Love is on the other side of pain

Pain is a disruption of emotional harmony (emotional balance). Resisting or repressing the pain adds more blockages and takes you farther away from internal homeostasis. The only way to dissolve this is by centering your focus in the heart through presence and relaxation, and the momentum of the flow of love that creates and upholds the homeostasis will return things to a balance. It’s an act of non-action which is so difficult to understand because it seems oversimplified and counterintuitive to what we know.

But it’s important to realize that love isn’t a human commodity. It’s divine providence and the only way to receive more is to feel more, because more feeling= a more open heart.

Quantum finesse

Reflecting on my most painful memories, I’m starting to realize that what caused me so much suffering wasn’t what actually happened and it wasn’t the fact that I wished my life had taken a different trajectory. It was that I remained suspended in defiant resistance of what was and rejection of what genuinely sprung up within me in response to external situations. So, I rebelled against the divine plan and I rebelled against my internal experience, but the one thing I did not rebel against and remained loyal to was my destructive thought patterns that insisted safety lay in retaining control of life. All these years, I gave preference to the external realities endorsed by society and all the while my potential lay in divine escrow, awaiting my surrender and receptivity.

Pain is a universal tax collector, the tax being on the misalignment of our inner being.

Ramadan regressions {4}


Growing contemptuous of my messy, insubordinate life that refused to bend to my will, I escaped. I threw it all away, stomped off in existential defiance. If I can’t have what I want, then why stick around pain and humiliation?
Alas, I met the same fate of Jonah. My escapism threw me overboard into the depths of despair where I was swallowed by the mother of all frustration; existential crisis.

And so, here I am before you, feeble, acid having dissolved my surface, exhausted from trying to fight my fate. It took this much to make me face myself. God, I’m stubborn!
But being stuck, being imprisoned by existential depression had the paradoxical effect of freeing my true, sensitive self that was silenced and tyrannized by my ego. I guess Allaah had to orchestrate events that would silence and tyrannize my ego to free me, like the breaking of a chrysalis to make way for the emergence of the butterfly.


 

[×××]

______

Trusting people, you can never know what they’ll do to you. People tout not trusting and being aloof as some potion of invincibility, not knowing that they are playing themselves harder than anyone ever could. The risk of being authentic and vulnerable is outweighed many times over by the cost of not being so. Not giving people the benefit of the doubt and mistrusting them is essentially lying to them because you’re not showing up fully. You’re filtering everything they do or say through your fears, and thus always feed them negativity, even if you try to be positive.
You do this long enough, and who you are will atrophy and be replaced by this lifeless, reactive bot that doesn’t know how to love. You learnt how lovelessness and manipulation feels like, now get out of that space and be the type of person you like to attract. Because you do know that love doesn’t just happen when someone eradicates all signs of doubt and fear? The doubt and fear is within you, and the danger is that in a bid to minimize the angst you seek out people who don’t push your buttons, and consequently who aren’t able to see all of you or to grow with you. Manipulative people are especially adept at not setting off the alarm systems, whereas normal people with no agendas will stumble and be awkward at times. It’s like taking to a small pond because it feels safer than the vast ocean. But then you’d have to stifle the urge to swim and dive and explore. That’s the payoff.
When I say be open, I mean be real. With yourself. Check in with your emotions, your intuition. Say and do what you’d do if you had no fears. Make a fool of yourself. Don’t compromise on yourself. You’re not too much, too intense, too weird. You’re not for everyone, just like orange isn’t everyone’s favourite colour. Doesn’t change the fact that orange is a miraculous manifestation of light . You can only be that free if your love is free. If you’re not bogged down by needing validation or assurance back. Show up the way you want to be accepted, and let the vibes take care of the rest.
Pain is how you expand. Growth is how you heal. Love is how you’ll be able to come around again and again, like the trees that defy the harsh autumn winds by blooming again come spring…


[×××]

_______

I continually betray myself to be loyal to others. i wage war against myself to keep the peace with others. i hide myself to let others be visible. i dim myself to let others shine. i hold my breath waiting for permission to exhale.

why? why do i do this? because i believe, ardently so, that my existence is meaningless, without impact or importance. to check my vitals, i need the affirmations of others, and to do that i must serve them. what else would i do with a barren life?
I have to retrace my steps back to my childhood when i established these mindset as a way to interact with the world and it is extremely daunting. but what other choice do i have? continue to live on the grounds leveled by my 8 year old self? 11 year old self?15 year old self?19 year old self?
I’m starting over.


