In our Season 9 finale, Nyge and Dom talk to the season’s on-call therapist Keanu M. Jackson about whether or not grudges serve us. Then, they sit down with Natalie and Kaitlin Prest from Sisters, a celebrated podcast by The Heart, to discuss sibling rivalries, family beef, and how their relationship has evolved over the years.
Adult ISH is produced by YR Media and brought to you by PRX’s Radiotopia. Be sure to follow all our socials @yrAdultISH!
Dom: Welcome to Adult ISH, produced by YR Media and brought to you by Radiotopia from PRX. I'm Dominique French.
Nyge: And I'm Nyge Turner and this is the season nine finale.
Nyge: I know, I know, I know. It arrived so fast.
Dom: And how are we going to be closing out the season, Nyge?
Nyge: By talking about beef.
Dom: Beef? But I'm a vegetarian!
Nyge: No, not beef. No, beef, as in grudges, animosity, and bad blood.
Dom: Ah! Scandalous.
Nyge: I know, but I think it's time, Low key. I'm always down to talk about barbecue, though.
Dom: Yeah, we know. Should we tell them?
Nyge: About what?
Dom: About[whispers] our beef?
Nyge: Yeah, but you can tell.
Dom: Nyge and I have BEEFED y'all!!! We have beef-ED, past tense. The truth comes out. Our friendship is not perfect.
Nyge: That's right. You heard it here first. We both have said or done things that have rubbed each other the wrong way.
Dom: It's true, but we've always talked about it, heard each other out, apologized, and come back from it.
Nyge: Word. Word. word.
Dom: Which is relatively new for me because I love beefing. I love grudges. They're my constant little companions and I love them so much. But as I've grown up, I've kissed some of them goodbye with a tear in my eye in an effort to have more meaningful relationships. But it's really hard.
Nyge: It really can be, though, because at the core of all beef is someone whose feelings have been genuinely hurt, and that sometimes is really hard to let go.
Dom: More for some, myself, than others.
Nyge: So to find out why beef can linger and so much more. We brought in for one last interview, our season's on-call therapist Keanu Jackson. I asked him what function interpersonal beef serves.
Keanu: My first question is like, does it have to? Like, I don't know. I just feel like conflict is inevitable, tension is inevitable, and there ain't nothing wrong with it. You know? However, that's easy for me to say as a person who works in this field, I'm like, “Yeah, I like conflict! Okay, what about it?” But the truth is, we live in a very like, conflict-avoidant society, which just is what it is. But to answer your question, the function of I guess, that beef, I like to think of it as a – fundamentally just like looking at miscommunication and thinking about how certain miscommunications or misunderstandings can then lead to feelings of betrayal or feelings of rejection or abandonment of some sort. And of course, like when you're experiencing that within, like your community, with your friends and your family, like it's going to hit different. It will. It will. But that's my two cents on that. Yeah.
Dom: So in your opinion, Keanu, why do some of us, myself included, find it more difficult than others to let go of a beef?
Keanu: Oof. I don't know. I don’t know if y’all gonna like this.
Nyge: For some people. We’ll take it off Dom.
Dom: For some people it's water off a duck's back, and some people it's a much more active exercise in acceptance and communication in order to be able to let go of something.
Keanu: Well, the first thing I have to say is depending on the person, like, are you really seeing that person or are you. Or up until that point where you're seeing them through a lens of who you wish they would be? (Dom: Oooh!) I have to say, I like sometimes, you know, of course, like the people who we surround ourselves with are people who we look up to in some capacity of who we can be ourselves with, hopefully, vulnerable with, hopefully. And sometimes when we find ourselves in conflict with these folks, it can really shatter the rose-colored glasses in a bit, especially if it's like the first time. (Dom: Mm-hmm) And ultimately, I ask folks all the time, I'm like, well, how are you seeing this person? Are you seeing Dom as Dom or are you seeing a version of Dom that you idolize or you envisioned or you, you know, like you constructed?
And sometimes being brought back down to that reality of, oh, this is just a person who I'm speaking to and not this figure, not this character, it can really sting. And that can be hard for people, especially if that moment of conflict felt particularly personal. Or if there are particular parts of you that really just felt very misunderstood or disrespected or just used in some way. Other times, you know, tension can really just linger. The question of, okay, well, did we really get to what to what the root of this problem was or did or if in this conversation, did this transform into something else entirely? All that to say. I don't have, like, a for sure answer to your question. Because I don't think that there is one. However, I will say I wonder what conflict resolution, what repair, what separation – because even that is necessary at times. I guess I wonder what all those frameworks can look like if we can really allow ourselves to see the people who we’re interacting with as people, and really see ourselves as people.
