hold on to me, don’t

a divine curse?
a mind bursting to give birth to stars and galaxies
a heart too timid to crowd the world
In between the two, a will that wax and wanes like the moon

and like the moon, swims through darkness

my fear of dying ironically kills my will to live
my ego must dissolve like a cocoon , for my soul to be born
In between the two, the tide of suffering rises in me but never allows its waves to reach the shore

for i always drown my hope at the last moment before dawn
so i can pretend that he was only a flimsy, fleeting dream
buried at the sea of my heart

Rebecca Solnit

The desire to go home that is a desire to be whole, to know where you are, to be the point of intersection of all the lines drawn through all the stars, to be the constellation-maker and the center of the world, that center called love. To awaken from sleep, to rest from awakening, to tame the animal, to let the soul go wild, to shelter in darkness and blaze with light, to cease to speak and be perfectly understood.

  • Storming the Gates of Paradise: Landscapes for Politics

The stars we are given. The constellations we make. That is to say, stars exist in the cosmos, but constellations are the imaginary lines we draw between them, the readings we give the sky, the stories we tell.”

  • Storming the Gates of Paradise: Landscapes for Politics

Worry is a way to pretend that you have knowledge or control over what you don’t–and it surprises me, even in myself, how much we prefer ugly scenarios to the pure unknown.

  • A Field Guide to Getting Lost

A path is a prior interpretation of the best way to traverse a landscape.

  • Wanderlust: A History of Walking

 

Writing is saying to no one and to everyone the things it is not possible to say to someone.

  • The Faraway Nearby

 

How will you go about finding that thing the nature of which is totally unknown to you?(Plato)

The things we want are transformative, and we don’t know or only think we know what is on the other side of that transformation. Love, wisdom, grace, inspiration- how do you go about finding these things that are in some ways about extending the boundaries of the self into unknown territory, about becoming someone else?

  • A Field Guide to Getting Lost

 

Despair is a form of certainty, certainty that the future will be a lot like the present or decline from it. Optimism is similarly confident about what will happen. Both are grounds for not acting. Hope can be the knowledge that reality doesn’t necessarily match our plans.

  • Men Explain Things to Me

To write is to carve a new path through the terrain of the imagination, or to point out new features on a familiar route. To read is to travel through that terrain with the author as a guide– a guide one might not always agree with or trust, but who can at least be counted on to take one somewhere.

  • Wanderlust: A History of Walking

But hope is not about what we expect. It is an embrace of the essential unknowability of the world, of the breaks with the present, the surprises. Or perhaps studying the record more carefully leads us to expect miracles – not when and where we expect them, but to expect to be astonished, to expect that we don’t know. And this is grounds to act.

  • Hope in the Dark

Hope locates itself in the premises that we don’t know what will happen and that in the spaciousness of uncertainty is room to act. When you recognize uncertainty, you recognize that you may be able to influence the outcomes–you alone or you in concert with a few dozen or several million others. Hope is an embrace of the unknown and knowable, a alternative to the certainty of both optimists and pessimists. Optimists think it will all be fine without our involvement; pessimists take the opposite position; both excuse themselves from acting. It’s the belief that what we do matters even though how and when it may matter, who and what is may impact, are not things we can know beforehand. We may not, in fact, know them afterward either, but they matter all the same, and history is full of people whose influence was most powerful after they were gone.

  • Hope in the Dark

If the boundaries of the self are defined by what we feel, then those who cannot feel even for themselves shrink within their own boundaries, while those who feel for others are enlarged, and those who feel compassion for all beings must be boundless. They are not separate, not alone, not lonely, not vulnerable in the same way as those of us stranded in the islands of ourselves, but they are vulnerable in other ways. Still, that sense of the dangers in feeling for others is so compelling that many withdraw, and develop elaborate stories to justify withdrawal, and then forget that they have shrunk. Most of us do, in one way or another.

 

  • The Faraway Nearby

 

The possibility of paradise hovers on the cusp of coming into being, so much so that it takes powerful forces to keep such a paradise at bay. If paradise now arises in hell, it’s because in the suspension of the usual order and the failure of most systems, we are free to live and act another way.

  • A Paradise Built in Hell

 

Paradise is not the place in which you arrive but the journey toward it. Sometimes I think victories must be temporary or incomplete; what kind of humanity would survive paradise? The industrialized world has tried to approximate paradise in its suburbs, with luxe, calme, volupté, cul-de-sacs, cable television and two-car garages, and it has produced a soft ennui that shades over into despair and a decay of the soul suggesting that Paradise is already a gulag. Countless desperate teenagers will tell you so. For paradise does not require of us courage, selflessness, creativity, passion: paradise in all accounts is passive, is sedative, and if you read carefully, soulless.

