I just realized my last post was in July. I’ve been terribly busy, and I’ve found that when things do decide to happen in my life they happen all at once in a mad rush. I have good news though, after two years I’ve finally secured full time employment. It’s not a position that will make me rich, however it’s Monday – Friday, and I have health insurance again. It also gave me a confidence boost I needed very much. Ever since I left my ex husband I’ve been plagued by doubt, doubt that I lacked the ability to care for myself and that I could ever be successful at anything. So on that front things are better.
On other fronts….Eid al Adha came and went this year without me knowing. With that realization I realized that my break with Islam was finally complete, it was odd really, a friend messaged me an Eid Mubarak, and then it dawned on me what day it must be. I momentarily fell into a short panic, wondering if I should mention it to my children, as they have no idea that I am no longer Muslim. I mentioned it quickly in passing and told them I’d give them a bit of Eid money once I went to the bank. I kept it casual and hoped they wouldn’t notice. The children have no idea about my break with Islam and my return to paganism. I suppose I’ll keep it quiet until they reach their teen years, part of me fears their father finding out and what he might do if he does. Being Pagan is about the most horrible thing you can be in Islam. The Quran is full of admonitions against worshipping other gods beside Allah. Part of me fears he would challenge our current custody arrangement if he found out, or may even try to kidnap the children.
In retrospect it really bothers me that Muslims believe that the only viable moral code is Islam. All other beliefs are suspect and prone to immorality. I was thinking about this recently, and after forgetting about Eid Al Adha, I started thinking about the Hajj, and what the Arabs believed before Muhammad’s prophethood. Muslims are really big on telling Christians that their religion is corrupted by pagan belief, but ignore the pagan leftovers in Hajj. Arabs were doing Hajj to honor various pagan deities long before Muhammad popped up. If you read between the lines, even the Quran acknowledges the Hajj has pagan origins. The circling of the Kaaba, running between Safa and Marwa, and the kissing of the Black Stone were previously done in honor of the old Arab gods/goddesses. It seems they kept the customs and changed some of the names. According to Tradition, even Omar had reservations about kissing the Black Stone due to its pagan connotations, but continued after seeing Muhammad do it. Even if buy into the idea that Abraham had initially built the Kaaba as a house of worship for the one God, there is very little evidence that Abraham ever did so, or was present in Arabia at all. It’s all a historical revision that Muslims really don’t question, and any discourse questioning it is qucikly squashed. Even when I was trying to be a devout Muslim, Hajj never added up to me, and the rituals never could make sense to me within an Islamic framework. It all felt like so much gobbledegook. I want to continue in this thread in my next post, where I’ll get into the Daughters of Allah/the Satanic Verses and how they may relate to Hajj as well. Hopefully it will be in the next couple of days instead of months….
so can these shoes take me to
who I was before
I was stabbing my sticks into
a vulnerable earth
and I can almost out run you
and those stalking memories
did I somehow become you
found a little patch of heaven now
so then I’m gonna turn oysters in the sand
’cause I’m working my way back
I’m working my way back to me again
Tori Amos, Oysters
Never let anyone tell you it’s easy to move on. You get by, but then out of the blue something triggers you from the past and you feel muck deep in it up to the neck all over again. It’s been two years since my official separation, and one years since my divorce and I sometimes feel as if I would heal completely if I could just get back on my feet again financially. It’s hard for a woman who devoted herself to be a wife and mother for years to get back where she needs to be. I suppose it’s not just the divorce itself, but the knowledge that I bought into the whole Islamic patriarchy (and even abided by its rules) and still got the shaft. It’s not that my life is bad, I have a wonderful man in my life who I plan on marrying and of course my two wonderful children, but some days like in the above quoted song I feel like I am struggling, not just on a financial level, but with getting back to the person I was before the marriage. So much of me became HIM in the marriage, so much of myself was subverted and drowned, that now I have trouble pinpointing exactly who I was. (or am) It’s like trying to navigate with a broken compass.
Years of being trivialized takes a toll. As a result, I have trouble even taking myself serious. Even things dear to me, (like a return to my pagan thought) while it gives me strength and comfort, I fear talking about it. If I feel passionate about anything in particular, be it a story on the news or whatever, if I share the thought with my lover now part of me still fears being shot down or being scoffed at. I know he would never do this on purpose, but my own fear remains. Some aspects of the past are just so hard to overcome. I keep hoping and crossing my fingers that one day I’ll find out who I really am again.
