A Reflecting Arab Muslim Girl From Around the Corner

Friday, October 11, 2013

that i was.

it is only by fate that i was born to the parents that i was
and in the place that i was
it is only by fate that I was born with the wealth I inherited
there are no accidents and everything happens for a reason
it is only by fate that it was who I was to be optimistic
and that I had altruistic passions to serve sweet milk
it is only by fate that that was who I was

but the reality, destruction and hate in the world
has through fate once again turned me into who I have now become
today my spirit dies more with the fall of sand as I recount their trials
and the many tribulations my once zealous self has faced
i clasped the world thinking it would meet my soft palms cushioned
and now my calloused hands burn from the heat of hate
my tampered soul is abused by selfish wants
just an atom unseen, watching as others live unaware, uncaring

it is only by fate that my once bright face has now darkened

 30th January, 2009

Friday, September 20, 2013

No more drama.

I used to listen to this song all the time when I was younger. I decided to listen to it today - and watch the video. I don't remember being so moved by the video. Indeed. No more drama. No more drama. No more. No more.

Everyone has a story.  Everyone. But it is hard knowing that millions of others are going through the very same things as I did. It's hard knowing that there are innocent children - so pure - that can easily become victim to the same.  If I had to quote something he said to me it would be this "Look, no one has found out about us...it is because God has protected our relationship.  This love is from God".

May God protect all innocent.  

Saturday, November 17, 2012

the psychology of the abused

a letter to God that I wrote on February 15th, 2009.  I remember. I printed out this letter and went to the sea and threw it in the water.


So it’s true that I no longer feel as close to You as I once felt. I’m doing the obligatory and even the voluntary that I have been so accustomed to doing– but the connection to You is not there anymore. I don’t feel that my heart tingles. I don’t feel the closeness.  It’s as if I am in a dream and aware that I am dreaming – as in, I know that I am in this phase, and I know there is nothing I can do about it.  But deep in my heart I feel that it will pass.  I hope to You that it will pass. But other than that, how can I just force myself to feel closer to you?  [...]
I just read a short segment of a book that talked about women who over think, and the first piece of advice was for women to write down their thoughts.  And so I am writing.
You know, I feel honestly that perhaps the reason why I am so distant right now is because I feel like a horrible person by ignoring his messages and emails.  I do not want to not contact him – I do not want him to feel for one bit that this relationship is one sided.  But, he is the one that asked me to stop contacting him – for our own good.  I truly believe, now, that the reason why I am drifting from You is because I feel like a sinner.  I feel like a person who is so in the wrong, so evil, to the extent that I do not deserve the closeness that I once felt to You.  
Many a times I have heard people say that they are too embarrassed to pray. Or that they don’t know how to face God. Perhaps this is the true reason as to why I feel further from You with each passing moment.      
The thought itself shudders, but I feel like I am allowing the love of my life – the one whom loves me to death by Your grace alone - to suffer right in front of me as I sit on the sidelines and do nothing.  I am watching him ‘die’ without providing him the life support that is so easy for me to give.  It will take no power or energy on my part to press reply, to say that I still feel with all my heart those three words for him.  But I am stopping myself.  I am forcing myself not to.
I have felt depressed like this before when we were not in touch, and I know that writing to him – even if it was a short 2 liner email – would calm me.  But it has never been this long – this much time has never elapsed.  Almost a decade – and it’s never been this cold between us.  That is why I cannot wait till his birthday. So I can send a gift and perhaps a short message - and breathe again.  So I can once again feel like I am doing justice to the love we share and to the many sacrifices we have both endured.  
You know, I even stop myself from thinking of him. Because it pains me to know he is paining; pains me so much to an extent that I resent our history.  It’s as if our connection, our love, has resulted in an emptiness; an emptiness that is forcing me away from You.
God, I love You and I want nothing more than to be in Your favour.  I want to dedicate my life, my existence, my everything to You.  I want to be a source of pleasure for You.  Please allow me to come closer to You. Allow me the honour of feeling Your presence as I bow down.  And, allow me the honour of feeling Your love and contentment and pleasure entering into my heart as I put my forehead to the ground and remember Your majesty.  
You are able to do all things. Please bring me back to You, accept me in Your arms and make me connected to You as I have never been before.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Who is Neighborhood Muslimah?

