Changing…

Since that fateful day when my world collapsed, I have gotten many advices, mostly from people whom I just met. I told my husband a few days after he admitted marrying another woman that he was the wall I have always leaned on at my weakest, to which he replied, “now your wall has fallen.” Indeed, it has.

I have heard it many times that God will not send you burdens you cannot carry. That what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. That everything happens for a reason. I did not fancy having to use so many clichés all at once but thank goodness I have people around to say them over and over when I cry and rant until I calm down.

I think it’s sweet that God has been trying to surround me with souls who care enough to waste their time and energy talking to me. Sometimes things can get so painful and I cannot handle everything altogether. My husband has forbidden me to talk to anyone about our problems but I fear wearing a straitjacket if I just bottle things up. Being away from my family, I only had my husband to cling on. Now that he has left me to deal with what he did alone, that does not leave me with much choice but to find strength in other people.

My husband knows that I’m an introvert and I don’t like being forced to mingle with people I don’t know. I don’t even like to socialize with people I already know, sometimes. He has made fun of me on several occasions when I try to avoid having casual chats with acquaintances. I duck so that the person won’t see me then he calls the person out loud and before I know it, it’s already too late to fully hide. Then I reluctantly paint a distracted smile on my face while my husband laughs on the background.

At the same time he also knows that I talk a little too much when I’m with friends. When he surprised me with the news, he encouraged me to talk to other muslimahs who could give me sound advice on how to deal with this. But now that I have made a somewhat ‘regular’ circle, he forbid that I talk to them about us. I think he fears I might stain his image (if it isn’t already) and the sisters might not look at him the same way again. It’s one thing for them to think that he’s an ass—- but it’s another thing if I confirm it. I don’t like talking to them about our problems, to be honest, because it feels like I’m betraying him by doing that but I need to vent out the pain somewhere. I need people to tell me that I will be able to get through this and that things will get better. I need somebody to help me put sense in this mess because I cannot imagine that something good can ever come out of this. 

When all this is over, I’m sure I will be changed. Changed, not just because of what I have gone through but also because of the people I have interacted with. I am not sure if I will be a better person then, but I do know that I will be stronger – I guess that somehow will make this worthwhile.

When the Imam told me to be more than what I already am to my husband and to wait because he’s sure he’ll come back, it got me thinking if he really will. If I do as he says and be more sweet, more thoughtful and more loving, will he really come back or will it just puff out his ego that I am still head over heals with him despite what he did. Now wouldn’t that be an insult to the female populace? Granted that he did come back, with or without her, will I be thankful knowing that he is already a changed man? With how he goes on and on telling me that he loves her, I don’t think he will ever be whole again if he loses her. She has already changed him so even if he did come back, I don’t believe we will ever be happy knowing that she has taken a piece of him that I can neither fill nor take back.

This is a painful load to carry and I believe I have already attained the strength that I expect to get from this. As it is, I am already stronger. Knowing that my husband will never again be the person I fell in love with, whether he comes back to me or not, is this fight still worth fighting?

Aside

Just another night at the Majlis

                I got a surprising call the other night from two of the regular sisters at the majlis. It was 11 in the evening they asked if I wanted to join them – they were already at the majlis but they will pick me up if I wanted to go. My husband just left to go to somewhere and I was getting ready to sleep. Although it sounded quite tempting, I declined because I have work the following day. They insisted that we will go home after an hour. Of course I knew we wouldn’t, but okay, I think I could use some spontaneity in my life again. It’s not like I enjoy being alone at night, right?

                So off we went. Before I left I sent a text message to my husband telling him that I was going to the majlis with so and so sisters. Of course, I never got a reply. He always seems busy when he’s there.

                There was an intense debate between the Imam and a guest when we arrived. By the looks of it, nobody was willing to bend down. Poor things. This could go on forever.

