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.