  • Hope in the Dark

Creation is always in the dark because you can only do the work of making by not quite knowing what you’re doing, by walking into darkness, not staying in the light.

  • The Faraway Nearby

 

Resistance is first of all a matter of principle and a way to live, to make yourself one small republic of unconquered spirit. You hope for results, but you don’t depend on them.

  • Hope in the Dark

 

He ceased to be lost not by returning but by turning into something else.

  • A Field Guide to Getting Lost

 

To dig deeper into the self, to go underground, is sometimes necessary, but so is the other route of getting out of yourself, into the larger world, into the openness in which you need not clutch your story and your troubles so tightly to your chest.

  • The Faraway Nearby

 

A labyrinth is an ancient device that compresses a journey into a small space, winds up a path like thread on a spool. It contains beginning, confusion, perseverance, arrival, and return. There at last the metaphysical journey of your life and your actual movements are one and the same. You may wander, may learn that in order to get to your destination you must turn away from it, become lost, spin about, and then only after the way has become overwhelming and absorbing, arrive, having gone the great journey without having gone far on the ground.

  • The Faraway Nearby

 

I wish that I could put up yesterday’s evening sky for all posterity, could preserve a night of love, the sound of a mountain stream, a realization as it sets my mind afire, a dance, a day of harmony, ten thousand glorious days of clouds that will instead vanish and never be seen again, line them up in jars where they might be admired in the interim and tasted again as needed.

  • The Faraway Nearby

 

What we dream of is already present in the world.

  • Hope in the Dark

 

Some portion of Woolf’s genius, it seems to me, is that having no notion, that negative capability. I once heard about a botanist in Hawaii with a knack for finding new species by getting lost in the jungle, by going beyond what he knew and how he knew, by letting experience be larger than his knowledge, by choosing reality rather than the plan. Woolf not only utilized but celebrated the unpredictable meander, on mind and foot. Her great essay Street Haunting: A London Adventure, from 1930, has the light breezy tone of many of her early essays, and yet voyages deep into the dark.

  • Men Explain Things to Me

It’s only just a dream

I vow to stay with me.

I vow to be committed to my truth, the truth, every moment.

vow to seek clarity before validation

to give before I demand

love before security

the potential before the practical
In a world that floods my mind, clogs my senses, uproots my stability, vandalizes my intuition

I have to fight to stay afloat, with nothing but the present in my arsenal

So, I vow to calm my racing heart out in the battlefields

I vow to stay open, even as the ricochet of people’s facades spray my face.

I vow to never give up on hope no matter how gloomy things get

I vow to not let the status quo dictate the perimeters of my dreams

I vow to keep coming back to square one, to pore over the universe with each discovery that broadens my horizons and deepens the caverns of my soul.

and I vow to never stop looking for you.

Sore wings

I just realized that the cause of evil in this world is that people don’t want to be on the receiving end of others evil, so in defending their frail sense of self, they become the monsters they were fearing. 
Wallaahi, Allaah is my witness, I’d rather be dragged on my face, have my name obliterated, have my back stabbed, than to live for even a moment in this world anticipating such evil. What’s the absolute worst people can do to me? Reject me? Attempt to kill me? Slander me? Falsely accuse me? Unjustly incarcerate me? 

Yet, all that happened to Yusuf calayhissalaam, and in the end Allaah elevated him above his suffering. Why? Because he never became like the monsters who hurt him. Even after all his brothers did to him, when he became the financial minister of Egypt, and his brothers travelled from Jerusalem due to severe famine, he was forgiving. Forbearing. No trace of bitterness in his heart. No victimization. No blaming. 
When it was alleged that a stolen golden bowl was found in the bag of Benjamin, who was the only full brother of Yusuf, the other half brothers didn’t miss a beat to slander their brother Yusuf they presumed to have died some 30 odd years prior to this meeting. And even then Yusuf calayhissalaam didn’t lose his composure 
They [Yusuf’s  brothers] said: “If he steals, there was a brother of his [Yusuf] who did steal before (him).” But these things did Yusuf keep in himself, revealing not the secrets to them. He said (within himself): “You are in worst case, and Allaah is the Best Knower of that which you describe!” 

