05:19] Your book has done well. Have you all read this book? Why Did You Stay? Yes, indeed. And those who haven’t shall.
Rebecca [00:05:26] So I’m feeling. I don’t know I’m sort of slightly overwhelmed, actually. Overwhelm is probably the word of the year for me.
Jameela [00:05:32] Yeah.
Rebecca [00:05:33] Yeah, it’s a lot.
Jameela [00:05:34] How’s your mental health in general at the moment? I thought I’d go in with something.
Rebecca [00:05:38] Really simple. And easy.
Jameela [00:05:42] Chill you know.
Rebecca [00:05:46] Just the gals. My mental health. I have taken great pains this year, which I’m sure we’ll talk about a bit more to level it out and to learn how to take care of myself, really. And I guess I ask myself that question all the time. Check in with myself, be compassionate towards myself, have a a loving dialog with myself without sounding too much of a twat, I mean, straight away. But like I. I guess now my struggle is also my celebration really, which is I’ve just written this book and it’s going really well. Now what? So I’m kind of just in that space.
Jameela [00:06:26] Right. And also, I can’t imagine it’s easy to have to sit and talk about the thing you wrote about again and again and again and again now. I imagine that’s I imagine that feels somewhat intense.
Rebecca [00:06:40] It was intense. It was at the beginning when I hadn’t done it before. But now it really is my pleasure. I mean, it’s it’s something that I’ve gotten a lot of feedback from, from people who have read it. And I’m really kind of trying to check myself before I say, you know, I talk about myself in terms of being like a guru or someone that anyone should listen to ever, which I’m absolutely not. But people are really responding to it and people are taking a lot from it and seeing themselves in my story, and it’s helping them. So when I get to speak about it, it’s a joy because I always have that, you know, in my in my heart, really.
Jameela [00:07:20] So for those who haven’t yet read this book or who might not even be familiar with you, can you tell us what it’s about?
Rebecca [00:07:28] Yes. Okay. So I.
Jameela [00:07:32] I mean, it’s fucking dense so.
Rebecca [00:07:33] I was going to say it’s
Jameela [00:07:35] Jus like, keep it quick. She told me she over talks and I must interrupt her. So just so you know, I’m not being a massive cunt if that happens. I was told to. Go ahead.
Rebecca [00:07:43] It’s a very chunky volume and I’ll just try and condense it into about a paragraph. So I in 2018, my boyfriend at the time was photographed kissing his dance partner on Strictly Come Dancing.
Jameela [00:07:57] Prick.
Rebecca [00:07:57] He was. Yeah. So is it’s a little show, you might have heard of it. And so he was perhaps doing that and then everything came out in the papers. And when that happened, it was sort of a sequence of events really that I go obviously more into in this. I mean, look at the size of it, but I sort of realized quite quickly that actually our relationship had been super toxic and actually he had demonstrated a lot of emotionally abusive behavior. The thing that was so clear and glaring was that he had told me that I was a psychopath when I said there was something going on between them.
Jameela [00:08:31] Yeah. Talk us through, if you don’t mind, for the billionth fucking time, the night that you were called a psychopath. It was your birthday.
Rebecca [00:08:39] It was my birthday. I know right?
Jameela [00:08:46] Boooooo.
Rebecca [00:08:48] What a jerk. So god that was quite cathartic actually.
Jameela [00:08:50] Yeah. Any time you want one, you just ask. Will do.
Rebecca [00:08:55] So I’m at home, I’ve got this shop bought lasagna going cold. And my poor salted tears like pouring into it. And I’m sort of genuinely just at the point in our relationship. Well, I had I had been gaslit so much that actually I just kind of had no idea, well, who I was for a start and what it was that I should expect from a boyfriend or from a relationship or from love itself. And suddenly there I am, you know, this person who I, you know, would always have self-identified as being like pretty strong, pretty independent and sort of quite fun, quite sort of rambunctious, you know, just all of these things. And there I am, having been chipped away at to such an extent that the most I could expect on my birthday was for my boyfriend to finish his drink with his dance partner quickly, you know. And suddenly there I am. And I’m like.
Jameela [00:09:56] Well, you asked him, right?
Rebecca [00:09:58] I asked him, I caught him up.
Jameela [00:09:58] Do you not think this is a bit inappropriate. Understatement of the fucking century.
Rebecca [00:10:03] I called him up and I said to him, something inappropriate is going on, isn’t it? Or like I you know, I called him out on it several times it wasn’t the first time, and again, not for the first time he turns around and he says you’re psychotic. You know, you’re a psychopath. You’re mental, you’re insane. Like, just all of this stuff that had been turned on me time and time again. But the thing is, is that we all know we’re starting to have an awareness that gas lighting is so insidious that that dialog and that language had find its way into our relationship years before I was being told that that night, you know, this was just something that we is this is the way that we spoke. This is our this is our language. Yeah.
Jameela [00:10:39] How long had you dated?
Rebecca [00:10:41] About five and a half years.
Jameela [00:10:43] Right. Yeah, yeah. That’s a well deserved wow in the audience.
Rebecca [00:10:46] A long ass time right.
Jameela [00:10:47] And can you talk me through the beginning of the relationship? Because I think I mean, I really hope it doesn’t trigger too many memories in anyone else’s brains, but it’s a familiar tale.
Rebecca [00:11:00] Yeah. Especially when you’re at the other end, because when you start talking about toxic relationships and things like gaslighting and emotional abuse, you know, it’s so weighty and it’s so heavy. And people that you were talking about it to paint such a picture of your relationship as this sort of, you know, dark fairy tale, that’s like, you know, Tim Burton-esque and it just feels really poisonous. But actually, of course, the big myth about toxic relationships is that they’re bad all the time. In fact, when they’re amazing, they are so vividly amazing that you cling on to those things like a life raft when actually, you know, you’re sinking. When we first met, I mean. Actually, I was having a conversation about this the other day with a friend, and we were talking about love and like the first big love, you know, in your life and saying, actually, you know, it’s sort of a bittersweet because I will never fall in love like that again. Like I won’t because of what I now know and things like wariness and caution and taking things slowly.
Jameela [00:12:01] You mean that he was your first big love?
Rebecca [00:12:03] Big love yeah. Because this was.
Jameela [00:12:06] Right. Will Smith was mine. I mean, I haven’t met him, but like that’s different. Sorry. Go on.
Rebecca [00:12:12] But this was, like, epic. This felt like, you know, years and years worth of blokes keeping me a secret or being dickheads in that way and going, like, Oh, make sure you don’t tell anyone or making me feel ashamed to be myself or like, just not being flagrant about their feelings for me. And this guy just turns up and goes, I want you like everything about you. And it just honestly felt like, you know, all the doors in me were, like, been flung open. And suddenly you’re.
Jameela [00:12:49] Very vivid innuendos image.
Rebecca [00:12:52] Yeah. As it were.
Jameela [00:12:54] Sorry. Go on. Pardon, everyone.
Rebecca [00:12:58] It took, what, 10 minutes? But, yeah, no. And. And we’re there and we’re going to Brighton for the weekend and we’re going to Berlin and then we’re going to Ireland and we’re just flying around the damn well being in love. And it’s just heaven. And, you know, I’m hearing music in my ears all the time.
Jameela [00:13:17] And what is that called?
Rebecca [00:13:18] Love Bombing.
Jameela [00:13:19] Yep. There it is. Can you tell people what love bombing is.
Rebecca [00:13:22] Love bombing is an excess of love, attention, gifts that is just heaped on the subjects by the person who’s pursuing them. Essentially in order to corner them into love and into a relationship really early on. At which point generally this is a narcissistic trait. Love bombing. At which point? We know that narcissists are you know all about the self and. It’s about the attainment of that person. So it’s not actually healthy love. It’s not about giving and receiving. It’s about I want that thing that looks quite hard to get. I get it. And then gradually, not gradually, like suddenly they just lose interest.
Jameela [00:14:06] Yeah. They start eroding their subject.
Rebecca [00:14:09] Yeah, yeah.
Jameela [00:14:10] It’s. It’s an interesting one. I mean, just by way of hands, even. Have any of you been in that kind of love? Where at the very beginning you feel like you can’t breathe? Almost. You can’t eat, you have no appetite, you feel euphoric, you can’t sleep, but you don’t need sleep because life is so exciting and you’re living the kind of love that nobody else has ever lived in their lives. No one else understands you. The songs kind of understand you, but not really because you’re special. This is different this time. Hands up?
Rebecca [00:14:37] Yeah.
Jameela [00:14:40] Exactly.
Rebecca [00:14:42] And what and the thing as well is, is that for the formative years of my female life, that’s what I was told that I wanted.
Jameela [00:14:51] It’s all we were told!
Rebecca [00:14:53] It’s all we were told I was like, this is what oh wow, I’m getting everything that I was ever promised, everything that I have always associated with love and romance. I’m finally getting it. So this is real.
