Paradym Partner: Tene Edwards

We spoke to poet and writer Tene Edwards about her award-winning book Walk With Wings, the healing power of poetry and how to love – both self and others.

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Portrait of Tene Edwards

Born in London, with Jamaica in her heritage, Tene Edwards is a 27 year old poet, self-love advocate, award-winning author of Walk With Wings and Domestic Abuse Coordinator. 

We chose to spotlight Tene because of her passion project Walk With Wings, a poetry and prose collection that tells the story of myself falling in love, making bad decisions, learning from my mistakes, and discovering how to love my life and self. 

We spoke to Tene about one of Paradym’s key pillars: Love. Tene candidly shares her love journey, from abusive relationships all the way to self-love exploring her role poetry, self-reflection and self-expression has taken in helping her uncover her patterns and set her on a healing path.

Tell us about your emotional journal

As a child, I really loved pretty, pink journals that had glitter or gems and came with a lock and key. I also vaguely remember journaling in my primary years, with a family member reading an explicit page I wrote about an abuse I experienced, but they never really understood it. In fact, I ended up getting in trouble about it. It was then I decided to step away from journaling, until I was struck by the agonising pain of heartbreak in my adulthood. 

I remember just wanting to go out and get drunk to escape the negative spiral of emotions and thoughts. I forgot what happiness looked like. I desperately wanted to experience it again. I lost myself. I missed the old me. I never knew how I was going to find my way back. I went clubbing as much as I could. I’d live my best life for a couple of hours, then the drink would wear off and I’d fall back into sadness again. I raved until I couldn’t anymore. It required a lot of effort and it became expensive. I completely lost sight of all the beauty in my life. I focused all of my energy on the ugly and I beat myself down.

What about poetry? What role does it play in your emotional journey?

Writing saved me. Writing allowed me to face my emotions, check in with myself, open myself up and be completely raw and honest with myself. My journal became my safe space and I learnt how important it was to face my emotions, lean into them, process them and then learn from them. This was the start of my healing journey. 

It is never always easy putting myself out there, but I see the work that I do as being bigger than me with the focus on healing others and the message being more important than my fears.

As a very introverted person, I created this platform to release the built-up pain from the heartbreak that I was going through and the confusion I felt from not enjoying my career path. I had no idea what I was doing at the time, where this was going to lead me or how big this was going to grow. It didn’t occur to me that I was building a community, but with every comment, DM, like and share, that is exactly what I was doing.

I now feel like I have created a powerful online community with us all uplifting each other. Sometimes I find that people have responded to another person who has opened up about something really deep on some of my posts and it seriously just makes me want to cry with happiness, because this is exactly what I envisioned to create. Not only do I want people to feel empowered by my words, but I want them to feel empowered by the community.

Tell us about Walk With Wing and your journey to love?

I wrote a poetry piece about the type of love I desire with a partner in Walk With Wings named ‘Partnership.’ I lost sight of what a healthy relationship looked like and just needed to remind myself what exactly it is I wanted out of a relationship, so that I could stop settling for less. 

I experienced a spiral of emotions writing Walk With Wings. Some pages I even wrote in tears, but writing this book helped me to really understand myself and forgive both myself and those who had hurt me, which in effect strengthened my self-love and allowed me to release the unforgiving thoughts and feelings I was harbouring, that were blocking my healing

What does love mean to you?

I’ve now learnt that love is about feeling safe with another person or thing; whether this be a partner, friend, family member, place or object. It is about accepting someone for who they are, being supportive of their aspirations and consistently encouraging them to be the best version of themselves through thick and thin.

What about self-love?

I’ve learnt this type of love begins with self-love. The more issues you have with yourself, the smaller your capacity for love is, and the more issues you will have with other people. The more I tap into my inner voice and pay attention to my thoughts, emotions and actions, the better I understand myself and who I really am as an individual. Accepting my past and present self played a crucial part in my self-love journey. It took putting myself out there, nakedly, for me to understand nobody is perfect, before I was able to forgive myself. This has led me to where I am at right now – not allowing outside opinions deter me from my goals, dreams, passions and happiness. 

This is a never-ending journey because for as long as we have a breath our story remains under construction, but in order for me to grab my power back and build my own safe and healthy space, with boundaries, I had to stop blaming and accept responsibility.

What key lessons have you learnt from your emotional journey?

  1. I found my greatest lessons in my darkest times – as the saying goes “for every challenge encountered there is opportunity for growth”. 
  2. The words you speak over yourself will either nourish you or damage you: choose your words wisely. 
  3. No matter how dark a road appears to be, there is always light to be found somewhere, in between. 

 

Advice you would give to others who have been in a similar position and looking to change?

Be mindful of the words you speak over your life. I have favourite mantras and pages in Walk With Wings that I re-read every so often to help increase my joy, self-love and confidence. 

Make solitude a priority. It is important that we check in with ourselves and make time for reflection; to centre ourselves and grow. There is so much noise that society makes for us, it can sometimes lead us away from ourselves and towards looking outside of ourselves for answers when most of our answers can be found within.