My sister is still having a hard time processing our father’s death. I wish I could help her more, or speak a bit more openly about how I’m able to deal with it better than she is. I was a Muslim for nearly 16 years, to pop up and say “Gee sis, remember when I was a teen how I dabbled in New Agey/Wicca/paganism stuff? Yeah, well I’m doing that again.” It’s not something you just volunteer or put out there. However, I do attribute my return to my religious roots with my increased ability to cope.
Even though I do not consider myself Wiccan, more of an eclectic pagan/pantheist sort, understanding the Wheel of the Year and how it relates to life and death helps a lot. I’m able to see life and death as part of all things. I’ve never really viewed life as a linear thing, but rather non linear, a continuing cycle of joy, sorrow and returning joy as life moves ever on and on. I’m happy with that.
My father passed away after a lengthy battle with a long illness
I brought my mother home with me for a month…..life is terribly hard sometimes. I wish I could write more eloquently on the whole matter but at this point I can’t. Watching a parent turn into an elderly person is rough, losing a parent leaves a hole in a family’s life. A terribly absence that hurts to speak of….
On a brighter note, Ramadan is upon us and I am so fucking happy I won’t be partaking in a 20 hour fast. No thanks. And the freedom feels so sexy good….(I never got a damn thing out of all those years I fasted. It was like a badly orchestrated piety competition)
I was at work the other day and noticed on the desk calendar the coming of Ramadan in June. Years back I would have known the date and began preparing for the upcoming fast with great fervor. Of course that tapered off over the years when I came to the conclusion that there was no spiritual value to be had and was little more than a bragging contest for most Muslims. Also I came across an article recently by Imam Luqman that said 7 out of 10 converts to Islam eventually leave the faith and as I was reading this I found myself agreeing with lots of it and then a lightbulb goes off in my head and I wonder: why do I still self identify as Muslim anymore?
Before I converted I dabbled in neopaganism for awhile and I think at the time I ultimately became fearful of accepting a faith so different than the one I was raised in. (Christianity) So for over a decade I chose islam. Everyone talked about what a blessing it was for me and then after the shahaddah, after all the new had faded I was forgotten, scorned by the wider muslim community, left on my own with no muslim friends to speak of. I married a muslim man hoping that I would be able to integrate myself into the community more but found my situation worse as most “sisters” resented the fact that I, a white American woman, had the audacity to marry “one of their men.” So much for sisterhood. So much for a sisterly support system when said marriage turned abusive. Islam turned fast into an incredible spiritual letdown. I tried to get back in the game even after I divorced, tried praying again, entertained the idea of fleshing out my own version of progressive Islam but in the end I wondered why bother? Why resort to apologetics, entertain ideas of “reinterpretation” in an effort to justify troubling Quranic passages? Why did I still feel the need?
So what are my beliefs right now? Certainly not muslim and not fully pagan. Pantheistic perhaps, for I find more spiritual solace in nature and the endless passing of the seasons than I ever did in a mosque. I do however find the old holidays pleasing, and I planted a tree this beltane and felt more connected to the Divine than I had in years. Who knows what’s next for me…… Whatever it is it will be on my own terms.
Son came home today after a visit to his father’s house with a bruised face. Of course he tried to change the events about how it happened even when the boy confronted him in his lies. I feel so angry and helpless. I’m still financially dependent on this slimeball and try not to anger him on account that he still has both children’s passports. I just want a safe normal life for my kids. Is that too much to ask? I feel helpless. I’m working two part time jobs and just can’t achieve financial independence. Sometimes l just feel like I’ll never be free of it.
I look back now on my old life, being married, and one thing that stands out is a feeling of being constantly cowed and bullied. I never could do anything right, in the eyes of my ex husband. The house was never clean enough, I didn’t get ready to go out quick enough, I wasn’t the slave of a daughter in law he expected me to be, he found constant fault in my view of Islam, and I could never do anything right in raising the kids. I think I could write a long post on each of the above points…..I’ll spare everyone that for now.
So looking back I’ve decided to never let anyone put me down like that again. I have a right to be valued on my own terms, for who I am and all I have to offer as an individual. I have a peculiar way of visualizing my new self, in fact I’ve found visualization very helpful in my recovery. I woke up from a dream the other night, one I can’t remember of course, and the first thing that popped up in my mind was of myself standing tall on the mountain under a full moon with the sky dappled with a million stars, and there I stood towering above the valley below……strong, female, independent, one with all the world around me.
Whatever it means and for what it’s worth……who knows….but it helps and that’s what matters.