(Yusuf 12:77)
He could have punished them. He could have gloated and rubbed his status in their faces. He could have punished them. But no, he refused to become like them. 
And his father, when word got back that Benjamin, his second favourite, was detained in Egypt, he lost his sight due to extreme sorrow. He lost Yusuf whilst in the care of the brothers, and now he lost Benjamin to the same fate. He was beside himself. Yet he didn’t allow frustration and anger and sadness and hopelessness cloud his judgement. He expected good, always, even when it seemed impossible. 
“They said: “By Allaah! You will never cease remembering Yusuf  until you become weak with old age, or until you be of the dead.” 
He said: “I only complain of my grief and sorrow to Allaah, and I know from Allaah that which you know not.”
 (Yusuf 12:85-86)
Even when people told him to give up and become realistic, he refused. Even after all these years, he kept feeling the pain. He didn’t shut himself down. He didn’t numb his feelings. He let that sorrow surge through him till he lost his sight because numbing the heart to pain would mean putting one’s intuition on mute.
“O my sons! Go you and enquire about Yusuf and his brother, and never give up hope of Allâh’s Mercy. Certainly no one despairs of Allaah’s Mercy, except the people who disbelieve.” 
( Yusuf 12:87) 

Why did he say only the disbelievers despair of Allaah’s mercy? Because the mercy of Allaah is from the realms of uncertainty, of what we don’t know. A realm that can’t be broached by logic or reason. A realm that is outside that, and can only be accessed through a vulnerable heart trembling with fear of the unknown, but able to transcend all of that through faith. And what is faith if not the belief in something for which one has no immediate proof of? 

So, Yacqub was eventually reunited with all of his sons – as he had hoped. And Yusuf calayhissalaam was cleared of the accusations, and the dream he had as a young boy before he was thrown in the well, it came true. 
And something interesting about dreams. Dreams was one of the ways Allaah sent revelations to the prophets. For instance, Ibraahiim calayhissalaam saw in a dream that he was to slaughter his son, Ismaaciil. And he knew that it was a direct command, because all the dreams of the prophets were direct revelations.  But even after the cessation of the final prophethood, dreams remain one way Allaah inspires the truthful individual. The more honest and authentic the person is, the stronger and clearer one’s dreams and intuition. Why? Because dreams and intuition come from the heart, from the subconscious, and lies and deception clouds one’s heart. 
The prophet sallAllaahu calayhi wasallam said about this:
وأصدقكم رؤيا أصدقكم حديثا
“The truthfulness of the dream is related to the sincerity of the dreamer. Those who have the most truthful dreams are those who are the most truthful in speech.”
 (Muslim)

Going back to what I mentioned about Yusuf keeping his heart clean – it’s what enabled the dream to actualize. And indeed, his honesty and authenticity is what made him one of Allaah’s chosen ones, those He gives special protection and guidance. 
When the wife tried to seduce Yusuf, this is what Allaah said 
 وَلَقَدْ هَمَّتْ بِهِ وَهَمَّ بِهَا لَوْلا أَن رَّأَى بُرْهَانَ رَبِّهِ كَذَلِكَ لِنَصْرِفَ عَنْهُ السُّوءَ وَالْفَحْشَاء إِنَّهُ مِنْ عِبَادِنَا الْمُخْلَصِينَ
“And indeed she did desire him and he would have inclined to her desire, had he not seen the evidence of his Lord. Thus it was, that We might turn away from him evil and illegal sexual intercourse. Surely, he was one of Our chosen, guided slaves.”
 (Yusuf 12:24)
The point I want to draw your attention to is the word translated to mean chosen: الْمُخْلَصِينَ
It’s the passive participle ( اسم مفعول)  ofأخلَصَ  ( to make/be sincere) . So the one who does the act of ikhlaas is called
Mukhlis   مُخلِص with a kasra 
But the ayah says Mukhlas مُخلَص with a fatxa 

which means that the person changes from being the doer to the subject. So due to someone’s consistent sincerity, Allaah becomes ‘sincere’ towards them by choosing them and protecting them. 
الجزاء من جنس العمل

And it was this that Iblees was referring to when he said, as Allaah mentioned in the Qur’aan 
قَالَ فَبِعِزَّتِكَ لَأُغْوِيَنَّهُمْ أَجْمَعِينَ

إِلَّا عِبَادَكَ مِنْهُمُ الْمُخْلَصِينَ
[Iblees ] said: “By Your Might, then I will surely mislead them all, 

