The Final Goodbye

I had a moment of realisation whilst away and perhaps from my last post, folk might have guessed that I was leading upto this.  It’s obvious now, for me, that this blog has reached the end of its purpose.

Its purpose was mainly cathartic and through it, I connected with many wonderful people who provided me with love, support and advice in their own ways.  There’s absolutely no regret in my mind for starting this, not only for what it provided me but also as a platform for other women (and men), going through life’s difficulties to connect.

The decision to end this blog has happened for a couple of reasons:

I don’t associate myself as a “divorcee” or really feel the need to pigeon hole myself into that little box anymore.  I’d rather describe myself as a slightly mad, fiesty but underneath it all, a warmhearted and wonderful person.

Secondly, whilst I haven’t been particularly bothered about people knowing about my blog, the focus of my writings is changing.  I would rather not talk about certain intimate details with people whom I don’t really involve in my life.  It’s surprised me  over the past few months that there are people reading this blog whom I wouldn’t have thought cared much about what I have to say; if I was to be cynical, perhaps it’s a way of keeping up with some gossip that my life may be providing.

Divorce ignited within me a passion for writing.  I will continue writing on a different platform and for those who aren’t directly linked to me but I have developed a connection with you through this blog, I am happy to share it and keep in touch.  You all know who you are so pop me an email and I will re-connect with you.  For others, whom I don’t really know but have been reading this, I apologise but I am aiming to keep the next blog fairly private from my personal circle so unless we have shared some communications, I won’t be sharing the details.  I hope this is understandable.

Through this blog, I am hoping to setup an initiative with an established women’s helpline to provide further support, whether it be religious or emotional, to Muslim women going through divorce.  One thing that has become clear is that we get lost in the process.  There is a lack of religious guidance out there but more importantly empathy from religious leaders .  This is something, through our helpline, which we hope to change.  Should there be an avenue where we can take this online then we will endeavour to do so and I will update this blog if it happens.

My email account will be active and I am happy to still provide support.  There’s something to be said about the power of an online community.  And to that community; thank you for your amazing support over the years.  Your own experiences and advice helped in more ways than I can ever express.  In return, I hope this blog has been and will continue to be of use to others going through similar situations.

It’s been four years of cataloguing pain, tears and heartache.  I’ll be honest, it’s probably taken me that long to stop feeling so angry.  However I can also see the wonderful opportunities that life has provided me which I would never have experienced otherwise.  Life goes on.  It takes time to find yourself again but once you do, the possibilities are endless.  We may never be the same but that’s not to say that we can’t become better versions of ourselves.

And on that note…..love and hugs.  Goodbye from me.

Balancing the Scales

I’m preparing to embark on another journey, a small one this time but one of the most significant I feel.  Prior to travelling, I met a group, who provided me with some valuable words.  I spoke about my past today, something I haven’t done in a while and whilst I didn’t particularly enjoy it, maybe it was needed.

One of the most important things I have come to realise is that I’m done with reacting.  This is a situation whereby there will always be emotions that run deep.  I may feel that I have conquered hurt, betrayal, abuse however the reality is that it can take something unsuspecting to trigger another emotion lying deeper.  Reacting gives my control away; reacting gives my control to those who held power over me five years ago and whom I have allowed to continue to do so.

So it’s time to forgive and move on.  I’m not talking about my ex – strangely that happened a long time ago.  But to clear the remains of negativity that has followed for so long.

My in-laws for one.  There have been a number of pieces which I have written about my relationship with them.  We live in the same city and we will frequent the same places.  I have a tendency to avoid going anywhere if I know they will be there.  The thoughts of how I would react upon seeing them used to play in my mind.  However they are my past.  They don’t hold any power over me nor me over them.

My ex’s (ex) friends.  A select few have been on the receiving end of my resentment for years.  But that only serves to affect me, not them.  Perhaps somewhere deep down they do care about their actions and carry some remorse.  Maybe they don’t.  I’ve come to realise though that the world is filled with more good than it is bad.  For that reason, I like to think they made an error in judgement and it was never done from some inherently bad place.

