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Welcome, welcome, welcome to armchair expert I'm Dan Shepard. I'm joined by Miniature Mouse. Hello. I wish you had a mouse call like.


Yes, please. Maybe that's it. This is I guess it will be the first time I will say that I would offer a trigger warning. This is a very heavy conversation that we have with Aly Raisman, who's an incredible two time Olympic gymnast with three gold medals, two silver medals and a bronze medal. She was the captain of both the two thousand two fierce five and twenty sixteen final five U.S. women's Olympic gymnastic team. But of course, a lot of her work now is been focused on preventing childhood sexual abuse, both with Darkness to Light, which is a comprehensive program to help young athletes everywhere participate in unsafe and abuse free environment.


And also, Ali, personally funds the flip the switch hashtag flip the Switch training program, which is widely recognized as the leading evidence informed child sexual abuse prevention program in the country. So as you might expect, she and I get into all kinds of sexual abuse topics. So warning to the listeners what a brave and honest and admirable human being she is the most.


Yeah, it was a really, really honor that she talked us about.


That's a great way to say it. Yeah, I felt very trusted. And so we thank her for that. So please enjoy Aly Raisman. We are supported by Boutcher Box. Now, when it comes to me, quality matters. Boy, does it not make the biggest difference in the world when you pony up for a nice piece of me.


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He's adoption's. Where are you at right now, are you like in a Boston suburb, so I'm in Boston. Are you recording right now?


Oh, we are OK. All right. See, when I woke up exactly where I am right now.


Guess your address to send cards and show up in the middle of the night. Yeah.


So I'm in Boston right now. It's actually really cold out today. It's so cold. I just can't believe the summer went by so fast. For me.


It's very weird. Summer, like generally summer. We take a big vacation for two weeks with the kids and that never happened. And yeah, it's very confusing timeline.


Ali, are you recording on yours as well? I am. I have double checked several times my anxiety. Great double check or like quadruple check.


I've checked it a bunch of times. If you see me looking down during the interview, I'll be checking me too.


That's my M.O. as well.


You know, I have OCD, but it's not about that. I'll look once and then I don't ever think about it. Let's talk ticks. Do you have any ticks or did you have any ticks growing up? Because I had a plague of ticks. I had like 40, 50 things I had to do hourly or I would go insane. Yeah.


So when you say you have OCD, I like that. No, I mean, I'm sorry of OCD, but I mean, it makes me feel like I'm less alone in that because people don't really talk about it a lot publicly, at least what I see. But I struggle with it too. And I learned recently, like I always thought OCD was, I have to touch this X amount of times or I have to do this X amount of times before I leave the room.


But I've also learned that OCD classified with like ruminating thoughts are like obsessive thoughts are like catastrophic thinking. I have not made to. Oh, gosh. So, yes, I have that. And I'm really trying to work on that right now because our minds sometimes go to the worst case scenario.


Oh, that's always like first stop for me is like what is the worst conceivable thing that could happen? Let's prepare for that.


Yeah, and it's extra bad when some of those things get validated like you have spirals, you're proven, you're proven right.


And then you have to really figure out a way how to reconcile like that doesn't mean you're right. Every time you're spiraling, don't let that control you. Like, I really, really have a hard time with the mental spiral I do as well.


It's really hard to train yourself to not do that. It's so much easier said than done. And I feel like for people that don't understand it, they're like, just don't think about it. I'm like, it does not work like that. And it's so hard because I've been trying to really educate myself on the way that our minds work just so I can help myself, but also just so I can be able to like better talk about it and better understand it on a personal level with my family or my friends, but also just on a public level as well.


And it's so fascinating because so much of the time our minds don't really realize what's made up and what's real. And that's what I struggle with so much, is that fight or flight response where it could be something so small and my body is reacting as if, like, a tiger is trying to eat me.


Oh, yeah. By the way, I'm just reading it now, but have you read Body keeps the score?


I read a little bit of it and I actually, to be honest, had to stop reading it because there was a story about sexual abuse when I was a little bit triggered. So I just take a break. But that concept is fascinating and I relate to that. So I can read like eight books at a time on different topics. And I like go back to them because sometimes if it's something like that and it's like triggering, then I just have to do it and like take some time.


But I've heard great things about that book.


Monica buys more books than Bill Gates and he said, but I don't really read them. I have all the intention of reading them. But then they just sit and make a nice library. I feel the same way.


I also want to say there are people with OCD on a level that I'm not claiming to have at all. I'm not consumed with it currently, but in elementary school and then tailing off in junior high a bit. But in elementary school, man, I had about eleven thousand little rituals. I did write and I was always trying to hide them from my siblings or from classmates. And it's so funny because I'm super into mental health. I read a lot of books by I interview a lot of therapist, but I met a girl who told me she pulled her eyebrows out one at a time.


Right. Which is, I guess, common. And she said, you know, well, it's OCD. And I said, oh, yeah, I had that when I was a kid. And then she goes, you know why people have OCD, right? And I go, Now there's a reason. And she said, yeah, you can't control any element of your life. And it becomes this tiny thing you can control and you get comfort out of it.


And I was like, oh, my God, this all started when my first stepdad moved in. When I track it back, that's exactly when it started. And I was like, oh my God, yeah. That's from that. I would have never put that together.


I know it's fascinating. I actually know somebody else who would pull their eyelashes out and then another. Girl, I used to do gymnastics with her, she was much younger than me and she would pull her hair out. It's always just so scary to see that because my mind goes the worst of like, oh, my gosh, is someone hurting her? What's going on? I think it's more common than we realize. This is my only time ever talking about it in an interview.


So I'm really glad we're talking about it, because I know a lot of my friends struggle with it. I know a lot of people struggle with the ruminating thoughts and like the catastrophic thinking. And it, in my opinion, relates to like trauma and PTSD. But back to your first question about if I used to have that stuff when I was younger, when I was little, if I had a competition that night, I'm like, OK, well, I'm just going to try to, like, touch this door like five times.


And then if I did about the competition, like it was because I touched the door. And then it's this horrible habit of doing this. If it works in your mind, you keep doing it, because for that moment it makes you feel safe. And unless you're getting to the root of the problem of why you are not feeling safe or out of control, you're going to keep having OCD. It's going to manifest into other ways of your life.


Well, you can't control the outcome of the event you're about to participate in. So you start controlling all these things. Every athlete we have interviewed now that we've interviewed so many, but one hundred percent of them have rituals. Yeah. And some of them even work with sports psychologists. And they're like, embrace that ritual. Like, whatever your thing is, you wake up at this time, then you eat at this time. You know, Blake Griffin was telling us like his day on a game day is like to the minute scheduled and yeah, all to get control of everything prior to the thing you have no control over or minimal control over.


When I think back and even like when I continue to do stuff, I try to have a little bit of a routine. But because I'm not competing anymore, I don't have these things that I have to do. But then for me, it kind of became a problem. Or if I had this good luck thing and I was traveling internationally and I forgot it or something happened and it broke, I was like, oh my gosh, what do I do now?


So it's just different moments in my career where I was super obsessive about it. And I think that's also what made me successful. My gymnastics career was I was so OCD with like, I have to go back and do it again. It has to be perfect. And then it kind of goes into like learning about perfectionist trauma to always having to be perfect. I think of it is almost like peeling back the layers of the onion at the first moment.


I'm like, oh, I feel better about this one part. And then I'm like, wait, then this relates to this or this. I'm just fascinated about learning about how our minds work. It's so interesting to me.


I watch this documentary about world class chess players and I think it was about Bobby Fischer ostensibly, but they go into a little bit of the history of some of the grand master chess players.


And because the part of your brain that you use when you're playing chess is the part of your brain that's forecasting disaster. So it's looking steps ahead, steps ahead, looking for disaster, looking for disaster. And then often these guys who have been grand masters, many of them high percentage, become paranoid later in life because that part of their brain is work to the max. It's like a fucking huge pectore in the rest of their brain that they didn't spend 12 hours a day making strong, can't really combat that part of their brain, always looking for disaster.


I even applied that to a friend of mine. That's a lawyer. Like if you spend 30 years is a lawyer looking for ways that the other person is going to fuck you and your client over. You look at the whole world with this really refined lens of like who's going to fuck you over?


And it kind of just change your thinking permanently. It's a little dicey.


I've also read recently that it's like we all look through the world kind of in our own filters. And I think what you just said about the lawyers, that's super interesting.


Yeah. You got to kind of be mindful about what part of your brain you're strengthening. Right. But you're right. It's an essential ingredient for someone who has done what you've done, which I want to talk about.


And I know Monica the most wants to because Monica is a state champ, cheerleader, almost as impressive as your gold medals.


I know, but she knows what it's like to suffer for her sport.


Well, more than that, I was obsessed with gymnastics. I was obsessed with the ninety six Olympic team.


And that's your thing, right? Isn't that. Yes, yes. I love them too. She had it on VHS and she watched over the seven.


Yes, yes. And you know, they loved. Is Lélia probably going to leave by Dad? Yes.


I loved Willia too. You know, the Ukrainian gymnast, she won floor and the long term I still am. I also loved all the Romanian gymnasts. And I asked my mom if I could go visit there. And she was like, we're not going to Romania on a trip. And I was very, very sad. But yeah, I had VHS tape to all of the Olympics and I had like that video that they released on them. And I was so obsessed and just so enamored and impressed by their skill and their dedication and their discipline.


