Sprinting into Danger

I have a knack for reading people. It isn’t what we say, but rather what we do. The quick twitch of the eyes, the subtle readjustment of our faces to suppress shock or hurt and the way we might fidget. I’ve rarely met a person who means what they say and says what they mean because when it comes to matters of the heart there’s almost always a hidden, deeper meaning. Our body language gives us away long before our mouths get the chance.

On top of this, my intuition is almost never wrong. It’s a nagging feeling deep in the gut that often times translates into anxiety.  The issue is that my weakness is that I will get all the signs that a person is danger personified. That they will either hurt my feelings or have the potential to shatter my heart and I will ignore them.

I’ll run into them full speed ahead, and all due to my own overwhelming desires to be loved and wanted. This innate urge to love, nurture and dote on others. I wound up being a rehabilitation center for broken men.

This one weakness kept me in relationships that I knew would never last. Not only will I run into the fire, but I’ll hold on and have the audacity to question why my hands are burned. This is something I must work on because in this twisted insecurity I wind up settling for partners who are less than what I deserve or even want.

Recently, I was dangerously close to doing it yet again, but fate had other plans. In the muck of lacking boundaries and two people craving intimacy, we found some sense to end things. Despite the commonalities, I saw no future with this damaged man and yet that urge to be a damned rehabilitation center began to resurface. It only proves that I have more work to do.

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A Cautious Adventure

During my marriage, compliments were used as a manipulative tool. Good treatment was used to pacify me. Compliments were few and far in between and were always generic. Now, I struggle to tell you the last compliment I was ever given in that time. I remember during group therapy when a friend turned to me during an exercise and told me,

“K is a devoted mother, she’s come a long way and has a beautiful spirit.”

I stared at this woman as if she insulted my mother. I wasn’t even sure how to respond. I mean, was a simple, “Thank you” enough? That’s when my therapist pointed it out to me. “K, why did you cringe when she said that?” Later, I learned that I don’t even flinch when Voldemort dished out his worst insults. Yes, they made me cry and they broke my heart, but I absorbed them. I internalized them and they became twisted truths.

I was hidden for years and it just wasn’t physically. If Voldemort found out that any man gave me so much as a second glance, I had to temper his jealousy. Even in his twisted mentality, he saw what I did not.

After nearly being physically strong-armed by my therapist, I’ve waded into the waters that define modern courtship. I remember the first time a potential suitor physically saw me, “Your pictures don’t do you justice.” I’m sure he noticed me physically recoil, but moved on without missing a beat. Needless to say, we went our separate ways at this point.

It happened again recently. He flat out told me he hated being told that his compliment was given in error. It was essentially calling him a liar. I began to wonder if my skepticism was a defense mechanism or an inherent trait – hell, maybe both. Little did he know that deep down I was beginning to relish in those words.

Only fairly recently has it gotten better. I’ve only now accepted that I deserve to have a partner who adores, cherishes and respects me. I’ve only now accepted that I am a kind, intelligent young woman capable of accomplishing so much. That I have some of the most wonderful friends. That what makes me beautiful. sensual and sexy goes farther than my physical being. But that my legs look damn fine in my favorite pair of heels. That it’s fine to admire my butt after leg day.

I’m gonna have to give my therapist a gift, turns out her little exercise did wonders.

 

 

The Way the Cookie Crumbled.

In a few short weeks, the one-year anniversary of that day will creep up on me. I’m not sure if the day will pass as the last 300 days have or if I will feel some intense emotion. No really, it’s been 300 days to the day I left my marriage. Over the last 300 days, I’ve dusted myself off. I’ve continued seeking professional help. I’ve pushed myself outside of my comfort zones. I’m the same, yet I’m not.

The elephant in the room is what happened to my faith. At one point, I loved Islam with everything. I daydreamed about having six children, all named after esteemed predecessors and prophets of Islam. I even wore the niqab for a period of time. I would say the doubts began during my first pregnancy, however.  Typically with ideas surrounding women. They would quickly be dismissed and I even became an expert in ignoring them, much like other flames billowing from under the door. Around a year before the thought of divorce ever crossed my mind, my foundation cracked and when I finally left, I barely had any faith to hold on to.

