Muslim Girl in America

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

Depression

This is the hardest post I have ever written, and likely will ever write. It’s about depression.

I’ve been trying to write this post ever since I heard of the death of Robin Williams. I’ve started it at least a dozen times and stopped, terrified of what my friends and others might think of me after they read it. But, today, finally, I have decided to stop being afraid and just post it. God help me.

Depression is a difficult thing to talk about, no matter your culture or country. While the U.S. is still better than other countries when it comes to diagnosing and treating mental illness, it’s still appallingly behind the times, in my opinion. It’s a taboo subject, even in this modern day and age, and even in the U.S. And it is rarely, if ever, spoken about in some other countries.

Chuck Palahniuk Quote

I remember on a past trip to Pakistan, I had come back home after a visit to the tailor’s. (For those that don’t know, tailor-made clothes are the norm in countries like Pakistan. While there are ready-made clothes, tailor-made clothing is the way many people buy clothes.) The tailor had ignored some of my instructions and mis-made some of my clothes, so I was upset (truthfully, I was also hormonal as it was a certain time of the month for me). When I returned home, my great aunt called me “disturbed” because I was upset. And that was just for everyday frustration and hormones. Depression is never spoken of, though I have seen many people depressed, even in my own family.

Even me.

I had an awful time in high school (really, it started even younger, around sixth grade or earlier), and I was also terribly shy and lonely. I fell passionately in love with books as a very young child, as it was an easy place to escape life without having to run away from it. I know people have had worse experiences than me, but I was depressed for most of my secondary schooling. I was not just depressed, but severely depressed at times. I did (deep breath) think about killing myself, on more than one occasion.

Robin Williams Quote

To reach a point where you think about taking it all, just for some relief from life, is a dark and terrible place. You are so completely in despair and just do not see any way out. You just feel pain and more pain all the time, and you just don’t know what to do; all you know is that you don’t want to feel pain anymore. You just want someone to reach out and comfort you, give you a hug, to acknowledge you and your pain. And, most of all, you just want someone to help you. You just want help. You just want help. You just want help.

And while I did think about suicide, and curse God for the bad things going on around me and to me, in the end, it was actually my faith that saved me. I never attempted suicide, I never got that far. Whenever I thought about it, I would think about what happened after I was dead. How my family would react, and how our community would react. And how, even in death, I would be a burden to them and ruin their life (as I often felt that way on a daily basis). And then I would think about the afterlife. I just wanted peace, and I wanted it so badly. I just wanted to get through one day where I could find some type of happiness and a few moments reprieve. Just one day where I could recognize the face staring back in the mirror. But in Islam, if you commit suicide, you don’t get into heaven. And I didn’t want to end up in Hell or some terrible limbo-state for eternity, so I never did it. So, even when I cursed God, it was, in the end, my faith and belief in God and the afterlife that saved me.

Robin Williams Quote from Upworthy

It’s hard, at least for me, to talk about depression. Most of my family did not know I was depressed. My parents knew I was depressed, though I doubt they realized the extent of my depression. I remember one day, my father was leaving on a business trip. As he turned to say good-bye to me, he also told me to “Be happy.” I never forgot that moment. They knew I was unhappy, but they never did anything about it, or maybe (and more likely) they just didn’t know what to do about it.

Depression is something, in my opinion, that you must live with every day. You have to learn to manage it, to control it, and know when to ask for help.  I remember hearing my co-workers talk one day. One of them said they just could not understand how people could not be happy every day, and why people just couldn’t smile all the time. I didn’t say anything, but I wanted to interject. I wanted to tell them that sometimes you just don’t have a choice. And, at that time, it’s exactly how I felt.

Be Kind

I brought myself out of my teenage depression. I could never bring myself to go to a psychologist (if I could ever find a psychologist who understood Muslim culture in the first place, nevermind if I actually had enough disposable income for the cost of it). Things started to get better in college. Away from the horrid halls of high school and the people who lingered there, I started to gain confidence and made some friends. But it really wasn’t until my mid-twenties that I really made a turn for the better.

