Saturday, August 25, 2012

No Push-Me-Pull-Me on the Ark

Asalamu Alaykom,

I'm sharing with you the lessons I feel I've learned while fasting this Ramadan.  There's less we can accept during Ramadan in terms of food of course but also in terms of human interactions.

This Ramadan I got my fill of the "push-me-pull-me" variety of people.  There's a picture of the animal variety from the movie Dr. Doolittle.  Yes, it's got two heads and "no" it can't agree on which way to go.  If you offer to help either species of push-me-pull-me you're in for a load of trouble because you'll only get drama and upset.

I used to think that if I built my ark (that's metaphysical not actual) then I could secure myself and my boy.  I could then call for the others to come join me.  They would, in my irrational Kumbaya mind, be delighted to get to safety and happiness and float away into the sunset with me.

It hasn't worked that way.  I am very much alone in my boat building.

My family is into thinking that whatever I say or do is all about Islam and since they don't think they're Muslim then they're off the hook.  They can dismiss me as good as dead.  I don't really exist.  I left them back in 2002 when I came to Islam.  I left them when I came to Egypt in 2009.  I left them when I remarried.  I left them and they don't see how they left me.  I've been there for them as much as I could but it doesn't matter.  It doesn't matter for birthdays and holidays.  It doesn't matter when I'm ill.  It doesn't matter.  I don't matter.

This Ramadan I had accusations hurled at me.  I had the phone slammed down on me.  I was ignored.  I swear to you that I did nothing warranting this backlash.  I was shocked and hurt once again by the people I was only trying to love and help.

Many friends I have had "back home" are so deep into their manic depressive denials of their roles in creating drama.  They say they don't want to be in so much trouble.  If you talk, then you think you're being heard.  However, they just do and re-do as they please.  They are intent on being stuck in the muck.  I love them but they are not jumping on the ark with me.

Out of the three best friends whom I sent Ramadan greetings to, only one sent kind wishes back.  What was going on with the other two that they couldn't stop for a moment and remember me?  If you only knew how much I have loved, prayed for and helped those two sisters!  Yet, when I'm wanting some camaraderie as I fast in a foreign land with no friends or family----they are too busy.

If I try to deal with Americans living here it's no better---in fact it's worse!  There's an American blogger living in Egypt whom I tried to help because she tried to kill herself.  No joke.  That ended up taking up so much of my energy and time that honestly my home life started to suffer.

I couldn't believe how blasé she was in a week. Nope, it was all good for her!  She'd bounced back.  When she returned to her blog she slammed the people who had warned her about what she's been writing---and the way she wrote it directly pointed at me and a comment I'd written weeks before.  Surprise!  I'd wasted hours, used up a lot of money on phone cards, lost sleep, fought with my husband, ignored my son and for what?  For somebody who was fine and in the mood to right the wrongs done to her.

The friends I have had here in Egypt are not into drama.  They are into scarcity and fear and guarding their way of life, their family, their money, and their social standing.  I have never met so many people afraid of the facade crumbling.  For me, as a very honest and direct person it has become increasingly hard.

I'll give you an example.  I was really excited to bring a friend to my house.  This was a couple of years ago.  I thought that I could show all the progress we'd made on fixing up the apartment.  This friend could see my life at home and understand better where I'm coming from; who I am.  It's an opening up and a vulnerability.

So, she comes in and I introduce her to my sister-in-law with the niqab.  I can tell that was a strange moment for my friend.  She hadn't been expecting that and I forgot to warn her...because we're in Egypt and it's kind of common...but not in every body's circles.

I take her upstairs to see my place and she isn't really as pleased with it as I thought she would be.  She was seeing it through the Egyptian woman's eyes which need to see a fully furnished flat---no matter the hardship.  I couldn't really invite her to come in and sit down as we didn't have our couches yet.

I invited her to the roof.  Our view, in my opinion, is spectacular.

Take a look for yourself:

Yet, she couldn't really see the view because her focus was on the smell of the animals.  We do keep animals on our roof (as do the majority of home owners in our area).  This friend complained and complained of the smell and then quickly fled down the stairs. That was years ago.  I should have known then that someone who can't stand for a minute and view the majesty of the pyramids isn't a good candidate for my friend.

She was the friend I thought of calling this summer when I needed that procedure done to stop the internal bleeding after my miscarriage.  She had gotten it done before.  She talked me through it.  I was grateful for that moment.  Then she told me that she really felt for me and that she'd call the next day to make sure I was OK.

She never called.

She never called the rest of the summer.

I hate that.

I'd really rather that people don't fake their friendships.  If you don't actually plan on calling, please don't tell me you will.  I could make excuses for her...and I do...but I'm done.

It's not just her.  There's more!  Lots more!

America is full of flakes 
and Egypt is full of fakes.

There's the woman who insisted I would be invited over for a Ramadan iftar.  I would be there of course!  I had been there before so I kind of imagined it was true.  It wasn't.  I sent her an email in which I said that I hadn't been well since I had miscarried.  I spent all of Ramadan wondering if I'd hear from her.  No word.  Not one.  This is from a lady who is was very prompt in every reply before.

With both of these ladies, they strive for the good life in Egypt.  They are constantly buying new things and enjoying new clothes and shoes.  They would always be the first to notice if I had on something new.

