Who we help Client Stories Sumit's Story The biggest issue you see for an Indian growing up in Britain: the words shame and guilt upon family come to mind when we start to express how we feel because how it was for me growing up you don't speak about your problems, you don't share your problems. It's not the sign of weakness. It's more the shame. It's innate and that's because it's perpetual, so my parents came here with their own shame and their own guilt. So, for me, if I went to my father growing up as a teenager to speak about puberty or having my first shave or any of those kinds of feelings which an adolescent goes through, it wouldn’t happen because there's just this deep sense of deep shame where we are magically just supposed to get on with it. My father did not drink, but he smoked a lot of marijuana. Some of my uncles are alcoholics and they hold good positions in society but what I see is enabled. We don't really talk about it and if we do, we dare not be open about it or any form of addiction. I grew up from the age of 11/ 12 smoking marijuana. I finished when I was 20 because my best mate committed suicide and something just said if you don't stop, you're going to carry on this way. In those times my parents knew I was drunk. I was getting high, my room just stunk of weed. I was selling weed, buying weed, all of that. I was hanging around some dodgy looking people. But it was never discussed with me because it's almost like "oh no our son is not doing this, and he dare not do that." And I would get the odd idle threat: "Well, I hope you're not smoking weed" and I would be like "I've just stolen some of dads!" It’s that deep sense of denial with substances. But if we bring in sex and love addiction. Sex, forget about it. As a British Indian growing up it's taboo. It's dirty. What I find humorous is where the Karma Sutra is developed from and then I can't even go to my dad and say "when I look at her why do I feel whatever a man feels or woman feels?". I had to overcome the fact that I had an issue with pornography, masturbation, using escorts, not knowing how to relate to women, although I've been in several long-term relationships for three years, five years, seven years. I was unable to relate because the one major thing I had to overcome was to accept I have feelings. I use sex to sexualise stress, guilt, loneliness. Even if I was successful, when I got a degree and stuff, there was a big disconnect (or you could say there's a big entanglement) between sex and love. The Living Room could go into spiritual centres, not just in the Indian community it could be the Islamic community as well, and express the importance of feelings and when I repress my feelings how it comes out in food, sex, love, gambling, drink, alcohol, what have you. Also, how repression of feelings comes out in chronic health issues. If that message could be conveyed in a series of ways to the communities without ruffling feathers of the elders of the community it would be like: "Actually, I am allowed to have feelings. I don't know what this feeling is. Again, my Mum and Dad can't help me, but there are places like The Living Room that I can go to, to try and understand and start my journey of self-discovery." You could use my example of an adolescent trying to speak to father about puberty. Just gets shutdown or shamed and does not speak. Instead starts using pornography. That pornography then means disconnecting from a friend or speaking to other family around that. So that leads to isolation. That isolation then leads to pornography, that pornography then leads to sex, prostitutes. Those prostitutes could then introduce the person to Class A drugs. And it all comes back at the end to say it starts with a feeling. Shame.