Except Your chosen slaves amongst them ”
Saad 38:82-83

Take a moment to think about this : Iblees will only be able to mislead the inauthentic individuals. Not insincere. Insincerity doesn’t necessarily connote a constant trait. It can be a one time thing or it can be a habit. But when someone portrays a deceiving disparity between their mask and their real self, that’s inauthenticity. When someone’s default is to ‘mislead’ others perception of one. And those are the ones who Iblees befriends. 
In other words; we can be more evil than Iblees when we are inauthentic. We invite him. We show him around. Not him. We like to blame him. But really, when you deceive others you deceive yourself. And when you deceive yourself, Iblees will have a field day deceiving you. 
And the degree of inauthenticity in one’s heart is the degree to which one is distant from Allaah and the truth and one’s real self.

We ARE supposed to feel pain. Pain tells us when something is wrong, when we need to change something. Numbing the pain numbs all other sensations of the heart ; joy, creativity, empathy, curiosity, tranquility, intuition. 
Defense mechanisms don’t protect us, they imprison us. It shackles us to a corner. Vulnerability is like flying; you might crash, get struck by lightening. And if those are your concerns then, sure, you’re safer shackled. But we weren’t created for safety. We were created to soar. And become sore 🙂 

Ideation

This morning it finally hit me. As the electric toothbrush was buzzing inside my mouth, I looked my tired face in the mirror. It wasn’t really morning. It was past noon. My debilitating anxiety and depression has confined me to years of not being able to function properly because any attempt at tying myself down to a deadline incapacitates me with severe anxiety. It could be something as inconsequential as sleeping at a certain time and waking up at a certain time, or it could be vital things like doing a 9-5 job or going to university. After causing myself more harm for years by trying fight this handicap, I finally got the hang of it some 4 years ago. I accepted that I had a handicap, albeit invisible, and that I had to find a way to manage it. Acceptance, after years of denial.

So I’ve been making small strides, over the past couple of years, that saw me getting significantly better.
Once I faced my ugly truth, my inner beauty came out; I started writing, in earnest, I became brave, bold, adventurous, and stopped at nothing in trying to make the world a bit better by tackling uncomfortable subject matters in my writing.

But even so, there was so much that I wanted to do but couldn’t. Mental illness isn’t something you can get around by good ol’ willpower and positive thinking anymore than you can get around physical illness with good ol’ dieting and exercise. Just this past month, I went to Denmark over a short  weekend and when I returned home, I paid for that by spending the next 3-4 weeks bedridden with a complete mental shutdown and anxiety so severe that it was difficult to even move my body. That’s why I had been writing so much – I had to find a way to channel my energy, or else, if left intact, it could quickly turn into suicidal urges. It’s the horrible truth that very few of us – those riddled with these illnesses – speak of because people usually add insult to an already deep wound.

I’ve been taking tiny steps in trying to explore what it is that I *can* do, whilst trying to stabilize my mood by doing more of what makes me happy in the moment – even if it’s Coke drinking and staying up all night binge-watching shows lol. And I’ve been trying to understand the mechanism of the particular fear that blocked my attempts at going out in the world and do things like study, travel (more than I have), run my own business, etc. Which leads me back to the aha-moment in front of the mirror earlier:

I wanted complete freedom. That was the gnawing feeling of frustration that I’ve been chipping away at for years. I wanted complete inner freedom to go wherever my creative energy took me. That’s all I wanted. And to do that, I had to find a way to manage the scary feelings, the ones that punished my weekend getaways with flooding my system with insane amount of fight-or-flight responses. Because that’s what I was afraid of, that was what was holding me back.

And I remembered that had achieved something similar before – my daring vulnerability. I used to be afraid of what people would say, because I needed their approval so bad. The flipside of that meant that I would avoid anything that would piss them off. Once I let go of that, I had nothing left to fear. Yes, it was still unpleasant to get backlash and disapproval, because I’m a sensitive person and I don’t like confrontations. But it didn’t deter me anymore. I was free in that regard. I had full freedom of expression.

Every action can’t be undertaken unless the associated fear is faced and accepted – subconsciously or consciously;

You can’t swim if you fear drowning
You can’t love if you fear being hurt
You can’t seek if you fear not finding
You can’t ask if you fear rejection
You can’t be yourself if you fear disapproval
You can’t be resilient if you fear failure
You can’t be creative if you fear the unknown.