Jameela [00:15:02] Yes. Yeah. Every song, every movie, it’s everywhere. And all of the literature. Because it wouldn’t sell, would it? A story about a nice, calm, lad.
Rebecca [00:15:10] Alfie.
Jameela [00:15:11] Where you could be yourself, where you could find somebody at your natural weight.
Rebecca [00:15:13] Where you take your time.
Jameela [00:15:14] You know? And it’s where you can accept that not everyone is talented at reverse cowgirl, you know, it’s just it’s just nice to relax. But that’s not a great tale. It’s not a great song. It doesn’t have a great hook. It’s fucking drama.
Rebecca [00:15:32] It’s drama, baby. But, yeah, I don’t think I saw a single narrative until I was about 12 years old where it didn’t end with a woman getting married.
Jameela [00:15:39] Yeah. And we never talk about after ever after.
Rebecca [00:15:42] No, because we talked about how to find romantic love, but as in nothing about how to sustain it.
Jameela [00:15:47] There is a comedian who’s now in a big show called Ted Lasso, and his name is Brett Goldstein. And I once saw a live show of his in which he was talking about this. And he said, you know, he was asking his sister why she’s in a really stable relationship, but he hasn’t been in many stable relationships and they’ve had the same upbringing. And she said to him, Well, it’s because you always go for a ten of excitement. And what you don’t realize is that that feeling, that panic, that rush is actually adrenaline. And it is your fight or flight response telling you to fucking run away. It is the it’s telling you there is a sabertooth tiger right in front of you and you need to leave. And actually what you need to be doing is going for the six of not of attraction. You can be very attracted someone, but the six of excitement where you’re like, Oh, I really like hanging out with you. I can’t stop talking to you. I really feel like myself. And what you do is you take that six and you slowly build up to a ten of excitement after you actually know someone. And that was such an important thing for me to hear, because my boyfriend and I have been together for almost eight years and thanks, I think that was my manager who is very relieved that I found someone. So she doesn’t have to deal with me anymore. But I, I, we almost didn’t date each other because we felt so happy and calm in our relationship. So we kept on insisting that it was just shagging for like nine months. Also, I didn’t tell him I talk about him and I’m really sorry, James. But anyway, we, we felt too happy and too calm and all of the stories we’d ever heard made it sound like that was just friendship. It was too safe. And so we almost thought maybe it’s boring. And then slowly over time, we realized, no, this is actually what healthy, good love is. And I still feel so calm and like I can be my exact can’t do reverse cowgirl self around him some people are clinically weak. Don’t judge me, all right? You’re not better than me. Probably are.
Rebecca [00:17:50] You know, that’s in itself is really interesting because I think I think been thinking a lot recently about like our relationship to passion and what we have always seen passion as. And obviously, like all we think about is this fire, you know, the fire emoji and like all these kind of quite dangerous feelings actually. And I’m thinking, yeah, I was just thinking about passion in terms of actually. It’s its intensity, but it’s not like throwing all of your life into the fire.
Jameela [00:18:20] Yeah where you stop talking to your friends.
Rebecca [00:18:22] Exactly chucking all the best bits of yourself out the window in the name of this love that you’re feeling for this person who was toxic.
Jameela [00:18:30] 100%.
Rebecca [00:18:31] And making you toxic as well. By the way, like, you know, it’s it’s a it’s a two way street.
Jameela [00:18:35] Okay. So after the love bombing happens, right? How soon did you find the bad behavior? The inevitable bad behavior started creeping in.
Rebecca [00:18:46] God, I mean. The thing that.
Jameela [00:18:49] We. Are you even aware because it was so insidious.
Rebecca [00:18:53] I look back on that relationship and I probably knew it was bad about like I knew it was really bad, about three years in.
Jameela [00:19:03] Mm hmm.
Rebecca [00:19:04] Before which I think I just thought that was our dynamic. Like that’s the alchemy that he and I are creating in this space together. And, like, what’s my price of admission putting up with it? Like, I put up with this behavior, I put up with this kind of, like, alchemy, this this toxicity or this kind of thing that’s not making me very happy. And I go, Well, as I said before, everything about my life has led up to this moment. Apparently, according to every narrative I’ve ever seen, this is love. This is my chance as well, which has a lot to do with self-worth, which we could talk about all day. But I was just like. We’ve just got you know, we’re just fiery. You know, we’re just fiery we’re Sid and Nancy we’re Bon and Taylor, like we’re you know, we’re Kathy and Heathcliff. That’s our vibe. I’d rather be that than boring.
Jameela [00:19:52] You also talk in your book brilliantly about wanting to be the cool girl, even when he is belittling you on stage in his shows. Prick. You wanted to laugh it off and and seem like you’re above it. And, like, whatever. I’m secure. You were trying to exude constant security.
Rebecca [00:20:12] Totally. Like, I didn’t want to be one of those girls. They’re so earnest. They can’t laugh at themselves. You know, I’m not like that at all. In fact, I’ve always been complimented on my sense of humor and like. So it’s like, actually, that’s a part of my personality that I really clung to at great cost to myself, of course. And it happens quite a lot, I think, in these relationships, you know, you sort of go, oh, but I’m I’m really strong. A strength is something that in gaslighting and emotionally abusive relationships, we really cling to. Because I also used say to him all the time, I’m like it’s a good job that we’ve got each other because not everyone would be able to put up with this, you know? Or like, yeah, exactly. Or like, it’s a good job I’m a strong independent woman because I can put up with his shit and not everyone else will be able to. At what point do you start going, Oh, hang on, but I don’t have to. But that have to. Mmm hmm.
Jameela [00:21:05] I knew you would love her.
Rebecca [00:21:10] But, yeah, I we’re never really taught that we’re just, you know, taught relationships take compromise, and they’re hard work. And it’s not a party, is it? You know, it can’t be like that all the time. So be careful.
Jameela [00:21:23] It’s fine most people are going to hear this on podcast. They won’t know I did anything wrong.
Rebecca [00:21:29] It’s true. And you didn’t.
Jameela [00:21:32] Nope. It’s 100% true. And you know what? It’s so shocking. How many of us, however strong, however confident, however well-informed or emotionally intelligent we may be, how easy it can be for any of us to fall into this scenario is nightmare.
Rebecca [00:21:49] Often like not always, but often. It’s the strong, like sexy, cool, intelligent people who find themselves in these scenarios because they don’t see it coming. And also, it’s not a challenge to erode someone who is passive or already subservient or has that kind of in them. And these people who are narcissists or these people who are intimidated and emasculated by women like us or anyone actually, it’s not a gender thing, but like, you know, people, these narcissists, they go for people because they want to be associated with these amazing women, men, whoever. And then it just becomes too much for them.
Jameela [00:22:32] 100%. I mean, I’ve dated someone like that. He was such a bastard that he would. He would. And I hope he’s listening right now, but he would undermine me so constantly after at the beginning of the relationship being like, you’re the most beautiful girl in the world. You don’t need any makeup. No, no, you’re perfect. You’re perfect. You just just just all over me, like, instilled in me a confidence that I’d never had before, because I’d been so shy my whole life. And he was the second person I’d ever kissed, and I was in my twenties. So I am a low, a late slut starter and my number is still six, so I didn’t ever really finish. Anyway. He was one of six people I kissed and after Love bombing me and making everything feel like a movie. And the problem is, these sons of bitches are watching our movies. Okay?
Rebecca [00:23:25] Watching our movies.
Jameela [00:23:26] I’m telling you, they say they don’t watch it because they don’t want us to know that they know they know what we’re looking for. They’ve read it all. And again, people of any gender can be guilty of this behavior.
Rebecca [00:23:39] Totally.
Jameela [00:23:39] But there is a phenomena, I would say, of women who tend to be subjected to this by men.
Rebecca [00:23:48] 100% Yeah. And so this is about this is about power. Right. And that’s a patriarchy thing. It’s not it’s not a gender thing, you know, which is why you get women as well who are emotionally abusive towards men, because actually they’re patriarchal women. It’s it’s purely power driven.
Jameela [00:24:03] 100%. But this guy is way too personal to say, but when have I ever had boundaries? But he. It was a slow. It was a slow kill with me. Like, he just it happened in such little ways that I almost didn’t miss it. And I remember hearing this absolutely horrendous analogy and I’m so sorry for about to say because it’s so vivid. But someone said that when you cook a frog already starting badly, sorry, you don’t put it in boiling water because it’ll jump right out. You put it in cold water and then you slowly bring it to a boil. And that way, by the time it realizes it’s boiling, it’s too late and it’s dead. And that delightful analogy, it reminds me a bit of that
Rebecca [00:24:51] Absolutely.
Jameela [00:24:52] Relationship because he slowly boiled me to death to the point where I was still staying after having sex with him, when he had deliberately put pictures of Victoria’s Secret models up all over his wall and would make sure that I could see that he was looking at them while sleeping with me. And I didn’t leave. Feminist of the Year everyone. But it can happen to anyone. Someone can just hyper normalized you to being constantly undercut and it doesn’t just have to be partner, this can happen with a parent towards you. This can happen with a teacher, this can.
