Every day I wake up with a knot in my stomach. I feel anxious and worried. I feel awkward from the weird and obnoxious (yet similar) dreams I saw that night. I feel fearful of my future. After a cup of tea, a check through my emails and a little benign banter with my colleagues, I start to feel a little normal again. The usual trawling through Facebook and Twitter posts keeps me entertained for a bit. A little bit of normality returning to my otherwise disjointed existence. Soon after work, meetings and deadlines takeover. Having to challenge, persuade and convince people for a living makes me feel like perhaps I can do this. I can win at work, so I can win at life as well! Including with my family…! In my ambition to keep myself fully busy and distracted, after work I either go home to my loving partner or meet some friends for company. Seems pleasant, bitter-sweet conversations fill the evening until night time beckons.
Night time. Once a pleasant time of the day, now became a time to avoid. I long to keep the evening going forever. Chit chat and laughter with my partner, watching silly TV shows, ranting on Twitter. I try to keep such happy and comforting moments going on for as long as possible. You see, I’m afraid. I’m afraid to sleep. I’m afraid of what tomorrow will bring. I’m afraid that my mother will die from the grief she feels because of her inability to accept my choices. I feel fear and guilt. I fear that I’ll see a horrible nightmare again. What will it be this time? People dying? Me being unable to escape a maze? My partner cheating on me? My partner and family laughing at me? Being naked and exposed while people laugh at me? Oh it’s endless. Feels totally dramatic and stupid – but – these are all true dreams (or more like nightmares) of the past few weeks. What I struggle suppress and avoid all day, comes to haunt me at night. I have no escape and my unconscious mind takes over and likes to taunt me.
Come Friday, some sanity returns. It’s the weekend, I can rest. I am eagerly awaiting the moment I can just put my feet up and think about nothing. This lasts for a day or so. But, such happiness is temporary. Shortly afterwards on Sunday, I am bitterly upset about having this time to myself. Horrible thoughts and painful experiences with my family come back like a ton of bricks. Even when I want to rest, I seem incapable of it. This leaves me with the burning desire to connect with them. I hesitantly pick up the phone and brace myself for the call. I want to hear their voices – I miss my mum and dad. They answer and all I hear is love with disappointment.
My father has become a broken man. My mother repeats all the time. She doesn’t get it. They don’t get it. Am I being impatient and wanting their acceptance so quickly? Maybe. But, the alternative of waiting around and giving time is most definitely not easy. The phone conversation with my mother is so sad. It’s so hopeless and yet like a ritual I fall into it. We want to embrace the drama and feel the anguish. I grew up in it, it’s no surprise I still seek it out.
It’s been 5 weeks now, but it feels like a very long time to me. Crying over stupid shit just isn’t so great. And the more they try to convince me of their God, the more I hate the idea of any God or religion. Such a terribly futile cycle. The years of indoctrination of religion and a culture influenced by such a religion, leaves me a miserable and guilt-ridden wreck. I feel ashamed of things I shouldn’t. I feel as though I have let down my family. But I know I’m right and I did the right thing. But then, why am I still the one going through this pain? Facing rejection and emotional blackmail because I chose to think for myself? I know I’m right; I’m introspective enough. Yet, the years of my conditioning as a Muslim woman, has left me like this. Social stigma and becoming a social pariah are such horrible punishments passed on women like me. My crime? Leaving Islam and choosing a non-Muslim partner. And yet, it hurts. Yet, I cry. I miss my family. The only family who will know my childhood.
I guess I will do this until one day I don’t. Until that time, this is my life.