Monthly Archives: April 2013

Life After Lifelessness

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After everything that’s happened in the last couple months, I finally feel like parts of the core me are regenerating. I think my hope and reckless idealism may even eventually return in some shape or form!

Last time I talked a lot about my pain, my ghosts, the bottom of my ocean. I had a speck of belief that perhaps the extent to which I was being tortured by those things would finally cause a healing I hadn’t been able to find before. I thought maybe I needed to go through the polygamy, because it was the only thing that could make me face my past in such a deep way and finally find some sort of peace with it. Maybe it was the only way.

One of the things I came to realize about myself was about some beliefs I had. I believed, when it came to material things like money, goods, jobs, etc….I believed all of those aspects had been pre-determined for my life to be portioned out a certain way. So whether I had a little or a lot, I rarely stressed because I really believed Allah picked the perfect portion to meet my tangible needs and was satisfied with that.

But when it came to emotional needs, I never believed anything like that. I always believed I had an inner deficit that I needed to find a filling for. Supplementing the “lack” of love in my life became my crusade, my purpose for existing. No matter what love I got, it wasn’t enough, it wasn’t what I was satisfied with. I had to find more, no matter what extremes I had to use to get it. And there were many times I went to extremes, even with my husband who was probably the most reliable source of any love I got in life.

Being in polygamy showed me that love and attention is portioned out just like rizq. I thought about other polygamous wives who had to share their husband with not only one woman, but two or three others. The portion of their husband’ time, affection, or intimacy was as much as it was going to be, and no more. Allah never said this was unfair, so why was I living my life like it was?

Even after Coco got her talaq, I saw that whatever my husband gave to me of his love was fixed. Though I might have hoped all the extra time he was no longer spending on her would be intensely focused on me, it wasn’t. He spent time with the kids, or with himself (he didn’t have ANY time to himself in polygamy, unless you count sleep). I saw clearly, for good, that the love I get in life is my perfect portion from Allah. It’s not out of balance or lacking, and once that really sunk in the giant hole inside decided to get with the program and shrank to fit what I was actually getting, instead of demanding something huge enough to fit in it.

I hope that is healing. I feel it is. I have a peace about that aspect of my life that I never had before. I used to worry and go crazy about the idea of being single and alone while I was parted from Bashir, because of the lack of love I would have then. I realize now if that were to ever be in my destiny, it’s perfectly fine. It’s what’s appointed for that time, and it’s not going to kill me any more than going three days without food did. Or going a couple months with no income did.

And the truth is, it’s not a given that won’t come to me someday. Just as much as I hoped the polygamy would help me rise above challenges I had been struggling through my entire life, I hoped Bashir would find a way to put his own demons to rest. And indeed, being in polygamy kept him insanely busy. He didn’t have time or energy to get angry, or to worry about what little slights the kids did. He was so preoccupied with trying to keep everything fair between his two wives with time and attention, that he rarely went online or watched TV.

But when the polygamy ended, the familiar routines returned slowly. Bashir understandably has wanted time to catch up on his own interests, but I see how those pursuits end up taking up hours, every afternoon, day after day. Even if nothing “bad” has happened, there is a part of me in the back of my mind that wonders how much of the “old” Bashir will return, and feels it needs to be ready for anything….even with me being pregnant. Actually, especially with me being pregnant.

For the time being, though, I am going to focus on getting back into my own life more. I’ve been offline too long, and that has always been a source of social fulfillment. I also had a dream recently that seemed like it had the makings of a good story, so I’m also wanting to give that life and see how it goes.

And of course there’s always Twinkles (the baby). Allah knows how I’ve wanted a daughter. I won’t be able to find out the gender until sometime in July, but I don’t feel guilty to fantasize that it might be a girl. 50/50 odds are pretty good!

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Drowning and Drowning and Drowning

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When the polygamy first began, it was immensely difficult for me. From the very beginning, I felt traumatized. I couldn’t sleep more than a couple hours. I could barely eat, and in a matter of weeks I lost several pounds. My mind kept replaying the events that led to how it all started over and over, and every time I had to face the pain of the situation it felt like someone was dunking my head under water and holding it there. It was suffocating and frightening, and I felt there was no escape from the way everything made me feel. I began calling in sick from work almost every week, as well as making up excuses to ask to work from home. On the days I did go in, I was going in several hours late. I had truly become a non-functional mess…I couldn’t even bring myself to distraction by going online to blog or look at Facebook. The agony consumed me.