Rebecca [00:25:30] Friend.
Jameela [00:25:30] Happen with colleagues, a boss. This can happen anywhere. And that’s why this conversation is so much bigger than just your relationship. What you have exposed in this book is the system of this behavior and how to spot it and how to prevent it in ourselves. And yes, so I overshared and I’m sorry, but that is a graphic takeaway as to one of the worst moments in my relationship.
Rebecca [00:25:51] Honestly it is like that, it’s and it’s like, you know, I used to say that every every like common or every sort of slightly disparaging thing or like just just doing a 180 on things like you’re so beautiful you don’t need makeup just like and then suddenly that not being the case anymore, it’s feels like a tiny dart that hits your body or like, you know, acupuncture needle and then, like, one is fine it sort of hurts, but you’re like, yeah, you know, I can I can deal with that when you don’t notice is that they’re all they’re just creating holes over your body over time you’re slowly bleeding out.
Jameela [00:26:35] One of the things in your book that I found so startlingly. It really it was so unpretentious and so unguarded of you to write about is how much accountability you insist upon taking for this relationship. Now, a lot of the time, we are completely, understandably encouraged to feel victimized, and we are being victimized by someone who is terrible and dysfunctional, who subjecting us to their own trauma that’s bleeding out over them, onto us. But can you talk to me a bit about why it was important for you to take some accountability as to ending up in that situation, staying in that situation?
Rebecca [00:27:17] Completely. Because taking accountability is the only way that you can rest assured it will never, ever happen again. If you make your life just about victimhood it’s a prison, you know, you’re just going to stay in the same place. Pointing the finger over there, blaming, judging, attacking that person doesn’t give a fuck. That person is walking around living the rest of their life, not caring what they did to you, and so there you just are wasting your energy still, just like you did the whole time in the relationship.
Jameela [00:27:45] Yeah. And it is. I find it empowering to sometimes take some accountability, to sometimes say to myself, okay, there were some things. There were red flags I willfully ignored, or there were some things about me that were incomplete before I got into a relationship that left me vulnerable yet to this person. And that doesn’t make me feel any shame at all. The shame is still all on them, but it gives me some feeling of, Oh, you know what? Rather than shadowboxing for the rest of my life, there are things I can do to avoid this potentially from happening to me again. And that makes me feel strong going forward.
Rebecca [00:28:21] Completely, it’s not about taking responsibility for what happened at all. It’s just like, what is my part in this? What was it? What was the hole in my soul that I was trying to fill by this person like and I allowed them to- and that’s essentially what’s happened. And you touched on it there when you were talking about like, I didn’t know myself when I went into this relationship. I absolutely didn’t. I was looking for something to complete me. And it’s just. It’s a recipe for disaster. I mean, it was it literally was a disaster.
Jameela [00:28:49] Not to be too personal, but. What was the hole in your soul?
Rebecca [00:28:59] Oh, God. No, I suppose. I suppose that what I was missing. That’s what you’re asking was.
Jameela [00:29:07] Yeah. It wasn’t a fanny joke. It’s that what that came across as?
Rebecca [00:29:13] I just don’t know with you, Jameela. I’m always on the edge!
Jameela [00:29:16] No it wasn’t! No I genuinely meant, I was like, What? Do you mind talking to us? Oh God, sorry. I just meant what was wrong with you? Basically.
Rebecca [00:29:25] That’s why I was asking. I will absolutely tell you what was wrong with me, I was going to say what is. What was wrong with me.
Jameela [00:29:34] I don’t mean not in the actual shaming language that came across. I’m just kidding. But I’ll talk about mine. After you.
Rebecca [00:29:40] Low self-worth. Low self-esteem. Yeah, absolutely. Just feeling at my core, I guess. I mean, the core. The core shame that goes right to the bottom if we’re going to overshare is. Not lovable. You know, something really, really deep rooted, which isn’t something that I think about every day. You know, it’s something I’ve had to really go deep and investigate. Not lovable, not beautiful enough, not thin enough. You know, all this stuff that we’re told time and time again that like is just creeps in to your body and it lives there. And then when someone comes along, that tells you the complete opposite of that.
Jameela [00:30:17] Mm hmm.
Rebecca [00:30:21] What am I going to do? Say no? Suddenly it’s like, oh, great. He solved all my problems by telling me all the things that I would love to hear about myself. But now, of course, the trick to that is finding out what they are. And I tell them to myself.
Jameela [00:30:34] Absolutely. 100%. An amen. The reason I ask that is that in your book you so beautifully keep going back and forth from like what’s happening now to where all of these chips, where all of these holes began. Right. And so all the little ways from as young as you can remember in which people started to kind of undermine you or make you feel like you’re not enough. Can you speak a bit to that?
Rebecca [00:31:04] Yeah, sure. So there’s a chapter in the book where I’m four. Is that the one that you’re talking about?
Jameela [00:31:09] Yeah.
Rebecca [00:31:09] I had this moment when I was really young, that came to me when I was writing the book, and I was like, You know what? This actually has to be more about investigating the female experience and those little cheeky disparaging comments that have found their way under my skin. Like, I was a really loud kid. Like just. Not violent like. Not aggressive.
Jameela [00:31:36] I mean, it’s a low bar, but yeah.
Rebecca [00:31:37] Yeah. Not violent, not aggressive. Never hurt anyone. But I was loud, and therefore I was shamed because I was a girl. Because boys are allowed to, like, run around the playgrounds, you know, shooting each other and trying to, like, literally murder each other in some cases when they’re children. But because.
Jameela [00:31:59] They’re just passionate,.
Rebecca [00:32:01] They’re passionate. They’re just a bit rough and tumble. But because I.
Jameela [00:32:05] But boys will be boys.
Rebecca [00:32:05] Boys will be boys. Exactly.
Jameela [00:32:09] Stop nagging them. God.
Rebecca [00:32:09] It’s only nagging if I have to say it more than once. But I’m there and I’m I’m just I just knew what I wanted from a really early age and wasn’t afraid to ask for it. But I’m the one that was shamed. And then there was this one instance where I just I was a really good kid as well. Like, I was quiet. I was quite fearful of authority and I was super sensible. But there was just one moment in my youth where I was like, I’m going to go and ask these twin boys in my class to go and get naked with me in the woods that we;re not allowed to go in at school. That’s an absolute.
Jameela [00:32:47] A classic.
Rebecca [00:32:47] I was like Come with me to the pair of them. Walked up to them at lunch time.
Jameela [00:32:54] This is the twins, right?
Rebecca [00:32:55] The twins yeah the twins. Come on. Walked up to them I was like follow me. Just sort of led them in there. I was like, Get them off. I just I was obviously to reiterate I was four as well.
Jameela [00:33:10] Good.
Rebecca [00:33:12] But but then there was this we had this moment and I remember it really vividly where suddenly we were there, you know, and just being innocent and being sweet and. I remember just my chest just tightens. And I was like just became very conscious of the fact that it was me that had instigated this and that I bossed them around and that I was this sort of loud girl who had made these really nice sort of beta males like come and do what I do what I said do what I said. And I really panicked about it. I had this real thing and then I went back into the classroom and I just the fear of God in me that everyone was going to find out. They’re going to tell my parents like I was going to be shamed. Or it was just this. Yeah, it was a real pressing thing that no one had ever told me specifically, explicitly. This was not something I should be doing, but it was just as though like, I don’t know, it was just as though I mean, I’m going to use the patriarchy even though I was four I had no idea what that meant, but like it just found its way into my body somehow. I just knew that it was the wrong thing to have done and that it was shameful. Yeah.
Jameela [00:34:18] Right. Although still. And not shaming you at all as your four year old self definitely don’t order anyone to take their clothes off as adults as long as we’re all clear about that.
Rebecca [00:34:29] There was an enthusiastic consent so.
Jameela [00:34:32] Great. That’s fine. I just wanted to make that clear. But a lot of your childhood, you were told or it was implied that you were too much. And then by boys at school and girls at school and you yourself comparing yourself to like the magazines or the pop stars and all these things that chip away at us.
Rebecca [00:34:52] Totally. And then what happens? You find yourself in this relationship and you’re just so used to living and existing in that space.
Jameela [00:35:00] The invisible space.
Rebecca [00:35:01] The invisible space that exists between too much and not enough. And suddenly there you are, and you’re just accustomed to it. And so it’s like, well, this is just life, right? This is this is how I operate. And I, you know, I always say about this particular story and this relationship, I don’t think I was in a toxic relationship. I just thought I was in a relationship.
