Full Circle

Each time I travel, I receive new lessons, new energies and new found ways to look at life.  Bizarrely, I ended up sharing an apartment with a women whose situation paralleled that of mine.  Where I had managed to put a label on my ex’s behaviours, she was still struggling…..until we got chatting.  Sociopath, there it was again.  Everything started clicking for my new friend and almost as though she could breathe again, she told me she understood.  It all made sense now.  She purchased a copy of a few books that had helped me on my journey and absorb the behaviours of someone so vastly removed from the basic human emotion of empathy.

I believe there’s a greater reason for why I ended up coming to my new destination.  I’m not talking about just the above situation and if I’m honest, I’m not entirely sure what it is yet.  On one level, I’ve truly come to realise something.  Last year’s travelling wasn’t just a fluke.  It wasn’t a fluke that I made friends easily.  It wasn’t a fluke that I did well by myself.  It wasn’t a fluke that I succeeded.

I’m given slack from time to time back home about getting too involved with people.  Even in my work, it’s not uncommon for me to visit patients if they’re struggling to get out or in cases where they’re terminal.  I get emotionally involved and it’s wrong in our world.  I was almost fooled into thinking it was wrong but it’s really not.  To become emotionally involved opens you up and yes, can quite possibly subject you to a couple of negative things; people taking advantage and/or you getting hurt in the process.

But becoming emotionally involved also opens you up to something wonderful.  It opens you upto friendships.  When you’re in a world far from your own, I truly believe it can create a bond to last a lifetime.  It creates connections that allow people to see you for who you are and through it, I believe I’ve probably been able to help more people than what I would if I remained in a sterile environment of keeping people at arms length.

As I was saying, it’s not a fluke.  It turns out I am good with people, friendships aren’t hard.  Not just friendships people make when they travel because they’re scared to be alone but deep friendships.  My confidence isn’t an issue, I trust my instinct without question.  After talking with my flatmate, I realised something more, my past is firmly where it should be…..in the past.  And I feel more than ready now to embrace my future.

Pakistani In-laws or Just In-laws

This piece from my old blog platform has been one of the most searched and read.  I thought I would revert back to it and add it onto this site for those that haven’t read it.  I am currently settling into my new place after a somewhat exhausting few weeks, almost there, new post will follow soon.

In every culture there are long running jokes about in-laws.  However, why do I feel Pakistani in-laws come with a different set of baggage?  Rhetorical question obviously, my own experience has made me believe that.  It isn’t only my experience though.  The majority of my friends are married within Pakistani families and experience the same pressures which I felt were expected from me when I got married.  I am interested in other people’s views on this and have taken a few issues that either I went through or my friends would talk about.

Firstly, like my own in-laws, why is it expected that the daughter in-law should live within the extended family?  My mother in-law would stony faced ask me who would look after my sister in-laws when they came to visit now that I didn’t live there.  Thus making me realise that perhaps the only reason I was expected to live with them was to be another live in maid.  My husband’s brother had married his cousin.  When we moved into our own home, she would bitterly announce that she was the only “knokranee” (servant) left.  I did feel sorry for her because she was viewed by the family as exactly that and brought over from Pakistan to be moulded by them into what they required of her.
 
I don’t really know of any other culture aside from mine that expects such a thing.  I fully understand that within Islam, it a right of our parent’s to be taken care of.  However, if they are fully capable or if there are already seven members living under the one household, then I don’t believe there is a requirement for the daughter in law to be moving in with the extended family.  Infact, Islam has made it clear that it is a right of the wife to have her own living space.  Indeed it is a religion which gives woman a lot more rights than what it is ever given respect for.
 
Secondly, why are daughter in laws expected to forget about their own family as though they are no longer part of it and are only supposed to cater to their husband’s family?  My friend’s mother had gone to Pakistan recently and she had decided to stay at her parent’s home to give her dad some company.  However a few days later, she was forced to come back to her in-laws after being told it was inappropriate to be away for so long (by in-laws not the husband).
 
Thirdly, why bother giving wedding gifts to your future daughter in law if you weren’t intending for her to keep them?  I have already mentioned my situation whereby I was given gold jewellery as part of my wedding gifts however it was kept by my mother in law.  I have since found out that is a common haraam (unlawfulness) which exists.  Gifts are given almost for show to the brides by the groom or his family and then taken away.  It was never intended to be worn or used by the daughter in laws.  I believe the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) described this practice as being equivalent to that of a dog who licks his own vomit.  How repulsive such an act was found to be.
 
Fourthly, why is there such an issue about woman working or being educated?  Once again, I describe my situation.  It was made clear to me that I was expected by my mother in law, not so much the father in law to give up my work once I had got married.  However my husband and I had talked about my work and he was very much happy for me to continue.  This led to a lot of sour grapes.  Is it due to jealousy as none of the woman in the family were educated?  Is it due to backward tradition whereby I was expected to be at home and be moulded by my in laws?  Is it due to an issue about financial freedom?  This was a common topic brought up by friends on what their in laws expected.  They were expected to give up work, some reduced hours and shockingly some were expected to hand over their earnings to their in laws!
 
Last but not least.  When a son gets married, why does a mother feel like she is competing with the wife?  A lot of times, the mother chooses her son’s wife yet it still happens.  The role of a mother, no wife can take.  Similarly, what a wife can do, no mother can.  We each have our different roles.  I’ve known friends whose food has been scrutinised and deemed not good enough for “my boy”.  Others who have gone out on a couple’s night, only to come back to awful atmosphere and tension for not spending time with the family.  It is as though daughter in laws are seen as this being who will be separating a mother from her son.  If such a thing ever happens, rather than blame the wife, why not look at what your relationship with your son is like, what is was like before he got married and realise it is something which needs worked on.  It is all too easy to blame the daughter in law for the son not visiting, phoning, talking enough.
 
