Thursday, June 22, 2006

Painful Dreams

There's a small still voice inside me which feels the pain of this moment. A goodnight without a kiss. A husband without a smile. A son who I never would have had unless I had loved. Supplying someone with what they need as I run out of all I am.
Inside me the twinges grow stronger and I become weaker but with greater resolve.
I must be who I am and suffer alone if no one understands how to be with me. I must chase the important choices and love only what matters.This time I am breaking open not breaking apart. I am giving birth to myself. My writing down will be my proof once I stop hurting long enough to fall into sleep and then wake again. I must wake again and look again at who I said I was.
These fragments of my new identity cannot be pieced together in the moonlight, but must be found after dawn. Once I collect enough of my true being, I can breathe deep and release from the past.
I dreamt of you last night. A sad, frightening dream of blood and pain and wistful longing. I wanted to be kind to you and I wanted to do what was right. They took you away and I felt so alone. I felt guilty too, of hurting you. Do you ever dream of me?
Who still carries me in their dreams? Where do I live in the dreamscape? Which person holds me in their psyches still? Am I in the pleasant restful slumbers or in crazy nonsensical night terrors?
Tonight, please hold on to me in your sweet embraces and tenderly reassure. Tell me I'm the one you adore and know that I can do no more. Expect nothing grand. Give nothing but praise. Let me be all you promised that you would be for me.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Let Your Light Shine

Tonight I walked with the fireflies. I hadn't seen them so plentiful since I was a three-year-old. I actually remember them that summer. Some of my earliest memories are from that field research trip with my father.
Fireflies are Subhanallah! All the glittering in the grass. Once here and now there. And you can't see the ugly bug. All you can see is the shine and shimmer. It was mesmerizing.
And like a woman in a trance, I walked down the path with my sleeping baby. The frogs were croaking and the crickets chirping. So calming. I could have wafted on the breeze over the waters.
But then I looked ahead and saw the clump of trees and started to fear. I truly was alone and unsafe. I wasn't really a part of the natural world. I was all too human and too vulnerable. I could be the prey for some sick man. I had to change my plan. I couldn't keep going.
I turned to the right and walked through the field. I was no longer going to walk around the lake. That doesn't mean I didn't get to experience the beauty before me. I certainly did. I just had to admit that my well being was more important than finishing a course and crossing an arbitrary finish line. No one told me, that once I started walking, I had to go all the way around the lake. No. That was my own agenda. Sometimes, we have to stop ourselves from continuing what doesn't make sense anymore.
It wasn't a bad initial plan. I wasn't stupid. No need to beat myself up for the attempt. When more information became apparent, the right choice became clearer. One of my favorite Oprah lines is, "When you knew better, you did better."
Though, it feels a bit like I've failed because I didn't do what I set out to do. But, it's good to remember that I truly set out to do what was best. That's what I wanted. I didn't really want to do something wrong!
So, if you find yourself in a bad spot, remember that it's not where you are suppose to be and get out. Even if you feel embarrased for getting into the mess. Or even if you feel mad that it shouldn't be that way. It is! I want to live my life, not live the problems. Don't you?
The fireflies don't sit around with their lights turned off, talking about their issues. No! They get their butts out there and dance around in the moonlight. They're out there showing off their amazing talent and God-given attributes. And that's what I should be doing and so should you.
Next time you want to sit around and dissect your existance, remember that you are only an ugly bug on a leaf unless you turn it on and shine forth.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

After Every Storm

A week ago I sat and listened to my husband plead for me to stay his wife.

Tonight he asked me, "Do you have a dick? Do you have to be the man? Is that how they act in America? You can leave the house when you want? You don't care?"

I had left the house when he was threatening to "teach me a lesson," like his ex. He meant that he could divorce me and then take me back once I had discovered the harsh realities of life.
Well, nothing is more harsh than him browbeating me to go back to work so that he can afford to fly back to Egypt.

Oh, and there was a new message from her; letting him know that, "After every storm there is a rainbow."