And then I started taking gymnastics after that. And I was told I started to. Well, OK, so Ali started at two. Yeah, well, I have to imagine your family's history in gymnastics. Your mom was a gymnast.


Yes, she did high school gymnastics. She loved it. Who motivated you starting at two?


I mean, can we really say it was your decision or did mom was a part of it? It's funny. My parents jokingly.


Are you over? Like, who's more responsible for my gymnastics success? Because my mom loved gymnastics and it was my mom's idea to put me in gymnastics.


But then my dad will joke that it's like his athletic ability in his head, that they got me to be really good.


So, yes, my mom put me on it. Who did? Mommy and Me classes. I loved it so much. I will say, though, I was very, very lucky that my parents put me in a ton of different sports and the oldest of four kids. So my parents always gave me the option to do a bunch of other sports and my dad would coach me and like basketball and baseball and soccer. And then I was the one that just wanted to do gymnastics and I was eight years old is kind of the opposite of what you'd expect.


My parents were concerned it was too much too quickly, but I was just so like, I'm going to go to the Olympics and this is what I want. And my mom was sort of OK, whatever you say, like they didn't ever think I was going to do it. They lived on planet Earth. They were realistic. Yes.


Like when you say a million to one odds, there's three hundred million people and five girls are on that team. So you're really talking about one hundred and twenty five million.


That's crazy. Not a million to one. One hundred and twenty. I've done it wrong. But, you know, five million to one is bonkers.


It is crazy. It's just still hard for me to believe it. It took me a couple of years to get back into wanting to watch gymnastics as a fan because I wanted space. But lately I've been watching a lot of the ninety six Olympics, the ninety two Olympics, again, the two thousand. And that's really like one of my favorite things about the Olympics is although I'm American, I love watching the Romanian gymnasts, the Russian gymnasts. It's so cool to watch people from all over the world.


I yeah, I've been watching it again like a little kid. So it's been like really fun and really nice.


Well, even if you had been competing in the 80s, pre Soviet collapse, you would have had more in common with a Soviet female gymnast than you would have in common with any other American.


As far as just like what your life was shared experience, you would actually have way more in common, because anyone that gets to that point has been on a very similar path their whole life. Nobody picks it up at 14 and puts in like two hard weekends and shows up there, like you start at two and you do it. I don't know how many hours a week.


And that's just a specific experience that really so few people have.


I could see you being easily bonding with those people because it's such a shared experience, especially right now.


Actually, there's gymnasts from all over the world that are speaking up and sharing their experiences in gymnastics. And it's the hashtag gymnast alliance. And it's just incredible and something and I'm really, really grateful for is that I lived with my parents and I got to still have that experience of living with my siblings and my family and going to regular school. And thankfully, my coaches were really against homeschooling. But I know a lot of other coaches in the US really like homeschooling.


And if you're listening and you are home schooled, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. I'm just to go to school and being social everyone right now, I don't want to I don't want to judge or shame anyone.


I'm just saying because for me, gymnastics would have been like a hundred percent my whole entire life. And already when you're training so much, it already is so much your life. So my coaches and thankfully my parents and I all were in agreement that being able to train a lot and then going to school and having friends and having that separation is so important. But I'm not sure how it is today with some of the gymnasts around the world. But a lot of the gymnasts live at the training center, you know, with the other athletes, and they're actually not growing up with their families.


And so that's really hard, especially when you add in the lack of food that they're being fed, the verbal abuse, the physical abuse, the sexual abuse. For some of them, I'm very, very grateful that I was able to go to school and live at home and not have that like twenty four, seven, because I think it's really important to have that separation. And then when you're actually done with the sport, I feel like I have the confidence to do other things and to try new things.


But if your life is just gymnastics, I've heard a lot of situations where I even heard about one gymnast who was on the national team and now they're they're experiencing homelessness because they didn't really get an education. And when they were done with gymnastics, their national governing body was just like, bye, we don't need you anymore. And so it's so important to, no matter what sport you are, to teach these athletes that you're more than your sport and give them the tools to be confident.


And if your sport doesn't work out, that's OK to not define yourself by your results or even the job that you have because nothing is guaranteed. There's so many weird similarities between what you did in acting bizarrely, that acting so hard, but just for the child actors, they too are kind of taken out of the real world and they're put in this environment, that's all adults. And then maybe they're going to school in their trailer. And I have to imagine it can be really isolating, even though there's a lot of people around.


They're primarily adults. Right. Like you're very much in an adult world.


Definitely. I would train a lot of times in the morning when I was in high school and I trained a little bit in the morning when I was in middle school as well. And this probably sounds gross, but at the time I was like, I'm just so focused on gymnastics, I don't even care. But I would train in the morning. I would go right away to school so I wouldn't have time to shower because I would rather have gotten in that extra time with a workout and because I wasn't really sweating that much anyways, it wasn't like I was all smelly and gross, but I was covered in chalk and my hair was like frizzy.


I would like to put in my hair and I would feel so self-conscious about, oh my gosh, like what if the boys don't find me attractive? I was so insecure in high school. My hands had all of these rips and calluses on them from bars. I just felt so self-conscious and I felt when I would have a tough day, I sort of allowed my good workouts and my bad workouts to define how I was feeling, which is not healthy.


And I allowed my wins to make me feel amazing. And then when I didn't do as well, it made me feel like I was worthless. So it's definitely lonely when you allow yourself to feel that way. And of course, I wish I could go back in time and tell myself it's all OK. And like, I don't wake up every morning and think about the good competitions I have, then I honestly mean that. I really think about the journey and the experiences.


I reflect a lot, of course, on the good and the bad times. But my favorite moments are not standing on top of the podium. They're like peeing my pants, laughing with my teammates and having so much fun. And I honestly mean that, you know, if you're winning, what's it worth?


If you're not happy, your profession more than any other, it would be almost impossible not to succumb to results, only forget process, forget how much you're enjoying the experience.


It's all about that result.


Yeah, the ultimate tournament or meet or whatever it is. And it's such a dangerous way to evaluate your life and your self-esteem. Right. As if everything's leading up to a day on a calendar.


It's like, well, what about the other three? Sixty four there's that can't be a sustainable way to live that you're going to get all your self esteem from this one day, which, by the way, you could have the flu that day. God knows what can happen. Just seems like it'd be really hard to enjoy process being an athlete like that.


I remember the hardest years were both years leading up to both Olympics. So the year leading up to twenty twelve, you're leading up to twenty sixteen. And I remember I just pushed myself so hard. But you're right, it was never enough. And if I was a little bit sick, if I had a cold, if my foot was hurting like instead of just being like that's a bummer. I have a cold today but I'm human. That's ok.


It was like I was mad at myself and I felt like I was letting myself down, letting everyone else down. It just the amount of pressure I put on myself. And I know this is not just me that a lot of the other girls put this pressure on ourselves. I don't know when I look back how I did it or how we did it. Like when I talked to some of my teammates were like, how did we do that?


One of the toughest things about gymnastics is from a very young age, you're taught that you are good. Performance isn't based off of how you feel about yourself. It's how your coaches view you or the judges. So like, if you go to a meet and you're like, that felt so good. I'm so happy I did that. But the judges didn't like your team, then you think, wait, then something must be wrong with me. Why didn't I feel like it was OK?


Yeah. What's the disconnect between what I think is good and what they think is good? Yes. And I found one of the biggest things I struggle with majority of my life when I would finish a routine or finish conditioning or anything, I would look to my coaches or the judges or anyone on the national staff and say, what did you think about that? And I found that it's a bad habit now in my life to be like, well, was that interview OK?


What did you think about that? And it's like, I'm a people pleaser. And so I'm really working on that. It's just so crazy. But in the sport, that's kind of how it has to be, because every little thing is like, no, you need to point your toe a little bit better so it's never enough, which is also not good either.


Yeah, it's all extrinsically motivated stuff. Right. Instead of intrinsically, like whatever thing you're trying to accomplish for yourself is almost irrelevant. It has to be what those judges deem of value or it's worthless.


Yeah. Yeah, of course you feel that way.


It's like you look to them for answers when they turn out to not be safe people. Yeah, that's extra traumatizing because you've been indoctrinated as if they'll give you the right answer, that they'll help you, that they're there for you. Well, they know better than you. Yeah. That they know better than you.


Yeah. One hundred percent when like the media movement was really. They had a lot of gymnasts were sharing their stories of abuse. Of course, we received so much support and I'm continually blown away by the support that I've personally gotten and we've gone and I can't even begin to say how grateful I am. It was really important for me to educate myself. And this can be a slippery slope. And I try to look at this from like separating myself, but just really trying to understand what do people that don't understand sexual abuse not get?


Because I think it's important to, like, take opportunities like this to sort of talk about it. Maybe someone's listening and maybe they'll understand it because a lot of people say things like, OK, well, how did you not know or why didn't you say something? And so people don't realize that, like, most of the time, child sexual abuse occurs is actually with a trusted adult. Oh, yeah. And while, you know, stranger danger is extremely important to talk about, and that is something unfortunately, that still does happen.


It's about 90 percent of the time sexual abuse occurs with a trusted adult. So it's really important when people don't understand it to try to put themselves in someone else's shoes. They really trusted this person. And like for us, the people we were with, like sometimes I was with them for a month at a time. And it's not just the abuser that's the problem. It's a lot of times people around them that enable it. And there are people that do speak up, but people enable they gaslight you and make you feel like they're crazy or you can't say anything.


