EP 37

EP 37

Join Vex Murmur as they share their journey from Mormon upbringing to rope bondage, highlighting artistic expression, technical challenges, and self-care in self-suspension. They stress self-awareness, communication, and starting with floor work for safe exploration, promoting individualized approaches.

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Guest Bio

Vex is a self-suspension rope enthusiast, where they use the forms of their body as a medium of expression with rope and self-portraits. They pull from interests in suffering and how to suffer better where they proclaim to be a disciple of suffering, and how this manifests as part of their human experience in and outside of rope.

Instagram: @vexmurmur


[00:00:08] Wicked Wren Hello to all my guys, gals and non-binary pals. Welcome to the Shibari Study Podcast. I'm your host, Wicked Wren. Shibari Study is an online learning resource offering video tutorials for beginners through advanced practitioners. Whether you're brand new to the world of Shibari and needing to learn the basics, or a seasoned rigger or rope bottom seeking inspiration to push your practice to new places, there's something for you at shibaristudy.com. Today I'm talking to Vex Murmur. Vex uses they/them pronouns. Vex is a self suspension rope enthusiast, where they use forms of their body as a medium of expression with rope and self-portraits. They pull from interest in suffering and how to suffer better, where they proclaim to be a disciple of suffering, and how this manifests as part of their human experience in and outside of rope. Hello Vex. How are you?

[00:01:04] VexMurmur Hi. I'm good. How are you doing?

[00:01:06] Wicked Wren I am so good. So you were telling me that you first learned how to drive at 34?

[00:01:14] VexMurmur Yes. Well, wait. No, I'm 34 now. Sorry. I first learned how to drive at age 32, so I've only been driving for two years.

[00:01:21] Wicked Wren Oh my god. Did you not learn how to drive as a teen?

[00:01:25] VexMurmur No, not at all.

[00:01:26] Wicked Wren Okay. Yeah. Did you not have interest in it or no one showed you?

[00:01:33] VexMurmur So both, didn't have an interest and no one showed me because, like, little fun fact is I'm the youngest of five children, and my siblings are all very far apart. Like, my oldest brother is 21 years older than me. So I had like grandparents for parents that didn't want to teach the child how to drive.

[00:01:54] Wicked Wren They were kind of over it.

[00:01:55] VexMurmur Yeah. Very over it. Done.

[00:01:59] Wicked Wren It begs the question, how did you get around? Because you're in the US and in the US, we're very car centric. You essentially have to be in a car. How did you get around?

[00:02:09] VexMurmur So a lot of it was being dependent on my parents, which was unpleasant. And then I am a master of public transit.

[00:02:18] Wicked Wren That's awesome. Do you have good public transit where you are?

[00:02:22] VexMurmur No. It's horrible.

[00:02:24] Wicked Wren Yes. Do you find that the rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft and things have helped, or does it make it... Has it made it harder or what?

[00:02:36] VexMurmur I think like outside of where I live in Utah, it's helped. But, so, I'm in like a very suburban area, like not really close to any of the bigger cities. So to even like get to the bigger cities, it's still going to cost you like 50 to $100 for a lift.

[00:02:54] Wicked Wren Yeah, yeah. Do you ride your bike at all?

[00:02:59] VexMurmur No. Mainly just... Yeah, relied on the bus. We do have, like, a track system here. Or we call it the front runner here, like a train. And so that was my main way of getting around.

[00:03:10] Wicked Wren I love it. I could turn this entire podcast into a public transport podcast because I do love it. I am new to using it relatively. And I do like it a lot.

[00:03:27] VexMurmur Hell, yeah.

[00:03:28] Wicked Wren So when did you find rope?

[00:03:31] VexMurmur So I first found rope... Well, first started like doing rope in 2016. But I think my first introduction to it – like most of us – is like the good old Tumblr days. And seeing it on there and being like, What is this? I want to do this. And then, you know, internet being more readily available and just googling everything.

[00:03:54] Wicked Wren Yeah. Do you remember what you saw on Tumblr?

[00:03:59] VexMurmur So I'm sure... I can't remember exactly like as many specific people, but I remember, KissMeDeadlyDoll for sure. Even, like, Rope Baby. I mean, this was a long time ago, and like, Rope Baby stuff was still up on YouTube before YouTube did their big ban. But those are the two main ones that stuck. I was like, What is this? I want to do this.

[00:04:20] Wicked Wren Did you see Doll self-suspending?

[00:04:22] VexMurmur Yes. Yep.

[00:04:23] Wicked Wren That's awesome. You're obviously a big self-suspender now. Did you start self suspending?

[00:04:31] VexMurmur I did and that was kind of how I wanted to get into it because I saw it. And I wanted to be – to kind of approach it of like, I want to do this, but I want to do it on myself because I'm, I'm a very introverted person, too. And also like getting sober. I kind of didn't have a lot of friends for a long time. And so it was kind of like, I don't know how to regain a sense of community yet, but I see this thing that I really want to do, so how do I do it? And I just wanted to do it.

[00:05:01] Wicked Wren Does your family know that you're (…)? You said you had four siblings. I'm just curious.

[00:05:07] VexMurmur So my my mom knew. Rest in peace. She is now dead, but she knew about it. My sister knows. But other than that, no one else does, because I come from a very strict, dogmatic, Mormon family.

[00:05:23] Wicked Wren I was curious, you said Utah. Were you raised Mormon?

[00:05:26] VexMurmur Yes.

[00:05:28] Wicked Wren That has to play into your journey somehow.

[00:05:31] VexMurmur Oh, yeah. Big time. Yeah.