Nyge: What advice do you have to those people who are having a rough time letting go of a grudge?
Dom: Guys like you about to have to start paying me for these trucks. All right.
Keanu: I'm over here. I'm right where my cash app. What is going on here? You got me out here working. [laughter]
I don't know if this is advice. But I really just hope whatever it is that you need out there, I hope that there is someone or something in proximity to you, somebody that's accessible to you that can really help you to meet that need. Because when I really do think about these moments. I really just cannot help but imagine, just like a deep sense of loneliness, like it can feel, it can hurt, especially given the type of relationship that was involved. You know, like a parent, a sibling, you know, like a best friend, you know? I just really hope that. Throughout that process. Of tension of conflict, of this grudge, that it's possible for you or whoever out there to. Really just honor that feeling, trust that feeling, and use that feeling in a way that can help you get that need met. Show yourself some grace and give yourself an opportunity to rest. Because that impacts your body, by hanging on to those types of feelings, that really, it really impacts your body and your mind. You know, again, I said this before, but like, conflict is inevitable. But conflict doesn't necessarily have to be the termination of a relationship. Nor does conflict resolution have to mean that you are remaining in a similar dynamic with whichever individual you had the conflict with. If that dynamic is staying the same, then really what was resolved by two sets on it. So I just want to encourage people that as the conflict emerges to really try and center your feelings, understand where you're coming from, and really try to ask yourself that question of, okay, well, who is this person that I am in conflict with, and how, how would I like for our relationship to go from here?
Dom: Big shoutout to Keanu for all of the insight he has given us on everything from guilty pleasures to beef this season.
Nyge: If you want to see more of Keanu's work, you can follow him on Instagram @theblackqueertherapist or visit his website at KeanuMJackson.com.
Dom: Some beefs can hit harder than others.
Nyge: Like those you share with a sibling.
Dom: Look, all I'm saying is don't ask my sister about the dog food in her cereal incident. I'm not saying it didn't happen. I'm just saying she's going to lie. She's going to embellish, and I don't want to talk about it.
Nyge: Dang. Don't cross Dom, I guess? But that being said, we sat down with Kaitlin and Natalie Prest, a sibling pair who overcame their beef to create the beautiful podcast series “Sisters” on Radiotopia’s The Heart. And these two set the sibling mood right off the bat.
Natalie: Who's going to go first?
Kaitlin: Rock, paper, scissors? Yeah. Rock paper– two and a three, is it?
Natalie: It's two out of three guys.
Kaitlin: No, it's one. It's one.
Natalie: It's one, for time management. Okay.
Kaitlin: Rock, paper, scissors.
Natalie: Kaitlin won.
Kaitlin: Yeah. Okay. So I'm Kaitlin Prest, I’m a sound nerd. And my first big show is called The Heart. In 2020, I hired my sister to work at my company called Mermaid Palace, where we make other podcasts as well. Natalie, do you want to – introduce yourself.
Natalie: Yeah, well, for people who don't know, my first podcast was the sister series coming out on the Heart, and I'm a singer and an artist. Oh, and I'm the younger sister. Sorry, the all important question. I'm the younger sister.
Nyge: Though the sisters are close now, Kaitlin doesn't take emotional closeness with her family for granted.
Kaitlin: I mean, I think, you know, not everybody stays close to their family. I kind of resist the assumption that just because you're related, you're connected for life, you know? Like, I kind of you know, like I want to support people who have decided to, like, actually make the cut? In our thirties now, a lot of my friends are kind of, like, looking at their families and asking what they want their relationships or their families to be. And in a way, I think we kind of almost, we kind of come up against that question, not overtly in the series, but a little bit, you know, like it's like, how close do we want to be? How close should we be?
Dom: When you spend so much time with someone else, over many years, arguments and dynamics tend to repeat themselves. Throughout Kaitlin and Natalie's lives, conflict patterns have emerged between the two of them – and, major differences about how those fights affected them. Here’s Natalie.