Who is Neighborhood Muslimah?

Who am I?  This is the question my counselor and I talked about today.  And the truth is…is I don’t know.  We analyzed my life and my patterns.  I am very heavy at the moment.  I coordinate a religious study circle on Fridays.  Three different people asked if something was wrong.... ‘you look burdened’ said one of them.

‘The most formative years of a young girl’s personality are when they are 13, 14, 15,’ Ashley explained. At that time, I became what he told me I was – he would say I was so modest and pious, and I would work to fit that description. He would tell me that I am so loving and caring and even sexy, and I would do what was needed to make that happen.  I tied my sense of self to what he wanted…I tried to conform to what he expected of me.

The next person I grew close to after him was Hope. She filled the void when I left him. And here I reached an extreme – I started doing things that were against what he would have ever been happy with me doing…I started cussing in my language…started driving recklessly….become an avid sheesha smoker and skipped work to go smoke.  I started smoking cigarettes too...even got into a car accident because of trying to light my cigarette while driving on the highway.  I changed my dress code…and just became a different person. 

But was I? Lets look a little closer.

Hope’s friends became my friends.  Hope’s style became my style. Hope’s language became my language. Hope’s smoking became my smoking.  I became Hope. I wasn’t a different person – I just became Hope.

And then it was Heavens. I grew very close to her. I grew attached to her every word.  Her descriptions of who I was, my personality and my resilience, became what I strived to suddenly be…but also who I now thought I was. I relied on Heavens to help me understand my feelings and my life – and I conformed to what was being said.  I once wrote her a poem…'Mike Who? I want to be like you'.  This was the last line of the poem. And although I wrote that almost 7 years ago…as we became close over the last 2 years I have tried to be her.  And she is amazing. What a person to be like!  But is it really me?  That is what I have to ask myself.  I try to emulate her leadership in the community.  I try to emulate her deep thinking.  I try to emulate her worship.  I try to emulate.  I emulate because I do not know who I am.  I don’t know how to be me - or what that means.

This explains many things.  I reached a stage where I was obsessed with Hope. Obsessed to the extent that if I didn’t hear from her every few hours I would be in a state of internal frenzy.  My mood would be off and I was uneasy till we spoke again. When we moved for graduate school, her interests and mine changed, and inevitably we were less in touch.  It killed me. I remember typing on my computer screen the words “I hate you I hate you I hate you I hate you” over and over again. They were for her, yet I knew deep inside I loved her more than anything. But I wrote that because of how small I felt inside.  How reliant I felt. How attached I felt. I was angry at myself for being so dependent.

And the same thing has happened now with Heavens as she has moved away.   It has been very very hard. I do not know how to explain it.  When you tie your sense of self and your definition of who you are to a person, and then you feel you are losing them, you lose yourself.  It does not feel nice to feel like a body – arms and legs and head - with nothing that is distinctly you.  It is emptying.  It kills your self-esteem.  And while it makes you very very sad most of the time – it also makes you very very angry.  You feel like fighting the person. You think they are your enemy. And you feel like you hate them. Although you know you love them more than anything.  And you get mad at yourself for having these feelings.  You miss them but you try to not ‘give in’ and at other times you miss them but you try to stay away because you think that is what they want.  You are always thinking of what they want.  It’s a real struggle. It’s very confusing. It may be hard for my readers not to judge this struggle as trivial – but it’s not trivial, trust me. It isn’t.  It’s piercing. 