[00:05:35] Wicked Wren Did you have friends that were (…) at all growing up when you found Tumblr? I'm sure you didn't share with any of your friends because they were probably Mormon as well and very conservative.

[00:05:46] VexMurmur Not that I knew of, actually, because I think with Utah, too, like, because it's just it's all Mormons that there's so much internalized shame and guilt. So if any of us, like, were (…), it was like, we're not talking about it. We're not telling anyone. So it was like, we were very secretive about it, so... Like, growing up, I had no clue if any of my friends were or even are. Probably, though.

[00:06:11] Wicked Wren Are the majority of people in the Utah rope scene Mormons or ex Mormons?

[00:06:19] VexMurmur I think there's a fair amount that... I think there's a fair group that are ex Mormon, some that have never been Mormon at all. Within the community, I've only known of a couple that were still active, like Mormon, and they are delightful. They are some of the best people I've met.

[00:06:38] Wicked Wren That was my question. How did those two things work together?

[00:06:41] VexMurmur Yeah, which I mean, and I've had like – so I work in the mental health field too, and we've had like clients come through, they're just like, I want to have a temple recommend, but actively involved in like (…) and (…). And so it's been fun. It's like, Well, how do you make sense of this? And with those individuals in particular, it's cool to see them like really navigate and address their shame. Like I've seen them address it so much better than other people like, you've – because they've had to so carefully go about it. And how do you kind of deconstruct that and be okay with it in a community that is so shame-based?

[00:07:16] Wicked Wren Are there any through lines that people share? Is it like common shame that they have common threads?

[00:07:27] VexMurmur I think so. I mean – because Mormonism is like, it's a hard core patriarchal society. So that's fun navigating. Where it's not like – women are submissive. And that's something that I really like struggled with, which was also part of why I wanted to get into rope with like, This is my body. I'm going to do what I want with my body. And so I think like, yeah, that in turn, like, there's internalized misogyny very present in the culture. You know, this kind of blind obedience of just do what's asked of you without question.

[00:08:00] Wicked Wren It feels like a perfect storm of things to just make a phenomenal (…) relationship, right?

[00:08:09] VexMurmur Yeah.

[00:08:10] Wicked Wren You're starting to self-suspend, and you are a (…). Correct?

[00:08:15] VexMurmur Yes. Yes. Yeah.

[00:08:16] Wicked Wren How did you find out that you were a (…)?

[00:08:19] VexMurmur So I knew I was a (…), like, I don't know, starting at a young age? And when I was thinking about, like, preparing earlier, I was like, I'm going to be on this podcast with Wren. I was thinking about like, when did, like, rope really start for me, and when I knew I was a (…)? And I remember, like as a kid making collages, and then I would get twine and like, tie up the bodies with twine and, like, glue them down. Like, Oh, that's, that's probably where this started.

[00:08:43] Wicked Wren And glue them down?

[00:08:45] VexMurmur Yeah. Like, get like twine and [00:08:47]make a collage. [0.0s]

[00:08:48] Wicked Wren What would you make the collages out of? What were the little people made out of like?

[00:08:52] VexMurmur Just like cut up magazines, like, Oh, here's like a lady's legs and here's a body and, like, let's... Yeah.

[00:08:57] Wicked Wren It's amazing. Do you have any of those still?

[00:09:02] VexMurmur I have one of them still.

[00:09:04] Wicked Wren That is so cool. You have to put that on Instagram or something. I would love to see that. So how did you learn? What was education like then?

[00:09:15] VexMurmur Yeah. How I first started it... So, I mean, this was before the great exiling of YouTube videos and Vimeo too, so I found a lot on there, but it was one of those things of like, Uh, this doesn't seem safe. And really didn't know how to start and just was, like, kind of like – this was when my whole (…) experience started of just, like, googling things but not knowing what to Google because I didn't have the terminology. And then, I can't remember, I think it was a friend telling me like, Oh, have you heard of FL? Like, Oh, oh, this is what he does. So they're like, Oh, local munches, learned what munches were. So I did like, start, like integrating into the local community here, going to some rope jams, learning some in-person, dealing with a lot of gatekeepy cis men...

[00:10:09] Wicked Wren Totally. Yeah. I can imagine in Utah, that's probably even bigger hurdle to get over, because just like you said, it's kind of ingrained in religion and the dominant religion in Utah and stuff like that. That's wild. Kind of jumping around a little bit. But you said you got sober and that played a huge role in rope. What does that, what does that mean?

[00:10:38] VexMurmur So I started getting – I got into rope about – I was like 3 or 4 years sober. And during my first initial years of sobriety, it's kind of like that... Everything's so hard all the time. You deal with friends dying or family members dying and just trying to be like, I just don't want to do heroin. How do I get through all this? And I think finding rope was kind of like – cause I kept I kept hopping from hobby to hobby when I was first sober. I was like, I'm going to get back into painting, doing watercolors or printmaking or biking more, but none of them really like, lasted long. And so it was like, when I found rope, it's like, this is something I actually feel that I could do because it's an art medium that I know nothing about. And that's kind of how I started to approach it. And so it kind of helped me in the sense of... It kind of integrated into my recovery system, too. Because you always hear of like, you know, do your dailies and keep coming back, which... I'm not big into the 12 steps in [00:11:36]AA and NA or any of that. [1.1s] And so I was like, Well, I still need to have something. I need to have something that fills my time that I'm going to enjoy so that when I'm stressed out, like it's just something I enjoy. And so that's kind of what rope became, and it became an outlet for those difficult times of like, you know, when coping skills are just like breathing exercises, meditation, they just don't cut it, you know? And so it's like I actually had something tangible that was fun, that was interesting, and that I could continue to grow in my skill, because like with other hobbies of like watercolor, printmaking, I always felt like I had just kind of like plateaued with them and I was getting bored with them.

