Love Languages & Childhood Trauma

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The lesson: Love is understand in many languages. I am still learning how to love.

Firstly, for the purpose of clarification – the title of this post, is not simply a play on word to sound poetic or eloquent, but rather it is a clear statement of the term ‘love languages’. What is a love language? Love language refers to the way in which we all understand or perceive love and how we translate specific actions as expressions of love or gestures of love, such as gift giving to express love. The five types of love of languages are the following: Physical Affection, Words of Affirmation, Gift-Giving, Acts of Service and Quality Time.

Read more on each love language here: 5 Love Languages by Dr Gary Chapman

I am an advocate for love, more specifically – open expressions of love. I dotumblr_okhv3tq3kG1uw8q7do1_400 not believe in playing-coy, in repressing positive emotions, and I certainly do not believe in diluting who I am for the comfort of others. Over the years, my love language has adapted, grown and evolved due to the various types of love I have experienced and my exposure to love languages and expressions of love that I had yet to discover at a young age. Throughout my child-hood, up until my late teenage years I understood love in the language of gift-giving and words of affirmation. As a child, it is without doubt that I knew how to get what I wanted when it came to material possessions, and my parents failed to firmly speak the word ‘no’, in fact, the minute the word ‘no’ was spoken, my mind translated this to me as ‘you are not deserving’ and the hurt I experienced as a result led to tears. Now, I am well and truly aware that this sounds like a cry for pity from the mouth (or fingers, in this case) of a spoiled girl, however something that must be understood is that my self-worth was equated to that of my material belongings, my confidence, my entire image was built around what I had, and if I did not have these possessions then I simply wasn’t good enough. I could not understand love in other forms, therefore where this love language of gift giving was absent, in the eyes of a younger self, all forms of love in my life were also absent.

For the sake of honesty, and for the sake of remaining true to the purpose of this blog, I will openly admit and express that the absence of my parents at such a young age, whether due to business trips or illness meant that I could not understand love as quality time or acts of service, and the ‘coldness’ or lack of affections within parent-child relations prevalent within traditional African culture meant that physical affection as love simply did not cross my mind. I will say however, that this is not at the fault of my parents, far from, particularly as my family as a whole has always done what they could do to ensure that both my brother and myself would live successful lives. It is also worth noting that ‘words of affirmation’ were continuously expressed, if it wasn’t for my father I wouldn’t have the confidence in myself to be anything or anyone that I want to, if it wasn’t for being told that I determine my destiny and my path, and that I should not allow anyone else’s opinions or views get in the way of this, I would not even be writing this particular post. My point is to express how childhood love acts as a blueprint for the ways in which we understand love at a later age.  

What is my ‘love language’ now? Still gift-giving… but also acts of service, physical affection, words of affirmation and spending quality-time. In understanding these love languages, I have allowed myself to become multi-lingual in the art of love languages and because of this, I now allow myself to openly express and receive love in all forms. This is truly important because I also understand that everyone speaks and understands a different love language, therefore I also allow myself to express love accordingly, in a way that prevents miscommunication or misinterpretation by speaking in a language that the recipient of my love… understands. 

Do you know your love language?

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THE ART OF LETTING GO.

If you have been waiting for a sign, this is it. This is your permission to let go.

The lesson: Stop trying to resuscitate the dead. Stop trying to water an already dead flower. 

The ability to let go, to not grasp tightly at things, people, places and moments which refuse to stay willingly is a childish trait I was born with and have carried like a blanket of comfort. In exposing myself, in order to remain true to the purpose of this blog I am going to admit, reluctantly that it derives from an internal sense of entitlement. I was raised to believe that I could have, be, go anywhere that I wished, if I felt it truly within me, I was raised to believe I was invincible… and in the name of honesty, that sense of entitlement still lives within me like a small, dim but nonetheless burning candle. The real burden, however, of this all is the frustration and sense of loss that accompanies the feeling when I realise that my sense of entitlement does not always align with the universe, God, spirit’s plans for me… that my path was not written entirely by me and that my life story does not have one author, but multiple.