So, since I was 13, I defined myself by what he wanted. Then by what I thought Hope wanted. Then by what I thought Heavens wanted - by what she thought I was and what I expected that she expected me to be.   When you realize something like this – you just want to cry. Really.  This is a huge realization.

On Monday I made a conscious decision to block everyone out – to deactivate twitter and facebook and instagram and whatsapp and imessage…the works. I suppose part of me knew something was wrong and that I am slowing realizing the extent of effect this past experience has had on me. On Monday I felt good. On Tuesday I felt good. On Wednesday I felt good.  But on Thursday I started to feel empty again. I wrote an email to Heavens…she didn’t reply and now I’m sad.  I messaged Hope…and my conversation with her was only a few sentences long although we haven’t spoken for almost a month. And now I’m sad.  And to confirm the pattern...I have been considering contacting that man just to confront him. To tell him how mad I am. But really, I’m just sad. 

It’s not their fault – Hope and Heavens.  Not their fault at all…this has nothing to do with them.  If it was another friend I’d write to them and say ‘Yo!  Did you get my email???' or 'Hello...don’t ignore me!'

I'm just sad because I don't know who I am. Or how to find that out.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Learning to trust...or being smart?

I'm considering a man for marriage.  I met him only a month ago on a matrimonial website....so he is serious about marriage as am I. He is very nice. His eyes are kind and he has a very likeable personality.  Our interests align and he seems to honor what is important to me.  He hasn't said anything wrong...and his actions - be it his conduct with other people, actions at work, his community service and his personal development - reflect good character.  He seems perfect. But. Is he too good to be true?

We met on a Muslim matrimonial site, hopefully an honest reflection of the importance of the faith to us both.  But the thing that worries me is how much he says. He talks a lot in general...I've had conversations with him where he can go on and on and on for a while, and I'll just listen. I enjoy what he says and although I may get bored (sometimes), it's not like I'm averse to this.  But, at the same time, I feel he says too much.

Yesterday he told me on two occasions that he cried while reading on Islamic history and reflecting on the state of the Muslim world today with it's shiite and sunni divisions.  When we skyped, I could see from his eyes that he was crying.  He told me a story once of how he used to volunteer teaching kids at a local mosque.  He missed two weeks of teaching for various reasons...when he went in on the third week, he stopped at the door while he saw the new teacher with the children.  'The children looked happy,' he told me, 'and so was the teacher...so I just left and thought to myself, God has replaced me.  No one knew I had come in'.  He shared how he went home crying at this realization, and how he spent a few days saddened by this.  He eventually was giving Friday sermons at the mosque...he explained to me how he believes he was replaced, but that now his reach was broader.  He tells me how he goes to pray at the mosque at dawn everyday - those days that he misses the prayer in the mosque, he expresses to me how sad he is and how his day doesn't feel the same.

Worship...in many ways...should be private in my opinion.  Between you and your Lord. So, sometimes I get uncomfortable with what he shares.  Although I like what he shares in principal, doesn't sincerity of action come from it being kept a secret (if not all the time, most of the time)?

Yesterday I got worried when he told me how at university he would be able to get away with many things that other student's wouldn't, simply because of what he would say to his professors.  'It's like magic' - he told me his fellow classmates would say.   He recounted how on one occasion he was over a half hour late for class.  The professor wouldn't let students in when they come in this late.  He wanted in, so he entered the classroom and when the professor asked what he wanted, he said 'to congratulate you on your marriage' (because he had known the professor was recently married).  Having lightened the mood, he asked the prof if he could enter the class and the professor said 'yes yes, go in'.

'It's like magic'.

Magic.  This man in my past was very very slick with his words.  Extremely.  And he lured many people into what he wanted through his personality and his words.  He is likeable.. Many many people like him. Love him. His words are like magic.  When I think of his mouth I liken it to that of a snake charmer.

