Let’s Talk About…

There are no taboos. Every topic is open, however shocking. It is the way that the topics are handled that’s important, and that applies whether it is a 15-year-old who is reading your book or someone who is 55. ~ Robert Cormier

Much like my ‘Being Mixed Race’ post, this topic has been floating around my drive for a while and I’ve been wanting to write about it for ages. Since starting the ‘Let’s Talk About…’ series, I’ve been thinking about what topics I can write about and thought this is the perfect opportunity – especially as it has been a while since the last post.

Relationships are a tough topic for me just because they’re always so complex to dive into – questions like, “Why did this break down?” “Why did I even date them in the first place?” “Will I be single forever?”

But it is such an interesting topic and something I just wanted to touch upon. I’m no relationship guru (trust me on that), but I mean I’ve had some experience that could possibly make one or two books depending on how you wanna spin it.

First things first I’ll eat your brain… yeah, no wait… wrong discussion. Let’s talk about romantic love, shall we? Let’s ask really deep questions like, “Does it exist?” “Is it a lie?” “Is it a trap?” and then go into a frenzy because you don’t know what is real anymore. In a way, I do believe that romantic love is socially constructed and that would be thanks to Hollywood.

Think about it – you’ve grown up watching films and reading books where a guy and a gal meet and fall in love and live happily ever after. Love at first sight and all that BS. Although, miss me with that BS but I’ll get onto that later. Hollywood has led many of us to believe that we will meet our one true love by bumping into them randomly in the street – and, yes, okay, you can randomly bump into someone in the street, and they may have the guts to ask for your number, but 9 times out of 10 that’s not going to happen. And if it did… how do you know that’s your one true love straight away?

For me, love is something you build. I attended a family member’s wedding back in August and I remember the pastor did a speech and brought up a valid point. Wouldn’t you rather ‘climb’ into love rather than ‘fall’ into it? Falling implies that you will not have a great landing and it’s all bumpy and just not a great experience, right? Climbing into love implies that you’re building something with your partner and taking time as you go along. To reach the top is an achievement and to have your partner alongside you makes it even better. You build a partnership and you listen to each other, you support and trust each other.

I feel like it would be appropriate to insert something about love and devotion here, so… [emoji] I can’t get enough of all that love and devotion in my life. [emoji] /endsong

But do you see where I’m coming from? Honestly, I used to be such a hopeless romantic. I used to pine for the fact that I would meet my one true love and my life would suddenly have meaning. I mean, don’t we all at some point? Then reality hits and you realise you should really concentrate on yourself before committing yourself to a relationship, anyway.

Mind you, this is not something that I always used to think. Like I mentioned I used to be a hopeless romantic but it wasn’t until I got into my first proper relationship that I realised that this sh*t ain’t no joke. It’s not all flowers and chocolates and snuggles – people actually talk about *le gasp* their feelings and when I was younger this was very, very difficult for me. After that relationship ended, I was told that I wouldn’t open up and if the first inkling of a serious conversation was about to take place then I would clam up and just hide myself in my phone. I used to deny this vehemently, but now looking at it retrospectively it is something that I used to do.

Serious conversations about feelings and the future still scare me but I’m getting better. This even applies to my platonic relationships. Situations sometimes arise and I just want to hide in my shell and not deal with it. But dealing with it is part of growing and sometimes you just got to rip it off like a plaster.
I think the best example of reality hitting me in the face was when Mutay and I had our one and only real argument back when we lived together in university (unless you count that time I got angry at her about Skittles back in like Year 8 or something, but irrelevant… I was just short and had a hot temper so, you know).

I won’t delve into what happened too much because honestly, I am very embarrassed about it but I was a terrible person who instead of talking to my best friend about what was bothering me would hide it and then it all came spilling out and I really had no justification for my actions. I was hit with things about myself that personally I knew were the truth but didn’t want to believe. Let’s face it, no-one wants to hear the worst things about themselves said out loud.