So it's such a confusing thing that I think is really important to talk about because I have been blown away in a bad way of how many people can relate to my story and how many people are survivors of some sort of abuse. When I go to the grocery store, when I go to the airport, it's like the amount of people that confide in me just on a daily basis. It's terrible how common it is.


Well, OK, I was molested and I talk about it on here all the time. And the experience has so many layers. There's just so many layers and it's taken me thirty years to, like, fully comprehend it for me.


About five years ago I felt like I had this breakthrough in the breakthrough for me was there are certain assholes, dumb fuck saying like why didn't you do better as a fucking child? But forget those people.


Most people said it's not your fault. It's not your fault. It's not your fault. It's not your fault. And they told me it's not your fault. It's not your fault. But the shame I had was not evaporating with the knowledge that it wasn't my fault. And for me, I won't speak for anybody else. The reason was, is I didn't want to be there. I did not like it. And I stayed there and I stayed there because this person had something I wanted and they had leverage over me.


And what was the real source of my shame was that I ignored that voice because I wanted something and my guilt of having wanted something bad enough to allow something to happen to me that I didn't want to happen to me was the real source for me of the part that wouldn't evaporate. And finally I was able to say, yeah, I wanted a thing and I didn't choose me over that thing. And that's when I'm really, really heard about. And then I forgave myself.


I said, yeah, an eight year old kid may want something and make a choice that they can feel like anyone can say it's not your fault, but I can be in those rooms in two seconds and know that I wanted the fuck out of the room, but I didn't do it because I wanted something. And that was just such a huge part for me is going like, yeah, and that's OK, man. People have leverage over you and people are very smart about identifying leverage.


Hilmi, go and say a sentence that'll heal me. Thanks for sharing that.


I have a question for you. Do you feel like it's very traumatizing just to talk about that? Do you feel it in your body?


I don't. Here's my experience. I kept it a secret for about eight or nine years. I'll say personally, my shame was compounded with growing up in the eighties in Michigan, where the worst thing you could be on a playground was gay.


And this was another man. And I felt gay. Even though I didn't feel gay. I thought I had done something that made me gay and that that's the worst you could be in my little world.


And so I couldn't tell anyone because then people would know I was gay and they would call me gay. And by the way, now, of course, who cares?


Because it's just so different.


But back then, it was a career ender in elementary school and in junior high. So I had this very weird layer of like fear of being labeled gay.


But a friend of mine one night told me she had been raped and kind of recently. And I just saw how much courage that had taken her to tell me that. And I just felt obligated like I owe her this. And so I told her sitting on the hood of my car, I can see it in the Kmart parking lot.


I told her and about if it was one hundred thousand tons, it went down to like twenty thousand tons. And then I told my mom and it went down to. A bit, and then I told my brother and I went down some more and then as of more and more, I'll just tell anybody it's almost nonexistent. But I will say and I'm really curious if you have this, I don't mind at all if I roll it out for you.


If I tell you my experience and I feel like I'm in control of telling you and I get to pick what pieces I want you to know, I don't mind at all. If I see someone write about what I said on the podcast, I immediately feel like, no, no, no, no.


That's not for you to put into your words or to weaponize or use for your agenda. And then I get really upset about it. And I just wonder, are you comfortable talking about it when you're in total control versus when other people are talking about it?


That is an awesome question, because I've never been asked that before and I have to think about that because I still feel uncomfortable talking about it. I feel like it still didn't happen like that long ago. But I also feel like I experienced so much more trauma and PTSD when I came public about it. And this is not to discourage anyone else from sharing their story. I'm saying it because, again, I was so grateful to have so much support and to have so much media attention, because I think that that can really help effectuate change and put pressure on investigations to happen.


But I'm imagining I don't want to interrupt you because I don't know the real timeline, but I'm imagining you were forced to participate. Like, I got to pick my timeline. I told Emily, then I told my mom. Then I slowly in my mid twenties, started telling other dudes, I have to imagine years just like was like a light switch. There's a scandal. Now, let's question everyone involved and now go, are you going to lie or not?


And I can't imagine there was any control over when you got to decide to share about it.


Nobody at all was putting any pressure on me to come forward publicly. It was more the pressure I put on myself because I was watching. There was like fifty, one hundred women that had come forward about the abuse and USA gymnastics and the United States Olympic Committee and Michigan State University were literally doing nothing. They were sweeping it under the rug. I was continually watching it and I hadn't even come to terms with it myself. But I just felt this pressure like I had to do something.


I couldn't stay quiet. And of course, I was really inspired by so many people coming forward. And then I think when I shared my story, I felt like I had to be super strong. I had to say the right things. I couldn't let anybody else down. And because I was getting so much attention, I was saying, I have to be perfect. I have to say the right thing. I have to make sure that I'm doing this justice because they're not having a 14 year old girl from Michigan on a national news show, which is not right.


And the Metoo movement was incredible for so many reasons. But you saw a lot of Olympic gymnast and a lot of women actresses in Hollywood, which is important, but everyone's story is important. So I just put so much pressure on myself. And that in itself, just like spiraled the PTSD and the trauma where I've never experienced such bad anxiety in my life.


Well, I would imagine to you that you probably felt some compulsion or desire to presented it as if it's something that's behind you, that you've confronted, that you've dealt with, that you're over like you're trying to spread some message of hope and you don't want to go out there and go like, yeah, I was a part of it and I'm in a fucking shambles over it. And so I don't know what to tell you. It fucking sucks and I haven't processed it.


Have a good one. Good Morning America.


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Yeah, and I was like very recently been more OK with being more vocal about how I'm doing, because I realized that I don't want anybody to think that my journey has been perfect. And I think that, like as a society, we already put actors and actresses and Olympic athletes and even just other athletes on this pedestal. And I just don't want people to think my life is perfect. And so I try to be very honest. But I also agree with you when I see an interview of me, if I do a phone interview or even doing like a video interview, if someone else picks it up a lot of times, like I'm misquoted or they get the date wrong of when I said something.


Yeah, it really, really triggers me because I'm so out of control. Or they'll take like just one part of the sentence. So it kind of changes, you know, sometimes when you're talking and then you put a little disclaimer in there. I feel very triggered by that. And it also goes back to like I'm a people pleaser. And it's then it goes into like I worry what other people are going to think of me, and then I just have to focus on myself and try to be more in my body.


I also felt a lot of guilt and shame talking about this because I was like, I don't want people to think I'm not grateful that I am getting so much media attention because of course, I'm very grateful. I just think it is important to talk about how scary it is to be so public about something. So I struggled with even being honest about that because I don't want people to think I don't appreciate all the support and everything. So it's like both sides of it.


And can I add and I'm going to stereotype blatantly right now, but a butt fuck, it's so true. You're from Boston. I'm from Detroit. Both cultures love to go. Oh, stop trying to get fucking attention. But, you know, boohoo like I can hear every time I hear about it, I can hear the words dickheads from my hometown going, oh, boo hoo. Oh, yeah, you just want attention. You're trying to get attention.


And it's like I would love to get attention about getting molested. What a great way to get attention. Are you kidding? I want to get attention. Like doing a cool skateboard trick or being a great actor. I don't want to get attention for the most powerless moment of my life.


Yeah, I think it's an important part of the conversation. It's not easy to be public about this.


Well, listen, I was going to make a speech to you at the end, but I'm going to make it to you right now. I could not help but wonder, as you put in those 20 plus years of just killing yourself. Part of the fantasy is like if this all goes perfect, I'm going to be on a Wheaties box. I'm going to be in a McDonald's commercial like Mary Lou Retton. I'm going to be celebrated in my fantasy of this is just going to be wonderful, like being anointed a queen.


And this mother fucker stole that. Right. So this victory lap you should have been taking for the rest of your life will always be embroiled by this fucking asshole. It will always come up. And if I were you, I'd be so resentful against that. And I think you should be. But I just want to say one thing. If you're on a Wheaties box because you won gold, I can't relate to that. I'm never going to win gold.


Nobody in this country is going to win gold.


But twenty percent of this country's been molested and twenty percent of this country feels weak and ashamed of their weakness. And to see someone as powerful as you, as indomitable as you, that it happened to you is the most comforting thing in the world. So I know the fantasy got robbed from you, but I promise you, the one in five people who have dealt with this, you've given a much bigger give than a gold medal for this country.


I really appreciate you saying that. And I have so much respect for you as well. And I obviously support you. I hope that goes without saying. But I've struggled a lot with guilt and shame, and I'm trying to work with that as well, because I realized that when we talk about like OCD or shame or guilt and it's like manifesting in little things in my life, that I'm not really fixing the root of the problem of like, why do I feel this way then?


It's just going to keep manifesting in little or big ways in my life. A lot of people who follow the gymnastics know about the abuse. And I would find that like I was getting recognized more from the Metoo movement and people were always so supportive. When fans would come up to me, I didn't feel like they were looking at me as a victim. They were so supportive. But I realized the difference was, is I thought of myself as a victim.


So even when people would say to me, like, thank you for speaking out, I'm a survivor, too, like people would say the most incredible things to me. Like I have a note saying, you know, I came forward because of you, but it's like I didn't let it sink in because I didn't view myself as helping other people. I just felt shame. And it's so interesting because it's like I've learned fifty people can tell me that I came forward because of you and I still won't allow myself to feel it if I don't feel worthy or enough, like I just constantly felt like I'm not doing enough.


