ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF INDIGENOUS LANDS AND NATIONS
Firstly, I want to acknowledge that the lands of which this project started on Klahoose, Tla’amin, Homalco Nations territories. Food in Indigenous cultures are relational.
I was taught that food is an essential way of life that can be used to better relationships. First Nations and Indigenous Peoples have had their cultural roots taken away from them; cultural genocide being one of the ways that colonial governments still use to oppress them while pretending to give voice. In presenting this project, I am reminded of the privilege that many people have, including me, to have food access and security. I am here writing about food and trauma while many First Nations and Indigenous Peoples are on the frontlines, trying to secure their cultural foods and lands from greedy governments. Please take a lot of time and energy to learn about food sovereignty in Indigenous and First Nations communities and how you can be an ally. For many reasons, I cannot be doing the research for you and providing links. I think that one way to be an ally is to actually GO OUT and find out what ways you can build connections to First Nations and Indigenous communities with care, respect and accountability.
Read more about "Territory Acknowledgements" through Indigenous Writer, Selena Mills on what they are and why they are important.
ABOUT COOKING POST-TRAUMATIC SAVOURY DISHES
What foods make us feel safe when we are triggered? What taste do we run to? What food-related memories do we engage to make us feel okay? These are some of the many contemplations I currently engage with in the context of justice. Through Undivided, I am exploring the importance of comfort foods to talk about the different forms of trauma we carry and how something like comfort food has been so overly painted in negative ways; to continue to shame us about our bodies.
As a Complex-PTSD Survivor, I experience emotional flashbacks almost on a daily basis; sometimes multiple hits a day. I don't remember when I started using comfort food-making to help me with emotional flashbacks since I disassociate often. I must have used this way of coping for a long time but it is only recently (May 2019) that I became aware of what is happening to me on a somatic and emotional level when I make what I think of as "safety food".
The project is about tackling the shame that comes with choosing to eat or not to eat comfort foods, the stresses and discoveries of comfort food changes when you live with trauma, or are traumatized, the missing and found cultural links to ancestral foods and how we connect with the healing of our ancestors through celebration. It is also about addictions to those comfort foods that make us more ill and miserable. Finally, it's about kindness. It's about gentleness. It's about our relationships with food and with each other.
Through this project, I am hoping to get into real and honest conversations with myself and with folks about triggers, struggles, celebrations, contemplations, reflections and actions while living with trauma, or who lives with someone who has trauma. In this series, I will reflect on social issues that are close to me; colonization, racism, lost cultures, relational stories, classism, gender, etc.
HERE ARE SOME THINGS TO CONSIDER.
During a peer review process, I was supported by fellow participants on whether this project is a "guide" or a "memoir"? I found this questions interesting. Why a guide or memoir and what are they supposed to do for me? I don't really know the answer but if I could try, I would say it's a:
1. A GUIDE for myself to express myself in a way that is accessible for me. As a Virgo, I do need validation and the deep feeling that I am seen, and witnessed. *Virgo readers get extra points for instantly recognizing what I am writing about and having hyper-awesome empathy. I love you, my fellow Virgos.
2. I love projects that involve the caring and betterment of others. So to you the reader, this is a CONVERSATION, a CHAT over coffee or tea, a silent MEDITATION, a silent WITNESSING. I also wish that this project might be a way for you to contemplate your own relationship with food and trauma that can be filled with love, kindness and comfort.
3. CONNECTION - Food sharing is a important practise in my culture. As a South-East Asian mixed-race Nusantara, the essence of community health is in our relationships and our active efforts to use food to take care of each other. Food is resilience building and life-sustaining and I believe that it is because we have relationships that we have created delicious food. This project is my way to connect with folks who also live with trauma and is also using food as a way to heal and open more conversations.
ON TRAUMA TRIGGERS & THE CONTAINER
Holding space for trauma triggers is a priority for me. While I have a safety container for myself with the support of my community, I cannot represent that for everyone. I am not a professional writer + I am also dyslexic, so that means I might present my writing in a way that may or may not be accessible to some of you. Because I don't have a way to take care of your trigger needs, I want to folks to share this act of keeping this container safe by TAKING CARE OF YOURSELF FIRST. And if that means needing me to change, edit or address anything, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ON WRITING STYLE
I recently learnt what a polyglot is and I am one. I understand multiple Chinese dialects due to my upbringing, hence, you are in luck because I value simple writing and it is a part of my own practise to write things as clearly as I can. However, due to being dyslexic, that can be challenging. In addition, the complexity of topics around food and trauma for me interconnects my social, cultural and economic experiences.
More importantly, the way I write reflects my ongoing exploration of removing colonialistic and capitalism-istic styles and forms of writing. I write to relate and reflect, not to throw things at people's intellectual and visualistic heads. So please feel open to write to me and ask for clarification. I may not always be able to communicate quickly, however, I will do my best to communicate directly.