A lot of people might think that the cause of my feelings was because of having to share my husband with another woman, but really that wasn’t it at all. If that had been my only concern, it would have been a cake walk. No, the thing that made this whole situation so tremendously heart wrenching was that it peeled back and kept exposed, like raw nerves, my deepest and most troublesome insecurities.

All of my life I have struggled with a sense of belonging. I have wrestled with a disconnect of feeling wanted by others. I know the experiences I went through in my infancy and childhood lent to those issues, and I grew up with some baggage of being pretty needy, very insecure, and extremely afraid of being abandoned. I’ve spent most of my life compensating for those things in both healthy and unhealthy ways, but I know deep down there will be a part of me that won’t quite be whole because it just missed that chance at the appointed time in my development.

Since I came into the polygamy after Bashir had married Coco, I felt all of these things much more profoundly than I have in years. I couldn’t really find where I belonged, because I knew that he had already begun a life with her under the idea that I was not going to be a part of his life. I wasn’t sure if he even really wanted to be with me again, or if he was doing it because he felt that’s what his religious teachers wanted. I couldn’t escape the exposure to his new love for her, and the attention he would give her through constant texts and phone calls, and I felt overwhelmed with the pull to have my own emotional needs for attention met. I found it hard to find any grounding or security to stand on, and I was constantly afraid he would decided he was more satisfied with her than I and cut me loose again.

So I worked really hard to be the ideal wife, but no matter what I did right the emotions overtook me time and again. Every time she came down for a visit (as she lived out of town), it was like another tsunami overtaking me. I tried to keep everything to myself, but I had become so sensitive and vulnerable it had become impossible to hide. Eventually, the very deepest fears I had began to come true because I was driving Bashir away with the never ending emotional crises. I became the wife with “all the issues and drama”, while Coco, who was already a seasoned polygamist, spent her time with him just trying to start their relationship.

I remember the first weekend after the polygamy started, I took a trip out of town for a Quranic conference. The whole ride there I felt like I was living in another world. There were no love songs that described my life as it was now. There were no nice romantic comedies I could relate to anymore. It seemed like everyone was in one world- the world of monogamy- and I was stuck in another….alone, and with no coping skills or guide to help me find my way through it.

Things got so difficult at one point I wrestled with my darkest thoughts in a way I haven’t dealt with in years. I have been struggling with certain thoughts to hurt myself since I was a teenager, and they always are triggered when I feel I truly have no place or am causing more harm than good to others. Those struggles broke wide open at one point when Bashir was visiting with Coco, and I feared that this situation was so extreme that I might not be able to ride it out this time. I seriously considered checking myself into the local behavioral hospital, but in the end things went another way and another day passed.

Bashir was naturally concerned about how all this was affecting me. Coco on the other hand just saw my “antics” as a nuisance and intrusion into her marriage. She just wanted the problem (me) to disappear so she could go on happily ever after. I just wanted someone to walk me through my darkness until I came out the other side. In the end, Bashir became overwhelmed with his own duties as a polygamous husband and was finding himself becoming more and more stressed by trying to keep the balancing act going. He felt stuck too because he knew the commitment he made in marriage to her was not one he could just easily shrug off now.

The turning point came slowly. It began when Coco, who had her tubes tied several years ago, decided she wanted to get a reversal so she could have a baby with Bashir. Bashir and Coco, however, had agreed before marriage that they were not going to have children. Bashir felt scared and betrayed when this was brought up, because he didn’t want to have children with her. However, it was open fact that I was not under the same standard because for one, my tubes weren’t tied and for two; I never stipulated anything like that with him. Coco decided to continue with Bashir in spite of the fact that it meant giving up her right to have more children- a right I still retained. Even though she agreed to that, I think Bashir’s trust in her (after all, he had only known her a matter of weeks by then) was permanently shaken.

It was quite ironic that only 2 weeks after that incident I found out I was pregnant at my annual checkup. I have been infertile for several years, and I never imagined I would get pregnant on my own before I had even discussed with Bashir how such a thing would fit into our newly polygamous lifestyle. My pregnancy ended up magnifying all of the issues that had been going on with me personally, as well as all three of us, to the point where Bashir really needed to think about what was best for everyone.

In the end, Bashir ended up divorcing Coco after they had only been married 6 weeks. It had nothing to do with me or the pregnancy, but personal issues they were having with each other. He gave her opportunities to return to him since then, but she has rejected them. Bashir and I have been living monogamously for the past nearly 4 weeks.