I need to do more. I need to help more people. And then I finally realize, like, this is exhausting in this way of thinking isn't serving me. So I've got. Under the plan, at least now in my life, where I don't see myself as a victim, at least right now, I hope it stays this way. I see myself as a survivor and I feel so supported by people and I'm so lucky for that, that I feel like the priority should always be athletes safety.


But my parents always told me, like people remember you for the kind of person you are rather than what place you are on the podium. And I really thought about that a lot. People years from now will forget what medal I have or how many I have. But I hope that people will remember me for doing the right thing and helping make athletes safety better.


Cavanagh. No one's going to remember Kaepernick because of his football skills, and he will be among the most famous players to ever live because his character warrants that one hundred percent.


But let's have a quick little debate, OK? This could be good. I guarantee you're more dialed in to this community than I am. You're also younger. You're of a different generation. So, OK, we had the lawyer of someone who represented a bunch of victims, and I had phrased it that way in the description of the episode. And some people yelled at me and said, they're not victims, are survivors. And so at first I thought to myself, like, OK, well, first and foremost, I'll refer to anybody any way they want to be.


So I'm not making a case to not define them that way. But I am triggered by this a bit. And I'll tell you why. I think people want to change it from victim to survivor to give strength. But what I would argue is that's doing the same fucking thing that we feel shame about, that for some reason, being a victim is something that would be shameful, that you need to phrase it as I'm a warrior. No, we're vulnerable people.


Fucking Puranas. I am a victim. I mean, sure, I survive, but this desire to pull back the power I think represents more a problem in our country were somehow being vulnerable is bad that we should change our association with it and that vulnerability is bad. That to me is part of the problem.


It's part of the reason that we carry shame because we go, oh, we were weak and we should have known better. We should have done something, we should have blah, blah, blah.


So I'm just curious what your thoughts are in this survivor versus victim thing, but what do you think?


I think this literally just speaks to how we all heal in different ways. Like personally, for me, I would rather if someone was doing an article about me to call me a survivor personally. Also one of my friends who is a gymnast as well. It's really important for her to be called a survivor. But I think it just shows that it's an important conversation where if someone is being interviewed, I think they should get the opportunity to say how they want to be addressed, because some people might still feel like they are a victim.


And that's OK. And I think we are all battling something and may all be victims of something in some way or another. And that shit that I just talked about of seeing myself more as a survivor, I think it can mean something different to all of us. But for me, it felt like I was able to, like, appreciate how far I came or how strong you are for overcoming that.


Yeah, because 80 percent of people who are molested become addicts. I did it in an epic fashion. There's all these stats of what will happen. So, yeah, if you can hold it together, man, it is against all odds. And in that respect, yes, that deserves to be heralded as strength.


Let me add one more thing. This would drive me nuts if I were you, because, again, I'm fine to say it out loud, and yet I do not want to be petty. Like, the worst feeling I could have is to be looking at another human being who's looking at me with pity for whatever reason. That just is hard for me. I just would imagine you like motherfucking warrior breaking bones. You know, concussions, the most pressure a human could endure and then delivering three gold medals.


If I'm you, I've earned to be looked at like Thor, not pity.


When people come up to me, people are even more appreciative and look at me more impressed than they did from the Olympics. So I feel really, really lucky and really supported. I don't feel like people look at me with pity. I honestly, I'm very grateful for that. I get the fan comes up to me and they start telling me their story of being a survivor. I worked on this in therapy a lot because I get triggered really easily and sometimes, like, I'm the only person they've ever told.


Like, I'll have someone in the grocery store say I'm 70 years old and I was abused like over fifty years ago. You're the only person I've told. And I put so much pressure on myself to the point where, like, I obsessively overthink what I say to that person, because if I'm the only person they've ever told from personal experience, I understand the way in the power of when you confide in someone that you've been abused, the way that that person reacts to you, it has such a massive impact on their healing.


And so I want to make sure that I'm supporting them and being there for them. But then when it happens a couple of times a day, how can I still show them? I support them, but kindly ask them not. To go into graphic detail, because when you have over five people or if I'm at an event and it's like 30 people going into graphic detail, if I do a meet and greet, how am I supposed to go through life traveling alone, being in a hotel by myself, walking outside late at night and not be afraid, something that's going to happen to me, like it's this paranoia.


So I've worked on this strategy of just kindly being like, I support you so much. I'm still so much in my healing, so I support you. But just please don't go into graphic detail, but I'd love to talk to you about your healing, and I'd love to tell you about what's helped me like. I hope you're getting help. So a lot of people answer and be like you just seem so strong on TV. I forget that you're still dealing with it.


So it's almost the opposite. People don't feel pity with me. It's that they forget that I'm actually dealing with it when I do interviews. I haven't cried because I like have kind of put up a wall, like I have to be strong. I want people to listen to me. I want people to think that I'm intelligent and I don't want people to think I'm weak. And I've been, like, so afraid to be, like, super vulnerable in that way.


Yeah. That people forget and they're like, you just seem like it doesn't really, like, faze you. So it didn't occur to me that going into graphic detail would impact you.


So, yeah, the emotional weight of being a symbol of this movement must be humongous in that. Yeah. You're going to be asked sometimes 30 times a day, join someone emotionally to meet them emotionally at a place that's just really taxing on anyone. Your own issues, I'm sure are taxing enough and then you add on. So yeah, but it's really, really hard to establish boundaries that are both protective of you and also generous to the people you want to help.




And it's so interesting the way that trauma works because a lot of times not setting boundaries can be trauma. And it's also the shame of guilt, of not setting enough boundaries in my childhood and not speaking up for myself. So sometimes when I feel like somebody isn't respecting my boundaries and I feel like ninety nine percent of people are so respectful, but if there is that like anybody in life, not everybody you're going to like mesh very well with. But, you know, if I'm at an event and like somebody is really touchy with me but not meaning it and like a sexual inappropriate, it might be like an older woman that's like, oh, my God, you remind me of my granddaughter.


And they're just like touching me. And because I'm such a people pleaser and I don't want to let anyone down when they meet me, I like, you know what? I'd rather make her happy and just let her do this, that I put someone else first and then that has been so triggering for me because I'm like, well, now I feel traumatized and I feel uncomfortable because I was just standing there helpless like I felt when I was being abused.


It's just there. And you're so uncomfortable. It's almost like you're in shock and you don't know what to do. But I feel frozen because I don't want to upset them. I don't want to trigger them. So then I just, like, set myself. I'm really working on it.


You're giving me the, like, the most profound real time realization, which is my wife and I deal with this differently in public. And I think once we had kids, I started getting a lot more firm with people. And this goes back to body, keeps the score right. I just figured all this out about myself. Right. So body keeps score is a lot of people who have had trauma. It doesn't have to be sexual, but just trauma as a child, they carry the guilt of not being able to have protected themselves.


So going forward in life, they often overreact to things because it reminds them of when they were powerless. And so the example in the book was like the VA hospital. A lot of those vets, there's like daily at the vet, the hospital, five or six guys have huge explosions and throws shit and almost attack people. And it's like because they feel like the littlest thing is now life or death, because they were in a life or death situation and they couldn't protect themselves.


So now everything's elevated. And so I have that quite a bit. It was terrible in the past. But I'm just now realizing, as you're talking about this, that my wife, who doesn't have this background when we're in the airport more with the kids and someone wants photos of us, and I don't want that for my children. I don't want that to be their life. I'm really direct and my wife has a harder time with it. I think it's because it does remind me of that.


It takes me to a place where it was like, no, I let someone control me before and the outcome was fucking terrible. I let someone's needs be more important than my needs. So I'm just. Yeah, putting that together, I think of why I'm able to just be like, so appreciate it. But now's not the time, you know, like, I'm just very direct too much sometimes, but I think it's probably embroiled in my history.


Do people understand when you explain that you don't want your kids to be photographed?


You know? Ninety five percent of them do and five percent are like, fuck you. You pick this, you're on TV. You know, like there is. And I'm like, yeah, you're right. I picked it. And you're right. You have a right to take my picture. But they didn't pick this yet and you don't have a right to photograph them. I also wanted to talk really quickly about the weight of gold. The Michael Phelps doc I wrote about this twenty years ago watching the Olympics.


I had written a script and I actually had. His whole speech about it, because I really genuinely felt this way in my 20s, I would watch them and I had this great elation for them for a moment. And then for me, it always transitioned into fuck. Now, what for these people like now what? I mean, generally, the goals people set for themselves take 40, 50 years. Right. So you're only on the back side of it for like a third of your life.


But there's so many aspects, the amount you guys exercise while you're training. Right. Which is so good for your mental health, that's well documented. The camaraderie you have of being on a team, you have a team of people focused on you, helping you stay healthy, helping you eat correctly. And then once that's gone, the whole team that cared about you disappears. All the camaraderie is gone. You all live in different states or whatever.


And this thing you were focused on that gave you purpose, which is also a cornerstone of mental health. Your purpose is gone, your community is gone.


And all these people who valued you, you must be questioning whether they really valued you or they just want to do to bring home a gold.


If you had had no abuse, that would be enough to have your plate full, as was revealed in this Phelps documentary. That experience leaves a big, big hole, doesn't it?


Yeah, I actually have not seen the documentary yet, but I do want to watch it. Yeah. To be honest, I probably said this a couple of times. I am still very much in my healing phase and I get triggered super easily. So what I'll do is I'll probably watch like 10, 20 minutes of it and like cut it up just so I don't feel so overwhelmed. But it's just so sad to see how, as I talked about a little bit before, up until a couple of years ago, I think a lot of people really looked at these Olympic athletes as these like superhuman and just like their lives are perfect.