                I have always viewed religion as something sacred and intimate. Spirituality for me is a private relationship between myself and God. Although a lot of those from my faith would disagree as they feel that it is a “duty” for them to “educate and correct” people from other beliefs, I personally don’t think so. Religion is a personal choice. I go where I find God. Of course I know I’m not wrong but I’m not in a position to say that my way is the only “correct” way. What right have I to claim that 78% of the world is paying homage to the wrong god? I practice this faith because I feel closer to God praying 5 times a day, among other things. I would respect it if others feel closer to God some other way. This is why I honestly detest debating about religion. It is a futile feat and nobody wins.

                After about two hours of listening to one rebuttal after another, I got tired. I think the battling parties did, too. The guest solidly concluded his argument telling the Imam that “we could sit here for 5 years and I would still not listen to what you are saying.” Yep, nobody wins.

                When the guest left with his wife, the Imam continued his piece. I thought it was funny because he was talking to people who no longer needed convincing. I told him to just let it go. He said he didn’t care if everyone else in the world was displeased with him for as long as God is pleased. He was right. But he was also wrong. I think there must always be a balance between rituals and reality. It is proper to follow the dictates of religion but you must also care about the people around you. We do not live in a bubble. It is certainly not right to tell your kids to stay away because you need to memorize surahs, or to tell your wife to learn to live alone because you have to spend the few hours you have left after work with your Imam. It is good to take your religion seriously but hey, live, man!

                Enough of that. Anyway, when everything relaxed, I had an informal chat with the Imam. Although I do not always agree with him, my husband and I have always regarded him as an older brother and we valued his advice. He asked how I was and where my husband was. I answered that ”if he is not with me, you know where he is.” And he said, isn’t it a blessing that you now have time to go out on your own? I almost choked. I wanted to say – but I do not want to go out on my own! He continued and advised me not to nag and to argue with my husband when he comes home. He said he is talking as a man, and from experience. He said I should be more thoughtful and so on and so forth. Tough luck.

                He said if I do things right, my husband will realize who the better wife is and he will come back to me. The “better” wife? That was painful to hear. I still cannot accept the fact that I am no longer the wife. I told him that I don’t nag because I also learned from experience that getting what I want at this stage is impossible. But I told him that I cannot keep quiet all the time. I said I have to speak my mind once in a while, especially when my husband is overly taking the side of the other, because if I don’t do so, who will tell him how unfair he is being? I said, who is going to tell you, if not your wife? He kept silent.   

                We went home at around 3:30 a.m. and I tried to call my husband so that he can wait for me at the building door. No place is safe anymore these days. Unfortunately, no husband was there to greet me when I arrived at the building so I ran like crazy up to our apartment fearing that there might be maniacs hiding somewhere in the corridors (that was not paranoia, that’s actually how things are around here).

                The man of the hour arrived home at around 4:30 a.m. and I eagerly told him about what happened at the majlis and then we slept. The following day when while eating dinner I told him about the argument that the Imam had with the guest and he said,

         “Why? Were you at the majlis last night?”

         “Didn’t you get my text?” I asked.

         “Oh, so you were the one who texted? I got it but I did not read it,” and he took his mobile to check the message that I sent him.

         He doesn’t give a damn about the world when he’s there. Like I said, we do not live in a bubble.

Ramblings

It’s 2 am and I just got home from the majlis. Normally, people would go home at around 4 am but I decided to hit the road early tonight.

The usual crowd was there plus a ten or so visitors. I sat next to the muslimah whom I described in my previous post as cheerful and funny but she was a little under the weather tonight, perhaps due to lack of sleep. She works in an airline so her shifts are a bit erratic. We were with another muslimah who was a friend of a friend. In the middle of the discussion the two decided to transfer to the seats nearer to the Imam. For some reason, I did not have the spirit to listen to the discussion, my mind was off wandering some place so I opted to stay on the couch.

