On self worth:
all my life I never thought someone would ever propose to me. As my boyfriend of 2.5 years kneeled in front of me I was caught off guard, surprised but also facing a deep seated question: do I deserve to be this happy?
I never thought (and still don’t think) I would be married in the traditional sense. No church or religious institution will be needed to affirm my union and I don’t care about having a white flowing dress. That may be because both our parents are separated or divorced, and we both lived with the trauma of seeing a dream crash and burn. For both of our parents, the ashes fertilized a new way of being - friendship and peaceful co-parenting. I am grateful my parents split because now our family unit has a developed peace and understanding that I know will last forever. It took a while to get here though and I’ll never forget the helplessness I felt as a teen watching my parents suffer in marriage.
Just a few months ago I was telling an elder: “I don’t know if I’ll ever marry - but if I ever did, I definitely will not marry in a church, and I would call it a ‘unity party’, not a wedding.” I wanted (and still want) so badly to take a new course / a different way to a long lasting unity. I know it can be done because I have a lot of examples all around me. But for us, it’s going to have to be an adaptive, non conforming and it must feel like freedom.
In the past 4 years I have been travelling around the world, living different lives each time. I love to travel and stay for long because each time I get to choose and develop who I want to be. No one knows me in a new place, and I've found it easiest to forgive myself and others when I am not in the same setting as them. Perspective is the gift of solitude in a foreign place.
For all the perspective and life changing experiences I’ve had, I never realized how deeply I felt a lack of self worth- a feeling like I don’t deserve to be as happy as I am. So I work too hard without rest, or I judge myself and others harshly for no reason, or find ways to under appreciate my own accomplishments. I’ve always found it hard to stand in my glory or my shine, for fear I would be exposed for being just a imperfect regular human being. I know I do amazing things. I’ve been blessed in my life a million times over but I've zoomed in on my shortcomings and on the failures of others in my life.
On Sunday January 14th, Tony and I along with a few friends went to Labadi Beach in Accra for our very first “couples shoot”. Tony is a photographer who was used to being behind the camera, and we thought it would be nice to finally have some professional photots taken together, especially since we're in the motherland. I had specifically asked the photographer NOT to make it look like an engagement shoot - I wanted conceptual love, not corny and over done. We were also joined by a videographer, and I said to Tony, “I didn’t know this was going to be recorded??” , and he told me it’s just a friend of his who was practicing making videos. I thought nothing of it for the whole time, clueless to the fact that this actually was an engagement photo AND video shoot. Just as we were taking what I thought was the last photo, the photographer asked Tony to hold his lens while he switched cameras. Before I knew it tony was on his knees in front of me, showing me the ring inside the lens, and saying “Asia will you marry me??? This is not a drill.”
When Tony asked me to marry him, I said yes without thinking twice. He is literally the loveliest man I know. He is caring, kind, spiritual, non judgemental and deeply loves himself- all qualities that I have refined while being with him. He doesn’t prescribe to toxic masculinity and he doesn’t need me to affirm his own identity as a (hu)man. Our chemistry is beautiful, and we understand each other’s need for freedom and space. He doesn’t treat me like a jealous man would, but we respect each others boundaries. We have watered each other with love in long distance relationship for at least half of the time we have been together. I love knowing I get to build, have kids, share joy with and make it though all life challenges with him as my lover.
After the “yes!!” And after all the hugs and congratulations, I went home and was alone with my thoughts. I realized I felt afraid to be as happy as I wanted to be. I thought So much crazy shit going on in the world how can I allow myself to be this blissful. So many what if’s crossed my mind (FEAR) and I realized I was thinking away my joy. MY JOY my moment of brave love and magic. Now I see that I have to stand up for my right to be happy, full of joy and love every day. My moments are mine and I really am experiencing a love this amazing.
To my love: Anthony Gebrehiwot. thank you for your ancestors, and the earth they are buried in. thank your Mama and pops, thank the places that made them and made you, thank you for the ways you have been challenged and grown. thank you for every decision you have made that brought you before me. thank you for hurting and healing and teaching me to do the same. thank you for owning your imperfection and thank you for trying your best - you are beautiful inside and out. thank you for every time you held my hand and looked in my eyes. thank you for being a lesson of learning to see the good that can come out of the sad/bad/abusive/negative aspects of life. I promise to love you and let you grow in the ways that you need to fulfill your life purpose. And I know you’ll do the same for me.
LOVE WINS HERE EVERYDAY >>>
Colour photos by @apagstudios
Black & White photos by @sierranallo