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Beyond this however, is more of a selfless reason… when I love, when I care I do so in fullness, with the entirety of my very being. The friendships, the relationships in my life, both romantic and platonic I invest heavily into and the thought of this image which I feel I have so carefully constructed I feel entitled to, I feel that I have every right to protect it, I feel that I have legal ownership of it. It has taken me almost 20 years to conclude that this attachment is doing more harm than good. The minute we have the urge to hold onto a moment, a person, a place, a relationship… is the minute it is dead. The natural flow of life and laws of the universe, such as synchronicity and the power of our own energy teaches us that each moment, each action has a consequence and we must keep moving with that flow… to attach to a moment is to block progression both internally and externally. To work against this natural flow won’t provide you with a sense of security or clarity or gratitude in having obtained what it is that you so deeply desire, instead it will prevent you from having what it is that you not only truly desire but deserve and need. In order to grow, to truly expand into who we are meant to be we must follow this flow… we must move on from relationships that are no longer serving us and take with gratitude the lessons that they have taught us, to understand that what was once for us no longer is and that this is a sign of growth and to accept it in order to allow yourself to expand and grow into a better version of yourself is to perform self-love. I don’t know about you, but I am excited to meet the woman that I am becoming.

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The true art of letting go is in isolating oneself from the notion of self-entitlement, to understand that each loss is not entirely a loss, but a greater lesson that the world is providing you. The art of letting go requires us to destroy the idea of attachment that is used to disguise self-entitlement, it is this attachment that destroys the magic of living. It’s easily we find ourselves in the perfect moment and how we become so deeply entangled in the awful truth that this is not a forever-thing and soon enough the pink of watercolour skies begins to fade and the beauty within the image of the present is tainted. This sense of dread becomes overwhelming, but the real tragedy is that you have strayed too far from this perfect moment to truly live it. The juxtaposition of emotions that arise in knowing that nothing is permanent and everything is constantly changing, shifting, growing… and the enjoyment of the moment… in itself is an art form. 

So, perform. 

 

 

A CONFESSION: I HAVE NO POTENTIAL.

"I LOVE MYSELF.’ THE QUIETEST. SIMPLEST. MOST POWERFUL. REVOLUTION. EVER." - Nayyirah Waheed

The strange truth: life is a mirror. The way in which we fall into the ‘potential trap’ appears as an ordinary pace up the progression chart of every. single. human. encounter. Our decision to proceed with a relationship, whether it be platonic, romantic, sexual or even… professional – our expectations are what drive us to pursue, proceed or turn away and this all plays down into potential and our own conceived perception of the other’s potential. Those we meet and become conditioned into the up keep of the relationship, hold potential however this potential is merely a mirror of lack, that is lack in ourselves. We look to others to fulfil the gaps in our lives, human relations, human interactions occur in order to fulfil something that we’ve longed for.

Jacques Laquan referred to this as the ‘objet petit a‘ which roughly translates into: the small object… that is the unattainable object of our own desires, we turn to others as a method of simply wish fulfilment. We have these expectations that we project onto others, they are our own insecurities disguised and then we decide that it is they, and not us that cannot match up to this potential that we have created. This is the ‘potential trap‘. 

Potential shapes our understanding of the world, without potential we fall into a pattern of living blindly without predictability of action, without societal expectations. We expect others to embody that which we desire, embody our needs and desires and when they fall short we either collapse inward in self-doubt of our ability to perceive or we press blame onto the other’s inability to perform our own ideas of perfection. The only way to avoid disappointment, to avoid the anguish and the hurt… to move away from self-doubt is to recognise and remove our own projections. 

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 The way in which we perceive others, adheres to our own lack, we recognise in them the lack within ourselves and in doing so enforce expectations of the potential that which we see in them. We place this person on a pedestal holding them up based on their potential, however in actually what we are doing is holding a mirror up to ourselves. The only way out of the labyrinth of disappointment is to distance oneself from the expectation-potential nexus. 

TRIP TO TANZANIA: Fractions of Family Affairs

be selective with whom you share your soul to.

In 2016 I spent my Christmas in the motherland Tanzania and met the new year under the same sky. I exchanged winter for summer and confronted 2017 sat beside those closest to me… those closest to the roots of my family tree.

DAYS IN MOSHI:

The early mornings were a struggle, both a blessing and a curse. We experienced a full day but bared witness to it through the lenses of sleep deprivation.  

