Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Trauma.

One of many on a heavily populated terraced street, a singular house is somewhat innocuous. Behind each door lies normality, family life in one form or another. But the one, somehow isolated facade holds a history so vivid that the mere sight of the door marked 75 becomes a metaphysical legacy of trauma. At one point it was the place I forced myself to consider a home - the act of considering otherwise being much too grim and abhorrent to even contemplate. The only option became to believe and to convince myself that the pervasive sense of isolation and loathing is normal. Don’t worry... I won't talk, I won't tell.


-

Somehow both an empty, unfeeling void and a hectic, torturous weight – trauma doesn’t discriminate. It creeps in as I sleep. It restricts my muscles as I reach for my morning tea. It leaves my memories incohesive fragments of what once was. It wrings out my stomach as I eat one of my once favourite foods. It steals my breath as I step out the front door, the vast possibilities ahead that today might finally be the expected something bad – the moment of mentally prophesied bad shit.  It impacts every inch of being until my entire identity is defined by trauma.

Trauma forced my daily rhetoric towards avoidance, an avoidance of anything that might shatter my illusion of okay-ness. I had to be okay.

Though it isn’t okay, it never has been and I simply wanted it to be more than anything else. After all, I never asked for this. I never asked to be born. I most certainly didn’t want to suffer so severely from nausea everyday that I can barely move. Nor did I ask to push away all those I love for reasons I’m still not entirely sure of. I also didn’t ask to emotionally shatter so frequently when it all becomes so much, sobbing violently and uncontrollably, fearing a new day. Growing frustrations fester, understanding that I never asked for this experience, or it's sequelae.

It’s difficult to come to terms with. The beginning of this year ushered in an overwhelming sense of dread, the sense of carrying the torturous unknown through to another year. Simply lacking the official diagnosis of C-PTSD forced me to see nothing but a highly neurotic, depressed and incurable mess. Delightfully, this offered more things to repress. Though as time has progressed, I’ve educated myself sufficiently and I’ve been offered a gift of clarity I hadn’t yet received – the simple fact of knowing why I was in so much psychological and somatic pain engendering a queer sense of comfort.

I have a voice, and I shall no longer be silenced in the fear of possible repercussions. For a long time I believed silence and avoidance was the only approach to survive.

I have capacity to be more vocal; though a voice was something that was never permitted to my younger self. Trapped in a mental cage and unable to get out, I had no option but to endure. So, I did, I endured. I endured permanently being the one unwanted child out of three. I endured being less important than drugs and alcohol. I endured the fear of ever leaving the house and being late, I endured the fear of never leaving the house and being alone. I endured the words, I absorbed them - as yes, I don’t deserve education, I am dumb, I am fat, I am unimportant, and I am disgusting. I endured the outbursts of anger whenever I got sick. I endured hands round my throat. The act of simply falling asleep at midnight and forgetting to let them in, sanctioning the act of tightly wrapping their hands around my throat, precariously balanced at the top of the staircase while they look on without an ounce of care or distress in their eyes. It all feels like a big long game of endurance.

I still fear the things that might happen, the toxic trauma tattooed so deeply that my mind, body and spirit must be prepared for the next onslaught, a destiny to be repeated ad infinitum. Yet I also cling to the past, observing the whys, the hows, should-haves and should nots. I see all my actions after them and feel overcome with regret. Constant approval wasn’t something I needed, and nor was the want to be liked or to be someone else entirely. These were so important to me and forced an outward image of myself into the world that was never really me at all, it was their imprint. Even after I’d left, I was plagued by a ghost of somebody I wasn’t.


-

I carried the burden of trauma with me for a long time, not as a badge of honour but as a brand of shame. Simply expressing the truth about my past would force me towards leper status, and ensure anyone would be as repulsed of my own identity as I was myself. It felt like honesty would brand me for life, a scarlet letter warning the world to stay away. I am dumb, I am fat, I am unimportant, I am disgusting. I often remain forgetful that this isn’t my own narrative, that it was the one incepted into my mind as I tried so desperately to develop my own.


I feel inexorably drawn to tell my truth now, that the shame I’ve carried is not and shall no longer be my own. As I’ve watched a chorus of women (and men) shout from rooftops about their experiences with sexual assault cry out “Me Too,” and I feel it’s about time I say; me too. My identity might currently be trapped in the trauma void, but I don’t feel much of anything about them, other than the pull to move on. I say “They” and it remains as much of a platform as they deserve, a name or pronoun serves as an identifier, and that does a disservice to those who, too, have suffered at the hands of the cosmic “they” and their intrinsic evil. After all, if you can prolongedly harm another being, then surely your status as a human deserving respect, sympathy and compassion should be revoked? But I unfortunately understand that my experience is not all that unique. I know all the women that have been violated while unconscious. I know all the children that felt the sting of neglect, of abuse. I know all the teens that were subject to a constant barrage of insults. I am one of them – but I have not, and will never be any part of “they” ever again. I’m ready to leave them behind, to gain an identity of my own. My identity won’t be robbed any longer, I am exactly who I am and I refuse to apologise.

