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.

 

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.

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.

Tweet Tweet

I decided to enter the world of twitter today.  It took some help and involved a kindly cousin coming over.  Said kindly cousin found my blog picture hysterical to which I had to remind him that when I setup this account I was crying into my keyboard, not particularly fussed about images or blog names.  Hopefully he felt suitably guilty afterwards (hehe).

A new blog image however is in works through another blogger, yes cousin, I was aware the image isn’t quite in keeping with the fab rep I’m going for.

Anyway, the point of this post, follow me on twitter!  If you can’t be bothered scrolling down the sidebar to find my handle (scrolling does take effort) then it’s @DamnFabDesi.  Holler.

“All the Ladies who Truly Feel Me…”

I’ve been thinking about writing this post for some time, following a conversation with a male cousin of mine.  Touching upon the subject of looking for potential spouses for one of our cousins, I mentioned to him that I hoped something good happened soon.  “It will, I can sense good things are in store for her”.  Rather surprised at his quite sentimental words, I asked him, if he predicted anything for me.  He hesitated, briefly…..but I caught it.  “Are you wanting to settle down?”, he asked.

This is the unfortunate reality, as a women, for when you try to live your life.  To the outside, I am living a fairly care-free life.  Rather than wallow, I left.  I live life fairly independently because I have to.   I smile because there’s no point in crying.  I appear strong because nobody can help when I feel weak.  If I was a man, living the way I do, I would never have been asked the question above.  As a female, I was.

I’ve learnt to hold back a little when people’s comments irritate me and try to answer calmly.  “Ofcourse I do.  We’re not made to live alone and I crave companionship”.  That was my civil answer.  My male counterpart would never have to give an answer because it would be granted that a man cannot live without sex.  Yet a woman is different because we can?  A woman of course does not have the biological makeup in her that craves intimacy!

I’m long past feeling hurt by anybody’s comments.  I can appreciate that if somebody who is related to me thinks along those lines then I have very little hope for anybody else to think differently.

A Guilty Conscience Needs No Accuser

My title is apparently a Punjabi proverb but for the sake of argument, let’s also say it is a Hindi and Urdu on too.  My aunt introduced it to me today.  She phoned me with what seemed to be a guilty conscience, I should mention however that she isn’t the person the title refers to nor whom she was referring to!

She was at a charity event yesterday and bumped into my ex sister in law, Nippy Sweetie, who made a point of greeting her whilst ignoring my mother.  My aunt felt guilty at having smiled and exchanged pleasantries, so much so that she felt the need to let me know.  She gave me her theory as to why Nippy Sweetie behaved like this and it boiled down to ye old proverb.  To me, it’s not a big deal.  If someone greets you then you greet them back.  Simples.

I know why she greeted this aunt in particular.  Nippy Sweetie is a typical Pakistani-stereotyped “chalak” (sly) woman.  My dad’s side of the family are mostly from Pakistan whereas my mum’s side are born here.  During my marriage, my ex in-laws formed an affinity with my dad’s sister in laws, moaning to them about me amongst other things.  In their minds, my dad’s side aren’t close to me whereas my mum’s are so they try to play upon the sympathies of one side.  The reality is that my mum’s side are just a lot more no nonsense and would put them in their place which they have done (to my delight) on a number of occasions.

What bothers me more is why she felt the need to ignore and walk past my mother.  If she chose to greet one family member then extend that same courtesy of “Salaam” to another.  I can’t seem to get my head around what their anger is towards my family.  Why take the anger of your brother’s infidelity out on me and my parents/siblings?  Perhaps somebody can shed some light on this as it continues to baffle me.