I am a woman who reinvented her life. Not a part of it. Not one particular area, but my entire life.
Everything has changed, and although some areas are still so unfamiliar to a mind use to consistency, it is quite remarkable to look back only a year ago at how different my life was. How different I was. What was once so routine has become an estranged friend that you visit often, but are deeply aware how far removed you are from them now. Every day is an adjustment. A good one, and yet still one that takes adjusting to.
I have decided, thanks to new circumstances, that 2018 will be the year, I finally bare a part of my soul to you all. I say a part because every woman keeps her secrets, and I am no different, but I feel that I want, or rather NEED, to share a part with all of you in the hope that it will help so many.
I know certain revelations will find me judged, criticized, ridiculed, and even morally shamed as a Muslim Arab woman, and I’m very aware of this fact. But here’s the thing- I don’t give a flying FUCK!!! And I mean that! A lot of you say, “She says that, but she does care.” NO!!! I don’t!!! Find your soul.
I share what I feel inspired and compelled to share- and always for the greater good. So, if I have to be the sacrificial lamb and the bullet proof vest for the rest, I’m ready for that test. That fucken rhymed and I’m so proud of myself for that! YAS!!! Flap!
(Faiza’s Dictionary: Flap (The FABULOUS act of taking one side of your hair and whipping it back with pride, attitude, and sass. Normally folled with a snap or “Mmm.”)
Strength is something that has been instilled in me, even when I didn’t think I had it. I’m strong enough to take whatever you decide to throw at me for being raw… very raw, unashamed, and unfiltered. But let me tell you, there’s millions, yes I said MILLIONS of girls around the world who are exactly who I use to be: no voice, the belief that you have no choice, feeling lost and confused, having ZERO guidance, and full of fear and guilt.
And let’s not forget the endless amount of expectations built around you like the Great Wall, by family, friends, culture, faith, society, and your community. Those girls have no one to turn to. Guilt and fear chains and confines them to all the things and people they know aren’t good for them; and expectations steer them through every aspect of their life: school, jobs, family, relationships, marriage, etc. The amount of confusion faced by these women daily is something we don’t talk about. As if it’s not happening. As if it doesn’t lead to an increase in depression, drug abuse, and even suicide.
So if you haven’t had a voice up to this point, you NOW have one! So… without further ado, I open ‘My From Broken, To FABULOUS Life,’ to ALL of you.
On March 19th of 2013, I met Pan.
He would always argue that we met on Apr 19th, and I wouldn’t fight it because I wanted him to be right. This would later prove to be one of the biggest mistakes I made. Like his namesake, Peter Pan, Pan lived by the motto, “I don’t wanna grow up.” Now today this type of immaturity would make me run faster then Usian Bolt, but at that time it drew me to him. But then again, I was a sheltered and very naïve Muslim Arab girl who had just started dating at the age of twenty-eight.
Pan was my first time around the rodeo. Not only as my first partner but all my; a fact he was well aware of, although the first time we shish kabobbed, he made me swear on the Quran (Holy Book) that I was in fact, A Verified V.
(Faiza’s Dictionary: Shish Kabob(bed): The act of having sex. A Verfied V: A virgin.)
I didn’t bleed after shish kabobbing, and of course, to an Arab guy, this is a cardinal sin. Because A Verified V bleeds if she has never shish kabobbed before. I continuously swore on the Quran, as well as my loved ones, and anything else I love, to prove to him that I was- even if I couldn’t explain why the bed didn’t look like a fucken bloody masacure – A Verified V. I did my best to prove my innocence, and when that seem unsuccessful, I got angry with God.
I felt He was punishing me for not waiting until marriage and giving something I had held on to for twenty-eight years as quickly as I had. I tried to explain myself not only to God but to Pan. I didn’t know for sure what God’s impression was of me, although I suspected it was nothing good, but Pan made his impression of me well known.
He didn’t believe I was A Verified V, but he promised not to ever tell anyone about this, “Because I know how they’ll look at you.” That statement hit me harder than even my father’s death because I was hit with the reailty that I had given myself to someone who didn’t value, appreciate, or respect me. This is a very lonely feeling. Any humiliation in the bedroom is one that is never forgotten, but then to add guilt to that, for me, was beyond suffocating. I felt alone and angry. Very very angry. The idea that a woman had to be some paragon of virtue, but a man and his dick, free as a bird, angered me to the core. The unfair treatment and expectations for women by a culture driven by men- despite the faith seeing the action of shish kabobbing to be a sin for BOTH: Men & Women! Yet, this was so conveniently forgotten and I, much too afraid to speak up because of the shame.
