is it time to forgive?

I’ve written about this many times and I suppose, this will be the last time I ever will.

It’s come to that point in my life where I close this chapter of the book and go onto the next one. To move on and accept that whilst the events had unfolded many months ago, I cannot deny that they happened and I can only learn from it. While I try to hope and pretend that they didn’t exist, the truth never ceases to exist.

In July 2018, I met someone who I thought was my first love. He was, but with the help of manipulation, lies and false sense of securities, oh yes, I loved him.

My first boyfriend saw me as a fling. In fact, I never saw him as a boyfriend until he called me his girlfriend and we just foolishly went on from there. I was young, inexperienced and I had a lot to learn from the world outside my own.

He manipulated me, emotionally abused me and in every sense of word, lied to get what he wanted. He was sure to repeatedly remind me that he wasn’t a liar, but yet, he was the exact same thing he said he wasn’t. Perhaps hypocrite would suffice for his character.

For months after we broke up, I tried to leave him. I tried to stop talking to him even knowing that despite how much I loved him, he was toxic and bad for me. I tried to cut him out of his life but every time, he would manipulate me and play the victim as if I was the bad person for leaving him.

“I know I’m hard to love and that’s okay because in the end, everyone just throws me away as easily.”

He uttered those words to me once and it made me determined to keep loving him and be there for him to prove him wrong.

Oh, how I wish I knew just how manipulative those words were.

He emotionally abused me several times. He took my self-worth away just so I could bring his up. He made me feel like life wouldn’t have any sense without him. He made me feel like I needed him in my life or I would lose all meaning. The first time I confided in him, he judged me for the situation that I was in, shamed me and called me things that I didn’t think I was.

That, in itself, was enough to emotionally abuse me.

It took me six months to cut him out of my life. I tried for months and finally, I had it. The last time I spoke to him, I wasn’t angry. I wasn’t sad. I wished him good on his future and bid him congratulations for finishing with his service to the military.

And that was the last of it.

My self-worth has improved considerably since then. I’ve not had anyone tell me that I wasn’t beautiful enough, or that I was too boring, or that I had no redeemable qualities. I’ve made myself my own person. I’ve gotten my school work done and fixed, my own makeup has improved on my own accord and no more hearing “if you improved your makeup by doing what I told you to, you’d look like those beautiful Instagram models.”

In the last six months, I had been talking to a new man every single week in search of replacing my ex-boyfriend. In hopes that they could fill the gap that he left. Hoping that one of them could make me as happy, but to no avail. I got disappointed every single time and it made me frustrated, desperate.

Why couldn’t I find someone who could make me happy?

Two days ago, my sister told me, “You are your own happiness. Don’t depend on your partner to make you happy because it’s not their job. Their job is to amplify your happiness.”

I’ve never heard of anything truer.

A few weeks ago, I met someone. This one was different because he was special. I don’t mean to scare him away and I don’t want to. And the first time I met him, I had never felt more happier in so long. Not because he made me happy but because I felt happy that I could be myself around him and he wouldn’t shame me for what I was. I felt like truly, he was different from everyone else I’d met.

How cliche is it?

I try to be patient with him. Not rush things. Not expect things. We’re in a limbo that I can’t figure out but on the inside, I know that he’s just as scared as I am.

I’m scared that he’ll use me as how my ex-boyfriend did. I’m scared that if he doesn’t return the feelings that I have for him, he’ll use my feelings to his advantage. I’m scared that he’ll manipulate me knowing that I would do anything for him. I’m scared of what’s beyond what we have now.

My fear stems from my ex-boyfriend but I’m no longer thinking about him anymore. I haven’t thought about him in a long time. I would take an even longer time to forgive what he’s done, and I would admit to a forever never where I will let him back into my life.

This is the last time that I write about him because I may still be angry, upset and hurt, but he is no longer part of my life. It has been a month and I hope it goes on to be a year and a decade where I won’t think about the boy who broke my heart and crushed it single-handedly. I will never step foot into someone else’s life with much anguish expecting them to bend by my traumas because this is me starting anew.

I want to be able to love again without fearing the bad and I want to be able to smile knowing that whoever smiles with me smiles genuinely.

But most of all, I want to be able to forgive myself, accept that it happened and to forgive him when I’m ready because we are all fools and he was a fool who didn’t know he lost a gem.

untitled

I’m sitting here at the dining room table during Ramadan, a holy Muslim fasting month, thinking about what I could name this post but I couldn’t find one that was apt for what I’m about to talk about.

