I looked beyond him and raced towards the door. I almost couldn’t believe it. Past the hurt and pain, something new yet timeless was waiting for me.
Yesterday, my best friend asked me “Are you resentful of the process that has taken you so long to get you here ?”. She was talking about how for the first time in over three months I had opened my mouth to say “I’m happy”. Before Corona, my world had already been shaken. Picture the walls of Jericho falling, fire and brimstone raining down and destroying whatever life lived in me. For over three months, depression and all its symptoms made me a husk of myself. I didn’t want to recognize myself. To do so would mean death.
So what exactly happened, you may be asking? It was one of those ordinary things that cause you to reassess your entire life. I had a huge fight with someone close to me. Shit hit the fan, and I even had to move out of my house at some point. Despite knowing space was what I needed from the very beginning, I was extremely distraught for reasons I couldn’t grasp. I cried for weeks on end, and I felt so much emotional pain, it became intense physical pain. There were nights (and days) I was convinced I was going crazy. I experienced severe disassociation and intrusive mental imagery which for me are aggravated symptoms of my mental disorder. All these experiences, as well as expectations from people around me who expected me to be fine and just “grow through it”, or as one person sweetly put it “There was no reason why I should be depressed as I wasn’t doing anything” put a strain on my mental health.
Even when I moved back home, the abrupt moves in and out of homes and having to recalibrate and adjust to expectations of others were leaving me emotionally exhausted daily. I deleted all my social media accounts and barely spoke to anyone. And on many days, I prayed to God for death. I was actively suicidal and there were times I would deliberately put myself in harm’s way in hopes that I would die and it would look like an accident.
During this period, there were times I was slightly better and I would “attempt” to start again and pick up the pieces. This was part of the process my best friend was speaking about. It also included the ugly and difficult parts. I had plenty to learn, it seemed. This was my reply to her when she asked.
“At first, yes. God Raz, there were times I was so angry & ungrateful to Allah vocally. I begged him to kill me many times. May Allah forgive me. I honestly believed that this was my punishment and I was so sad & angry and depressed
But I’ve recently been reflecting on how the months unfolded, esp in light of the past few days
I realized early on, that although I didn’t know what it was, this test was trying to teach me something. In my hubris, I kept asking Allah “What?” instead of looking for the lesson. But when I finally settled down, I realized it was there to teach me to not be attached to anyone, as they’re Allah’s creation.”
This is the major (summarized) lesson that I’ve had to learn by properly acknowledging and continuously re-affirming it because it’s still not something I’ve learnt wholly. This lesson manages to sneak up on me in various situations, and I have to re-learn it again. Sometimes re-learning it is harder than the previous time.
When I focus specifically on the last three years after I packed my boxes from spending six weeks in the psych ward, I have had many “relapses”, a term doctors use to describe when a patient on treatment is ill. But for me, it’s bigger than that. It shows not just that my psychological and emotional heart isn’t doing well, but that my spiritual heart is very sick. This isn’t a sudden realization for me, it’s something I’ve always known. Yet, time and time again I find my nafs resisting Allah. As Raz so aptly put it, our nafs was made to be helpless yet it wants to assert that it isn’t. It will insist on resisting Allah’s Might to validate itself. And as she beautifully ended “There is joy in submitting to Allah, and submission is the path to healing”.
Every time I would have a relapse, deep down I knew that to begin healing I had to truly and fully submit to Allah, willingly at the very least. Worries about what submission to Allah meant and if I was capable of doing it could come later, but at first, I had to submit.
It took me over three years to do this, to stop attaching myself to the creation and making them my Rabb; including myself, my father, ideals and people that I aligned with, and the dunya in general.
Even now, I haven’t begun to fully submit as is required, but I’m willing. Not because I’m a particularly good Muslimah, but because you get to a point in your life where if you don’t begin to submit as is needed, you’ll be completely miserable until that misery ruins you.
At the end of this particular conversation, I asked Raz of this
I know that soon, or perhaps later I will be in pain. I will not want to hear “Turn to Allah”. I will want you to validate my nafs. Please don’t do that. As everything is from Allah, including joy & happiness, encourage me to turn back to Him. Tell me how. And remind me of this.
I ask Allah to allow us to submit as beautifully as our father Abraham, who even when he didn’t know fully Who or What, he knew and acknowledged the truth and put aside his nafs. Aameen.