Like when I was little and I watched the ninety six Olympics, it didn't occur to me as an eight year old girl that maybe their wrist was hurting them. Maybe they were super nervous, maybe they didn't feel well. Maybe they were up the whole night because they were anxious and maybe they were afraid of letting people down. And I think that's one of the beautiful things about being a kid is like no dream is too big. But it really didn't occur to me that life was not perfect, even when you get to that place.


And so it's so devastating. And I also think something that does not get enough attention and I don't understand why is the Paralympics because I think that they are just so inspiring and just so absolutely incredible. And the Olympics get so much attention. But then when the Paralympics comes, it doesn't get the same attention. I don't understand. Arguably more impressive. Yes, of course.


I 100 percent agree with you. I think it is more impressive. There's no words to describe it. And I think that the United States Olympic Committee, they have to do better in the national governing bodies of really making this a priority, of not only allowing the Paralympians to have more attention and giving them more access to a lot of the things that the Olympic athletes have. The media has to cover it as well, because that has a huge role in allowing people to know who they are.


But I think that it's just so important that athletes, no matter who you are, because it also could be related to the collegiate level. If you are a football player or a softball player, you might be done after your four years and you go to a regular job and you might have the same thing of like my whole life, I've always been an athlete. And now what? Yeah, I also know a lot of people define themselves by the job that they have to.


So I think that sports have to not only teach athletes how to work really hard and be good at what they're doing and also teaching them not to define themselves by their wins, their losses or by their sport in general in letting them know there's so much more to them. But it has to start, in my opinion, with the national governing bodies and the United States Olympic Committee and I think even the International Olympic Committee of really making this a conversation of like after the three months, kind of like the ride of the Olympic Games are over.


We have to have more to help these athletes. I can tell you from personal experience, there is a massive difference between winning one Olympic gold medal as the Summer Olympics. You'll do some interviews, but you're not getting the same opportunity as like the you they get like multiple gold medals. And that's because the Summer Olympics are so many amazing athletes from the US and U.S. ball. He's not from America, obviously, but he, of course, gets a lot of attention, which you should, because he's incredible.


But Phelps, Phelps take up seventy percent of it all.


Yeah. And he's absolutely incredible. So he should get a lot of attention. But I would also like to see, you know, and speaking from personal experience, we got a lot of attention. The women's soccer team did, too. But I would really like to see the media start talking about athletes that are in 15th place or in twenty fifth place, like being twenty fifth in the world or even being like last year, still one of the best in the world.


Why did we get to this point where it's only about winning? So we have to start empowering athletes to realize that there are so many other amazing. Things out there, and that's just not really what's happening right now. Well, I just want to add one thing. I think we could share this in common, too. I for twenty eight years fantasize about being an actor that people recognized. And then that happened. And then my fantasy, I was going to feel a certain way when that happened and then it happened and I did not feel different.


This isn't a good foundation for self-esteem.


Yeah. And I actually think about that a lot lately of, OK, if I took away the gymnastics, if I took away the support that I've gotten from the abuse, if I take away the opportunities that I have now that help me, he'll make me feel empowered, make me feel heard and supported. Who am I and am I OK on my own if I took away all of that. And so that's something I'm really thinking about as well.


I think it really goes back to really working on being mindful and practicing gratitude of like really focusing on the little things, even just like simple things of like eating a blueberry and being like, I'm going to eat this really slowly and I'm going to actually appreciate the fact that I can have as many blueberries as I want, that I can afford to have as many blueberries as I want and going outside. I love gardening of like the little things in life that make me feel whole without all of the everything else.


Because winning doesn't make you happier. Yeah, it does.


For twenty five minutes. Yeah.


Yeah. It gives you a little high. Don't get me wrong, it's an incredible feeling. You work so hard for it. But what I mean is like if that's all you have and you're miserable along the way, it's not going to last that happiness. But my brother's friends actually always say they're like, oh, look at that rich man. All he has is, is money. What a poor guy. And I just love that it's so Eye-Opening because we do live in a culture where people think that if you have this fame or you have all this money, it's like your life is perfect.


And I'm so inspired by people who, like, just make the most of their every day of, like, the little things in life, appreciating the little things.


OK, the juicy thing I just want to talk about for fun is I have a fantasy about the Olympic camp. Is the Olympic camp fun? How much free time do you have in the Olympic camp? And are you, like, chatting with other people?


You mean like in the Olympic Village village? Sorry. Sorry, OK, yeah, yeah. Because I'm a pervert. Let me just add that I think some of my sexual trauma has led to, which happens, increased sexuality. So I own that notion of all being young and everyone has the best body in the world. It just feels like a crazy place to just stroll through.


So let me tell you that said, gymnastics is one of the longer competition days. We have so many different competitions and they're spread out at least every other day. We're normally one of the first to go. And then it's like got a day in between, then another one day in between. And then event finals are like days later. So it's spread out throughout the whole thing. So the way that USA gymnastics mindset is and I imagine a lot of the other countries from the gymnastics community as well, the way they think about it is like even after he won the team gold medal, they're like you go to NBC to to your quick interviews and they do it as quickly as possible because there's no celebrating, because we still have competitions left.


So the minute you're done with your competition, it's time to focus on the next one. So we were not allowed to leave our rooms or like our apartment complex unless we were going to the gym or going to eat or unless we were allowed to go for a group walk and we had to go with our coaches.


So it was very, very hard to tell. Like, you guys all got to walk together. It was very strict.


Like we would love going to the cafeteria because you see all these other athletes. And it was just so funny because we're one of the shortest athletes there and you've got like basketball players, you are huge. And just like seeing them is so fun. But we would just like go around. And I was eighteen at the first when I was the oldest and the youngest one was fifteen. So we were just so like little and everyone would just like laugh.


Like we were kind of like the babies. Yeah, yeah, yeah. We were so innocent that it was like everyone was just like, oh they're just so little and cute and they would like talk to us. But we also weren't allowed to like socialize too much. Like you're here for a job and if you start to fool around then you're going to be replaced. So we were just like super serious. You don't want to rock the boat and it's like you're there for the gymnastics.


Like my coach would say, you have the rest of your life to go to whatever party you want, but you've got this month and you've worked your whole life for it. So it was just like not even an option to, like, party or do anything because it's like imagine working your whole life partying, hanging out with the cute boys next to you and then you don't do well, your competition.


It's like, you know, maybe that would be me. I'd like some hot Swedish skier. I'd be like, I don't give a shit about gold.


I'm going to propose something I think you guys should do, like high school reunion. So I think you should have twenty sixteen Olympic reunion and no one's competing. It's just all about the village. This is my goal. Yeah, it's just like, OK, now we can come and just look at each other and party, OK, love. That's a good idea. OK, we have to get rid of covid. Yeah.


For everyone's sake. And then we'll think about that.


In my fantasy, everyone's got a vaccine, so we're all good for good. OK, you have an app you're involved with called San Velho. Can you tell us about Sam.


So I decided to partner with Sabelo because hopefully you can tell from this conversation that I'm very passionate about mental health. I'm really interested in learning more about it and the ways that I can feel better, you know, my friends and family. And when I meet people on the street, we'll give them a resource, right?


Yes. Fermi's people come up to me who are thinking about sobriety. And so it's easy. I go do a directory. There's a meeting every hour around the clock. Get yourself to a meeting.


I have a question for you. If you don't mind me asking. What advice do you give for people to get them to go to the meeting? Because I would imagine that is very, very difficult to have the courage to go to a meeting.


Well, I have an unpopular take on this, and this is a very AA take. It drives my wife crazy and drives Monica crazy. I am not in the soliciting business. I'm in the attraction business. If you happen to look at my life and you think some part of it is about sobriety and you want what I have and you ask me, I will give endlessly. But I don't chase people. I don't recommend to people. They go I don't evaluate whether people are addicts or not.


I have done it one time in my life and it went well. But other than that, I don't approach people about it. They know if they want help, come to me and I'll do anything she's saying. If they come to you.


Yes. If they've already come to you and ask you.


Well, yeah. Then I say, let's go to a meeting. You know, let's start with going to a meeting and then I'll say, let's read this book and then let's start working these steps. And you'll either enjoy it or you'll want to go back out and do more research, as we call it. And if the research ends with you feeling better than reading the book and hanging out with other dudes fails, then go for it. I want people to be happy.


I don't have a one size fits all for what makes people happy. For me, it involves sobriety, but for other people it might not.


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And do either of you guys do any type of like yoga and meditation? So I used to be into time. I absolutely love it. I would still be in the transcendental meditation, but I have two children. And for the last seven years, I wake up in the morning because one of them is screaming. I don't wake up early to meditate. So I have been terrible. I'll have periods where I do it and I feel so much better and I love it.


But my religion is exercise.


I think every human being should exercise four times a week. And I know you have an interesting relationship with it. Yes.


Which I talked about on the Today show that I talked about it publicly because it took me so long to sort of come to terms with it because I did feel a lot of shame about it. You I went from training some days, seven hours and feeling like the best shape of my life. And I felt like so just powerful and flexible and I just felt like I was flying on some days I felt so, so good. And then over the last couple of years, like, I've even struggled some days to like, walk up the stairs, like some days just walking up the stairs.


I'm so out of breath. It's like even running for one song is exhausting for me. And so I just have been spending a lot of time fighting it and being like, why do I feel this way? And my mom and my therapist were like, why can't you just like have a little bit self compassion for yourself and why can't you be OK with being tired? And so I over the years, I've learned the impact that stress and anxiety can have on our bodies and how exhausting it is.


