Saturday, February 11, 2012

Making the Cut

Go ahead and thank me.

Right now in your homes, offices, and 'net cafes utter this little phrase, "Thank you, Yosra."

I bet you want to know why.

I'll tell you!

Last night I was so down that I wrote a horribly depressing  blog entry BUT I didn't post it.  I've learned that having a blog is like owning a loaded gun.  You have to be careful if you keep either one in your house.  When you're feeling depressed you might turn to it as a permanent solution for a temporary problem.

My problem was temporary.  Alhumdulillah.  I always need the sun to come out and reassure me that life goes on.  It does.  Really.  Don't do something at night which daylight could easily wash away.  Go to bed and sleep off the upset.  Awake for fajr and pray for a better life and then let the life-giving sun appear once again.

However, in my moment of temporary upset yesterday, I did make some changes in my life.  I made some cuts.  Rather than banging my head against the wall in futility, I was the "do-er" and not the "done to".

I didn't like how I was looking.  Didn't.  I knew I needed to cover gray once again.  I don't show the world my hair but I see it and I don't like looking so old. 

Islamically, it's allowable to color your hair.  The trick for women is that you can't color it while you are menstruating; you have to wait and then make ghusl (the cleansing shower done after finishing menses or sexual activity).  If it's any other time of the month, then only make wudu beforehand.

So, I colored and I thought about getting it cut.  I have one semi-glamorous sister-in-law who goes to a salon down the street.  I keep meaning to try it out but it was Friday morning and no one would be open.  Saturday there is going to be a supposed strike throughout the nation and I really didn't know what that would mean for businesses. 

I've never gotten my hair cut in Egypt by a professional.  I keep seeing the uncovered ladies at work with cute haircuts, and when I ask where they get it done, for some reason it's always from a man. 

A man?!  Yes, for some reason in this Muslim country (or maybe it's this country with Muslims) the best stylists are men.   

Well, one co-worker was too embarrassed to tell me who cuts her hair so she answered, "It's a non-woman."

So once again I found myself trimming my own hair.  Thanks to my previous pets who allowed me to trim them and gain experience in cutting hair.  Later, when money was short, I would cut my then-husband's hair and my kids' hair as well.  Actually, it looked okay, alhumdulillah. 

Yesterday, I cut about three inches off my length and angled the front.  I know that husbands always ALWAYS imagine a wife with long hair; a kind of Rapunsel as their damsel in dis-tress(es).  For them, length matters.  In actuality, all that hair weighs down a woman with unwanted days already done.  Getting a hair cut means eliminating what is dead and no longer serves us. 

As the day wore on, I realized that I would be needing to cut more than my hair. 

First, it was my daughter using Facebook to communicate her lack of desire to communicate.  She and I had been trading messages of fun, laughter and love all week only to have her clobber me at the end.  No, I was not really her mother since I left her.  She would not be taking my phone call on Saturday.

The Bible and the Quran are full of parents who needed to be seperated from their children.  It's a sacrifice for sure.  I'm not saying that I am on par with a mother putting her baby boy in the bullrushes, but I am a mother who did the best she could at a time with nothing else made sense. 

Then, it was a simple message I posted to a co-worker in response to her comments about the changes in Egypt.  Yes, it is a fear for non-observing Muslims that Egypt is going to be more faith-led and less secular.  I wrote that I was OK with the possibility of no alcohol and some limits of decency in TV and movies.

From there, I had her list of friends address me directly about me trying to push my ideals on their country.  I really couldn't believe how quickly a group of adults could turn on someone who was different from themselves.  They let me have it. 

No, I wasn't allowed a voice in their country.  I tried to remind them that I didn't vote the Islamic parties into office.  That was their neighbors not me.

My restriction, they said, were too strict.  I corrected that restrictions on alcohol and nakedness are part of Islam not part of my personal agenda.  As a Muslim in a country which is 90% Muslim, it does make sense to use the tennets of Islam.

They felt I was being discriminatory to the non-Muslims.  On the contrary, I told them.  The Copt Christians are closer to practising Muslims than non-practising Muslims are.  I didn't have any problem with that 10%.  However, in a Democracy, the majority does rule.  If Egyptians are wanting a Democracy, then they have to adhere to that truism.  The minority, while protected, doesn't get to make decisions UNLESS they are voted in.

