Thursday, September 7, 2006

Dear 12-Year-Old Self



I posed these questions to Safa:
If you could go back in time to you at age 14, the same age as your eldest, what would you be able to tell your younger self about the life she was going to live?
Would you be able to tell her all of this?
What parts would you feel so sad to tell her?
When you saw her sadness, what could you tell her about your future decisions to revive her spirits?
The age of my eldest is 12. As my baby lies sleeping in my lap, I will remember who I was before life unfolded.
Dear 12 Year-Old Self,
You know how much you love your name? Can you even imagine a time when you will want to change your name? Not just by marriage, but because you want to legally be known by a Muslim name. Muslim.
Do you even know who those people are?I know that one time, in the library downtown, and you love libraries so (by the way, you won't become a librarian, or "media specialist" as they're known now) you saw a copy of "The Koran" way up high. When you get to be my age, you will have read all of it and even tried to learn it in Arabic. Isn't that crazy? I know you tried to read the whole Bible once and that didn't work, but this, I PROMISE, will be a better way to go.
Listen, there's going to be some rough times ahead. You really will be beautiful, and healthy and strong. And all those boy troubles you lament about, will grow into troubles with men. It won't be that you can't get a guy. It will be that you end up with the wrong guys.
You hated your parent's divorce. It sucked. I'll tell you something: they get back together. And it STILL sucks! They don't last. They weren't meant for each other. But, even in their attempt, you'll see a moment of love between them and feel both of them flanking you in a picture. The picture will later get deleted accidentally. The only picture of them happily together with you since your baptism.
And you will be a good mom. You won't be as good as you wished. But, you'll be a mom to three kids. Crazy, eh? I know you can't imagine where the third one goes, if you only have two hands. Trick is: the third one rides in a sling; it's a baby carrier that you wear. And no babies die. No miscarriages, Alhumdulillah (that's an Arabic way to thank God).
Look, I hate to tell you this but your dreams won't all come true the way you wish right now. Some of them will get fulfilled, like starring roles in plays, being on TV, being on radio. Being the voice on the amusement park rides! But, you'll never be a big star...at least you haven't by the time you're 38.There will be other things that will bring you more pleasure and happiness than what you have planned for now. And, even for me, there are plans I have that will have to go away to make room for bigger and better things that God has planned. Allahu Akbar! God is great!
You have had some really bad things happen to you that you didn't deserve. And now, I feel that once again, there are some things happening that shouldn't be. I'm sorry to put you through this. I promise that it won't be forever. It will last only a short time. Soon, there will be some relief. Believe this when you are 38. Remember that you are resilient. Don't use your beautiful voice for screaming hatred. Don't waste your energy on situations that are out of your control. Do your small part to keep life going and look for the EXIT. Because so much happens to you between 12 and 38, you'll have that life experience to fall back on. You'll be comforted in knowing that you've never stayed forever in a bad place. You know how to leave and how to make your way in the world.
I don't want to tell you too much about the love of your life. You wouldn't totally believe me if I did. He is amazing and cool and handsome and you are going to love him with all your heart. Enjoy it. Revel in it. Know, with all confidence that you are capable of giving and receiving love. Then, prepare yourself for letting him go. Realize that nobody belongs to us. They only stay with us until their time is up. I still don't know when his time is up, but I can't control it, I can only accept it.
I love you. You just got your first kiss and no boy has told you yet that he loves you. You'll have to wait six more years for that. But, even when you hear that and feel that, remember sweetie, that the love you give to yourself is more important. Keep smiling and looking pretty because that's who you want to be, not for who you might attract.
Relax. Relax and be who you need to be. You'll try to pretend your way into another existance, but it won't work. You'll find that out. When you are yourself, the ones who really want to love someone exactly like you will find you.
Shine!
There was a portrait done of you six years ago. Vicki painted you with the words, "You let the sun shine from inside".
Don't ever throw that away. Don't ever throw away your wish to be a great person in this world or let someone else dim your light. The world needs you. I'm still not sure exactly how, but God has a place for you in this world.
There will be, inshahallah (God willing) a place that is fun without being chaotic, with nasheed (Islamic music) and Quran in the air. There are happy children who feel safe. There is a mother who can teach and create and smile a big full smile from her heart. There are friends who share and drop by. And that's all I can wish for right now.
Maybe our whole life, we have wished for a man to love us. Let's stop wishing for that. Let's just live for the first time believing we are enough.
May God Bless You. I'll see you in the mirror in another 26 years. Smile at me when our eyes meet and I'll smile back...a big full smile from the heart.
With Love,
38-Year-Old Self

4 comments:

Yosra said...

From Mostly Anonymous Halimah:

"I'll see you in the mirror in another 26 years. Smile at me when our eyes meet and I'll smile back...a big full smile from the heart"

*applause applause*

Yosra said...

Asalamu Alaykom Halimah,

This is the last comment I'm answering---today. I'm glad you left it, like I'm glad you left all the rest. I gave and you gave. It's better that way. Blogging used to have more comments---more reciprocity.

This letter is something I re-read more recently, as my son is 11 and it's easy to imagine my younger self when I see him. Mashahallah.

Alhumdulillah we grow.

Masalama for now

:)

Love and Light!

Yosra said...

From Mostly Anonymous Halimah:

Oh, Wa alaikum as salaam,

Funny, you had just crossed my mind while I was miraculously (bi'ithnillah of course) winning the nap time fight with my toddler, only moments ago. See, I must admit that I've been quite captivated -- dare I say enthralled? -- by your blog. I haven't been this into the blogosphere since 2012, as we plotted our first escape to the middle east, a la Ethar Elkatatney'a "Forty Days" account of her time spent in Tarim, Yemen (whixh turned out to be Escape #2, after our foiled attempt at etching out a peaceful (ha!) niche in Cairo, aka Escape #1).

As I write, half of my mind is consumed with our newest plans for Escape #3, whilst the other half attempts to form coherent sentences through which an accurate depiction of my appreciation for your work can be conveyed. Ugh, "work" . That word... I'm sorry, it falls short of what I wish to communicate but I suffer quite terribly from "Mom Brain" , and am going through a particularly intense bout at the moment. Apologies!

Suffice it to say, I appreciate your transparency, relatability, and all that jazz, and am moreover WOWED by the fact that you've kept it going strong for ten years! SubhanAllah! I'm still in 2008, haha, so I've much to discover yet, but mashaAllah, tabarakAllah, it's quite a joyous experience!

Yosra said...

Mashahallah Halimah,

If this is you with a "mom brain" then keep it going! I like how you think and appreciate you sharing it.

Thank you for reading. Every now and then I think what I need to cull from here. In the end, I maybe only remove one article that went over board. My thought in keeping so much up is that it does show a trajectory of moving through life. I had to keep going...so I might as well aim high :)

I have completely deleted a blog previous to this one. "Honorary Arab" was that title and I only kept a few posts from it. Those are tagged and easy to find. They are the furthest back and often the most bittersweet. I started that blog when I was simply at a loss for words so I kept searching for how to piece some together. It was too much of a secret sphere of unhappy women who married Muslim men only to find out that there was some lie lurking underneath. I got out of that marriage and out of that way of relating to the blog and the readers.

This blog, inshahallah, is meant to be more thoughtful and peaceful with less drama and upset. That mostly works :)

"Escapes" are good to plan but then you have to return. What if you planned a life that you could enjoy most of the time?

I'd better save some thoughts for your other fabulous (I hope) comments.

Love and Light!