[×××]

______
Make everything you do or aim for unconditional. Dream? Unconditional. Love? Unconditional. Worship? Unconditional.
Focus on giving of yourself, that way you won’t be cutting any corners and you won’t be avoiding yourself by outsourcing your state of being to extrinsic motivation. Also, it’s the best way to learn about yourself and what you actually like, since you won’t be afraid of alienating people who supply you with love. Unconditional giving= unconditional being.


[×××]
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You’re a unique expression of Allaah.
Let that sink in.
You’re the creative expression of Allaah’s, a sign from His universal signs.
And you won’t see that until you’re true to yourself. Until you honour everything that rises in you and trust that more than you trust what plays out in front you, you’ll be cut off from the divine energy.

a loving re:minder 

​People don’t have to get your struggle for you to fully heal. Only you can fully experience and know what it is you’re feeling and struggling with. Whilst it’s human to want to be acknowledged and want to be understood, don’t undermine your strength and worth by making your journey (or parts of it)  dependent on others. People don’t have to approve or validate what you do, and most probably won’t. Because they aren’t your parents, and you’re not a small child no more. I don’t say this in a harsh manner where I’m berating you for feeling what you are feeling. I don’t believe in invalidating others experiences, in whatever form. But I want to make a distinction between allowing yourself to feel whatever range of emotions that come up – be it rage, envy, sadness, embarrassment. And identifying yourself with that stream of pain that is being released from your subconscious or body ( because a lot of emotional pain embeds itself in the body and often manifests itself in the form of some illness or ache), to the point where you feel helpless. 
When you feel that you need others to hear you or understand you or validate you – you’re implying that you feel less than. You’re saying about yourself, to yourself: “I’m weak and I can’t handle shit. I’m a failure and I can’t trust my intuition or thoughts. I need others to give me the green light before I can feel ok.”
And this becomes really problematic, not only for you but for those who might be pressured with such a mammoth task ( one you yourself gave up on). Pain is subjective and can’t be quantified. You’re the only one who experience what you are, and the only person who can truly understand your struggle. Pain isn’t some random affliction; it’s a most intimate one. It’s a soul and mind state of emergency because you’ve lost yourself in the outer world and forgotten about your inner. The pain is just an alarm, like a smoke signal to draw your attention to the real problem. Being hung up on the superficiality of who will validate you or who misunderstood you is like complaining about the loud noise  the smoke signal makes while your house is burning down with you in it!
I feel many people get stuck at the initial stage of facing and accepting the pain. They, including me, get so caught up in the causation and who did what, and neglect the responsibility they have towards themselves. Being a victim where you absolve yourself of responsibility might allow you to curl up like a ball and just sleep your life away, but it also robs you of your sense of aliveness.  
I’m not saying that you can’t feel helpless or like a victim. You absolutely can. But at the same time, keep in mind that after you’ve released what you need to release and after you’ve mourned and grieved – the journey continues.
When you don’t scapegoat others, you get to own your narrative. You get to decide what the new chapters are going to be about and most importantly, you’ll be emancipated from your past.

dirty shoes and doormats

Today I took my ayeyo out for a brief stroll in the beautiful Swedish spring weather. There’s something about spring that spells hope for me. The air feels alive. And the sun shines like it means it. Anyway, as we were walking, we were met by two middle-aged Somali women, one of whom abruptly stopped in front of my ayeyo – the other stood to the side. The lady who stopped seemed to know her.
 
She asked my ayeyo ‘Ma i taqaana?’( Do you know me?) And though my petite ayeyo has been tried with a lifetime of illnesses, I swear when I say that her mind is clearer than any youngster I know, I’m not exaggerating. And the corner of her mouth curved up, to form into a brief smile as she replied that of course she knows the lady, she’s so and so.
The lady clapped her hand in joyous surprise as she gave her friend a look that said
‘ can you believe this old woman remembers stuff?’.
 
There’s something that irks me about the way Somalis patronize old people and young kids. But that’s besides the point.
 