And one thing that really drives me nuts when people say to me, and I don't have this as much anymore, is like if I'm saying like I'm just so tired today and people are like, we haven't done anything today, why are you tired?


Even if your job is to play with a beautiful, like golden retriever all day, if you're in your head and having, like, ruminating thoughts, you will be exhausted because anxiety is exhausting. It doesn't matter what you do. Like, you could be on the most beautiful island in the world, but if you are so stressed out, you still might not be able to enjoy it. You may not be able to be present because anxiety is when we're not in the present moment, because we're thinking about the future, the past.


And so that has been so exhausting for me. In my mind. This is just not serving me. And so I need to try to change it up. But there are a lot of days where I just will go for a walk. I've started to ride a bike outside, which has been really helpful. But my dad is so funny. He's like the Energizer Bunny and we'll go for a bike ride and like, I cannot keep up with my dad and like, I'll go out to eat with, like, my grandfather, who's turning 80 and like, he has more energy than me.


And I'm just like, but my grandfather will go golfing, hangs out with his friends, like, has a great social life. And I'm like, the difference is, is like he's really happy. And that's what's super Eye-Opening to me was I was like so stuck in my head that I'm like I'm not even like in the moment.


And there's this crazy paradox, right? When you have depression and anxiety, which is you're exhausted all day long, but then you can't sleep because it's basically it's a big component of it.


I would like be energized at night and I'm like, I could have my peak workout at eleven o'clock at night. A year ago I started living by myself and I would watch TV at night and it affected my sleep. I can't even tell you I was up the whole night and then someone told me, well, what's different? And I'm like, oh my gosh, I started watching TV. I stop watching TV and almost immediately I would sleep through the night.


But it is crazy how much TV affects. Some people sleep, including mine, like I was up the whole night. It was absolutely crazy. So I try to do a lot of guided meditation and I try to stretch. And these are all things that are on San Vello. Yes. What are all the different things that it can help manage or track?


So one of the things that's really different and unique about Sabelo is that you can do coaching and there's therapy on the app so you can also get meditation and you can also do these like daily check ins where they ask you questions, you answer them, and it will kind of give you a score of like if you are experiencing more anxiety or depression and it will actually give you a mood tracker. So it kind of allows you to really reflect on how you're feeling.


And then based off of your results, it will give you suggestions of what to do. So it's really good because it allows you to have those check ins, which is really important. There's different body scans and I actually recorded my own guided meditation that I did based off of the years of guided meditation I've done. And you can access that on the app for free. So I'm going to be recording more guided meditations because I really like that. Yeah, it's great.


Hopefully people will like it. It's really helped me a lot.


Well, what's cool about it? Armonica and I will always talk about this, like it'll take us seven weeks to realize something's been happening every day. Monica had epilepsy, right? So it was like she just discovered this year. So it's like she had one seizure and then she kind of ignored it. Largely my fault. I told her nothing happened. I'm like, big deal. It was in my sleep. So we didn't I didn't know what it was.


I was just like a one incident. And I'm like, you peed the bed. People people get over it. You're not dying. Right? I was terrible. And then she had a second one. But then, you know, and then in return. Specs are going like, oh, I think I've had more, and, oh, my back is saw a lot of times when I wake up in all of this and we're just pretty bad at being aware of how frequently things are happening to us or for how long they've been going on, and especially with anxiety and depression.


It takes a long time before you realize, oh, I've been in this pattern of I haven't been able to sleep or I'm irritable. Like, it's easy to just kind of not take the inventory and say like, oh, it's been a while that I've been feeling low or I've been feeling this. We live in such a fast paced world that it's easy to just like move along through it. We had a psychologist on who said the average amount of time it takes for people once they feel miserable, yet before they get help is five years.


That's the average. You feel miserable. They'll have depression hardcore for five whole years before they'll ask for help.


And so sad. I think it just speaks to our culture, though, how we have to keep normalising it and keep talking about it, because I think everyone struggles in some way. Monica, because you've said you have ruminating thoughts. Oh, yeah. Just like I do. What have you found that has helped you or have you found anything?


So exercise does help and I do guide meditation as well. Or I tried to I get you know, I fall off the boat every now and then, but that helps.


And also acceptance has helped. That is how my brain operates. And what you had said earlier, you can't just say to stop thinking about it. That's not going to work. It's never going to work. That's not that's not an option on the table. So it's just kind of letting myself sit in it for a bit helps. And one of my best friends who also struggles with depression and anxiety and I was like, how do you get above water?


And she said, Sometimes I just let myself sink. And I was like, oh, wow. Like, she just pictures herself letting go and just like being underwater for a bit and then you get the energy to come back up. So letting yourself off the hook a little bit can be helpful. Something that also helps me a lot of things that we say in our head or the way we speak to ourselves, we would never say to a loved one or someone we care about.


So sometimes it helps me if I'm like, OK, I need to think about this. It's almost as if it's like thinking about it outside of me. And if my friend was telling me this or like my younger self, what would I say to her? Because I wouldn't be this cruel to her. I wouldn't be this, like, intense about it. And so that's something that also really helps me. But sometimes when I'm in those spiral moments, I can't separate that.


It's OK when I'm in, like, the worse things, like ten people can tell me you're fine and I'm still like, no, but what if you're wrong? It is so hard for me to get out of my head. And it's something that I'm really working on. And I don't know about you, but I'll have a month where I'm like, I feel so great, I'm fine. And then it's like, if I have a week that's bad.


It just like continues. Yeah, it's either like a good week or not a great week. And so I'm trying to find tools to like, get out of it quicker because it feels like it's the end of the world.


Have you tried medication? I have tried it. And so I actually you know, it's so interesting because I read a lot of different books and I think there's like sort of two sides of it. And I realize, like, not everything is like black or white. Like you have some people that are like, oh, my gosh, like depression and anxiety medication is amazing. It should be in tap water. And then you've got other people that are like anxiety, depression, medication is the worst it causes, like gut problems.


It's horrible for you. And so, like, it's not one size fits all. And it's like I've also read books that are really about meditation and this fixes everything. I think it's important. I still feel like there is a stigma around trying medication and it's so hard for people to get it. Like I felt like that for so long. There's nothing wrong. If you feel like you're sinking. There's nothing wrong with trying medication. It's OK.


Yeah, it's OK. And I actually tried it a couple of years ago. I was having horrible nightmares and I tried medication for it and the medication actually made me faint and I had to go to the hospital. And so that was really scary. But it was like I'm also trying to be aware of, like the story that I tell myself, because then for years I was like, I'm not trying anything else. I'm just going to faint on every other type of anxiety or depression medication.


And so that's also been like something I'm trying to be aware of. What am I telling myself? Like, just because one thing happens doesn't mean it's going to happen in every other situation. So it's like also being aware of the negativity in the judgement in my mind. So like. Yeah, but I think it's like really important. I think there's a lot of shame around anxiety and depression medicine. And even like when I talk about it with other friends, people are like, yeah, I wouldn't do that.


And I'm like, OK, well, I'm not going to tell you any more, but like there's nothing wrong with it cause nothing to try.


It is what I say. There's no reason you can try it. And then people around you that love you will tell you. If your personality's disappeared, so all the things you're nervous about, there's really nothing to be nervous about. But my thing is, if you've said a gratitude list in the morning and you worked out for an hour and you were of service to another human being and you're still miserable and you've put together a week of that, I'd say you probably need to talk to a psychiatrist.


Like if you're doing every single thing that can be done behaviorally and it's having no impact, then I just would say it's definitely time to talk to a psychiatrist because there's only so many tools we have. And if you're using all them and you still don't want to be alive, it's definitely talk to a psychiatrist.


I've been on a antidepressant for the past couple months. I've just started it recently and I had an appointment yesterday because we were going up a little bit in my dose and he was like, this isn't like we can't go back or we can't go up. Don't feel like you're stuck in any way. And then he also gave me an anti anxiety medication, but just as like inspiringly moments and panic moments. And I hadn't taken it yet. But then the other night I was really spiraling and I was like, you know what?


I'm going to try the medication. So I just took like a quarter of it. And then I was so anxious that it wasn't going to work or it was going to work with my other medication. I was going to become addicted to it, or I took too much. And I was like, oh, my God, this antianxiety medication is giving me so much anxiety. But I think it's good to know that's a safety net. And I always know you can try.




And it's OK to try it. You know, I actually have a friend for as long as I've known her. She has, like, this horrific anxiety with being afraid that she's going to get sick. And like, if she has a headache, she will start going to the worse thing. Oh, my gosh, I have brain cancer. But to do that for like four months. Yeah. So for months and months, she'll keep going at doctors and specialists and like, it doesn't matter how many doctors we tell her, like, I promise you, you're fine.


She's like, but what if I'm not? What if it's not true? Or like if she's like feeling her breasts and she feels a little something, she's like, oh my gosh, I have breast cancer. And then if she goes to the doctor, they say you don't. She still freaks out. So I was talking the other day. I was like for as long as I've known you because we lost touch for a little bit, you know, not anything bad, just life happens.


And I was like, for as long as I've known you, you've been having these, like, ruminating, obsessive thoughts about like getting sick. And it's like to the point where it takes away your joy because, you know, she was telling me and I can relate to this to where it's like when I'm having such bad anxiety, it's almost like if I'm having fun, I'm like, I'm not allowed to have fun because this bad thing might happen to me.


