The Middle: Storms and Hurricanes
The ups then incredible downs continued like an out-of-control avalanche and all I was doing these last 16 years was trying to avoid or postpone, at best, what was inevitable.
We fell pregnant a few short months after getting married [my ignorance of pills and antibiotics, of course]. It felt like he resented me; like it was my fault. By falling pregnant, I had somehow robbed him of more alone time with me.
Our fights were explosive, they left me broken, hollow and utterly confused. His words "I hate when we fight, I don't like to see you cry" started holding zero weight. How could they when his behaviour became the reason for my tears?
…babies and discoveries
Sixteen years of this and I am only coming up for air now. There is nothing quite as painful as realising how badly I've been treated until I started penning this down. This was not okay; this was not normal. We were separated for a short while when our first born was three years old. He refused to give me the space I needed to recover after a making harrowing discovery of "friendships" with women I did not know, so I asked to move back to my parents for a while.
Our beautiful three-year-old [such an old soul] would catch me in my weakest moments in prayer, tears streaming down my face and he would come to me, cup my face in his blessed little hands, wipe the tears with whatever he could find, find my eyes and tell me sincerely "I can make you happy mom, don't cry". Oh my dearest son, my sun, you make the darkest days seem brighter.
Somehow my heart had softened during this separation and our son and I moved back. We tried again to be a family. But it felt forced, like I was there on borrowed time, waiting to discover more heartbreaking news.
Our gorgeous daughter was born about 18 months after we had reconciled and life seemed beautiful once more, Alhamdulillah. Until she was just over a year old that is, and I, once again, made a shocking discovery. How is it that habits that broke us before, kept surfacing? Was it not painful enough to lose us once? Why am I not enough? Why are we not enough?
…panic attacks and therapy
This was the beginning of my journey with antidepressants, my journey with psychologists and psychiatrists and my chronic battle with panic attacks whenever I was severely triggered. Why was he incapable of seeing the damage his behaviour was causing? And why, why, why was I so weak to allow it? He had a daughter now. Does it not give him sleepless nights that one day she will be in a relationship and, God forbid, her husband treats her this way - will we stand back and allow it?
I spent two weeks in a programme at hospital after what was the biggest breakdown in my life to date. Hours upon hours of psychotherapy, meditation, group work, individual work, couples therapy, and somehow life just went on.
We discovered that we were expecting our third child when our daughter was six years old, and I sadly miscarried. I thought this brought us closer, but it was only for a moment in time. He pushed for another child. I could not understand why; we had our beautiful pigeon pair, Alhamdulillah, and they were enough for me.
But he persisted and in 2018, our third child was born. I felt completely disconnected for a while: from my husband and from the baby. Something in my soul was unsettled, but as a mom of a newborn and two older kids, you carry on because it is what you have to do. Perhaps this was only the nerves of caring for new life again, or perhaps it was postnatal depression.
…then we found our groove
Our last born had just turned two during lockdown, Alhamdulillah, and we seemed to have found a groove that works in our home. Online schooling, shared slots for baby care while the other one worked, shared household chores. Alhamdulillah life was good.
…but old habits die hard
The thing I have learnt about history, is that experiences will continue to repeat themselves until the lesson is learnt, not so? And so the greatest test revealed itself: a stranger came looking for me. I had never met this person, yet I trusted his word over my husband’s. How could this be happening? How could he betray me, again, after everything we had been through?