During those six or seven years, I edited so much of myself and my opinions. The last thing I wanted was to be ostracized or worse; seen as a fraud…a fake Muslim. A term so freely that is thrown around.

That isn’t to say I didn’t try. That I didn’t listen to countless lectures. That I didn’t read my Qu’ran. That I didn’t surround myself with sisters in the same circle. But, I know what happens to people such as myself. We wind up being on the outskirts, left to go our own way. I don’t blame them, necessarily as apart of maintaining a strong community is being around like-minded individuals. We all do it.

But in the last year, I was able to freely vote in local elections. I bought my first music subscription. I bought my first pairs of high heels. I’ve been able to grow comfortable in my skin and in my sexuality. A sexuality that is for the benefit of myself and not used as a weapon to keep a weak man chaste. For so long, I thought I hated sex and even wondered if I had been asexual to some degree. Nah, I suddenly remember the feel and touch of a man who finds me ravishing.

I can openly support my friends in the LGBT community and accept my own past. The only thing that would stop me from attending school is finances, not a man. The independence and freedom are exhilarating. But in gaining my independence, I traded longterm friends. I lost a community that was fickle, to begin with. When I posted a photo of my casting a vote, the passive-aggressive, subliminal posts about the impermissibility of voting rolled onto my timeline.

The few sisters who dared to broach my fury, rage and sadness had great intentions, but none of them realized that my lack of faith went beyond a rotten marriage. Rather, an entire community that enables and do not support people such as myself. Somehow, I was to overlook this and wait for a “good brother”. All while these “good brothers” could not be bothered to hold him accountable or anyone like him. Because at the end of the day, Allah apparently made women inferior and more defective than a man and this defectiveness must have been the cause of my marriage falling apart.

My cookie has crumbled and I have no more faith to give. Peace.

Watering the Fruit of Your Womb

Generational dysfunction. Family curses.

I grew up hearing these come from my mom’s mouth often. She would urge me to break the cycle and to avoid the mistakes she made. I feel like many of us would say that our parents felt this way. My children are hardly school-aged and I already feel this way. However, as an adult I can see my mother paying for sins she didn’t commit. I see her feeling more remorse than my father. The months after I left my ex-husband, I was the same way.  I felt humiliation about infidelity I didn’t commit. I felt shame about the abuse I didn’t perpetrate. Even now, I feel that I failed my children in that I can’t send them to expensive private schools, in that I rely on government assistance to keep their bellies full as I dart back and forth to class.

But, I dare not make them feel like they were mistakes, nuisances, and burdens. I want them to grow up in a home of love. I want them to grow up knowing that the sky isn’t the limit but the minimum. I want them to grow up to be loving, compassionate, bright and thoughtful humans. I want to water and invest in them in a way I didn’t see older generations seek to do. They are the fruit of my womb and I am their gardener.

I’m seeking to break my own dysfunction and curse. The curse of reveling in rejection and like a nuisance. The curse of excessive criticizing but not enough support. Amazingly, my mother was not the person who made me feel this way. In fact, she’s probably one of my biggest cheerleaders and my closest friend. My 15-year-old self is balking right now. She supports my brothers and me in our hustles, our goals, and dreams. She accepts our quirks, well; then again we get it from her.

I’ve previously mentioned my insecurities as a child and how they impacted my choices in lovers. I spent a good portion of my life seeking the approval of family members that made it clear that I was not the golden one, who made it clear that my faults were the sum total of who I was. I spent far too much time horribly coping with the rejection – wallowing in it. I spent too much time seething in jealousy towards my cousins. The positive in that was that I learned how to rid myself of such people and it played a role in leaving my husband.

