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.

 

I Haven’t Changed

That’s a lie.  Whenever people come out of some major life changing event and claim to be the same person.  It’s quite simply a lie.

It’s not possible to remain the same.  Is it so shameful to have been changed by life anyway?

I, for one, am not the same person I was pre-divorce.  Yes I do think I can spot a bullshitter from miles away but just because I think it doesn’t actually mean I can.  In other words, I’m more cynical of what comes out of people’s mouths.  I’m even more no-nonsense than what I used to be because frankly, I just wasted five years of my life and I can’t be bothered with games anymore.  I don’t like to depend upon anybody as I hate the feeling of reliance.

But change isn’t always negative.  I’m emotional and not necessarily in a bad way.  I’ve been exposed to one of life’s most intense pains and I can feel things which I never have before.  I take care of others because I don’t like to think of people being alone.  I love more because I understand true love better.  I watch out for my girls because I realise that it would only have taken one person asking the right question to have helped me out of a bad situation.  I try to help where I can because I was once that person in need.

Life changed me…….maybe it’s not all that bad.

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The Universe and its Power

Have you ever read the book “The Secret”.  It was a buzz in my work when it first came out.  To summarise the book; what you put out to the universe, the universe gives you back in return.  If you want something then you can make it happen through the power of your own positivity.  Similarly if you are continuously negative, negativity will come your way.  From a psychological perspective, it makes sense, even if we don’t look at it from the hippy type way the book is written (nothing against hippies).  From a religious perspective, it makes sense too, it appears to be similar to praying.

The underlying message of this book has always stayed with me.  At certain points during the course of my divorce, I have been unsure of what I wanted to do.  A very random person at a very random moment in my life said: “If you are unsure of what to do, leave it to the universe and it will eventually become clear to you”.  This has become my mantra; “throw it out to the universe”.

I still have my memory box.  All those mementos which I kept; anniversary gifts, photos, a hotel key card from our honeymoon (which I think I may have inadvertently thieved) and wedding cards.  I love that memory box.  I love the memories in that box.  I love that I had a moment in time where I believed I was loved.

I rarely venture inside that box.  It was duct taped shut for over a year, to try to stop me from having that Bridget Jones “All by Myself” moment (it still happened regardless).  I’ve never known what to do with this box.  My heart has never wanted to bin it but it’s never wanted to look inside it either.  Throw it out to the universe.  That’s what I did two years ago.

Suddenly the universe responded.  Nothing in particular happened but nevertheless it was a thunderbolt moment.  I just know what I want to do.  I will keep one wedding card out the box, special because it was given to me by a dear uncle and I hold close the words he wrote.  I have no desire to keep anything else.  It seems so anti climatic to bin the box however.  The last pieces of my life with him.  I quite fancy being a bit dramatic about it.  Perhaps a burning ceremony.  Maybe I could invite other broken hearteds to come over and burn their breakups.

You are all cordially invited….!

Life in The Bates Motel

Image courtesy of static.tumblr.com. Vacancy exists now that I am out.

What still amazes me about the piece I wrote called Pakistani In-Laws or Just In-Laws is how many times it is read in one day.  What I find upsetting however is the search results which bring readers to it.  I can only assume when I see those searches that people are desperately resorting to google to help them deal with their in-law problems and my heart goes out to anybody who is in that situation.  Today’s search included “desi mother in-law beats me”.

My earlier piece was a fairly general introduction to my own in-laws and problems which I perceived others must go through too.  My in-laws never beat me like the reader above however I was married into quite an emotionally destructive family.

I didn’t gel with my mother in law even before marriage.  I knew deep down that she would be difficult and I blame young age for my naivety of thinking that she would grow to love me.  Her heart was intent on marrying all of her children in Pakistan however after one ran away, she backed down.    As a side note girls, never marry a man whose mother insisted on getting him married in Pakistan, you will feel the backlash, just trust me on that one.

I wanted to give an insight into what life was like for five years with my mother in-law.  The more sinister elements were the lies (sound familiar?).  My MIL would regularly call our home phone, a fairly normal thing to do you may think, but any time I answered would bizarrely hang up.  I counted 25 calls registered on our phone in one day.  I would leave the house at night and my MIL’s car would be parked a few hundred yards up the road, lights off, just watching.  I waved to acknowledge her but not wanting to be spotted, she quickly drove away.  When you’re already somewhat of a scaredy-cat in the dark, this is terrifying.

After a year of this behaviour and trying to change it by talking to her, I asked my dad to intervene.  My father phoned her and explained that she was more than welcome to come to the house but to come inside rather than lurk around outside.  She denied any instance of having done this.  Also denying that she ever phoned the house.  It was maddening.

