Thursday, July 4, 2013

Not Happy July 3rd

Asalamu Alaykom,

This is one of those moments when I'm sorting through my feelings and thoughts.  You, as a reader, can either go with me on this or you don't have to.  Me?  I'm stuck with the jumble.

I don't feel good today.  I woke up next to my son.  We slept in the one safe place in our apartment.  Safe from what?  Safe from whatever could have happened in Egypt last night.  When we went to bed, I didn't know what was going to take place.  I didn't have the energy to stay up and stay vigilant.  I'd done that the night before.  I stayed awake the night before because I was too scared to sleep.  Justified?  My husband didn't think so.

My husband and I are not on the same page.  He slept downstairs last night.  I'm not sure if it was from fear of what could happen or simply from laziness after watching too much Tahrir on TV.  I didn't ask.  I didn't care.  I'm not connected to him today.  I'm at a total disconnect.

He grabbed at my sleeve this morning and pulled me towards him while demanding I speak to him.  I was quiet.  I don't like to get grabbed.  I don't like demands.  I didn't sign on for this.

What did I think I was doing when I moved to Egypt?  I came here on hijrah.  I knew that Mubarak wasn't the real democratic deal.  I got that.  Yet, I felt that the people did the best they could within that framework.

I was disappointed in the chaos of 25th of January.  I didn't support the violence and mayhem.  However it's been portrayed to the media, it was messier in reality.  People died, businesses were ruined, and families remain to this day in fear for their future.

The elections, while flawed, were a step in the right direction.  Yes, I think that democracy is better than military dictatorship.  I don't love the army of any nation.  I'm not with that mentality.  I knew that my husband revered the military, as some schoolboy might, so I did my best not to crash his illusions.  Perhaps my love of democracy was an illusion as well.

I stayed in Egypt.  I'm not asking for a medal.  I stayed because it was good for me and for Mr. Boo.  We are the only two I care about.  If I had to walk away from Egypt, I would not feel that I was leaving my husband bereft.  He has his family, a finished apartment and the possibility of marrying again.

Me?  I don't see my future right now.  I don't see it anywhere---not today.  I don't feel good in Egypt today. I feel betrayed by people I thought I could trust.

This year, at school, I felt such camaraderie.  I felt some kinship.  They were more educated people and more worldly.  They understood me, or so I thought.  On that last day, I was blindsided by a moment in which my sense of who I'd been at work was shaken.  I thought...and I was wrong.  I really didn't have co-workers who liked me.

Since that strange conversation, which I have deleted from the blog, I have sent some nice, short emails to co-workers that I didn't get a chance to say, "goodbye" to.  I just wished them good luck in future endeavors (if they were moving on) or a restful summer (if they were returning).  I haven't heard back from them.  No one returned my greetings.  This is despite many times of togetherness.  I'm hurt---whether or not I should be.

I guess that's the deal with feelings.  You, as a reader, might not understand me----and that's OK.  What I need is to accept the fact that I do feel this way.  I do feel hurt, betrayed and uncertain.  I don't know what I do from this moment with those feelings.

It's not simple.

Yesterday, I heard from my father's lady.  I had written to her (and to him) that we were OK in Egypt.  We were.  She wrote back saying that she had begun to wonder.  My father doesn't wonder because of his Alzheimer's.  She told me something very sad.  His question is no longer where I am but rather if he has any "living relatives".  It's gotten to that level.  He doesn't remember me in his daily life.  If I call, he will talk with me but in the interim, he has stopped to remember me.

That's a grab-a-tissue moment.  I can't allow myself to get too sad today.  That would be dangerous.  I have to remain buoyant.

Mr. Boo felt like eating so I made the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and piled them up, along with a bowl of yogurt, on our IKEA plates.  My mind drifted to what I could fit in a suitcase.  I would take these dishes; they're so utilitarian. I caught myself thinking like this and shook it out of my head but with every bite the thought of leaving would return.

My son has a world map lying on his bed.  He and I had talked about the old posters he had in his room and I took them down this week.  There aren't any animals or alphabet left.  There is the world map waiting for me to adhere.  Today, I'm not sure how I feel sticking it up.  The wall is clean.  There's a part of me which wishes to leave it clean and just walk away.

In many ways, this isn't my home and never will be.  I am not building up a place where I am truly secure.  My husband can always kick me out.  If he dies, his family can always kick me out.  I am here as their guest.  I am here on the third floor for every loud conversation they have at 1 AM.  I am here for every screaming fit from the two little ones.  I am here but I don't know if I want to be here.

