I was planning on writing this post once everything had ‘sorted itself out’ and I could talk about everything in the detached way that is possible with past tense and not have to risk having my vulnerability violated, but I think it’s time to get real. Muslim spoken word artist Mark Gonzales stated in a facebook status “who is better situated to remedy a social pain, than those who have walked with the wounds of exclusion & experimentation, misdiagnosis & demonization, yet still managed to emerge from the other side alive? Our society is ill. We are the remedy.” I think it’s a bit premature to classify myself as one who has emerged out of this thing alive, but I will certainly bare my wounds from this particular battle, not to gain anyone’s pity or sympathy or be dramatic for the sake of it, but because I know I am not the first nor the last person to struggle with issues like these and I truly hope that one day this post will give someone out there some comfort when they need it most.
But first, an update… my husband and I are now onto our fourth application for the marriage permission and our second ‘helper’. We were hooked up with this person in the lead up to Ramadan which meant we were unable to begin working with him until after Eid al Fitr. But then the night before husband was due to go to Riyadh to submit our new application, it was delayed by another week. When we finally submitted it, I was a nervous wreck but everyone was optimistic that we would get the permission easily and quickly so we waited to receive our number which would indicate that the application was in the system. This usually takes 5 days max. So we waited. And waited, and…nothing. After over a week we were concerned and incredibly frustrated, so our guy looked into it and discovered that, although the application was assigned a number, some bright spark had not passed on the application i.e. it was just gathering dust on some government workers desk. So this round of waiting that we are currently enduring is to to hear back as to whether or not the application has now gone to the right place. And of course that takes more time – now do you realise how this process has taken nearly 3 years? I am going insane.
I never thought of myself as a bad person before. I’m nicey nice; I smile a lot, I’m sensitive to people’s feelings, but recently I have become this bitter, twisted person with a disturbing amount of pent-up rage and jealousy. My jaw and shoulders are constantly tensed to the point of pain (not to mention it’s not a terribly attractive look). I’m prone to snapping at my poor unsuspecting husband (may Allah reward him for his patience) and going on passionate and expletive filled tirades about the corruption and lack of morals that seems to be rampant in Arab governance. Basically, I’m like a bratty child throwing tantrums because all the other kids have what I want so why can’t I have it and, and, and… it’s just not fair!
The problem is that I lack healthy coping methods. I suffered from clinical depression as a teenager and went through periods where I was suicidal. At that time my main ‘coping methods’ were self-harm and binge-eating. Now that I am Muslim, I no longer consider suicide or self-harm to be options because they are major sins, so I am left with binge eating which sure, is not exactly halal but in my twisted logic it seems more acceptable.
Earlier this year I dropped 2 dress sizes through ‘healthy’ (i.e. highly restrictive) eating and regular exercise and as often happens when people lose weight, I received compliments left, right and centre as if I had achieved something amazing though I had not even been overweight to begin with. Then things got difficult with our marriage permission rubbish and I drifted back to my former sedentary lifestyle and stress eating. And it is yet to stop, not that I haven’t tried or wanted to end it but I literally feel I can’t handle everything that is happening right now without gorging myself on junk food every night. It’s not even food I enjoy or really want to eat, it’s just another form of self-harm to treat myself like a garbage dump. Even the fact that I am putting on weight gives me some sick sense of satisfaction because now my pain is ‘manifest’…yeah, I know it’s messed up but we’re talking truth, remember? Just to put things in perspective, at the start of the year I bought a beautiful wedding dress in preparation for our legal Australian marriage ceremony (because we were told we would have the permission ‘shortly’ *rolls eyes*). I am now dangerously close to having to buy a new dress.
I started seeing a psychologist to try and overcome these problems and develop healthy coping skills but unfortunately it was a very disappointing experience. Amongst other things, I didn’t feel like my problems were being taken seriously because they weren’t ‘severe’ enough i.e. I was able to get out of bed every morning therefore I was alright. This is annoying when the very reason I went there was to ensure it didn’t get to that point. Then there was the forgetting of vital details of my story. This lead to irritating statements like this; “hey, you haven’t been apart from your husband that long..” “uh, actually it’s been nearly 3 years now” “Oh, I thought it had been 1 year…”. And then the killer “there’s not much you can do, just keep being patient”. Ok, I know you’re probably thinking ‘what’s wrong with that statement?’ After all, it’s the truth, there’s very little I can do except be patient. But the thing is that accepting this fact is a huge struggle. Feeling completely powerless is not easy or pleasant especially when it’s not just one issue you feel this way about but your whole life.
Thankfully, my work keeps me very busy during the week but, come the dreaded weekend, I lack the motivation to leave my bed for anything other than loading up on my poison of choice aka food. So I just sit in bed all weekend on my laptop achieving nothing and feeling incredibly lonely and crap about myself and my life and everything else. This is pretty much how it goes every night after work as well. If I’m honest with myself, I know that part of the reason I isolate and torture myself like this is because I want to ‘kill time’ until my husband and I can be together and my ‘real’ life can begin. I know that’s dangerous thinking but it has proved a very difficult thought to rid myself of.
Obviously, my iman isn’t in the best shape. If my iman was stronger I would deal with this in a much better way but unfortunately it’s gone down with the rest of the ship so to speak. And that’s the worst part because without Allah I am nothing and have nothing. I need Him.