I was having a really just terrible time between working multiple jobs and school, and just having no support. I was back to crying everyday (though, FYI, I have never pondered suicide since my younger pre-college days). And I suddenly asked myself, mid-sob, why I was letting myself be completely and utterly miserable. Why was I letting other people’s emotions and feelings and actions dictate my life? This was no way to live a life. And then I found that switch to turn my happiness on, buried under years of feeling shabby and unworthy and unloved. And I turned it on, just to see what would happen. It wasn’t until that moment that I realized it was like a switch, but really more like a choice. You need to make that choice within yourself and commit to it, and believe that you deserve happiness. For the longest time, I didn’t think I deserved it.

Albus Dumbledore quote

And I did find happiness, bits and snippets of it, until I would get to an end of a day and realize it had been a good day, and a happy one.

It’s still a challenge. It always will be. And sometimes, you just don’t know what can set you on a path to depression. After the ups and downs of Ramadan, I had a couple days post-Eid where I got very sad. And then, there are other times where you have to push past whatever bad thing is happening to you at the time, and keep things in perspective.  And sometimes that’s harder, particularly for me, when I’ve had conversations with certain family members, like I did tonight. Conversations where I’m told I’m responsible for everything bad that’s happened to the family, and that if I’d been married already everything would be fine. And not only that, but if I made more money to support them, everything would be even better. So, apparently, I’m not even useful as an unmarried girl, either.

Ignore negative people

There are people who may read this and think, “Well, clearly she’s damaged goods. It’s why she’s not married, why she’s alone. She shouldn’t get married.”  Well, to those people, I say, “Fuck you.” I deserve happiness as much as the next person, as much as you do. I deserve to have someone care about me, and love me, and take care of me, and help me. And I deserve to have my own family, too.

And I am poor. I live paycheck to paycheck, despite having three jobs. Being poor sucks. It stinks. It’s the worst. Clawing and scraping to get by. To make a life for yourself. For supporting others with no one else to help you. And I’ll keep clawing and scraping and praying for better things. I will not be poor forever, no matter how many people may try to keep me down.

I can't believe I work this hard to be poor

People with depression (myself included) hold so much fear in their hearts. Fear of others finding out they are or have been depressed, for one. I have been at the bottom, and I will not go back there, no matter how many people keep me down; that’s a promise I made to myself that I have kept and will keep. I also promised myself I would not let fear run my life, that I wouldn’t let fear keep me from trying new things or trying to become better and more financially stable, and that’s another promise I have kept (and continue to strive for).

Confucius Quote

To my friends who will read this post: Please know that I am okay. Some days I am great, some days not so much. And being okay is perfectly acceptable. But I do need help. I do need love. I do need support. And I do need any prayers you can send my way. And, if you have any business referrals or potential suitors you can send my way, I would appreciate that, too. 🙂

To those of you suffering from depression: YOU ARE NOT ALONE. There are resources out there who can help you, including the National Suicide Prevention Hotline (1-800-273-8255, or click the website link; you can chat with people through their website as well). You deserve happiness, and love. You deserve happiness and love. YOU DESERVE HAPPINESS AND LOVE.

Let someone love you

 

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Ye of Little Faith

So last night I had coffee with a prospective suitor. He was attractive, has a good job (as a doctor in the dental field), comes from a good family (supposedly). For some people (even in my own family) they would say that’s enough.

But he thinks praying is useless.

And that’s not enough for me.

When we first sat down to coffee, conversation flowed easily. We talked easily about a range of different topics. He cursed a lot, but I thought ‘There are worse traits to have.’ He mentioned how he teased someone because they were vegan and someone else for something else (I’ll not bore you with the specifics, but I think he was just plain cruel. From his telling of these stories, he was happy that he had hurt someone else’s feelings.) So, I thought, ‘Huh. Maybe I was wrong about him.’ He mentioned how he liked to go to bars and drink and pick-up girls in college, and I thought, ‘Maybe I was really wrong about him.’

But then we got on the topic of faith and spirituality. And that’s where it really fell apart.

