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  • Writer's pictureAyah

Triggered

Updated: Sep 8, 2021


Scanning profile after profile on my Muslim marriage apps, my disillusionment increased. I found myself saying internally. “My ex is so much better than these men.” I thought perhaps if my ex and I spent casual, relaxed time together, we might come to enjoy each other’s company and feel safe again. Who knows, we might even remarry.


And then a few nights ago I sat down after a long day, reactivated my deactivated marriage apps and started browsing. Suddenly, one of the first profiles I saw was my ex’s. I stopped, frozen, and a flood of emotion washed over me. My mouth was bone dry as I read his profile, saw his pics. I knew how that cheek felt, I knew how soft his skin was, I knew how that arm felt under my touch, firm and muscular. I knew that face so well, and the exact favourite spot I’d like to kiss, the small part where his nose met his cheek. I knew what it was like to gaze into those hazel eyes. I read, “Seeking marriage within 1-2 years.” I felt sick to my stomach. I sat there and cried. The entire night I was a mess. My ex-husband who had such tremendous modesty, who I had never once seen ever look at another woman, who had never been with another woman before me, was out there talking to women and looking for a spouse. I was devastated. I had thought I was over all this. I had thought that I had worked really hard to move on. But my excessive emotion betrayed me. It revealed that some part of me had held on to hope.


In my anguish I consulted a friend. I was told that I was not devastated about not getting together with my ex, because that could not happen. It was never a good situation. I was devastated about the loss of an idea. The entire situation of an ex moving on is new, and requires time to process. And it’s okay.


After a few days of fitful dreams of him dating a woman, my emotion stabilised. We decided to go out with friends for an afternoon by the lake, for the sake of our child who loves having both his parents around. I was optimistic, thinking we could even be friends. On the way there we spoke courteously and had a smooth time with our friends and child. During the scenic ride on the way back, I asked him to stop on the road so I could buy a small jar of colourful zinnias. Flowers always make me happy. Shortly after that, he proceeded to talk about the division of our son’s time with us. I felt transportation to his school should be divided. He asked me what my schedule was like, how I spent my time. I suspected he was asking me the question because I evidently did not work as much as he did, and he wanted me to do more in terms of transport. I mentioned that the nature of my schedule and what I do in my time is not relevant to the discussion at hand. We should work on dividing the time equally and what we do in our time is our personal matter. Unfortunately, that statement opened up Pandora’s box. All chaos ensued. He became upset, perceived me as rude, went on to say “Don’t talk to me.” I said, “Yes, teach your son how to talk to his mother.” He responded, “Thanks Mom, lecture me.” I was dismayed and disoriented by the excessive reaction. I was not being rude. I had made a concerted effort to be courteous when I spoke to him. But he perceived what I was saying as rude, lashed out at me, leaving me stunned. The beauty of the flowers dissolved into my lap as the ugliness of our dialogue permeated the car. He said, “I don’t want to spend time with you anymore. This isn’t healthy.” All the feelings, all the awful feelings I felt in the last few years of marriage came flooding back. The walking on eggshells, feelings of being rejected, worthless, invisible, dismissed, misunderstood. I sat there as my eyes welled with tears and my throat became thick with emotion. This was my off weekend, his weekend with our son. I could have napped, finished up some work, or self-indulged, but I chose to organise a trip out together for the sake of our child. I was so naïve to think we could be friends.


I realised with absolute clarity that there was no way whatsoever for us to get back together again. I had thought that the hyperreactivity would have waned after two years of being divorced, but there was so much baggage that we still trigger each other by the slightest word. Not even friendship was practical. The rest of the ride was charged and quiet. He dropped me home, and when I was alone, I cried. I. was tired of feeling that everything I said and did was wrong. I was tired of this. I do not ever want to go back to that.


I called a friend who is also a divorcee, and she said, “You still have some kind of expectations or attachment to your ex. You will have to break every one of those. You need to re-create yourself.”


After this, I know I need to take all the memories of my marriage, of my ex, and pack them in a box and put them in the basement. I cannot look back. I cannot hope. I need to move forward, create new memories, create a new me that is entirely independent of him. What was, was. I do not want to carry that into my future. I need to also work on my self-esteem and self-love, so I am not left reeling when I am disrespected or rejected. Somewhat more accepting about him being on a marriage platform looking, I know it will be a process of breaking the many links of attachment. Each string of expectation and attachment will need to be clipped, slowly, slowly. I need to realise that we are officially done, and the detachment process might take longer than anticipated.




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