I spit out into the sink, and rinsed my mouth. My head felt cleaner, my heart felt lighter at this discovery. Hope is a currency I live on, and I recycle difficulties and road blocks to make it through another day. As I rinsed my toothbrush under the running tap water, I looked back at my reflection and though I was still tired, my lips curved in a faint smile. On any other person, it’d be undetectable. But on this face, it made all the difference in the world.

Emotional pollution

mooon

Negativity in the world seem to be rampant and reigning. With all the conflicts and misery controlling the headlines, people find humanity is a lost cause. But I beg to differ.
I feel that we use negativity and the status quo as a cop-out to striving for the greater good. To entertain hope, to try and try again, to stand in the flame of truth, to love – all requires a degree of vulnerability, something which is very frightening to most.

Negativity isn’t a state. It’s the absence of positivity. Darkness is the absence of light. War is the absence of peace. Peace is not the absence of war. Drought is the absence of rain. Evil is the absence of good.

The creation of good requires us to put aside the mask we hide behind, and to put down our guards. It’s easier to use obstacles and pain as alibis for cowardice.

To take a look at the state of the world and proclaim it’s hopeless rids one of guilt. But it also rids one of the zest for life and courage. It’s comforting to not have to struggle, but the trade off is that one becomes a passive fixture in this world; having no impact, leaving no impact.

We create more of what we focus on, so when we lament and harp on and on about everything’s that wrong with this world, we create more of it. How? By discouraging people from trying to create good, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If one is certain of the futility of positivity, then why would they bother with contesting evil?

So, to those who’ve lost hope and convinced themselves of their powerlessness; you don’t have to contribute to this world, but please don’t deceive yourself. The worst deception is self-deception. And don’t pollute this world with even more doom and gloom, if you’re not going to offer hope and solution.

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

– Edmund Burke

Alexithymia

 

healingg

Today I realized that I’m mentally disable.

When you are worried about having to seek medical attention in the event of a physical illness because you haven’t been out in 7 months;
When you contemplate how much pain you can tolerate in said hypothetical event, because your body dysmorphia overshadows everything else, and you’d rather die than someone see you. See the despicable you.
When you think about not moving out from a toxic home because of what the process of moving out entails.
When you can’t let yourself fall in love, you can’t let another get close enough until you fix yourself.

That’s disability, but it took me ten years to realize, to accept. So it took me ten years to get better. You can’t change what you deny. For the longest time, I’d berate myself for my shortcomings and limitations. I’d hate myself for them, hate that I can’t just go anywhere I want without mentally preparing a week in advance only to break down in a panic attack the very last minute. I did not accept mental illness as an explanation, I rejected it and I thought if I’m strong enough, determined enough, resilient enough, I’ll deal with it. I’ll soldier through.

I’ll deal with the severe depression, the PTSD, the panic attacks. I’ll clean up my mental wasteland and I’ll do it all on my own.

Because I didn’t understand myself, I couldn’t explain to others why I can’t go to school today, or why I’m changing my mind about going out when we’re at the door, or why I ignore phone calls. And because people didn’t know what else to do to snap me back to reality, they’d say

Just try
You can do it. You’re smart.
What’s the problem?
This has gone on for so long. What are you waiting for? Until you die?
If you don’t start somewhere, you’ll forever procrastinate.
You can read all the books you want, but that isn’t going to change anything. You have to take the first step to go outside!
You’re young! You’re highly intelligent! Why are you wasting your life this way?
Ama talo keen noqo ama talo raac
What the heck Mulki! This is getting old real quick
Na intaad acudubilleysatid oo Ilaahay baridid, Qur’aan isku akhriyoo danahaaga ku toos.

And because I failed myself, because I denied my reality, I internalized those invalidating and patronizing prompts and it only served to break me more.

I’ve come far. Since 2008, I’ve been in auto-therapy. In these past 7 years, all I’ve been focused on is how to feel better. Granted, I did take many wrong turns and dead ends, but that’s how I learnt. I’d think about a plausible explanation to a certain mindset or hinder, I’d research and observe, and try different methods until I’d get the one solution that felt congruent to my being. And then I’d move on to the next layer of trauma and pain.

Considering the fact that I’ve had to contend with trauma that started when I was 5 and went on for another 18 years without interruption, I’ve made phenomenal strides. So I’m confident that, one day, I will become fully able to do what I’m passionate about but I can’t do that if I keep denying my pain and invalidate my limitations like some people have done. I have to stand up for myself because no one else can.

I have to make peace with myself because  I can’t heal with this civil war raging within me.

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