I hope to drop the shame, completely. I won't stay silent and push it away. I refuse to let it be my burden.  None of it should have ever been mine to begin with. I claim no more ownership over my past. My identity is no longer going to be wrapped up in my past. I shout “Me Too” and mean it – it’s finally time to lose my shame and private distress from what they did, and welcome a new empowered narrative.

They won't ever again get my name, my fear, my identity or my silence.

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Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Urban Decay Naked Skin Concealer - Restoring my Faith in Concealer

I without a doubt have a strained relationship with concealer. I love it. I need it. But I hate shopping for it, I hate the limited shade selection. I hate how much I need under my eyes. And the list goes on...

But step in Urban Decay's Naked Skin Concealer, and we have a wonderfully large tube restoring my faith in ye olde imperfection erasers.



To get the negative out of the way, the shades are odd. "Fair Neutral" is WHITE, like reverse panda eyes face white... So I picked up "Light Neutral" (I'm pale, but neutral skin-toned) and it was SO dark. Like normal panda eyes dark. Oddly, "Light Warm" is lighter in colour. Don't ask me why, but shopping outside your usual skin tone may help with the colour match due to the variant in shade.

Now, the positive...

Immediately, you see it's size. Its HUGE for a concealer, significantly larger than the ever so popular Bobbi Brown Creamy Concealer that comes in a little more expensive. With it's intense pigmentation, a little goes a long way, meaning if you don't use concealer heavily, this should last quite a while.

The doe foot applicator works a charm to any double-dipping, and if you're applying to spots, contamination can be easily avoided by applying to your hand, and pressing over the area with a clean finger. Otherwise the applicator is ideal for applying with precision to small areas around the eyes and nose. While it can be blended out with whatever technique you prefer, I've used both fingers and a blending sponge (and Mac Fix+ setting spray) and found them to disperse the product perfectly, meshing it with the skin and making it almost undetectable.

It's major selling point for me is the creamy consistency, which unlike Laura Mercier's Secret Camouflage (my previous go-to) is easier to disguise on the skin, and much more forgiving to textured or dry skin. Unlike the dry, hard formula of LM Secret Camouflage, you will need a small amount of setting powder to stop any budging or creasing, especially if you're applying over a dewy, or water-based foundation.

This has undoubtedly made my routine easier, abolished all my worries about caking and coverage on my dark under-eye circles, and made me a happy bunny at £17.50 for 5ml. (You can buy on Feelunique, here.)

And with my faith restoring, how do people feel about Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer? Y'know, for experimentation...
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Sunday, 22 May 2016

Fragrance Layering - Creativity in Scent

Jo Malone Fragrance Layering
If you don't follow me on Instagram you're doing Instagram wrong you won't know how deep my obsession with perfume goes. It feels like only every other week I'm posting a picture proclaiming my love for my latest perfume purchase.

There's something about fragrance that manages to convey an array emotions, evoke memories, and just look damn cute on your dresser. So that one bottle that reminds you of summer, makes you feel feminine, sexy and powerful... who's to say you can't stretch it further? Tailoring your scent with fragrance layering (or fragrance combining) is a surefire way to make a bespoke fragrance that conveys everything you aim to achieve usually from the one bottle.

While I'm not going to suggest you stop buying one bottle at a time, fragrance layering is an ideal way to repurpose (or experiment with- if you're that way inclined) you're favourite scents.

The first thing to remember about fight club fragrance layering, is that there are no indefinite rules, rather a set of guidelines that will assist in a little scent creativity:

An ideal starting point is to create a little understanding on which notes work well with each other. Typically, perfumes with a common note (both with notes of rose, for example) are likely to combine well, already with scent families created that compliment in their individual bottles.

Heady, intense scents when combined with light can switch perfumes perfectly from night to day but the combination of two intense scents (think Jo Malone Pomegranate Noir/Tom Ford Noir Pour Femme) can descend into nauseating "I bathed in this sh*t" territory.

A fresh, airy floral fragrance can be made significantly more unique through the inclusion of a masculine cologne.

Before you begin layering, a little oil or moisturiser on your pulse points (where you're perfume should be directed for optimum scent distribution FYI) will help longevity of your scent - creating a minor moisture barrier to stop fragrance permeating immediately into skin.

While some combine fragrance by applying different scents to different pulse points, I much prefer to lay down the heavier scent with a spritz of the lighter over the top - ensuring the light doesn't become masked... And that I don't have a feminine smelling wrist, with a masculine smelling neck.

My favourite combination at the moment is Jo Malone Peony and Blush Suede and their Wood Sage and Sea Salt - a fragrance completely reminiscent of summer. The beachy, salty vibes of the latter cutting through the distinctive floral of Peony Blush Suede creates something significantly more unique and ambiguous than a traditional floral summer scent.

What do you think of fragrance layering? Have you tried it before, and would you be open to? I think it's a fun way of experimenting with scent - and especially to innovate one which may be getting a little tired.