He basically said that, as a scientist, there’s no proof of God and there’s no proof that prayer works. And, if we think it does work, it’s basically in our minds.

What. The. Frak.

This is not the first time I’ve run across someone who doesn’t believe in prayer (and, just to clarify, he never outright said that he didn’t believe in God, just that there’s no proof of Him). But he was very condescending and disparaging when he spoke to me. And he recognized it. He flat out said, “I know I’m being disparaging, but I’m a scientist, I can’t help it.”

And that’s a bullshit cop-out if I ever heard one.

I know PLENTY of scientists. Doctors, even, who still believe in the power of prayer, and have faith. And they don’t talk to me like I’m an asshole. Or treat me like one.

I asked him if he prayed. He said he did. I asked him if he felt anything when he prayed. He said that he didn’t; he only prayed because he was obligated to, not because he thought it would do anything.

I honestly welcome open discourse. I do. If you have another opinion, let’s discuss it like adults and agree to disagree, if it comes to that. But when you disparage someone, you are very clearly telling them that you don’t respect them, you don’t respect their beliefs, and you think the only right opinion is yours (which he also said, by the way. He said I was wrong and he was right, and that was the last word on the subject).

And, even with the anger at being dismissed over my faith, I felt pity for him. I felt really sad that he would never know the peace of prayer.

Now, I was not always so, consistent shall we say, with prayers and such. When I was younger, I sometimes felt that I didn’t know why I was praying and I felt it was an obligation that I needed to fulfil.

But then I went through some serious shit in my life. There was a lot going on that no one knew about, that they still don’t know about, and, in some cases, wouldn’t care to know about now either. And bad experiences change you. Adversity changes you. And going through those experiences made me a more faithful person when, sometimes, they do just the opposite. I learned how to pray. And I don’t just mean the physical movements. I mean the words. I learned how to pray for the things I wanted in my heart and soul, things I barely mentioned even to myself. Things I thought I may never have or even deserve to have. And I’m still learning.

I still don’t have an ‘easy’ life as some might call it. I still struggle with things (besides the obvious search for a decent man to marry), but I still pray. I still believe in the power of prayer. I have seen it work in my own life.

What some people, like Dr. Disparaging here, don’t realize is, that when you pray, sometimes you don’t get what you prayed for; sometimes you get something better. You just need to wait for it.

I do feel sorry for him. If he’s not open to even the opinions of others, then he’s not open to the belief in prayer, or God, or maybe even love. He missing something amazing in his life, and he doesn’t even realize it. Maybe he’s afraid of it; why else would you verbally attack someone for what they believe if you weren’t afraid of it or ignorant of it yourself?

And, in the end, I deserve better than someone who would be cruel to me, or to my children. I deserve better. Some might say that I’m getting too old to be picky, but I just can’t be with someone who would belittle me every time I prayed. And I don’t want my kids growing up in that environment, either.

And now I know that I was wrong about him. So, (sigh) another one bites the dust.

But I’ll persevere. I BELIEVE that there is someone out there for me. Someone who will treat me with respect and kindness, even when we don’t get along. Who will be a good father for my children, and a good son-in-law to my parents.

I believe. And I have faith that my wedding day will come. Please pray for me.

Thank you!

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I Am Not a Spinster (Wikipedia Says So)

Hello, readers!

It has been a long time since I last posted. So much has been going on and life often gets in the way (births, deaths, sickness, and happiness, too). So, I thought I’d start with a bit of catching up.

I shockingly realize my last big post was around the New Year. Well, at that time, I did have a reason for holding back; I had met a new man and things had been progressing well.

I say ‘had’ because (SPOILER ALERT!) after I realized he was a lying, controlling asshole, my family and I decided it was best to part ways. Here’s how the latest story goes.

We met online through one of the Muslim matrimonial websites. His name was a typical Shia name (I’m Sunni), but he said he was Sunni (probably a little too quickly in retrospect). Our first meeting was at a coffee shop, and it went pretty well. He called me the next day to ask if we could meet again, for dinner this time. I took that as a good sign. (In case you’re wondering, my parents were aware of my meeting him from the first time we made contact through the website, and knew of the other times we met.)