I remember her last visit when she actually ventured inside.  My ex was asleep upstairs and after laying out snacks, offering the usual tea/coffee, I went to wake him.  I was stopped by MIL who told me she would do it.  I had a mild panic about what delicates of mine were on display and asked her not to go into the bedroom trying to use the “he won’t be dressed appropriately” card which was met with a “I’ve seen it all before” card.  Even now, that makes me feel a bit queasy.

My MIL was definitely the driving force behind what the family were or were not allowed to do.  I was more or less given the silent treatment from the whole family for five years because MIL ordered it.  I would sit at the dinner table with everybody chatting amongst themselves.  Trying to insert myself into a conversation, I was ignored or if somebody felt generous, given a one word answer.  Even in our own home when I gathered the family, I wasn’t spoken to.  My food was never delicious and my effort was never any good.

The silent treatments existed because I didn’t tow the line.  Coming from a family where you can engage and question things, this was seen as insolence in my ex’s home.  An example; I was given gifts by my ex’s cousins when I was newly married but told to return them by MIL.  I explained that I felt it was rude and fifteen minutes later after MIL stormed off, I found her standing in a clothes cupboard wailing until I promised to do what I was told.  That was week two of my marriage.

I recognise now that my ex has all the markings of a sociopath.  A sociopath is formed through an emotional screw-up somewhere along childhood so by the time adolescence hits, you have one slightly messed up individual.  I ended a blog recently with the following words:

“I’m half waiting for that knock on the door to come.  Journalists gathered on my front lawn.  The police will want to know if I ever saw signs that my ex was a highly disturbed individual.  I have an eerie vision ten years down the line of my ex being involved in some frenzied psychotic attack on his mother where she lies butchered on the dinner table.  Everything normally stems back to the mother, doesn’t it?  In the case of my ex, there’s no doubt that it does.  However that is a post for another day”.

Here’s that post.

Lessons Learned

There are a couple of things that I try my best not to do anymore; throw a pity party and have regrets.

I don’t allow myself to wallow nowadays because I’ve come to realise that I don’t deserve it.  “Bad things always happen to good people”.  That’s what I kept hearing post-divorce.  I would nod and accept this statement.  I wasn’t a good person however and I don’t consider myself a good person even now.  I’ve made plenty of mistakes in life; pre-marriage, during marriage and post-marriage.  I don’t consider the “why me” in life rather “why not me?”  What makes me so special that it wouldn’t happen to me?  Nothing.

I don’t regret because regret would mean acknowledging that it wasn’t part of some bigger plan that God had for me.  Honestly though, that’s not the real reason.  I don’t allow regret because I brought it on myself.  I chose my ex and as a result there is nobody else to blame. Those are some hard truths and facts to swallow.

There was the word “try” at the beginning though.  I get twinges from time to time.  I regret the impact it had on my family.  My sisters questioning who they can trust because of him.  My parents who are there when my mask slips on those oh so difficult days and my emotions are revealed.  My brother carrying the guilt of introducing us, himself cheated in a friendship.

But I try.

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The Unspoken Fear

When it comes to me, my family have this underlying fear and it comes from experiences past.  My dad’s sister had the standard marriage of those days which ended in divorce a few years later.  I don’t know the ins and outs.  Around ten years later, another letter arrived, telling my parents that she was married to a born again Christian called Stan

My dad’s other sister had a fairly modern version of the arranged marriage.  She spoke to him and got to know him a little.  She wasn’t particularly religious but opted to marry this man who was quite practising and knowledgeable in matters of religion.  I suppose she felt he would be able to impart some of his teachings to her……that was until he imparted a head butt and a couple of broken fingers her way.  I think it was about three years after her divorce that we found out she had a new partner and his name was Steven.

Steven and Stan were never Muslim when they met my aunts although I believe Steven later converted.  To give some background, a Muslim woman marrying a Christian/Hindu/Atheist etc bloke is considered a “cardinal” sin.  I’m not going into what I believe to be quite open hypocrisies concerning the different rulings for men and woman on these matters, perhaps a rant for another time.

You probably catch the drift though on what my family is worried about.  I can’t really allay their fears either.  You see, I understand what my aunts did and why they did it.  You marry the man that ticks the religious, cultural boxes and all for what?  There, now you have the sense of despair.  Then comes the waiting around (1..2..10 years?) in the hope that somebody will join you in the day to day of life’s journey.  There, now you have the sense of loneliness.

But what if the Muslim man never comes?

What if Stan/Steven does?