Jameela [00:35:22] And is that because there isn’t that much information out there? Not really. Like we know the jargon now. We know the term gaslighting. It gets used incorrectly most of the time. It we are probably also by me but we. We don’t really have a lot of really specific stories about it’s not mundane, but compared to the kind of stories of abuse that we hear in the media, there is something mundane about this, right? It’s not dramatic. It’s not eye catching. It’s not there are like there are no physical bruises. We don’t really have a lot of stories about the emotional bruises or the emotional scars that often last even longer.
Rebecca [00:36:01] And I get it, because there’s such space for those stories that are explosive and that do need to be told. However. These stories, you know, of emotional abuse. You know, they take place over years and years. There is actually huge challenges to putting something that is as nuanced as this and insidious as this on a screen anywhere. And it means that. My cultural benchmark for what an abuse victim looks like is Little Mo from EastEnders to I’m absolutely nothing like and who and I think women like that women are in abusive relationships not women not me.
Jameela [00:36:41] I mean, there were times in your relationship where you’d actually see something absolutely heinous happen in the world or on the news or out in the street. And then think to yourself how lucky you were to be with someone.
Rebecca [00:36:49] Absolutely. I’m a lucky girl. Yeah, I have. Haven’t you know, I live in a nice flat in London with my generous boyfriend. He’s is very generous, you know, not emotionally, you know, but like and here I am and I’m hearing awful stories about, you know, fucking women getting stoned to death because they’re carrying a mobile phone, you know, trans women getting burned in their own houses. My friends, who had, you know, a horrible miscarriage. And it’s just like, what have I got to moan about? And when I’m not supported by the narratives that we’re seeing on screen and that we’re, you know, told are abusive, when I am not when my experience isn’t being supported by that, then I have absolutely nothing to cling to and just a feeling that there’s something wrong with me.
Jameela [00:37:33] So as we’re on a stage right now talking about just that, let’s talk about some of the signs to look out for. And obviously, each of these each of these cases are individual, but they are alarmingly similar when you start to get into the weeds and when people start to share that kind of war stories with each other. I know that happened when you and I first met.
Rebecca [00:37:54] Yes. It’s unbelievably cathartic. And like it is astonishing how when you are with these people, you think they’re so smart and then you speak to other people like, oh, they’re all the same. They’re all the same.
Jameela [00:38:06] There’s a fucking book, something that we don’t know about.
Rebecca [00:38:08] Honestly. Like a how to.
Jameela [00:38:09] It’s like we need to get the book because it’s out there, because it’s like a it’s a play by play. One of the, one of the things that I would always ask you to look out for, and I know this definitely happened to you is them starting to say those little comments that try to isolate you from your friends tried to turn you against the people who love you, who can see, who know you, who might be able to tell that your behavior is changing. Did someone fall over? Are you okay? We’re all good. Okay. Fabulous. So just making sure I was like, I’m good, but I’m not that good. No. What were we talking about? Yes. So. So it’s isolating you from your friends. That’s something that happened to you correct?
Rebecca [00:38:53] Yeah your friends aren’t really your friends or this kind of like I can’t even remember, like your friend ever being happy for you and all you ever seem to do is slag them off.
Jameela [00:39:03] Yeah and.
Rebecca [00:39:04] Just something is like.
Jameela [00:39:05] This occurred after a friend had raised concerns to you about your relationship
Rebecca [00:39:10] My friend came up to me and said. You know, my ex was telling an anecdote that didn’t paint me in a very favorable light, shall we say. And my friend came up to me and was like, You don’t deserve that. Like, you deserve to be happy. And I don’t think you are. And. Suddenly that, coupled with like I don’t think they’ve ever been happy for you, is just a good enough reason to go cool well, the onus in my life and in so many lives of women around the world is on romantic relationships. I guess. What’s going to give my mate?
Jameela [00:39:41] Yeah, because you think you’re only going to spend the rest of your life with one person and you’re not. The people you’re going to need the most in your life are going to be your friends. Do not ever, ever sacrifice those relationships. I absolutely did when I was in that abusive relationship, because he told me my friends are making fun of me behind my back. He would say all kinds of things to undermine my trust in people that I’m still friends with now, 19 years later, 19 years later. And he he would do everything he could because he knew that these people would be able to see that my behavior was changing. I was starting to retreat into myself. He told me that I was annoying. Not untrue, I know. But like he was told me I was too loud. He would tell me so many things were wrong with me and constantly nitpicked to me to the point where I would often say like, why are you with me then? Why do you? Why are you staying? If I am all of these terrible things?
Rebecca [00:40:32] I used to say that too, I used to say what am I for? Yeah.
Jameela [00:40:35] And what would he say?
Rebecca [00:40:36] I don’t know. Some shit.
Jameela [00:40:49] It’s weird like it would come to these points. And again, like reading your book, I was like, Did she just steal my story? Because, like, it’s the same and it’s going to be the same for so many of you. And that makes me feel so sad. But you would try and leave because you got sick of it and because you feel disrespected and unloved. And then suddenly out come the waterworks and the drama and the Heathcliff moment where he turns up, you know, begging for you to come back.
Rebecca [00:41:13] He says I need you.
Jameela [00:41:13] He’s like life can’t live without you and boom. He’s found your ego.
Rebecca [00:41:17] I need you.
Jameela [00:41:18] Yeah, that’s the one.
Rebecca [00:41:21] Don’t let anyone ever tell you that they need you because what they’re saying is. I’m going to allow you to take responsibility for me. And taking responsibility for yourself is such a hallmark of a healthy relationship.
Jameela [00:41:34] 100%. And I’ve never heard it put quite like that, and I love that. I agree that we should only be with people that we want and that people should only be with us because they want us. I think need is something really tricky. I’ve never personally. Subscribe to the idea of, you know, not to quote the Spice Girls right now, but like, you know, two become one. I don’t think that you’re two halves of a person and then you become complete, although I love them and I love that song and that video. Yeah, a great video.
Rebecca [00:42:06] It is fabulous you know the deer at the end. Do you remember
Jameela [00:42:08] Great shoot. Yes I do remember the
Rebecca [00:42:09] the baby deer at the end.
Jameela [00:42:14] I really believe it is two whole people coming together and then coexisting in peace and respect.
Rebecca [00:42:21] Totally.
Jameela [00:42:21] I think it is so damaging those half heart necklaces. I want to burn them all because I think that they are setting us up for failure and relying too much on one other person.
Rebecca [00:42:34] Totally. And also when you’re sort of. When the ego gets involved in that way. I mean, I had there’s a passage in the book where I talk about, you know, at first I was desired was probably the best bit. That was really good that bit,
Jameela [00:42:50] You’ve been banging.
Rebecca [00:42:51] All over the world.
Jameela [00:42:51] Yeah yeah, got it, sorry.
Rebecca [00:42:56] First I was desired and then I was wanted. But now I’m needed. Like, now I’m a necessity. And it’s like if I walk, like, if I walked away right now, you wouldn’t be able to survive. That’s the power I have. You know?
Jameela [00:43:12] It’s not just ego, though. It’s also conditioning, especially for women. We’re taught that as your purpose. Your purpose is to nourish and nurture and and and feed and provide. And everyone should, you know, you should be the matriarch. There is this mothering pattern that can happen in a relationship but also fucks the relationship. You have to be very careful of that. You are you this person is not your baby. And and I think that that is very, very important to understand. Why is everyone laughing? I don’t. Did I do it no? Okay. Um. But they. But they aren’t. And I think it’s so important to just maintain your. Your power. I’ve heard that other expression that I don’t particularly like of, you know, like someone’s the the flower and the other person’s the gardener in the relationship. Fuck that.
Rebecca [00:43:59] God, I hate that so much. That’s so lame.
Jameela [00:44:02] I fucking hate that. It’s makes me so angry. Like everyone’s a flower, everyone’s a fucking gardener, all right? They like this idea of subscribing roles. Of course, some people are better than other things in relationships. I’m better at organizing. James can understand the thermostat, and I can’t. That’s fine. But this flower gardener shit is so toxic and again, setting you up for failure. I personally believe in making sure that I’m I’m never going to look for my partner to hold absolutely everything I need from all people just within himself because that’s setting him up for failure it’s setting us up for failure today. That’s why you need your friends around, because you are allowed to and you can and you should take the things that you need from multiple sources and be the different versions of yourself that you have that we all have with different people.
Rebecca [00:44:51] Can’t be all things to one person. And like, I know what it’s like when you first fall in love with someone and like, you know, healthy or not, you do you want to spend all your time with them. It’s lovely. Like it’s completely lush I love being in love like at the beginning. And you do want that person to be around constantly. But I’m telling you, if I could give you a piece of advice, just don’t. Like. Just don’t like, don’t cancel on your friend because you wanna stay in bed with your new boyfriend or like, whoever, like, just go. Because sometimes I think in matters of the heart and I love especially, it’s like recognizing what you want to do short term and what’s best long term and just do the long term.
Jameela [00:45:29] 100% That’s such that such valuable advice where the fuck you 20 years ago when I needed you. Oh, my goodness. There was an incident earlyish on within the relationship in which you found Facebook messages to another woman that were deeply, deeply inappropriate.