As I looked at tonight’s visitors, the thought of her sitting there when she came to be reverted crossed my mind. Where was my husband seated then? What attracted him to her? I did not want to dampen my spirits, and “uncle are-you-ok” sat next to me and started to chat. Too late. My mood was already spoiled with the thought so I asked dear “uncle” if he could get me some chai because I was getting sleepy. He cheerfully obliged. I finished the chai with a few sips as questions hovered over my head.

My husband was pretty consistent at keeping his promise not to look at any other woman. I think that was because he made a conscious decision not to entertain the possibility of getting attracted to someone else. What changed was that after he came back from vacation when he visited me and the kids, he opened his heart to that possibility. That was why he fell for her. Had he kept his heart closed, he would not have fallen. Now I am wondering what I did that caused him to do that. There must have been something otherwise he would not have opened that door, right? I said I’m tired of thinking about the past but I’m doing it again. I just can’t get rid of the idea that I could have prevented this from happening. Three weeks, a little over two weeks, actually. That was all it took. It was such a short span of time that we were apart and that makes it all the more painful. With the consistency that he had shown in the past, I never would have thought it would only take that little of a time for him to fall for someone else. I thought that if ever it did happen, it would be because we were no longer getting along, or that we are already fighting like cats and dogs or that there’s no more chemistry. But that was not the case. We were still very much in love before those three weeks and we had great plans for the future. How could all this happen?

I have got to stop this. I am nursing my pain and it is not doing me any good.

Letting go would be too painful. Staying is also painful. Isn’t there any other option that isn’t painful?

I walk out, I get hurt. I stay, I get hurt. Where to go? I honestly do not know what the lesser evil is as both sides of the knife cut deep. I have already given up hoping that there’s a chance of him letting her go and vice versa. Now the only hope I have is that this might get easier in time. Either that or it will get worse – hope not.

 

 

 

 

 

Weekend Nothings

Thursday date night was spent at majlis. The regulars there are starting to grow on me. I have no idea how they are able to spend night after night sitting there. With discussions usually stretching until 3 am, it’s amazing how they are still able to wake up for work. Maybe it’s the tea, or the deer they serve at the meal.

 

I do not know what drives them to go – it could be that they want to deepen their faith, or perhaps they would like to meet new people, or maybe like me, they just want to kill time because staying home alone is unbearable.

 

I have gone for two consecutive Thursdays now. My husband is just so happy to see me go, of course. As much as I want him to accompany me, three rejections are enough to get the message through.

 

I have a couple of acquaintances there now. There’s this muslimah who told me the first time we met that what she went through is ten times as painful as what I am going through. Say what?!  Do you seriously know how I feel right now? Do you know what it’s like to have a husband who does not want to walk next to you in the street because someone she knows might see? Do you know how it feels like to have his arms around you knowing that he hugs someone else the same way? How about when he says “I love you”? Do you know how hard I fight not to believe those words that I clung to for many years? I want to believe he still loves me but I know I shouldn’t because he doesn’t.

 

I have to give her credit, though. I could sense that she was itching to find someone who would listen to her pain, even if it meant talking to a stranger. She was hurting, just as I was. But my sympathies changed when I found out that she was the one who invited her to the majlis. Cross out calling me friend, dear. Just kidding.

 

Then there’s this brother who has been kind enough to always ask if I was doing okay. He kind of reminds me of my uncle. He was one of the few brothers who first knew about what happened. I have seen him several times outside the majlis and each time, he asks the same question. Out of compassion, I guess, but it’s beginning to drive me nuts, actually. Last Friday I saw him at the masjid during Juma and he seemed to be wondering if it was actually me (that was my first time to attend Juma, it was pretty cool). When I went to eat with the other sisters I saw him again and as usual, he said his “are-you-okay” line. Even if I still wasn’t okay, I couldn’t help but laugh. I think he thought I was being sarcastic.

 

There’s another muslimah whom I have grown quite fond of. The first time I met her, I liked her instantly. She’s funny and really bubbly and her cheerfulness is contagious. I thought hers is the company that I would like to have around these days. But she’s a friend of hers. I don’t mind, really, because she seems level-headed. I heard that she told my husband to look after me because I am the one who’s hurting the most in all this. Good girl.

