Muslim Girl in America

I'm an American girl, born and raised, and a Muslim.

A Worthless Tug-of-War

on October 27, 2012

So this post is not really about Islam, or Muslim families in particular, but it’s something I wanted to share with you. Do NOT assume that this is how all Muslim/Islamic families behave, because they don’t. This type of behavior transcends religion, unfortunately.

So often in life, people make you feel worthless. They make you feel guilty for their own shortcomings. They make you feel horrible, bereft, and depressed. Today, I had two people make me feel like that. And they were my own family.

Don’t get me wrong – I love my family. I live for them. I would die for them. But they also have a habit of occasionally treating me like shit. Now, I’ve had strangers treat me horrible as well – particularly after 9/11 – but they were ignorant and thought anyone with slightly tanner skin and an “odd” name were Osama in disguise. But these people are my family. They’re supposed to love me, protect me, make me feel safe, and help me when I need it.

These particular family members always have an excuse not to see me – they have blown me off more than once. Then, when their schedule “clears up”, they give me a call to go and meet them someplace. No, I can’t go to their house; we have to meet at some neutral public location. Well, today I was so happy to see them. I hadn’t seen them in 4 months, really, and we were having a nice time. But then they each get me alone and both of them, individually, tell me that I’m being a horrible family member, essentially telling me I’m worthless, because I don’t see them enough. I tried so many times to go see them, and they always have an excuse not to, and now I’m not trying hard enough?

I get so frustrated with them, and most of my family. Everyone has tough times and problems that they’re going through – both of them do as well. I am fully conscious of that fact. But where I am genuinely concerned about their welfare, they couldn’t care less about mine. No matter what I do, it isn’t good enough. Try harder, they tell me, but I don’t know how. I’m caught in this endless tug-of-war; they slowly tug me one way when they’re feeling lovable, and then they yank me back the other way (more often than not) when they feel I haven’t tried enough. Every time I meet with them (and others in my family) I’m made to feel worthless – because my job isn’t good enough, or I don’t make enough money, or I’m not married, or my parents don’t make enough money. Will I ever be good enough for them? No, probably not.

But I will still go and meet them because they’re my family. And I love them, unconditionally, no matter how they do or don’t love me. Because that’s what family’s supposed to be about: being there for each other. I heard a great line on a tv show once: “Why is it so easy to love your family, and so hard to like them?” It’s so true. I do love them, though, at times like these, I don’t like them very much. They don’t realize that I’m at an incredibly difficult time in my life right now. They don’t care that I’m being sexually harassed at work and looking for another job, that every guy I meet isn’t really interested in marrying me, or that I’ve just spent the last hour crying because they made me feel worthless, and every time I hear (or write) “worthless” I break down crying again.

And even though these people don’t think I’m worthy of love, I KNOW I am worthy. And I have faith, despite everything, that someday I’ll find someone who realizes that worth and loves me for it and won’t make me feel worthless.

I KNOW I’m worthy. And I know that I have a few great, awesome, and lovely friends and family members who ARE there for me, whenever I need them, and they care for me unconditionally. That support is essential for everyone.

I KNOW I’m worthy. And so should you. Everyone has these people in their lives. Cry it out – a good cry can be therapeutic – get the dessert of your choice, and a strong cup of tea, and then get over it. You may never be good enough for these people. But if you KNOW that you’re worthy, then it won’t matter. Develop a thicker skin, if need be, as I’ve done over the last few years. Fake the niceties as best you can, and KNOW that there are people out there who care.

And remind yourself that you’re worthy. Seriously. Say it to yourself 10 times or 100 times if need be, or write it down. And remind yourself that THEY have the problem, not you.

YOU ARE WORTHY. And so am I.

Thanks for reading –

– M


3 responses to “A Worthless Tug-of-War

  1. B Girl says:

    Sounds like a tough day, it’s a shit time (Eid) for family to be making you feel like that. I get that we love family but don’t necessary like them – what I don’t get it is why you have to bother faking niceties when they aren’t doing the same?? Some people are best keeping at a distance if all they do is generate upset/ negativity. But I know it’s easier said than done, especially with families.
    Hope you enjoy the rest of your Eid weekend 🙂

    • MGA says:

      Thanks, B Girl! When you’re dealing with members of your immediate family, it’s harder to avoid them. I have other family members who have done the same, and distance does help there. What bothers me (and I don’t know if you’ve encountered this at all) is that my time also isn’t worth anything because I’m not married. The fact that I’m working 3 jobs and going to school translates as having all the time in the world because it’s not a husband and kids I’m taking care of.

      I hope you enjoy your Eid weekend as well! Thanks for reading (and I love reading your posts as well – sorry it didn’t work out with the Boxer).


      • B Girl says:

        Ha! Yes apparently I should be free all the time too because I don’t have a husband/ kids. “But you can be on time you don’t have children” (my mistake 😐 I didn’t realise giving birth automatically meant you lost the ability to manage time – even if said child is now 11 and I have been waiting for 50mins) , “but you don’t have to cook for anyone but yourself” (of course, I am single therefore must live off 2-minute microwave meals). So infuriating! I hate that kind of thinking. I used to let the comments go by but now I just question them openly. It’s quite fun to see the reactions 😉

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