Dinner also went well. We had some good conversations, but I could tell that he was obsessive in some respects. I’m a little OCD myself, and I thought ‘no one’s perfect’, not even me, so I let it slide. He didn’t ask me a whole lot about myself, but I’ve found that guys like to talk about themselves. But then that movie, He’s Just Not That Into You, kept floating through my mind. The movie (I haven’t read the book, so can’t comment on that) states that if a guy’s interested in you, he’ll let you know it.  Hmmm.

From there we progressed to a day outing together, wandering museums. If you’re a previous reader, you know that I have done this with previous gentlemen callers. You can find something for everyone to enjoy, and it gives you a sense of how patient they are, how they interact in public, how respectful they are. (P.S. – I was dressed in a super cute sweater, jeans, and boots, though nothing designer; this will be relevant later).

After the museum trip, my parents preferred we only talk on the phone (not meet again). I was fine with that. He wasn’t. Our mothers had spoken to each other at this point (!) so his mom called my mom to complain ask her to permit the boy and I meeting. My mom said okay, just a few more times. We also arranged for the families to meet in December.

So the boy and I went out another time or two. It was fine, but I did start getting the sense that something was slightly off about him. He liked everything just so, and didn’t like deviation. He really liked to be in control. He also had switched jobs a few times in the last few years and was planning to again because his newest job wasn’t “working for him”. Hmmm.

So our families met in December. We went out to dinner. Twice. They insisted on paying the first time, though my father took the check initially. Then the second time, when they knew my father would be paying, they invited more people and ordered more food than would be normal (this perturbed me quite a bit). In any case, it went okay. And I was dressed super cute both times (which is very relevant – stay tuned). Afterwards, I spoke to my father, who spent time with the boy during both dinners. He also had some reservations, and thought the boy was holding something back. My father did get him to admit that he LIED about his education. The resume and information he had sent us had some degrees and certifications listed that he never received (nor was he in the process of pursuing). Hmmm.

After the family dinners, I get a call from him asking if we can meet for coffee. (FYI – at this point his family had not mentioned an engagement or marriage at all.) He specifically asks me to wear one of the dresses I wore to the family dinner to coffee. Midday coffee. I ask him why, and he responds with “because I’m asking you to”. I tell him it’s very inappropriate to wear an evening-ish dress during the day, but he asks me to “just wear it”. I talk it over with my mum, who says to just indulge him this time and see what he wants. So I wear it. With a long black coat that covers it while I’m walking around (it was winter – totally acceptable winter wear. Ahem.)

I show up and he looks at me very seriously and tells me there is one thing that is very important to him that his future wife must do.

I ask him what that is.

He said, she has to dress well.

I sat there trying to hold back a laugh. Of all the things that are important in this world, that’s the most important to him? More important that caring for his parents, or being a good mother? I didn’t say that, though.

He started going on about how he is always impeccably dressed, and how he likes to set a standard for dressing well. And he expects his wife to do the same. He brings his “A-game” and he expects his wife to bring it, too. And, yes, he actually used the phrase “A-game”. He also went on to tell me that he even asks his mother to change when he feels she’s not bringing her “A-game”. I should mention that his mother was ill and recently hospitalized, and he still had her change before our family dinners. He said he spends at least an hour getting ready in the morning, and he would expect me, too, as well.

I tell him, I dress appropriately for occasions. If I’m going to spend the day with my niece, for example, I don’t dress the best because we’ll likely get dirty. And I tell him that he needs to have realistic expectations for the future. (Who wants to bring their “A-game” all the time? That’s not me.) He said that the occasion doesn’t matter. Just buy new clothes if they get ruined, he said to me.

I tell him that buying new clothes is unrealistic for some people, who need money for food and shelter, etc. (i.e., me). He said that doesn’t matter, either.

He then tells me that he “was offended” by some of the things I’ve worn in his presence. Like he’s a king or something and I’ve broken some royal law.

