Tuesday, April 22, 2008

How to shake off the bad mood…

We all get depressed, be it hormones, or unfortunate events. Hell! Men get depressed.

So there, some things I thought of that could help shake the bad mood off; some may work, some may not, but it won’t get you more depressed, given that you don't go over board. Feel free to try them, woman, man, single, married, divorced… whatever!!

  1. 1- Catch up with an old friend, someone you have not talked to for quite some time! Just try to avoid talking about the things that upset you; keep it strictly catching up.

    2- If you have kids, leave them with someone you can trust, and go catch a movie, or have your favorite drink in your favorite coffee shop… three hours of quality time with your own self is worth it!

    3- Embrace the bad negative feelings; you’re feeling bad, so what, it won’t last… so while you’re thinking things back and forth, take the time to find at least one upside, focus on it for a while and then shake your head and say “alhamdulilah”

    4- You can talk it out with someone you really trust and feel comfortable talking to, someone you would not feel awkward about sharing things with, and most importantly someone who’s wise enough to properly handle your vulnerable emotional state.

    5- Buy yourself something nice, something you always wanted, or treat yourself with one serving of your favorite dessert; more could cause some calorie abuse depending on the dessert and whether you’re on any sort of diet!

    6- If you have kids, buy them something too; going back and giving them whatever you bought, you will see a bright smile and an excited look, your heart will just melt and you’ll feel warm and fuzzy inside :)

    7- Try learning something new; even if it’s so little or trivial, even if it’s just a new route home!

    8- If you have internet access, think of any of your favorite things, google it, and find out some interesting stuff!! It’s cool, trust me ;)

    9- If you have the time, go walk in a poor neighborhood, look at the people with the jaded faces and the less fortunate statuses, you might stumble upon smiling faces nonetheless. If they can smile, the least you should do is smile back… if the are not smiling, all the more reason to smile at them, I find smiling therapeutic. Just avoid suspicious looking people who touch themselves.

    10- If you can’t seem to get out of the black hole on your own, try to spend time with people whom you enjoy their company, people who make you laugh; laughter is contagious, it may not solve your problems, but your heart will feel lighter for a while, why the hell not!!

    11- Do something you like, something that soothes you… take a long drive with good music, a warm bubble bath, cook something nice if you’re into cooking, read a book, watch a movie, go out in the balcony and gaze at the sky, take the time to look at the stars and appreciate their beauty!! Whatever does it for you, just dwell on something positive!!

    12- If you have kids of your own, or there are any at home (younger siblings, nephews, nieces, etc…) call for them and start random conversations; kids can be both brilliant and entertaining, something about their innocence brightens up the heart! And they sense our need for compassion; my almost 1-year-old pats me on the back when I hug him, makes me feel warm.

    13- Do something different about your looks, doesn’t have to be drastic, mildly different is cool! Trim your hair, try out some nail polish even if you remove it later, curl your hair in a funny way or even braid it!! Take photos either you’re looking silly or cute, even if you delete them later, it consumes time rather not wasted in sulking.

    14- You can rearrange the furniture in your room, or your house! Who knows, you may even clean up or fold laundry while listening to music or leaving the tv on, or even chatting with a friend on the phone! You'd be amazed how many annoying chores can be done that way :)

    15- If you’re feeling spiritual, pray, put your heart into a prayer, say all that you want, or not, just think about all that you want, God doesn’t need to hear your spoken words, He senses sincerity… trust Him.

    16- Look in the mirror, find one thing, one thing you like about yourself, not just about your looks, look deeper into your soul, be thankful for it and accept whatever it is you don’t like; we all have flaws, some we should change, and some we should just accept.

    17- Check on a friend you know was going through his/her own set of problems, listen to him/her, and try to give support; you may not have help to offer, or smart advice to give, but you will surely help by making them feel less lonely. It’s rewarding, it helps make you less self centered so you can get away with your selfishness later ;)

    18- Check out a game you like playing, even make up your own!! I used to think of random words that lead me to more random words, you’d be surprised!!

    19- Talk to yourself out loud, people may call you crazy, but thinking out loud helps.

    20- Seek help from a professional if you have doubts about your own sanity, nothing is wrong with that!! If you have a problem, you better start working on it, if you don’t, there, you got assurance, and it will be uplifting to know that for sure.