Rebecca [00:45:52] Yes right.
Jameela [00:45:55] There in kind of really began the gaslighting right at first he was accountable but then suddenly from having shared computers and shared passwords, suddenly it was separate computers.
Rebecca [00:46:07] Yeah.
Jameela [00:46:08] And seperate passwords. And it went very quickly from I’m sorry to what were you doing checking.
Rebecca [00:46:14] This is so, so common. I can’t even tell you. Where have we found this narrative where a woman feeling instinctively like something is going on with her partner and checking and finding out that there is and her being the psycho. Like. What the fuck? Honestly, it’s.
Jameela [00:46:37] Someone clicked so hard they must have dislocated their arm.
Rebecca [00:46:38] It makes my blood boil. Exactly. It honestly, it makes my. It’s making my blood boil just sitting here so. Yeah, back at the beginning of our relationship, we’re about nine months into our relationship. Everything was great. Everything was fucking great. Nothing had changed. Nothing had slowed down like it was just brilliant. And then I went onto our shared laptop, logged into Facebook, automatically came up and saw these messages and I was like, Who the fuck is this person? Like, who’s Mia? And then look through. And they were explicit messages where they had arranged to meet up at one of his gigs and have sex in the toilets. And it’s like, Are you fucking kidding me? And then I call him up and I’m like, Who’s Mia. And he’s like, Who? Piece of shit. Anyway. At which point I was like, Cool, maybe you need to check your Facebook and see you never and left. And then all that week it’s just like, Please, please hear me out. Please hear me out like I love you and I don’t want this to end. This is just crazy.
Jameela [00:47:38] Didint’ mean anything. Just messages.
Rebecca [00:47:39] Exactly. Just messages never happens, you know? And I was always drunk. It was a one off drunken mistake I’m truly sorry for which incidentally, was his official statement after the Strictly episode.
Jameela [00:47:50] Sorry. It’s not funny.
Rebecca [00:47:52] It is funny. It’s like, Come on, man. Change the script, geez. What do you think I’m going to do. Not say anything like?I wrote a damn book about it.
Jameela [00:48:01] I’m sorry. A bestselling. A bestselling book. A best selling book in which Emma fucking Thompson gave a quote. Like, you win, you win.
Rebecca [00:48:14] But anyway, so I was like, You know what? Everyone does make mistakes, and what am I going to do? Am I just going to be stubborn for stubborns sake here. Like, I do love this person and I do want to be in love and I do see a future with him. So I forgave him. We just carried on. And then gradually. I can’t put my finger on exactly when it happened but over time, you sent explicit messages to another woman on Facebook became What were you doing on Facebook anyway? Looking at my messages. Which then became separate laptops and passwords that I wasn’t told, and lectures on the importance of privacy. And just stuff that happens all the damn time. And guess what? Like as we were talking about earlier, you know, because of our conditioning and because women are conditioned for codependency like they are, they they estimate that something like 90% of it’s a US study. People in the US exhibit signs of being in codependent relationships.
Jameela [00:49:16] What does that mean? Codependent relationship?
Rebecca [00:49:18] It means that you actually are so entwined that you can’t, you can’t, you can’t function. It’s also about accommodating a lot of instances, especially with women, is about accommodating your partner. So minimizing yourself in order that they take up the space, like my minimizing. But the way that that works with me is minimizing my achievements because I don’t want to emasculate my partner, you know, agreeing to sex even without checking in with myself, whether that’s something that I want to do. Because he’s up for it. So might as well.
Jameela [00:49:49] It’s a complicated gray area because you sort of feel a bit like you’re molesting yourself. You know what I mean, when you agree to something that you don’t really want to do,.
Rebecca [00:49:56] Yeah it is! It is!
Jameela [00:49:56] If you’re not being pressured, you’re doing it just because you’re like, well, I’m not. I want him to go off with someone else, so I should just do it anyway.
Rebecca [00:50:01] It’s I agree. Like, I talk about it in terms of my self violation. Like I talk about in fact as an instance in the book about codependent traits outside of relationships, outside of romantic relationships where you can still exhibit them just with other people. There’s an instance where this guy comes that I met on an app, I think I met him on Tinder and he comes over and I don’t want him there and I don’t want him in my house and the no is just stuck in my throat, you know. And so that is a codependent trait because I’m not voicing myself because there’s a presence here that I’m accommodating and I write in the book, you know, and I went, you know, I went to bed with this guy, performed like willingness. And that is my fault. Like, I did that to me. And that was I mean, that was definitely my dark night of the Soul moment where I was like, Wow, that was when I had this eureka moment about that accountability we were talking about earlier where I was like, Oh, it doesn’t matter that that strictly actor was a massive coward and a prick. It doesn’t matter that like this other guy that I was seeing had no emotional language. It doesn’t matter that my first boyfriend was sort of a loser. What actually, the truth the fact of the matter is, the problem is that I do not believe I deserve better than that. And that is when you start taking responsibility for your life and taking accountability and going now, it will never happen again.
Jameela [00:51:30] Yeah. And stop waiting for other people to fill that void. You have to fill it yourself.
Rebecca [00:51:35] You have to. Otherwise, what’s the alternative I’m just going to find myself in this over and over again.
Jameela [00:51:40] We’ve both been called crazy in our abusive relationships so many times. Why is it that crazy is the thing that has mostly resorted to being given as a label to women. Other than history, other than the whole of history and the whole of medical psychiatric history, other than that, in which if you were even just gay, you could be locked up in an asylum for the rest of your life.
Rebecca [00:52:02] Yeah.
Jameela [00:52:03] Is that basically are we still dealing with the ghosts of that past in which women have just been told any mood swing, any desire to stop having sex any.
Rebecca [00:52:14] Yeah.
Jameela [00:52:14] And any of. Yeah. Anything that we want that isn’t what we’ve been told we’re allowed is a sign that we are insane. Are these just the remnants is this the debris from that.
Rebecca [00:52:25] I mean, the short answer is probably. Next? No, what I actually think is that, you know, the interesting question that lies even deeper than that.
Jameela [00:52:40] Sorry. I’m joking. Go on.
Rebecca [00:52:42] Sorry. How Tory party was that.
Jameela [00:52:47] No no I love it.
Rebecca [00:52:51] No. Is is why. Why is it that women were called crazy in the first place? I can’t imagine that like, you know, women in ancient Greece were any sort of, you know, wild or doing any more sort of not baggy things than any of us are doing at the moment. But they were sort of they were just given this label and actually. The only explanation I can possibly give is that men are terrified of women and how powerful women are like. I really think that is the case. And when you’re looking at things like, you know, the divine feminine and you go back and you think about like tantra and how women were just like absolutely idolized, I mean, revered. We’re talking a thousand and thousands of years ago, obviously, but like women, you know, fucking hell like we come ten times harder than men. I mean, like we. We we give life. Like we carry life in us, you know. And men were always seen as just the kind of thing that helped us along. On our journey.
Jameela [00:53:57] And by the way, I think that that’s a bit sad, right? Like, I think that part of why there is this divide between men and women is partially because our relationships have been so devalued. I, I think it’s so upsetting that men for the longest time have felt like their only need is. I didn’t mean for this to rhyme, but the seed, you know, that that’s all that they’re good for is to, you know, protect and forage and then seed. And it’s like, well, now we have Uber Eats. We have doors with locks and windows and there aren’t that many tigers around. And so we’re kind of okay, we’ve learned how to put our, you know, keys in between our fingers when we walk home, you know, we’re generally much more independent than we’ve ever been. And so therefore, now there’s this feeling of redundancy that they don’t need to have, because a lot of my best friends are men. And and none of those relationships, whether I wanted them to be, was sexual. It’s not very, not very smooth. I’m very bad at that. But anyway, enough about me. Men are great collaborators, and they can be a great source of. Of joy and friendship and and creation. I they’re so, so far beyond just these things where they need to serve us, to fight for us. It’s like we could just have great friendships and there just aren’t that many stories about great friendships. Every fucking film, about a great friendship, they always get together at the fucking end. It always ends up being about sex. It always ends up being about fucking relationships. There just no, there’s nowhere near enough stories unless the man is gay between a man and a woman.
Rebecca [00:55:47] Yep.
Jameela [00:55:47] And that is fucking all of us up, because then they feel completely undervalued. And that, I think, leads to an insecurity and a fear that they’re they’re being wiped out. Women are now having, you know, there’s a menu of sperm donors they can pick. They don’t even need you for that anymore. So that’s that’s all I think is just potentially that that’s part of it. I’m not saying, oh, poor everyone or poor man. I’m just saying that we have to fix the narrative around how we coexist with one another and extend that beyond this very arbitrary, old fashioned bullshit of everything is just about love.
