A Reflecting Arab Muslim Girl From Around the Corner

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. 


  1. Yes, counseling can continue to help. His is also a violence to your family's integrity...he has caused you the most stress, but he has also imposed himself between you and all your intimate friends and relations. You can repair the damage, but continued communication is key and your family's reaction sounds mostly healthy and loving. Your mother's impulse to keep it secret is not unlike your own...she feels shame and violation. You now have some things to offer your mother...strength, love, understanding...and all of that will come back to you tenfold. Bravo, I am proud of you.

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