Monthly Archives: September 2012

We Wait

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This morning I woke up thinking about a Bible verse:  “Those who wait upon the Lord, they shall renew their strength”.  Even though I am no longer a Christian, I can recognize the universal truth in this verse.  For any person who is trying to follow God as they understand Him, they find strength and purpose in submitting their will to His and being patient for the outcomes He intends.

 

This week has been a lesson in the stresses of buying a home. I’ve always heard about how maddening it is, but now I get to finally find out why.  It seems like the name of the game is compromise.  And then after you’ve compromised, do some more compromising.  What’s most interesting to me is how it took what seemed like forever to get our loan approval, and then once that happened everything started moving almost too rapidly.

 

As I mentioned in my last post, last weekend we went looking at condo properties.  Mind you, all of them were previewed online by my husband and I.  We had already pretty much narrowed down our favorites, so we were basically just wanting to see them in person to confirm that they matched our expectations and make a decision from there.  To tell you the truth, the process was not how I imagined at all. For one, I made the mistake of thinking the online pictures were accurate. As my oldest son would say, “sike!”

 

The first property we looked at was one that our realtor had chosen for us. My husband and I had seen it online, but were not interested in it. However, we decided to give it a chance. First of all, the place was tiny.  One thing we had neglected to do was note the square feet of each place.  For the last 6 years, I’ve been living in apartments that had anywhere between 1600-1800 square feet, and this first place was a measly 1400 sf and it showed.  The small bedrooms were crammed in the upstairs,  and the kitchen was almost nonexistent.  It didn’t take us very long to do the courteous walk thru and then reject it.

 

The second place we went to was much nicer, and over 2000 square feet. It was still being lived in, so the family’s furniture and personal items were still everywhere. Fortunately, they had nice things.  Even though the rooms were generally on the smallish size, the home had a good layout and cozy feel.  It was actually one of our top two choices, but after viewing the property our realtor explained that it was a short sale but not yet approved by the lender. Additionally, an offer had already been made on it, and was awaiting a response.  Our realtor explained that because of it being an unapproved short sale the negotiation process could take months if we were to make an offer. My lease is up in less than 90 days, so that was not a luxury we could afford. There were just too many “if” factors about it, so we decided to move on and see what else was on the agenda.

 

The next two places we saw were in the same neighborhood; literally 4 units apart from one another.  As such they had the same floor plan and pricing.  They both were around 16oo sf.  Again, the upstairs was small and compacted, the kitchens only slightly more generous than the first place we looked at.  Personally, I was very put off by the gold (yes gold, like shiny flakes) flecks in the black countertops.  It was too “disco” for a kitchen, let alone one with actually very nice wood cabinets. The one redeeming feature of these was the more spacious living room, but unfortunately it wasn’t roomy enough to offset the deficits.  What was appaling to me was when we went into the first place it was a hot mess (and this even though it seemingly had fresh paint etc).  There were carpet stains everywhere, and clearly you could tell someone had kept a dog in the house even when it had to potty. The second one had pet stains too, and was only in slightly better condition. Next!

 

The last place we viewed  was another of our favorites. I personally was very eager to see this one.  It was over 2200 sf and and had a two car garage. When we walked in, the entrance foyer was at the bottom of a stairwell. Being Muslim, I liked the fact that we could pile everyones shoes away down there without them cluttering up other parts of the home. As I went up the stairs which led into the expansive living room, I was awestruck. There were two large (6 feet high starting at the floor) double size windows along the longest wall.  The opposite wall had a fireplace flanked by a single size window (same height as the others- in fact this is the case for the entire house) on the left and a door leading out to a small fenced “backyard” on the right. The celing was vaulted as well, so the entire of feel at once was one of space and light.

 

Standing in the middle of that room, there was another set of about five wide steps to the right which led up to the dining area. The dining room was standard size, but because the one side of it was open to the living room (balcony overlook) it borrowed that space and made it seem larger.  Opposite the dining area was a small half bathroom followed by another set of stairs leading up to the bedrooms. Walking past those (as if you came up the stairs from the living room)  put me in the kitchen, which was bright and newly tiled. All of the appliances were new as well, and opposite the raised counter in the center was a breakfast area. Again, two large single sized windows near that and the fridge.