Rebecca [00:56:25] I completely agree. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I mean, masculinity is a really interesting topic, I think, at the moment because we’re just kinda I mean, we’re just figuring out how masculinity exists in everyone, regardless of gender. And actually that, that that’s sort of when that’s out of balance, then that’s a problem. And of course, what you get when lots of people wrongly assume that feminism is about women taking over man as opposed to just kind of leveling up and is you got this whole faction of society, especially men look at incels, for God sake, you just go over to this like, you know, little, little pocket over there and start hating women and becoming sort of deciding to become more men. I’m going to be more of a man, you know, and they completely eradicate the feminine from them in that instance. And we all know now we’re finding out that actually we’ve got feminine and masculine and both and both of them in us, and it’s just about finding that balance. And like, if everyone’s doing that, then what’s the what’s the trouble? So when you start denying those bits of yourself that everything goes to shit.
Jameela [00:57:33] And we don’t need to prescribe the roles. Also, just like slightly aside, I recently found out on this same very podcast what the term is for an Indian Incel did you know, did anyone know that there’s a different term? It’s pretty fucking offensive. Are you ready? It’s a currycel.
Rebecca [00:57:48] No, please.
Jameela [00:57:49] Didn’t make that up. That’s real, that’s real. People looking at each other in disbelief and they call themselves that. Pretty extraordinary.
Rebecca [00:57:57] Okay, fine.
Jameela [00:58:02] I just had to because if I have to live with that knowledge, so do you. Okay. I can’t walk around with this shit in my head all day alone. What would you say out of all of this has been the greatest lesson for you?
Rebecca [00:58:22] Oh, I’ve got lots of. Lots of sentences fighting for attention in my brain. The greatest lesson for me is what? We don’t have. We don’t have a definition of love in our society. There is no way to define it because it represents so many different things. That. Of course, that means that. Love and abuse can coexist because you get. But I know he she they love me while that’s happening at the same time. But love has to comprise has to comprise of respect. Responsibility for yourself. Open and honest communication. Affection. Care, trust. None of which exist in an abusive dynamic.
Jameela [00:59:26] Hundred percent. And would you mind telling us about the standing in front of the mirror in the nude? Because I think even though I still haven’t yet had the courage to do it, we could all learn something from it. And maybe we’ll all go home tonight and just get fresh.
Rebecca [00:59:44] Get a little bit fresh. Yeah, I just had this moment. Really. I mean, I was. I was in my in my bedroom the day after, so I so I didn’t actually get to this point in the story, so. When my ex-boyfriend and his dance partner were on the front pages of the newspapers on that Sunday, the following day, I wrote a statement about his gaslighting and I just put it online. I didn’t have any followers really at that time and was just like, I just need to do this for me because I’ve been voiceless in that relationship for such a long time. Like, I can’t stay voiceless moving forward. I have to reclaim that for myself. So I put it online anyway. It went viral and was literally like on the news like an hour after it went out. And then the next day there I am. I’m sort of existing inside my laptop, like the next day sitting on my bed and my in the attic room that I was staying at my friend’s house. And something just, like, took over me and I’m like a zombie, like, wearing these pajamas that my friend gave me I walked over to this mirror. And I just looked in it and I thought. Right. I’m just going to look at myself, you know, like, I’m just going to this. I’m all I have, you know, this body. It is all I’ve got. So it might make sense to kind of try and start liking it because otherwise I have to live every single day for the rest of my life not. And that feels a bit impossible, actually. So I was like right, okay. I’m just going to go through from toe to head, start at the bottom akk the way up. All of the things that I tell myself about my body all the time.
Jameela [01:01:27] Can you imagine anything more terrifying?
Rebecca [01:01:28] Yeah. Like, you know, it was awful, like, you know, and you’re there and I’m like, oh, you know, I old pedicure, that’s shit I need to get that sorted out. I never like my ankles and I’ve got this weird sort of moles on my calves and my knees look like a sort of fat man’s face and like, just going all the way up to the top. And I was like, right, right. Be objective here because that and as well, it all happens simultaneously. It’s not like I just, you know, like a list that I go through. It’s not anything I have to think about. It’s just like a big sonic boom of below standard, you know, just comes at me and I was like, Right, okay, well, let’s try and be objective about this, shall we? What is actually wrong with me? Nothing. There is nothing wrong with me.
Jameela [01:02:18] Amen.
Rebecca [01:02:23] All I’m hearing. All I’m hearing is the voice of a thousand magazines like. That. If I had avoided those my whole life, I’m sure they would have found another way to get into my body. But I’d think about myself completely differently. Has nothing to do with what I think of myself. Absolutely not. And then once I started doing that, I mean, it’s not been easy it’s not like overnight I was like, that’s a fabulous body! Like, you know, like this isn’t what happens, but it’s just meant that I just can be more compassionate to myself when I realize that those opinions have nothing to do with me.
Jameela [01:02:56] And this is part of the safeguarding, right? This is part of the way that you protect yourself by starting to love and respect every part of yourself is actually quite a vital exercise.
Rebecca [01:03:09] Oh, my God. And it’s hard work.
Jameela [01:03:11] It is hard work, but it’s doable and it’s possible. And and I know people who’ve read your book, who’ve done it and found ways to find compassion and love for all the bits that they were taught to hate. Because I think slowly but surely, we’re really starting to piece together that it was truly just a group of like sort of 17 men who are profiting from our self-hatred, and they are deliberately making us feel like shit because only unhappy people go out and buy stuff and so they keep telling us things are broken so that they can sell us things to fix the thing that was never broken. Fuck these men and I.
Rebecca [01:03:45] Woo!
Jameela [01:03:47] And I think that the more we can start to look at it as there is a whole industry that profits immensely off of our self-hatred, there’s like a fun fuck you rebellion that comes with just being mindful.
Rebecca [01:04:00] It’s very fun.
Jameela [01:04:00] Yeah, exactly. And you start to throw those self-hatred thoughts in fuck it bucket. Because I almost imagine them. I almost imagine them as like a committee in my head now. And it’s all 70 year old white men, 17 of them around a board room table. Stay with me here. And they are. Every time I think an evil thought about myself or say something bad about myself or even another woman, whatever, they make a bit more money. Like another dollar goes up at their board table. And when I think of it like that, I get so fucking pissed off. But then it feels amazing to say no. To say no to that learned shame that is based on absolutely nothing. Our body types go in and out of fashion all the time. At some point, every single woman in this room or femme presenting person has been the body ideal. It just might not be the right era for you.
Rebecca [01:04:58] Oh my God.
Jameela [01:04:58] What kind of bullshit is that.
Rebecca [01:04:59] Honestly. Honestly, I always say it like, if you don’t like a bit of your body, just be patient. Because I’m telling you, I spend my whole high school trying to disguise the fact that, like, I’m packing junk, like I have a big ass right over my whole high school years. I was just so ashamed. I was desperate, like no one to notice me. And now I’m like, quids in like. What a lol. like, you’re welcome.
Jameela [01:05:34] I’ve had the exact I’ve had the exact opposite realization where I’ve realized I will never have a bottom. And I’ve changed the lyrics to Flat Bottomed Girls You make the rocking round go round because it’s just important that we just give up spot really hurt my fucking knees, guys? Okay, so. But you just keep it, all right?
Rebecca [01:05:54] In ten years, you’ll be perfect.
Jameela [01:05:58] Oh god oh that’s so depressing. But this is part of the self-defense, right? We learned about physical self-defense. Self-defense of the mind is the thing that will carry you through till your dying days and building yourself up, protecting yourself, learning how to love yourself, learning how to spot the weaknesses you have for praise or external validation. All these things that maybe you didn’t get from a parent that you go out looking for outside in the world, all those things leave you vulnerable. And what this book is, is, is so little about that affair or not it’s so little about that relationship with that prick, it’s mostly about going back and identifying those now I want to say something really profound because I forgotten the words. But I’m not I’m not about to say something really profound, but those weaknesses, basically, and finding them figuring out exactly where they came from and going back to fix them before you allow yourself to be vulnerable again. There’s a line in the book that stopped me in my tracks that was that said. And I am going to paraphrase this so horribly so then fix it immediately after I get it wrong. Okay.
Rebecca [01:07:14] Okay, I’m listening.
Jameela [01:07:15] But if you wore your heart outside of your body, would you be more careful about who you let hold it?
Rebecca [01:07:23] Something like that. Yeah.
Jameela [01:07:25] Fuck Ballocks. Go on, say it properly.
Rebecca [01:07:27] I know you think I can’t remember. It’s really big.
Jameela [01:07:34] It is. But that sentiment really got me because I was like, I have never thought about that. I have. I love so easily and so wholly sometimes. And as I’m getting older, I’m sad that part of that has been chipped away by the people who’ve taken my heart and abused it and. And put it in the wrong places.
Rebecca [01:07:54] Chucked it In the corner.
Jameela [01:07:55] Yeah. And they’ve they’ve made me fearful of other people. And that’s really sad. And I’m trying to work on that separately. But thinking about it like that in not too fearful a way I think is really important. Can you expand on the thought?