I KNOW! Offended by what? My great sense of personal style? I don’t say that, but I want to. He tells me he was offended by the clothes I wore to our museum day trip. I really want to dump the coffee on his head and tell him to fuck off (he mentioned he hates public scenes so I think up a really fabulous one in my head), but I hold myself in check. After all, I really do like the coffee shop we were sitting in and I know I’m going to come back. But I HATE it when people try to make me feel small or lesser than who I am, when I’m just being me.

So, I very politically reiterate my thoughts (i.e., have realistic expectations, etc.) and we leave. We are parked on the same level of the same parking garage so we walk there together. We reach his car first, which is parked in a handicapped spot. He is not handicapped. But he has the handicapped sticker because of his elderly parents. Which aren’t in the car with him. But he’s still using the spot that could, in fact, have gone to an actual handicapped individual. Total dick move.

As I drive away, I think back to our conversations. He mentioned that he had seen other girls (who likely brought their “A-game” more than me), but they weren’t that interested in caring for his parents. I don’t mind caring for my husband’s parents, as long as husband realizes that we’re taking care of my parents, too (this is why most men break things off; they don’t want to deal with my parents). Hmmm.

A few days later (after I had told my parents what happened, and my mum agreed with me on my take), my parents want to know his birth year (which he has been evasive about). He finally texts me his birthdate, and we discover he has lied about his birthdate and is, in fact, 3 years older than he stated he was in his online profiles and on the information he sent us separately.

We also find out later that he has also lied about being Sunni, and is actually Shia.

So, suffice it to say, I broke things off with him. But, being the obsessive sort, he had his mom contact my mom a few times to try to change our minds (my mum never picked up her calls). I was really nervous when he wouldn’t take “no” for an answer and kept bothering us. All sorts of horrible scenarios ran through my head about what he might do (I’m sure you can imagine). I imagined several scenarios about what I would do to him if I ever saw him again.

Why did I have to go through that? Why does any woman? NO MEANS NO.

So anyway, now I’m back out there, trying to find a non-creepy, honest, kind individual who recognizes the importance for women to take care of their parents as much as men do (or should).

I’ve been called a spinster. I don’t agree with that term. Wikipedia essentially defines spinster (by the historical definition, I’m not talking about the more modern versions) as a woman who hasn’t married someone by the time they reach menopause. I’m nowhere near menopause, so that really doesn’t apply to me.

Oxford Dictionaries defines spinster as a derogatory term referring to “an unmarried woman, typically an older woman beyond the usual age for marriage”. I would argue that I am not “beyond the usual age for marriage”.

It’s true that women in my culture do get married young at times. But was it wrong to avoid the lying, controlling assholes? Someone in my family actually told me that I should marry someone, even if they’re mean or might be mean to me. I even had someone who, after the suitor’s family said that marriage meant I would never see my family again (no parents, siblings, extended family, etc.), still thought I should get married. Um, I’m sorry, but I refuse to settle for someone who will be cruel to me. I’ve been treated to enough cruelty in this world, and I don’t want to spend the rest of my life living with another one. And I refuse to accept that this stance is somehow wrong.

Women in our culture put up with A LOT. We do. We are exceptionally kind, giving people (not all women, but a lot of them are). We easily give up what we want and need for the wants and needs of others. I do that, too (hey – I’m not totally selfish).

I had an epiphany a few years ago. I was engaged. I can’t recall if I’ve mentioned it before, but I was. I remember one day thinking, “Well, I won’t have the best marriage but maybe my daughter will do better than me.” And I stopped dead in my tracks. Why don’t I think I deserve to have a good marriage, with someone who truly cares and respects me? Why should I put up with someone unkind just to say that I’m “married”? Suffice it to say, that this epiphany, coupled with revelations about the family, meant we called off the wedding.

I don’t think finding a kind, decent person is unrealistic. I believe it can be reality. “Marriage is hard enough without bringing such low expectations into it” (Sleepless in Seattle). God knows what is best for all of us, and I pray that God will provide me with direction to the right path and person.

So, now that I’ve defended my non-spinsterish stance, I leave you with this old poem. Thanks for reading!