[00:12:15] Wicked Wren You called rope an art medium?

[00:12:17] VexMurmur Yes. Yeah.

[00:12:19] Wicked Wren Tell me about that.

[00:12:21] VexMurmur So the way I approach rope, 'cause I know it's a little weird that I call it an art medium, but I really view, especially with self-suspension, that my body is the medium of how can I make these shapes? How can I have it be aesthetically pleasing? I mean, yeah, it hurts. It's supposed to hurt. But I really wanted to manipulate the form of me as a person into the shapes that I was seeing people do with, like, you know, there's a top and a bottom, but I'm self-suspending. How can I achieve that? Or how could I get a similar shape or, kind of pull off like the things that you couldn't do self-suspending like that's really been a lot of like I want to figure out how to do that because I think quite a bit of it's possible, you just have to get creative with it. And it's very challenging. And that's what I like about it of like an art medium that is challenging or it's not just like paintbrush to paper.

[00:13:11] Wicked Wren Yeah. I want to talk about... The things you've learned in self-suspending, different modifications, how you've figured out how to translate stuff that as top might have, have done to your own practice.

[00:13:27] VexMurmur Yeah.

[00:13:29] Wicked Wren But first, when you call, when you talk about it in such direct terms and comparing it to art, it begs the question, What are you trying to say? It's like artists are trying to say things with a painting or a photograph or a song. So what do you... Do you even think about that kind of thing?

[00:13:49] VexMurmur Oh, yeah. Any time. Which I don't know if it always comes across, but the way I view it too is like, even if it doesn't come across like, I don't care. Like, it's just for me. But a lot of, like, what I want to come across with it is, you know, let alone like, Oh, yeah, that's a pretty shape. The rope's pretty. You know, so aesthetically pleasing is... It's really been a way for me to connect with my body, and a lot of grief and like this suffering that I talk about, and how to, like, evoke that in an image with rope where it's something that's so bound and so tight and so restricting that you can have kind of like this esoteric image or ethereal image, which I, I don't know if – I don't think it always comes across that way, but that's how I feel when I do it, because I will sometimes, like, hide my arms to get a certain shape, or even like trying to pull off mouth rope to get this really like stark picture that people know as like, Oh (…), that's self-suspension.

[00:14:42] Wicked Wren Yeah. It is pretty wild to see the photos and realize they're self-suspension all the times.

[00:14:48] VexMurmur Yeah. Thank you.

[00:14:50] Wicked Wren You're welcome. Obviously the camera plays a huge role in this. And the discussion of the camera in rope bondage is very polarizing. A lot of people hate it. A lot of people do it for the camera. But in self-suspension, the camera is... really, really important because it's, it's a thing that's witnessing you do these things.

[00:15:13] VexMurmur Yeah. And you can't really like get down and move it around. Like you're kind of stuck with only one angle for a period of time, unless you want to completely come down and hobble over and move the camera.

[00:15:23] Wicked Wren That sounds awful.

[00:15:25] VexMurmur Yeah. Yeah it is. It's worth it.

[00:15:29] Wicked Wren How often are you moving the camera in your sessions? Are you at all?

[00:15:34] VexMurmur At most like – typically I don't. But if I do, like, the most, I'll move the camera is maybe three times total. And it's not a lot. Like, I'll just move it, like, Okay, I want to move it over to the right a little bit and raise up the camera. Like, I'm not moving it a ton, but I'm thinking about it, like, as I'm self-suspending of, I want to get a certain image. Especially if like I want my face shown. I have to think of that before I'm going up to like, how am I going to turn my body if I know I'm going to do like a single futo hang, like, I'm going to spin, and how do I maintain remembering where the camera is to get that, you know, couple of shots while I'm spinning.

[00:16:12] Wicked Wren Are you going into these scenes thinking, I want this image?

[00:16:17] VexMurmur Yes and no. I used to do it a lot that way of like, I want to get the specific image, the specific shape. But then I noticed when I was doing that, I was kind of holding my rope to such a high expectation that it wasn't fun anymore. So in the past couple of years I've stopped doing that. Like I'll go in with a kind of a general idea, but then I just allow for it to kind of play out of like I think the most recent self-suspension I did was a full inversion with mouth rope. It's like, I did not plan on that. And also, why the hell am I doing mouth rope while inverted? But it was fun to pull it off. The images were very blurry. I was a little upset with them. It's like, I don't care I pulled it off, and it looks cool. And it was fun to do. And it got me, like, inside and outside of my body at the same time.

[00:17:03] Wicked Wren Yeah. Do you have a timer?

[00:17:05] VexMurmur Yeah. So I shoot on an interval timer. I think I have it set up... It's usually every like 4 to 6 seconds, it'll take a shot.

[00:17:15] Wicked Wren How many times a week are you tying?

[00:17:18] VexMurmur So actually recently, since about July, I have, I have only.. I think I've only self-suspended once. I've been dealing with a back injury or, so, I haven't been able to do things I like to do as much. But before that, just kind of changes and depending on my, like, work life balance and personal life balance, where sometimes it's a couple times a week to only a couple times a month. But recently, like, it's been very, sparse.

[00:17:44] Wicked Wren Is there ever a point where you're getting ready to do this thing and, you know, it's going to suck and it's not going to feel good?

[00:17:54] VexMurmur Yeah, that's how it is every time. It's terrible. It hurts.

[00:17:57] Wicked Wren Well, when someone is tying me, it's easy because the train is moving and all I gotta do is get on the train and... But alone, it's so difficult. It's like, how do you push past those feelings?