Natalie: Because I looked up to her and because I thought she was so amazing, like, these fights would, like, land on me in this way. Whereas she was like, okay, we got it out, we yelled at each other, we were angry, and now we can move on, you know? Whereas I would still be holding on to it for like almost a year later. I'd be like, still upset about it and still thinking about it and still like holding it against her, to be honest. Like, being like, that was not cool with me, but never bringing it up that it was not cool with me and like bringing it out on the table. So we did a lot of, like, bringing things out on the table with the series, given the power dynamic between us, like, I didn't think I could openly talk about how I felt. Like, like we talked about everything. We laid everything on the table and it was a bit painful at times, but like, I think it really helped us move forward because I, I was too scared to bring things up to her because I thought I knew she would get mad at me or I'd have a bad reaction or I'd have a negative response. But like I was just in shock that we could actually talk through a lot of the stuff that I was scared to bring up.
Caitlin: I guess what feels like a recurring theme in that fight for me is like we get into this fight a lot about – it's so, it’s so childish. “Who started it?” You know, even as adults, right? Like so, as kids, because I was the older one and also because I had conflict with my dad, and my dad was the boss. Right? So he was the, he was the dad. He was the man. Okay. And so he was the boss. And so me having conflict with him meant everyone had conflict with me. Like, it's like if Dad has conflict with Caitlin, then that means Caitlin is the bad one. And so, um, something I remember a lot was like, basically there was a rule in the house that – I don't know. He has all these sayings. Our dad has all these sayings, right? Like, like, don't, you know, “Better safe than sorry. Practice what you preach. Work first, play later,” you know. And one of them is “Don't fight fire with fire. Two wrongs don't make a right.” (Natalie: Two wrongs don't make a right.) Two wrongs don't make a right. So, you know, so the rule was always with heading okay, we would hit each other sometimes. Okay. We'd get mad, upset. We're children. We hitting. And so it was always, I was always bad no matter what. So it was like I hit Natalie, Kaitlin’s in trouble, of course. Natalie hits me and I hit her back, Kaitlin's in trouble, of course! It doesn't matter if she hit first because two wrongs don't make a right. So I am in trouble because I hit back. And then I vividly remember this one: Finally, she hit me, and I had the strength and courage not to hit her back. And I was so excited. I ran to my parents and I was like, “Natalie hit meeee!” And – and my Dad is like, “What did you do to make her do that?” And I was like, “There's no fairness in this world. There's no fairness in this world.” And then, you know, as adults, it goes on and on, and it's a big, it's a, it's a feedback loop. It just goes on and on. And we still I think we got into a fight like that just yesterday. Yeah.
Natalie: You know, that leads me to my point about what I've literally learned from Kaitlin is that she's able to point the finger inward like more than the average person. And I hope that that's also something that people get from this podcast is like, I had to learn as the angel of the family. I was like, I'm always, yeah, I'm never wrong. Kaitlin always starts it, like I'm always the good one. I'm the one who, you know. Yeah. And so whenever we get into patterns, I feel like we've just learned how to identify the more like I've had to point my, like my dad. One of his other sayings is, when you point the finger, there's three fingers pointing back at you”. (Kaitlin: Yes!) And so I started like, looking at what I was doing on my side of the street, on my side of the argument, on my side of the. Yeah, not being and I'm not an angel all the time and it's true and, and yeah, dealing with that and also being able to identify these patterns that we have with each other, like we, we stepped on a lot of trigger buttons and we learned, oh my God, don't step there like this or like we'd see it in each other and we'd be able to help each other identify, okay, we're bringing this, we're escalating this further, we're doing that thing where it's you – no your fault, no your fault, you know, or whatever. Like, like classic sibling things. Like, now you started it, you know, like it's actually a thing. And so we did learn patterns. We even had like, special words that we would use.
Kaitlin: We do safe words. We try to do safe words.
Natalie: We started doing “Shields up” or, but with shields we just said Shields because we're Star Trek fans. My dad used to tell us growing up, you could, you can stay up and watch Star Trek or you can go to bed…
Nyge: If you haven’t listened to Sisters, you should know that Kaitlin and Natalie's relationship has come a long way since their childhood. So we asked them what words of wisdom they would share to someone who's curious about addressing beef with a sibling – or anyone, really. Here’s Kaitlin again.