But even after everything, my stubborn ass refused to apologise properly. It got sorted out in the end because Mutay was the bigger person, but that episode was devastating. In saying that, it helped me grow as a person. You should be able to speak to your friends without it being a HUGE deal – be honest and open because if you can’t be then can you really call yourself their friend?

Rolling back to thinking I would find my ‘One True Love’, I used to be so stuck on the fact that we had just the one person that we were meant to fall in love with and be with forever, but I mean is that even realistic? I think we have soulmates – people who come into your life to teach you something and help you grow as a person and learn more about yourself. Just like a season. You may go through many soulmates and that’s cool; it’s a learning curve.

I was dating this guy at the beginning of last year and even though it didn’t work out, he did teach me a lot because he was unlike any of the guys I’ve ever dated. When someone opens up your eyes and shows you a different perspective, it is refreshing and I know can always look back at that time with fondness because I was genuinely very happy at that point in my life.

I think with all the guys I’ve dated, I have learnt something new about myself and just in general which is great (in an ‘Oh, shit then’ way rather than an ‘OMG YAAAS’ way, if that makes sense). There are a few relationships where I’ve mourned the loss of a friendship, even now I’m doing that with a guy I was seeing at the start of the year, but it is what it is and you can’t force things if they weren’t meant to be. Just live your life, b.

There were so many things I used to believe in and I think that’s because I was influenced by what I read/watched. Like in the k-dramas I watched where it’s okay for the guy to act like an asshole and the girl would still fall for him. What?! But I’m not going to lie to you because k-dramas still give me feels and I still watch a few, so hey. You get my drift, though. You ever heard someone say, “Oh, he’s only picking on you because he likes you!”? No, girl, noooooo. If the only way he can express his feelings for me is by picking me then I don’t wanna know.

Red flags are such a big thing to look out for in a relationship. I remember I used to get told, ‘You need to go to the gym’ or ‘You could have a flatter stomach’ or ‘I mean, your ass is great but think of the potential if you worked on it?’. And yet I still stayed with him?

Here’s the clincher, though! If you were reading my blog back in 2015 then you’ll remember I posted about my New York trip. What I didn’t mention, however, was how my boyfriend at the time made me cry whilst on said trip. All because of an Instagram comment and the fact that I didn’t FaceTime him every f*cking day. The details are hazy but I posted a selfie on Instagram and a guy commented on it and then Mutay commented on it and then my ex commented on it. I deleted all the comments because I was like, “Whatever” and my ex BLEW TF UP. “You shouldn’t have deleted my comment. Why did you delete my comment? I’m your boyfriend. Blah blah blah.” I was in Baltimore for a wedding and I was meant to be enjoying myself with my best friend and getting ready and yet I was f*cking miserable and crying on and off the whole day because of some fool who wasn’t even in the same country as me.

The moment someone makes you cry and feel so sh*t about yourself and like you did wrong even though you know you didn’t do anything wrong is the moment you exit the relationship. Just run. Just like this dude.

In hindsight, I should have left his ass as soon as those things happened AND YET WHO WAS THE FIRST PERSON I SAW AS SOON AS I CAME BACK FROM HOLIDAY? Sigh, Chynna. The thing is when you’re in something, you have rose coloured glasses and ugh. It’s difficult, I can’t lie. But we need to do better – we can’t be settling for these scrubs that don’t respect us. (I’m sorry, I’m actually listening to ‘No Scrubs’ as I’m writing this, so this is totes appropes)

I mentioned this in my ’25 Things I’ve Learned In 25 Years’, you need to love yourself first if you want a healthy relationship. Of course, anyone is capable of loving, we are human of course. But healthy > toxic, so if it takes you ages to love yourself then so be it but at least when you do enter a relationship you’ll have the right mindset.

The same mental process should also be applied to your platonic relationships. If you’re going out of your way for someone and they’re not doing the same, why are you wasting your effort? Relationships are a two-way street. You can’t expect to receive and not give and the other way round as well. It’s just common decency, right?