Must I trust this new man I have met?  Or am I being smart when I wonder about the truthfulness in his words?  How do I find out if he is just trying to please me - perhaps lure me - into this marriage?  And, how do I learn to not worry and believe him, if that is what I should do?  Am I projecting the fears from my past unfairly on this new man in my life?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


I've had three bouts three weekends in a row. I've won each one Alhamdulillah.  I have given karate my soul and I cannot focus half as much on my PhD.  I feel this is a time for karate.  I need it. I want it. I crave it when I am not doing it.
But yesterday was a hard night for me.  At each bout there have been professional photographers.  As I see the pictures of myself when I'm fighting...the expression on my face and the passion I know I try to put into each punch...I am saddened.  While training, while leading up to the fight, and even during the fight...I never think of my experience with this man. Never.  Karate is my release.  I think of nothing but the task at hand and trying to perfect my technique as best I can.
But.  When I see pictures of myself fighting...I know where the deep emotional attachment to the sport comes from. It saddened me last night - and has kind of put a damper on my day.
Some things never leave you.  I must learn to accept that.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Dropped the Bomb.

I have been told that I should speak to my family about my experience.  I couldn’t see the point or the benefit in doing that. ‘Why should I?’ I asked, and she replied “so that you can know that they are there for you….so that you can finally feel that they are on your side and you are not alone.  This is their chance for them to be there for you”.  And so that’s what I did.  I dropped the bomb.

I spent this summer with my family.

It was two days before Eid, and it was probably past midnight.  My mom came to my room to fold some laundry and I asked something vague…maybe it was “mom, do you think I have any stress?” or “do you ever wonder why I have so much white hair”….something random like that. She got agitated and I just went out with it. Like a vase full with water being tipped.  I started by telling her, “mom, this past year I was seeing a counselor for about 6 months”.  I then told her everything. How young I was when it started. Who it was. How I felt. How my nightmares when I would sleep would be of my mom entering the house when he and I were in the ‘act’ but instead of her noticing he would hide and she would never notice.  “Why didn’t you ever notice?” I cried to my mom?  “I just wanted someone to know and help me in that mess…I had no one to turn to and he kept on using religion to legitimize everything”.  I told her about the time he raised his voice at me. I told her about what he would say about his relationship with his wife to me. What he would say about my mother. I told her as much as I could remember at that moment and cried a lot. It was emotionally exhausting.  My mom tried to look at me and be strong …she didn’t cry much. What she did do was kept on repeating ‘Allah will hold him accountable’.  Allah will hold him accountable.

I also told her that by age 18 when I went to university, I had endured almost 5 years of trying to struggle with him, and that I convinced myself that this was a God-given relationship and that I convinced myself that I loved him. I told her that I would talk to Hope about him, but not with animosity but with stories of our love because that is all I remembered at that time.  I told her about the selective amnesia and how I forgot the stress of when it began and the early years that followed. 

I then told her that it was August 2010 that I started my blog and started remembering how it all started. I told her how with my blog I was able to write things that I forgot even happened…the times of heightened manipulation. I told her how karate was also very important for me in my journey and how I am defensive over it, especially when the people I love don’t support me in it, bc of what it has come to mean to me.  I told her about counseling and who I have spoken to this about. I told her that when I started my blog I really wanted certain people to read it but that they weren’t able to, and how alone I felt during that time.  At that moment when I wanted empathy, I wasn’t able to get it the way I had expected. 

She hugged me and said it is not my fault. She felt very bad that she didn’t notice.  She began to ask me questions … “when this happened, were you two in the ‘relationship’?” …”Yes” I would say. “what about that time?’…Yes.  There were many signs and many instances where she would have been able to know – but she didn’t expect that that was what was happening. I told her “mom, how could you have not asked me about the jewelry, the electronics. Where is a 14 year old going to get money for that?”

My mom didn’t know how to take it and I know it was confusing for her.  The next day she told me “now I know and you don’t have to speak to anyone about it”. My mom told me that she mentioned this in passing to my father and that he said ‘Okay’ and went about with his day. “Your father is in his own world” she said.

