“And in the end, we were all just humans, drunk on the idea that love, only love, could heal our brokenness.” — Christopher Poindexter

As a child, I craved for love the way crack babies wail for cheap cocaine. Like those babies, I didn't understand what I wanted but I knew I needed it. Here I am, twenty-three years old and lost in myself most days. I still crave love and hate myself for it on some days. Only today, I’m able to smile wryly and say “How human of you, Aisha”

In my teenage years, I thought deeply about two questions. The second revolved around why romance is so entrenched in our culture. At sixteen years old, I truly believed that I would never find love. I did not consider myself loveable and could not imagine that I would find what I would considered the epitome of real love; a husband. So I eschewed any and every form of romance but couldn't seem to escape it completely. While my classmates snuck around writing love letters and holding hands, drunk on teenage love I planned how my life would be. When I was sixteen, I declared I would be a Professor by thirty-five.

The Aisha at sixteen did not have room for love in her life because she was hurting and she dreamed of escaping everyone, especially herself. Sometimes, I still have to soothe teenage me and remind myself that love is here — from Allah that is constant, within me and from those who love me.

All the things I hoped would happen have never happened. I never did have a boyfriend. But on most days, I don’t want it and in truth, I don’t need it right now. I wanted romantic love so bad because I thought it would fix me. But no one is completely fixed. We are all healing or trying to heal, and love has healed me but not the romantic type.

If there is anything I’d like to shine a light on, it’s love for the sake of Allah. It’s truly the most beautiful thing and I am unashamed to know and speak about this kind of love all the time. And I’m grateful that I have that with a select few people. As a wide-eyed (and very hormonal teenager), I thought love to be chaotic and breathless. The kind that leaves you shaken and excited and gasping for more. How fitting that the kind of love I have now is one rooted in sakeenah. I know that when I do find love with a man, I would never want a love that is constantly seeking emotional highs to sustain it because I have a blueprint already. One that at its core is a need for peace. It all comes full circle when you realize that Islam is rooted in salamah, a peace that erases all your worries. This is not to say that I don’t want a love that is exciting, or passionate. I want all of that, one that is filled with geekiness and raunchy humour and extreme silliness where two people are just comfortable with each other. I’m saying that the source of my love with my partner will in shaa Allah strive to be two people who don’t idolize the idea of love, but the idea of love for Allah. And this is the fuel for the partnership. And I don’t plan on settling for anything less than this.

If I could say anything to myself seven years ago, I wouldn't say a thing. I did not have the range to understand the lessons I know now and it would have been lost on me. Every single heartbreak I felt has come full circle in the most beautiful way and lead me to Al Wadud. I am simply grateful for the pain and I have a better understanding of why pain and love go hand in hand. I have no letter to All The Boys I Loved Before. I didn't love them or like them well enough. I loved the idea of what could fix me and make me feel alive.

And in this moment, I am simply grateful to know love.

A retired pandemic blog. Find me on substack at The Fajr Collective. Still writing about Loving Him, reconciling myself and healing.