Love, Life Stories

The 10 Most-Read The Tempest Stories of 2017: Love Edition

2017 was a rough year. There's no way around that. So here's to ruffling some feathers in the name of love.

2017 was a rough year. There’s no way around that. But in the roughest of times we learn a lot about love.

We learn which relationships in our life are the real shit and which ones aren’t. We learn about who will truly be there for us through the worst of times as well as the best. We go through the heartbreaking process of cutting out those who don’t ride or die. We learn to truly appreciate those who hold us while we cry, listen to us bitch, talk us down from anxiety attacks, and make us laugh until we can’t breathe.

And we learn a lot about taking care of ourselves. We can’t always rely on others to get us through. Sometimes, we’re the only people who can save our own lives. And that means we need to commit to practicing radical self-love and abundant self-care.

For many of us, this is an uncomfortable and grueling process. Some of us have to almost destroy ourselves before we truly believe that we are worthy of our own love and care. But when the world has gone to shit and everything feels awful, self-love and self-care become the only means of self-preservation we have.

This year the amazing women of The Tempest have examined every aspect of love with their insightful, inspiring, moving, and motivational writing. They’ve written about parents who taught them how to love as well as learning to love after growing up with parents who didn’t know how. They’ve told us their stories of loving partners and best friends who went to the brink of the abyss and pulled them back and their stories of partners and friends who almost pushed them over that edge. They’ve shared their journeys toward self-love and their tips for radical self-care, including how they learned to take care of their mental and physical health.

They have redefined relationships and they’ve taught us what it really means to love others and themselves.

So, let’s take a look back at all the lessons of love these amazing women brought us in 2017:

1. “I never thought I’d have to get an abortion as a Muslim woman – until the day I did,” by Anonymous

A thin light skinned woman wearing a light blouse, black pants, and a headscarf in front of a flight of stairs, looking at the ground

By far our most popular and impactful piece this year was the struggle of a woman who decided to get an abortion. The piece is beautiful, raw, and heartbreaking. The author frankly describes the painful process of deciding that the best decision for her was to terminate the pregnancy and the mental and emotional trauma that she experienced after having the abortion.

She also talks about how she had to go through this whole experience alone because of the stigma against abortion in her community. The author confronts this stigma head on and points out how dangerous it is to have to go through trauma alone for fear of being ostracized.

This ruffled a lot of feathers, for sure, but everything in it needed to be said, and many women reached out to us to let us know that the article helped them deal with their own decision to have an abortion.  Read More.

2. “My Sunni-Shia marriage is not invalidated by your unwanted opinions, ” by Tuscany Bernier

A light skinned red haired man in a suit stands next to a light skinned woman in a Burqa on their wedding day
Courtesy of Tuscany Bernier

Writers for The Tempest never shy away from writing about controversial topics, and Spring Editorial Fellow, Tuscany Bernier, didn’t shy away from telling our readers all about the marriage that caused a stir in her Muslim community: her own.

Tuscany writes about how her Sunni community reacted when they found out she was engaged to a Shia man, hint: it didn’t go well. She talks about all the unwanted advice she heard from the leaders of her community and the Aunties who told her that her husband to be was a deviant.

Through sharing her narrative, she exposed the rifts that still exist within the Muslim community, and how her love crossed the divide. Read More.

3. “I’m so afraid of getting married to the love of my life,” by Katherine Kaestner

A red haired, light skinned woman sitting next to a light skinned, dark haired man, next to the water in front of a cityscape.
Courtesy of Katherine Kaestner

When loving ourselves intersects with loving someone else, and we think about combining our fucked up life with some else’s things get really tough. And that’s exactly what our Interviews Editor, Katie Kaestner, took on in this brutally honest piece.

Katie got really honest about her own mental illness and her fear of being a burden on her future husband. She tells the raw, sometimes ugly truth about what it’s like to live with mental illness and love someone who struggles with mental illness every day.

Her story reminds us that we need to take care of ourselves and our own mental health in order to be a true partner to another person, that it’s okay to not be okay sometimes, and that it’s normal to be scared about committing your life to another person. Read More.

4. “That time of the month is more complicated for me than you know,” by Jay Zheng

A gender fluid individual
Design Credit to Deema Alawa / Property of The Tempest, Inc.

In this story that we published in partnership with Lunapads, Jay Zheng shares what it’s like to get a period as a transgender, gender-fluid individual.

None of us really love that time of the month, but for trans* individuals, getting a period can be traumatic, a physical reminder that their bodies don’t match their gender. Jay talks so eloquently about the dysmorphia and dissonance that getting their period creates for them and how discovering the Lunapads boxer briefs helped them cope. Read More.