Like, it almost doesn't feel safe to, like, let myself have fun. And she feels the same way. And so, you know, we were both just talking about it together of like the importance of just like going to someone and talking to someone like and not keeping it in, because when you feel alone and that that's when it gets really scary. And I think just talking about it, you're going to realize, like, unfortunately, people can relate to you, like unfortunately like you and I can relate to each other.


I wish that we both didn't have those ruminating thoughts, but I think a lot of people listening, unfortunately, can probably relate to it, too. But it's like it's just the anxiety of, like, not feeling safe in your own body, which is like such a bad feeling. But it is something that is really important to, like, feel back in your body. And I realized a lot of times in my childhood I wanted to be anywhere but in the present moment because of the abuse that I experienced.


And also something I've never, ever talked about publicly is when I was younger, if I was like laughing or fooling around my older coach, not the ones that I was with at the Olympics, older coach from a long time ago, want to make sure people know it is not my coaches, Mehi and Silvy. If I was laughing, this coach would actually grab me and not talk to me, throw me in the bathroom by myself, shut the lights off and lock the door.


Oh my. And because I would get punished for laughing or if I was like not really paying attention and I was like seven or eight years old. So it's like from a young age, I realize if you're having too much fun, that's bad or you're not paying attention, you're not being respectful as if they're antithetical to each other.


Right. And I do my best work when I'm having fun.


Yeah, exactly. That to me. Like, I find it like manifests like if I'm in the elevator around myself, I'm like, oh my gosh, what if I get locked in here? And then I have to be like, if I'm having more of a better day of control, I'm like, I'm just imagining this. I'm fine. I'm not going to get locked in. But it's like I don't think we give enough weight and enough self compassion to ourselves feel like the trauma we've experienced and how much it impacts us.


Also, I want for anyone listening, like if you're listening to this and saying, well, I didn't experience any kind of like sexual abuse or getting locked in the bathroom, trauma is the way that you were treated, but it's also the lack of treatment you received. So, yeah, yeah, yes. And neglect is traumatic, too, because I think a lot of people don't give enough credit to themselves. And they're like, well, I didn't really have a close relationship with one of my caregivers.


And it's like, but the. It is traumatic and it's important to not compare yourselves if you're listening to this, to my experience or you guys, because it's like we've all experienced different things in our lives.


Oh, my molestation is a walk in the park compared to some that I've heard. I mean, there's so many levels, but what a waste of time. You had to get caught up in comparing whether you deserve to take yourself seriously.


Yeah, well, I was just going to ask you of like and I don't mean to put you on the spot, but it's like I feel like it's not fair for you to say that yours is a walk in the park because I don't feel like you are validating your experience and how hard that was for you and still is.


Well, I do think it was very hard. And yes, I think it still affects my reaction to other men all the time. But I've just heard some stories where I'm like, oh, man, I had that experience for a few weeks.


I have a friend who dealt with it for 12 years from his father. I'm like, oh my God, I'm just my my compassion for him of like God.


I know what I know what a few weeks felt like. I can't imagine what a decade from your primary source of love in your life. I mean.


Yeah, yeah. And I also can't begin to imagine how confusing that is to your father, someone that is supposed to love you and take care of you. And, you know, I can obviously speak to your friend's experience, but something that I've thought a lot about from personal experience and my friends who experience the same abuse from the same abuser is grooming is such a confusing thing as well. I've spoken to a lot of different child abuse experts in different fields.


And, you know, I've spoken to Darkness to Light and I actually work with them. They're the leader in child abuse prevention and they're educating the adults. But also the Monique Burr Foundation educates the children. And the Monique Burr Foundation was telling me that a lot of times kids don't realize that sexual abuse is bad at the time because it's with someone that they love and trust or it could be pleasurable.


Another group of friends that have been molested and they enjoyed it and they were attracted to the person they filed it under. It was a hookup. And and I'm like, no, no, no, no, that's not a hookup. When you're 11 and someone is 18, like, I think that can be a really confusing layer for people. Very confusing.


And and it's interesting because the Monique Burr Foundation says that a lot of adults who are like watching their kids, they're very against that conversation of some kids do enjoy it. It's such an uncomfortable thing to talk about. I think that everyone's experiences are very different. And it's important for people to even if somebody did enjoy it, you know, their experience is still traumatic. And it's still so confusing because it's like the abuse of the power and the trust in it.


I just it's so confusing.


I don't know about for you, but for me, it just completely altered my world view. All of a sudden, I went from living in a world where I thought people were nice to recognizing some people are trying to prey on you and that just permanently fucks up your view of the life or makes you maybe it doesn't fuck it up. Maybe it makes you realistic. I don't know.


But I know it immediately changes. And so you're right, even if you enjoyed it or it was pleasurable, the recognition that someone else had very ulterior motives and all the messages they sent you that felt like love or respect or interest was all a scheme to satisfy themselves. That's the fun part.


And it's very confusing because a lot of times abusers or child abusers, they may not come off like these scary adults, like we picture as kids, like they it could be, unfortunately, you know, one of their caregivers, it could be someone that they really respect in their family or someone that they're like do sports with whatever. It could give them gifts. They can have favorites. And there's so many different red flags that I think it's really important for caregivers to be aware of.


You know, it's like there's an adult that's also taking a lot of photos of kids. Even if the kids are fully clothed, that's a red flag of a pedophile. And something like, for example, for me, my abuser, like he used to take obsessive photos of all of us while we are training. But this was part of his manipulation because he not only groomed us and the coaches, but he also kind of groomed the parents, too.


It's like he would take a ton of photos of us, which I thought, oh, my gosh, he's so nice because I'm away from my family sometimes a month at a time. And he would send my mom a bunch of photos of me.


And I said, yeah, yeah, yeah. So but then when when I started to realize, like, the signs and I wish I had been educated on child abuse prevention, I did not realize it was sexual abuse at the time it was happening to me because it wasn't really talked about. He was a. So I was like, there's no way that I know better than him, like, who am I to say something? I knew I was very uncomfortable.


Well, also, can I add what's so confusing for you? We watch the Errantly car documentary. She's a friend of ours and he's also doing great things for you. So how confusing. Like he's he's healing your body at some times or helping your body and then he's hurting your body. So, like, what a impossible thing to unravel. Are you talking about athlete? I know I'm talking about this one was on HBO.


I actually did not see that one, but I did see an athlete. But it's interesting because I find a lot of people that are still in denial are like, yeah, I have a hard time with it because he was such a good doctor. And I'm like I'm personally like I never felt like he was a good doctor, but that's my perception in my experience. Mean. But don't worry, it's totally fine.


It wasn't it didn't bother me at all because some people like the thing about life is like our perceptions is like our reality. So like maybe somebody else thought that he was an incredible doctor and that's their experience. So that's fine. I personally didn't think he was a good doctor, but it also is because it's like totally like this dark cloud of like, he's a horrible monster. Yeah, it's it is it's so confusing. And also in gymnastics, like, if we had an injury, if we felt sick, it was like, OK, if I didn't feel well, it was like, well, what did you have to eat today?


I noticed you gained a little bit of weight. You probably feel sick because you gained a little bit of weight or your ankle hurts, you're making it up. So everything was like, you better keep quiet, otherwise you're going to replace you with someone else.


It was like it wasn't even a it's a perfect, perfect scenario. Yeah.


It was a perfect scenario for him to get away with it, ignore your pain, everything, and say you're making it up. Everything is on you. Yeah.


Yeah. And I think that everyone would always say all the adults around us was like, you guys are so lucky to have him. He's the best doctor. And they would always say, like because a lot of the coaches are foreigners, they'd be like in America, like, you guys are so spoiled, you have it so good. Like you girls get to eat whatever you want, even though we didn't like you get to live at home like it was always like the gaslighting of like you have it so good.


And I was like, OK, well I don't have it as bad as like the Soviet Union gymnast. Like it was just never even an option. And then, like, if there was someone that did sort of say something, everyone would be like, you're making it up. How dare you say something bad about him? So when you hear someone shame your teammate, you're like, I mean, we're wrong. And it's also so confusing because he worked with almost everyone.


So it's like if he's been the national team doctor and the Olympic doctor, the Olympic doctor for decades and no one said anything, I'm like I was like mad at myself. Like I was like, I can't believe I'm thinking that about this person. I must be a bad person. Like, I'm bad. Something's wrong with me like it is just so. And he would give me gifts, he would give me food. So when he would give me food, I was like, I feel so guilty.


Like, why am I being so judgmental? And this is interesting too, when I reflect on it now, like he annoyed me so much like everything he did annoyed me. And I think that when people annoy us and it could be something little like it could be the way like someone eats their food and it could have nothing to do with something they're doing wrong. But if someone annoys you, I think it's important to reflect on why they're annoying you, what is what is the root of that problem.


And I didn't know enough about, like mental health to be like, why is he annoying me so much? I couldn't put my finger on it, but I was like, I can't stand him.


Yeah, that's a great thing to educate people on that. Yeah. Follow your gut. Yeah. It's really what you think. Think about it. Really chase it down and figure out why and ask questions too.


I wish that I had ask questions, but I didn't even trust myself. I didn't even know enough about what was going on. I never thought that this was sexual abuse because I would have never thought that a doctor could be hurting you. Just he just wasn't. I always just thought stranger danger. And I also thought it was like this creepy man in a van. And I didn't think that it could be like, you know, abuse can also be like a beautiful woman abusing a little boy, you know?