The world is in front of me.  I see it.  I see all the places.  I wonder where I'm supposed to be.  My current employer has a vast network of schools all around the world.  It's enticing to think of leaving for one of them.  Maybe there's a school somewhere better for me.  The frightening prospect is that there isn't any place in the world left which could welcome me.  I feel very unwelcome here but does that mean another place is better?

The U.S. Embassy wrote to me again and told me that it recommends leaving Egypt.  Whether or not you fear your current location, you do listen when your government tells you to go.  I just don't know how much I feel like leaving and whether the U.S. is any safer than here.

The United States.  Sure, let's look into that possibility.  My mother is busy and not interested in having us around.  Even if she were so inclined, I don't think that it's a healthy option.  My father, as you've just read, is suffering with his degenerative disease.  Neither one of them are a port in the storm.

I haven't mentioned it before, but I heard two weeks ago that an important person in my life is going through cancer treatment.  This woman was like an aunt to me while I was growing up and she's got inoperable brain cancer.  God bless her.  She cared for me in ways my mothers didn't.  She gave me some of the most normal moments of my childhood.  Her whole family became my family.  I was adopted by them in many ways.  As a child, I was about as close to being an orphan as you can get while your parents are still alive.  That family felt that and picked up the pieces---the pieces of who I was as a little girl.

In a cruel twist, this woman's husband also has Alzheimer's and their whole existence is falling apart.  What do I think about that?  Do I rush to them?  They don't need me.  They have their three children.  They were meaningful to me as a child.  What do I do as an adult?

I'm 45 and I'm lost.  I feel it.  I was feeling so self-assured as the school year was winding up.  I had the whole next year in front of me.  I had Ramadan coming.  I had the summer to organize my life in ways that I hadn't before.  I was going to be on top of it all.

Now?  I feel something else.  I feel alone.  I'm in a country celebrating a military coup a second revolution and I don't feel like celebrating.  I'm away from America on a day when everybody there is celebrating with parades and picnics and I'm not there either.  Even if I was there, I'd be shut out by those who could.

My son and daughter in America have shunned me as much as they can.  While I was in America in 2011, buying them presents and taking them out, they were happy to call me, "Mom".  As soon as I returned to Egypt, they stopped.  I don't have them.  Do I rush to them?  They aren't even in the same state as one another, as my big boy is really a man off at college.  My girl wished me dead the last time I called.  I don't call any more.

Women go on and on and on.  I know.  Men shoot from the hip.  Men say, "What do you want?!"  Men don't want this introspective blah blah.  They want to set a goal and have you to take aim towards that.

Right now?  I don't have that in my sights.  Give me some time and I hope to have it better figured out.  Inshahallah.


Marie Harmony said...

I pray you find peace Yosra. Let your feelings flow and don't block them. It's better this way. Take a deep breath and let it go. It's natural, human and it's good for you too.
Where we belong, this is the question I ask myself many times. And then I forget for a while, I concentrate on the present, on the only time I have in my hands. I might leave this place or stay. I only know I can't plan things any more.
I don't have a home right now. I am moving here and there.
When I left Ireland, leaving everything behind, I understood nothing belong to me on this earth. My only home is near God.

I did not think Egypt will be in such a mayhem, only two years after the big revolution. Maybe people expect too much too often. Men are only men, with limited power.
I pray for Egypt, for my little man, for peace and changes, for the best.

Take good care of yourself and Mister Boo. Nothing is impossible. You can recreate your life again, this is something I am sure of. Put your trust in God, he is the one who knows the best road for us. He is the only one we should trust.

Love and blessings.

zain said...

Assalamualaikum sister, our thoughts and prayers are with you and the people of Egypt. watching the news here, it looks rather like collective madness rather than another revolution. I'm with you totally in being against undermining a democratically elected leader.May Allah protect you and your family and give the people of Egypt a prosperous, peaceful Ramadhan. Stay strong sister, you are there for a purpose and the Almighty is with you, though others may seem distant. X

danielle said...

Assalamu alakum Yorsa. I visit often but do not comment . I feel you are in need of a friend. You are not alone, Allah is always with you please keep him close. Everyone has situations there are not always easy to understand or fix easily. Just be patience and pray for guidance. I enjoy your blog and your honesty and humor. Take each day minute by minute. I have similar life but here in America married to Egyptian with son from previous marriage so I feel your heartache! Chin up!!!! Inshallah tomorrow will be a new day!

Yosra said...

Asalamu Alaykom Marie,

Thanks for the breath. Life is breath and we forget to breathe. I do want peace but I know that peace is within. I can't chase it. I can't fly to it.