Rebecca [01:08:07] Yeah of course, I mean, I like it’s just, you know, imagine if it was something, you know, something tangible that you had in your hands that you could go up to someone and give it to like. Would you give would you give that to someone who you thought was mentally unstable? Would you give that to someone who you thought was had violent tendencies would like you?
Jameela [01:08:26] That’s not a that’s not like if someone has a mental illness, you can still love them and give them your heart. It’s just that if someone has an instability that’s going to harm you, if someone is.
Rebecca [01:08:34] Absolutely. What I meant was if you if it felt as though they were going to be careless or disrespectful with it, like, would you do that?
Jameela [01:08:42] Especially because I’m mentally ill, and I really want my boyfriend still love me. But.
Rebecca [01:08:44] I guess, I guess that like I just as a concept, I think it’s probably quite important that we start thinking about those things because. In sort of offering our love and ourselves and our truth. And here we are to these people who we’re unsure of it’s exactly the same thing. It’s the same thing as giving it to someone who, you know, chucks over their chest, over their shoulder or just forgets about it or like.
Jameela [01:09:14] Or tells it it’s a psycho.
Rebecca [01:09:16] And it tells it’s a psycho. Exactly. Fucking chucks it against the fucking wall. Just to see what you’ll do, you know.
Jameela [01:09:23] 100%.
Rebecca [01:09:23] Yeah.
Jameela [01:09:24] Well, I would like to now take these questions to the audience, because I know some of you would like to ask Rebecca or even me some questions. So we have a mic that’s coming around now, and I would love to hear from you. Oh, there’s a question there. Hello.
Speaker 4 [01:09:41] Hi um. My question is, um. First of all, um. Loved every moment of this.
Rebecca [01:09:45] Aw thank you. That’s so nice.
Speaker 4 [01:09:50] Um. How would you suggest? Um, if you say, if you feel like you’re in an unhealthy place and an unhealthy relationship and that you feel that perhaps the other person they don’t they don’t they don’t see what they’re doing as being toxic even after you’re speaking and you actually kind of feel sorry for them, perhaps like you trying to educate them, make them aware of what things you know is really contributing to unhealthy things in the relationship. Like, how would you approach that? Like, I know you you want to you want to educate but also have to prioritize yourself.
Rebecca [01:10:26] I mean, yeah. Like, that’s such a good way of putting it. What I will just say, just as a caveat of this, is that I’m no expert. I’m very much a, you know, romantic philanthropist. But I. I definitely I’m not anyone that can that can talk about this from a place of education. But what I will say is that. It’s a it’s that priority and of yourself. And for me, it was always. Feeling a disconnect with my intuition and from actively ignoring my intuition also. Because your body knows, like your body knows when you’re in a dynamic that isn’t serving you, your body just like it will try and speak to you like whether that’s, you know, actual. Sort of dialog or by being in pain or.
Jameela [01:11:18] I get kidney stones.
Rebecca [01:11:20] Yeah, I guess I get like I had when I was, when I was in this relationship. Like I had back problems. I never, ever had back problems and I haven’t since, you know, there’s just stuff that I was choosing to actively ignore. But you’re right. You’re right it is important that we all have a dialog about this. It is important that we educate one another about what this is because we don’t you know, I would I would hazard a guess. I mean, I’m no expert, as I say. I would hazard a guess that 100% of people don’t wants to be identified as abusive. Like, you know, people just don’t want that. But it’s I guess it’s just when you’re having a conversation about stuff, do they want to hear it? Are they open to it? Is it going to carry on despite the conversation having happened and just being really honest about that?
Jameela [01:12:06] I think the most important question is, are you happy? Are you happy in the relationship? Because life is so fucking short and we really do deserve to be so, so happy if you are going to deal with monogamy. How dare you monogamy. If you are going to say out of all these billions of people in the world that I could sleep with. I mean, maybe someone’s got more game than me could sleep with then. If I’m going to make plans around you, if I’m going to not go on holiday with my friends for a month because of you, if I’m going to be so considerate all of the time, you better be fucking worth it. It’s so important to look at it from that perspective. It’s a huge sacrifice. And so if someone isn’t doing, in my opinion, and also like, I don’t know who this person is, I don’t want to come after me if you break up with them because I said this, but if someone isn’t willing to do everything they can, if someone knows they’re making you uncomfortable and you say, I feel uncomfortable, and they do not take that as a red alert to go and do everything they can to make you feel better and to make themselves be the best version of them for you. Who has to coexist with them in a relationship, then I’m not sure that person’s ready to be in a relationship. To be perfectly honest. You deserve happiness and peace, especially when the world is fucking hard enough outside of your home. Inside the bedroom. Inside the home. You deserve to feel well and safe and heard and believed and cherished. And so that’s all I can say to that. Also, not an expert in literally anything.
Rebecca [01:13:44] Heaven. Absolute heaven. Yeah. What she said.
Jameela [01:13:51] Would anyone else like to ask two non-experts a question? Oh, the hands are flying up. Hello.
Speaker 5 [01:13:58] Hi. Hi, Jameela. It’s a wonderful privilege to be able to look at your face and say, I fucking love you so much.
Jameela [01:14:05] Oh, thanks. Oh, thank you so, so much. Thank you.
Speaker 5 [01:14:09] Thank you. I have a question that’s maybe it’s about relationships, but it’s a little bit on the flip side. So I feel like I’m in a really wonderful relationship and I feel really, really lucky. First ever started dating. 26 I beat you on that. So I am. My numbers are. They are what they are. And I just feel like.
Jameela [01:14:30] Mate I’m trying to include screen kisses now in my number, to, to beef up my number. Okay. Go on.
Speaker 5 [01:14:39] I, I want to know if you if either of you think there is life beyond formative years filled with trauma, it feels like all of those most important years where was so trauma informed and all of the worst things. But model to me relationship wise, I’m being 32 now and being in this wonderful relationship and being with a man who, you know, I’ve watched him go from wonderful guy always to now raging feminist solely because of the podcasts that we have gotten to know through you. So thank you again. I feel like I’m constantly getting in my own way and I just feel like it’s not me, it’s not logical me, it’s not current me. It’s the that the all the stuff that happened in the past. So do you have any advice or thoughts on this?
Jameela [01:15:29] I mean, I, I have I have something just because I had such a traumatic childhood that I thought I would never be able to survive it. And I often have tried to tap out of, you know, my life, which I’ve stopped doing lately. But I’m glad that’s hilarious to you. But I, I never thought that I would feel okay even. I never thought I could even have an okay day. I’ve been so mentally ill for so much of my life that I it’s it’s the person I am now. I didn’t even think I could ever possibly get to just as someone who can basically function and remember to brush her teeth pretty much every day. There are therapies out there for you, obviously so fucking inaccessible. This country does not spend anywhere near fucking enough on mental health and if we did, the world would be a much better place and every single system within this country would be better. But they don’t seem to understand. I had a therapy called EMDR, which is eye movement desensitization reprocessing therapy. If you can ever, ever access that therapy in any way and it is on the NHS now, I strongly recommend it because it’s the thing that for me at least was able to finally sever the tie between my memories and my, my memories from them and my feelings now. And so that was something that helped me alongside self forgiveness and doing the work. And I don’t have long enough to go through all the ways, but I promise I’ll keep doing podcasts on them. I have. I have truly been the maddest person I’ve ever met, and I mean that truly in a very literal way and colloquial term, insane. And I’ve gotten to a point where I’m here now a relatively functional person. You will get better. You absolutely can. You will not be haunted by these ghosts forever, I promise. that’s all. Anyone else? Hello? Hello.
Speaker 6 [01:17:22] Just wanted to say, firstly, it’s really surreal to watch and hear this outside of my phone. Like I. I keep looking up and being like, is this like, what is this?
Jameela [01:17:32] Mate it’s insane to do this with dressed from the waist down. I’ve been doing this. I’ve been doing this on Zoom constantly.
Rebecca [01:17:41] I listen to this usually half naked also.
Jameela [01:17:42] With my dog giving itself a blowjob next to me like I can’t believe I’m here with all of you. I thought these numbers were fake. Go on sorry.
Speaker 6 [01:17:51] That’s incredible, yeah I also love both of your works. So my questions a bit I guess also kind of on the flip side, coming from someone who’s in an interracial relationship. And it’s my first relationship ever. When you’re surrounded by people who like has a very loving and very caring on your side, but maybe on your partner side, you have got those toxic people surrounding you. They’re not needlessly toxic, but they’re people who around them are. How would you go about dealing with that without. I don’t know like, how do you not become the toxic person by being like, don’t talk to them or whatever.
Jameela [01:18:23] You don’t have to fucking talk to them.
Rebecca [01:18:25] Yeah. You don’t. Yeah, you definitely don’t have to.
Jameela [01:18:30] No. This is what boundaries is all about. Yeah. The B word.