 

So far, the downstairs was ideal.  We went upstairs and the master bedroom was rather impressive size-wise, with another two double sized windows like the living room had.  The other two bedrooms and bathrooms were standard. Needless to say, we felt this was the house that would fit our needs.  It better be, because there were no other places in our part of town that were within our budget, and we really don’t want to leave this area as it is close to my work and the kids have been in the same schools all their lives. We decided to take a couple days to think it over and make sure we knew what we wanted and discuss any other options we were entertaining.  In the end, we decided to make an offer.

 

Up to that point, things seemed to be going fairly streamlined.  It wasn’t until we made the offer things started to go goofy again.  First of all, our realtor found out it’s a foreclosure being sold “as is”.  That means if it needs any repairs, it’s our dime.  Granted, the walk-through looked great, but there’s no telling what is hiding behind the walls.  So, depending on what comes of an inspection, that may or may not be an obstacle to us actually getting it. Another obstacle is getting our offer accepted at all. Our first bid was 10K below asking price. Mostly we made that bid because it was what we could afford once taxes and HOA fees were thrown in.  If they do accept our bid, and there are any type of substantial repairs needed, we will have to let it go because we wouldn’t be able to afford both.  If they don’t accept our bid or counter offer something higher, I’m not sure we could stretch it that far…especially when the inspection hasn’t been done to tell us what else there is to pay for as well!

 

So at this point, it would take a real miracle to get this place, I feel.  Basically the bank which owns the property would have to accept our offer straight off, or make a really great counter offer (and by great I mean one which we could counter-counter offer something maybe 3k more than our bid now, and they would take it then).  All of this seems like a huge stretch.  I know better than to get attached to a particular house, and I can’t say that’s what I’m doing here. However, we saw everything else our side of town had to offer and it was CRAP. I’m not going to buy a crap place just to stay in this area, but I’m also loathe to get a decent place a half hour drive away.  It seems like neither choice is viable, so my hope is that if this place doesn’t work out, something else will open up around here before our financing window expires in December.

 

And that’s what really burns me up about the whole thing. We HAVE to get ourselves under contract by 12/19.  Our loan offer only has 90 days of life, and that’s fine by me because my lease ends on 12/21. The part that bothers me is that I’ve already looked around at what’s available for what we have to spend, and sure enough the best properties are farthest away.  The only reason I’m in Georgia is to raise my kids, and the only reason I’m buying a house is so my husband can live with us without someone crying about his criminal background. I hate to make my kids pay the price (by uprooting them and putting them into a new, possibly lesser quality school system) so my husband can have a breather. I also hate the idea of settling for a crap house just to satisfy the needs for all of my family, because it’s miserable living in a place you don’t like, especially if you know you OWN it. Who buys something they hate, especially as expensive as homes are?

 

The reality glaring me in the face is that if it weren’t for my husband needing a home, I could live in any apartment in this area with my kids and have what I want and what they need. The price would be having to basically let go of my husband.  So,  in a lot of ways, if this house doesn’t work out it will feel like I have to choose between he or my kids. It sucks, because I hate to shaft him just so my kids can have the upbringing they deserve, but unless something works out it seems unavoidable that a difficult choice will have to be made one way or the other.  So this is where we wait on Allah, making fervent dua every day, to give us just one more miracle by making the way easy for us to get this home. Insha’Allah He will have mercy on us and see fit to preserve our family in a way that all of us are satisfied. I trust in Him because I hate to think He would bring us so far just to have something wacky mess it up like this.  I prayed even then, when all of the worst parts of tests were going on, that He would go ahead and cut the ropes then instead of making us suffer for it to only happen down the road.

