Holiday Blues

What is it with the holidays that makes people go looney? I was happily savoring a cup of coffee in a Starbucks mug a friend of a friend gave me for Christmas and suddenly I’m in a flood of tears and reminiscing again. Phew! This is getting really old. 

I wanted to blame it on the season or the weather but that didn’t help much. So I decided to blame it on the mug:

Image

 

Of course, this ain’t my mug. Mine is white and pale. The person who gave it to me saw me browsing over the shelf when we visited Starbucks one night. He decided to give me the one that HE liked, not the one that I liked. I’m such a sucker for Starbucks tumblers and I would’ve jumped for joy had he given me the gold Christmas tumbler that looked so jolly Christmas-ey. Anyway, now his white mug is out of sight. I I tucked it under the bed where I can’t see it after concluding it was jinxed. 

I guess it was the usual depression kick I get when I’m not very occupied. I got on the phone with my husband and listened to him repeat himself ten times over about ‘things getting better.’ Will they still really? I mean, it’s one thing to have someone beside you to comfort you when you’re down not to mention shower you with stuff you hardly need just to cheer you up and it’s totally another thing on my side of the fence.

The other day my roommate was complaining how she has a lot of tidying up to do because  she can’t find her bed under the laundry she hasn’t had the time to fold. I told her I intentionally do not fold my clothes right away so I am all cramped sleeping and I get to fool myself that I am not alone.

So I cried my eyes out again last night after talking to my future ex and now I need a ton of cucumbers to make the bags go away. Now I realize it never helps to be around people who would remind me why I am where I am right now. I should go far away to  a Neverland where I can forget about 2012 altogether. I found this nice post on my friend’s FB timeline, this would definitely be in my 2013 resolution:

Image

Advertisements

Ultimatum

The past few days have been very exhausting. We fought every day, and it was always the same thing repeated over and over. He said I give too much thought and meaning to every move he makes and every word he says and needless to say, he is very, very annoyed. This I matched with nagging, nagging and more nagging. I nagged so much this week that even I got tired of hearing myself. We talked, shouted, argued, walked out on each other, broke each other’s mobiles, name it, we’ve done it. We have said all possible kind words to make each other shut up and the next minute it’s a cats and dogs fight again.

I think exhausting was an understatement. I want to fly away, high enough to feel numb about everything that’s happening. I want peace and quiet.

Over the course of his ‘new relationship’ I think I have said everything on my mind already. I have cursed him, rubbed to his face how insignificant he is, psyched him about why he should let her go…but in the end there’s me telling how much I love him and him echoing whatever I said. It was in one of these clashes when he blurted out something that I wasn’t expecting to hear: he said if nothing happens in their relationship, he will let her go – Ramadan.

I think I got too focused on hearing the ‘let her go’ part that I missed hearing the ‘if’ part. And that was supposed to be the deciding factor. What is actually going on between them is unknown to me. Sometimes he tells me they fight a lot, but all I see is him calling and texting her thoughtfully a hundred times a day. Other times he tells me he misses me so much already but he still scurries off thoughtlessly when he knows she’s there then forgets about coming home even when he knows I am waiting. Most of the time he tells me I am the one he wants to grow old with but bears leaving me even when I am crying. He tells something and does another.

But he said it. And I want to hope that he will keep it. Ramadan. This would go out to be my best or worst one. Will he really do as he says? I know how fond he is of her and I pray that he would have, if not love, at least mercy to not break my heart again. May Allah guide him.

My Other Half

Today I am writing about my other pair of arms, my extra soul, my spare heart – my mom.

She came from an affluent clan in our city. My grandparents owned a lot of properties and ran a good business. But after 3 kids and a little past mid-life, my grandfather died and their world took a painful turn to hardship. My grandmother had to sell all they owned little by little to keep her family from starving. She took her hand at the family business, raised the kids on her own and, despite her youth and beauty, opted not to marry again.

With little resources and a frail, often ill-sticken older sister to care for, my mom stayed at home if she was not working in the market. She was on and off from school but somehow, with God’s grace, still managed to finish a degree. By the time she was working, she vowed never to marry – she promised to take care of my grandmother and to stay by her side through old age. But God had a different plan. Soon she met my dad, fell in love for the first time, and settled down. But like my grandfather, he left us early too.