I’ll post more if I think of any, feel free to add yours… have a good day and God bless :)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

On Love, Men, Women, and Generalization

Apparently, love is a universal thing, and it goes without saying that both men and women feel it; isn’t this how they justify a lot of things, especially the irrational ones!! However, I think men and women fall in love and react to it differently. My idea could be some form of generalization; I hate generalization, but let’s admit that it helped a lot of thinkers in figuring out some acknowledged facts about humanity.

I already referred to men before women because of the alphabetical order, but when it comes to my own theories, I will start with women, since I think I know more in this department.

We women build our worlds around our men. Whether we are in love or married, whether we married for love or through arranged marriage, we always priorities them. We stop having our own dreams, and we stop pursuing the plans we once had. WHY?

Is it because this is what society tells us? I know it may sound a little feminist to say that, but I assure you, I am not a feminist!

I can only speak from my own experience here. When I fell in love, I had no eyes for anyone but him; I had no opinions or logic other than his. I chose to make him my eyes and my mind. But when my marriage started falling apart, I questioned my x, I was not afraid of his authority although I was raised by a strict father who allowed no room for me to question his logic or reason, not just because he intimidated me, but also because he provided me a good life, gave me the security and stability I needed. But when the other male figure in my life took away my notion of a good life, shook my stability and ruined my sense of security, I had every reason to rebel against him.

Nonetheless, there was a huge mental and emotional drawback once things started falling apart. It felt like my development had stopped at the age of 19, when I first knew him, and I woke up at the age of 26, wondering where I have been for the past seven years! In addition to my shock, disappointment and confusion, I had to do seven-years worth of catching up. It was painful, and it left me wondering if it was the right thing to do shutting myself away and letting him take full control of my life.

I am not saying we shouldn’t; if some women have done it and found it worth its while, it must leave room for reasonable doubt that nothing is wrong with that. But when it is done for the wrong man, it’s a recipe for failure and a long journey of self doubt, which may not result in self finding.

I wish more women would come and share their experiences, for I spoke of mine, which I found somehow similar to those of some people I know.

Now the men, they never put their women first, NEVER. I have talked to so many of them, and no one, not one said they put his woman first. I know my father never did, I know none of my uncles ever did, I even know my male friends did not, and I am talking about men whom I respect, men who did not fail their families. My x said he put me first all the time, and well, he lied.

The good men say that they put their spouses first by putting their career first, by focusing on providing a better life. I can’t disagree much because I know and understand the burden on men to provide and maintain a stable household. But this leaves the rest of the work to the woman; not just the house responsibilities, but also keeping things alive. It’s a hard job by the way, and if some women lose their heads or fail to keep the marriage interesting, well sorry men, you can try, but I don’t think it will work any better for you.

Yeah, my ideas are too general and not so organized. But isn’t this what we go through in life on daily basis; chaotic general assumptions.

So men, women, tell me… did I make any sense?? If I did not, what makes sense to you??

For the time being, to the women out there, I can only try to give you an educated, yet unbiased advice.

Follow your men, love them, support them, and stand by them… but so not ignore your instincts, do not numb your senses or ignore alarms. Do not stop growing… empower yourselves, educate your selves and make sure you’re walking on solid grounds. Your man can never find that intimidating or threatening, no good man would, whatever a good man is.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

To All the Women... and the Men
I wish I had words that describe this poem, but words fail me!! So all I will say is that it's written by Farida.

في بلادي تبكي النساء
في بلادي النساء تجيد البكاء
و أنا و للأسف أكره طعم الدموع
وأكره نحيب المساء
قبلك كنت عصية الدمع
و معك صرت مثل كل النساء

......في بلادي النساء لاتجيد الرحيل و تدمن البقاء
الشكوى و العويل
أفضل من البعد و الانطواء
و انا عزيزي لا أخشى الرحيل
و لا احب دور شهيدة الشقاء

في بلادي النساء تؤمن بالرجل
ظل و سند وبقاء
و انا أؤمن بالقدر
و في إيماني سلام وصفاء
و كيف أخشى غد أوبشر
و معي الله خالق و رب وقضاء
سأرحل إن أراد لي الرحيل
و لن انظر للوراء

في بلادي النساء تجلد النساء
ألسنة طويله..كذب و افتراء
سأراهم إذا ما استدرت يتهامسون
و سأسمع الكلمات الحمقاء
سيصير جمالي أكبر لعنة
تدفعني للإنزواء
من عيون رجال جائعة
و خوف من ظنها بي قد ساء
لأني حملت لقب مطلقه
و غلالة الهتك صارت رداء

