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The Bed

The Bed

At times you rocked, hot and sweaty Now you are vacant, wide and empty  Sometimes you feel desolate  Like an arctic wasteland  My loneliness pushed under the covers  Other times I revel in your vastness My diagonal feet enjoying your space  Your comforter comforting  Your pillow peaceful My silent loneliness finds shelter in your covers My place of safety  Often my laptop and books  Mercifully occupy your space  Making your size feel Just right for me I wonder  Will you ever receive another occupant  Or will it be just you and me Forever

He Followed me to Mexico...

He Followed me to Mexico...

I’m sad to say, he followed me to Mexico. It was three weeks into the iddah period , the Islamic waiting period that comes after a spouse issues the “talaq” pronouncing divorce, when I decided it was time to book a vacation. It was a chance to run away from my problems, from the daily-reminders of a happily-ever-after gone wrong. I scheduled the trip to align with the holiday break, so I could minimize my vacation days. When I purchased the plane ticket, I imagined laying on white beaches, drinking virgin pina coladas, with a stack full of books next to me. I visualized the ease and comfort of no meal prep, with oodles of cheap eats just a hop away from my boutique hotel. I longed for the calming spas and massages that would make me forget, even momentarily, that my husband quit our marriage.  What I didn’t visualize is the unexpected guest that accompanied me during the whole trip.  He was there with me in the shower, on the beach, and in the treetop yoga class when I went into shavasana.  He whispered tragic things to me while I was covered in Mayan clay on a massage table at a fancy spa. And he had the nerve to follow me to bed each night, begging me to spill tears over all that I had lost.  I’m sure you guessed by now that this phantom who followed me was none other than that ghastly abstract entity named Grief. I thought I could escape him by fleeing the country. I thought I could have a moment of peace, but alas, I had to confront what happened. And that’s why you’re reading this dear reader. Because I barely know what happened in the last seventeen months, from the day I got married (July 24, 2022), to the day he issued the talaq, November 2, 2023. Before that, I had a great year. In fact, days spent with my ex were the happiest I had been in years . The low-grade depression/anxiety I have battled since around 2017, was tame. Sure, there were moments when I wasn’t sure about my career, and I worried about things like my fertility, and paying off my student loans, but it came and went like a honeybee checking for pollen on a fake sunflower. Overall, I was happy, really truly happy.  It’s only now that I understand I was living in a fantasy world set to end.  There are lessons, morals to every story. And that’s what the intent of this year’s blog series is. It isn’t to disparage my ex-husband (who I will from now only refer to as X), or to spill all the beans, or add fuel to the already blazing fire. The purpose is to find meaning in the mess. Because there must be some meaning, right? It’s impossible to have your entire world flipped upside down and there not be any takeaways or any teachings that both, you and I, can learn to build upon. Right? I mean God must have had a reason for tearing apart my little world, my little family, right? I’m praying the answer is yes.   But at this point, only a few months out, I have no idea.  What I do know is what has helped in the past. The last time I fell into a deep pit and wasn’t sure how to climb out, writing saved me. In the height of my singleness, writing was my confidante, my savior, my compass.  When I began to share my writing and my experiences about finding love and marriage as a practicing Muslimah online, it opened doors to finding a community of women that were struggling too. The commiseration helped me to feel less alone.  I’m hoping to use this substack as a way to grow the community. Any lost souls feeling like they’re the only ones who have been rejected, unwanted, and ignored, can find solace knowing they are not. We are not broken beings that are searching for a home. We are in a temporary place, a temporary moment, and we will make it through, and find ourselves on the other side of this loneliness, stronger than ever before. At least that’s what I’m praying for. I’m praying that I get through this tragedy stronger than before. Because what else can I do, but shine positivity on a moment of otherwise devastation? If God has placed me in this moment, with such a test, what else can I do, but persevere? A lesson on Grief I’ve been learning a lot about grief these days. I am blessed that I have not yet had any serious losses in my close circle of friends and family to which I encountered the grief process, Alhumdullilah. But since my marriage ended, I have been familiarizing myself with it.  The physical manifestation of grief strikes me most mornings when I realize the nightmare I dreamed is my new reality. The first few weeks after he left, I would wake up with a jolt. It was a stabbing in my heart that shot through my whole body. I had a hard time breathing. All the memories of the words said before his departure, and immediately after, played in my mind on repeat. All the tears shed. All the shouting. The cycle of memories crippled me. I had to play Quran on Youtube to distract myself. Sometimes I had to call friends for strength. It took me hours to get out of bed. I was completely disoriented. Now, the pain comes at different times during the day: at Whole Foods when I go to grab the bottle of Elderflower water we used to drink, or when I’m walking to the coffee shop he used to grab me coffee from in the morning. Everywhere I go, especially in my neighborhood that I love and refuse to leave, is tainted with memories of what once was.  So of course, I thought I could trick grief into leaving me alone for a few days when I went to Tulum, Mexico with a friend. Sadly, I was wrong. Grief was there at every corner showing me this depression wasn’t going away any time soon.  Andrew Huberman did a podcast on the grief process and healing from grief. He said, “grief is a motivational state… and a desire for something…” He said modern science says that not everyone goes through all the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. (Elisabeth Kübler-Ross). Some people can blend these stages together. The depression state which he describes as the “why should I go on living” stage is where I’m stuck now.  I wish I was months out from this and could tell you something positive like time heals all wounds , but I’m not there yet. I’m still in immense pain. I’m still trying to see all the reasons that I need to be enthused about continuing to live in this life that is so marred by disappointment, and illusions.   In addition to intense praying, I have been supported by hearing others’ stories. I have made contact with Muslim women who have unfortunately also been blindsided by their husbands. What they all tell me is that it does actually get better. And the healing I’m searching for happens. Each one of them had their own way of moving forward. A few of them are even re-married now. That gave me hope. My favorite story thus far was from a woman who actually had to make the brave choice to leave a marriage that was not working after twenty years of loving and trying to create a peaceful home with her husband.  After I told her my news, she said “I’m excited for you. What’s coming next is going to be so beautiful, so amazing. These may in fact be some of the best days of your life.” She said the experiences in the time after she got divorced, and before she met her second-husband, were transformative, necessary and beneficial.  Without alerting her to the fact that my natural disposition is one of pessimism, I just said “inshaAllah.” Because that’s where I’m at right now. I’m praying that there’s a reason this happened and that this is a test from Allah that I can survive, and more so overcome.  I’m praying that the ayah from the surah on divorce, surah Talaq, applies to me: And whoever puts their trust in Allah, then He ˹alone˺ is sufficient for them. Certainly Allah achieves His Will. Allah has already set a destiny for everything. (65:3) Xo, ND Lawyer by day, writer by night, Nailah Dean reports from the front lines as she investigates the “isms” that exist in the Muslim dating world. Her work has appeared in Al Jazeera, and Insider. Nailah directed and produced a photo series and documentary titled the Isms Project, about Muslim women and the barriers they encounter on the road to love and marriage. The project was recognized in Newsweek, AJ + and the Washington Post. She is a blogger for Salams, the popular Muslim matrimonial app, and a regular contributor to ICNA’s The Message International. Nailah is a member of the SF Writers Workshop and recipient of a 2019 Martha's Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing Fellowship. She is currently working on a novel about Muslim dating. Nailah Dean lives in the Bay Area. https://substack.com/@nailahdean https://www.nailahdean.com/