Rebecca [01:18:32] The B-word.
Jameela [01:18:33] We love the B-word.
Rebecca [01:18:34] My favorite word that is the hardest thing for me to do in the whole world.
Jameela [01:18:38] Yeah, absolutely.
Rebecca [01:18:39] Whenever I create a boundary. I burst into tears.
Jameela [01:18:41] Oh, really?
Rebecca [01:18:41] It’s awful.
Jameela [01:18:43] Really I practically cum every time I create a boundary.
Rebecca [01:18:47] Live [inaudible]
Jameela [01:18:50] I, I would say to you genuinely, if you are being disrespected by anyone, whether they’re related to you or not, whether they’re related to someone you love or not, you are you are not obligated to spend any of your valuable life time with those people being disrespected. That is ridiculous. That’s fully on them. And the more we allow people to treat us like this, the more they will continue to do so and they will continue to push that boundary even further. So just disengage. You’re not having sex with these people. I hope.
Speaker 6 [01:19:20] No no definitely not.
Rebecca [01:19:23] And also, you know, just to add to that, like you can you can be boundaried and do that with compassion for them and like with kindness in your heart. But like it’s it’s kindness for your self and respect for yourself with which you’re doing it. Not in a kind of like I sever all ties because I can be arsed, you know. But I think that step stepping away with with patience and goodwill is actually just like something that we need to do far more of.
Jameela [01:19:49] Absolutely. I’ve literally cut most of my own family off and you know, we’re blood relatives. But like, if you can’t meet me where I’m at, then you really don’t deserve my time because life is very, very short. If you feel up to it, maybe offer them the opportunity to change by telling them how you how they make you feel. I would always have faith in people at least, and just extend that orr. But if it is met by being smacked down, then you are out of there. You could be shopping.
Rebecca [01:20:15] This is so true.
Jameela [01:20:17] Exactly. Great. Fabulous.
Speaker 6 [01:20:19] Thank you so much.
Jameela [01:20:19] No worries. And you in the dungarees down here. Hello.
Speaker 7 [01:20:24] I’ll keep it quick.
Jameela [01:20:25] Okay.
Speaker 7 [01:20:25] It’s a three parter.
Jameela [01:20:27] Jesus fucking Christ.
Rebecca [01:20:28] Right ok. That’s a contradiction in terms.
Jameela [01:20:30] Okay.
Speaker 7 [01:20:30] The first thing is a shameful confession that I’ve never actually listened to this podcast before, but it’s been fucking amazing. So thank you.
Jameela [01:20:36] Oh thanks.
Speaker 7 [01:20:38] The other. The second part is an observation just to underline your comments on accountability. As someone who spent like the best part of ten years of their dating life going into relationships where you wear your heart on your sleeve and like, why does everyone take advantage of me? And why does every relationship last three months? I think accountability is a really important thing that you can’t overexaggerate. But the question is. See I told you it’d be quick. Is you mentioned being at a wedding and the friend confronting you saying that you deserve better. Number one, are you friends with this person? And number two, how would you suggest confronting someone to say.
Rebecca [01:21:17] Great.
Speaker 7 [01:21:18] You’re in an abusive relationship and you deserve an.
Rebecca [01:21:20] Awesome, awesome question. Well, firstly, that friend is both an extremely old, extremely good friend that I opted to cut out in order to keep my relationship alive. And obviously, the second that that relationship, you know, ended in a massive bin fire and that was that was the friend the next day, of course, like called me out. So. So the more than saw my ex on the front pages and just called me straight away that just. [audience applause] Yeah. Of course. Of course.
Jameela [01:21:48] And just and please also, just in case your hugely unfortunate binfire doesn’t happen to be on the news, so you might feel embarrassed of reaching out to those friends and saying, You’re right, please don’t let your pride get in the way. Please reach out to those people because they loved you enough to tell you. And it takes so much to take that risk because when you do tell someone you are concerned about their relationship, you run the risk of making them isolate themselves and they will shut you out and not tell you details because I don’t want to confirm what you see.
Rebecca [01:22:21] That said, calling it out was a recipe for disaster for me. It was always going to end with bye, you know, because I was working so hard and it wasn’t just about like being in love with that person. I sort of don’t think I was really in love with him for a good year. And, you know, it may, if not more. It was my investment, like my investment and my pride in making this thing work. So actually all my but any friend that would have challenged it was just, you know, getting in the way of that. But. Actually, it’s just it’s just about being a good, kind, compassionate friend when, you know, you will if you’ve got a friend who is in a relationship like this, I mean, they say, why work with Women’s Aid sometimes? And they say that, you know, they say there are no visible signs for emotional abuse, but there are because you can see it in someone’s eyes, like the light is just gone, you know, and the people who see that most clearly are the ones that love you the most because they see the difference and. So it’s just about don’t be afraid to ask questions about your friends relationships. Don’t pry, obviously. And you know, you don’t have to be aggressive or confronting, but don’t be afraid to, like, have a dialog about our relationships, like how things are going, like how they’re feeling. Just make sure that those conversations are being had because you just know you just know when someone’s bullshitting you. And at which point then there’s the decision to go like, do you feel happy? You know, like because you deserve that. But empowering, you know, making them feel as though if the worst came to the worst, then, you know, their life wouldn’t be over because the relationship is. And also, you can talk to Women’s Aid. Women’s Aid isn’t just for people who are experiencing, they also take loads and loads of calls and emails and they’re already cool there you know, and like about what to do. And they can speak and you can give them information about what you know about your friend’s relationship and they can sort of, you know, bespoke it. Yeah.
Jameela [01:24:22] When I was younger, I used to be the person who would just blurt out everything that I see. I think you can still see traits of that in me. I think if you follow me online, you see that that jumps out occasionally. But I used to get into a lot of trouble because often they would then even break up with that person and then I would say it all, and then they’d fucking get back together and then I would get cut out. So now the best thing you can do, unless you think your friend is in imminent danger, and even then be careful in how you approach it so that you don’t get cut out. Just try to be so there for them. Be there, be there at the ready with the net for when this shit inevitably falls apart. Because it always does.
Rebecca [01:25:01] It always does.
Jameela [01:25:02] Because then you will have all the information to be able to swoop them up and protect them and stop them from going back. And it’s really frustrating, is a very hard position to be in, but from doing it the wrong way every time. Before I turned 30, um, try that and good luck to whoever that is, if they exist. We don’t have time for any more questions. And I’m so sorry. But, Rebecca, is there any last thought you would like to leave everyone with?
Rebecca [01:25:34] Do you know what? I’m going to I’m going to just reiterate your amazing answer to one of these questions, which is that life is so fucking short and you are fabulous and you deserve to be happy and don’t waste your precious energy on anything that is not making you so. Yeah, just. Just go for it.
Jameela [01:26:01] The fabulous Rebecca Humphries, everyone. Do you bow after a live podcast do we bow? Just before you all leave, I want to say that I have honestly not been afraid of many things as much as I’ve been afraid of tonight. And I, I, I’ve been petrified. And thank you for being so welcoming and so warm and so kind and so excellent to my brilliant guest. One last time for Rebecca Humphries.
Rebecca [01:26:43] Thank you so much.
Jameela [01:26:45] Bye. Get home safe!
Rebecca [01:26:47] Bye, you guys.
Jameela [01:26:54] Thank you so much for listening to this week’s episode. I Weigh with Jameela Jamil is produced and researched by myself, Jameela Jamil, Erin Finnegan and Kimmie Gregory. It is edited by Andrew Carson. And the beautiful music you are hearing now is made by my boyfriend James Blake. If you haven’t already, please rate review and subscribe to the show. It’s a great way to show your support. We also have a bonus series exclusively on Stitcher Premium called Ask Jameela Anything. Check it out. You can get a free month of Stitcher Premium by going stitcher.com/premium and using the promo code I Weigh. Lastly over at I Weigh, we would love to hear from you and share what you weigh at the end of this podcast. You can leave us a voicemail at 18186605543 or email us what you weigh at IWeighpodcast@gmail.com. And now we would love to pass the mic to one of our fabulous listeners.
Listener [01:27:46] Hi, Jameela. My name is Raffaella Mancuso and I am from the Great White North of Canada. And what do I weigh? I weigh the amount of care and love I have for other people. I weigh the passion I have to help people who are struggling with their mental health or body image. I weigh that my desire to make a difference in the world. So thank you so much for doing this and hopefully we can talk again soon. Goodbye.
November 27, 2023
This week, Jameela is joined by writer, broadcaster and feminist organizer Clementine Ford to discuss the historical roots of marriage as a tool of patriarchal control, the illusions surrounding modern matrimony and the modern marketing machinery that sustains its myth.
November 20, 2023
Jameela is joined by beauty culture critic Jessica DeFino in a candid conversation about where her current research and journalism is taking her, after years of covering a multi-billion dollar beauty industry for major women’s magazines & beauty apps in the US.