I couldn’t tell anyone that I had shish kabobbed a man who wasn’t my husband. This is the greatest taboo not only for Muslim girls/women but also as an Arab woman. My reputation would be lost forever if anyone found out. No man would ever want me. No respectable family would consider me, and the option of pursuing a partner outside the faith or culture was impropbable. So the shackles had been placed tightly in Pan’s hands, and I allowed him to grip them tightly if only he would never peep a word of it all to another soul.
As time went on the guilt of my act built deeper and stronger.
Pan always found some way to bring the subject up in conversation which at times found me avoiding mirrors, if only not to see the reflection of the sinful woman I felt I had become. I was constantly on trial, and the conversation(s) always veered toward his ex, a girl he had dated for several years, who unlike me, was A Verfied V. We would always move past the conversation and clear things up, only to have it surface yet again. The guilt trip went on for months until the night we purchased tickets to watch a movie at The AMC RiverEast in one of Chicago’s most lively areas.
While Pan and I sat in the car discussing his past relationship, a subject I could see had left such a deep impact on him, he had a Freudian slip. He slipped and told me about how he discovered his ex in bed with another man and the hurt he felt having believed until then, that he was “The only guy who had ever been with her.” I was perplexed.
“So you and your ex did shish kabob?” I asked.
He was clearly shocked and reacted in what would become his usual response to awkward situations: a very wide smile.
He was caught, and he had no other choice but to reveal to me that he and his ex were, in fact, intimate and she was NOT A Verified V- just like me. I felt crushed, hurt, and overhlemed with emotion. I couldn’t hold it inside, and tears just began flowing. Pan tried to comfort me believing my distress to be because I couldn’t bare the thought of him shish kabobbing another woman, when in fact I cried because of the months of guilt card after guilt card being thrown at me using that very ex against me. I had walked around for months hearing “SHAME SHAME SHAME,” in my head and it was based on a lie. A lie that would turn out to be one of many for Pan.
I didn’t want to watch the movie. I wanted to go home where I could be alone with my thoughts. I needed to find out what I wanted from Pan and if there was even an us anymore. But Pan insisted we watch the movie, that I not make a big deal out of “something small,” and instead have a nice night. There are so many times I look back at this relationship and say to myself, “WHYYY didn’t you get out of that car, up from that table, out of that room, and walk away? WHY?” But who I am today is very different from the girl I was then. That girl felt tied by guilt and mostly love- or what I believed love to be then.
In truth, there was no way I couldn have opened that door, exited that car, put up BOTH middle fingers, and said Smooth Sails and God Speed. How could I? I loved him. Despite his short comings. Despite his words, his guilt tripping, and his actions- I loved him. More than myself. So I stayed in that car, went to that movie, and kissed him in that car four and a half blocks away from my house before he dropped me off as the night came to an end.
Love to me was exactly what Pan and I had: the constant critisim of my body, a string of verbal, emotional, and physical abuse, no respect, and never showing he cared in whatever way he could. No different than my dad, Allah yerhamo (God Rest His Soul).
(Faiza’s Dictionary: MusRab: Muslim Arab Girl/Boy.)
Good MusRab girls don’t talk to anyone of the opposite sex, date, or shish kabob.
Before Pan, I was that girl. A good Musrab girl. The girl who did everything in her power to get her father’s approval. My dad wasn’t the arm around the shoulder, storybook reading, kiss on the head before you got to bed, kind of man. How could he be? He had never seen that growing up in a strict old fashioned Palestinian Muslim home void of choice. The removal of choice in any home, relationship, job, friendship, etc., equals the removal of respect and compassion.
My dad couldn’t show me the love I saw in life outside the MusRab community or movies, but he gave me what he could. It took me years to forgive my father for this and to understand that my father was the way he was because it was the only way he knew how to be. But regardless of the genuine forgiveness I have for my father, I still see how it paved my way in understanding men and love. I mean they say a daughter looks for her father in a partner and a son his mother; I unintelltionally found what I was familiar with and stayed.
So I stayed in that car… with Pan.
He promised that he would make up for the lies and deceit and insisted he had only lied to protect her reputation- even if it was at my expense. I ignored my hurt, my pain, my guilt, and the shame I felt deep inside, because for a moment, in the toxic air of it all, the familiarity showed me once again that I was home.
Until next week…. stay FABULOUS!!!