Category Archives: emotions

Be True to Love


Over a month has past since I’ve been here, but for me no time has passed at all in some senses. The weekend of Bashir’s nikkah was life-changing for me, in more ways than I could begin to describe. Since then, I have been faced with undeniable truths about myself, life, divine decree, and the purpose of our existence in ways I could never have imagined before. It seems as though that dua I made to be shown how to live more honestly was answered in the fullest way possible.

When I asked Bashir to give me a divorce, I believed I was doing the right thing. I was looking at the situation logically, and shoving all emotions and attachments aside. I saw black, and I saw white, and I thought that’s all I needed to see. I made my decisions out of will and determination, because I believed that making decisions with the heart would sabotage me. I figured I could let my heart get with the program in its own time, as long as I kept focus on the direction I had set for myself.

Even when I found out Bashir had moved on to someone else, I tried to pack up my wounded pride and keep moving forward. I took it as a test of my resolve and gritted myself to make it through the blizzard. But when I found out he had actually married her, I was snapped back to the resonating truth that I had never, ever stopped loving him.

Not for one second.

I realized that I did not love Bashir because of what he did or did not do. Or because he failed or succeeded. I loved him because of who I am. I remembered how pure and unconditional my love for him was when we began our marriage. Whatever he gave in return, it sufficed me, because I was fulfilled in being true to who I was- in lavishing him with attention, affection, and obedience.

Obedience. Yes. Something that had slipped through the cracks over the years of our marriage, taking the other qualities with it.

Here I had spent several months parted from him trying to “find myself”, thinking it was about my personality, my roots, my hopes and aspirations. How daunting to see that what I really needed to find was my lost character, that aspect that actually develops us to the maturity needed to enter the next life without empty hands. I had lost sight of my character, my core essence in being a loving, supportive, humble wife and Muslimah.

All of a sudden the past nearly 10 years of our marriage took an entirely different view. Until that time, I saw the years in terms of his failings, his shortcomings, his wrongs toward me. Everything was myopically focused on him-him-him, and the mistakes he made had built up into a mountain I kept between us. I am not saying he didn’t have the responsibility to make certain choices or treat me certain ways. He did. But I saw that instead of encouraging him, being patient with him, actually trying to help him by being appropriately submissive, I rather became increasingly arrogant, harsh, unyielding, controlling and rebellious to his God-given authority. My pride had been blinding me, convincing me that I was blameless and flawless and entitled. I saw how I began treating him in demeaning ways, which probably only made him more inclined to seek solace in his own maladaptive responses. I was only happy when I was in charge, and he was on his belly.

Yes, by the time we had divorced, I cared more about whether he was following my rules about not eating in the bedroom, than how he was feeling with his anxiety attacks. I became entirely ungrateful, and I only saw it when I realized how far I had gotten from just being true to the love I had for him. For so long I had been wrapped up in how he needed to change and improve, while I became a worse and worse person in my adab and taqwah. I had lost sight of the fact that my day of judgment will be for what I did, not what he did.

As all of this clarity flooded me, I knew that I had been dealing with Bashir based on how I saw him as a human, not how Allah saw him. Allah knows Bashir through and through, and Allah knows what Bashir is worth more than I do. I had to consider that perhaps I got it wrong- that idea I had that I was somehow rescuing myself from a “bad person” and that it was only I who deserved happiness and love. Perhaps the magnitude of my arrogance that had grown made me the one who deserved to be alone and drifting as though lost, while Bashir was actually the one Allah saw deserved mercy and promptly provided him a companion and all other means he needed to have a peaceful life. The ayat came to mind:

“It may happen that his Lord, if he divorce you, will give him in your stead wives better than you, submissive (to Allah), believing, pious, penitent, devout, inclined to fasting, widows and maids. “(Quran 66:5) Also, the hadith which says, “They (women) are ungrateful to their husbands and are ungrateful for the favors and the good (charitable deeds) done to them. If you have always been good (benevolent) to one of them and then she sees something in you (not of her liking), she will say, ‘I have never received any good from you.” indicates that such women will make up the majority of Hellfire.

I realized what a serious mistake I had made, and how much was truly at stake. All at once I was broken in a way I had never been broken before, and in the recognition of my folly all I wanted was the chance to repent and do it the right way- not the way that would please me or my nafs, but Allah only. I wanted a second chance.

….to be continued….