And I'm sure you would agree. Maybe not. I don't want to put words in your mouth, but like, I don't feel like a lot of men and boys. There isn't enough conversation about boys being abused and allowing boys to feel comfortable, being vulnerable and letting them know it's OK to feel however you feel.


Let's just say this. I don't think our society historically has provided a very safe space for boys to be vulnerable. It's a cultural thing that has to change. Yeah, I completely agree, Ali. You're fucking awesome. I want people to check out Sam Vello. And I also know that you're writing a children's book about this. And I have thought so much about also writing a children's book like where's the. Children's book about molesting, I'm not afraid to talk to my kids about it, but I recognize it's really hard for parents to do it.


And I think any tool out there that could help start that conversation is fantastic. So I wish you luck on that.


Thank you. And on everything you're doing, it's been awesome to meet you.


Yeah. Thanks for chatting.


It's been so awesome to chat with you both. Thank you guys so much for having me on.


All right. We'll talk to you again soon. Thank you guys so much. Have a good day.


Take care. And now my favorite part of the show, the fact check with my soul mate, Monica. Can I bring in with B, please? Wow. Do you think you could have maybe done that for a living? No, I mean, there's been times in my life I entertain that. But now a more realistic kind of like when I said I could dance as good as Bruno Mars, but I had not seen him dance. I just assumed he was a good dancer.


Right. But he's a spectacular dancer, relatively good.


I'm glad I called you out on that. Yes, it was early on in our friendship. That was a defining moment in our friendship because it was one of the many moments you were right and I was wrong. And it was a good pattern to establish.


I thought, don't you? I do. I do.


I really think it was informative me and apologize for the beat. Yes. That was a good little party. Yeah. Yeah. Oh. Oh. Can I do it for sure. Are you really asking me when you say that I am if you say no, I won't do it.


But I am proud that you've started by the time I answered. That's true. But if you say no, then I'll say let's try it again. Let's just let's do a run through how that would work. OK, can I drop an old school beat on this bum? No.


Thank you. I hate to go from the FRB to something so serious, but but here we are.


Yeah, not a ding, ding, ding. No, no opposite of a ding, ding. And we live for ding, ding, ding.


We'd love ding, ding, ding. But not today. Not today. Just really.


Thank you to Ali. Yes, that was incredible. I'd like to say I did not have the goal of making her walk through any of that stuff. No, I did it, but it just happened. And it was really lovely to be trusted like that. Yeah. Yeah.


She was so open. I mean, what we're learning, what we already knew was true, but seems to be proven again and again is this vulnerability is so powerful for other people and it's connective and people are struggling. I feel really bad, not the right word. I just can see what an enormous toll it must take on her to be out in public and have and be inspirational in that sense to so many people and then have to. Yeah.


Join them on there. I just I don't know that I it ever occurred to me that that would be part of it, but of course it is. Yeah. Yeah. She's made a huge sacrifice to be open about this stuff. Yeah.


You know, it's so impressive. I liked her so much. I want to be friends with her. So there aren't really many facts because this was just kind of a open emotional episode.


But you talked about watching a documentary about chess players. Bobby Fisher. I think you're talking about Bobby Fischer against the World. That sounds right. Yep. It was on HBO originally, as I recall. That seems for me to be the one you were talking about.


When have you ever seen it? No, he became oh, he moved to Iceland. You know, he became a very outspoken antisemite. Oh, yeah. Oh, no.


Yeah, he's he he became a very rough Hangu because he became paranoid. Oh, yeah. And did chess make him paranoid?


Yeah, well, that's what I was saying in the interview, which is like if the only part of your brain you're exercising for 12 hours a day is the part of your brain that worries about this, the next attack on you. Yeah, yeah. I think it's normal for that to happen, not to become an anti-Semite, but. No, but it is weird that there is this general overlay with paranoia and then being anti Semitic. Yeah, right.


It seems like a first stop for people when they start thinking that someone's controlling the world. And who would it be. Yeah, yeah.


OK, another ding ding, ding, ding goes up fucking Dingle's documentary documentary again.


Errantly Cars Dock was called At the Heart of Gold. That was on HBO. That was fantastic. It really was really. And for me it's so funny because I guess I assumed she would have watched it. But of course she didn't watch it. Oh yes. But I don't know why in the moment I thought I was like, thinking of it wrong. Yeah. Yeah, certainly not a story. She's like, can't wait to relive for two hours.


It's very traumatizing.


I think that was something about her story. I'm so glad she talked about because I don't think people I didn't realize the level of getting traumatized again re triggered it because I think if you haven't experienced it, you're like, oh, that happened to them. Yeah. And they are sad about it. But you're forgetting the part that's like literal PTSD. You get re triggered and you feel the things you were feeling.


And yeah, it's really intense and I don't know if I brought it up during the interview, but most certainly the thing I would have I could relate to her imagine is like I'm fine with being honest if I control it, of course. But when when someone just makes a movie about it, it's not is so out of your control it cannot feel comfortable.


No, but it is. It's a good movie. Yeah. It's incredibly good movie, as is all of errantly, cars, movies. Yes.


We really. We like her. We like her. You know, it's interesting. Ding ding ding ding. Ls Erin, when she came on our show, one of the big things I remember and it was a small part, but I haven't really ever forgotten it. I think about it a lot. Her dad was sober. Yeah. And he relapsed after like 30 something years of sobriety.


And when she said that, I remember thinking like, oh, wow. Right. That can happen. That can happen. Especially after that long. Like, you'd think that's over and it's not. And I just I think about that every now and then. And it's a it's a ding, ding, ding. It is. I I met him before. He was lovely. I wonder. It doesn't matter. But I do wonder because his issue was smoking crack.


I mean, that's the thing that got him sober. I want it because his relapse was cleaning up after a party and he combined all these half drink glasses into like one huge glass to pour out. Into the sink and you start to sink and just guzzled it, and I do wonder if he was like, well, my thing my problem wasn't alcohol. Yeah, probably nice lie. We like to tell ourselves. And then I just wanted to bring up the Magnificent Seven, the gymnasts that Ali and I both loved.


That was a fun connection was oh my gosh, I loved that because there aren't very many people on Earth. I get to share that obsession with with the videotaped, you know, the video, the VHS. Yeah. And watching it over and over again that she did it like she was me watching that video and the idea that I could have been that. Yeah, and she did. Yeah.


Oh, I don't want her to be so excited.


I would have gotten stunted, of course. Well, I asked her about that and it does happen to almost all of them. So it would have been I would have been four or five. Oh that would be great. Even more miniature. I could really carry you in in a messenger bag at that point.


Oh, my God. Like Paris Hilton's dog. Just carry me around, you know, like when we would do live shows instead of saying, you know, outcomes. But I would unzip my bag and you would pop out. And it would really make sense when I say put you on my carry on luggage, I really could I could pop out of the can and the t shirt cannon.


Oh, wow. And do a bunch of flips because you would have the skill. Yes. Yes. Oh me. If you blew it we would have like we would be like Ringling Brothers or something.


I didn't blow it by the way. I tried. I just was they said I was too late. But Ali, when did she start. She was young. Right. Yes, I hope she was young and not starting at age eight like me, and then they told me I was too late. I know, you know, I live like daily. I think about the fact that if I if I don't get Lincoln started in go racing like yesterday, she's not going to be able to be a Formula One driver.


And it haunts me. I think it's true. But she hasn't asked me to put her in a go cart. So. So it's a tricky situation.


It's just I can't understand the pull these parents who like when they see their kid has something like Lincoln has the ability to be a great race car driver. She's fearless. She's got amazing balance in hand eye coordination and depth perception. And she just has what it would take. I know.


But a well-funded father, that's the real. Yeah, that is being said. She does have that's what makes Lewis Hamilton's personal story the best Formula One driver in the world is so special and beautiful. A, there wasn't barely any black kids racing go carts. He's the first, to my knowledge, black Formula One driver, and he's the best. He's about to break Michael Schumacher his record, which would pretty much make him the greatest of all time plower.


And he and his dad just had to get out on the track and win. Wow.


This is very inspiring. Oh, I like the cars. You should marry him. He's so fucking hot. I've shown you pictures of him. No, I've never seen him. Oh, my God. He's just like, let me look at Tom Brady where you're like, what the fuck? You're also a supermodel. He is. He married. Lewis Hamilton is so gorgeous. I can't imagine he's married. He's tall, too, right? Oh, my God.


He's beautiful, right? Yeah.


Mm mm.


Does he own a T rex?


He certainly could afford a T rex. He is very, very wealthy. I wonder if it'd be good for me today's date or will you be working all the time?


That's really probably not good for my mental health, but yet I could see you doing it at the same time. It's one of those you just attracted to the flame.


Ya? Oh, jeez Louise.


All right. Well, unfortunately, that's all for Ali. OK, well, I'm glad we got to talk about Lewis Hamilton a little bit too. And some other things. Some some Dingle's, some beatboxing.


Ali, we really appreciate you.


And from the bottom of my heart, what a what a wonderful, beautiful interview. Thank you so much. Yeah. Special, special, special. That she should marry Lewis Hamilton. If you're not going to. Can we both.


I wonder if he's. Well, he he's in a different country every week. Yeah. That's the thing.


We could split em. Yes.


But he's like Keith Raniere.


Oh not good. We got to have a whole fact check about that. Oh yeah. Next. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Everyone catch up on the vow and fact check so that you can know what we're talking about.


Yes. All right. We love you.