Kaitlin: When you're thinking about how you start it, how do you re-initiate a conversation with someone that you're estranged from or you have a kind of long-standing beef with? What does that mean if you put it, put it all aside, you know, And that's where it gets tough, you know, and that's why people are asking these questions. And -and -and I guess my advice would be, ask yourself, is it safe to bring up the beef? You know, like, can you – like I would say for me, I think as an extremist, I've also kind of flubbed a lot of these conversations and retraumatized myself, okay, like by trying to initiate the conversation with someone who just does not want to hear it. You know what I mean? Like, you're trying to bring up something difficult and, you know, and then you get you know, I know gaslight is a word that everybody's using all the time these days, but like to be invalidated, to have someone tell you that this vulnerable thing that you're sharing isn't real, isn't legitimate, and maybe is even stupid. You know, it's not. It fucks you up, it messes you up. So, like, one piece of advice that I have is if you do have beef and you have been a stranger for a long time or you've been holding something in, don't start with the beef. Start with, “Would you be open to having a conversation about something difficult?” Um, and scheduling it, you know, being like, make a time and make a time limit (Natalie: Mm-hmm!) and, and also like and, and, and ask don't, don't ask with the intention of being like, like, like sometimes we ask a question, like we say like, you know, these are the things I need to feel safe in this conversation. And then you expect them to do it and then you get mad that they haven't done it. But like it should be a question. It should be like, do you think you could imagine yourself actually just listening and listening to me talk about my experience for 30 minutes without interrupting me and without getting upset? Do you think you could do that? And then judge whether or not what the reaction is? You know what I mean? And protect yourself.
Dom: Listen to Kaitlin and Natalie's series “Sisters'' on The Heart by Radiotopia, wherever you get your podcasts. For other shows by the studio, check out the audio company Mermaid Palace at mermaidpalace.org.
Nyge: Beef is still very confusing to me. I still feel really conflicted about how or when to solve it, give up on people or renegotiate relationships. I really don't like conflict at all. As a result from growing up around people who never shied away from it. But the processors talked about beef being a cycle and just arguing yesterday, and that really makes me feel like conflict is just a part of life. So not really inherently positive or negative. It just is. So personally, I think I need to just work on seeing it that way instead of seeing it as something that I need to avoid at all costs.
Dom: I think that's beautiful Nyge.
Nyge: Thank you. [laughs] What about you?
Dom: Here's what I think about the episode: No beef! I have no beef with this episode. I enjoyed getting these perspectives on something that I genuinely struggle with, and I think I've made a lot of strides when it comes to letting go of my adorable little grudges. But I can, I can do more. And I'm going to continue to do more. You know what I do have beef with? This is the end of the season!
Dom: I'm very upset!
Nyge: Facts facts facts.
Dom: It's been such a whirlwind, and I'm really glad to have had you Nyge, along the way. It's been beautiful. And I just want to say thank you to you.
Nyge: Thank you to you, too!
Dom: And thank you to you, the listeners, for tuning in and giving us some of your time and making these two little dudes’ dreams of talking for a living, a reality. I'm so glad to share this with all of you.
Nyge: Adult ISH is produced by YR Media, a national network of young artists and journalists creating content for this generation. Our show is produced by Georgia Wright, Dominique French, and by me, your boy, Nyge Turner.
Dom: Our engineer is James Riley. Our audio engineering fellow is Christian Romo.
Nyge: YR’s Director of Podcasting is Sam Choo.
Dom: YR’s senior Director of Podcasting and Partnerships is Rebecca Martin.
Nyge: Our intern’s name is Quinn Castro.
Dom: Original music for this episode created by these young musicians at YR: Christian Romo, Anders Knutstad, Noah Holt, Jacob Armenta, Chaz Whitley, Michael Diaz, Sean Luciano Galarza, and David Lawrence.
Music Direction by Oliver “Kuya” Rodriguez and Maya Drexler.
Nyge: Art Direction from Brigido Bautista and Marjerrie Masicat. Creative direction by Pedro Vega, Jr.
Dom: Special thanks to Eli Arbreton.
Nyge: We are also proud to be members of Radiotopia by PRX, an independent, listener-supported collective of some of the most amazing shows in all of podcasting. Find them at Radiotopia.fm. If you haven’t reviewed our show on Apple Podcasts, please be sure to do so; five stars is much appreciated.
Dom: You can follow us on all the socials @YRAdultISH. And on that note, I’ll miss you, bye!
Nyge: Bye! Come back next season!