I want to take a moment to send my appreciation and love to all my sisters who for whatever reason got a divorce and/or has kids from a previous marriage .
You are our unsung (s)heroes. Your past is not indicative of failure but of a brave woman who dared greatly in love and when she saw that it wasn’t going to work out for her wellbeing, walked out amidst the whispers and rumours.
I see a woman who runs her own life and is resilient.
Y’all might be confused over why I see divorce as bravery. It’s not about divorce per se, but the connotations. As Somali women, we have unwritten rules and regulations ; we must marry early on to be viewed as a complete woman and we must never under any circumstances let go of that man because the success or failure of that marriage is used to gauge a woman’s worth. If we don’t marry, it’s our fault. If he abuses us, it’s our fault for being weak and not leave. If he marries another woman, it’s because we came up short. If we get divorced, it’s our fault.
There are MANY women (and men, for sure. I’m not discounting the men, but my focus in this post is women) who stay in dead relationships far too long because they don’t think they can deal with the repercussions of society. To them, it’s easier to stomach abuse or even if there’s no abuse, just being with someone you don’t vibe with at all is damaging.
Why do you think the stereotype of maseyr (jealousy) exists? In Somalia it’s common to see a woman who found out about her husband’s new wife or who was dished an unexpected divorce to go into psychosis. Like, it’s the only time a woman will get a pass for losing it. And the man is expected to bribe her with gifts and change the furniture etc, and this is called maseyr-tir ( literally means jealousy abolishing). Or he straight up divorces the new wife to please the first one. Though the reasons are complex and it’s not my intention to oversimplify it, but a lot of that nervous breakdown has to do with the fact that for a woman, marriage is her LIFE, her sense of pride, her cultural visa. Somali aunties don’t see me as a full adult even though I’m almost 27. I always get the vibe that my ‘real’ life hasn’t started yet. And once you’re divorced, you inherit the term ‘garoob’ as if to imply you’re defective. And a man walks scot-free. At most it’s said ‘naag buu furay’ ( he divorced a woman).
So in the face of a divorce, many Somali women face an identity crisis ; who am I without a man?
This is why when I see a sister who has been divorced, I never pity her. I see her as an inspiration. One of the reasons why I’ve delayed marriage is because I didn’t want that burden of making sure this marriage lasts a lifetime or else…
But seeing a sister who walks with her head held high, with the best glo up ever, it makes me less afraid of marriage. Marriage IS a risk, and despite the chances of a bad outcome you still have to be vulnerable and go for it. Love like all other great things in life, has no certainty and you need to be brave!
Because of seeing such wholesome women, I know that I can dare greatly and if I don’t get the outcome I wished for, and walk out even with a child or two, I WILL be ok. I WILL thrive. I WON’T be defective.
It’s ironic that I’d learn that from people who got divorced, but that’s real. And it’s unfortunate that these women are seen as heroes because of how much negativity and stigma they have to contend with. I wish their heroism wasn’t rooted in such pain, but that’s heroes for you ; they rise from the ashes.
I hope I have not trivialized or made you feel any less, my sister, but I just wanted to show my love in the best way I know how. ❤❤❤