[00:18:12] VexMurmur So a lot of it which – and this is a lot of what the camera doesn't catch and where it's like, you know, people say like, Oh, Instagram. It's not real. Because it's true, it's not. But with self-suspension, like, I'm, I'm coming down pretty frequently sometimes because, like, it does hurt like, a thigh cuff. I hate a thigh cuff. I hate a half-basket. I hate a full basket. Like, they're very painful especially with self-suspending inverted. And so, a lot of it too is being aware of when I need to come down and when not to push myself, hence my back injury.

[00:18:44] Wicked Wren Gotcha.

[00:18:46] VexMurmur I push myself a little bit too much. But there's a lot of moments of where I've noticed of, like, enduring the pain to the point of where, like, it's not fun. Like, I don't know if that makes sense, like within the (…) and all that of, like, especially self-suspension. Or anything that we're due to ourselves of where it's not getting that gratification or we're not getting into that headspace and it's just miserable. So I try to be aware of like when it kind of crosses that threshold of like, You know, I've been self suspending for two hours. I don't need to go any longer. I'm good. I'm done for the day.

[00:19:18] Wicked Wren Yes. How do you know that you're good or done for the day? What feelings do you look at with that?

[00:19:25] VexMurmur I think when I look for, it's when I start to get frustrated with myself. I'm trying to achieve something. Or even if I'm fine, like I'm not able to sink into the rope how I kind of want to. It's like, this isn't worth it right now. I'm not in the headspace and I'm just getting frustrated. It is time to like, it's time to come down and put the rope away for the day.

[00:19:44] Wicked Wren So interesting. I've never self-suspended. So this idea of not being in the headspace or whatever is very different when someone's tying you. Because you're able to hack that and get into the headspace. And I can tell myself little things of being like, This is only going to last for so long. The person tying me is going to come to an end at some some time. There's a communication but alone? So different.

[00:20:14] VexMurmur Oh yeah. Yeah that lack of communication, because it's been – this year, I've been tying with others more and I've noticed when I tie with others, like, I'm able to like build off of their energy. And so, like, not having that communication or that energy to go off of with self-suspension, it's almost like you're only relying on yourself. And that gets really overwhelming sometimes.

[00:20:34] Wicked Wren Yes. It's like when you're working out at home alone versus having a trainer to like, push you.

[00:20:41] VexMurmur Yeah, exactly.

[00:20:43] Wicked Wren Do you use any lights and stuff? It looks like a lot of natural lighting and things.

[00:20:48] VexMurmur Yeah, it's usually just natural light. I think the ones where I have used lighting are usually my shots where I've got like a black backdrop, but even then I've just got like one light pushed over in the corner because I honestly, I don't know how to use light that often.

[00:21:04] Wicked Wren And also you don't need to complicate it because your shots look awesome.

[00:21:08] VexMurmur Oh yeah. And then thinking like, Oh, I've got to get down. I got to move the light. And the one time I'm moving the camera. Now I've got this other thing. No, I don't want to do that.

[00:21:15] Wicked Wren Have there have been modifications that you've had to make in self-suspending? Like you've seen something. You're like, I want to accomplish this shape, but you're alone. What are some of those journeys that you've been on?

[00:21:30] VexMurmur Yes. So I think a lot of it is... Kind of figuring out the physics of the body in a different way, because, you know, when you're being tied by someone else, it's, you know, you just got the flow and you've got the whole body and you can manipulate it. So one thing I've had to learn and really be aware of is how to get certain limbs up to where I want them to be, where I'm still going to have that safety net of like, if I need to pull myself up and untie, how am I going to be able to do that? So like an example of it is like, if I'm going to do like a half-basket tie, that I will actually get a thigh cuff, I think it was actually [00:22:07]Ten Against [0.2s] taught me this. Get a thigh cuff and tie it to the chest harness as close as I can with the chest harness also like, has a suspension line already to hold me stable and then with that thigh cuff connected to the harness, then I got, I've got my leg up high enough so I can tie the half-basket. So I've kind of thought of ways to do that of like, where can I get different points of interaction to get limbs up high enough so I can kind of execute certain ties that might not be possible while self-suspending?

[00:22:38] Wicked Wren That makes a lot of sense, because you wouldn't be able to physically hold your leg up that high and tie it. Like, it's not, you're not able to do that. That makes a lot of sense. Do you have any other examples of that sort of thing that you've done?

[00:22:54] VexMurmur Yeah. Another one is I think people like, know me a lot for this is like, Oh, the single Futo hangs. Because like a self-suspension, like those are the funnest ones to do. But one I really like to do is I taught myself how to tie a futo while inverted. That's like, this is a shape I want to learn how to do. But it was also, it was cool to like learn that skill of like, you know, tying it all behind my back too while inverted of just the muscle memory of it. And then having a, you know, already suspending off of a futo and how to get the second one up, but I can get the second one up because I've already got the suspension line from the first one, so I can pull myself up and hold myself to do the next suspension line.

[00:23:28] Wicked Wren Wow. It's really cool. You don't have to answer this question, but I am curious. Have you gotten yourself in precarious situations before?

[00:23:41] VexMurmur I have once before and it since that one instance, it was like three years ago, where I've since like I've been terrified to tie at home alone now.

[00:23:50] Wicked Wren Okay.

[00:23:51] VexMurmur So I can't remember exactly what I was doing, but I was locking off from the bottom and I had pulled the, I pulled the running ends all the way through, and I was like, Oh (…), I'm stuck. I'm so stuck. And I had my other leg up, like, so high. And if I were to drop it down, then it's just like, there was no way to get anything over or to release enough tension. And so luckily, my partner was home. Just had to yell for him, be like, Hey, can you come help me?