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Sunday, 1 May 2016

Tom Ford Fragrance - Velvet Orchid and Noir Pour Femme

I'm forever strolling into Debenhams to "kill some time," only leaving when I smell of approximately 60 different perfumes and I'm a little nauseous and dizzy from the fumes. After throwing on the entire Tom Ford range, I noticed these two standouts, Velvet Orchid and Noir. Only as much as I tell myself through teary eyes that I don't need over ten bottles of perfume, I find myself googling them for days doing sad puppy eyes. So I settled on purchasing one. Then a week later... I settled on the other. (Shopaholics anonymous, anyone?)

Tom Ford Velvet Orchid and Noir Pour Femme Fragrance Review
Every now and then, there comes along a product, one you just need to have. Regardless of how many packs of noodles you'll have to live off, you just need it. So, my latest positively ridiculous indulgence? Not one, but two Tom Ford perfumes.

Both are beautiful, unique scents. Velvet Orchid (£105 for 100ml) is described as an oriental floral, designed as the feminine little sister to Tom Ford's iconic Black Orchid. With notes of citrus, sensual petals, honey and rum, it is undoubtedly an incredible, timeless scent. To me, I could imagine myself as a flapper girl off to a jazz club wearing this scent. But a girl can dream, eh? It's longevity is unrivalled, with me occasionally waking up 24 hours later and still catching a whiff of this feminine, classic dream. 10/10 - Tom Ford. You know how to make a girl feel sexy.

Meanwhile, Noir Pour Femme (£105 for 100ml) could be overpowering for those unprepared. It is a strong, heady scent, increasing it's longevity - but requiring slight of hand when it comes to application. While Velvet Orchid is distinctively feminine, this arguably could be appropriate for men as much as women. This is where it's beauty comes in... It is very unique for this reason. Whereas other perfumes could be seen as similar to another scent on the market, I have never encountered anything like this oriental fragrance. With notes of citrus, spice and vanilla to name just a few, it encompasses the ethic of the Tom Ford woman - powerful assuredness, and vulnerable romanticism. A perfume that encapsulated femininity as power and romanticism? Count me in.
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Thursday, 28 April 2016

Self Esteem, Confidence and Body Image in the Digital Age

We all have opinions on the way we look. If only my boobs were bigger. If only my stomach was flatter. If only my thighs were smaller, and my bum more round. All familiar comments spoken to ourselves in the mirror each morning, noon and night. But what if our insecurities weren't insecurities at all, and positive body image was a thing women (and men) are blessed with?

It only takes a quick peek at Instagram to see another picture of Kim Kardashian semi nude in all her perfect (photoshopped) glory. Or a glance at Twitter to see Rihanna looking like a perfectly fierce female. Forgetting in the process, that typically their accounts are managed by a PR, edited to publicity perfection, and photoshopped to goddess status. So why do we compare ourselves so much to these "perfect" celebrities - bringing ourselves down in the process?


It's becoming somewhat engrained in our DNA to be jealous, a part of human evolution to compete with everyone; whether it be professionally, personally or visually. I don't know about anyone else, but my cycle of body image jealousy looks quite a lot like this:

1 - Sees picture of a svelte Victoria's Secret model - feels bad about the fact that my only six-pack is glazed in a box in the kitchen.
2 - Wants to eat healthy to look like an adonis, but said kitchen six pack is more appealing.
3 - Eats six pack, feels even worse about self.

It's a cycle of self-loathing. A cycle furthered as mass media promises on the cover of magazines to "make your knuckles sexy" and "drink this wonder ingredient for the best belly button you've ever had." Even for the second that our brain decides to chill and just let us be at one with our bodies, the chance is someone younger, hotter, smarter or skinnier will be thrust into our face. Et voila - back at the beginning. Jealousy causing lessening self-esteem, denting our confidence, and promoting our own negative body image.

The media tells us that our outward image is what's important. We believe it. We eat it up. Of course, their image is distorted, their images photoshopped, videos edited and articles mere excerpts. But the more we are barraged with it, the more like we are to believe it. Of course, no one is merely brainwashed entirely and we do have the ability to choose what to believe in, but as society becomes more image dominated, who are we to question this large ubiquitous force?

My personal self-esteem levels and confidence are barely existent. Even understanding that the women in magazines aren't a realistic portrayal, I find myself feeling I am just a mere, unworthy mortal with my flawed skin, dark circles and the rest. I know I'm not alone in feeling inferior, its a daily struggle for many, especially young women. It would be incredible to all love our own bodies, our faces, and brains - not being told subliminally via social media, magazines etc. that we should aspire to be any different.

Imagine, if you were placed on an island tomorrow. Alone. You live there for 6 months with no one to compare yourself to. You survive. Like you have done every day up until right now. And your body? Its neither skinny, nor fat as there is nothing comparable. No one without stretch marks to make you feel that they are an imperfection. No one extremely confident to make you feel small. And your brain? It's the most damn smart brain on the island - it's keeping you strong. You are just you. You exist without a superior being to make you feel any less worthy. Whether of your own beauty, of your own strength, or your own intelligence...

Regardless of the cynicism we're fed by the media, as long as we are kind, we are worthy of love, especially that from ourselves.
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