Friday, February 24, 2012

Are You Happy Now?


I wrote the words below back in November when I was sorting through feelings.  I kept it as a draft and didn't post it.  I've re-read it now and I barely remember that moment.  I had forgotten some of the details.  That's a blessing from Allah.  We do have these moments of sorting and filing away the feelings.  It's OK.  We just can't stay there.  We have to stop working through our issues, punch out on the time clock and travel back to the here and now.  We have to do the life-sustaining tasks (like the mountain of dishes) and remember that we organic beings either keep growing or we cease to exist.

Last night, I saw the video for "Closer to the Edge" by the band 30 Seconds to Mars and it really startled me.  Intersperced with the pounding beat of the band were interviews with fans.  One fan said, "Some people believe in God, I believe in music. Some people pray, I turn up the radio."  Another fan said that without music he wouldn't be able to make it through his life.  They looked so incredibly sad and alone.

That's not me.  I don't want it to be me.  I don't want that to be my family or friends.

This post used to have Michelle Branch's video, "Are You Happy Now?" accompanying it.  I've just deleted it.  I know that song is one of the reasons I couldn't find calm the day I was trying to figure things out.  I kept listening to that song and getting into the angst and staying in that upset.  One of the ironies is that the person who led me to that song was someone who is in constant chaos and confusion.  Why didn't I think of that when I put the song on loop? 

I'm not going to start the, "Music is evil," campaign.  To each his or her own.  For me?  I've got to stay away from mainstream music when I'm searching my soul.  Some music is so positive and uplifting---like this new song from our Malaysian sister Yuna.  However, I don't want to make music my God (astragferallah).  I know that I make it through my life without someone else's beat guiding my heart.

Mr. Boo just woke up and asked to watch cartoons.  He's so funny.  His first words of the day are asking to watch cartooons.  No "Good Morning".  His first words used to be, "I have an idea."

I told him it was Friday and no school today.  "I'm amazed," he said in his sleepy voice.

"Amazed?" I questioned.

"I mean I'm happy," he said.

The new sun was shining through our windows.  Baba was reading Quran.  It was quiet.

My husband and I sat together in our salon.  He agreed to learn some more English and I used Maher Zain's, "Alhumdulillah".  It worked so beautifully and felt so good to be together and remember Allah while teaching and learning.

Yes, I'm happy now too.

Enna mal osri yosra.

Today is easy.

Read on for the time when it was hard.

I've been working with my six-year-old son on math. Seems like he's as bad at it as I am.

Today, the day after Thanksgiving, I realized why these milestones in 2011 are so hard.

- 10

This August it was 10 years since I met the big love of my life; my son's father. He was the one to teach me that I was special; that I was worth more than what I thought. He was the one to take me on a journey into Islam and to almost destroy my belief in it. He was the one who loved me so completely that I thought I didn't need anyone or anything but him. He gave me the most beautiful child (mashahallah) and I'm still so in awe of this boy that I don't want any more children for fear that no one else could compete.


This week marks five years since I was abandoned with my 14-month old baby. I kept rewriting that last sentence. Which grammatical article should I use?



I finally decided on, ""

Yesterday was Thanksgiving and my husband really didn't spend any time with us. He didn't. He didn't understand how important it was to me. He didn't because he's never really celebrated that day. It was just another day to him.

To me? I needed someone---no...I needed him to be there for me. I don't have any family here. He's it. He's the man I've asked to stand beside me in this life. He's not the big love of my life. He is the man I do love now and I do want to keep on loving. He's the one I'm asking to love me even if I don't give him any children.

If I believed that a woman could give a man everything and she would be guaranteed respect, love and security then I would give him a baby.

"His baby."

Not, "My baby".

I've had those already.

Not, "Our baby."

I don't feel like I can believe that again.

So, I live my life and do my best find something to hold on to. I hold on to my faith like if I lost it then I would die. I hold on to that little boy like he is my heart. I try to control too much. I cry when I fail.