So it’s time to move on from these people.  My issues with them are done.  My writings about them are done.  With so many bigger problems around us, my energy and time can be spent on more productive things.  Peace and love.

 

Ghosts of the Years Gone By

Are we bored yet of my cheating saga?  I know, I know…..it’s old news.  But you see, that’s the thing, there’s layers to this drama.  It’s not a case that he got his jollies off, we ended and happy days, we both live our own future now.  There were a number of other players to this story and unfortunately, living in the same city, somehow we enter into each other’s lives once again albeit indirectly.

An acquaintance of mine I discovered recently had become good friends with one of the so and so’s that covered for my ex during his affair.  Now there’s a difference maybe between knowing about the affair and being too scared to mention anything because you don’t want to ruin someone’s marriage.  That, I can somewhat try to understand.  This was deception; phoning me and pretending he needed help with his broken car to get my ex out the house, kidding on they were getting together for my ex’s birthday and plenty more.  I asked for an answer from him when everything surfaced but like most cowards when called out on their lies, he couldn’t face me.  Infact the only time he’s had the audacity to try to get in touch is when he fell out with my ex and wanted the tapes I had of my ex in a compromising situation.

What my acquaintance does is his business yet I felt a surge of anger when I discovered their friendship.  We have daily interactions and whilst I respect him, ultimately he doesn’t owe me anything.  Speaking about it briefly with him, I felt that old humiliation resurface.  I cut the conversation short, feeling embarrassed at hearing my voice crack.  How they all must have laughed at me, I started thinking.

How they must all still laugh at me.

Four Years

Although I thought I would post an update again as I seem to do this every year, I will be honest, I had to think about what year it was post split.  Time has gone on and the bitter, difficult memories that were once there have all but almost vanished.

In saying that, I always find October through to the end of the year to be difficult.  I’m not sure if subconsciously I know it’s when things unravelled or whether it’s generally the time I come back from travelling so takes me a while to adjust back to being home again.

Although pain subsides, you become forever changed by it.  I use the word subside.  I don’t believe it has altogether vanished, even four years on.  I have the faint remains of hurt still left from everything that happened and although it doesn’t happen often, it can still catch me unaware.  I’ve learnt to try to acknowledge the pain when it’s there and to never allow myself to feel ashamed for being upset.  I can hand on heart say I carry no feelings whether they be positive emotions or negative towards my ex.  I just don’t care.  I don’t think that was anything new to this year however.

Most emotions I experience nowadays normally arise from loneliness and that’s a difficult one to overcome.  Infact that’s probably been my biggest challenge this year particularly.  At times the loneliness has felt unbearable.  Perhaps being around a lot of men in my most recent travel compounded this when I returned.  I’ve since ended up with a few male friends, something which I never bothered with in the past.  If I was to dig deep and be honest with myself, I know it’s because I miss male company.  I miss flirting.  I miss being held.  I miss all that comes with having someone.  Disclaimer:  I’m not “with” any of these friends but they’re good chat and so far distance prevents me from getting into any trouble with one who may like me a bit more.

It’s maybe been a year of self development.  I understand the difficult emotions that my split has left me with, a bit better than I did before.  I’ve been consciously working on my trust issues and particularly how guarded I can be.  Whilst there are things I won’t divulge to a guy I’m getting to know, I’ve learnt to let go a little and understand that relationships require a bit of giving yourself if it’s to develop.  What’s the worse that will happen?  I may get hurt but I’ve been hurt worse in the past and I got over it so I’ll manage.  That’s the risk you take if you want a relationship.

This year has definitely been more focussed on the dating and spouse search.  I’ve met and spoken to a few blokes this year.  What’s maybe clear to me is that I’m not what most men are looking for.  I’m different to the ideal they have in their mind…..and that’s ok.  I get told by people that I have high standards.  I maintain that it is easy to find “any guy” if you want to.  Personally, I’m looking for someone with a bit of heart and soul.  If that makes me fussy, then so be it.  There is definitely a stigma that divorced women are still subjected to.  I surprise myself by how well I take it.  It doesn’t really affect me too much but if you’re of a sensitive disposition then do brace yourself.  Men aren’t so polite about it.