NOT CRANES, BUT STARS IN THE SKY

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img_2690In the distance of the mountains, past the sounds of chirping birds, moving leaves and a running river, singing is heard. The faint sound of community and unity travels through the hills and small mountains of Moshi.

I found connection in natural land that the city of London could not offer me, somehow I felt so compelled to the smells and the sounds that London’s city lights could not compare and a knowing sadness easily came to me.

Something about witnessing a town sheltered from the rain and blessed by the sun, unlike those around it seems almost holy.  

A blessing. Although I understand that this is the London-raised girl in me speaking against the dull skies of my city and not the native Tanzanian unwelcoming to the dry winds. 

THE ROOTS OF MY FAMILY TREE

Her hands shook with weakness, but her face displaced a long history of strength and bravery. It is rare to find many these days who openly wear love and an honest vulnerability, but along her laugh lines both qualities sat perfectly as a pair. Visiting a great auntie of ours triggered a change within me. In front of me sat 90 years of experience that my 19 years could not match, nor relate to but admire in a way one could only admire an elder – awe. 

fullsizerender-1History holds the ties of our family, wirings and knots which link us to one another and through this we understand life, experience that we must witness through a pair of eyes that are not our own.  

I consistently

fall

in

love

with words that are spoken from sophisticated tongues, tongues which rest heavy with the weight of life’s lessons.         
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I learnt of kindness and I was met with a gaze that shared the same familiar longing for family that I did. 

 

 

 

LEAVING A MARK

Today we planted trees along the hidden bushes of Moshi in order to leave behind a legacy and to restore the land. It can be said that we blessed each plant with the power of community, family and pure happiness. The laughter and chaos moving away from our family and toward the trees so that they may be filled with richness. *Walking, or shall I say sliding down the hills, I had realised that my footwear was not the best. 

The chaos of the situation, the thin planning and the spontaneity was enough to convince me to find my own roots amongst the trees of Moshi, it was enough to create a want and a hidden need within myself to place my own feet firmly in the ground and refuse to leave. I longed to remain and never return to London.

 

LOST IN CONNEC/TRANSLA/TION

We sat in a circle, as family affairs with Christ and religion were laid out upon the table. It was confession out of love… confession in the purest form. Words spoken and tears let out, I felt moved by the devotion in the room. I felt I wanted to be more, do more, be better and do better. An uncle of mine spoke to me shortly afterward and left me with the reminder that most families do not often unite without reason, but ours comes together not out of obligation but a want… and a need. 

We forget sometimes, the unfamiliar familiar intimacy that arrives with the presence of distant family and the shift that occurs within us, as if something of a longing has been fulfilled. Years without visitation and yet it is until we’re all sat amongst one another that gratitude sits deep within me and a longing that I had not known until that very present moment is fulfilled.

 

“It can be said that we blessed each plant with the power of community, family and pure happiness…”

Big City Dreams & Small Town Sentiments

“I did fall in there and that was love and you did catch me and that was love.” — ANNE SEXTON

“Who here has ever left the country?”

..a mere fraction of the class raised their small arms in response, confusion and pride synchronised on their small faces in conjunction to the majority who wore shame in a way that they themselves did not and could not understand.

I was 14 when the above took place. I was the minority when the above took place. I was prideful, innocent, judgemental, naive… when the above took place.

Growing up, I’ve taken for granted the opportunities presented to me, the returns to my home country during the winter season, exchanging Britain’s chilling winters for Tanzanian sandy beaches, easy weather and an inviting dialect. Or even the escapades to Spain’s busy cities and tourist attractions. It wasn’t until I was spread out on the sandy beach of Palermo, Sicily, surrounded by both natives and tourists, exchanging laughter and conversation in an unfamiliar language how lucky I was to be here, struggling to make sense of the fast-paced conversations, how fortunate I am to have had the opportunity to  live out that particular experience.

It saddens me to know that there are some out there, who have not only been unable to leave their home country, but worse so that they are not in possession of a passport. We speak of the right to move freely as a human right, but it is the majority, rather than the minority who are unable to put into action this right to its fullest extent.

Driving towards Palermo International, sat in the back seat of a cab, it hit me as I peered out of the window… how strange it is to think that there areimg_1901 people who live in the sunny city all year around – make friends, study, create memories, fall in love… grow old. All of this ‘living’, moving, seeing happens with the shores of Modello’s coast and Palermo’s mountain line in sight.