Just recently, I’ve been having these thoughts in my head about what life was worth and how it’s been changing right in front of me. I can imagine myself watching my actions, words, thoughts and feelings as if I were watching a movie of my own life, and weirdly enough, things are happening; things that I never thought would be happening even at the worst or best times of my life, all working out in my favour.

Ever since my toxic ex-boyfriend and I broke up, I’ve been down in the slums. It felt like all meaning to life was being sucked away from me, and considering he had been my first boyfriend, I felt like I was truly losing all of life.

My ex-boyfriend wasn’t a bad person. He isn’t, in a matter of words. But in some ways, he was so bad, so, so bad that it made my mental health deteriorate. It made me doubt my self-worth to the point that I couldn’t think of anything good about myself except that if I lost him then I would have lost everything. To think about it now, it was mental abuse.

I was told by him that he was unable to love me because I wasn’t beautiful enough. I was told by him that if I just grew up, then maybe people would start to respect me more. I was told by him that if I did something a certain way, or dressed a certain way, or looked a certain way then perhaps, I would find love. It was he, who made me feel awful for walking out of the house with my mediocre newly-learned makeup skills by saying that my makeup was “heinous”.

He made me feel inadequate on so many levels. He compared me to ex-girlfriends, citing that at some points in his life, he wanted to marry all of them but then he would blatantly tell me that he saw no future with me, and yet, he still continued to date me just to boost his own ego and use me for his own selfish reasons.

Oh, I was a fool for letting him abuse me like that.

Never again.

I clung onto him for months after we broke up because I was madly in love with him. I loved everything about him and when he hurt me, I would make up excuses for him no matter how much I knew that what he said and did was wrong. I hated him but at the same time, I loved him. And it was toxic behaviour coming from me.

At this moment, I haven’t spoken to him in a month. It’s considered to be an achievement because whenever I tried to leave him, I would go back to him within days to a week. I would find myself craving for his attention and a conversation, even if it would end in heartache.

But now, it’s different.

Now, I stop writing him the letters that I will never send. I can look at his pictures and not imagine myself crying for him anymore as how I did all those months ago. I realise the standards and worth that I set for myself, and if a man is unable to fulfil that then he is not a man worthy of me at all.

Now it’s different because every day, I look in the mirror and I see this beautiful girl staring back at me. I never understood her beauty before. I was convinced that she was everything but beautiful but now, I see it more clearer than ever. I see the smile that always struggled to be beautiful turn into light, I see the hair that had grown out so becomingly after his criticism of its short length months prior, I see the olive skin that tans brown instead of pink under the sun.

And I see where the pain has healed slowly but surely. 

The beautiful glow that illuminates beyond physical appearance – an inner beauty that never struck me until now.

Some day, I wish I’d never met him. 

I would find myself in a daze, thinking about how he could lie to me so easily, to use me and abuse me in different ways and never bat an eyelash. His manipulation still haunts me and the sickening words he used to make me commit such heinous crimes never fail to make me tear up. I would feel my heart swell up in pain and the lump form in my throat but then I remind myself that the time is over. I remind myself that he’s so far away from me that he cannot hurt me anymore. 

I remind myself that even though he had hurt me, I had the support of everyone I loved and he had no one; the only reason why I never wanted to let go of him. 

He is a sad, lonely boy who can never understand why no one likes him. He will never understand how his words and actions impacted me even when I’ve tried so hard to convey my pain to him. He will never understand the trauma he put me through. He will never understand the sacrifices I made for him just because I loved him.

And he will never understand the true meaning of being free and beautiful, because he is not free.

And neither is he beautiful.

a letter to you

It’s been a year without your guidance.

How did one year manage to pass so quickly without a stray of thought aligned with the days of the week? How did I turn twenty as quickly as I am about to turn twenty-one in just short of six months?

So much has happened; so, so much that it’s unexplainable.

I got my heart broken for the first time by someone real, so real that when I touched him, I felt not only his skin but his soul.

I went through the stages of losses, suicidal thoughts included and depression being one of the side effects.

I got in and out of fights with members of family, friends and colleagues because I was at the stage in life where nothing could have hurt me more than your absence.

My heart aches for your presence again. I sometimes find myself staring at pictures of you wondering how it was possible that it’s been a year now since I’ve last spoken to you. A year since I’ve last heard your voice, a year since I heard your magical laughter.

A year since I’ve seen you at all.

I think about the day I last saw you. The last thing that I ever said to you in person was “goodbye” but I didn’t mean for it to be forever. I think about how I shouldn’t have let you go up on that plane. Maybe, you should have missed the flight and skipped your much needed holiday. Maybe, we could have done something else as a family instead.