I do believe 2017 will bring about a number of changes due to a few decisions I intend to make.   Although I’ve tried not to let it be, I allowed 2016 to become a waiting game.  I’ve been waiting for someone as though that will make my life happier.  I just need to loosen up and live life a bit more freely.

Sound of Silence

Faryal Makdoom’s recent outburst aimed at her in-laws has caused much furore amongst people and has seen a somewhat mixed reaction.  The usual mutterings ofcourse that private family matters should stay private whilst others applaud her for actions that very much go against Pakistani culture.

If true, I can’t say it causes me to raise eyebrows and if true then yes, I applaud her for being brave enough to break the silence that surrounds this issue.  For many of us who married into traditional Pakistani families, to be treated like a second rate citizen is very much part of the package.  When many think of abuse, we don’t particularly associate it with in-laws.  The reality is that there is a sinister control element which exists within our culture that trickles down from generations above.

I’ve had my fair share to say about my ex-inlaws in my blog.  My MIL is probably one of the most difficult people I’ve encountered in my life to date.  I suffered plenty of humiliation at their hands; from my MIL insinuating to people I was upto no good when I was coming home late from the mosque during Ramadan, my father in law telling my ex to kick me out and they would find him another to the magic moment when my MIL walked out of my brother’s wedding, telling everyone she could on the way out that I had shamed her by walking past her.

Yet despite all this, I can now also acknowledge my own failings.  Their actions caused me to become bitter and my bitterness prevented me from interacting with them on a level I should have.  My heart closed to them with each hurt I felt which in turn caused them to hurt me more.  If I could do it all over again, I would change plenty of things.  I can’t but I can learn from it.  Parents are a package deal in marriage (on both sides) so if they don’t want me in their family, I don’t intend to fight to be in it.  I’d rather wait it out for the family that will welcome me with love.

I hid all the difficulties like the good Pakistani daughter in-law I was trying to be.  Despite my MIL not having spoken to me properly for years, when asked how she was, I would give a polite reply to people and feign some benign story about my in-laws.  I was brought up not to air dirty laundry in public.  There were plenty times I would have loved to blast them on facebook and let the world know what God awful people they were but even back then, it seemed to lack class so I sucked it up and got on with it.  Maybe there was a better way Faryal could have spoken about it, maybe she shouldn’t have spoken at all.  Whatever side you’re on, the stark reality is that we do have a problem and there aren’t many people willing to speak up about it.  That in itself is the problem.

Once a Cheat, Always a Cheat?

Hearing about people cheat brings about an emotionally charged response from me.  Expected, no doubt, but I’ve also no doubt people underestimate how severe my repulsion is towards those that do it.  This past week brings me to my best friend who has entered into “talks” with a man who cheated on his wife.

She was nervous about telling me.  “I’m talking to somebody…..and you’re not going to like it”, she said in one breath.  My smile faltered.  He was somebody high profile who last year had cheated on his wife.  His wife upon finding explicit images exchanged between him and his female married boss, promptly went to the papers where her husband’s name was spared but the boss, not so lucky.  I suppressed, despite my inner self wanting to smack her, and listened.

He was remorseful.  She explained this wasn’t my ex who hadn’t held his hands up to anything but he admitted it all.  Surely people deserve a second chance if they’ve realised the error of their ways, she asked.  She wanted my advice as she valued me.  She wanted me to be straight.  She would cut it off if I didn’t approve because that’s how close we are….

I don’t approve.  In my head, all cheaters should be dumped in a pit and left to their own underground orgies.  To me, cheating is morally corrupt.  It’s not anything to do with the faith or faithless but rather to do with upholding good moral character.  Ir surprised me slightly as to how much internal emotion this conversation caused.