After exchanging a round of small talk, the middle-aged lady suddenly turned her face to take a sharp look at me, as if she just noticed that I was standing next to ayeyo, and asked
 
‘ ma ina cali baa?’ ( Are you the daughter of Ali?)
I have my mother’s signature looks that gives me away instantly.
I said ‘haa’ (yes). And what she said next took me aback;
 
‘oo maxaad saan ula balaaratay? Maxaad cuntay’
( Why did you become this big, what did you eat?) as her squinting and prying eyes looked me up and down. Her boorish words didn’t warrant a reply so I looked her in the eye and silently looked away. I wasn’t afraid of giving her an answer she deserves, but I didn’t even know her so I didn’t even want to acknowledge what she said.
She didn’t relent. She scrambled for something to save face with; she turned to my ayeyo and said in an explanatory tone
‘ waxaan u maleynayey inay aheyd tii wax dhashay’
( I thought it was the one who had the baby) referring to my younger sister who had the measurements of a supermodel with her 5’10 frame and envious body shape. Drive the knife deeper will you.
 
Ayeyo quipped back ‘ no, this one doesn’t have a baby. She’s not married.’
I glanced at her friend who stood silently on the side, to see if she was as shocked as I was at her rudeness? But she wasn’t. And the rude lady didn’t seem fazed by her intrusiveness. What world did these women come from that made it seem normal to be so unhinged? I tugged at ayeyo to signal that we should head back home. The afternoon sun was receding, and it was getting a bit chilly.
When they left I told my ayeyo ‘ma la yaabtay?’
( Did you become shocked?) at which she grinned, knowingly. My ayeyo says more with her facial expression than she speaks. We walked the rest of the way home in silence.
 
I noticed that it didn’t bother me. It was offensive, but it didn’t stir my emotions. Because I know that for someone to talk like that, they must be full of pain and problems. Normal people don’t go around saying shit like that. But had this been a year ago, it would have broken my spirits and would have set me oh so far back. It’s odd, how gradually change seeps into your being. A thought challenged here, an essay written there. Before you know it, you’ve thought yourself into a new person.
 
I thought to myself, if I hadn’t created my own world I would have died in other people’s worlds, paraphrasing something I had read. People project their insecurities and vices on others all the time. If I didn’t have a stable self-esteem, a sense of self, then I would have crumbled under the weight of all the negativity (no pun intended :p ).
Someone can come and destroy all the hard work you’ve done by a thoughtless word if you open yourself up to the opinion and approval of others.
 
I don’t need to explain to anyone why I gained weight, how I feel about that, or when I’m planning on losing it. Because one thing is for sure; feeling good about yourself is NOT tied to a number on the scale. If that were the case, we wouldn’t have thin girls hating their non-existent flab. I’ve battled with eating disorders and body dysmorphia ever since I was 12-13 because of what others said, because of what I saw in the magazines and on tv. I thought to be liked, I had to be perfect in every way. So even though I was slim, I hated my body. I hated it. There was never a moment where I felt ok. And it’s ironic that it took me gaining a whole lot of weight for that self-hate to come to the surface.
 
I relay this incident because I know that many girls and women suffer insecurities that leave a dent in their lives. If it’s not body size, it’s skin tone, it’s hair texture, it’s height, it’s the nose, the eyes, the hands, the waist, the hips, the neck. If not the physical aspect, then it’s how ‘lady-like’ are you, how hard-working are you, how good a manners do you have, how good a cook are you, are you married, are you able to have kids, are you able to balance the entire world on your shoulders–
 
When you open yourself up to the definitions and remarks of those who haven’t felt your pain, who haven’t witnessed the suffering that gave you the strength to carry on, the beautiful heart you have — even if it’s your own mother, then you basically say ‘ my own opinion doesn’t matter. I don’t matter until I am validated by others’. It’s this act of self-transgression that invites the transgression of others.
 
Don’t. YOU set your standards. YOU set your rules. YOU set your own boundaries. Teach people how to treat YOU. If they don’t respect it or try to mock you by saying that you’re too sensitive, cut them loose. Someone who doesn’t respect your wishes or boundaries is someone who doesn’t respect YOU. You don’t need that garbage in your life. You’re no dumpster mmkay?
 
 
The role of a writer is not to say what we can all say, but what we are unable to say.
 
— Anaïs Nin

The Art of Life

People say: “Mulki, your writing is so deep and beautiful. You’re so talented.”

Nah b, I aint talented. I’m damaged, scarred, burnt. See how I can make these words grow fingers and caress your mind, how they can stir up emotions in you that you didn’t even know existed, how these words you’ve known for years take on a new form, seep through to forgotten memories you’d rather not revisit?