All these thoughts swirling in my mind never ceases but a year has passed and another year will go on, for many more for the rest of my life and I’ll think about how lucky I was to have known this amazing person in my life once upon a time.

My father, my best friend.

A letter to you because I can no longer speak with you so I can only address my words in hopes that one day, I can convey them to you.

punishing the good

This is not the story of how good deeds go unpunished.

This is not the story of how good people are always on the bad end of the lucky spectrum.

And this is not a story of the good being bad.

No, this is an experience that I, and millions of others have all felt and encountered at least once in their lives. This is the root and cause of all lack of motivation to aspire and inspire and this, unfortunately, needs to be addressed.

I went to religious school from aged 7 until I was 14 when I decided that I’ve had enough of it. Being raised Muslim wasn’t anything bad. In fact, I cherished the idea of being Muslim because I felt like it was a religion that made the most sense to me and one that God truly listened to.

When I was 13, I remember taking an exam for religious school. We were to perform a proper set of prayers with recitation in Arabic and everything else including what to do next such as prostration, standing and so on.

I was raised a Muslim but not religious. I didn’t know how to pray until I was 20. I could read the Quran but never finished and it’s been at least seven years since I’ve touched one. I have a hijab set at home but never wear one out.

In a normal Muslim’s eyes, everything that I am is worth condemning for.

During this particular exam, I couldn’t perform the prayer. I didn’t know how to and all I did was just guess what to do next. I didn’t even recite anything because I had zero knowledge.

The examiners watched me with frowns on their faces for about 5 minutes before one of them stopped me.

“You’re a Muslim and yet, you don’t know how to pray?”

Her question seemed simple but her tone was clearly condescending to me.

Yes, as a Muslim, I did not know how to pray. Was it worth something punishing over when all I did to do was learn? Why are such behaviours punished for? This was a religious school and I was being questioned on my lack of knowledge?

From 14 until 18, I was devoid of any thought for my religion. I was embarrassed of it because I felt like I didn’t know anything about it and was therefore unworthy of mentioning or thinking about it. I avoided it like the plague. No, I did not abandon God but I abandoned all my persistence and motivation to learn.

When I was 10, I failed a maths test.

I was smarter than the school average and was sent to a smarter class but as a result, I was one of the weaker students in the particular class. I failed my maths test for the term and received 4/10 for my grade.

Everyone was rejoicing over their grades while I hid mine in embarrassment. My peers around me knew how bad I was and asked what my grade was but I refused to reveal my grade so during break time, they snuck to my desk and by the end of recess, my whole class knew my bad grade and laughed at me.

I cried on the way back to class and my teacher said minimal to nothing about the situation despite being aware of what happened.

Why am I being punished for trying my best only to fail? Why do I get laughed at for being bad at something I didn’t ask to be bad at?

When I was 12, I was in extra after school classes that my mother paid for. They were for my primary school leaving examinations and I was doing badly in maths. I was often the weakest in any maths class and this was no exception. Because of my lack of knowledge, I was rarely motivated to do any homework and to be given extra homework outside of school? This was worse.

I remember sitting in class, being asked by the teacher of how I could solve a simple fraction equation. I knew enough but I didn’t know how to solve it. I specifically admitted to the teacher that I was unable to solve it and I didn’t know.

She waited in front of the class and asked me to tell her what should be done step by step.

Even when I didn’t know the answer, I guessed. I recited off steps that I thought were familiar to the question and she didn’t write any of it down. Instead, she stared at me like I was stupid and shook her head in disbelief when I was done.

“Out of all that rubbish you’ve just told me, you could just do this and this and this.”

She proceeded to write her own answer on the board, embarrassing me further after I specifically told her that I didn’t know what to do.

Why am I being punished for trying to learn? Why are my good intentions being punished?

In my eyes, the world is against us.

Stop punishing what you want to see. Stop punishing the good intentions of the people around you.

“Look who decided to finally join us for dinner.”

“You actually finished your work?”

“How can you study so hard but still get a C grade?”

I do not think that it’s right to punish good behaviour despite how much it doesn’t match your expectations. People are trying and motivation should be given, not taken away. You should reward, not punish.

If it wasn’t for the teachers who saw my potential in secondary school, I wouldn’t be here where I am today. If it wasn’t for the teachers who inspired me to do so much better, I would have still been trying to find that lost motivation somewhere.

But not everyone is as lucky as I. I didn’t ask for my inspirational teachers but I got them. