Sunday, August 27, 2006

A Dollar for Your Thoughts

Yesterday I talked with my lawyer. Not the civil rights lawsuit lawyer. The divorce lawyer. Subanallah! I never thought I'd have one lawyer, let alone two.

Actually, when I was going through my civil rights lawsuit (I was fired after I wore hejab to work), I was also going to court about custody matters (including my ex's demand that the children not learn about Islam) and was pregnant and working two teaching jobs. I mentioned that time to a friend just the other day and she said I was strong to endure that. She's right.

But, back to the divorce lawyer. It is so sad to talk with her now. I honestly never wanted to talk with her about divorce again. One divorce is enough! So, when she called back I was extra perky to hide the fact that this situation could kill a weaker person. Her retainer is $2,000. Wow. When I had hired her before, it was $750. Even that took me months to save up. I remember that the man I was divorcing taunted me about the fact that I hadn't filed for divorce. He told me at the time, "If you really wanted to, you would have come up with enough money."

Look, I have suffered to get where I am and I am not really interested in suffering any more.

So, I'm there in the bedroom with all my jewelry spread out on my vanity. The jewelry box wouldn't shut properly and I decided to throw somethings out and condense the contents. I've got everything spread out. The baby playing Dawud W. Ali nasheeds, then stopping them, then rewinding them, then taking the tape out and my lawyer calls back. She tells me about the $2,000 retainer, but agrees to an hour for $200 if his papers are drawn up by a family lawyer. I don't know much about his lawyer and don't want to ask.

Next, I have to explain a little about Islamic law. I tell that as soon as he hands me papers, it's an Islamic divorce. I tell that he wants to take me back immediately, which is not really the right way to divorce (with the intention of returning). And I hate to tell all this to the woman who got me out of my first marriage. She had hopes for my happiness, same as I did, in this second marriage.

And I do have happiness. Not every second. But enough to keep going through this hard time. And I do hope that once through this time, we'll have better times, enshahallah.

I hung up with the lawyer and went back to my sorting as I heard the little girl on the tape sing, "Allah is stronger than you and I. Allah is stronger than I." And that's when I found the thing I had given up ever finding again.

There was the dollar. I thought, perhaps, I had thrown it out in a post-partum fury when I had a new baby, a house full of people and to top it off a husband telling me that it was OK that he was in haram with his ex because our relationship had started in haram. That night, when he told me that, I had collected all the momentos from when we were in love, but not yet married, and I went out to the kitchen and I put them in the wok and burned them. Then, I left the wok and the charred remains of love notes for him to see.

That night, I had gone out into the dark backyard and sat down facing the house all lit up. I had looked into my world as an observer. I was so distant from my calm. I really thought about how I was the outsider in my own home. I no longer loved my home.

I'm back into loving this house, as I get ready to sell it.In some ways, I'm back to loving my husband, now that I don't hold him so tight.The dollar I found is the only money left from my dowry. The other money from my dowry I had given back to him freely to show my love. Dumb me. I wouldn't recommend doing that, girls. I think we bought our refrigerator with it. The one dollar bill has these words in both Arabic and English: "For my beautiful wife [full name], your husband [his name]" and then the date of our marriage. It is the money I will have to give back if I divorce him khul (the woman's divorce).

But I don't really want to divorce him. I don't. Allah knows.I don't even want him to divorce me. In any way. For whatever reason.

Alongside the dollar, was a piece of yellow paper with this note I had written:

Things to Do With You

1. dance
2. laugh
3. learn
4. love
5. hold hands
6. have a baby
7. travel
8. explore

Then I had written two more numbers and left them blank for him to fill in. He did. He's good like that.


And I can still see that happening. I started to cry. The nasheed was playing, "Allah is stronger than you and I. Allah is stronger than I." I had looked for that dollar bill and couldn't find it until that moment. That exact moment! Right after I talk with the lawyer. Right then. Why? Why was in my jewelry box? Why did I look in that little pocket in my silk purse? Why hadn't I looked until that moment?

Moments. Life is a succession of moments.There was one more piece of paper. It comes from our government center. It's a number so you can wait to be called. Is there another more succinct name for that? I pulled the same number twice. Huh? What I mean is that I went there to file for a marriage license with him twice and both times pulled the same number: G804. The first time, we got the form, but then I froze when it came time to write down the name which I wished to be called afterwards. I wasn't sure if I wanted to change my whole name. We left without filing. I did some soul searching and decided that my name change was for me to get clean and good with Allah. I wasn't doing my name change for my husband. When we came back a week later, we pulled the same exact number. It seemed like a nod to having made the right decision.

It was a right decision.And now, I'll tell you another decision that is right. I am not going to accept any papers during Ramadan. It is not right that he is doing this at all. It is especially wrong to do this at Ramadan. If he wants to hand me any papers, thus giving me one Islamic divorce, then he'll have to wait until the month of fasting is over.

And I will pray that he will come closer to Allah during Ramadan and see what he is doing is wrong. No, it isn't right to divorce me at all.

Yesterday, we had a talk about his business. He told me that he had not done the right thing in trying to export non-halal meat. He was wrong and I was right. He said those exact words. He had been trying to earn money any way he could, but that wasn't what he wanted to do. He would stop. Alhumdulillah.

Inshahallah, after a month of fasting, praying, and going to masjid, he will also stop this divorce. Ya rub!

And a month from now, the house may be sold. Ya rub!

Should I mention his ex? A month from now, she will have gone through yet another holiday without the man who says he will stand by her. But he hasn't been with her for four years and enshahallah she will see the truth of his lack of commitment to her.

Inshahallah, this Ramadan we will all see the truth.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

If Only...