Contrary to what my older brothers say, my dad was among the best of men in my mom’s eyes. Being the youngest and only rose, I grew up a daddy’s girl. He was my teacher, my hero, my rock and number 1 fan. I was still young when he passed away and perhaps I wasn’t really old enough to understand but my brothers told a different story. As much as they loved our dad, they said he was verbally abusive and cruel to my mom. I do not recall hearing them argue, not once, to be honest, but what was an innocent girl to know anyway?

Nonetheless, my mom loved him dearly and taking from my grandmother, opted not to marry again when he died. I take it as a really big sacrifice to put aside her own happiness to raise us. Even with my marriage failing, I still could not imagine being in her shoes. Painful as this love has been, I still would like to grow old with another hand to hold. If my relationship ends, I would be dead hurt; I would shout, curse and swear but after all that I know I would try finding love again.

My mom took a good number of years to get over my dad’s death. In high school I remember coming home and hearing her wail over nothing. In college she was still hyper sensitive and would often cry saying that nobody loves her anymore. I had no idea where that was coming from then, but now being in a debilitating heartache myself, I know what she meant.

A few more years later and she was back to her ice-cold, aloof self. Lest that loss, I never saw my mom get emotional. She was often calm and composed. While it was normal to soften up after overcoming a demise, (I think normal people would be more ‘feeling’ after an experience like that) her less affectionate self surfaced. She was a real toughie, I guess and I admire her so much for that.

As a student I tried to make her proud by bringing home school recognitions. She did not show nor say how proud she was of me but I knew deep inside that she was. Perhaps it was because she experienced hardship so early in life that she learned to always make it look like she doesn’t give a damn about things. She was distant yet in her own ways stood beside each one of us. I thought it was magical how she did that. She showed her affections very subtly but in a way that you would feel in silence.

I took it from her how to bottle up emotions. Our difference was, she has learned to make her pains die down. I couldn’t. I explode. Every bit of heartache that I went through ended with sky-high wrath. My mom stood by each one of them, never tiring to give me advice on how I should learn to forgive.

I have always thought of myself as a good daughter and I often said that my mom had it easy raising us because we have been really obedient kids. I never imagined I would break her heart now that I have grown up when I have supposedly become wiser.

She was an exceptionally kind woman but still a woman, with strong intuition at that. She did not like my husband the first instant they met and advised me to stay away from him. He was previously married, with a child from the first marriage, and my family disapproved of me getting involved with someone with an unclean slate. She said he will only cause trouble for me but I did not listen. My brothers also disapproved. Since then it was one defiance after another until I became a master at disobeying her. This was my life. Even if my whole family was against it.

When I got pregnant with my second, she fired away, at every chance she got, with telling me how much I am hurting them. I cried at night but still stood by my decision. I knew that he was the one, and one day we will prove them wrong. It was when my brother decided to move out that my mom told me that I broke my family apart because of my stubbornness. I was hurt but I denied it was my fault. My mom was heartbroken at the sight of me trying to stand it out against my brothers. And after a very long time, I saw her cry again. That broke my heart. Her tears show that she has reached her limit. And I caused it.

I knew she wanted me to learn a lesson but she never left my side. When I gave birth without a husband beside me, she was there. She is old now, at 74, but she was the one who took care of me at the hospital. She was the one who spoke with the doctors, who stayed up all night while I was half-dead at the recovery room, who cried at the first sight of my son.

When I decided to go back to working overseas, my mom was there to look after my kids. Now her hands soothe their aches away in my absence; her heart lovingly caring for them while I am away.

God is really wise. Who would have thought that the guy who has given me the happiness that I thought would last forever, the guy I so struggled to fight for, who was the very reason I hurt my family, my mom, most importantly, is now causing me pain. My mom was right. I regret a lot of things about loving my husband but the one I regret the most is loving him at the expense of hurting someone who has shown nothing but love for me.

I have not told her how much I love her and I hope writing this will send the word out to the world. I love you, mom. And I am sorry…

Try and Try…

It was Thursday night again – so not looking forward to another weekend alone. Well at least I get to sleep in late, so okay, I guess there’s one thing to look forward to. I just realized I have not gone to the majlis for a while. I miss going, but see, I don’t want to go alone. Alone is becoming a favorite word. If I had a facebook account, you guessed it right, it would be my status for the next…errr….arrggghhhh!

 

While on my way home I rang my husband and asked what he would like for dinner. Normally I don’t cook on Thursdays but I would if he wanted me to. Thankfully he said I shouldn’t cook anymore but when I asked what cooked food to buy he couldn’t make up his mind. He finally decided that I cook noodles to which I said okay, but having had noodles for lunch I was sure I wouldn’t be eating much that night.

