Friday, December 28, 2007

The Bottom of the Well

I live in North Carolina, and like many states in the Southeast, NC is suffering from a pretty outrageous drought. To tell the truth, it's lasted for several years, but every summer they act like it's new. And then they start pulling out water restrictions. I remember some when I was in high school--how you weren't supposed to water your grass on certain days of the week, and only at night. That is, if you own your home. But if you are a big corporate office you're allowed to water whenever you like. That's how it seemed anyway.

So this last year, with increasing drought severity, the cities and counties imposed further water restrictions on their citizens. It took until October before non-essential car washing, grass-watering, etc., was stopped by state agencies!! I remember a few months ago a local TV station had their sprinklers on, but a sign up to inform scowling water conservationists that they were using well water instead of city water. As if that actually made a difference!

We get rain now--it didn't rain over the summer--but of course it's never "enough." Installing more efficient faucets and hoses, and constantly checking pipes for leaks is another way the local governments are trying to get the best use of the remaining water. But when you hear "45 days of water remaining" you think people would get a clue. I can't help but wonder what will happen when the water really does run out.

But imagine for a minute, an emotional well. A reservoir of hope, passion, love, and anger that typically remains balanced. And imagine a trying situation that sucks on that well, pumping out the last remaining drops--what's left? Have you ever felt depleted? That you gave all you had to something, and got nothing back? Feeling that your soul has just dried up? I haven't written in a week and the truth is that the last week has just been a very long stressful nightmare. With school over, my personal life decided to smack me around.

No, I don't mean my fiance; and truth is he has been nothing but calmly and patiently supportive through it all. So what happened? After I turned 24 on Friday, I began to be tested with problems I don't think anyone should ever have to suffer. To start with, I've become intimately acquainted with some of my reproductive organs. I'll spare my poor readers the details except to say that there is something red involved just about every single day since November 12th with increasing intensity, peaking Saturday night/Sunday morning, around 3-6am. Again, I'll spare the details. After that had mostly calmed down it hasn't been so bad since, but has come pretty close twice now, most recently Thursday morning. About time I go to the doctor, then, eh? Oh, if only I could. But I spoke to my sister this afternoon and she has been diagnosed with all of the following: endometriosis, adnomiosis, polycystic ovaries, and uterine fibroids. So which one of the following is plaguing me, or am I just stressed out? Or, all of the above? Garr. InshaaAllah will be seeing a doctor next week.

And the other problem... my family. Tuesday of course was Christmas, and I had decided some days beforehand that I was going to be there, one way or another. Unfortunately, to my family that meant that I was determined to ruin their Christmas and was seeking attention. In fact, I hadn't even seen some of them in over a year. I got a call while I was still in bed on Tuesday informing me that I was not supposed to come, I was not allowed to come, I shouldn't come... whatever. That was my sister on the phone and I told her I was going anyway, and I did. And I had to argue with her over the phone and her list of excuses as to why I shouldn't participate, then I met my mother at the door and had to listen to the same, and after going through her, my brother-in-law. He spent quite a bit of time insulting Islam and Muslims, insulting me personally, (again I'll spare the details because they are actually quite painful to me) and then I finally got in the house.

I can write all that in a few sentences, but the emotional toll was severe. And there was no quick recovery to allow me to really enjoy spending time with my family. The more I think about it, in fact, the angrier I become at all of them. Anger isn't healthy. But what they did was wrong, plainly wrong. I think excommunication would be easier. If I didn't fear being punished eternally for turning my back and severing ties, I would easily have done so. And standing up to my family that way was the hardest thing I have ever done. I recall a hadith which describes truly maintaining relations with family is not to treat them well when the reciprocate, but to re-establish ties after they have been severed. Being told I am not welcome is the same thing as severing ties, isn't it. So is showing up anyway re-establishing them? How can I keep reaching out when it only fosters hatred for them in my mind? I don't know.

But that well of love and affection and compassion for my family, has nearly dried up. There's nothing left there but mud--anger, and frustration, and sadness.

7 comments:

Faith said...

Aww *hugs* Keep ya head up Amy. Sometimes, it takes a while for families for to come to grips with a revert's decision. Insha'Allah, your family will come around. I think you're taking the right steps. Showing them the real face of Islam by still staying in contact with them despite them not wanting you to, by still showing them that you care for them. It will eventually dawn on them that you are still the same Amy they love. As for the feminine issues, I hope you get comfort for that as well. It sounds painful but Insha'Allah, the doctor will be able to help.

brnaeem said...