Tragedies carved out deep tracks in my soul, that’s how. A sculpture is marvelled at but you don’t notice the countless hours it took to break, disfigure, chip away at the original block of stone with a sharp chisel.

Nah darling, I’m not talented. I mean, I’m talented, just not in that way. I’m talented in messing up. In keeping people out. In seeming ice cold and indifferent. In figuring people out way before they even notice me, to gain leverage. I don’t watch movies. Because I can guess the ending by the title. It’s like I have an x-ray vision, and I’m dying from the radiation.

The ink with which I write is drawn from a well that runs way deep within me. It’s my soul’s blood.

Be careful with what you wish for.

I asked Allaah for patience. He gave me hardships.
I asked Him for love. I got people who hurt and betrayed me.
I asked Him for wisdom. I got pain on my platter.
I asked Him to make me a writer. I went through hell, and at the end of it I was told
” Now that you’ve stood for something, now that you’ve stood up to live, you may sit down to write.”

And you see, when I write, I don’t think first and write second. I don’t write at will. I’m merely a medium through which my emotions manifest themselves when they wish to do so. So I sit at my laptop, close my eyes to see, to hear the words in my mind that want out. Then I leak ,I bleed, I emit the words onto the keyboard. It’s like I’m playing a melody on a piano, one I learnt by heart in my childhood and now play without paying mind to the sheet. My fingers know what I don’t ; as they dance and pause and waltz across the keyboard, I don’t have a direct connection to what’s being communicated until the buzzing in my chest ,the knocking,the trouncing ceases.

It’s no child’s play.

But oddly, now that the scars have faded, the wound healed, I would not want to live in any other way. I’d rather live on the precipice of life, my life being one long cliffhanger that leaves deep gashes to the palms of my hands in my frantic efforts to hang on to life. I’d rather live in pain to court passion, as opposed to having a convenient, linear life.

You can’t leave a mark on this world without incurring scars of your own.

miscarriage

Being a woman…is a lonely battle.
A close friend recently told me that she was a couple of months pregnant. I was so elated, about to cry, but then I was upset that she had waited so many weeks to tell me. She said she didn’t tell me because ‘you’re supposed to keep it a secret for the first 3 months because the risk of miscarriage is so high, and I didn’t want to tell people in case it didn’t work out.’
Bullshit, I told her. If the pregnancy terminates does that mean it didn’t count? A baby can be stillborn after 9 months – should the entire pregnancy be kept secret too, ‘ in case it doesn’t work out’.
But I understood her.I’m not a mother, and I can’t fathom what that entails. But I’ve seen what mothers go through.

The miscarriages that are mentioned in passing, void of importance, the post partum depression suffered in complete isolation.
When a woman falls pregnant, it’s not like an oven you pop dough in and wait for it to turn into bread.
As the embryo is growing, the woman’s body is flooded with hormones and her entire being is in fluctuation. Her body doesn’t belong to her anymore, another human in the making is draining her.
And yet, in between the terrible waves of sickness that strikes most women and the bloating and swelling and crying spells, she’s helping the baby grow by sending it thoughts of love and hope. For those first months before the bump appears, the miracle in making is a secret between her and the baby. They communicate by feelings and morning sickness and pregnancy cravings.
Her life flashes before her eyes. She will now and forever be in second place. Will it be a healthy baby? Will I be able to be a good mum?What if I fail?
So imagine all those questions, feelings, hope, – and the sad news:
“I’m sorry, but there’s no heartbeat. You’ve lost the baby.”
The hearts that were beating in tandem – abruptly returns to be a solo act. And what a heart wrenching song.
And because she never told anyone, she has to mourn in secret, continue with her daily life, greet her neighbours with a smile that never reaches the eyes, and walk past mothers with their strollers in the grocery store without breaking down in tears.
And if she did tell people, then her wounds will be ripped open over and over again:
– Oh it’s nothing. You’ll get pregnant soon enough
– OMG what did you do? Did you carry anything heavy?
– You have to be careful! What were you thinking?
– At least you didn’t go full term. Imagine if it was still born?
Darling, I don’t know what you felt in those scarring moments you lost your child. But your child mattered, your pregnancy counts. You will always and forever be a mother – even if your child doesn’t remain with you throughout your life. They will remain in your heart. You lost those first steps you envisioned, their 3 year birthday party, their high school graduation… I think sometimes the mourning no one can relate to or feel is the worst…So be your own best friend, and allow yourself to cry and grieve for as long as you are emotionally pregnant.

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