The Etiquettes of Divorce: Interview with Shaykh Jabir Tarin

The Etiquettes of Divorce: Interview with Shaykh Jabir Tarin

Shaykh Jabir Tarin is a registered associate marriage and family therapist. He has served as a teacher at several Islamic institutions, including Dua Seminary, where he teaches the Islamic Sciences, and Nur Institute. Shaykh Jabir has previously served as a therapist and spiritual and religious leader through the Muslim Mental Health Initiative at UC Berkeley and served the greater community through the Khalil Center. Currently, he passionately maintains similar roles through Wasilah Connections. Shaykh Jabir’s professional interests include providing mental well-being and spiritual direction to the City of Fremont, integrating Islamic spirituality with mental wellness, and teaching Islamic theology to young adults and college students. Wasilah Connections Counseling Services: https://wasilahconnect.org/mental-hea...

Divorce Story: Interview with Shairitbi Janjirker

Divorce Story: Interview with Shairitbi Janjirker

Shairitbi Janjirker - mother of four, grandmother of seven, in her third marriage - shares her beautiful story of grief, loss, hope and love.

Rediscovering and Resourcing Me After Divorce

Rediscovering and Resourcing Me After Divorce

Grief > Transition > Growth Sumaya Jeeva entered into 2020 fresh off the heels of a painful divorce. As she navigated lockdown, she also navigated the grief of her marriage ending. Sumaya shares what her healing journey looked like and her encouragement to people experiencing divorce. Her hunger and search for elusive support resources throughout this period led her to create an Instagram community to support divorced Muslim women called, “And She Thrived."

