Written by: Anonymous
I have a lot to celebrate recently. Alhamdulillah. I have a husband who adores me, a recent promotion in work, a new car, beautiful vacation photos, and everything that could make people envious on social media. What people don’t see, however, is all of the struggles that hide behind these accomplishments. I don’t just mean the sweat and tears, the sacrifices and long nights. I mean the depression and the death of me that swallowed me whole years ago. To me, the real accomplishment has been survival.
Straight out of high school, I married Mr. Perfect. He was a very educated Muslim man. My family knew his for years. He came from a good family. He was very religious. He even went to religious school and performed Hajj when he was a teenager. We became engaged, and we had it all. The fairy tale wedding with almost 1,000 guests. The Hawaiian honeymoon. Our own home and a bright, wealthy future ahead of us.
Fast forward to a little over year later, when I could’t get myself off of the bathroom floor because the tears just weighed me down. He no longer loved me, and he no longer wanted to be married to me. Basically, I wasn’t as good as the other woman. The other woman whom he supposedly always loved, but who had belonged to another man for years. We had just celebrated my birthday and our anniversary, and he’d showered me with presents and praise, yet it was all meaningless. He said he should have never married me in the first place. He always wanted to marry the woman on the other end of the text message which read, “I can’t wait to sleep with you again.” He had forgotten to delete that one.
Inside, I had died. He took every ounce of energy and happiness away from me. What was I to do now? Where was I supposed to go? How was I supposed to go back to my parent’s house? How was I supposed to explain this to my friends?
I offered to take off my hijab. I could be that cool girl. I could be sexy. I could go clubbing and have fun. Why was she better than me? What did she have that I didn’t? Why was I not good enough?
Finally, I left the house I had made a home. I sped down the street, with no destination, other than the ditch that I tried to drive my car into. In my near-death moment, where the entire left side of my car raised off of the ground, there was hope. Maybe I would end up in coma that I would never wake up from, so I wouldn’t have to explain anything to anybody. Maybe then, he’d feel sorry for me and take me back. Instead, I ended up in some college hotel, alone. No room service. No hope. No idea what to do with myself.
I called his parents before I called my own, thinking that they could talk some sense into him. I knew they liked me. I was that perfect daughter-in-law: I was beautiful and I had a bright future. They couldn’t possibly be ok with their son getting a divorce because of some side chick… could they? But even they couldn’t force him to love me.
A few days later, I had to call my father and tell him I was coming back home. I had hoped I wouldn’t have had to tell them. Nobody wants their parents to hate their spouse… but at this point, he was officially no longer my own.
How could this happen to me? I had so much going for me. My life was so great just a few weeks before–or so I had thought. We had a life together, a beautiful home and a picture-perfect marriage. I was on track to be a doctor. We were happy. Were’t we? I was so naive.
How did I end up back at home again? In my teenage bedroom. Crying myself to sleep. There were days that turned into weeks when I didn’t leave the house. If I was well enough to eat, I ate in my room. The only reason I saw anyone was because the bathroom wasn’t connected to my room. I threw away my cell phone. I didn’t want any contact with the outside world. I just wanted to die. Everything inside of me was already dead. There was nothing to live for.
I lost myself in my own misery. I dropped out of school. I stopped going to work. Some may call it depression, but to me, it was death.
They said that divorce is allowed in Islam. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. I was better off without him. Blah blah blah. What they didn’t say is how far one can fall in their own misery. How much damage one person can do to another person. How hard it is to get over such an emotional tragedy. It’s not a bump in the road. It’s a semi-truck plowing you off a mountain kind of event. It’s death.
It’s death of everything good within you. All of your happiness falls to pieces and there is no hope of recovery and no glue to piece you back together.
Nobody wants to talk about this stuff. The dark periods. The lowest lows. Nobody wants to talk about divorce. It’s not just taboo; it’s the kind of conversation where you don’t know where to start or where to end and the other person has nothing to say other than “sorry” and “things will get better,” which you know inside is not true.
It took me quite a few months to fall back into the flow of society, mostly because I couldn’t stand being with my parents. They meant well, but their “Who told you to get married in the first place?” and “You know, I never really liked him anyways,” weren’t the most encouraging words.
My lightbulb moment happened when I was at the grocery store, and the cashier, whom I had known for many years asked, “Why aren’t you smiling?”
She knew nothing, but in that moment I realized I had forgotten how to smile. I even forgot that was possible. Did I really let some guy, some insignificant piece of garbage, take away the most basic thing about me? My happiness?
I write this today, because recently, so many people have been applauding my accomplishments and honoring my success, but nobody knows what I have truly accomplished. Few people actually really knew who I was inside and what I have endured. So many of us have these past lives that we are ashamed of. I have kept my secret for years. My one greatest success was my rebirth: Pulling myself from the ditch I had created–from my depression, my death–and making someone of myself. And doing a damn good job.
How did I do it? Read about my road to recovery in next week’s post.