I am twenty-two-years old. I am a rebellious daughter, a fierce writer, a determined feminist, a fiery niqaabi. I have been to six countries, living in three of them. I have a three-year-old daughter. And I am divorced.
Most people don’t know what to say, how to react. Some give me condolences, a sympathetic hand squeeze, a look of pity and sorrow. Others frown, shake their hands, mutter that I look too happy, too relieved, that my smile is too wide and my laughter too free.
They do not know that I grieved for my marriage before it even ended, that I celebrate my freedom every day, that my heart aches most not out of regret or anger, but out of quiet sorrow for those unusual moments that studded my marriage like shards of raw diamonds – unexpectedly beautiful, but with a sharpness that cuts deeper all the more for their brightness.
I left my twelve-year marriage two years ago this week. The decision was a long time coming, yet the final countdown involved a weekend at an abandoned haunted asylum hunting ghosts in the dark with a religious philosophy professor and his wife. We found our way to a room where four people allegedly committed suicide, and the rest of the evening passed in lofty dialogue about metaphysical issues regarding life after death, Heidegger’s philosophy, long-term commitment (the professor and his wife were in their thirtieth year of marriage) and how exploring mysterious things like ghosts could be a transformative, contemplative endeavor.
Something about that dark evening unveiled more than academic discourse on the paranormal. Of course, I longed for more events like this; opportunities for esoteric contemplation in strange spaces with educated folk. This creative little moment in the suicide room was not about death. The evening showcased how beautiful inconsistencies can morph into living possibilities. I wanted to be a girl brave enough to emerge from this metaphorical darkness, from this site of death, to a space empowered by art, story, and philosophy. It was baffling that little odd conversations in creepy buildings carried such hopeful weight. I had heavy things on my mind — a decaying marriage, for example — and such magnitudes were pondered best in complete darkness with tragedy and philosophy as a soundtrack.
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Dear Love InshAllah,
I was in a relationship for ten years, engaged for three and married for seven. My husband was older than me and had a very checkered past, which I found attractive when I was younger. But slowly I grew up and he stayed a child.
When we got married he was physically abusive and it took me years to get him to accept it. He then thought that because he accepted that it was abuse, that he wasn’t doing it any more and when I was offer him detailed evidence, he started to tell me I was paranoid and crazy, just a bitchy feminist. He started to realize I am smarter than him as well, and while the physical abuse declined, the psychological abuse escalated.
Just before Ramadan, I finally had the courage to end it. I fell out of love with him a long time ago and even started to fantasize about killing him. I hated sex, and was in a constant state of misery that I started taking out on everyone around me. When it finally ended I felt like I had been given a second chance at life.
I am 28 and starting over, but discouraged because I did love being married, and even though my marriage was bad, I am so lonely. I was with him for my entire adult life so far, and I come from a background of abuse and illness, my marriage took a heavy toll on my finances, and as a Muslim (since I was 13) I am progressive, an LGBTQ ally, and a critical theologian. I am very smart and have a lot of life experience, and I don’t feel like I have a problem with confidence, but I am afraid I won’t be able to find a man that would want someone like me.
I know that I need time to recover, it has been two months, thankfully I have no children, but what I feel and what I know can’t agree. I find myself fixating on sex most of all, but in general just feel so alone. I was so unhappy for so long, and I just want to move on and restart my life, but I am also afraid that I won’t be able to find anyone who wants a woman with a past and scars, which are ugly on the surface, but can create something beautiful. I am afraid there aren’t any good men. That I will have to somehow stay unhappy, unfulfilled, because that’s just the way life is. I don’t feel it is in my nature to be alone. I know I need time, and that I will change – I have changed so much in the past two months – and can get my life in order.
But what if my fears are right, and what if that isn’t enough, and how do I even make it that far?
Shy Desi Boy replies:
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A “Wasat Girl” embraces being in-between multiple cultures, because this transcultured space is globalism living out loud. It was where culture happens, the place of power, that middle space – “wasat” culture. The children of wasat girls are pretty amazing, as well. In honor of Mother’s Day, Deonna Kelli Sayed explores the challenging yet rewarding terrain of being a single, American-Muslim mother.
I told my son that his father and I were no longer together while eating at one of those snazzy serve-yourself yogurt bars.
“How would you feel if your pader and I weren’t married anymore?” I asked.
I had no idea his thoughts on the matter. His father was abroad and had been for several years. They saw one another for a few weeks every couple of months. I know that they both loved each other.
“Well, I guess I’d be a little sad, although I suppose not much would change,” he commented.
I inhaled and nervously told him that we had decided to end the marriage. He remained silent for a minute, took a spoonful from his bowl and said in his 10 year old way, “Well, you know, now that I’m eating yogurt, it doesn’t seem that bad.”
Thus, I entered the ranks of being a divorced, single Muslim mother.
Dear Love InshAllah:
My husband is cheating on me. I found out because he wasn’t logged out of his Facebook account – I saw messages between him and a non-Muslim co-worker of his in which he’s trying to break things off (I’ve met this woman a few times at his office gatherings). We have a 2 year old son and have been trying for a second baby. I never ever imagined that I would be in this situation. My husband is a practicing Muslim (prays, fasts, doesn’t drink) and was a virgin when we got married – no one would ever believe me if I told them he cheated on me. I’m so angry but also humiliated and embarrassed. I have no idea what to do.
Cheated on by a pious Muslim man
Ms. Sunshine replies:
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