Winter Sun

Winter Sun

I found my old Toshiba laptop, discovered a video you took. We were only six months married. I stood by the window, the winter sun white and glowing on my long black hair. The camera angle reflected your adoration for me. You were just a boy, in love. Naive and sweet, so many hopes. I was just a girl, unaware of what this Weighty Covenant I was in, meant. So many hopes and expectations. I smiled at you in the camera, our gentle banter with each other. When things were still sweet. Watching now this scene of this young girl, she had no idea what she was doing, she was not taught how to be in a Weighty Covenant.
As you said later, when things rapidly unravelled, “You just don’t know how to be a wife.” I came to know once it was all over. All over. I watch the video and weep, for the boy with an open heart, for the girl who did not know how.

Interview with Naimah Abraham, Author of In the Belly of The Whale: Year 2020

Interview with Naimah Abraham, Author of In the Belly of The Whale: Year 2020

In this interview, we speak to Naimah Abraham, author of In the Belly of The Whale: Year 2020: Divorce, Covid-19 and Black Lives Matter. Naimah Abraham is a Haitian-American Muslim writer. Her creative approach to storytelling addresses vulnerable and controversial topics. She seeks to bring a compassionate perspective to some of the difficulties of the human experience. Author of the Amazon bestseller, "In the Belly of the Whale. Year 2020: Surviving Divorce, Covid-19 and Black Lives Matter". Her community work seeks to help people heal from relational trauma, find deeper purpose, and discover their gifts. After her divorce, she started an initiative to encourage divorced and grieving women to heal with dignity by providing self-care packages for them to feel beautiful and loved even while grappling with a difficult season in their lives. Naimah has her bachelor's in psychology and is a mother of two. IG: @nimzyunmeasured9569

Interview with Anika Munshi, Therapist: Emotionally Immature Parents

Interview with Anika Munshi, Therapist: Emotionally Immature Parents

To contact Anika: Facebook and IG @sukooncircles People can email her directly at anika@sukooncircles.com

Connecting with Lisa: Episode 2: OFNR

Connecting with Lisa: Episode 2: OFNR

In our second episode Lisa gives an overview of the four step process of Nonviolent Communication: Observation Feelings Needs Requests Click here for Episode 1: NVC

Connecting with Lisa: Episode 1: Intro to NVC (non-violent communication)

Connecting with Lisa: Episode 1: Intro to NVC (non-violent communication)

Lisa e is a certified holistic life coach, and a Nonviolent Communication trainer candidate. In her coaching practice she combines nonviolent principles with ICF competencies. Her website is www.bestnarrator.com.

Interview with Rosy Arpa: Divorce Story

Interview with Rosy Arpa: Divorce Story

Rosy Arpa is an academic and researcher based in New York. She has a PhD in Islamic Studies and has written widely in academic publications such as Zaytuna College's Renovatio Journal. She came to the US for her first marriage and has one 5 year old daughter. She is now remarried. Rosy lived for a long time in the Middle East where she learnt Arabic and also studied Turkish. For fun she enjoys practicing different languages, travelling to new countries, and chasing her daughter around the playground.

My Wedding Ring

My Wedding Ring

For a third of my life, you were with me You accompanied me Always there Close Wrapped around my finger Rock solid I expected to grieve I thought it would be so hard to say goodbye We were together for so long And I loved you I loved the way you sparkled in the light The way you would always find me, again The way you could come back to life after taking a tumble The way you beautified me You were such a good companion I thought I would cry I thought that I would feel the weight of you not being here with me anymore But I don’t even miss you It is as if you made it easy for me You made it easy to let go I thought I was holding onto you, but we were holding onto each other And when I gently tugged you off my finger you went So easily into a box, without complaining As if you knew it was time And I thank you for that My lovely companion My wedding ring - Naimah Abraham: fusion cook, nature girl, gardener, traveler, thinker, boy mom, writer, self taught baker . She is the Author of “In the Belly of the Whale.” In an open diary of poetry and prose Naimah speaks of the darkness of heartbreak and healing in threefold: the COVID-19 pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement and the end of her marriage. For many, the year 2020 was a year of challenges. Pain, heartbreak and ultimately hope are brought to life in reflections, poems and passages. In parts, the grip of trauma is tight. At other times, the writing is a dreamscape, scattered with wisdom and emotional honesty. One truth is evident - no matter how many layers deep, darkness must end and at the end of hurt, there is always healing. There is always light.

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