 

So we wait…

Bright Skies

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Today, while writing this (and, consequently, working from home for a few hours), I am watching the sun play off the leaves of the tree outside my bedroom window. The light is being tossed around my room and onto my bedsheets.  Today is a very lovely day!

 

And how fitting that it should be.  After a super busy week, this is the first opportunity I’ve had to just indulge THE ease.  Yes, we are now having somewhat of a time of ease…finally! Just a couple days ago we were told we got approved for our home loan.  Nothing short of incredible. May Allah be praised forever!

 

So, today is going to be house-shopping day.  Granted, there are still some challenges that will lie ahead as we move toward getting the keys to our own place, but I really believe Allah would not have brought us this far, through so much honest to goodness CRAP, just to have it fall apart on technicalities. We’ve worked hard for this. We’ve suffered for this. We’ve done our darndest to have sabr through one of the worst tests of our lives.  So we are going to enjoy this moment for all it’s worth.

 

And what better way to celebrate than to try to add to our family? Yes, this weekend is fertile time for me.  Let’s hope, insha’Allah, that we will see progress in that area soon as well.

 

So for all the mornings I’ve awoken feeling hopeless, all the weekends I spent trying to find just an ounce of strength to press on, for all the gloomy skies I gazed at through this very bedroom window,  I am most certainly going to languish in the sun-speckled colors brightening my day. I am excited to touch, see, and smell what can potentially be our future by year’s end.

I am awake. I am smiling. I am thanking Allah for the satisfaction of His decree.

Grounded

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I can’t believe I skipped the whole month of August.  I thought I would write at least one entry….at least I intended to several times.  Suffice it to say that after my previous post I had a difficult time recovering from the emotional scramble I was in.

 

After I wrote that I realized what a problem I had with loneliness.  I realized that if anything, it was the one, remaining unconquered fear in my life that still had the power to rule my thoughts and feelings.  I knew this wasn’t good for me, and I knew that if I didn’t face that fear and find a way to overcome it, I would continue to be its slave for the rest of my life. Such things cannot be merely outgrown, or surely I would’ve done it by now. I also knew that the only was to truly bring it into submission was to immerse myself in the worst case scenario, so I did something that to me was very frightening: I asked Allah to push me over that cliff. I asked Him to put me in that last arena, so I could learn to triumph over this last weakness.

 

I really believe He answered that dua, because the events that unfolded soon after were very triggering in this aspect.  Yet, I still don’t know how much I’ve progressed.

 

I started to try to have as little contact as possible as I could with my husband.  This was very difficult for me, not because our interactions are always satisfying but because he was the only human I had consistent interactions with.  The absence of that showed me how shallow my support system really was, and how dysfunctional I was without one. I knew that I needed to build one, but I also knew that the only way to overcome that feeling of “disconnect” was to be able to find Allah and connect with Him.  Since I’m the kind of person who is better oriented toward what is concrete and tangible, and Allah is neither, this was nearly impossible for me.  It is much easier for me to find Allah in creation, but the hard part is always making sure I don’t give creation the adoration meant only for Allah. This is difficult for me, I admit.

 

So that task, in itself, has been challenging enough. Then, Allah decided to cue to my lonely past.  Funny, I thought I had worked through a lot of those things, so when my friend suggested that I try to re-establish a connection with my biological mother (when I had no idea how or where she was, in addition to the fact that my previous and several attempts to do so in the recent past had gone unanswered) I thought it was going to be very perfunctory.

 

Instead, the process brought up so many emotions for me.  They weren’t the pleasant kind either.  I didn’t have any hard feelings for her, but just a glaring reality that even if I did find her, she may not stay in contact. She may move into another sphere of her own life and lose touch with me again,  and I would be left wondering in my primal self why I wasn’t good enough to keep her around. That was magnified by the fact that I also gained access to my half brother and half sister, who were both adults now. They have their own lives, lives I wanted to very much be a part of, but they also could walk away someday…and inside I would be thinking (because I’m sick this way) “it’s all my fault”.

