Monthly Archives: May 2013

Finding Strength in a Question Mark

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I was searching the internet the other day for articles on how to find out what motivates oneself. I wanted to know what motivates me because quite honestly, regarding my last post, I have a preference for a particular outcome. What I don’t know is whether that preference is from my nafsani, selfish desires, or from a loving guidance outside of myself (and no, I’m not going to indicate what exactly my preference is here). I’m the type of person to get lost in ideas like “you might love what’s bad for you and hate what’s good for you”, or seeing things in too much grey and not enough contrast or color, and so I mistrust a lot of what I think is coming from me and work very hard to keep my intentions and motivations under constant scrutiny.  I am fearful that my own subjectivity will mislead me or misguide me.

So out of boredom and lack of meaningful search results I took this short quiz that was supposed to tell me what motivates me. I originally didn’t expect much, but the answer was surprisingly helpful and I was astonished I never thought about it before: I am motivated (in part, I’m sure) by curiosity.

I’ve always known I’ve been extremely curious.  In fact, it’s been something that has outweighed any sense of fear that most people have in many situations the majority of the time.  I’ve also been relentlessly accused by friends, spouses and teachers of asking too many hairsplitting questions, so I know how extreme it can get. It’s also gotten me into trouble because snooping is a too-huge temptation, and has led me to engage in what was arguably obsessive and stalkingish behaviors when I’ve had crushes on others in the past.

But curiosity, I’ve realized, is the foundation to any resilience I might have.  I’ve had people tell me I’ve gone through things and come out of them in ways that astonish them. Some of my friends have told me that they keep expecting me to break (as I guess most people would) when certain experiences came my way, but I never did. Now I certainly don’t have that idea of myself, in my own mind when I find myself feeling desperately depressed I think I am breaking. In my mind I would never get that low, so I am not that fantastic. But I can’t deny that after the crises are over, I find my way back to a stasis that even I never thought I would arrive at…and the whole reason is because my curiosity buoyed me.

I remember when I was about 5, my grandparents went on a road trip across country in their vintage Chevrolet Malibu convertible (we were towing a trailer behind it). I will never forget when we drove through Oklahoma, because I had never seen mud so red or so many oil wells looking like wingless birds slowly plucking worms from the ground. The highlight of that road trip was being able to get a new smurf figurine at every gas station stop.

One night we stopped at a KOA campground somewhere in OK.  We were all sound asleep in the trailer when this huge explosion woke us up. I didn’t know what it was, but of course my grandparents hurried to find the source and before I knew it my grandmother was scurrying me off to the primitive restroom to urinate before we escaped right away. As we were making our way there, I saw one of the nearby birdie-oil wells engulfed in flames not far in the distance, and I realized that must’ve been the source of the explosion. I remember my grandmother trying to help me get dressed in one of the bathroom stalls while I was shaking, and she told me not to be afraid. I thought this was silly, because in my mind I wasn’t afraid at all….I was actually wondering what caused the fire to begin with and whether or not it would spread or exactly what would happen.  So I told her, “Mama, I’m not scared, it’s just my bones are shakin'”.

And ever since then it seems that’s been the way my cranks turn.  When I faced the potential pain of delivering my first child, the curiosity about what it would be like outweighed my fear of labor.  When tragedies and trials came my way, my curiosity about how they would turn out staved off the worst of the pain.  Even with the polygamy -arguably the most tortuous thing I’ve gone through emotionally- the curiosity of what it would be like living with that or how it would play out kept me going through it all.  After all, how can you know what the ending of the story looks like, if you give up before you reach it?  And I can’t stand not to know how things end or finish.

While all of that insight gained was helpful and interesting, I’m afraid it hasn’t done much to show me where my “preference” is stemming from. There is just as much curiosity about what life would be like (despite the challenges) if we were in fact divorced and I had to raise an infant on my own, as there is about what Bashir will be like with a new baby and going through other significant changes that are coming up in our lives as the older children finish school and we get an opportunity to move out of Georgia in a few years. The curiosity for both makes me willing and open to go down either path.  Yet, the preference I have is clearly because some questions already have answers, and they aren’t the ones I like.

In the meantime, I keep my ever-present curiosity trained on something that I will find out in a couple weeks in shaa Allah: is twinkles a boy or a girl?

Ten Years…Maybe?

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Tomorrow will mark the 10 year anniversary of my nikkah (wedding) with Bashir. I took today and tomorrow off from work to relax and enjoy remembering the time we met and married with him, and plan some nice way to celebrate it.

But, I am haunted (well actually, he and I both are) by something that remains unresolved. Something that would not have even come up on our radar if it weren’t for a dream I had about a month ago.

In the dream, another brother wanted to marry me. I kept telling him I was already married to Bashir, but this brother kept insisting I wasn’t. This brother reminded me that Bashir had given me two previous talaqs years ago, and since the most recent was the third we would be irrevocably divorced. The dream went on with this brother and Bashir and I trying to resolve the dilemma, until finally the brother gave up out of sheer exasperation and I awoke.

Because the dream did allude to true facts I had since put out of my mind (as Bashir had given me two separate talaqs in the early years of our marriage at my request), I told Bashir about it. He became very concerned about it and ever since then, we’ve been trying to sort out the truth: Are we married or not? Is the baby I’m carrying even legitimate?

In a sense, the whole situation seems comedic to me because I was NEVER the type of person to put myself in a situation where I could be at risk of having a child out of wedlock. Yet, that may be where I wind up.

The reason Bashir and I never thought about those two old talaqs is because back then, he told me they didn’t count because they were said while he was angry and we were arguing. We also “reunited” within 24 hours of them being given. I believed what he said when he showed me a hadith about slaves not being freed or divorce not being given while in anger, so since those years I never even thought about them with any significance.

Then I had this dream.

Bashir wrote to his shaykh to try to get clarity, since neither one of us remember clearly what exactly was going on so many years ago when those talaqs were given, or how angry he was, etc. We had tried looking up other hadith and evidences online but most of what we found seemed to indicate that even if given in anger, those divorces would still count. Yet that one hadith that he originally told me seems to say otherwise.

At any rate, Bashir was not able to fully explain the situation to his shaykh. He was advised to give a brief account, so he thought the best thing to do was ask for the dream to be interpreted. The shaykh’s response after all that was, “I don’t know”.

So I have been keeping the confusion inside, waiting and praying for clarity to come soon. I have made istikhara and try to remain patient. Bashir wants to take a trip to see his shaykh in person to tell him more thoroughly what’s going on, and get a clearer answer. Whatever the shaykh says is what he will go with.

I guess it’s gotten now to a point where I just didn’t want to feel alone anymore while dealing with this, and that’s why I posted it here. I can accept whatever the case may be. I can accept if we are in fact married, or if we are not I can accept that I will be a single mother to an newborn baby. There are pros and cons to either outcome, and I am willing to rise to the challenges that may come with either path.

If it’s not too much to ask, I would like to ask you all to pray that Allah brings a resolution to this matter sooner than later. I trust His time and judgment, but I’m human and don’t like the feeling of not knowing where I stand in important matters like this one. And for those of you that do pray for me, thank you.