If only...those are the words that allow Shaytan to enter into your life.
"If only I hadn't met him."
"If only he hadn't been married before."
"If only we hadn't had a child."
"If only he didn't have children with her."
It's so tiring. The truth is what the truth is. And the truth will set you free, because the truth is with Allah.
Sometimes, it's hard to really see the truth. Or, you see the truth of where you are now, but you want to wait to see what is really going to happen in the next juncture.That's where I am.
I believe that I see the truth. I know better now than the time when I married my husband. I know now that he isn't as good of a man as I really need. Astragferallah. I pride myself on honesty, and I chose, perhaps, the most dishonest person I have ever known to marry. TO MARRY! What was I thinking? I guess I was thinking that he'd lie to everyone except me. But, he lies to me because he lies to himself and to God as well. Astragferallah May God forgive.
So! Here I am! And I know we're going someplace, figuratively and literally, and I don't know where. I am like the tarot card of the man walking off the cliff. I know, I shouldn't mention divination cards, but in all honesty, the symbolism is meaningful still to me. It's archetypal. That happy-go-lucky lad traveling the backroads of life with his dog companion has absolutely got one foot in the air and only his right foot keeps him on solid ground.
Or, for you lovers of children's literature, The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles (ahem, I've got a signed copy, thank you very much, Julie Edwards/Andrews) has a good example. The only way the children can get to the Whangdoodles' palace is on an invisible bridge. They have to believe it's there. If they start to fear it isn't going to support them, they fall to their death.
I do know that I have to keep going and not think about the "If only" of the past.
At the same time, I have to keep away from the "If only" of the future too.
"If only I could find her posting her photo on a single's sight." I've looked and haven't found her...Yet. I've obsessed and have lost sleep to no avail.
"If only she could show more of her true colors!"
"If only she could get tired of waiting and get her own man!"
But, really, I'm wanting to stay away from thinking about her. It is so self-defeating. It is truly her victory over me if I loose sleep because of her.
It's harder to keep away from thoughts of my husband.
"If only he could understand the severity of what he's doing."
"If only he began to realize what a financial drain this will be."
"If only he knew her real inner life."
And, of course, I think about myself.
"If only I could fly to Egypt and show everyone how great I am with the baby."
"If only I had more time to convince him of our love."
"If only I could pray enough to wish all of this away."
It's all still here. And it's a mess. It is! I know! It's messy for me, and my kids (even if they don't know about this), my parents, my friends and you reading this. I don't actually want this life. Nope. I don't. I escaped from a bad life before but I am not going to escape this time. I am going to see it out. I am going to do what's easiest and most simple. That isn't leaving him or divorcing him. Not here. Not now.
Dr. Phil talked again today about doing the least you have to in order to fix a situation. Don't do the most because the most you can do is going to have lots of ripples of repercussions.
In this situation, the least I can do is: sit and stay and get my money out of this house, stash it away where he can't get it, nurse and grow my baby for the next year while he pays for it (grumbling all the way to the bank and I don't care, since he agreed to it before I even conceived), stay close to my other two kids and grow them more, get stronger in my faith, blog, move to reduce debt, keep halal and know that his haram doesn't touch me.That's my plan, enshahallah.
He's got a lot of plans, but his plans don't null and void what I've got in mind. In fact, whatever he does can co-exist with what I am going to do, enshahallah.
And let's take a moment to remember his previous plans:
Plan: Start a seafood restaurant
Status: Never happened
Plan: Move to a college town and take over a pizza place
Status: Looked for a house to buy and I started applying for jobs, but ultimately never happened
Plan: Export meat to Egypt
Status: Working on it for three years and as of yet has never happened
Plan: Have nephews live with us for six years working for pennies while attending school
Status: Never happened that way. They stayed 4 1/2 months and couldn't get in to American schools and weren't good workers in the store.
Plan: Go to Egypt at Ramadan
Status: Never happened yet in over four years, though we have planned for it every year
So, let's see. Let's do our best and give the rest to Allah. Allah knows what's going on. Allah knows EVERYTHING that's said or done. Alhumdulillah. I don't have to be the judge, the jury, the detective, the police officer, the imam. No! I just need to be me. I need to do my work; to not delve into worry.
I need to not ask him, "What's troubling your mind?"I shouldn't ask BECAUSE HE'LL TELL ME! Why should I burden myself with his burdens? I need to steer clear of his burdens. His mess is too much for me to handle. He needs to go to Allah with his troubles. I'm not saying that he can't tell me he had a hard day at work. Go ahead! I can rub your back, Habibi.
But I certainly don't need to know the latest scheme to commit haram! No, I do not! And I don't want to know one, single, solitary thing about her. Nope! Does me good to compartmentalize his life. There's a lot of things that are unsavory and those things can stay away from the good of our marriage. If I hear them, then I am tainted, and our marriage is tainted, and then our son gets tainted as well.
It's like what I've told my older kids about anger. "Anger is like red paint. It gets on you and if you try to get rid of it on somebody else, then you both are covered in it. You have to clean it up yourself." Haram works in the same way.He isn't clean with this. He isn't clean in so many ways. But, he is good in many others.
He did get shocked with my reaction yesterday. He didn't know I would react so strongly. He came home with kindness and tenderness and kept showing it, even when I didn't want it. We shared some words in the evening that were cutting and hurtful and maybe we needed to. At the end of the evening, we were able to laugh with our son.Tonight, things are much more back to him and me and life together.
I keep going. Where? I don't know. But I'm not going to focus too much on the past or the future and "If only," because "If only" is with Shaytan and I want to give gratitude right here and now for what is real. Alhumdulillah.