I thought that we had resolved the whole hot issue since a Christian woman and I had a tete-a-tete.  We were peaceful and helpful and I felt some closure.  "Agree to disagree," is a really good policy.

After dinner, I returned to working on my lesson plans only to find a horrible message attacking me.  No, I could not make remarks about Egypt since it was the country of Tarek.  "Tarek" was previously unknown to me except for his profile picture (drink in hand, arm around a cutie in a tight, short dress).  He let me know that he had the right to be "obnoxious" to me and I didn't have the right to say a thing.

I did something I shouldn't have done.  I opened my heart and poured out a day's worth of frustrations.  Really?  I've been with the Egyptian community for ten years.  I've lived here two and a half years.  My son is half Egyptian.  My husband is Egyptian.  Every day I teach the children who will be Egypt's future.  What was this man doing to contribute to Egypt?  

I told him of my choice to risk everything and move here.  He had told me that if I didn't like it here I could go to Saudi so I mentioned specifically that I chose Egypt.  It was a conscious choice.  It is my hijrah.

As I wrote I cried.  There were tears for my inability to get a professional haircut, for my daughter's refusal to take my call, and for a Facebook wall of Egyptians who refuse to accept me for who I am in their country.  I prayed isha.

When I came back to the computer, there was a second dismissive message from Tarek and then another woman telling him "Bravo!"

Yep.  Bravo for you and your freedom which doesn't allow for any voices except your own.  Bravo for you in your bubble.

Then I cut.  I cut all my comments from that thread.  I didn't want to be offering at the altar of elimination any more.

I cut that co-worker from my list of friends.  She's not my friend; she's my co-worker.

I went on to cut all my co-workers. I was especially happy to cut the co-worker who told me for years that we were friends.  We shared hugs and happiness and hardships yet only once did we manage to get together after work.  I had asked her lately if, "wallahi" we really were going to be getting together or not.  Her answer? 

"I don't mind getting together with co-workers."



I cut those who used to be my friends. 

I cut acquaintances. 

I cut those I love but whose presence in my life has become a drag on my spirit.  No, it doesn't feel good to have friends who are in perpetual chaos.  I am saddened to find out that their lives are sick to the point where my mind feels sick from knowing their problems.

I cut my father who never used Facebook except once in the last three years.  He used it to thank my cousins for their birthday wishes.  He didn't use it to interact with me.

I cut everyone who no longer felt good to see and I got the list down to two people.

Those two people were not my two teenagers.  It hurts to see my children on Facebook and know that they're pretending they've been raised by wolves.  Yes, I was their stay-at-home mom for six years. I  was their parent who shared custody for the next five years.  We had 11 years of togetherness.  It wasn't a perfect life when I left and it wouldn't have been a perfect life if I'd stayed.  That they don't enjoy me from afar means that we can't find a common ground on Facebook. 


I kept only two.

In the end, I might eliminate them too.

My Face-fook experience has come to an end.  The new timelines don't feel good.  The interactions are no longer feeling warm and fuzzy.  My "friends" haven't really been friends.

I needed to cut that out of my life and grow some new experiences which don't hurt.  I realize that every moment of being alive is a bit of a pain but we don't have to return time and again to that which no longer serves us. 

This morning, after praying fajr and reading Quran (and a very appropriate chapter it was), I could spend more time on Wayne Dyer's new book.  Please take seven minutes and 44 seconds to watch what he has to say.

I need focus on what is real. 


Um Dayo said...

SubhanAllah, thank you for posting this. I can relate to so much of it, especially the parts about being picky with who you keep in your life, even your virtual life. I can also relate to your overall feeling about Facebook being too invasive and not serving the purpose many of us chose it for in the first place: to maintain already created connections with people we love but do not live close enough to for face-to-face contact. Thanks so much for sharing this and I hope your hair looks good!
P.S.-This sounds very similar to a post on called "How to Deal with Crappy People". He talks in a lot of his posts (98% of which I LOVE) about the importance of actively choosing the people we will allow to exist in our lives and dealing with those who must remain but are not good for us (some relatives, for instance). check it out!

khaki said...

