Hope gives me a continuity. It holds my broken pieces together until I can feel it all. It gives my focus a place to land while I feel stuck, so that I can know that the terror I’m faced with isn’t my fate. It’s not forever. It’s not where I’ll end up.
I’ve been having nightmares back to back about bullies from my childhood, rejection. The first day of Ramadan also means a lot of work in the kitchen. Doing stuff while I’m triggered is tortuous. I hid in sleeping all day and evening, only breaking up for prayers.
It’s like an emotional fever or diarrhea. I realize I’ve never been able to let these things pass through from my subconscious bc that entails reliving it all and risking being repossessed by what I’ve kept bolted for years.
The worst part about trauma isn’t what happened, but being deprived of the processing by way of demands to keep going as if nothing happened or being shamed for not being able to keep going. This mechanism has become so embedded in my trauma that it’s become an automation to switch over to numbing out and disassociating any triggers bc to feel the trauma makes me feel naked. It completely disables me and any function I have and with that, any usefulness I have to others. That chain is broken, and I’m left vulnerable to attacks that I’ve come to believe are valid. My worst fear is feeling the trauma and in that moment being pressured to do stuff for others. That’s what I fear about marriage, about motherhood, about doing what I love. The interruption of nightmares that never seem to end, and the rejection of those around me bc they’re disgusted by my incapacitated self.
Reflecting over my triggers
I think the bedrock for this started long ago, when I started practicing Islaam as a 16 year old. Of course, what I absorbed was through the filter of my psyche and my upbringing so it’s little wonder I assumed Allaah expected what my parents expected of me. It’s almost as if I sought out an image of Islaam that mapped perfectly onto my upbringing, to stifle any discrepancies. I do remember scoffing at mentions of mercy and viewing it as weakness and almost a kiddy version of Islaam. I now realize I was trying to avoid critiquing my mother’s relationship with me who’d use Islaam a lot in our upbringing.
But it sowed seeds of deep doubts bc my intentions always surpassed my ability and that became a pivotal point of struggle ; trying to undo my limitations, my weaknesses bc I felt incredibly exposed. My faith couldn’t fit there bc my faith was managed by my mind and I had to rise to the occasion. I felt it a defeat and admission of a lukewarm faith if I were to ask Allaah for help. I had to prove myself.
A few years later as I became more and more intellectually rigid in a bid to stack against the doubt, I started punishing myself for my feelings. At this point my feelings were as distant as the moon or as intangible as microbes. I kept my psyche in a frozen state, as if by cryogenics. The group I adhered to espoused beliefs that unequivocally said Allaah doesn’t love unconditionally, you have to earn that love. I internalized this to mean that Allaah will love me to the extent that I prove myself by implementing what I learn. I also believed that if I let my limitations or weaknesses (read: trauma) override what Allaah wanted, then that would be grounds for being led astray. I felt as if Allaah could get mad at me for anything and punish me. There were a lot of talks about punishment and worthiness. Again, I gravitate to these things. Even in the group, I’d tune out ahadeeth and aayat that spoke about balance, leniency, forgiveness, mercy. I didn’t want to give my heart any ammunition.
Let the triggers go off like fireworks on new year’s.
I ask Allaah to heal my religious wounds completely. I feel even more alienated when I see how everyone is so joyous. I genuinely don’t know where it comes from. I’ve long ago blocked all mentions of Ramadan in all its different spellings.
A few hours after maghrib I felt an unusual calm, that I took as a response to my duaa. Words fail to encompass what I want to say but I trust that Allaah gets it. Cuz I sure don’t.
It feels like a burn injury, this religious wound. Agony from having held on to the conflict for years, charred by the embers of doubt and unworthiness. It stood between seeking the untarnished truth and sticking to the traditions of the group (which I couldn’t connect to no matter how I tried).
The process of shifting was very traumatic, especially since religion and culture are so intertwined that you’re expected to signal and perform your adherence, to ascertain your belonging.
Anyway, I pray these triggers are purifying and that I can find relief from these attacks.
Despair is the shrill cry of a soul whose needs have been overlooked and trampled upon. Hope then isn’t a silencing of these cries through vague promises of a better day, but a reinstituting of its right to exist and feel despair. To not belittle or play down the cause of concern but to shift the focus to birthright of every soul as a sovereign being with unconditional access to abundance and any authority figure or institute that instills a lack mentality or justifies despair is false and corrupt.
Hope is the validation of gaslighted soul that’s been cut-off from Allaah on the basis of not being enough.
Hope is space uncluttered by the past and whatever you once held in and thought was real. It’s the love that’s beneath and betwixt everything. It’s what keeps you together when you lose everything. It’s what keeps you sane when violent storms are ripping through your mind. It’s clarity because it’s a rerouting to the reality of Allaah. Unwavering and unchanging even when everything crumbles and transforms. The meaning that stands the test of time.
The crux however is that it’s something you feel, this space of hope. It opens up in your heart and you have to feel through all the pain and trauma that has stacked above it to get to the clear space that underpins it all. One thing to keep in mind when feeling through the darkness triggers panicked thoughts is that you wouldn’t be able to feel and process the chaos if it weren’t through a stable channel. That’s why some traumatic memories or experiences get repressed or otherwise dissociated from recall until the psyche has the space to process it without self-destructing. Do you get that? You can’t feel weak without strength, you can’t feel doubt without knowledge, you can’t feel fear without hope. Don’t lose sight of that contrast.
I just realized that it wasn’t until Ya’Qub alayhissalaam’s second favourite son was taken that the trial came to a closure. Also, this is parallel to his grandfather Ibraaheem alayhissalaam who was tried with his two sons (one being Is’haaq, the father of Ya’Qub) one of whom he had to abandon and the other one kill (again, similar to the killing claimed for Yusuf and the abandonment of Benjamin in Egypt).
وَإِذِ ٱبْتَلَىٰٓ إِبْرَٰهِۦمَ رَبُّهُۥ بِكَلِمَٰتٍ فَأَتَمَّهُنَّ قَالَ إِنِّى جَاعِلُكَ لِلنَّاسِ إِمَامًا قَالَ وَمِن ذُرِّيَّتِى قَالَ لَا يَنَالُ عَهْدِى ٱلظَّٰلِمِينَ
And [mention, O Muhammad], when Abraham was tried by his Lord with commands and he fulfilled them. [Allah] said, “Indeed, I will make you a leader for the people.” [Abraham] said, “And of my descendants?” [Allah] said, “My covenant does not include the wrongdoers.”
I’m amazed that I never saw that. And my mind is always trying to find connections and patterns. But this one just popped into my mind. Allaah will reveal what He wants whenever He wants and it’s not a matter of vigilance or effort. SubhaanAllaah.