[00:24:21] Wicked Wren Hey. Did you start that suspension alone?

[00:24:28] VexMurmur Yeah. Yeah, I start all of them alone. Yeah.

[00:24:29] Wicked Wren And then, but, well, did you start it when you're home alone?

[00:24:33] VexMurmur Oh, yeah. No. That one luckily, like...

[00:24:35] Wicked Wren Thank god.

[00:24:36] VexMurmur He was still home. But it's been since then like, just that one instance, I'm like I'm terrified. I used to self-suspend at home alone all the time. But...

[00:24:44] Wicked Wren Yeah. I always have little invasive thoughts about something wild happening when I'm in, when I'm like really deep into a shape and I think to myself how long it's going to come out of this shape, I'll have some crazy invasive thought. And I'm like, it's, I'm so lucky that I have someone that I'm tying with that I trust. That's going to keep me safe. And if something wild happens right now, they're going to get me out of this. But yeah, being alone, I would just... That would, that would freak me out.

[00:25:18] VexMurmur Yeah. It's, it's not the best, but...

[00:25:21] Wicked Wren You work in mental health you said, right?

[00:25:24] VexMurmur Yeah. Yep. Substance abuse and mental health.

[00:25:26] Wicked Wren Oh cool. Did you start working there after you got sober?

[00:25:32] VexMurmur Yeah, so I, let's see, I got sober in January of 2013, and then I started working in substance abuse and mental health in I think it was... When was it? Because I started doing research actually in academia on it before I started working in it. So I think I started working in the field in like 2015 or 2014.

[00:25:54] Wicked Wren Okay, mental health and (…) is a huge thing people talk about. People love to talk about it. I'm just curious from a professional. Do you have any thoughts on the discourse that happens?

[00:26:09] VexMurmur Yeah. I mean, one thing that I've really appreciated in seeing the discourse, because I agree with it, is like (…) is not therapy. And so I love when I see people really delving into that and having, having open dialogues. It's like, thank you. Because those nuances are so important. And it's also kind of like a general protection for the community, for those like younger that are coming in that don't have experience with this. Like I really love when I see dialogues like that. That it's not therapy and how to kind of circumvent that it doesn't cross those lines.

[00:26:39] Wicked Wren Definitely. I think a lot of people say that, I can heal you. I can do these things. And it's also... I think it's a lot of the dialogue that happens within the scene, because people talk about going to a different place and going to subspace, and it it being this release. And while all these things are true, giving that much power to something and someone to take you there, it's kind of a pathway...

[00:27:10] VexMurmur Yeah, yeah.

[00:27:12] Wicked Wren ...To bad things happening.

[00:27:13] VexMurmur Yes. Yeah. Well, that's what I like too. When I see people that, that are more aware of it too, because I kind of, I've always compared it to... Especially with self-suspension, like thinking of the window of tolerance, which is a therapy term of like, what's your calm space when you feel that you are able to like, handle your stressors in life and then you've got like hyper arousal and hypo arousal, which, you know, that's when you're like agitated and irritated or when you're numbing out. And I've always, I always thought of it too, of like, you know, when we get into that space, when we're being suspended or engaging in (…) of like, you know, or you're just in the zone, you're in the moment, could be within that window of tolerance or it can also like go outside of that. But then you've also, like you said, you've got this other person involved or other people. And to give power to that, it's like it gets very complicated and very messy.

[00:28:06] Wicked Wren Yeah. One of my small goals of this podcast is to try to have those discussions, because there's not really any place for us to say those things, and I think everyone, when they come into the scene gets swept up in that. It's very intoxicating. It's hard not to get swept up in that. I definitely did. Everyone that I know personally did. So yeah, I think it's good to hear people talk about those things, you know. Are there any other intersections between rope and mental health that you think are important to talk about?

[00:28:45] VexMurmur So at least for me personally, like when I say that I am like a disciple of suffering. Because that started when I got sober because, like, my life was total destruction and chaos. Like the whole thing, like using needles, in and out of jail, like being homeless, like the whole thing. And that's suffering. And then getting sober, it was like, Okay, I have to accept that life just sucks. Life is suffering. But how do I not go use heroin and coke? Like, how do I, how do I manage this? And so me getting sober was really like how to approach acceptance of suffering and how to like, wonder out loud with it or like wonder in the dark with suffering in a more gentle way. And so when I've approached rope too like, it does hurt. It is painful. I am a (…), and it's been kind of this careful thing of knowing I had these tendencies to go like too deep into those things, of how to be very gentle and compassionate with it and with the pain I'm experiencing, although I enjoy the pain, but to not let it, like, cross those lines of where it could go to somewhere very dark.

[00:29:53] Wicked Wren How have you seen your relationship with suffering evolve? Have there been any things that have surprised you about it?

[00:30:01] VexMurmur I think so. I think a big one too, that I didn't expect, was when my mom died in 2017. It happened very drastically and very quickly. Like it was a traumatic loss. And it was actually after she died. That's when I started doing rope even more, because I had never dealt with such immense loss and immense suffering, where it was almost like my soul was too big for my body. And so doing rope was kind of like almost like this metaphor, quite literally and figuratively, of getting my soul back in my body by like, binding myself down and making these images of it. I think some of my favorite self suspensions and self-portraits I've done was at like the year after she died, where I can see those images of like I was really struggling but made myself like this force of strength. And, there's a series I did too, I don't think I've ever posted it that I call it The Motherless. I did it on the first Mother's Day after she died, where I've got, like a black backdrop and I'm in a dress that I wore to her grave for the first time. And I took, like, taffeta. And it looks like it's coming out of my mouth like a soul coming out of the body. And it's got this, like, look of anguish on my face. But that was like the whole time of, like, I'm dealing with this immense suffering, this immense grief, and using rope and self-portraits as a way to really suffer better through that grief.

