I remember when I woke up this morning and looked out the window that I was disappointed that it was still raining softly. It was certainly a morning to go back in a warm bed and forget the weather by sleeping in, but I went ahead and took my shower even though I woke up an hour too early from a very intense dream.

Fortunately, getting my son up and ready for school went seamlessly. I lost myself in random thoughts while I drove as the droplets pattered against the car’s roof, and I mused that perhaps we might have a happy Friday in spite of the dreary skies. This morning in particular would begin in a meeting with Jabiyr’s teachers, talking about his behavioral plan and how his first week at the new school had gone. Something they told me came as a pleasant surprise.

Jabiyr had been bringing home copied passages in his notebook all week. I had guessed that these were assignments given by his teacher, since any type of writing had been an utter chore for him before. In fact, he preferred to draw; and he actually did so quite well according to most. His teacher now informed me that the writing he was doing now was of his own choice, something he elects to do “for fun” during free time. Apparently, he claims he no longer likes to draw. He would rather write, and even the little perk himself confirmed as much when I asked him about it before he fell asleep tonight. I can’t help but wonder if this doesn’t have to do with something I had told him last weekend. He had caught me going through some of my old diaries from high school and asked me, incredulously, “did you write all those words?” I told him, knowing he liked to draw, that when you learn enough words to write a lot you can make a picture with them, and that’s what I like to do. I am tickled that he is exploring another creative outlet.

So the school meeting went well enough. I returned home and took out the trash and decided to go back to bed for a bit before leaving for work. The rain was still carrying on even when I awoke to depart. Fortunately there was a decent parking space available when I arrived at work, and given that it was almost lunch time I figured the rest of the day would progress smoothly.

The first thing I did when I got to my desk was take out some liquid paper and mark out “Patricia” listed as my middle name on the Social Security name change form that I had left there from the evening before. As soon as it dried I wrote in “Faridah”, and briefly thought about what my new name -my new identity- would mean for me. I smiled.

I went on to reply to some emails and get started with the day’s tasks. I wasn’t counting on being blindsided only a few hours later.

I am trying to lose myself in the innocuous details of the earlier part of the day because I don’t want to break down again. The way things transpired -and probably to most it would all seem rather silly- actually ended up ripping me apart until I found myself sobbing at my desk for a good two hours.

What actually happened doesn’t really matter. Intellectually I can recognize it was a very solvable problem. Emotionally, well…there’s the rub. Emotionally I was staring at a mirror with no one staring back. Emotionally I was no one, and any substance of my being was only felt as a burden, a chore, a dramatic mess, on others.

This place, inside me somewhere, that never seems to go away, took me over. This idea, this seeming reality, that all I’ve ever done is make others not want me- even from birth. I cried and cried, wondering what was so bad about having just a self that couldn’t hurt anyone, offend anyone, overwhelm anyone, or make anyone feel betrayed. I felt ashamed that I could do no better than have such a deluge at work. I’m supposed to be there to help others, how could I be so selfish?

Because all I want is a self. I want validation, acceptance, reassurance, and attention. Things babies and small children get naturally, but things I had to manipulate others into giving me. Things I still starve for even now. As I write this, the ache remains fresh inside, and it would be so easy to let the waters flow once more.

I took my oldest son out to dinner tonight, since the other two boys are with their respective fathers. He told me my guacamole was better than the restaurant’s. He told me about his goals to become a better basketball player. We ate and drank two virgin strawberry daiquiris each. I wondered how he saw me as a mother, if he felt I was meeting his deepest needs. I couldn’t think about it long because we were getting ready to leave.

On the way home, I didn’t need to use my wipers because it had stopped raining. I hope by morning light, I can say the same about the weather in my soul.


2 responses »

  1. Alhamdullilah that your son jabyir has adjusted in new school and is creative like his mother which is a good thing Alhamdullilah. At least you are making a positive impact on your children, not many mothers out there could or won’t do that. You are right, a picture speaks thousand words Alhamdullah.
    If you are tired of little bit of rain in U.S, think of us here in U.K, we haven’t seen proper sun for quite some time now. I am sorry to hear what this whole name change thing has put you through but you are not absolutely right when you say that you had to manipulate people to get their attention. What I am trying to say is that if not then there are still people who care for you and see, without you having to make an effort to get their attention. They may not be verbal or may not be able to express it our couldn’t do so for number of reasons but they still care for you. I would say that please read brother Wael’s new article on Islamic sunrays. “You matter”.


    • Salaams Bro,

      I don’t think I could tolerate the rain you guys have there! I guess growing up in sunny Southern California has made clear skies my preference.

      As far as manipulating for attention, that was in reference to growing up; it is something I had to do most of the time. I try very hard not to function that way as an adult now- certainly most of all with you guys!

      I have been reading his article since it posted. He did a really good job on that one. I needed it.

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