AA- Amy,

Congratulations! You truly seem to be passing this test with flying colors. I appreciate your proper understanding of Silat-ur-Rahim (maintaining the ties of the womb), as too often people only keep ties when things are going well.

May Allah strengthen you and keep you firm in sticking this through!

L_Oman said...

So sorry to hear you're going through this with your family. I hope that there is someone you can reach out to (perhaps an aunt / uncle / cousin)!

I think it's wonderful that you are doing your best to try to maintain ties with them - it shows a lot. Like a previous poster said, it will eventually dawn on them that you are the same person they really do know and love!

Were you very close to your family? Do they know you intend to move abroad? This could all just be a 'front' they're putting up and they could really just be hurting! Not to side with them, but I went through something similar (but no where near as intense) and once you all just admit that it's a new transition in life and yep - it's scary because it's nothing you've all experienced, things sort of work themselves out.

Back to the first comment I made - I'm saying I hope you have someone to connect to within your family because while it may feel like now you don't need them, years down the road after you've lived in KSA, you're going to have a strong desire to be with them. I've been away from my family for five years now and my heart burns to just be in the same room with them! I've got two sisters who've turned their noses up at me (after my last visit home) and I really miss that bond we had...

L - Oman

Maya said...

There's a difference in trying to maintain ties and putting yourself through too much psychological and emotional stress. If your family is unwilling to accept you, you should of course continue to be kind, but do not allow hateful speech to go uncorrected. We should never put ourselves in situations which harm us, and we should never allow such situations to continue without criticism. I'm a firm believer in correcting bad behavior, albeit kindly. If your family is so willing to cast you aside simply because of a difference in theology, it's their loss, and you shouldn't subject yourself to pain because of their narrow mindedness.

Concerning the reproductive problem, you should definitely see a doctor. I have several issues (polycystic ovaries, tumors on my ovaries, upcoming surgeries, and a biopsy to test for cancer for the third time), and I'm 22. Catch the problem before it's too late.

My thoughts are with you :)

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Amy said...

As-salaamu Alaikum

Thanks for the confidence boost, I appreciate it. I am trying to show the real face of Islam, but it would be a lot easier to show the face of a red-eyed monster sometimes. The bleeding is not actually painful, of all things, though it is uncomfortable because I can feel it. InshaaAllah I'm going to have it looked at in the morning.

Naeem,

Jazakallah khair. It was nice to read your post, when I was really afraid that I was not doing what I should be doing, and that perhaps the more gracious thing to do would have been to stay away. So thanks.

L,
Unfortunately, it's most of my family who is acting silly. My parents, my two sisters and their husbands. My brother isn't so bad, though, and his fiancée has become a very dear friend of mine. I have one cousin I know of, but who I haven't met except once when I was much younger, and the only aunts or uncles I have are very far away and not close at all in relation to the family. We practically never see them, and the most contact is perhaps a few holiday phone calls between my parents, or updates when someone gets married, goes to the hospital, etc. My family does know I want to move abroad but they haven't had the good fortune to meet my fiancé, which I think might ease some of their troubles. I don't know if I'll have a strong desire to be with them. It's hard to want to be in the presence of people who have insulted you to your face on several occasions, not to mention who have belittled your faith, and your friends. Thanks for your comment.

Maya,
I appreciate your comment, but I actually do feel some responsibility to maintain the ties of my family even if they choose to neglect them. In fact, I am afraid that if I don't, I will be accountable to Allah for that and I don't think being uncomfortable, sad, or angry are good enough excuses. Moreover, it may be that by being persistent I am doing more good than harm (even for myself.) My dad has been in the hospital a few times recently and went back in at the end of December, and will shortly have an operation for another stint to be put in for his heart. It's a reminder that we don't live forever, and I might lose any one of my family members in the near future, and just waiting for things to cool off isn't an option. About the bleeding, thanks. I'm 24, but I guess hearing from you is a reminder that I'm not too young for things to go wrong. Will be in to see a doctor as soon as possible inshaaallah.

L_Oman said...

Amy - you're right - meeting your fiance would certainly ease their worries! I'm so sorry that you don't have many people in your family to reach out to - no worries - I'm just around the corner if you need a shoulder! :)