سيقولون تركت ..و يقولون تٌركت
سيقولون خسرت.. و يقولون خٌسرت
و سنصير أحاديث صباح ومساء
كما قالوا في عشقنا قبلا
أساطير تشبه قصص عهد البيداء
ووالله ماصدقونا خبرا
و ماطالنا سوى حسد البغضاء

و هانحن كنا و ياليت ما كنا
و ياليت ماكان قبل الهجر لقاء
لكنني امرأة تؤمن بالقدر
و في إيماني أجمل عزاء
و لقد عشقتك يوم جئت تطلبني
ولست انا ممن تعشق في الخفاء
فالحرة ان أرادت رجلا
سلمته مقاليدها
فأسر زوج خير من حرية البغاء
أردتك و استمتعت بك دهرا
جئتني نعمة و ذهبت عني.. ابتلاء

وفي بلادرمز عزتها شوارب
لنا الله نحن بنات حواء
الرجل لا يخشى هجر خليلة
فكل النساء له سواء
لا يعيبه عمر ..لا يٌنقصه ظرف
و يأخذ عذراء تلو العذراء
أما من مثلي فقدت زهوتها
لزوج ماصان عهد ولا وفاء
فأسلم لها ان ترضى بقسمتها
ففي الغد مجهول يخشاه العقلاء
و الجدات تحكي عن كل من طلبت
سعادة بعد تعاسه و كيف خاب رجاء
و من نعرفه افضل ممن نجهله
و من ترجو خير في الرجال حمقاء

في بلادي مملكة جهل ذكوريه
صنعتها و للأسف.. نساء
فما طالت قامات الرجال إلا عندما ادمن جواريهن الانحناء
و ماشاع بين ذوات الكيد ظلم إلا عندما نسين رب السماء
و انا عزيزي لست بمتمرده
و لا أنا في عهد الأنبياء
و لا أنا كارهة لبني جنسك
و لا أنا اقوى من كل الضعفاء
أنا ببساطة امرأة تؤمن بالقدر
وفي ايماني غاية الاستكفاء
في ايماني غاية الاستكفاء

فريده سعد

Friday, April 11, 2008

Some personal experience

When I started that blog, I knew that at some point I would have to talk about my story, especially if I am expecting other women with similar circumstances to come and share theirs. However, I haven’t yet found a way to say it in short; so until then, I will keep it brief and simple. Who know, perhaps brief and simple is the way to go.

I married for love at a very young age. Getting married was not easy at all given how our families had totally different backgrounds; I mean at first glance you’d think both families share the same social class, but if you take a closer look, you’d see that the social class was not attained the same way. Mind you, I lived every girl’s dream, fell in love with a prince charming and actually married him, yaay me.

It’s fair to say there were good moments; good years to be just. I don’t know what happened then, I am not sure what went wrong and I am not sure where I went wrong. I only know I went wrong because it takes two to tango, and it would be extremely unfair to say that it was all him, despite how much I despise him now.

He fooled around, and when I found out, he turned the tables on me and made me feel inadequate to an extreme that I ended up apologizing. He then made up stories about how I got it all wrong so that when I had time to think things through I wouldn’t catch his bluff; and I believed him, not because he was that good a liar, but because I wanted to believe him. A year later, I found solid proof that he was lying and confronted him, and it simply went down hill from there.

I couldn’t look him in the eye without seeing the person who lied to my face and made me apologize when it was him who was mistaken. I couldn’t trust the person who made me doubt my own senses and logic. I just knew that if I was ever to fall, he won’t be there to catch me.

As it turns out, men sense those kinds of negative feelings, and let’s say I was not even subtle about them. At some point, we simply drifted apart. I sat him down and told him I could no longer feel the warmth I once felt in his arms and asked him to divorce me if he no longer cared for me the way he once did. He wasn’t rational about it and he acted like I was crazy saying that. I wish he really took the time that day to consider an amicable divorce.

He cheated on me; he broke my heart to little pieces when it had not even recovered from losing faith in him. I could feel it from day one; they say a woman knows, and they are right. I asked him over and over, I begged him not to hurt me and to just let me go, but he always accused me of being delusional and turned the table, he was really good, but I had already learnt to trust my instincts more than him.

When his cover was blown, his foolish male ego couldn’t handle my righteousness, and let’s say I did not win that one gracefully. It was simply ugly, but that’s how it felt all along, and that’s what I want to share today.

Being ignored, two timed, or cheated on by a husband is probably the worst thing that can happen to a woman, or at least one of the worst things. When the man you love, the one you chose to spend your best years with forsakes you that way, it makes you feel so worthless. And that’s what I could ever get over since the first time I knew he had eyes for someone else and he actually said the L word to someone else.