I read your response and thought about your travels over the last year. You've been around! That's hard. It's tiring. In the end, despite any misgivings I might have about staying, I might just be too tired to leave.

No, neither one of us could imagine that Egypt would become more chaotic two years after the revolution. It's insane. My hope was for a return to some of the best Egypt had to offer. You've been here so you know the simple pleasures available.

Yes, I do need to get new creative juices flowing. I need to re-shape what's going on in my life. I didn't think I had to at this point. Maybe it doesn't need a complete overhaul. I think I need to review priorities---top of which is Mr.Boo. I'm sure you understand that even more with your little guy. No one is going to care for him like I am. It's down to me.

Thank you, Marie, for being like-minded and empathetic.

Love and Light!

Yosra said...

Asalamu Alaykom Zain,

"Collective madness" is a choice quote. YEP! That's a good way to put it. Commentators are saying, "33 million people can't be wrong!" Well, yes they can. They can be sadly mistaken---but in the end it's their country. Not only am I a guest in this house, I'm a guest in this country.

Ameen to your dua.

I think I will get stronger if I stop thinking I can control one little thing in Egypt beyond my nose. I can't. I need to give up. I SURRENDER! Let's see if that helps my mood lift.

Love and Light!

Yosra said...

Wa Alaykom Asalam Danielle,

No worries about not commenting before. Ya, I do need some real people connections today. Thank you for picking today to share some kindness.

I called my mom but that only works so far. She's got her own thing going and Egypt is a headache for her. One of my sadnesses today is that she is even less likely to come to Egypt with this latest political upheaval. She's further from me and from my ability to take care of her.

LOL at "chin up". My dad always said/says "keep your chins up" which is one of his little jokes. He is not a big joke teller but he puts in these little witticisms. God bless him.

Thanks for connecting and letting me know you have a similar gig. Not easy to live a big life, is it? Whew-eee! My mom told me that she read "Think big" for her meditation today and I told her that I might need to "Think small" instead. I bet you know what I mean. Why don't I just do the dirty dishes and leave politics to someone else? I shouldn't pretend that I have a voice here---I don't.

I'm a mom, a wife, a teacher and a visitor in this country. That's it! If I can accept my position here, then I can survive here. Inshahallah.

Love and Light!

rahmat naureen rahman said...

This is the first time for me, commenting your write up. I have read your blog to help me deal with my problems and it has been promising as always.The way you try to convey your thoughts to make sense, I reach out to you. Really. What you are going through can be best translated to Allah only. MashaAllah you redefine strength for me. Everytime. The only thing I can say, is make the best of this Ramadan. May Allah help you find answers and the straight path. Ameen.

Yosra said...

Asalamu Alaykom Rahmat Naureen,

Thanks for making today the first time you've spoken up. I appreciate it. Alhumdulillah there are people who get something out of what I'm doing and understand where I'm coming from.

Agreed that Allah is The Best. The deal is that you can get so low, you need some people around you to help you get up to that point of prayer. Really, it's why we need to surround ourselves with good people. We never know when we're going to need that help.

I did talk with my big boy tonight. He sent me a message of concern over the coup so I called. One of the most amazing things is that he's started to volunteer at an inter-cultural/inter-faith organization. This means that I have instilled something in him that he carries with him. Alhumdulillah. Feeling this helps me.

Tomorrow, inshahallah, I'll have a nice long fajr prayer and read some Quran. I didn't start the day off well today. It's a shock to find out your country has a new president for whom nobody voted.

Ameen to your du'a. I do need Ramadan to go well. Whatever way I've been traveling this path isn't entirely working. I need to revamp my route. Inshallah.

Wishing you the best as well.

Love and Light!

Anonymous said...

Inshallah I'm leaving for Egypt in a few weeks temporarily/permanent still unknown, but ill have hubby and the little ones with me- I've been to Egypt and by Egypt I mean the pyramids a burnt out building in tahrir square and a half empty museum in 1 day :) and the 3 months before that in my apartment in a village looking at the same walls. The Egypt I will be going too, the same apartment with the same walls inshallah, a MIL that loves me and a village of women who hate me lol My voice will also not be heard as I'm an insignificant white woman who will never understand, my salutations are even ignored by some. Alhumdulilah my husband and I are on the same page but I worry now by these unjust arrests .... I still dont understant or justify a crime???? esspecially as the country had no law at the time. Really I saw a joke (egyptian) Mubarak 2012 lying in a bed in jail Mubarak 2013 sitting smiling in a bed in jail 2014 Mubarak president of Egypt haha really I laughed ........ I'm gonna stick to Mahshi and washing the families clothes. Cause the little egyptian citizens I gave birth too are even insignificant in there own country, if they join the military they will never be more than a foot soldier, and they can never be president alhumdulilah