We should be continuously growing as people – surrounding ourselves with like-minded individuals makes such a difference if that is what you’re looking to do. See someone inspirational? Don’t be jealous. Take from them and go do your thing, and spread the inspiration.

Negative Nancies, as I like to call them, have such a bad effect on me. I find myself slipping into a dark abyss (as dramatic as that sounds) and think that I won’t progress in life, but then when I’m with say, my best friend, and see how she’s freaking slaying life then I feel so inspired and that I can f*ck sh*t up (in a good way). It’s a vicious cycle, sometimes.

A note: cut out the toxic people in your life. This is easier said than done, I understand, but in order to reach Nirvana (no, I’m kidding… or am I?), you don’t want toxicity in your life. As O.T. Genasis would say…

Moving on, you should really put yourself before anyone and think about everything else later. Never put yourself in a compromising position for someone who wouldn’t do the same for you.

I’m sure there will be people who disagree with me on my thoughts about romance and love and blah blah blah, but that’s cool – leave it in the comments and let’s start a discussion. This is the exact reason I started the ‘Let’s Talk About…’ series.

 

I want to start a new series. I guess this would be the second post in the series as I previously posted Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby. My aim is to open up a discussion and get people discussing things they never usually would or learn things they didn’t know about before.

I wrote about alopecia once on my blog back in 2011 and even then it was only brief.

I want to start a conversation about what alopecia is and what it means to have alopecia.

Let’s get the technical stuff out of the way first:

What is alopecia?

Alopecia is the general medical term for hair loss. There are many types of hair loss with different symptoms and causes. – NHS

What type of alopecia do you have?

Alopecia areata causes patches of baldness about the size of a large coin. They usually appear on the scalp but can occur anywhere on the body. It can occur at any age, but mostly affects teenagers and young adults. […] Alopecia areata is caused by a problem with the immune system (the body’s natural defence against infection and illness). – NHS

I was diagnosed with alopecia areata when I was 7 years old. Imagine going 7 years of your life looking forward to your mum braiding your hair? Lacing in ribbons on special occasions? Giving you bangs for the first time? Brushing your long hair?

Then boom.

I can’t remember the exact feeling I had when I realised my hair was falling out. I was quite young when it happened and didn’t really understand what was going on, or why I had to be in the hospital so much. I do remember my mum sewing me special hats to wear. I do remember a boy picking on me because I had no hair. I do remember feeling really self-conscious.  

My hair did grow back, but then it fell out again around the age of 9 and ever since then it’s been a downward spiral.

For all intents and purposes, I was generally a happy kid despite all of this. But not all of the time, you understand.

A Timeline

Back to the good ol’ days of ribbons in my hair.

Bam.

I genuinely look like a boy. 😂

Scientists do not know the exact cause of alopecia, but they do believe that a variety of factors come into play. So if you asked me why my hair falls out, I wouldn’t be able to tell you. 

I have always struggled with my hair (for obvious reasons, you’re probably thinking), but it’s becoming more and more difficult as time goes back. Especially now as my alopecia is the worst it’s ever been in my life. I’ve reverted back to what my hair looked like in the photos above. There are some days where I wake up and look at myself in the mirror and burst into tears, and despite the fact that I wear a wig – have to wear a wig – it doesn’t make it any easier.

Throughout my secondary school years, my hair was great. Amazing. Fabulous. I really wished I’d appreciated it more back then. I really wished I’d taken care of it more back then. I actually had a full head of hair that I didn’t have to hide under silly hats or bandanas. I could actually style my hair the way I pleased and not have to worry about bald patches. I was actually carefree and the only thing that actually bothered me was teenage acne that made my face look like a football field. 

This lasted all the way up until university. I noticed my hair started getting thinner. I bought my first set of clip in extensions and thought, this will do. It got to a point where I had to rely on them every day, and in hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have used them as much as I did. It caused unnecessary strain on my hair because I was clipping and unclipping, pulling at my hair. But I didn’t notice and/or didn’t care because it temporarily fixed the problem. My patches weren’t showing. My hair was even (one side of my hair grew faster than the other, so despite haircuts to even it out, it would eventually just go back to what it was before). 

