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The weight of my loneliness

By January 8, 2024No Comments

Listening to a song on the radio opened the floodgates that had been brimming for the last few hours. I was thinking of a rare sweet moment from my childhood. My sister and I were staying over at my grandmother’s house for a few nights, and she showed us the box of video cassettes of a historical series on a poet she had been watching. My sister and I became obsessed with the series and binged it, probably a first for both of us. When we went home, I fished out the collection of his poetry and she, who was not known for being very literary before that day, and I quoted his couplets at each other in every situation where we could. 

Decades later, listening to the poem again has brought home just how much that brief moment of connection is in the past. This is the everyday reality of shame-based upbringing. I grew up within a huge extended family surrounded by so many people. Today, I feel that I have no one. 

I was forced into a marriage through physical and psychological coercion. My extended family members, all “approved” of the marriage. My partner kept me alienated from my family, and when I did meet them, I would be emotionally abused by him to leave the gathering. I showed obvious signs of visible distress. Yet, I lacked the support and care I craved for from the tens of people around me. 

Starting a new life required me to pave a path around new connections. Doing this was not easy. Apart from government officials that refused to understand my PTSD, I had to navigate finding housing for me and my 4 year old son. We were evicted from a place without cause. Without proper status in the country, finding work became more difficult even with my Masters’ degree.  Next, we were forced to seek shelter in a roach infested place. The living room had water dripping from the ceiling I had to slowly become used to, until one day the whole bath tub from the upper flow actually made its way in my unit, shattering the ceiling between us. My job hours are still limited because of my status in the country. Through this time, I met several people who blamed the hijab on my head for my circumstances. 

I yearned for connection and community throughout this process. Recently meeting my sister, I so desperately wanted to link this song to her in a Whatsapp message, I still felt anxiety, frustration, resentment and sadness around her. In order to be safe, I had to hide and lie about almost everything regarding my new life. This attempt at connection would only take the blindfold off. 

This whole ordeal has been alienating to say the least. I still question my narrative multiple times before releasing my words and thoughts, questioning whether I am portraying my religion or culture or ethnicity in a negative light.  I only reached out to organizations that worked within my community. 

I have had to rake out many “friends” from my life and the rest are spread around the world. Sadly, despite the work of various organizations, “honour”-based abuse is not widely understood. I still worry about my experience being dismissed or misunderstood by my interlopers. It can be very isolating. And so, sometimes, when I am washing up or just sitting on my bed, listening to this song, the weight of my loneliness will come down in full force and the stream will start flowing.