It’s been six years. The year was 2013.
Six years since I was wheeled into the operating theatre with a big smile on my face because I was finally getting rid of my colon. It represented so much more than just losing a piece of my insides though. The surgery gave me hope that things would get better. That it would be a cure of sorts. That I’d lead a normal life again. No more pain and bleeding when I went to the loo. No more urgency. I’d be able to leave the house again. I woke up with Rosie, my amazing ileostomy. We’ve had a good time together. She’s got a bit of a crappy job (excuse the pun) but she does it remarkably well Alhamdulillah! No regrets on that surgery, or the next one.
Thinking back now, that was a different version of me. Our experiences shape us into who we are. That person was optimistic that things would change… and change they did. Fast forward a couple of years to 2016 and I made the decision to leave home. I couldn’t have foreseen that. I’d been hiding the abuse from everyone around me. Even now, it’s hard to type ‘abuse’. But that’s what it was. Psychological, emotional, mental… whatever you like to call it. I was so ashamed. I thought that it must have been my fault and the abuser must be protected at all costs.
I know my family will never accept that I left home. Our culture dictates it. Unmarried women don’t live on their own. I was never very good at following the culture, my rebellious streak was always a mile wide.
Oh, I’ve been to visit a few times. I recently stayed for a few weeks. It was lovely to spend time with my mum. But it’s never enough… I’m tired of explaining that I won’t be moving back. That I can’t just ‘forget it’. That I don’t care what people say! Who CARES if they spread rumours?! Who cares if this is shameful for everyone? Strange how abuse isn’t shameful yet me deciding to remove myself from it IS.
I was full of hope when I left. I thought this moving on thing would be easy… I was soon disabused of that notion. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I thought that I’d finally be free of my mental shackles and everything would be great and I’d soon be able to stop taking my medication for PTSD/anxiety/depression. Oh, how wrong I was. Nobody had told me that healing would be brutal, and painful, and raw, and emotional. And that it takes years, not weeks. I didn’t know that I’d feel like I needed to be ripped apart before I could put myself together again. That I’d still have days and weeks when facing the world, including those who are closest to me, and love me, would be terrifying and I’d shut myself away. Because that was all supposed to disappear when I left home, right? There was no reason for me to still feel like this!
Turns out it doesn’t work like that. There’s over 20 years worth of trauma in my brain, it’s going to take time to heal from it all. I’m only just coming to that conclusion by the way. Better late than never, as they say.
My new life started out well. 2017 was one of my best years. Then my emotions caught up with me and I kept ignoring them… and ignoring them. I think you know what’s coming. I’ve been on a downward spiral with my mental health. I pushed away my nearest and dearest. I was awful. I’ve felt so guilty for feeling this way when everything was now supposed to be all unicorns and fairy dust. To top it off, my family used it as a way to try and convince me to return. ‘What’s the point of you being so far away if you still feel like this?’ I didn’t have an answer. I’m tired of defending myself. I know I hurt my mum deeply by staying away. However on the other hand, she tells me she’d be fine if I was living away due to marriage, but this isn’t acceptable! Our culture has a lot to answer for. They’ve all but said: okay. You’ve made your point now come back like a good girl.
However… I need to be selfish right now. My head is a mess and it needs sorting out.
I want to own my story. I’ve been through a heck of a lot. It’s time to stand up, work on my flaws and strengthen myself from within. I have the power to change myself inshaAllah. No one else can do that for me. Even as I’m writing this, I’m panicking. I feel so weak. My heart is beating fast and my breathing is shallow. I feel scared that things just won’t get better. That I won’t have the strength to fight this battle. I must. I really must. I’ve done it before and I can do it again. I wish it weren’t so difficult but the most worthwhile things are never easy.
I don’t think this post has a conclusion. It’s just a jumbled up rambling of my thoughts. I’m not sure if anyone will even read it but it feels good to get all this out. I’ve missed the blog. You might be seeing me again soon!
Oh, feel free to point out any typos. It’s late and I don’t want to read this back, I’ll only end up editing things out.