[00:31:25] Wicked Wren When you told your mom you did rope, what was her response?

[00:31:28] VexMurmur She asked if she could see pictures, and she went, Oh, that's very pretty. Did not expect that.

[00:31:36] Wicked Wren What did you expect?

[00:31:38] VexMurmur I mean, her and I had a very close relationship after I got sober, like, I mended that relationship, so I expect, like, Okay, there's going to be some questions. It's fine. This is my mom. We have a close relationship. But she had kind of come to this resolve of, You're going to do what you want to do. You're a good person. You're a delightful person to be around. Like, I'm glad you're enjoying that. And these pictures are really pretty. Good job. Like, okay. Did not expect it.

[00:32:04] Wicked Wren This also comes up relatively often on this podcast, and most people's parents are pretty cool.

[00:32:10] VexMurmur Yeah, they're fine with it. It's true. Yeah.

[00:32:13] Wicked Wren How did you come up with that self-portrait idea? It's a phenomenal concept.

[00:32:19] VexMurmur I took a lot from it. So, you know, those, like, old pictures. Like, the old Victorian pictures when they're doing, like, the seances and you see, like, the spirits around people and coming out of their mouths. So that was kind of the idea I got for it. But I've also always had also like a very close connection with grief and death in general. Like I was the little kid, like at age six, obsessed with death and creepy, spooky things. And so it was almost kind of like after she died, I had felt like this very strong connection with her, and I still do. And also, like, we've got clairvoyants in our family. So like, death, spirits and this esoteric stuff has always been very close to me. So when I got the idea for the portraits to do the self-portraits, it actually came to me like day of, like, it was Mother's Day and it's like, I need to do this. This is a cool idea. And also like, I am so distraught that my mother's dead. And so I just set everything up, set up the backdrop and took the pictures and they turned out like exactly how I wanted them to.

[00:33:19] Wicked Wren Do you feel like, in a strange way, your relationship, your bond to your mother has gotten better after she's passed? Or maybe stronger or different?

[00:33:32] VexMurmur Yeah, I think different because it's still there. Like even when I talk about her, I usually still talk about her in the present tense. That's something I've always done with the dead, though. Like we still have a connection to them. Like, Why are you talking like they're gone? They're still here, you know? But that's just my weird, like, you know, spooky side. And so it's gotten different in the sense that there have been moments where I felt very disconnected and, like, lost from that relationship. But it wasn't until recently, my therapist  –everyone should be in therapy, 'cause therapists are great – that he had pointed out of, you know, all these stressors you're experiencing and even like I've shared with him, like I haven't been doing rope as much and I feel kind of guilty about that sometimes. And so he brought it up, he's like, What if you start thinking of your mom is like your guide through these things. I was like, Oh, I love that. That's cool.

[00:34:19] Wicked Wren Writing that down.

[00:34:21] VexMurmur Yeah.

[00:34:23] Wicked Wren I lost my mom as well. And I feel like my relationship with her has gotten better since she's passed, and I kind of didn't realize I was thinking about her as a guide in a lot of ways, but it does feel like there's a sense of calm in a way, and it feels like... You know, it's, it's very hard. It's very strange to talk about, you know, it's, it's a hard thing to put my finger on.

[00:34:49] VexMurmur Yeah. Well, I think too, for those of us that had, like, close relationships with moms or like healthy ones, because not everyone has, you know, a healthy relationship with their moms. But moms are like, they're the cheerleaders. And so when a mom dies, it's like, Where did my person go?

[00:35:03] Wicked Wren Yeah, that is the thing that I've noticed is that we definitely didn't have the closest relationship, but she was still my number one cheerleader. And that was like, it's, but, she still is. I just have to be intentional about thinking about that. I have a question. You said your therapist. You said rope. So obviously you have a (…) aware cool therapist.

[00:35:30] VexMurmur Yes.

[00:35:30] Wicked Wren Was that difficult for you to find?

[00:35:34] VexMurmur Yes and no. I thought it was going to be really hard to find, especially in Utah. But there are these, like, group practices of therapists all over Utah popping up where every single therapist is queer. And so like, so I found my therapist by just being on a waitlist of this place, because I had actually seen a podcast of the clinical director that she had just gotten excommunicated from the church after being openly polyamorous. I was like, I like you.

[00:36:02] Wicked Wren I want you.

[00:36:05] VexMurmur And so I started following her and just got on the waitlist. And then this therapist happened to have an opening and yeah.

[00:36:11] Wicked Wren That's so cool. It's funny that something most people would construe as a negative was actually a massive positive. Like, Oh, I'm safe here. This is my place to be.

[00:36:23] VexMurmur Only those that are excommunicated.

[00:36:26] Wicked Wren Growing up in Utah. What was your relationship with queerness?

[00:36:33] VexMurmur Non-existent and very repressed. So I knew that I was non-binary, probably by like age four, but like, you know, age 4, like I didn't know what this was. And it wasn't until I went to college and like, you know, took a gender and (…) class. I'm like, Oh, these are words I need to know. I need to really pay attention. I was like, Oh, this is a thing. There's a whole community. And so I didn't learn the terminology, the, what the community was until college. And then since then it's been a lot of exploring of like, Well, am I she, am I him, am I they, and exploring that more like, you know, kind of late into my adult years. Because growing up in Utah, it's very frowned upon. And, you know, growing up, especially Mormons. Like Mormons, ostracize the queer community. And so me even seeing friends that still are very close with their families and are out, you know, some it's been totally safe and it's been great and beautiful and wonderful. And then the exact opposite. I mean, there's a reason that Utah has a very high suicide rate amongst queer children here. Even with my family, like, my sister is very accepting of it, but she's the one that also knows about all my rope, and everyone else cannot grasp it that I'm queer.

