Monthly Archives: January 2012

Mega Mega Meltdown

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Yesterday I was in a state that only visits me on very rare occassions. I was having a nafs attack, an emotional seizure, a loss of any trace of my fitra. For anyone who didn’t know me well, they may have well concluded that I needed severe psychiatric help or that I was totally incapable of handling life. I think it would be safe to say, the latter idea was actually true.

In most situations, I can manage crisis after crisis.  But we are all vessells with finite capacity, and I too have a limit to what I can contain. In my day job, I spend hours listening to people talk about what are sometimes severe and serious medical conditions, extreme mood disorders, and often easily solved problems that they don’t have the fortitude to handle.  For most people, dealing with that five days a week is enough stress, but we all have our own lives to manage. For the past several months, I’ve been in a limbo situation with my family, which keeps me unsettled because I don’t know if I will still have an intact family by the end of the year.  I also have just started paying back student loans (just the interest alone is about a quarter of my monthly income). I would not even be doing that, except that we are also trying to buy a house and this “helps” that process with the agency we are working with.  I would not even be doing that (buying a house), except for that at this time it seems like the only thing that can keep the worst outcome of the first stressor I mentioned from happening.

Yes, those are all MY problems. Then there are my children’s problems. My middle son has always struggled with labile emotions.  My youngest son has inherited his father’s anger problem.  My husband is constantly trying to find a job against his own obstacles, and his issues are a whole batch of nasty by themselves.  Those are all my family’s problems.

On top of that, I have been put in a position to provide shelter for the daughter of a lady I’ve known for years, and I’ve been trying to help a recently immigrated family get on their own feet. Sometimes that means they need a place to stay for a night or two.  All of that surely put me right at the brink of my limits.

….then I find out that my mother in law wants to come visit…..in three days; possibly to stay up to three weeks.  I’ve moved twice in the past twelve months, and not once since last June have I had the house to myself without someone outside of my immediate family being here.  I was scheduling some time off from work next weekend and was looking forward to having some quality time with my husband (a rare indulgence, indeed!) while the kids were at school those days…until I found out his mother was coming.

I think that’s where I lost it.  Not only had she invited herself (something which would not even remotely have bothered me under normal circumstances), but I was not asked if it was a good time or what my needs were. With everything piled on, I felt that I was being used, taken for granted, and that my needs were insignificant compared to the courtesies being extended to others.

Normally when I’ve come to those places, I will swallow my pride and remember I am nothing before Allah, and at the service of my Lord and his creation.  It was just too much this time….and I broke down.  I was in an angry state all day and when I came home from work to see guests still in my house, I went straight to my room and took a four hour bath.  Part of this time I was ranting and raving with my husband (who was unfortunately defending his mother’s rights to visit over my rights to peace), and part of it was trying to keep myself from being pulled further into a dark depression.

I remember how alone I felt as I curled up to the rim of the bathtub. I felt that the curve of the porcelain was the closest thing to an embrace anyone wanted to offer me. I remember how confident, peaceful, and balanced I felt just a couple days ago; naively believing that I could face anything for any length of time and never crack. At that moment, I wondered how I could feel anything better than the despair and loneliness I was being crushed under.  I believed I was never going to be able to feel strong again.

Today I may not be at my baseline of coping, but I’m not staring over the precipice of my brokeness.  I am writing this for my own benefit, so that I can be reminded when I next face this type of challenge that I don’t need to fully give in, like I did last night.  I can cry out in tears the painful waters that are pouring over my heart.

Mercies by Suffering

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Today I have been sick in bed. I don’t have the worst cold, but it’s enough to make me pretty tired and not want to do anything other than rest.  A lot of times I, like most people, feel getting sick is some type of setback that keeps me from being productive and gets me behind in things that need getting done.

Islamically, we believe that everything we suffer, no matter how great or small, is for our ultimate benefit. According to hadith:

 No calamity befalls a Muslim but that Allah expiates some of his sins because of it, even though it were the prick he receives from a thorn. (Bukhari)

The believing man or woman continues to have affliction in person, property and children so that they may finally meet Allah, free from sin. (Tirmidhi)

Even though I’ve accomplished nothing (dunya wise) today because of my little cold, I still believe I was raised in spiritual status because of my affliction.  I am thinking about all of the blessings that came about because of today:

1. I did get a chance to rest in a way my body and mind needed, since the previous days had been unusually busy with my husband’s absence.