 

Old Maid Poem

 

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The Thing Is …

Depression can hit at the oddest times. Growing up, I was mostly alone. I don’t have a sister, and I didn’t have any other family nearby. There weren’t that many (or any for the most part) Muslim girls my age (or really Muslims in general) where I grew up. All that’s changed now, of course, as there is a great Muslim community in my hometown, but growing up, for me, was quite lonely.

High school was the worst. I was teased, taunted, and made fun of at times, but (and I think this was worse) I was mostly avoided. I played music (mostly the clarinet in high school band), so I found some people I could hang out with through there and became part of group. But they didn’t really care about me or my background. Writing helped me through those four years. I started writing poetry in high school and let my imagination run away with me when things got tough. Like when angry, hurtful notes slipped into my locker. I was very depressed through a lot of high school. Looking back, I wonder that no one ever said anything to me, considering how broken and sad I looked most of the time. I remember at one point my dad, who was saying goodbye when leaving for a business trip, ended by saying, “Be happy.” Even my parents knew I was sad and depressed, but they didn’t do anything about it. And they thought the solution might be as simple as telling me to ‘be happy’.

College was better. I learned a great deal (and I LOVE to learn) and met some great people. I became a little more independent and confident (maybe they’re related?) and I charted a path for my career and life. I worked three jobs through much of it, but I supported myself and gained more independence.  Then 9/11 happened, and all the world changed. I was tormented once again but on a whole new level. I worked and wrote my way through the hard times.

After my undergrad, I took a year off and saved my money. I then spent the summer backpacking around Europe with a friend of mine (she had not been to Europe before either). It was an incredibly eye-opening and joyful experience. I realized a great many things about myself and about how others perceive me. I realized that no one ever bothers to really look at me and see what’s underneath. They never see the pain or, if they do, they ignore it.

Grad school (my first grad degree) was great. I met the friends that I am still the closest to, who I really consider my sisters in life. I had to stick close to home again (my parents, alternatively, fell ill and needed help) and I worked three jobs again, but I made do. I remember one day, at my job at a coffee shop, I overheard two of my co-workers talking about people who were unhappy or depressed. One of them said she simply didn’t understand how people could choose to be unhappy. I wanted to shout out that sometimes it’s not a choice! That sometimes you’ve just been sad for so long that you don’t know anything else. You can’t be anything else.

Eventually, I moved to my current locale when I couldn’t get a good job in my hometown. I had a roommate, and the experience was eye-opening. Again, I realized that no one ever bothered to see the pain I hid underneath. This was a dark, depressive year for me. I just wanted help, even the simplest help with cleaning and cooking and grocery shopping. I was working multiple jobs again (until I could find a decent one), working from 4am-11pm some days, and I was incredibly exhausted. Even a stranger on the subway asked me if I was okay one day, and I could see the empathy in his eyes; after a quick glance at my reflection, I could see the weariness plastered across my face. My roommate never had to pay for much (as her parents were very blessed and could cover her expenses), but I was not as blessed and always had to pay for everything. I wish I had been blessed in such a way as she, but that’s not the life I was given. And God doesn’t give you more than you can handle, I’ve heard, so I toughed it out.

The next year, I moved into my own place. I now had a full-time job, but still needed to work multiple jobs to get the bills paid. So many bills. Coming all the time. My boss at the FT job turned out to be an asshole who treated me … poorly … shall we say. I just wanted someone to care enough to help me.  I would ask for help, but each person I turned to, turned me away.

One day, I had an epiphany. My eyes full of tears, my heart full of sorrow, I was sick and tired of being treated like shit. And I realized, I was alone. Sure, I had some great friends but they couldn’t stop the pull others had on me. I had to pull myself out, and push myself forward despite how the others dragged me down. People would always pull and push me down I realized, but who said they had to win that tug-of-war? I can’t control their behavior, but I can control mine. A simple, common-sense statement, to be sure, but awfully hard to achieve at times.

It was a turning point for me, emotionally. No, I didn’t just ‘become happy’ all at once. But I did my best to focus on the positive instead of the negative. And that’s what I try to do each day. I try to focus on what I am, not on what others want me to be, or what they may say to me. I focus on the good things I have going.

