Source : Aisha Salem
I can’t protect myself and I can’t advance myself. I can’t control my feelings or the feelings of others. This is the great existential threat that I have been tirelessly toiling against since my teens, trying to control and predict my world so that I could be safe. Of course, I didn’t want to cut straight to the chase and leave the whole simulation I was born into and conditioned to run on. I didn’t think I could survive that level of intense confrontation.
I didn’t know Allaah, intrinsically.
He’s protected me from annihilation even in the midst of extreme distress and trauma. He’s advanced my understanding by quantum leaps despite me not being in a state of mind where I could devote myself to studying.
And now I’ve come to the precipice of my existential battlefield and though I have no proof of what lies beyond, or if something lies beyond this for that matter, I have an intuitive feeling to go for what magnetizes me and not fear the doubts that crop up because my departure and my safe landing is but a creation of Allaah’s.
وَقَالَ ٱرْكَبُوا۟ فِيهَا بِسْمِ ٱللَّهِ مَجْر۪ىٰهَا وَمُرْسَىٰهَآ إِنَّ رَبِّى لَغَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ
And he [Nuh] said: “Embark therein, in the Name of Allah will be its moving course and its resting anchorage. Surely, my Lord is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”
If someone chooses to believe a false and unfair rumour and narrative about you despite them knowing you well enough to be able to discern the accuracy of that rumour, then it’s not because the rumour was particularly convincing. It’s because the rumour triggered their ego in such a way that they found it served a purpose to feed into it. Perhaps it was to deflect a latent inferiority they felt in relation to you and by believing the rumour they could feel justified in looking down on you, or it tapped into some self-conscious fear that justified withdrawing and hiding behind that rumour to avoid guilt.
Whatever it is, know that what someone chooses to believe isn’t random or arbitrary so don’t lose yourself in trying to explain yourself to someone who has already made their mind up and left no space for your truth.
I had to take my time to sift through the world for the truth. I had to know all the ways the truth wouldn’t manifest and wouldn’t behave. That’s how I learnt to recognize what to avoid and not engage at all. I had to, in order to know that the battles I’m fighting are worthwhile and not projections of my ego. I had to in order to know that my intuition was true. I had to in order to trust God.
I’m going through yet another dark night of the soul. It’s been happening for a month and a half now. Triggers and detachment followed by a mind numbing void. A nothingness. No sound. No emotion. Eerie.
I’m agitated because I feel uneasy when I can’t make sense of a situation. Like a sitting duck. I rotate through my go-to resources that usually give me some clarity to go on, but not this time.
It’s like I’m a ghost and nothing I do has an impact. I’m effectively locked inside myself, facing my inner world that I’ve managed to evade all my life. An inner world that has been filled to the brim with all kinds of unbridled chaos and suffering. In some ways, that was more comfortable than this void. I guess I’ve been so attached to suffering and wounds because it was something familiar that I had gotten used to and for which I knew the procedures.
But this void represents death to me. It represents the fear I have of the outside world; the fear of trusting and then being betrayed with no shelter or escape route in sight.
I’m clogged. I can’t read, watch movies, nothing. It’s like I’m in a transparent cocoon.
I want to run but I’m stuck. I don’t know why I’m stuck. I don’t know how to get unstuck. I don’t know what I’m feeling. I don’t know and I don’t like the fact that I don’t know.
Learning to trust what isn’t yet.
Learning to trust what’s hidden.
Learning to trust that at the bottom of the ocean, inside hard shells lies pearls and my diving is not in vain.
My waiting is not in vain. I feel stuck because there are lessons too sublime to be taken in a hurry, on a whim.
وَمَن يَتَّقِ اللَّهَ يَجْعَل لَّهُ مَخْرَجًا وَيَرْزُقْهُ مِنْ حَيْثُ لَا يَحْتَسِبُ وَمَن يَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّهِ فَهُوَ حَسْبُهُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ بَالِغُ أَمْرِهِ قَدْ جَعَلَ اللَّهُ لِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدْرًا
whosoever is conscious of Allaah He will make a way for him to get out (from every difficulty)
And He will provide him from (sources) he never could imagine. And whosoever puts his trust in Allaah, then He will suffice him. Verily, Allaah will accomplish his purpose. Indeed Allah has set a measure for all things.}
[ at-Talaq 65:2-3 ]
I’m a companion of my soul. I let it lead me blindly, on pure trust. I’m not afraid of drowning, of getting lost, of disintegrating, of losing control. Because I’ve gone to the edge of each of those fears, and the only thing that got lost was my fear. The only thing that drowned was my burden that I thought I couldn’t survive without. The only loss of control happened to my intellect which really, was a realization that I never had control to begin with. I was like Maggie Simpson with the steering wheel attached to her car seat, pretending she’s the one driving the car.
And maybe destruction lies ahead. Maybe this has all been a fluke. But even so, I’d rather go out with a bang than endure a slow death. I’ll drink that potion. And just because I know that my anxiety is unfounded doesn’t make it any less potent. It’s not something I can ever stifle or ‘fix’; I’ll just accept it as a price to pay for living fully.
“In actuality, no one ever sank so deep that he could not sink deeper, and there may be one or many who sank deeper. But he who sank in possibility — his eye became dizzy, his eye became confused… Whoever is educated by possibility is exposed to danger, not that of getting into bad company and going astray in various ways as are those educated by the finite, but in danger of a fall, namely, suicide. If at the beginning of education he misunderstands the anxiety, so that it does not lead him to faith but away from faith, then he is lost.
On the other hand, whoever is educated [by possibility] remains with anxiety; he does not permit himself to be deceived by its countless falsification and accurately remembers the past.
Then the assaults of anxiety, even though they be terrifying, will not be such that he flees from them. For him, anxiety becomes a serving spirit that against its will leads him where he wishes to go.”
– Søren Kierkegaard, The Concept of Anxiety
“We can understand Kierkegaard’s ideas on the relation between guilt
and anxiety only by emphasizing that he is always speaking of anxiety in its relation to creativity.
Because it is possible to create — creating one’s self, willing to be one’s self, as well as creating in all the innumerable daily activities (and these are two phases of the same process) — one has anxiety. One would have no anxiety if there were no possibility whatever.
Now creating, actualizing one’s possibilities, always involves negative as well as positive aspects. It always involves destroying the status quo, destroying old patterns within oneself, progressively destroying what one has clung to from childhood on, and creating new and original forms and ways of living.
If one does not do this, one is refusing to grow, refusing to avail himself of his possibilities; one is shirking his responsibility to himself. Hence refusal to actualize one’s possibilities brings guilt toward one’s self.
But creating also means destroying the status quo of one’s environment, breaking the old forms; it means producing something new and original in human relations as well as in cultural forms (e.g., the creativity of the artist).
Thus every experience of creativity has its potentiality of aggression or denial toward other persons in one’s environment or established patterns within one’s self.
To put the matter figuratively, in every experience of creativity something in the past is killed that something new in the present may be born.”
– Rollo May, The Meaning of Anxiety