[00:37:53] Wicked Wren Well. I think that that was a lot of our generation too, because we're the same age, and I didn't understand any of this until much later, and I feel like the resources just weren't really there to find them.

[00:38:05] VexMurmur In, like, high school or anything. Yeah.

[00:38:07] Wicked Wren Yeah. Since you do have a background in mental health, I would love to hear about negotiation things.

[00:38:14] VexMurmur I mean, the biggest thing with negotiation that like, I mean, we all, all, like, if we're doing, you know, safe negotiation is, consent at the forefront because even at like the facilities that I run. Like on our intake paperwork, we have like a rule for clients of, like, you know, no hugging, touching, no inappropriate comments or gestures towards others. But I always give them the caveat of like, you guys can you can hug each other here, but ask for consent first because you don't know people's trauma. And so especially with negotiations, if there's not that groundwork of consent and trust and what each other's consent looks like. Like, I really like it when I see people kind of like a maybe isn't consent for me. I need a yes or a no, and I need a hard yes or a hard no where it's like specifically said that I really like because if there's consent where it's like ambiguous or it's vague, there's too much nuance and it's open for interpretation, and that's going to lead to like, you know, I always like try to think of the worst case scenario, like you're going to end up with some trauma and that's you don't want that to happen.

[00:39:14] Wicked Wren I say on the spot a lot that there are a million different kinds of yeses. Yes maybe, yes and, yes only in this situation. Wheras a no is really definite. No is a complete sentence. It means stop.

[00:39:30] VexMurmur Yeah.

[00:39:31] Wicked Wren And I think that there's a lot of implied power dynamics that go on and force people to say yes to things that they don't really want to say yes to. I even think that the word negotiation is a little bit not great, because it implies that you're both coming to an agreement on things, and that's not really what is happening in those situations.

[00:39:54] VexMurmur I like that distinction too. It's almost like we said, like a negotiation could also make it seem like we're coming to a compromise. We don't love that.

[00:40:02] Wicked Wren No. It's an intake of things that you want and don't want. That's really it, I think that... Yeah, this is like the concept of the word negotiation says that some party is going to have to give up something.

[00:40:17] VexMurmur Yeah. Yep. That's true. Yeah. I think one thing with like with consent negotiations that at least what I like to do is because I haven't tied with a lot of people. Like this has been new to me this year. And I'm very upfront with people like to the types of ties that I've done and the types of interactions they've been with. And I've had people ask certain things where it's  really, I don't have like a base knowledge for. So what I'd like to do is I tell them, like, I'm unsure. Could you ask me when we get to that situation? Like, can you do consent in the moment with me? Because I haven't experienced that and I want to check in with myself in that moment. But with those people, I've always had such like a strong groundwork of trust. That's worked really well for me. And there's like, Oh, you asked if I could do that, or you told me to check in with you. If I could do this thing, I'm asking you now. And I get to sit there and be like, Yeah, cool. Yeah, yeah, let's do it. Or just like, Nope, not right now. I'm not into it. And it's that's worked really well for me.

[00:41:16] Wicked Wren That's really brilliant. We talk about consent can be revoked at any time. We talk about that. We talk about active consent and always checking in. But I don't feel like that happens as much as we talk about it. I think that at the beginning of scenes, there's a big emphasis on it. And then you start and the truck starts moving, and then it just moves until it's done. And sure, there's small check ins, but saying something like, I don't know how I feel about that yet. Check in with me at the moment. That's really, really powerful.

[00:41:52] VexMurmur Yeah. And I like too, because – like you said too, like sometimes the truck just gets going and people it just, it's human nature. We forget. We're excited about something that I also add into that of, I will remind you, if you start to do the thing that we asked to check in about. Like there's already that verbal like, I understand that you're human. You might forget. So I'm going to take on, you know, share that responsibility too and I will say something.

[00:42:15] Wicked Wren Do you think that there is a, I don't know if good and bad is the right way to phrase this, but a, a good and a better way of redirecting?

[00:42:27] VexMurmur Yeah. Yeah, I don't honestly know because I think it's on such like a case by case basis with each individual person, because I've seen certain things work for some people, and they absolutely won't work for another person on how to approach those conversations. And I think that's part of maybe like some of the dialogue that kind of gets like tripped up sometimes of like there needs to be a script where it's done this, this in this way. It's like, but humans are so nuanced and some people don't communicate that way or they don't have the language for that. And so I think that might be part of it is almost like an expectation of wanting it to be so cut and dry or good in a better way, or this way is bad when it's so nuanced. But that's also part of the problem is that consent can be so nuanced.

[00:43:14] Wicked Wren So you said you've been tying with others more recently.

[00:43:18] VexMurmur Yes.

[00:43:19] Wicked Wren You're obviously very experienced in rope. So how have you found those two things to be like? You're coming into tying with other people more. That's usually not the way that it works. Usually, it's the other way around.

[00:43:33] VexMurmur Yeah, I did it backwards.

[00:43:34] Wicked Wren How are you finding it?