A lot of things in my experience have put me off marrying within a Pakistani family again.  I know this sounds ridiculous as I come from one and many might say “well, what about your family?”.  My uncle said to me once, our family’s thinking is a generation ahead a lot of Pakistani families in our town.  I didn’t think much about it until I got married and realised there was a degree of truth behind that statement.

The Art of Femininity

“Men like daft girls, act like a bit of an airhead around him”.  Say what?  That was the advice of a married friend after telling her I had been talking to a man but wasn’t entirely sure where it was going.  I protested that it wasn’t me and surely that’s got to be considered a bit manipulative.  She tried to ease my fears on this: “It’s just what men like”.

I didn’t heed this advice but interestingly it has come up, more than once, from well meaning people.  I’ve been told that I come across too independent to the point that a man will wonder why I need him.  But I don’t understand this.  I really don’t.  Why would I be relying on a man I’m merely getting to know?  Surely he would know that if I’m into him, talking to him, getting to know him that I’m interested in a relationship and once solid then yes, I have no trouble in placing my burdens on the broad shoulders of my man to be.

Be more feminine when you speak to them, another gem.  I half wonder if my friends have bugged my phone, analysed the calls and circled all the things I do wrong.  Even if they did, it’s not like I tuck away a testicle as I talk farts or superchargers with blokes I like…..so what exactly is being feminine?

Throwbacks

Eid Mubarak to one and all.  My own one for a number of reasons; working, recent bereavement of a dear relative and another family member going through difficulties (who is usually the life and soul of the party) made for a somewhat subdued Eid.  I did however enjoy the time with the masses in the evening.

I was writing in my journal this evening, a bit of time to myself.  How much writing do I do?  Blog, odd articles, journal…..!  I love these moments where I can retreat into my own thoughts.  I imagine an empty page, to me, is probably what a canvas looks like to a painter.  My journal is a close friend to me, encapsulating the worst of  my thoughts and the best of them.  I took myself to the beginning this evening and read through a few of the earlier entries in this particular book.  It got me thinking and I decided to include some of the entries into the blog.

The journal is a bit more raw, for some reason, than the blog.  I still can’t help but think…..was that really me?  It’s a powerful reminder of who I was reduced to, to who I am now – one amazingly strong woman in pursuit of life.

Attack of the Outlaws

I was looking forward to getting stuck into my book for half an hour before bed but instead I’m at the keyboard, venting out the frustration from today.  My ex in-laws reared their head via social media.  I don’t pay much attention to their lives so to see them commenting on a public profile of my brothers took me by surprise.

Irony was not even the word.  I realise the anger from my ex’s wife.  Essentially my brother helped me catch her, organised the meeting with her brother and ultimately supported me heavily throughout the cheating scandal.  The anger from his sisters however, I don’t quite understand.

They called my brother a “retard” which I find flabbergasting given the amount of stick they have had to take from society over their own special needs brother.  To use such an ugly word when it has been used in such an ugly way towards one of your own baffles me.

His new wife piped up in this bizarre online attack claiming to know my brother personally and adding her own words of venom.  I was tempted to ask if watching a video of her sucking off my ex suddenly made us all friends.  I refrained.

I’ve always managed to maintain the moral high ground, to this day, never retaliating despite the ridiculous number of things I’ve been subjected to.  People often mistake patience for weakness.  My patience is wearing thin.

Blokes?!!

A couple recent encounters with some mildly bitter men had me thinking if, as women, we’re too harsh in our judgements of them in the Muslim “get to know you for marriage” world or indeed any dating capacity?

When I scour over bloke’s profiles, a lot of what comes up is; “no time-wasters”, “no gold diggers”, “nobody who still carries their baggage from the past”. I tend to always swipe left.  It screams of a negative man who has clearly been bitten in the past and now feels the need to place a “no cold callers” type of sticker on his dating/marriage profile.  It’s akin to me writing, “no man whores” on mine.  It’s common sense.

But am I being too judgemental?  Do they have valid reasons for writing these types of comments on their profiles.  Are we women doing the same to blokes as we often complain they do to us?

I’ve always imagined it to be pretty easy for the guys so I’m intrigued to hear from men about their rishta/marriage hunt and how their online or otherwise experiences tend to go.  What seems to be the common theme, if there is one, when getting to know a woman?  No holds barred but what are your species looking for?!

Safe Space

Ironically, there’s always a lot of emails from people in similar situations or difficult marital situations asking me for advice.  It’s nice that people think I have advice to offer although I would have thought it would be the opposite; I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t think I would be going to a bloke whose wife ran off with the milkman and ask him how to keep a relationship strong.

Rather than have a post about my going ons, I thought I would invite others to write in.  Perhaps you’re in a messy situation, maybe you’re going through a split and struggling, single and feeling the pressures to get married, post-split and finding it difficult to start again, divorced with kids and can’t seem to figure out how to manage that disconnect.

A lot of the time, I don’t feel I have the right advice to offer, mainly because it’s not a situation I’ve been in.  I would like to use this post as a platform; a safe space for anybody whose a bit lost and wants to try to connect with others in the same situation.  If I feel that I have any peas of wisdom (because let’s face it, pearls are too expensive) then I’ll offer it up.

Please feel free to pour your heart out in the comments section and equally if anything resonates with you then lend a helping hand.