Advice: Not everyone has a happy endingPosted: March 7, 2013
Dear Love InshAllah,
I’m reaching out to you now because no one in my life understands, but you might.
I always felt I never fit in, too “white” or “liberal” for my strict Muslim community in the Midwest, too “conservative”, too Muslim to be with a white guy. I met someone online who changed that, a white guy who understood. He even read ‘Love InshAllah’ because he said he wanted to understand where I was coming from.
We have been together for a year, and now it is falling apart, due to some issues he has in the past with being abandoned by his mother. He says he still loves me.
I thought he was the one for me, I still believe he is. We are on a “break” – the ball is in his court, if he decides he can “learn to be happy and deal with personal issues” we will get back together and “start over.” If not, it is over.
I feel like I will never find happiness. I’m almost 26, I’m no longer in school, I work with people who are all over 50, I don’t mesh well with the “Pakistani community” here, no big group of desi friends. Because I don’t drink, I also don’t have that many non-Muslim friends. Just four good friends from high school and everyone else is an acquaintance.
I see nothing but a life of loneliness ahead of me. No Muslim guy would want me if he knew about relationship history, and I don’t want to keep dating white guys, racking up partners, being heartbroken. I feel like each heartbreak (and this is only heartbreak #2) is taking a piece of my soul with it.
I feel like I have no options at all. I feel broken. I feel like I am going to be alone forever and I don’t know how to be happy with that. I can’t sleep but I don’t want to leave my bed either. My state of being is so painful to my family and the guilt makes it worse.
I keep hearing the “horror stories.” The 40-year-old, never-married girl, everyone trying to figure out what’s wrong with her. I’m afraid of becoming that.
Not Everyone Has a Happy Ending
Shy Desi Boy replies:
Dear Not Everyone Has a Happy Ending,
I used to believe three things: 1) there is one person in the world who will make me happy, 2) this person will probably be a South Asian Muslim like me, and 3) if I do not find that person (or someone), I will end up lonely and miserable.
Thankfully each of these proved wrong because successive experiences—heartbreaks, actually—made me realize that happiness rarely, if ever, comes in a package of my choosing (or my expectations).
I am sorry that you feel lonely and isolated. I grew up hearing my parents tell me again and again that all they want is for me to be happy. But when I would bring home a girl they did not like, I just got blank stares: oh we meant for you to be happy in the way we define happiness. So I can relate to you.
I am thrilled you have found someone. The problem is: how to stay happy and together?
First—I do not know enough about you to suggest that you should stay with someone who is white or non-Muslim. But I will say this: I have seen every combination of marriages dissolve. The couples that do endure do so because they are unflinchingly honest with each other and themselves about what they want in their relationship, in their sex lives, and in their spiritual journeys (yes, I know the three overlap). That said, all relationships are tough and you always add elements of challenge (which can be a good thing) when you marry someone who does not share your exact same background. This is something you have to ask yourself—what do you want in a partner and how much does your faith/culture matter?
Second—your partner seems to be torn by his own issues, especially being abandoned by his mother. Regardless of whether you two work out (and I hope you do!), I strongly recommend he consider professional therapy. I know I keep saying this but I cannot recommend therapy enough. I have benefited from therapy. My friends have benefited from therapy. Part of the reason some balk at therapy is that they see it as an indulgent, even selfish act. But working on your own issues with the help of a trained professional is one of the best gifts you can offer your partner—to heal yourself for someone you care for.
Third—I agree that not everyone has a happy ending in life. But you are only 26. In many ways your life is just starting—who is to say what the middle will look like, let alone what its end will hold for you?
Life will surprise you. People will surprise you. You might find a Muslim guy who does not want to marry a girl who has never had a previous relationship and who wants someone who has lived a textured life. You might find happiness in a relationship in two years time. It might come in ten years time. He might be non-Muslim. He might be Chinese. That is why faith is so important because ultimately only Allah knows.
What I do know is this: how we perceive the world is such a critical part of our own happiness. I spent my entire twenties and early thirties telling myself and others how much I suffered, how life had treated me so unfairly. I was so bitter than even when happiness walked up to me wearing a sign and told me to pay attention, I still ran away. I destroyed relationships. And worse yet, I pointed fingers at everyone but myself.
But I am working on allowing myself to be happy again, to love myself for who I am and more importantly, who I am not.
I may be wrong but I have a feeling that your story might just turn out to be happy in the end. That is, of course, if you want it to be that way.
Ms. Sunshine replies:
You’re in a difficult place, but the key is to recognize that this space you’re in is not the only space. The world is large and if you are going to find the kind of love you want, you’ll have to expand your options. You’re young, and while you may feel the pressure of friends pairing off and family looking at you askance, you have plenty of time to build the life you want. It’s just time to do some planning.
If you’re truly ready to make a commitment to a romantic partnership, then I suggest you approach it like you might any other goal. We all know the basics of, say, finding a career. First, you figure out what you like. You find out what you have to do to make money at it. You spend time and money getting the education you need and then you find people who will pay you to do what you’ve been trained to do. Usually you encounter obstacles, and you find ways around them. Maybe you hate what you do, so you gain new skills, find new ways to use the ones you’ve acquired, or find a way to make peace with your situation.
Like the skills you gain in school, the human being you are has value. You have something to offer and you want someone to offer you something in return. You’re wasting your time with this boyfriend. I can see no good end to putting your life on hold while he figures out what he wants. If you need time to lick your wounds and mourn the loss, then by all means take your time, but don’t wait. Take this time to figure out exactly who you are and what you want. Then make an actual plan with steps to finding that love. Date, date, date. Pass that list to family members and friends and set up online profiles like a woman on a mission. ‘Cause honey, you’re a woman on a mission. You’ll encounter lots of obstacles. You’ll meet some interesting people, some awful people, and hopefully the one you’re looking for. But you’ll gain self-knowledge and confidence in making new opportunities instead of waiting for someone else to do it for you.
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