I was extremely hurt by that.  “Yesterday is not the same as today,” I thought to myself. “I have just let out a secret which I have been harbouring for the past 15 years.  I don’t expect things to just be normal so fast. I need to see some reaction from my family”. My father’s nonchalance killed me. 

Then a few days later mom came to me to talk about the experience again.  She wanted to let him know that she knows. And right there in front of me she called his cell and he answered.  She said “the next time I hear you say that ____ (she was referring to my brother) is your favorite nephew,  I will break your mouth. If he was your favorite, you would not have done what you did”.  And she hung up.

As she said those words I felt as if cold ice had just flushed over my heart. It was very very emotional for me and it was something I realize I needed and wanted to hear.  She left the room. He texted me immediately asking “Why is your mother so mad at me?” I was faced with a situation. My first inclination was to keep it a secret and respond on my own.  But I called my mom and shared it with her.  “No more secrets,” I thought to myself.

My reply was: Because she knows everything you started when I was 14. It was wrong and shoulnd’t have ever happened. Don’t message me.

He replied saying from this day forth he will not message and he asked for forgiveness and said I hope if I have done any good you and your mom will use that to forgive me. He said that he had no intention to hurt anyone.  He also told me he was in the hospital for a mild heart attack and feels it’s a punishment (I later found out the heart-attack story was not true). 

That was that. In the same sitting I cried as I told my mom how I was so hurt by my dad’s reaction. I told her that dad has only been there for me as a financial resource and financial advisor…that he hasn’t been there for me emotionally to any significant degree in my life.

My mom told my dad that I said this. I was napping in their bedroom. He walked in and closed the door…and started a rant.  ‘Your mom told me what you said’ he explained, ‘but do you know how much I want my children to speak to me…how bad I feel when I see the relationship that other parents have with their children?’.  He went on and on explaining how bad he feels that his children, especially my brother, rarely talk to him. And then, I suddenly blew up. I yelled at the top of my lungs.  “This is not about you dad, it is my turn now. No one has known about this – I just told mom a few days ago.  It’s not about you. It’s my turn”.   I was hysterical and crying a lot. All he could do was grab me and as he held on to me I explained that the man abused me as a young girl.  Innocently he asked me if he had touched me. He cried as I told him of course he did…”he did everything before intercourse”.

That was another emotional emotional episode, but that was the first time I felt close to my dad. And, he let me cry and told me to continue crying. He said “even if you don’t want to talk about it, your reaction alone tells me that it was very serious”.   I hugged him back.

My dad ended up messaging him and telling him that he is aware of the text message that he sent to me (the one about the heart attack), and that he should not contact me ever.  The man ended up writing two messages to my dad asking for forgiveness and saying how he has been regretting things for the past few years.  He wrote that he knows if we do not forgive him, God will not.

Then. It was my brother’s turn.  After we dropped my parent’s to the airport at night he said “dad spoke to me…it seems it was very serious”.  All I did was cry. For 45 minutes he held my hand while driving with the other, and that was it. I couldn’t say much at all. I did ask him if he ever suspected. And he said he would have never thought this was happening and that he is there for me.  I wanted to put my hand over his – but I couldn’t bring myself to do that. 

During Eid, the whole family went to an Islamic festival – extended family included.  Near the end of the event, the man came with his wife and son. When he came, my parents moved to another area, and my brother didn’t go and greet him. 

Although it was important to get all this out, I did feel very exposed and vulnerable and hit a few lows over the course of the past few weeks.  Now he knows my mother and father know…and now my whole family knows.  My sister-in-law also knows - she used my computer and found me logged onto this blog.  Alhamdlillah, Praise be to God, I’m glad it’s out.

My sister-in-law thinks that I should continue counselling now that I have spoken to my family. I'm not sure if I should.