And this blog is one way I do that. So THANK YOU to those who read about my joys and struggles as a Muslim woman, and as a human being. Thank you to those who leave comments, from all over the world. Thank you for sending others to come visit me, too. And thank you to the other writers out there (Kristen Lamb and Wil Wheaton, to name a few) who share their dark times, or just provide support by talking about it.

Depression is not an easy thing to live with. I not only live with it, but I have lived with those who have it, too. If you know of someone who’s depressed or just unhappy, just ask ‘What’s wrong?’ over coffee one day, and mean it. Don’t walk away, don’t turn your back. When someone wants help, they don’t always need help with all of it. They may just be feeling overwhelmed and you can help with a project at work or school. It is sometimes the little actions that make the most difference, not the big ones.

There is such a stigma against mental illness in the world, and in my culture as well. People equate mental illness with violence, and people are described as ‘disturbed’ or ‘crazy’, which is such a dismissive adjective. Think about it – the last time you heard someone described as ‘crazy’, what happened? People used to think that women who had PMS or were undergoing menopause were mentally ill. But we redefined what mentally ill meant, and we need to do that again.  We will do that again.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE. To learn more, you can visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness, or countless other sites on the Internet or facilities in your town. If you need help, you can also call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline (1-800-273-8255).

Thanks for reading -M

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Familiar Familial Fights

It’s my birthday today. It started out great; I had to work but I didn’t mind. I’ve recently started a skincare business and I went to a training session this morning. Afterwards, I felt great and energized. I met amazing women and we helped each other grow our businesses.

I feel like everyone should have one day for themselves, at least, each year. Oh, I try to fit some time in each day, whether it’s a few minutes reading in the evening or going to a concert here and there. But everyone deserves a day; I don’t think that’s too much to ask. A day where certain family members won’t call to wish you ‘Happy Birthday’ in one breath and spend the next telling you how unaccomplished you are and what a disappointment you are. And you shouldn’t have to justify how you spend your day, either.

Everyone’s selfish about something, and I’m no exception. But I try to do my best, each and every day, to give to others around me, including my family, some of whom I work so very hard to support. But people don’t always recognize or appreciate your giving; in fact, some people take advantage of you, and other people are jealous of you because you give back in a way they won’t.

And I’ve learned something about confidence. I have confidence at work; I work three jobs to support myself (and others). But when it comes to my family, my confidence seems to fly out the window. I just stand there and take it, letting the harsh words flow around me instead of into me (or at least I try to). I let them keep the ‘power’ over me, as it were.

I was recently at a family event and I just did not care what anyone said to me. I smiled, was pleasant, and spoke to everyone, but let no one’s comments bother me. I spent most of the time with my niece (a complete and utter joy in itself) and I just was not going to let anyone ruin my mood.

So, today, when the harsh words and reprimands came my way, I again decided to let the words flow around me. The other people won’t change. And no matter how many jobs I work trying to help them, I realized that, at the end of the day, I have to do things for myself first.

So I will continue to work hard, and support myself, and grow my business to help myself gain the financial freedom that I need and deserve. And yes, I will also continue to support the members of my family, too, because, no matter how they make me feel at times, it is the absolute right thing to do.

It’s hard not be reflective on your birthday. I am another year older, and still not married (though, as you faithful readers know, it’s not from lack of trying). I look pretty damn good, if I do say so myself, I am educated, accomplished, and I try to be a good woman, a good person, and a good daughter/sister/friend every day.

I am resilient. No matter the multitudes of harsh words and thoughts that have been vaulted in my direction, I get up and dust myself off and keep going; I am a survivor. I am more and more an optimist (to my own great surprise).

I don’t have another year behind me; I have another year in front of me, and I thank God for it. Another year to publish more writing, to grow my business and find financial freedom, another year to spend with my fabulous and supportive friends (and family), to travel more and experience more and, yes, to hopefully get married.

So, now I’m off to enjoy the rest of my day which, so far, has passed far too quickly.

Thanks for reading!

-M

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