Alopecia is not something I used to speak about IRL. My family knows about it, my best friend and my oldest friend know about it, and for the longest time, I believed those were the only people that should know. 

I remember there was this one time in science class and I heard, “Hahaha, Chynna has a bald spot” and I panicked. I quickly tried to cover it up. How do I explain this? I couldn’t move for a split second, my face was burning with embarrassment, I could feel the tears threatening to spill out. Then a hand gripped my shoulder and firmly took me out of the classroom and I broke down and she allowed me to cry like an absolute baby, but she understood. 

It’s hard, you know? How do you easily slip in the fact that you have alopecia and, “Oh, btw? This isn’t my real hair, it’s a wig.” This is and I think always will be an issue when it comes to guys.

My first boyfriend knew I had alopecia but didn’t find out until months into our relationship. I remember being in the kitchen of our uni accommodation and one of my housemates mentioned in passing about my tiny bald spots. (I mean really, girl? Couldn’t you have asked me in confidence?) and my boyfriend at the time being all, “Yeah, I’ve asked her but she won’t tell me.” So, in the end, it turned out to be a forced confession and even though he was very supportive, I didn’t feel comfortable talking about it.

I’ve made it a habit now of getting it out of the way. It’s still difficult, but I just rip it off like a band-aid. At the end of the day, alopecia is a part of who I am. I try not to let it define me, but I can’t deny that it’s there. 

My last relationship, I reckon, was part of the reason my hair started falling out again. Stress and hair loss are said to be related. The worst part of it all is that he turned around and used my alopecia against me. Imagine being told, “Hopefully the next man won’t be repulsed by your bald patches as much as I was.”? 

Something as personal as alopecia, to open up about something like that to somebody you love is a big deal. Just another way to learn that people are dicks, huh?

I really just want to post this to show people that alopecia is a thing and I know there isn’t much awareness about it. That’s why Alopecia UK is one of the charities I’ve chosen to support this year; I’ve yet to decide how I will raise money for them, but I’ll keep you updated.

In raising money for this charity it will go towards providing support, information, and advice to anyone directly or indirectly affected by alopecia.  

So, to my fellow alopecians… we got this. It may not get any easier (let’s not lie), but if we’ve got the support and the care and the love, then we can do this. We absolutely can.

Lets talk about…

I feel like sex is still a taboo subject to talk about – in a candid way, anyway. Perhaps I’m not looking in the right place, but I can’t seem to find a lot of bloggers that openly talk about this subject. I want to be that person who opens the door to this discussion. Aside from textbooks and doctors, I feel like there isn’t someone who I can turn to and read about how they feel about sex on a personal level.

I’ve been watching Shannon Boodram’s videos lately. She’s amazing and so inspirational. Her videos have opened my eyes up not just to sex, but also to love and loving oneself.

My own opinions on sex have changed over the years. I was very sheltered growing up, so I was never given the sex talk. Coupled with the fact that I went to an all girls’ school run by nuns, you can bet I never had a great sex education. That’s one thing that bugs me. I understand that as a Catholic school, it probably isn’t proper to talk about sex, but at the same time not all of your pupils are Catholic. It’s better to be teaching people to have safe sex, than no sex at all. Curiosity leads to pregnancy. Just saying.

Living in a country that has free contraception, I still don’t understand why people don’t take advantage of it. Why be unsafe and risk being pregnant, when you can be safe and HAVE FUN. Yo, sex is fun. Hella fun when you don’t have to worry because you’re on birth control.

Anyway, I digress. Despite my mother being Catholic, she never actually told me that I should wait for marriage. I remember with my first boyfriend the only thing she said was to be careful. I don’t even know if that was alluding to sex or just being in a relationship in general, but I just took as both. My mum loves to dance around the subject. She’s not so uppity, now, but I kind of wish she could have been more open but I totally understand that not everyone can be open.

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