 

At the time I was in the supermarket he called and asked where I was. Thinking he would come and help me carry the groceries (you know, like what I saw him doing the other day with her), I excitedly told him where and he said he will just grab a cup of chai and meet me at home. What the &%$#*!@ did he call me for? Sigh. I’m such a hopeless case, I never learn to never hope.

 

When I got home he gave a weird look at the bags I carried. Miscommunication. When he said noodles, he meant instant noodles. For dinner. Are you kidding me? He told me to just cook what I bought the following day so we just contented ourselves with the croissants I had left from lunch. As we sat I glanced at the now withering bouquet he gave me half a month ago (this was the second bouquet after the other month’s and it was the best one I got from him so far) and asked if he ever brought her flowers too. He told me before that I was the only girl he ever gave flowers to but with his silence I realized that was no longer true. And that made me sad again. If it is true what he says that he loves me more deeply than her, why is he treating us the same way? Wait, there’s something wrong with that statement. He is not treating us the same way, he treats her better. I just felt I was no longer special, that’s all, and that’s a sad thing. I think all the wives in the world would like their husbands to treat them like a princess in a fairy tale, rescuing them from danger and showering them with flowers and romantic whatnots. I was his only princess up until she came and I can’t take that.

 

By the time he was getting ready to go (to her, of course) I was already crying. He could not understand what I was crying about but he kissed me on the forehead and repeated what he said before that he doesn’t like to see me crying. Huh? Stop doing what you’re doing and I will stop crying. Don’t you get it? He left anyways. I don’t think I can take this anymore.

 

At around 1am I sent him a message that I would no longer be at home when he comes in the morning. I packed my clothes in huge plastic bags (I did not want to unearth my luggage, that would be tedious) and placed them next to the bed. I prayed for guidance while I hoped he would come home early so that we could talk. It was his day off which meant he would come home 10:30 a.m. He arrived 12:10 p.m., just in time to change clothes for jumaa. It’s just unbelievable. Send me that same message and I would probably be running back home. He saw my bags and asked what I was trying to pull up again. I said I’m moving out. I have already arranged to stay with a friend but I told him I would be transferring to a bedspace somewhere in the area. He said I wasn’t going anywhere. Ha! I don’t think you can’t stop me this time, mister. I have had it. He reached for my wallet and when I realized what he wanted to take I struggled to get it back from him but he pushed me back. He took my residence ID and all my ATM’s and left. I curled up the bed and cried.

 

After jumaa he went straight to her house for lunch. It has not occurred to him that I haven’t had anything to eat since morning. He came back home at 2:30 pm and just stared while I lay in bed. I said I’m going whether he likes it or not. And the next 30 minutes was a like scene from WWF. We wrestled for my clothes which, he wanted to put back in the closet, and I to keep in the bags. We were both physically tired after 30 or so minutes and at that point he hugged me and pleaded me to stay. There is no use to this, I said. I can’t go on letting you hurt me. He said he can’t live without me (and her, too, I suppose). He promised he will let her go eventually but how long this will take, I could not imagine. Ya Allah, please grant me the strength to bear this.

 

Maybe next time I should just go without telling him. But first, how will I get those ATM’s back?

It Doesn’t Get Better

                Yesterday, my world crumbled a second time.

 

                The day started quite slow. I woke up late and had to spend on a cab instead of my usual bus ride. I shared the taxi with a girl who, like myself, snoozed five minutes longer to miss the bus.

               

It was a 30-minute train ride from the bus stop to work and in between, I had to call my husband to let him know where I was. That’s a hypocritical gesture we both have to make to conceal the elephant in the room.

 

The past week I had a hormonal rush of sensitivity, being that it was the time of the month. For several nights I had bouts of crying spells which were quite hard to manage. Most nights, he shared my pain, but on some, he expressed displeasure. Now with my period already gone, I wondered why I was feeling indifference towards him. Even saying “I love you,” which was never difficult for me to say even when I was hurting real bad, now seemed awkward. No worries, I did not dwell so much on the feeling and went on my usual routines at work.

 

By midday, I was in good spirits. I felt excited about ending the workday and cooking something really nice for dinner. Through the rest of the day I thought about nothing but what would be nice to eat. I felt great. Fifteen minutes before office hours ended, my mood almost got spoiled when I realized how much tidying up I had to do in the pantry. I have gotten very busy preparing tea and coffee for our clients in between answering phone calls and when I saw the cups and saucers piled up in the sink I nearly threw them all out. But there seemed to be something in the air that day so I still managed to smile even while I was mopping the leak in the lavatory.  