This week in Egypt has been impossible to control. I went in to work Sunday wishing that I wouldn't have to. I went in to work Monday and we left early. School was cancelled for kindergarten for Tuesday but I still went in to do paperwork. We left at noon. I thought nobody would send their little babies on Wednesday but they did. I had 12 in my room (including the children from the teacher who was too scared to come in). I didn't bring my first grader because he had thrown up at 3 and 5 am.  Just as well,  as we left at noon again. Crazy schedule. Crazy-not-knowing feeling rolling around in your head as you try to be in charge of little, helpless children.

And Wednesday afternoon, I wrote the following status message on Facebook,

"The violence and anger in Egypt is washing over everyone. For the first (and hopefully last) time ever, my cab driver hit me when he didn't like the 6.50 LE I gave him. He hit my arm. Alhumdulillah Mr. Boo wasn't with me."

That drew responses I didn't expect.  I thought my friends would commiserate with me.  I didn't think they'd be telling me to leave Egypt.  They slammed me with it.  My daughter did too.  So, even though I'm not Egypt's biggest fan right now, I've lost that avenue for voicing my reality.  If I speak my mind to friends then I'm given a quick cure:  LEAVE!

That's really an easy statement but in my world it seems so impossible.  I have been building a life here.  I have a new washing machine!  I know that doesn't seem to you like a reason to stay but it's a reason for me.  That washing machine is the cummulation of months of working and saving and careful planning.  I am not a tourist here.  I am a resident.  I am holding on to my life here even though I know I can't control it and it hurts.  It hurts to admit.  But I am holding on to my life here---not the washing machine per se but what it represents.  I have a new life and I've been able to find some success.

"Are you happy now?"

No.  In this moment I'm not.  I'm pouring buckets of tears.  Mr. Boo watches cartoons nearby and brings me tissues. 

"Why are you crying?"  He asks.

"Because I have too much on my mind.  It's OK, " I try to reassure him.  "Just let me cry and get it out."

My mom told me something this week which hurt me.  She didn't mean to.  She told me about the time when we said goodbye at the airport this summer.  She stood there with AbuBoo and watched us walk away through the security checkpoint and beyond. 

"I just love her spirit," is what she reports my former husband saying about me.

Allahu alim.

What do I do with that? 

He almost crushed my spirit to death. 

My current husband is accusing me today of still loving the father of my son.

What do I do with that?

5 years.

10 years.

Are you happy now?


Anonymous said...

Asalamu Alaikum Yosra,
I cant imagine how that statement "I just love her spirit" must of hurt you coming from him.....but I also love your spirit! and am in awe of you because of it. You are amazing and you give me inspiration to keep believing in the good of people and of life. Your journey and being allowed to observe the tiny bit you allow me to via this blog has given me countless lessons and most of all makes me feel like im not alone in all the things I go through as a single muslim mother. I love you for the sake of Allah and will keep you in my duas and please keep me in yours

Yosra said...

Wa Alaykom Asalam Sis,

Thanks for knowing the hurt and for reminding me that my spirit was only something he noticed...not something he contained. I am a spirited person, yes. I'm known for it, alhumdulillah.

I'm glad you find me a kindred spirit. It is hard to get going and keep remembering the good of people---especially yourself. Alhumdulillah for those along the way who help us remember. Me tomorrow. We will help each other remember, for we are sisters.

Being a single Muslim mom is hard. REALLY REALLY hard. In many ways, I don't feel like that moniker has left me. I feel like I'm a remarried single Muslim mom. Like all my lessons keep going regardless of my marital status. Not sure why that is but it is.

It is a journey, alhumdulillah, and I'm glad for anyone on it with me. It's nicer for me when people understand where I'm coming from so thank you for being that person today. No, we're not alone.

Love to you too. Love is what it's all about.

Thank you for your duas. I feel the power of prayer. Wallahi I feel that there are many who never write but who send good energy our way. Thank you to those readers as well.

May Allah protect and keep you and help your iman grow and spread through dawah.