I am eating again, and sleeping too (probably a little too much). My sense of normalcy has returned, and I’m no longer “drowning” or reliving the weekend my life changed over and over. I am going to work the way I need to, and not having emotional breakdowns every other day. So in those senses, I know I am healing.

But there are parts of me that still feel damaged. I feel like I’ve lost passion and fire I used to have. In one sense it’s a good thing because I no longer tend to be defensive, argumentative, controlling or nagging. In another sense I’m left feeling empty and apathetic, because there’s a part of me that knows all too well that if a painful thing comes my way I won’t be able to stop it or even necessarily control how it affects me. I am at the mercy of Allah’s will, so if He wills tests for me I almost feel defeated to them….and I miss that part of me that lived on hope and dreams.

The Rock, and the Hard Place

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I knew a second chance with Bashir would be pretty much impossible in light of the fact that he was now married to someone else. Having a chance to be a better wife to him would essentially mean remarrying him, and I have to admit I had already done so much work on becoming independent of him I was not exactly eager to thrust myself back into such a big commitment. Not only that, but unless he divorced his new wife for me, remarrying Bashir would mean I would be coming to him as a second wife in polygamy.  Very few women willingly choose to be polygamous, and I certainly was not one of them.

 

Allah knows best what we need, all the time. He plans our life perfectly, and nothing He does is a mistake. Allah takes our folly and creates purpose, and fashions strength from weakness. Sometimes, he breaks the proud to create a beautiful humility.

 

So when it came out that my iddah with Bashir never completed, and that we were essentially already still married, all the shattered pieces of my being re-assembled strictly to be ground again to a pulp.

 

That’s right. Bashir and I never completed our divorce. That’s right. I was now in polygamy, whether I liked it or not.

 

For those of you who want the details, it went like this: I went a little crazy. I bled all my insanity out to Bashir, with no regard to the fact that it was his honeymoon. That was bad of me to do, and so poor Bashir was now in the position to try to clean up a mess he had partially created (we won’t get into why or how, that’s really irrelevant at this point).  He contacted an imam and the first question he asked -to my surprise- was whether our divorce was valid, and cited a technicality which might have been the reason it was invalid.  The imam confirmed that the iddah did not complete because of that technicality. BOOM.

 

Bashir clearly told me right then and there that he would absolutely not give me a divorce again, even if I begged for it. He was not going to let me go twice, when he didn’t even want to let me go the first time. So being with him, remaining with him in marriage, was no longer a choice. And at that point, things were getting so upside down I was terrified to fool with any more big changes.

 

The second question was asking advice what to do with his new wife.  He was advised to tell her everything and give her the choice, and he did. She decided she wanted to remain married to him as well. BOOM.

 

Two realities that were at once shackles on my wrists and demolitions of any walls or defenses I could’ve possibly had.  This was Allah’s will for me, and there was nothing I could or was willing to try to do about it.  It was as though the blows grabbed my nafs by its scruff and forced it to prostrate and recognize the power of Allah to do anything He likes with me. All this time Allah knew I thought I was walking away, but in reality I was going nowhere. I never went anywhere as far as being apart from Bashir. We were linked in marriage in Allah’s sight the whole time, and everything else that took place He allowed in His perfect wisdom as well.  This was meant to be for all of us.

 

But that’s the thing, it wasn’t just me that was getting this supernatural shakeup.  Bashir’s new bride, who I will call Coco (short for co-wife), was thrown for a loop as well. She came down to marry a man she had never even met face to face before, thinking they were going to be monogamous ever after. She wasn’t planning on getting into polygamy either, and has said that if she had known she wouldn’t have given him the time of day.  Even though she had experience with polygamy, this was not her dream come true.

 

And Bashir, he never wanted polygamy either.  He married Coco thinking they were going to live happily ever after. My recent dealings with him had been crystal clear to that effect, and he and I were both convinced we were divorced. I’m not sure what convicted him to ask the imam about that technicality, but Allah knows best. He was not ready to take on two wives, but he was going to have to whether he liked it or not.

 

Could it be that Allah was correcting the flaws in all of us but putting us into this press? Were the issues I had with Bashir before finding their remedy by him being thrust into a position of having to be twice as responsible a husband? Yes, I think that’s what exactly happened.

 

And so the three of us began this new polygamous journey, wide-eyed, wounded, frightened and scarred.

 

….to be continued…