It is quite often that I am reminded of the fact that my youth was some time ago. It’s not anyone else who reminds me of this fact. I know it myself. There are the usual physical manifestations of the ageing process which we all know too well. Like many people, I have also succumbed to them.
But here is the paradox… I don’t measure my existence according to what my age or physical changes tell me. In my mind, I have become timeless. That’s not the same as being delusional about my longevity. I am not immortal. I know my time to depart this life will come. If there’s anything I can be sure of, it’s that. Yet, that knowledge in itself has bolstered my determination to get the most out of what life remains. These days, I find my mental state is actually the healthiest it has been in my entire life, Alhamdulillah. That is no exaggeration!
Living independently now, for the first time in my life, I am no longer subject to other people’s whims, demands or remarks be it siblings, parents, spouse or in-laws. As a child growing up in my parents’ house, I was living under their rules. From there, I moved onto marriage where, again, I was living under the terms and conditions set by the other. Whilst that setup was not necessarily one fraught with tension, it was still a contract that, though never clearly defined, I knew existed to outline the “I can do-s” and ” I can’t do-s” inside of marriage. To be perfectly honest, I did enjoy a kind of freedom within my marriage which many of my peers never experienced. For example, I travelled alone several times for long periods and this was facilitated by my then-husband. So credit where credit is due. However, towards the end of my marriage, it seemed I couldn’t do anything right any more. The goalposts were forever being shifted unreasonably and it was inevitable I would never be able to consistently keep up.
Today, I am finally my own person. The choices I make in life are now my own and I don’t need to explain to anyone or take permission from them. And it is this freedom that has served to create a wonderful mental space in my head and in my reality. Unfortunately, there are some pockets of traditional society that still believe Divorce + Freedom = Hedonism. It’s as if a woman can’t be trusted to be responsible and dignified in the absence of a male chaperone. Well, inshaAllah, they will watch and learn from my example. The sad irony is that in many divorce cases, it is the male chaperone who abandoned their duties in the first place! What is a woman to do? Sit on her hands and wait to be ‘rescued’?
Right now, it’s just me and Allah. I know He has put things in my life to test me with them. Even freedom is a test. I ask myself: Will I squander time? Will I become delirious with the independence? Will I use the opportunities to do good? Alhamdulillah, I know I have not shunned my responsibilities. If anything, I have become more engrossed in delivering justice for my sons and myself. Nor have I become consumed with grief. That’s because I have my faith which helps me transcend the situation from its wordly concerns only. I see life through a convex lens rather than a concave one. The frame which contains the bigger picture is far more exciting than the small blemish that tries – but fails – to tarnish the entire image. I live a normal life but I get to plan my day which includes my work, leisure activities and social interactions. It is a busy life but one that brings me great contentment, Alhamdulillah.
Although I don’t like to talk prematurely about plans, I have at least started to make headway in terms of unfulfilled goals which need to be met. I don’t like to call them a ‘bucket list’ since I have trouble with that phrase. It has greedy and selfish connotations (although I know it isn’t). But the goals I have, for the most part, have a higher purpose than just to feed my worldly being. I very much desire to do things which elevate me spiritually. If Allah grants me relatively good health and life, I just might be able to fulfil them after all, inshaAllah. That seems so surreal. I guess I didn’t understand that a divorce would be the harbinger for necessary change – an invigorated confidence and such a zest for life. A zest like I have never had before. I have seen how many women seem to ‘find themselves’ after divorce. I didn’t think I would be one of them. It’s not that I am mad or that I want to get even. In fact, I am genuinely excited for the future that I don’t have time to be bitter. I simply recognise that an opportunity has been created and I have opened my eyes to the invitation.
Thinking back to the little girl who I used to be, I know that the zeal to do things I am passionate about was always there. It’s just that it has taken this long to bring those ideas and goals into fruition.
Life after divorce seems like borrowed time on this Earth. I need to get moving. I won’t let society dictate what they expect of someone my age and my status. My sons are no longer in need of me in the way they were just a few years ago so now is my time to take action. Remember: “Goodbye to Procrastination.” In celebration of my new awakening, I will book a table for one at the banquet of Life and enjoy the view at the same time, inshaAllah.
I’ve waited and watched everyone else long enough.
Now it’s their turn to do the same.