They also did this thing which I've come to fear:  they would confide in me.  I'm a minister's daughter so I feel  the responsibility of confidentiality.  I've been around the block so very little shocks me.  I'm accepting.  I take it in and I don't feel that someone is less for sharing their troubles.  So, both of them would tell me things which they didn't tell the others.  They wanted to look good in front of the others but with me they wanted to be real.  I feel that, in the end, being real with me hurt them too much; hurt their pride or their sense of success.

And then there's the Egyptian blogger whom I connected with and we made plans to meet up after Eid.  No lie, I really had enjoyed our little interaction and imagined a fun time getting together.  I looked forward to it and it gave me hope.  It's not enough that she didn't contact me.  When I contacted her, she absolutely ignored me---as if I was a disease she could catch.

So, I've tried to make new friends and create a kind of new family.  It's not working.  It really hurts and I actually cried last night so much that I needed Quran to lull me to sleep.

What helps me today, as the sun shines anew, is that my ark isn't going to have any push-me-pull-me on it.  I'll keep building and I'll keep hoping that God has something wonderful in store.



zain said...

Assalaamualaikum sis, ohh, i feel for you, but your approach to life in my view is much better; i'd rather be keeping it real so to say, than be living the dream but really be void of any true joy or harmony. I guess living in the west we've seen the life of excess perhaps experienced it too & have learnt less is more! Only a few things really breed happiness, one of them is a truly loving family and they come in various shapes and sizes as long as they can love you and provide a warm home they are much better than a truck load of shallow friends. May the Almighty grant u every happiness and loving friends. Luv x

Thankful Slave said...

يا صاحب الهم إن الهم منفرجٌ *** أبشـر بخير ٍ فإن الفارج الله
O the one with sorrow, the sorrow will be gone***rejoice with good as the Opener is Allah
اليأس يقطع أحيانا بصاحبـه *** لا تيــأسن فـإن الصانع الله
Despair can sometimes cut his owner***Do not lose hope as Allah is Sufficient
الله يُحدث بعد العسر ميسرةً *** لا تجـزعنَّ فإن الكافي الله
Allah would make after hardship ease***Do not be anxious as the Preventer is Allah
إذا ابتليت فثق بالله وارض به *** إن الذي يكشف البلوى هو الله
If you are tested then trust Allah and be satisfied with Him***the One who Removes the tribulations is Allah
إذا قضى الله فاستسلم لقدرته *** فما ترى حيلة فيما قضى الله
If Allah Decreed a matter then submit to His Power***as you won’t see any subterfuge to what Allah Has Decreed

Imam Shafi'i made a good Poem years ago...
Don't forget, we are always tested by Allah, life is about experience and after hardship, there is ease, after hardship, there is ease.

Assalam Aleikum,

Thankful Slave said...

Sorry for a typo in line 2 and 3 in my previous comment, which were inverted at the end part and should read the following:

Despair can sometimes cut his owner***Do not lose hope as Allah is the Maker

Allah would make after hardship ease***Do not be anxious as Allah is the Sufficient

Yosra said...

Wa Alaykom Asalam Zain,

Thank you for feeling me. Ameen to your du'a. You're right in that we in the West kind of know the pitfalls of living on the surface level. Maybe we try to delve deep toooo much----thus being someone who is in too much angst. I like the Egyptians for moving on with life. I just wish that I had someone to move along with. Of course I have my hub and alhumdulillah for him :) As much as he says that he's enough for me, he isn't. I do need some women friends inshahallah.

Asalamu Alaykom TS,

Thank you for sending good thoughts. Alhumdulillah for the wisdom. Yes, hope is what it's all about. There are unseen friends in my world. They are there...I just don't know them yet. Inshahallah I will. And seriously? If Allah doesn't want friends/family for me, then I've got to make peace with that and accept the people who are in my life.

Thanks for reading and commenting. Thanks for being kind.

Anonymous said...

Alsalam Alaikom

May Allah (swt) bless you with real muslim friends whom you can count on always.

A friend from Riyadh

Anonymous said...

I can completely relate. No one in Egypt wanted to get together more than once or twice unless we lived less than 5 minutes apart! When I returned to the US, I found I'd changed, and my former friends were no longer a good fit (not that they had the time to see me, anyway). I am now feeling isolated in my "home" country, but Egypt wasn't for me either. It's tough trying to create a circle of confidants and buddies when everyone is too busy (States) or too lazy and image conscious (Egypt).

I don't have the answer, but you do have company.

Yosra said...

Asalamu Alaykom Friend in Riyadh,

It's really nice to hear from you. Thanks for reaching out. Ameen to your du'a.

I guess we outgrow and then have the moment of aloneness. It's necessary but not comfortable. Nothing is forever. I won't have this aloneness forever either inshahallah.

If you comment again (which I hope you will) please sign as "Friend in Riyadh" so I know who you are.

Love and Light!

Asalamu Alaykom Former Ex-Pat,

Thank you so much for commenting. I know there aren't any quick answers but it helps to hear that. Seriously, you begin to wonder if you've just looked in the wrong place or done the wrong things. Nope. I just am in this spot and it's where I'm meant to be. Alhumdulillah. It is tough and I so appreciate you seconding that.

My goal is to create an actual circle. I'm wary of creating an on-line/virtual circle. I need REAL. Sooo tempting to be FB buddies or Tweeter or Pinterest friends. Social media is something I enjoy but it's not a good enough substitute.

Keep reading. Keep commenting. I'd love to interview you on the ups and downs of life in Egypt. Let me know if you're interested in that. I could leave the questions here and you could answer here.

Love and Light!