10 Day Time Bomb


Sometimes some of us are given a situation in life that forces us to take a hard look at ourselves, and reluctantly admit that we are not the person we thought we were or had hoped to be. I am at that place.

The past 10 days have been like the rapid-fire sequence of bombs detonating inside my mind and heart. Sure, it may have all began with what I referenced in my last post about my ex husband wanting to remarry, but it recently culminated with his nikkah yesterday. In between those two crazy-making revelations I endured a severe illness which left me completely weak in my body and mind. Ironically, the ex who was causing the great heartache with his choices was also the only person helping me while I was sick, so in the end my emotions and thought processes were left severely short circuited and unreliable.

I admit, finding out there was someone else out there who cared about him, and who he cared about, made me jealous. I would try to salve myself in various ways, but the bottom line is still the same: they are happy with one another. They are happy because they found love and are no longer alone, and I am unhappy because I am alone and don’t foresee any love life in my future. I resented them both for it, and that showed me how pathetic I really am when it all gets boiled down.

It’s been years since I’ve felt jealous of anyone, so I was really caught off guard by how strong it can be, and how compelling. Jealousy wants to tear down the happiness of others, or somehow inject itself in where it doesn’t belong to feed off of what it can’t destroy like a parasite. Jealousy isn’t even satisfied if you give it what it wants, because it has to give up what it has now just to take it….and jealousy never wants to let anything go.

I went through all those reactions about my ex; not just once but multiple times. In fact, I can still feel the burn inside my nafs from where it is still smoldering, like the underground coal fire in Pennsylvania. It feels at times completely out of control, where my emotions have raised a coup with their drive to have my ex husband back for myself…for him to belong to no one else. Yet I know that chasing that idea down would make 3 people miserable in the end, and perhaps two of them (though it’s hard to admit) deserve the chance to find a renewal of happiness with one another. I was wronged by my ex in various ways, but perhaps Allah will be merciful and keep them from wronging each other.

It is a very difficult thing to accept, to move forward from, when I believe as I do that I won’t get any such redemptive chances (in the context of another relationship). All I have is a hard look at how low I can really go when life gets that real. I can only hope that the illness I went through -as severe as it was- served as some sort of expiation to offset the ugliness I’m seeing in myself.

I Will Not Give Up Just Because it Gets Hard


Last night I came to learn that my ex husband, from whom I’ve only been divorced for a matter of weeks, is making plans to remarry a sister he met online as soon as possible. While I certainly expected him to move on to someone else eventually, I have to admit that the quick turnaround for this stunned me. And there is a part of it that hurt me immensely.

I don’t think I was hurting because I felt like I lost him. No, I already dealt with that idea when I decided to divorce. I knew that giving something up means you have to be OK with it being out of your life for good.

The thing that hurt me was that the whole situation seemed to cheapen the marriage we did have- more specifically, who I was to him. He has a lot of high praise for his new love interest, and he describes her in such a way as to make it seem like I had been nothing more him than a half-hearted wannabe heathen. It made it seem like all the sacrifices I made for him, all the love I offered him, everything I gave no matter what the cost amounted to nothing. And that really hurt, because I know, and Allah knows, I gave 200% to that marriage. In fact, the only thing that gave me comfort in walking away from it was knowing that I could not have possibly done any more than I had. I walked away bled dry; loved out.

And it certainly doesn’t help to watch him go happily forward with someone who cares about him, while I continue to wrestle with the task Allah has set before me of coming to terms with being single for the next X amount of years, and living without that comforting companionship.

So I initially felt crushed, because a part of me believed that though things ended as they did, he would remember me as someone who was extremely loyal, caring, and devoted. Instead, it appeared that someone else can offer more of those things than I did. That stabbed my heart, and made me wonder if all the heartwrenching dedication I freely and abundantly gave him was nothing more than a waste. Thinking of the prices I paid (and made my children pay) in the process, it was unfathomable to me that everything I did for the sole purpose of having someone love me and stay by me, would only end up showing me that the love I was purchasing was not sincere at all. How then will I come to terms with myself, for not having figured that out before now?

I went back over my older blog posts this morning, trying to look at things from other angles. In one of them I wrote “I will not give up just because it gets hard”. That’s what I really need to hang on to right now. This new development, though hard and painful, is not something I’m going to let shake me from the direction I’m trying to go in. After all, all the hard, hard work and sacrifices I am making now, I am doing those for myself. They won’t come back empty, they won’t be for nothing. There’s a blossom in me, a beauty seeking to come out, and I will not let it be hindered even if no one in the world sees it but me.