 

We left 35 minutes late but that was fine. I just had to come up with something easy to cook. Shrimp it is. I took the bus which stops in front of a supermarket a little farther from our flat. I normally go to another supermarket which was nearer to our place but since I was already there I might as well do my shopping than walk to the other one.

 

Garlic, onions, check. Shrimps, check. I was looking for a 7-up in can when two kids went running to the fridge where I was standing. I looked at them and almost fainted when I realized who they were. Even without knowing her, I have known her kids as I often see them playing in the parking lot of our building. Ya Allah! What do you want with me? Darn, it was Tuesday. They must be with their mom – it was her day off, remember? I did not know what to do or where to go next. Knowing she was just around made my heart race. Should I see her? Should I just go? I was still trying to decide what to do when…there she was, just a few meters away, her kids trailing behind her as she pulled a red grocery basket. How pretty and thin she looked in her plain black shirt and printed hijab. This is the girl my husband loves. I felt a pang in my chest. I was still reeling from the pain when I heard a familiar voice calling out her name. It was my husband. They were together – with her kids. I died again.

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.

The Hearthquake That Started It All

As my first entry, let me start off by saying why I decided to set up this blog. After four and a half years of being with my partner and best friend, I feel that our marriage is about to come to an end. With that in the open, let me share the random thoughts I have as I watch the memories I so cherished shatter into pieces. God, I hate drama. But I know there’s no way to see myself through this without letting it all out so if you loathe romantic tragedies like I do, you can stop reading now.

                I should be busy looking for a job. I should be out there, chasing buses and racing up the metro to make it to a last-minute interview. I should be hanging out and catching up with friends and former officemates. I should be relishing every moment of my return to the Middle East because I soooo looked forward to coming back. But I am not. Now I regret, mourn and grieve every minute I am here.

I came to this country about 5 years ago. I was then in a long-time relationship with a man whom I knew was not the right one for me. I left a job I loved and moved here with hopes of making things work. But the frustration and disillusionment I felt while adjusting to camels and sands soon took their toll and I just exploded. It was then when he came.

He was never my type. He was athletic and I can’t even walk without tripping. He was outgoing and I was an introvert. He was a college dropout and I was a geek. His was a bad boy image while I was Miss Goody Two Shoes. Get the picture? Because I did not see anything in him that I could be attracted to, I found him “safe” and so I accepted the shoulders he willingly offered for me to cry on. That was the biggest mistake of my life. I should have believed everyone who said platonic relationships don’t exist. The next thing I know, I was on my way back to my home country to have our second child.

He was not Mr Perfect. But with him I had the happiest four years of my life. He showered me with love and showed me how a woman should be treated. In his arms I felt safe and protected. I was his princess. He promised to love me forever and I believed him. I put down all my defenses and embraced him into my life. I became his life and he became mine.

He went on a short vacation to see our second bundle of joy and together we planned for our future.  I was to go back to the Middle Eastern heat and we will work at getting the boys to live with us. He left me with the kids and after three weeks, I followed him here. Three weeks. Who would have thought so many things can happen in three weeks?

The day after he picked me up from the airport, I began noticing changes in him. All of a sudden he did not want me to visit his workplace. When he used to rush home after work, now he takes time and goes to visit his imam before coming home.  And what’s with that second phone when he already has a dual sim mobile? Why does it take him so long to finish his chai downstairs at 11 o’çlock in the evening? Where did he get that watch and why is he suddenly using an expensive hair polish?

A woman’s intuition is never wrong. But I brushed off all my doubts because hey, I was his princess, remember?!  I held on to all the promises he made but at the back of my head I knew something was…different. It was that one night when I threatened to leave when he spilled the beans – he married another woman. My world crumbled. Is this a joke??? When did this happen? What did I do that led you to this decision? Did you even think of me and our kids when you asked her to marry you? I was talking nineteen to the dozen but he remained calm. His decision was, as he said, “according to his religion” but I have heard that excuse too much too often on this side of the world.

I thought about how much I love him. I thought about our kids. I thought about the plans we made. I thought about the happy memories we had. I thought about us. I did not want to lose him. I did not want our kids to grow up without knowing their father. So I gave in. I said that I will do my best to accept his decision, even if he did not care to know how I felt about it. It will take a lot of time (forever, perhaps) before I could fully embrace what he did but I promised to try. Tragic, I know, and plain stupid. Let’s not rub it in.