I'd like to point out that the Hallmark card quote isn't true. Not every storm. No. And if she enters into another commitment with him, I doubt she'll get a rainbow. I certainly don't see mine.

I went to look at a two-bedroom apartment today in a very large complex of buildings. It felt like a nice slum. I actually saw an older Russian woman I knew from teaching English. She was sweet.

But, no matter who my neighbors could be, I will miss this house so much when it goes on the market. We have to sell it to pay off the debt. His debt. His problem. My adjustment.

Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Life is Crazy

I spent most of yesterday working on an electronic affirmation. We could do better in our marriage with the aid of a new contract, I thought. I typed it up, prayed over it, labored over it and printed it out with copies for my husband and the sheik's translator. My marriage was going to work, inshahallah.
Then, I had my husband walk in the door. He was in a bad mood. There had been a misunderstanding with his ex. He had called to speak with his son, and after a while someone told the son to hang up. Drama. Endless drama. So, he's sending a text message, she's replying, then he's replying to her reply. This is after he swore off text messaging. He at first denied texting. Then admitted. Then got mad at me because he meant to stop the romantic messages, but not messages all together.
The whole thing made me sick. Why did he have to call his ex? She is mad at him. Why instigate trouble on the day we were trying to save our marriage? And why couldn't he keep his mood up and his mind thinking about us?
I spent the next twenty minutes listening to a rant. "This is a joke. Why are we even going to this? I've got more serious things to think about."
My marriage was over.
I went to the masjid and prayed two more rakah. What was I doing? Was I going to walk into the meeting and end our marriage? Yes. I decided that he had shown disregard for me, our marriage and the process to heal our marriage.
The sheik, his translator, his teenage daughter as my translator, my husband, our baby and some guy, who might have been the janitor, sat down at the conference table. You can't embarrass easily if you are a revert Muslimah talking to the sheik and his entourage. I layed it on the line. I was living in torment and it wasn't just about his ex wife. There were the financial problems. There was the cruel mistreatment. There was the encouraging of disrespect from his family. There was his lack as an upright Muslim man. I'll never really know how it was all interpreted for me.
I don't think my husband knew this was coming. He thought we had patched things up. He didn't know how disheartened I was by his choice for upheavel. He was a little surprised as I pushed the button on my cell phone so the sheik could hear my recording of my husband yelling on the ride up.
When it was his turn to speak, my husband told (according to my interpreter) that he didn't want the divorce. He tried to explain his side, but the sheik lectured him on what he was doing wrong. Not being soft enough to me. Not being thoughtful enough of my feelings. Not being fair. Of entering into haram with his ex. Of keeping his sister's family in our house too long. Of trying to force me to sign a loan. My husband listened. The sheik saw a glimmer of hope.
He turned to me next and asked me what I wanted."I want to be done with this crazy life."
I was asked if I wanted a divorce.
"I don't want a divorce. I just want to stop all these problems."
"If he does take a second wife, can you stay married to him, " the sheik wanted to know.
"I can't IMAGINE that he will try us equally..." I started to say.
"If he treated you equally, could you stay married to him?" was the question put to me.
I thought and then answered honestly, "Yes, I could."
It was the truth. And the hope for our marriage grew. The sheik denied my request.
His response was translated as, "I knew you four years ago when you took shahaddah. You were so calm. You aren't calm today and that makes me sad. You ask me to judge what is best for you, but I can't measure the depth of the sea on a windy day."
"Yes, " I jumped in, "and he's the wind!" I said pointing to my husband.
The sheik told me that he would see to it that I was treated fairly in all matters. If I still felt, after trying to rebuild our marraige, that I wanted a divorce, I could come back to him. If I asked him again for this divorce, he would grant it without another discussion.
I felt so down. I had decided to divorce and, in the end, it wasn't going to happen. I couldn't imagine trying to rebuild once again.
But today is a new day and the thought came to me as I prayed that the sheik is such a learned man. I should take his advice and follow it whole heartedly. If the sheik knew I was dragging my feet and belly aching, I would not be so well liked. I have to give this my whole heart but, I will not give it my whole life.