5. “I didn’t know that being asexual was a thing until someone asked me what I actually wanted,” by Amani Marie

An olive skinned woman wearing red lipstick standing outside in a snow covered street wearing all black including a black hijab

Sexuality is a complicated spectrum and each individual has to go through their own experiences in order to discover where they fall on that spectrum. When your experiences lead you to the conclusion that you don’t fit into the easily defined areas of that spectrum, it can be confusing and isolating.

In this story, Amani Hamed takes our readers on her journey to finding out that she identifies as asexual, something she didn’t even know existed until a friend gave her the word. In a world steeped in sex, asexuality is rarely talked about, and those who identify as asexual are often completely left out of conversations about love and relationships.

Amani’s piece shows the liberation that happens when we finally discover both who we are and the people that accept us for who we are. Read More.

6. “My mom gave me the “Talk” when I was 7 – this is how I turned out,” by Alicia Soller

Asian woman standing in front of a white wall with light falling over her

Many women, all over the world, still don’t have access to proper sex education or someone who they can safely talk to about sex. However, Alicia Soller, one of our fave Staff Writers, had a completely different experience: her mom gave her “the talk” when she was seven. Alicia talks about how awesome it was to be raised in a sex-positive household where she was never afraid to ask questions or tell her mom the truth about her sex life.

She also talks about how honest, sex-positive sex education is essential to raising a generation of kids who practice safe sex without shame. Read More.

7. “I can live through losing a guy, but I could never live through losing my best friend,” by Mitta Thakrar

Two Asian women wearing pink shirts sitting on a bed talking to each other

Often, the most important relationships in our lives aren’t our romantic relationships or even our familial relationships; they’re the ones with our BFF. Our person. In this heartwarming article our Now and Beyond Jr. Editor, Mitta Thakrar, tells us all about how her true soulmate is her best friend, not some guy.

She gets raw about her struggle with depression and how her best friend was there for her when things got their darkest. Anyone who’s found their person can identify with how much Mitta loves her BFF. Women need other women to survive and Mitta shows us how beautiful these relationships can be. Read More.

8. “It still feels like it happened to someone else,” by Shanicka Anderson

A light skinned man and woman kissing up against a wall

When we’re talking about love, it’s not always unicorns and rainbows and happy endings. In fact, more often than we’d like to admit, it’s more like nightmares and storms and pain. Love can hurt, a lot, and it’s important to talk about the painful things we’ve faced in our relationships so that others know they’re not alone.

It’s also super important to talk about the fact that abuse doesn’t always look like cuts and bruises; a lot of the time the wounds of abuse can’t be seen. In this article, our Junior Pop Culture Editor, Shanicka Anderson, opened up about her emotionally abusive relationship and the damage it did to her mental and emotional health.

She shared the experiences that will be familiar to anyone who’s endured this kind of abuse: the denial that her partner was abusive, the confusion that resulted from his gaslighting, the pain of trying to understand how someone who said they loved her could hurt her so often and subtly. And she tells how she got the hell away from her abuser and refused to put up with similar behavior in future relationships. Her narrative is a beacon of hope for anyone dealing with emotional abuse. Read More.

9. “Nobody else wanted to believe me,” by Kathryn Wilgus

Light skinned blond woman wearing a flower crown
We heart it

The last few months of 2017 became a time of reckoning for men who abused women. Powerful men in Hollywood were accused of sexual assault and women all over the world began to share their stories of being raped, assaulted, and harassed using #MeToo.

This article by Kathryn Wilgus is a powerful statement about all the ways women are violated on a daily basis. The short vignettes relate her experiences being harassed by doctors, friends, family members, and strangers on the street. They convey just how prevalent and constant sexual harassment is and the toll it takes on women. Every female presenting individual has had these experiences and Kathryn gives them a voice by sharing hers. Read More.

10. “You are absolutely allowed to cut toxic people out of your life,” by Arushi Tandon

Olive skinned woman looking up toward the sky in profile view

Part of self love is self care and part of self care, maybe the hardest part, is learning to set boundaries with those around us. We all have toxic people in our lives, be it a family member, a friend, or a partner, and in order to love ourselves we need to set boundaries with them.

Fall Editorial Fellow, Arushi Tandon, talks about how sometimes setting boundaries with toxic people means cutting them out of your life entirely, and that’s totally okay. Often we struggle to cut people out, no matter how much they hurt us, but failing to do so can mean our own self-destruction. Arushi talks about her own decision to cut toxic people out of her life and gives the reader permission to do the same. Read More.

New Year’s resolution: no more toxic people, no more toxic relationships, no more toxic thoughts, only “Toxic” by Britney.

Even though this year was generally a garbage fire, it did force all of us to learn a lot about what it means to love and be loved. It’s been a privilege to read, edit, and publish all of the amazing stories of Love the women of The Tempest had to tell this year.

Here’s to hoping that 2018 teaches us even more, and maybe sucks a little less.