Love In Corona
From Muzmatch I moved to a matrimonial website. Due to what must have been a glitch in the system, I received six notifications in my email that a certain gentleman found me interesting. Initially I ignored the notifications, as the man was 16 years my senior, and so of course was obviously not an option. After the sixth notification however, I went to chat with him, informing him almost immediately that he was beyond the age group I was seeking. Being a new divorcee, I was also intrigued by the pool of divorced men out there. What was their story? What are they seeking? So I was open to making casual conversation with him, and open to perhaps learning something new. As for my “casual conversation” with this man, (let us call him M), it led to a 3-5 hour conversation, almost every day, for the next few weeks. Very quickly my rigid age limits were relaxed. Upon video chatting, we discovered palpable chemistry. Oh! The dopamine rush! I was euphoric. I had not felt beautiful, attractive, liked, desired and special for years. Receiving that after a painfully long hiatus was like basking in delicious, warm rays of sunlight on a balmy afternoon. He had big, brown eyes with long eyelashes, a deep, manly voice, sober in temperament, a person of words and a sapiophile like myself. From a mere glance, I could tell he thought me lovely. And I was soaring. My religious standards and ethics rapidly plummeted. A woman who prided herself in having immense hayah (modesty) during her decade of marriage, was like a bashful and bold eighteen year old girl, soaking up the attention after years of being utterly parched. Did I cross the boundaries of modesty? Probably. Should I have involved a mahram or chaperone in the conversations? Probably. Did I feel pitiful regret for not pursuing those more noble avenues? To be honest, not really. There was much good that sprung from this unexpected, budding romance. 1. It helped me get over my divorce. For the longest time, right through my ‘ iddah, I blamed my now ex husband for giving up, walking away, and not trying hard enough. I thought him choosing to leave was the biggest mistake ever. However, after meeting M, I realised how my ex and I were completely opposite temperaments, always making harmony between us so very challenging, and that in ten years, we actually only had 1-2 good years. For us to make the marriage somewhat work, I would pretty much have had to change my entire personality, and be an inauthentic version of myself. The anger towards my ex-husband disappeared. I was even able to text him an apology on the 27th night of Ramadan, asking his forgiveness for the mistakes I made during the marriage. 2. It helped me recover some of my brutally shredded self-esteem. During my 'i ddah , I had several Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) sessions, and before the sessions they made me fill out an evaluation, including dreaded questions such as How attractive did you feel this week on a scale of 1-10? Zero. How hopeful do you feel about the future? Two. I really believed that no man on the planet would want to marry me. A divorcee. With a child. I was doomed. After meeting M, though, I felt attractive again, and was reacquainted with my feminine, beautiful self. I grew hope that I will one day marry, perhaps not him, but it most certainly would possible that I will one day remarry someone wonderful. In sha Allah. Despite these positive aspects, I was also immensely fearful at how dramatically my state had changed, merely due to a charismatic man. I was so aware that my happiness should not be contingent on him and his fascination with me, but rather that it had to spring from myself. I need to feel good about me, irrespective of whether a man likes me or not. And so I continued the self-love meditation, the yoga, trauma release exercises and the rest of it. The euphoria was not sustained, however, as M revealed a volatile side, impetuously ending our liaison, and coming back on multiple occasions. My acquiescence in taking him back was indicative to me that I still needed to work on my self-esteem. Any self- respecting woman would have put her foot down and declare that she was deserving of better treatment. Ah, but I was already sucked into the vortex of attachment. His good side was dazzling. We were very mutually attracted. I didn’t want to be alone, and he had become a friend and companion. Most of all, I had started to imagine a life and home with him, and discarding that fantasy was too distressing for me. Furthermore, the question nagged me: How much good is good enough? And how much bad is too bad? With one impetuous incident after another, I started to feel some anger, which proved to be positive, allowing me to internally place some distance between us. Yes, after months of talking to this mysterious man, I still would like to meet him and see if marriage is actually a possibility, but at the same time I am cautious. The whole thing has been a meaningful learning experience for me, making me cognisant of my self-perception, self-limits, what I find to be crucial traits in a partner.