Yosra habibty yosra I'm scared I'm worried I'm in panic mode do I even pack??? What if I die in this madness it's never the guilty that get killed. But yosra you are actually physically there living working experiencing. So you habibty will not worry, during these months you don't need to work (mashallah timing can't be better) and if you are a "guest" ( I understand) I was a homeless pre-teen not by choice..... I'm sure like me you have plan b..c...d.....z :) with no emotion attached to hinder your desicions. ( ur hubby demanding to hear your voice although unpleasant and off putting is better than having him tell you shut up and your voice is worthless)

Ill focus on fajr dhur Asr Maghreb and ishaa and thank Allah almighty I have a 2nd passport which other Egyptians don't and would love. I can escape Egypt and its troubles while most Egyptians are stuck.

Maa salama yosra
<3 umm mohamed

Yosra said...

Asalamu Alaykom Umm Mohamed,

Thanks for giving so much of yourself in this response. There really are so many people doing their best to live fully---you're one of them!

The funny thing about you coming to Egypt is that inshahallah you'll be fine. No matter what else is going on, Egypt will welcome you. Egypt is like that. It's wonderful you have a MIL who loves you. I used to but that was a husband and a half ago. This MIL is learning to respect me (since I've been married 3 1/2 years to her son).

As for the ones who don't understand, acknowledge or respond to us...there are some in every culture. I think the deal is that there are a million reasons why they don't want to. We can assume why but it might be something really unexpected. They might envy us, rather than think us lower. They might feel inadequate to communicate rather than feel unfriendly. We have to make excuses for them. I need to make more excuses for those who have hurt me unknowingly.

There's one funny story I can share from my life with my current MIL. I was speaking to her early on and she was nodding and sounding like she understood me. I was feeling pretty good about my Arabic. Then she said something to my husband. I asked him what she said. He translated, "She said you have to stop speaking English to her because she doesn't understand it." LOL! All my Arabic efforts were for naught! Sigh...

You're right that the timing with school's vacation is great. It is, alhumdulillah. I need only take care of my little world here. I pretend that the outside world affects me but it many ways it doesn't need to. Who is president doesn't change my prayer times or my ability to step outside my door in hijab.

I do have a passport and the ability to escape but it's not as easy as that. I've built a life here and it would be more than soul-tearing to leave any part of it behind. You're right that my husband did care--sometimes husbands care in clumsy ways but we need to affirm them.

Homeless pre-teen? Wow. Not sure I know that story. I've known pregnant pre-teens and homeless pre-teens but never the two in one. If you have the strength to go through that, then you're good to go.

Your little citizens, by the way, if they are half-American, they will not have to do military service. They are also exempt from the Arabic scores on exams working against them (you have to file with the government before grade two).

So, keep laughing and finding the good. Just don't laugh too hard at the Mubarak cartoon. I have this weird foreboding that it could come true!

Love and Light!

Anonymous said...

Salam alaikum :) I think it could come true aswell that's why I did actually laugh :) only in Egypt.

I'm australian my mother is lebanese (Christian) (i converted to islam at 17)but bi-polar PTSD her own type of addictions which ended up with me being homeless at 11 but alhumdulilah I found a home with some people who I lived with until 14 when mum decided she wanted me back then at 15 I lived at my dads house ( he lives overseas) but no no I'm sorry I wasn't pregnant alhumdulilah I never touched drugs ( which is odd as the ppl i lived with were dealers) or had boy friends I became aware very young I am responsible for myself so don't do actions you will regret. My first pregnancy was after my marraige when I was 22.

Thank you for telling me about the arabic exams as I couldn't even pass my english exams lol how can I help my sons pass arabic??? Lol

Mashallah that story was fabulous stop talking english.... I feel like that constantly but alhumdulilah any family arguments means I am exempt and can blissfully keep to myself.

Thank you for sharing your experiences I am really excited about going back and alhumdulilah my husbands village is so far untouched we are next to banha in al qalyoubia. But when you share your photos mashallah it could be our village the bread the abayas made from very ugly fabric for the more heavier woman but looks really good on her, clay floors ah Egypt .... Inshallah all this is for the best
<3 umm mohamed

Anonymous said...


I cant write too much from a net cafe.... but I just want to send u a HUG. I am in similar circumstances... for one I am also in Egypt. And I saw the speech the army general gave live on tv. I wasnt celebrating. Not because I care about the other guy or his group.... just more mayhem.