Yeah, I’ve been through a lot. I’ve taken more than my share of hits, perhaps. In the end, it’s not breaking me but helping to build me…and that’s exactly what is needed right now. When it’s done, I will be me in the fullest and most spectacular of ways. Praise be to Allah.

Jacked In, Jacked Out, Jacked Up


I didn’t think I would want to write here for a while, but as I lay here in my dark, silent room all I can think about is the pieces of me I feel I left behind. I close my eyes and try to wish myself back to the tiny room where I wrote to the muted strains of an unknown local band, but the stillness here mocks me in return. Racing through my mind are endless scenes burned into my memory…scenes that rose up during my brief evening nap in the form of a shop in Chinatown where I was trying to tell a young man to be patient until he got what he wanted.

In the book I’m currently reading, there are machines someone can “jack” into and enjoy a virtual dream world as though it were real…kind of like the way it happens in The Matrix. I wish there were such a thing I could use now to escape this reality for the few hours I have until I truly have to return to real life and work tomorrow. Even without such a device, I feel so surreal…between my recent experiences in California, reading the plot’s unfolding in the afore-mentioned novel, and enduring complicated emotions that seem to constantly bend like light refracted from an ever-shifting prism, I can’t seem to find a place inside to ground myself. I feel like a part of me is drifting through an alternate reality in a universe I’ve never heard of, while the rest of me stays here to attend to the perfunctory matters at hand.

In my soul, the tide rushes in with feelings of love, dreams of hope, buoys of faith; and recedes with fears fraught by uncertainty, tinges of loneliness, and reluctant discipline. All of it is captured in a bubble of wistfully beautiful memories, re-cast over and over until I feel like I can’t take it anymore. I push myself like this until I must act…but the only action I can take at this point is writing it all out, splaying it before my reclusive conscience.

So with that, allow me to change venues, so that I may complete this bloodletting in an adequate fashion.

Do I Really Have to Go?


A bittersweet day it has been indeed, being that it was my last one here. Tonight I am solemnly contemplating my return to Atlanta, and as always I wish I didn’t have to go. Indeed, the entire drive back here to LA county I wished I could turn the car around and return to the previous places I’ve visited, and never leave.

I spent most of my morning at Pismo Beach. After departing from San Luis Obispo, I wanted to have some final time to reflect on some things before wrapping this trip up. I pulled off the road and wrapped myself in my black wool abaya, and cautiously walked down to the shore. I listened to music, singing here and there, while I slowly strolled the length of the beach to its rocky cliff walls. The sun glistening off of the dancing waves soothed me, and I thought about how problems in life are often like this: out in the distance, they seem so frightening and overwhelming. They keep coming and coming, like the frothy breakers yards away. Some are so high, it seems as though they only will knock us down when they reach us.

But as the tide races toward shore, those ripples become smaller and smaller, until they are merely a gentle lap upon the sand crowned with glistening white bubbles. The water recedes leaving the beach shimmering like glass, with the sun’s reflection refracting off it like a dazzling laser. The streaks of iron decorate the shoreline like sparkling scars….scars not unlike our own after being tested.

I ended up staying out on the beach for about two hours. As I walked back to the car after praying dhuhr, I gazed up at the sun. The sky behind it was nearly black, and with the wafting cirrus clouds flanking it like miniature galaxies, it appeared as though it was actually guarding the entrance to eternity.

I drove the rest of the way to the valley along the coast, reluctant to reach the inevitable. Unfortunately, doing so put me right in the middle of rush hour traffic in downtown Los Angeles. The traffic didn’t bother me, though, as I spent the time replaying all the memories recently made. Now that the day is finished, I will do the best I can to prepare for my return flight, hoping that my next visit here will be very soon in shaa Allah.

Allah is The Answer


My middle son misses me. He called at all hours of the morning (the time difference did not help), crying and crying. I felt so helpless, being so far away, but I completely understood what it feels like for him. The best I could do was stay with him on the phone until he was able to calm down and put his mind on other things.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from today. It was important for me to find my mom’s old house, and the apprehension in what may lie ahead kept me from getting restful sleep. When it became apparent at 9 AM that there was not going to be any more opportunities for me to go back to bed before I had to check out, I went ahead and gritted my teeth and got ready for the day. I mapped out the street she lived on, then went to the nearby garage and retrieved my car. I drove from Hyde to Mission to 24th, and found a side street to park on.