 

So there. At least I have found a few characters who can cheer me up once a week. Thursday night can be very dragging when you know that everyone else is up and about while you sulk in your empty room. It’s Tuesday. Looking forward to Thursday again…

When She Cries

He hates it when I cry. And I’ve been crying a lot lately. Ergo, he hates me a lot lately.

I just can’t help it. I cry when I think that coming here early could have prevented them from meeting. I cry when I remember how we said that the few hours we talk before dozing off to sleep was our favorite time of the day. I cry when I pass by the places we have been to. I cry when an old friend asks about him and I could not find any words to say. I cry about everything – everything that reminds me of him.

But crying is a piece of cake compared to not crying. Holding back your tears while your heart is being ripped off your chest over and over and over is definitely not a walk in the park.

Once in a while the kid in him surfaces and he gets all giddy and spills out whatever is in his head – which lately, has been nothing but her. As much as I want to shove him away for what he did, I do not want to lose our connection so I told him that when it is “my time,” I want us to have an hour just for talking. How I sometimes regret saying that.

I wish we could talk about us and where this relationship is heading. I certainly could not imagine living a lifetime sharing his time with someone else. I wish we could exchange views on how wrong his decision was and why I can never understand it. I wish we could share our thoughts on how we intend to go about our family plans. I wish.

Unfortunately for me, he talks about her much more often that I want him to. It hurts when he says how religious she is and how she is dedicated to learning more about her faith. When I told him how much I can relate to Lara Fabian’s “Broken Vow,” he said I ought to be listening to the recitation of the Holy Book, just as what she is doing. There are times when it’s purely sharing – how she dresses, how much weight she lost, how she loves drinking soda…and each time is like a thorn is pierced on my chest and I struggle to fight back the tears. Do I really have to hear this?

The other night the Imam’s wife invited me to a nearby majlis. I have been there several times before but I did not really feel comfortable staying there so I used to decline my husband’s every invitation to go. But when I learned lately that he was there almost every single night while I was away, I asked if he could take me with him so that I could meet the people he’s been mingling a lot with lately. Much to my surprise, he rejected every request I gave.

Anyway when I went I had a chat with his Imam and he told me how my husband and you-know-who met there at the majlis. Okay, so now I get it. The Imam said he did not agree with my husband’s decision but could not really do anything about it as it was the latter’s choice to make. I learned from him that the day after I arrived, my husband told him that he wants to re-marry. We were eating then, and I was hardly able to get the food on the spoon as I was shaking all over. The Imam continued his side of the story and advised me to be strong and to pray for guidance. I was already at the point of breaking down when I realized that everyone else’s eyes and ears were on us. It is going to be hell on earth with my husband if he finds out that I cried in public so I tried hard not to let a tear drop. Thank goodness I made it.

The Imam and his wife took me home after the gathering and I let everything out in the bathroom. It was already 4 am then – that’s the time when my husband comes back home – so I had to hurry washing up so he wouldn’t notice that I cried my eyes out. It was just on time when he arrived. And I welcomed him back with a smile.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

There are good days and bad days. When my husband and I talked about what “set up” we were going to have for the new addition in his already crammed life, I told him that what he did is something that any woman, regardless of color, upbringing, intelligence or faith, would have difficulty swallowing. He usually rebuts by telling me that I do not understand because I am not spending enough time studying what I should be studying (with that he meant religion).  I have learned to keep mum when he tells me that because no amount of explaining will convince him that what I am feeling is a “human” emotion, religious convictions aside.  Anyway I said that there will be days when I would be fine with the set up and days when I will not be good about it. Needless to say, I will need a heaps of patience (raise that to the nth power) before I could perfect the art of feigning happiness, just like he wants me to.

Today was a good-bad day. It was his weekend off. I looked forward to having a stroll with him on the beach at dusk just like we used to but I realized things are different now. I shouldn’t be planning anything with him anymore. And I was right.