Ever since, I always felt like I was missing something, and it dramatically diminished my self worth. I felt ugly, I felt very conscious about my looks and appearance, I no longer had that much faith in my brains and my logic, and I continuously felt inadequate. It took me quite some time to get that out of my system and know who I really am and what I am made of, and most importantly accept and embrace it.

This is what I want to say, to every woman who stumbles upon this:

You are not ugly or stupid or dull, divorce does not make you any of that. The fact that you felt less appealing to your man, does not mean that you are; may be he just lost interest because you’re already there and he misses the action or the extra attention or whatever gets him off. But it is not necessarily you.

Take the time to discover your own beauty, the beauty you know you possess. Go out with your friends and people who actually value you for who you are and I assure you, you will feel beautiful inside out.

Look at your kids, and see how cute they are, well, they are 50% you, so they must have taken some of that cuteness from you.

You’re not inadequate, if you are no longer a “functioning” wife, you are definitely still a woman, and perhaps a mother, and there must be a lot of other good things going for you, so just take the time to recognize them and appreciate them.

God bless.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

So basically our legal system is flawed and our society kind of sucks…

I normally do not follow talk shows, especially Egyptian ones where people simply keep interrupting one another until you get migraines. However, as I mentioned in my previous post, I stumbled upon a rerun about young divorced women in the Egyptian society and how un-accepting society is of them. The show had segments of random people saying how they perceive divorced women and how they would feel if their son/brother decides marrying one.

The guest was a female da3eya who also happens to be lawyer specialized in divorce cases. I am not a big fan of that woman, because I tend to find her way too… unrefined is the word I guess! However, perhaps the topic hit one sore nerve, I sat down and watched.

She said a couple of phrases that I actually liked; this is not the actual quote, but rather the closest translation to it…

Divorcee is a mere description of a status of a person; it does not define the person in any way. It’s a shame that our society treats it like a taboo or a contagious disease when God has intended it to be a relief after the pain and agony of a dead-end marriage!!

Sadly enough, in our society people always assume divorce is the woman’s fault! Perhaps that’s why it has been labeled abghad al halal, because of the negative impact it has on the divorcee; it is bagheed because we make the divorcee feel like a social outcast by rejecting her and denying her the right of dreaming of a better life.

When a young man tells his family that he wishes to marry a divorcee, especially if she has kids, his family’s reaction is most likely to be rejection! All they see is the ‘title’ and they judge her based on that; they disregard her other qualities and deny her the opportunity of a decent life, which may lead to other humiliating alternatives like civil or secret marriage, and sometimes even adultery, not that any of it is justified that way.

And as if that was not enough, the law is not even fair in that department. A divorcee automatically loses her custody rights once she remarries! Custody is transferred to either her mom or the x-husband who could already be absent, only he would use that law to spite and humiliate his x-wife!!

In such a judgmental society, and with such an impotent legal system, what do we expect divorced women to do, how do we expect them to make a decent living for themselves and their children when we start closing all legitimate doors. Divorce has become the new scarlet letter for women in our time of age.

People claim that it is the woman’s job to maintain the household, and to do her sole mission she must endure whatever hardships her husband puts her through; yes, patience is a virtue and God rewards the patient, but sadly, it leaves room for abusive husbands to take their abuse to the next level, and that is plain oppression. I have seen women who endure horrors because they are too afraid of being labeled ‘Divorcee’; how devastating is that? It’s even worse when those very same women are the first to judge their divorced sisters who stood up for their humanity and chose the hard way and chose to support themselves and their kids away from such husbands who normally never take any kind of responsibility, on the contrary they make divorce procedures longer and more expensive.

Again, it’s not just the society, it’s our legal system that makes the vicious circle of abuse continues! The moment any divorced women submits her ID for whatever purpose and people read her marital status as ‘Divorcee’, they start forming an opinion which may affect the way they treat her, it’s just sick and twisted, and unfortunately, it happens every day.

Yep, it was like salt into a wound that has not yet been healed! But seeing that someone out there spoke of what I secretly feared helped a little bit, especially that more segments showed that some people are actually more willing to be tolerant, or at least claimed they were. Some people practically said that they would picture that divorcee as a daughter or a sister, and that such a misfortune was more like an accident; it would only change in a person as much as that person allows it.