Things are tense between us.  I gave her my thoughts a couple days later and I won’t lie, I was emotional not logical.  We spoke again a week later.  It became clear to me that whilst she was hoping for my approval, ultimately it doesn’t really matter.  “Your situation can’t dictate my life”, she told me.

I’ve tried to understand what upsets me most about it all.  Perhaps I’m shocked that someone so close to me, having seen the repercussions from an affair, would consider entering into a relationship with the very person that caused that type of pain.  Perhaps I once again feel deflated by something I have come to realise; those who cheat carry on with life as normal, there are no real consequences.   But for those of us left in their path of destruction, it is us who continue to struggle with the consequences of their actions.

Almost but Not Quite

A fair amount happened while I was away but for this post I’ll focus on my man story as I feel keen to share it.  Whilst on my travels last year, I had met someone, let’s call him Tall dude (TD).  We had a few calls but the meetings themselves were limited as we met towards the end of my trip.  Our first proper meet was awkward, infact I didn’t enjoy it.  I didn’t envision round two.  It seems he did and was either being mature about it, thinking first meets are always awful or had simply not felt anything was wrong.  Second meetup was ok.  That’s about as far as I would go, not as easy flowing as our calls had been but not as awful as the meeting the day before.

Despite the meetings being awkward, I felt somewhat connected to him through our earlier conversations.  Infact, I would go as far as to say, he was the first man I had felt connected to since my divorce.  Upon my return, we kept in touch, not regularly but we had the odd skype to catchup on life.  I don’t tend to keep casual male friends so this was unusual for me.  In my heart of heart, I possibly thought something might happen one day and I’m sure he did too which is why we made the effort.

Fast forward a year.  TD and I met whilst I was on my travels, we both knew there was a possibility I could end up in his home country prior to me coming home and it happened.  As far as I was concerned we were both on the same page; getting to know one another in a more serious way for marriage.

I dreaded our first meeting and decided if it was anything like our last ones then I wouldn’t be polite and ditch any suggestions for further meets.  Thankfully it was easy.  Perhaps having spoken on/off for a year meant we had developed a foundation or some sort of friendship that we were able to work off.  Our conversations ranged from intellectual to light and I would say we shared a fair amount in the time we spent together.

We bumped into his brother in law on one of the days and I jokingly mentioned that his family will be talking about the hot girl he was seen with.  He replied that his family knew we were meeting and getting to know each other while I was here.  A few days before I left, he had mentioned his sister was visiting (she lives in a different albeit nearby country) and on the day I was leaving, arranged for us to have lunch with his sister and her husband.  Perhaps I’m rusty at this but to me, it seemed to be going in a somewhat serious direction.   Yet I got to the last day and neither of us had that “where’s this going?” conversation.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not looking for a ring on my finger after this visit.  I was merely looking for a bit of a serious chat as to how we proceed.  Even at this stage, there were things I was uncertain about and had we decided to have the chat, I would have brought it up.

Slightly irked, I moved onto my next destination.  Irked as I had tried to broach things a couple times before I left but could tell he wasn’t for having it.  In our subsequent phone call, I grabbed the bull by the horns.  In his words, his life isn’t where it should be and he never brought anything up as it would force us to make a decision and potentially end the relationship in its entirety which isn’t what he wanted.  I felt it was slightly unfair as I hadn’t been considered in this nor been given any clarity and I said as much.

The time spent wasn’t a waste so the feeling of annoyance never came from that as such.  He was a perfect gentleman the whole time and good company.  Infact it made me realise how much I missed companionship.  My own gut feeling is that his parents’ messy divorce still affects him; he got scared, panicked and backed off.  The flip side could be that he simply decided he wasn’t interested and tried to be polite about it.  Whatever it is, it’s been left in my court to decide whether I want to continue talking, having been made clear that if we do then we talk only as friends as he doesn’t want to give any promises.  I’ve decided to take a step back, maybe still smarting a little that I got a bit excited at having potentially found someone I thought I connected with.