Just as I remembered, Lilac St was nothing more than an alley. I wasn’t sure if I would remember her door by seeing it, but I was going to give it my best shot. I slowly walked toward the alley, uncertain if it was a good neighborhood or not. There were a lot of trendy places on Mission just around the corner, but alleys always seem kind of scary. I proceeded cautiously, and was relieved to see there weren’t many people around. Some guys were just taking a smoke break from the back door of the restaurants that lined the alley, and others were residents unloading things from their storage spaces.

The alley itself was colorfully painted with one graffiti mural after another. One one telephone pole were three faces of middle eastern looking men, and on the next were three women in hijab. Most of the alley was lined with sliding doors that led to either garages or storage areas. There were not many entry doors, and as I looked at each one I could not hone in on which might have been hers. What was clear was that this seemed to be an area where artists congregated, and that explained why she -with painting being a consuming passion of hers- would’ve chosen to live there.

I walked the entire length of the way searching for the impossible. I recalled that my brother had told me once that the building itself used to be a train station that was converted into living units, but none of the structures appeared to fit that description. When I reached the other end of the alley, I felt disappointed and lost. I turned back around, hoping that the alternate view might trigger a flash of memory to help me find what I was looking for, but that didn’t happen.

I returned to my car feeling defeated. This was something I felt I needed to do, and I couldn’t even do it. I sat in the driver’s seat and began weeping profusely. Something so simple, yet so elusive, can hurt so deeply.

“It’s only natural to want to have a mother in my life…”
Yes, it is.

“I didn’t deserve what happened…”
No, you didn’t.

“I didn’t do anything wrong!”
You couldn’t have.

The tears wouldn’t stop. The confusion burrowed deeper. The pain painted pictures before my eyes, and I hated it for being the very thing that was chaining me to the unhealthy habits I am struggling to break even now.

“Ya Allah, please show me how this loneliness, this constant loneliness that’s been a part of my life since birth, is really the best thing for me!”

I sat, trying to figure out a way forward. A way to heal and find peace from these deep scars. I kept thinking that finding my future was the answer, but the future is uncertain…..except for one thing: Islam.

Islam would be my way forward. Islam will help me find myself, and find my peace. It already has in so many ways, but the more I focus on it the more Allah will meet me where I need.

And so that’s where I wanted to go from that place, that empty alley which had no answers or comfort. I sent a message to a friend trying to find the way to the Muslims in San Francisco. While awaiting the response, I tried to find the information myself via and Google. Both were inconclusive, so I was glad to get a reply with a general direction to move toward.

As it turned out, I ended up scouring the area I was pointed to block by block. I didn’t see any cluster of shops with signs in Arabic to indicate what I was looking for, so I thought I would just make due with popping into the nearby masjid to make dhuhr and from there go on my merry way. However, there was some type of event going on in that area, so the streets were being blocked off one by one. I couldn’t find a place to park by the masjid; in fact just getting out of the area and back toward the interstate was nearly impossible due to gridlock traffic and took almost an hour.

In the end, I drove to nearby Fremont to attend a zikr which was scheduled for this evening. I originally had planned not to go, but I felt like I needed something like that right now. I got into town and mapped the venue, which was located at a park. I decided to make my dhuhr there, and kill the time by eating a late lunch at a local halal restaurant. After that, I drove to the closest masjid and made asr, then returned to the park center for the night’s activities.

I am so glad I went. Being able to only focus on Allah and my iman was just what I needed, and it changed my state completely. Masha’Allah, they even served us a free dinner. The nasheeds lifted my spirits and I felt lighter than air after it was over. As I walked back out to my car, I looked up to see the wispy clouds sifting past a brilliantly shining full moon, beautifully set in the starry, cobalt sky. Alhamdulillah!

I located an affordable room for the night in town, which is where I am staying tonight. I like Fremont; it reminds me of the San Gabriel Valley where I spent half my childhood. In shaa Allah I will begin wending my way down the coast toward Southern California tomorrow. My trip will be coming to an end soon, so I hope I can make the most of these last opportunities toward self-discovery as I continue exploring the land I love.



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.