 Travelling, I believe, opens up our eyes to the unfamiliarity of familiar exchanges of those who share different cultural practices to our own. It teaches self-growth, shakes up an understanding within ourselves, of how small our own world’s are, how our own insignificant cultural norms appear almost a spectacle to those unfamiliar with them. I think it builds an appreciation in ourselves for own lives, but also creates a longing for further experience, to explore the world further in ways we do not even know of yet, to create memories in small towns and big cities.

I think travel teaches us to dream bigger, better, teaches us to expect more of ourselves and of the world. 

Epiphanies & Quarter Life Crises

YOUR BECOMING DOESN’T RELY ON THE SUPERFICIAL THINGS. " -Juansen Dizon

Something that my father has always expressed openly is the importance of self-commitment, of self-expression and holding close the most genuine parts of our soul. I was raised to keep a steady expression, even if my voice quavered, I was taught that my small legs at the age of 7 could take me to wherever it was that I felt drawn to… whatever it was that felt right to me. It does not matter what carriage or plane or boat we take, nor how bumpy our ride is, but that our mind and soul is steady in knowing that the direction feels right.

I have always struggled with resonating with one particular identity and wearing it permanently, the thought of permanency frightens me, and I change my goals and visions more frequently than I browse online clothing sites. I play with personalities and identities in order to suit my latest discovery to add to my collection of self-identity, maybe I’m just sentimental for a childhood that was taken too quickly… you know like how we used to play those games where you would switch up a character’s top, shirt, dress, shoes, hat etc. in order to mismatch?

Maybe, doctor Freud would say that I internalised a too soon stolen game of identity matching, or ‘Guess who?’. Or maybe, I’m just 19 years old and overwhelmed with the possibility of being anything I put my mind to… maybe, I just want to be everything because I can be everything.

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I’ve come to the conclusion that it is less of the reason, or more of the journey that is important, the process of drawing together your shirt… your shoes… your dress is no different to the process of laying out your career, your degree, your friends, your belief.

The discovery is in the journey, and what a long and tiresome one it shall be, but what a small price to pay for a sense of self.

Crazy Idea: “Chocolate” Isn’t A Compliment!

“I can’t even look at myself naked while I change out of body into the poem.” — ANA BOŽIČEVIĆ

The issue with fetishisation and exotic terminology is that it creates a sense of negative uniqueness and hyper-sexualisation on the basis of race, in doing so it also implies that whiteness and white-features as the default, stemming from colonial ideas of “the other” and intrinsic racial differences. This emphasises differences and contributes to the global hierarchical placement of individuals and groups of peoples on the basis of race, also stemming from racist colonial ideas.

The attraction of race or in extreme racial preference also works to blur the lines of internal cultural and ethnic differences and instead clusters a race or ethnicity together, more so it indirectly impacts those that are not placed within this ‘exotic’ category, by washing out those within a culture who do not hold these stereotypical features of exoticness.

Beyond this it also does another thing – dehumanises and objectifies individuals on the basis of race and racial features, as a black woman it is not a compliment to be referred to as “chocolate” or any other food which shares a similar tone to my skin, the over-sexualisation and comparison made on the basis of my skin also reduces me to the colour of my skin tone and reflects racist undertones through placing emphasis of my own attraction on merely the colour of my skin.

In other cultures, and ethnicities, the same issue appears although in different forms, for example the fetishisation of women of East Asian descent, particularly Chinese women and the image and characteristic of passiveness placed upon them. Fetishisation is usually followed by infantilisation of these woman and is a dominant feature of what is sometimes referred to as the ‘Asian fetish’. I’d like to think that it is obvious why this itself is problematic (hint: sexualisation of child-like features… anyone?) and so moving onto the implications of this, it too abolishes individuality and forces an entire ethnicity into one box. This can also act as an oppressive tool in the same way that patriarchal ideas and stereotypes act as an oppressive tool toward women in primarily western societies.

It’s important to note that in writing this, my point is not to state that it is wrong to find attraction beyond one’s own race, but rather it is wrong to find attraction in another race because the attractive individual is of a particular race that one deems attractive.