 

Allah says He never gives any difficulty without ease. If anything had to make me face why loneliness was so hard for me, well here it is.  Yet, out of the blue an aunt who was more myth than man randomly contacted me for the first time in my life with a mission not dissimilar to the one I was currently on- namely trying to understand her past to bring peace to her present. You see, she also was raised by her maternal grandmother, and too many other similarities in our lives and experiences came out of that.  I was able to have an enlightening and heartwarming conversation with her, and in so doing found the strength to face this insurmountable mountain ahead of me.

 

Speaking of mountains, that’s another thing I’d like to mention: since I’ve started this blog my experience of life has been one of falling and crashing to the ground.  Strangely, since this latest breakdown, I’ve not felt that way. I’ve felt like I am on the ground, like I’m exploring the scenery nearby. I can’t say I’m able to describe it more than that, but the peril of always feeling weightless has seemed to end. It’s a new chapter I guess.

 

So I’ve been working through these emotions and triggers, most times ineffectively. I need more help with it, because it’s so deeply rooted. It’s so deep, in fact, that things I would never expect to tie into it become a major focus. Here’s an example:  I have been having regular cycles since May (Praise be to Allah, that’s the longest I’ve had consistency in that area since I went off the birth control in 2010).  Essentially, I’m working! This is a good thing. However, this most recent cycle I realized that my ovulation day was almost going to mirror the cycle I conceived my daughter Nadhiyrah during, back in 2003.  I ran the numbers and it was readily apparent that if I conceived, I would be due around the time she was born (early next May).  I became attached to the idea of achieving this, because it would almost be like re-doing that pregnancy…only with more mindfulness and appreciation. Perhaps it would even be another daughter? Oh, how healing this could be!

 

So I tried with all my might to make this happen, and on paper all the variables were in our favor.  As I endured my two-week wait, I mused about why it was so important to me to have another daughter, beyond the fact that I had already lost my first one. The recent reunion with my family of origin had me thinking about generational patterns and lifelong wounds, I realized that the drive and need in me was so deep because it was a way for me to re-write my own past. To raise a daughter (and it has to be a daughter, since I am female) and keep her, cherish her, love her without abandon and raise her to adulthood myself was a way to undo those very things I did not get from my own mother, even my own grandmother who did raise me.

 

Unfortunately, I did not get pregnant this cycle. Yet, I feel that Allah was very intentional about that fact. I don’t feel it’s because He wants me to suffer, or rub my scars in my face, but rather to show me what’s going on with this loneliness thing for real.  He’s been showing me exactly where it came from and why I am this way, and He’s showing me all the ways I’ve been trying to fix it myself. He’s no enabler now, is He?

 

So I am trying to take these lessons as they come. I am trying to connect with Him, instead of humans. I am pressing myself for my true intentions, not the fluff I convince myself of out of vain attempts to manage my own life. It’s really hard, because I’ve been stripped raw in a lot of ways, but I can’t rebuild the same archetype that was failing me before. So, I feel frustrated and somewhat lost because my cheerful and confident imani outlook on life has been replaced by a confused yet determined handicap.

 

Allah is showing me the way.  During the two-week wait I also began reading a blog (that I found by googling 12 dpo) about a lady who had struggled with infertility.  The blog covers several years, and she had two miscarriages before finally conceiving her son, who happened then to be born at 26 weeks gestation.  She detailed all the familiar heartaches of infertility and struggles of raising her baby to not only survive but thrive.  I’m at the point where she is now pregnant with her second child (however these are all last years posts, so I don’t know how it all ends up).  In reading her stories I realize that I cannot find a way forward hanging on to what I never had, wish I had, or will always want.  I will only find a way forward by having gratitude for what I do have, and Allah has given me so, so much.  When I truly focus on that the way I should, I realize how embarrasing it is to even want more, or to think I need more.  I realize how poorly I manage what is already mine, and how I never deserved it.  This shows me how much Allah truly loves me, that He even gave me as much as I have, in spite of my utter incompetence to appreciate it fully.  And that love is truly a constant…and becomes more tangible the more I reflect on it.