Assalam-o-Alaikum Yosra..
Love to you there..<3. I can understand and feel the pain. Allah is with you and when He is there, you don't need anyone else.. stay strong and cheer up please.. Allah loves you..:)

Bonnie said...

Salam alikum dear sis

I wish I was there to give you a big hug! You sound like you have had an awful week! well alhamdulilah for everything but please know my thoughts and prayers are with you! And might I say I am ever grateful for women like you who stand up for what they believe in, even if they are the only ones!

Yosra said...

Asalamu Alaykom Sisters,

Thanks for voicing some thoughts.

UmDayo, it was supposed to be that umbilical cord between me and the U.S. and I guess I needed to cut it eventually.

I'll have to look up that link. I need some good thoughts these days to crowd out the bad ones.

Thanks for being a good person to me when I needed one.

Asalamu Alaykom Khaki,

Nice to hear from you. I guess that this posts still sounds like a downer. Sorry! In a way I feel it as a positive but it doesn't come off that way I guess. Inshahallah, I'll get some distance and get some more pep in my step. Thanks for your words.

Asalamu Alaykom Bonnie,

I really appreciate you knowing me for who I am. Yep. I don't suffer silently. I stand up, shout and walk OUT---figuratively speaking. So, new time and inshahallah a better time. I felt it and I don't think it's going to hurt my faith BUT staying sure was.

Kiss your boy from me :)

MarieHarmony said...

I hear you had a difficult task to do, it's never easy but you stood up for your beliefs and stayed faithful to them. It is what matters.
Keeping you in my prayers, may you always stay true to yourself, even if it means to stand alone. Anyway you will always have God close to you.
Take care.

Kate said...

your post really held some meaning for me when I read it this morning. I too felt older then my years and weighed down with worry, and also took my own scissors to my own hair and gave myself an impromtu new hair-do... I am not brave enough to venture into the curtained salons of Algeria!
I have spent time offline since December and it made me rethink alot of my online relationships, I applaud you for your bravery, for it is brave to face up to relationships that aren't working or that are being neglected and abused and do something about it. masha'allah, and I pray that allah ta'ala fills your life with good , decent friends; ameen. xxx

Anonymous said...

Your never going to get it, are you? Have you ever thought of joining therapy cause you need it. Believe me I KNOW!!

Yosra said...

Asalamu Alaykom Marie,

All good points you've listed. I hope that it isn't that hard to live without FB. Even if it is hard, it seems like there's a greater chance to getting into fitnah (it's even called FitnaBook by some) than if I'm off of it.

Asalamu Alaykom Kate,

Often I write thinking that I need to put something "out there" because my thoughts need to send some ripples out into the universe. I don't know who will connect with my thoughts but I don't need to doubt. We are all in our own struggles and yet it's very universal.

Alhumdulillah for hijabs! If the haircut is good or bad, only three people get to see it (me, the hub and Mr. Boo).

Ameen to your du'a.

Yes, on-line is often sick. It doesn't have to be but it's a network of people and a LOT of people are sick in the world and use the internet to avoid looking at themselves. They can be trolls or at least wear masks of hypocrisy.

Asalamu Alaykom "Anonymous",

I could have deleted your message but here it is :)

Here's some food for thought:

You aren't brave enough to write who you are on the 'net. So frankly your effort to belittle my thoughts doesn't come off as effectively. You really believe in what you say? Then come out so we can see who you are.

I don't get all of what life is about. True! LOL! I'm not sure any of us really do.

Thornton Wilder, one of America's greatest playwrights said it in "Our Town,"

"Does anyone ever realize life while they live it...every, every minute?"

"No. Saints and poets maybe...they do some.”

I bet you that most saints and poets were thought to need therapy too.

Do I need therapy? No. I've had it, don't get me wrong. There is no shame in getting professional psychological help---same as getting help from physician.

Do you need therapy? Maybe. Look into that. Someone who is longing to cast a shadow on other people is often hiding from the shadow inside themself.

I don't have any animosity towards you, "Anonymous" but I do wish that you'd stop having so much animosity towards others. In the end, it won't really hurt me but it will feel badly inside you.

"Hate is a poison you mean to give to someone else but you end up taking instead."

Go out of this place of rudeness and hate you've been building and find something you love. Leave the internet and find real life. Life is better than what you're imagining it.

May God be with you---all of you.