He went to study with his Imam, a schedule which stretches from late morning until early evening. Talk about having a happy weekend with your husband, huh. In the early afternoon he phoned and asked me to talk to his Imam, tell him that I already know about IT and that I was okay with it. Tough. When his Imam asked if I was fine I couldn’t help but say I wasn’t. That was the truth. When he said the pain will eventually go away I told him it won’t. How could it? My husband committed a lifetime with that girl, pain would be as permanent as his dragon tattoo. That was the truth. And I broke down. Hubby, on the other hand, went amok.

He said that I embarrassed him in front everybody. Everybody. Who’s that, anyway? Okay, I might have said too much and maybe the tears are a little overboard too but what can I do? I was just being honest. And human. Anyhow, after he hung up on me, I already knew where that was leading to. All our misunderstandings lately have all been blamed on me. I was the irrational one. I was too emotional. I was being selfish. Etcetera, etcetera. Do you find him blaming himself in all this? Of course not.

Thankfully, he went home after prayer time. Calm. We talked and apologized to each other. Again he assured me that his love has never wavered despite what happened and nothing has to change. Yeah, right. I just smiled. We had a peaceful dinner of fried rice and sardines in spicy tomato sauce – that was a weekend tradition we used to have. It felt nice to relive it again. Happy. An hour later he left to see her.

So goes my life.

Easing a Heartbreak

What’s TGIF for most people is TGIT where I am. Thursday = night out. But with neither a partner nor friend willing to give up weekend partying to console somebody with loose screws, I guess I’m stuck with myself.

So what’s a dutiful wife to do when you learn that the husband who vowed that you would be the only woman in his life suddenly marries someone else?

Jump off Burj Khalifa? Tasteful, but how would I get the ticket to the observation deck when I still don’t have a job?  Getting the appointment might take forever too and I don’t have the luxury of time. Visa issues, ‘nuf said.

How about holding my breath underwater until I pass out? That could work. After all, the beach is a mere 20-minute walk away. But the purplish, bloated appearance I’d get once they scoop me out the water might not look good in the photos. When your husband trades you off for someone else, you’re entitled to be vain.

Self destruct. Now that’s the typical thing to do, right? Get drunk, smoke till your lungs collapse. I just realized I have never sipped any alcoholic drink since I met my frog prince. Before him I would get intoxicated until the wee hours of the night then go straight to work with my head spinning in circles. Ahh, those were the good times. Darn, I miss beer. If not for the alcohol ban here (and my limited finances), I would probably be on a drinking spree by now.

What if I just get even? Give him an eye for an eye. Typical. But not my cup of tea. Eeeewww, just the thought of it is giving me the shivers. I can’t even conceive of having a roll in the hay with somebody I do not love just so I could avenge myself. That would be low. No offense.

Work, work, work! Now ‘yer talkin’. This would just be the thing for me! Errrr, one tiny glitch – I don’t have a job.

Poison? Hard to swallow. Pills? Pricey. Slashing? Juvenile. A noose? Morbid.

It’s difficult to get over a break up. But seeing the beginning of the end is ten times harder. It’s that stage when you feel like everything is slipping away and there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s like waiting for your execution after a death sentence.  When your world is about to fall apart you realize that there’s nothing much you can save but yourself. Slowly, you have to learn to let go of everything. The words that he said, the promises he made, the memories you shared…down the gurgler. This battle is no longer worth the fight. I have already lost.

Thankfully, I have a few friends in whose words I find comfort. If not for encouraging messages they tirelessly send when I’m having my now-becoming-usual “I can’t do this” episodes, I would have been run over by one of the metro trains by this time.

To Pan’s best friend and Sis F for helping me keep my sanity these days, and Lyka (who, by the way, doesn’t know what’s going on but keeps her door open when I need a friendly chat until 3am) you might not be able to read this but THANK YOU….

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