2. I may have been forgiven for some sins I might not have been aware of.

3. I recognize that I am not as sick as some of the people I work with at my job, who suffer from severe chronic pain, cancer, lupus, multiple sclerosis, and other diseases. Alhamdullilah.

4. The fatigue of my illness kept my fitna at bay. Alhamdullilah.

5. I was again faced with the reality that nothing in this life is permanent, whatever doesn’t get done or does get done or what happens to me or my body is just a nominal feature in the divine scheme.  What really matters is remembering that Allah is truly in control and all things happen according to His wisdom. SubhanAllah.

So was today a good day? Definitely.  Even though the laundry didn’t get done and the dishes are still in the sink, I had the opportunity to spend some time talking with a dear friend via email, enjoy my husband’s caretaking and company after spending the last few days apart, and regroup my mind to think about the truly important things in life before a new work week starts tomorrow.

My Favorite Fitna

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Of all the things that could be giving me trouble right now, of all the serious situations that my family and I are facing, the one that gives me the greatest challenge is a common fitna.  I’m not going to say exactly what it is, so as not to dishonor myself.  It’s funny to me, because this should be one of the easiest things for me to work through (compared to everything else I deal with), but it’s become the hardest. Why? Because I simply don’t want to do the work involved in banishing this fitna from my life.

This particular fitna used to be an everyday part of my life when I was a teenager. I truly thought as I got older, fitnas like this one simply did not happen. For several of my most recent years, this proved to be true. Then, sometime last year, this fitna crept its way into my life. I liked this fitna. This fitna made me feel a nafsy happiness that had been lacking since I was a younger girl. I knew it wasn’t good for me, but I thought if I could somehow keep it harmless, I could somehow domesticate it and treat it like a treat I indulged in during more stressful times.

Fitna’s don’t like to be tamed, though.  When you decide to keep a fitna for a pet, it starts planning how to take over your life. My fitna was no different.  My fitna seduced me into spending more time with it, and enticed me into changing the way I would have done certain things so as to accomodate it.  I saw where the road was going and I decided to fight hard to make my fitna go away.

The funny thing was, I accomplished that, briefly. The fitna was gone, but I felt its absence.  Life has already been so stressful in many other ways, the reprieve my fitna brought was missed.  I knew it wasn’t right, but I let my fitna come back. On some days, the fitna seems like it’s not even there. It seems like it’s gone far away and will leave me alone. On other days, the fitna wants to stay center stage and torment me with its presence.

At the high school where my oldest son has basketball practice, there is a quote above the main exit that reads, “there is no right way to do a wrong thing”.  Every time I read this, I think of my fitna.  I think of how I con myself into thinking that if I manage my fitna with moderation, I won’t have to make it go away. I can enjoy what it offers me without the danger of being entrapped by it’s tricks. In reality though, that’s just a lie I tell myself.

If I were to tell myself the truth, the truth would be that any good thing about that fitna is a reflection of the One who created all things, and He’s the one that I should keep my focus on.  Shaytan will use fitnas to trick us into thinking we can find satisfaction, even for a brief moment, in anything else but Allah.  My fitna is telling me that it can be a source of respite while I walk a chaotic path, but the reality is its respite will only lead me off the path I need to be on altogether.

Even while I write this, even as I know these things, I still have a hard time saying final goodbyes to my fitna.  Tonight in particular it’s giving me a lot of trouble, and doing all kinds of maneuvers to catch my attention on it.  I know I shouldn’t listen to it’s paltry justifications, but I do.  I would like to be able to close this post with some kind of victory speech, but in actuality I am closing it weak in my nafs to my favorite fitna.  Insha’Allah tomorrow I will be stronger.

This is My Journey

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There are so many good bloggers and authors out there. So many insightful and lovely people who comment upon the deep questions we ask ourself during life. I just want to take the time to say this journal is not going to be a treatise on existential matters. It is, in fact, my personal journal. It’s me sharing my life with whoever cares to ponder it, or take anything of value from it. It’s my chance to connect with others who are willing to share their thoughts and similiar struggles, or who just may be curious what makes this little ol’ girl who she is. Everything I write here is 100% honestly, really, truthfully, essentially and fully me. If you hate me, like me, love me, whatever…I am happy to be exactly who I was made to be.

…So let’s get going!