[00:43:37] VexMurmur Yeah. So a lot of how it started is. So. Coyote, actually, Coyote, bless her heart. She is the biggest extrovert that adopted my introverted ass. And I mean, it started, she just reached out. She was like, Hey, I want to be friends. I was like, Okay, that's cool. Let's be friends. And I really adore her for that because it only takes like one person to, like, introduce you to a new sense of community. And Coyote did that for me because, I mean, I've got a rope community here, but my work life is so terrible all the time that I'm, like, absent from the community here. And I'm trying to be better on it. But with Coyote and I becoming friends, she introduced me to like, [00:44:20]KnotSnacks [0.0s] and [00:44:21]Fairy [0.0s] and all these other people that have been so delightful. And I went and met up with [00:44:26]Ten Against [0.2s] for the first time. And it was with Coyote that, it was kind of just took one person, you know, to be that introduction. But with that too, I think it was actually wasn't this year, it was the year before. That was also [00:44:41]SluttyHands [0.0s] and [00:44:43]they suspended... [0.3s] Like, I was going out to San Jose and they reached out to me with like, Hey, you're going to be here, let's hang out. And I, they were really like the first people that tied me outside of me self-suspending and, the best, like, feedback I ever got was from [00:45:00]SluttyHands [0.0s] that he just where he's like, You're very quiet in rope, and like, how unsettling that was. But it was something I needed to hear. I'm like, Well, yeah, because I've only ever done self-suspension. And so it was like, I need to actually learn how to be more vocal because then it like kind of tunes the top into what's going on with me. So like, yeah.

[00:45:23] Wicked Wren Are you more vocal now?

[00:45:25] VexMurmur Yes, I am.

[00:45:26] Wicked Wren Have you been more vocal in your self-suspension?

[00:45:29] VexMurmur That, no, like I'm pretty, like I'm just, I'm also just very a quiet person in general.

[00:45:36] Wicked Wren That makes sense.

[00:45:37] VexMurmur But like a self-suspension, like I'll do the normal, like, Ah god damn it. Ah, (...), where it's just, you know, it's just frustrating. But with tying with others now, like, I'm so glad that [00:45:46]SluttyHands [0.0s] gave me that feedback. So it was something I needed to hear, like, Oh, I'm freaking people out with how quiet I am. And it's also made the ties with other people like more interactive, where the communication is the noise. And I didn't know that, like that was something I needed to learn. And so it's been really fun to explore that and actually not be so in like internalized, quiet like I always have been.

[00:46:09] Wicked Wren I'm overly loud.

[00:46:12] VexMurmur Yeah. I just need a little bit of what you've got then.

[00:46:15] Wicked Wren We should balance each other out because, yeah, the littlest thing happens and I'm like, AAAAH. Are there any tips you would have for people wanting to get into self-suspension? What's baby's first harness? Baby's first skills.

[00:46:34] VexMurmur Yes. Because I've actually got a good story about that. That's a quick, fun little story.

[00:46:38] Wicked Wren Can't wait.

[00:46:40] VexMurmur Yeah, so tips for getting into self-suspension. I mean, I always tell everyone, like, do floor work for a good year first. Like, learn the anatomy. Learn the nerves. Because also like suspension, in general and self-suspension like, it's scary. It's very risky. And you want to make sure that you are getting the tension right, that you're getting things placed right and knowing like where the little like, ouchy spots on your body are. Like, we all know that spot on the shin. Like, you know that if you put pressure on, it hurts. Like learn where your spot is on your shins or your other little parts. If you've got previous injuries, learn how to kind of modify those ties for your body, because once you're suspending, like you're kind of stuck in it for a minute doing self-suspension. One thing too, that when I first started doing self-suspension, that was bad advice given to me is and this was when I was going to like local rope jams back in like 2017. The, you know, these cis men that are very gatekeepy that I was told from this guy of, Yyou'll never learn how to do suspension because you can't even do a chest harness yet. And I was like, Well, I don't I don't need to because, it was, within that community, everyone's like, you need to see Vex's futomomo, like it's a solid Futomomo because that was like my pride and joy. It was the first tie that I learned. I learned how to like, get the tension right. And so it was kind of like a big like, screw you to that guy of like, No, I'm going to do this and I'm going to – my first suspension is going to be a futomomo. And so that's what I did. I was like, No, I'm doing this and I don't have to know chest harness yet because I wasn't to that point. I wasn't doing full suspensions at that point, just partials. And that was all I needed was a futomomo to start off of, to kind of learn what suspensions felt like. That's probably the other part of advice is don't go into straight suspensions. Start with partials so you can get the feel of like, this is what the pressure feels like. This is how long you need to have the up-line. And also doing partials, you can really strengthen of what your up-lines are going to be like for you. Especially self-suspension, because you can kind of like, you know, set them up while you're still standing and sitting and moving around rather than when you're tying someone else, it's just, you know exactly what you're doing, what the height needs to be, self-suspensions a little bit more fluid in that way.

[00:48:55] Wicked Wren Do you think tying with other people has made self-suspension more fun?

[00:49:00] VexMurmur Oh yes, it's changed it because it's also been like, Ah damn it, that tie that [00:49:03]KnotSnacks [0.0s] put me in. I want to do that to myself, but I can't.

[00:49:07] Wicked Wren Yeah. Thank you so much for being on. This was really awesome. You said some brilliant things. Where can people find you?

[00:49:15] VexMurmur They can find me on Instagram @vexmurmur. I'm on Twitter or X, whatever it's called now, I don't know, but I never post on there. But it's the same username. Yeah.

[00:49:26] Wicked Wren Awesome. Thank you so much for being on.

[00:49:29] VexMurmur Yeah. Thank you. Stay sober everyone, don't do drugs like I did.

[00:49:33] Wicked Wren What a great note to end on.

[00:49:35] VexMurmur Yep. You're welcome.


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