Five years ago, when I was just emerging from the ashes of my marriage, I recall a few friends telling me to keep myself occupied. The idea was that being distracted would prevent me from sliding down the slippery slope into the past and into despair.
“Easier said than done,” I thought as I silently rebuked them.
At the time, I couldn’t understand why people were giving me impossible goals to set my sights on. I was too crushed to do anything except deal with the day I was living in. As much as I understood that they were right, I wasn’t quite ready to heed that advice. I knew I needed to go through the motions of shock, anger, frustration and hurt. There was no way that purging process was going to be rushed. I had to ride it out; I had to allow the wounds to heal naturally before I could remove the bandage. But knowing that in itself was how I knew I was going to be OK, inshaAllah. I always had that belief.
Years later, I’ve since gone back to work and become involved in other personal projects in-between. Sometimes I feel I’m running to stand still but I relish the busy life that I have. When I do take a brief pause, it is to recharge and enjoy the peace and calm that surrounds me at that moment, Alhamdulillah.
As I write today, I am on holiday for the Christmas and New Year period. This then, is a longer break than normal. I am on a complete hiatus from my normal routine for a couple of weeks and this is my Achilles heel. What I’ve discovered is that my mind has already begun to feel distracted. That monolith called ‘The Past’ has already reared its ugly head and threatens to drag me backwards. It’s for fear of this happening – and happening too often – that I even became engrossed in different long-term activities in the first place. To be fair, my past life was not a Shakespearean tragedy. On the contrary, a lot of it was wonderful, Alhamdulillah and I am especially talking about my married years. But it’s precisely for this reason that divorce was an even greater shock for me. The writing was never on the wall, at least not my wall. What tainted the last year of my marriage was the way in which I was served my notice and, for me at least, the unknown reason/s for it. So, when I think back on the past, it is particularly ruminations on that last phase of my married life that totally confuse me and it’s those endless unanswered questions that I don’t want to revisit.
In my life now, as I throw myself into my deliberately serried projects, where there is little chance to pause for idle thoughts, I am actually very content, Alhamdulillah. I feel a sense of purpose and being valued. That is a healthy state to be in. I know this is where I am meant to be. The other advantage of being on my own again is that I get the independence to choose where I want to be heading too. Finally, I’ve learnt the sagacity of my close friends who offered their advice a few years ago. I get it now.
Yet there will always be that internal contradiction. Despite the great strides I feel I have made, there is still some mental and even spiritual cleansing to be done. To be honest, even after all this time, as much as I have emptied myself of anger, frustration and shock, there is a tiny residue of all those emotions combined which will never leave. I compare this residue to an oily sludge at the bottom of a vessel which ambushes everything it comes into contact with. When I am not preoccupied with my daily grind, this is when the sludge resurfaces although its impact is lessening and lessening over time, Alhamdulillah. I must confess too that listening to my own self and hearing those same thoughts whizz through my mind, can become exhausting. I am tired of the inner battle I have had these past years especially when I know the person who is responsible for all this has long since severed ties with his past.
How many more weeks, months or years am I going to relive things in my head, albeit less so? I do strongly believe that having things to do, people to see, and most importantly, Allah alone to worship and praise, have helped me immeasurably. My rational self knows that every time I question past events, I have achieved nothing but going round in circles. But every time I go round in that frenzied circle, a little piece of my fatigued emotions comes away. Soon, I will be the perfect stoic. InshaAllah.