It is painfully sad to think, even for a while there, that despite how some people still think positively about the whole thing, and how people do some efforts to channel how unfair our society and legal system are, very little can be really changed. However, who knows, may be if more women start realizing that they are not alone, that some people –even if a few- can give that much acceptance, they would be able to maintain their strength and survive the painful drawbacks of ending a doomed marriage.

*The name of the show ad the guest was not disclosed since no consent was received from their end to publish this material.

**The part in italics is mere translation of my own general understanding of what the guest had said; it is in no way her own words or expressions.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Divorce, What’s Islam’s take?

Divorce is the official end of a marriage. That’s the simplest definition really! No, I haven’t checked a dictionary, I just wrote it off the top of my head.

I don’t know about other religions, I am not even properly educated enough to talk about or represent my own religion. Therefore I have done some online browsing for the proper rules of divorce as per Islam.

It says
here that proper justifications for a divorce could be sterility of either the husband or the wife, either one of them is terminally ill which is negatively affecting his spouse’s life to an unbearable extreme, or the husband could simply be abusive and impossible to live with.

Nonetheless, the drawbacks of divorce cannot be ignored since it has a negative impact on the husband financially, it may cause the wife to suffer both emotionally and financially and could leave her an easy victim to sin, and finally its effect on the children is dramatic! Therefore, it should be limited to cases where the marriage reaches a dead-end.

It was basically a good an informative read despite how confusing it sort of got when it came to how accepted/frowned upon divorce is in Islam; however, I guess it is basically because each and every case has its own context.

My browsing then took me there
where the fatwa says that a woman is completely entitled to getting a divorce from an abusive husband.

I couldn’t help but stop there
because I was too curious to know what the sheikh would say to a woman who has no affection whatsoever towards her husband, actually resents him is more of the word, yet chooses to stay in the marriage for the sake of the kids. I am ashamed to say that I was rather disappointed to read that the fatwa implied that she should be more patient and try to find ways to love her husband and continue living with him, when it was mentioned right here that:

The wife of Thabit ibn Qais ibn Shammas came to the Prophet and said, "O Allah's Messenger! I do not blame Thabit for any defects in his character or his religion, but I am afraid that I (being a Muslim) may become unthankful for Allah's blessings." On that, Allah's Messenger said (to her), "Will you return his garden to him?" She said, "Yes." So she returned his garden to him and the Prophet told him to divorce her. (Al-Bukhari 7:63, no. 199)

It’s fair to say that all these iformation has left me too confused to sleep properly until I had awaken up the next day to stumble into a rerun of a talk show about the same topic from both the religious and the legal points of view!!

But that’s for my next post...

Thursday, April 3, 2008

What is a Good Marriage?

It hit me that before I start talking about divorce, I should first say something about marriage; not so bright after all I guess!!

And because I am such a lazy bum who is too lazy to do the necessary research, I thought I would ask a fairly religious friend of mine who is within the same age category about what good healthy marriage is, from religion’s point of view.

And just to avoid the possibility of him thinking it was the beginning of another cynical rant, I told him about that friend of mine, and how I thought she was miserable, yet I would never share my opinion with her because after all, I do not know what good marriage is.

His reply was so overwhelming, it inspired me to start working on this blog and put it as a first entry, perhaps just to clarify that I am not just another bitter anti-marriage and pro-divorce person… it’s basically an unofficial quote of what a friend of his told him about his own experience as a newly wed. Here it goes

“I thought by getting married, one would be safer from fitna; however, it turned out to be that once you’re married, there is more room for it.

You see, it’s not about flirting with other women and fantasizing them like you would expect; it’s more about how El Shetan bey2assy 2alby 3ala meraty.

Like when I am home late and she’s a bit grumpy and more likely to start an argument, I would feel the unexplainable urge to take the argument to the next level and start a fight, sometimes it even happened!!

But when I took my time to think about it, I came to the realization that I shouldn’t fight with her because she’s upset I am not spending enough time with her… I mean heya leeha meen gheery to keep her company, watch out for her, take good care of her, and protect her… if I start fighting over the smallest of things and saying mean or harsh words that wouldn’t solve our problems, but instead would make her hurt and cry, who would she have to make her feel better… heya fel awel we fel akher amana fe re2abty we mas2oola menny

My friend then explained that if both parties think that way before they start dwelling some more on the fighting, if they just take the time to think of the obligations towards one another rather than their rights, if they yera3o rabena fe ba3d, marriage would be more like what God intended for it to be!!

And this was when my friend told me “oleely enty ba2a, what do YOU think is a good marriage??”… That was one of the few times I was left speechless!!