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letters from katherine

Just because your partnership with your love is fine... perhaps working like clock work... doesn't mean that you don't have to infuse it with a little passion here or there.

In most relationships I've encountered, whether as a coach, a therapist or a friend, there are moments that my friends and clients say: "Yeah, it's good. We're good. But, I am a little bored." Or they say "We work well together. But, I would love a little more." Or, they say "I don't want to rock the boat. We co-exist, but I'd love something..."

And often, years after committing to each other, these humans and their partners are living in the patterns they created years ago, with the same routines, the same conversations, the same responsibilities, the same parenting duties, the same sexual positions and the same dates.

The rut is real.

And deep down, wanting more fuels midnight longings and wistful feelings.

Wanting more but not knowing what to do ignites missed glances and un-approached touches.

Just because your relationship is fine doesn't mean you don't have to work on it.

And honestly, with the intense feelings and chemicals of new love long gone, you actually have to work a bit more.

There are many layers that go into fueling an intimate relationship. There are a lot of things that contribute to the art of intimacy.

Often we are bored in our relationships because we are bored with ourselves. We don't know how to change the routines or patterns without having to deal with some sort of mess or fall out. And, honestly we don't have the time or the energy to clean up any messes.

It begins with you. Your turn on. Your passion. Your fuel to the fire. And then, it moves to your lover. And vice versa for them.

Before we begin, I'd like to start with a list of disclaimers. First of all, I am just sharing my opinion. If you know me and would like to have a further conversation about this, feel free to text me. If you don't know me, please just read this as an opinion piece and something to think about. I'm not interested in arguing with you, and I am also not interested in you shaming me for my opinion (I can't believe I have to say that, but in a world where people receive hate for speaking up, it seems warranted.) Also, I've never met Johnny Depp or Amber Heard, and so I won't be offering my opinions on their character. I don't know if he did what she said he did and I don't know if she is what he says she is. And third, I have a bias towards Johnny Depp because I grew up watching his movies and might have had a slight crush on him when I was 13.

I haven't read all of the opinion pieces out there about this trial, but I have seen a few sensationalized tweets, texts and hashtags. "Justice for Johnny." "The Me Too Movement is Dead." I became pulled into the trial about half way through, just like many people. It had enough intrigue for me, as a former therapist, to be curious about the outcome. Knowing exactly what the forensic psychologists and the tests they used made it even more fascinating. In graduate school, I took courses on all of the assessments used and also currently know how to read a finalized report prepared by a psychologist.

And, neither party appeared fully innocent. They both said and did things that were documented that put them both in not the best light. I think to understand the final verdict, you have to listen to the charges of defamation they listed out. But, their proved actions (ones with documentation) leaves both of them with murky sides.

The Depp team did a fantastic job making his case. Like I said, only two people fully know what the truth really is, but I do think Depp's team was organized, thoughtful and well prepared. And the thing that appeared to be missing on the Heard side of things was proof. There were photos, but they seemed doctored. There were reports of vile abuse, but then she was either being photographed or filmed the next day without any marks on her body.

Was she lying? That was the question. That is the question.

If the Me Too Movement was based only on "he said, she said" statements, would that be enough? I don't really think so. I could get mad at my husband and say that he did horrible things to me. My husband has not ever laid a hurtful finger on me or anyone I know. But, if we go by only believing claims of abuse, I'd win.

The "he said, she said" (or whatever gender you want to use) statements have effect if there are multiple people saying them. If there are multiple claims of abuse, it works. But, if one person is saying them? It feels like you need proof.

If looking back on this particular phenomenon does anything, I hope it raises awareness to get help. If someone is being harmed, get help, in the moment. Call the local crisis line. Speak to an advocate (any advocate). Be proactive. Abuse, especially domestic violence, is an insidious topic and there is so much fear around speaking the truth. And, it just may be that Heard was telling the truth (we'll never know for sure, but Depp's team did seem to have a lot of information saying otherwise). In a case like this one, if Heard had any documentation of what she was accusing Depp of, she would have made her point and he would have deserved all that came to him.

If we learn anything from this particular cultural experience, I hope that we expand support for domestic violence and support for people being harmed. I hope that this broadens the awareness of domestic violence, not silence people.

The Me Too Movement (in my own words and experience) was a way to end a culture of misogyny. It was a way to say "yes I've had an experience of harm, hurt or being taken advantage of." The sheer number of people who said "me too" astonished our world.

I think the movement has done some really good things. And now it's time to expand it.

And to bring it all back to leadership, because that's what I do, if you are in a relationship that is abusive- verbally, mentally, emotionally or physically, please find your way out. I know it's hard. I've experienced the hard. And, for me, I didn't even understand the depths of abuse until it was over, because it wasn't physical. But if you think you are, then you are. And, there are people out there who can and want to help you.

The other day I was looking at myself in the mirror and I had this thought…

If I don't fully love myself for me, how can I expect anyone else to?

Self help gurus have been asking this question for forever, but it landed differently in my mind this time.

Can I love myself besides the accolades, besides what I look like, besides the achievements or the identity that I wear, besides all of that… Can I love myself fully? Can I love myself fully for, well, me?

For someone who grew up in a culture where accolades, beauty and achievements were the barometer of love and success, I have a lot of unlearning to do.

This then got me to thinking about the practicalities of the deep, unconditional self love. What does it even look like? What actions am I taking to love myself? And, more importantly, what actions am I taking that show me that I am not loving myself?

For example, when I eat nourishing foods, and I meditate and I get a lot of water and I get good sleep… these are actions that are done in complete love of myself.

And, when I order food that isn't good for my system, or I go on a social media binge late at night, or I don't set clear boundaries for myself, or I am overly critical about the way I look… I know that I am meeting a need within me, but these actions are not necessarily the most self loving. These actions are doing something, whether it's distracting me, numbing me or soothing me. But they aren't necessarily full of what's best for me.

And then the question after that is: If I am not loving myself in full, is it unrealistic to expect that someone else ought to love me in full? If I don't fully love me for me, can someone else fully love me for me? I don't think so.

I think the best example of this is around my body. I recently, in the past year, gained weight. My brainwashing of what a beautiful woman looks like is constantly challenged when I look at myself. I have to do a lot of work in my mind and my soul to remind myself of how beautiful I am and how the patriarchal beauty standards are not something I want to subscribe to. And it's work. But, if I decided to go down that rabbit hole and un-love myself because I am not the size that an industry decided was “beautiful” I think my lover would likely feel the disconnect. How can I expect him to love my body, if I don't?

This is a topic we can dive deeply into. One that we could sit over coffee or tea and talk for hours about.

But today, I want to invite you to think about it. How do you fully love yourself? What actions do you take? And, what actions do you take that feel like they could be love, but they really aren't?

This is the intimacy work.

With love,


Katherine Phifer









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