I don’t stay where I am not loved or wanted and this has amplified tenfold since. This is another lesson I want to impart in my children. I want them to be surrounded by people who see them as whole human beings. People who nurture and water them, people who invest in them and not just financially. I pray that I break my own curse effectively and raise a better generation.

 

Boot camp

The semester is in full swing and this semester, I’m taking General Biology 2 and General Chemistry 1. While I do enjoy both classes, my first chemistry test definitely gave me a swift kick in the ass. It wasn’t that bad, but it also wasn’t that great either. I came into the semester knowing that chemistry was going to be a challenge, but I think I didn’t realize just how much of a challenge it was going to be.

Now, I’m spending nearly every weekend studying, practicing and reading. On top of my weekly studying. It’s like a boot camp for the hard sciences, but I need to ace this class and I want to dominate. Oh, did I mention that I’m hardcore potty training both of my children?

One skill I’ve picked up during this semester is efficiency, organization and making the most of my time. I can squeeze some time to review my Biology note cards while sitting in the bathroom with my kids. I can watch a video about mole conversions while putting the kids to bed. My job is essentially studying and learning this material.

 

Here’s to kicking these classes in the ass.

Burned Bridges and the Bitch

My mind is the clearest is been in over 3 years. I still deal with the daily stress about finances. I still have to fight with my anxiety over the next catastrophe. I still have to baby my heart when I have a fit of sadness. The difference is that the depression and despair is no longer constant. I have longer moments of sunshine.

A new semester started a few days ago and my plate is already full with lab assignments, 25+ pages of dense reading material and projects. I’m in my zone however, my goal is to dominate this semester. My objective is to become more efficient and become more organized so that I don’t fall too far behind on my household errands and responsibilities.

I’ve finally grown accustomed to being a single woman. I’ve grown to become attached to my apartment. My bedroom is my favorite place, because it’s the warmest place for me. My divorce was finalized December 5th and that bridge I burned is lighting my path. It was a necessary destruction. I’ve found my peace of mind. I got my damn backbone out of the gutter. The fact that he thinks I’m rude and demanding only proves that bitch is back and I’m ecstatic.

This is my time to invest in myself and subsequently my children. I don’t have to devote all of my emotional bandwidth towards a human who needs the services of a psychiatrist and a therapist. I no longer have a duty to destroy myself to water a decayed tree. I can invest that time, that love and that energy to becoming a better human. I can water my own tree. I can devote more time to watering my children. Mama is happier and they notice it.

Now, I will admit that I do struggle to forgive myself. I did nothing grievous by falling in love with an enigma. I did nothing wrong with holding on for as long as I did. I am not a defective product by joining the legions of single mothers. I will not allow the stigma to define who I am, because I fucking know who I am. I do not need a man to define my worth as being married means absolutely nothing if they aren’t worth a candy shop ring.

Nevertheless, I’m curious to see how this semester unfolds. I’m curious as to see how I write the following chapters of my life. How will I overcome hurdles, personal or not.

Speed bumps

Naturally, my semester didn’t end quietly, but rather is kind of sputtered. The morning of my final exam, I’m rushing to drop my children off to school and daycare as usual, but my routine was thrown for a loop. “DING” My check engine lights lights up and my anxiety soars through the roof. I’m already frantically texting my mother, because a check engine light can either be catastrophic or fairly harmless (it turned out to be rather harmless, I simply needed more coolant).

But, I had no time to have it checked until the end of my exam – which I bombed by the way. However, I did pass the class. On one hand, I was tremendously proud of myself for not failing and dropping out, but I was also disappointed that I didn’t get the grade that I wanted. I hit my first speed bump and the wave of inadequacy hit me and soon followed all the negative thoughts. I have to make it point to shut them down before it gets out of control.

I reminded myself of how alive I felt walking through the clinics and the determination in my steps while briskly jogging down the hospital hallways. I reminded myself of the glow I had when my internship finished. I reminded myself of the concepts that clicked after rotations. It’s incredibly easy for me to lose sight of everything and that continuing with school is a risk, but a risk that has ample rewards.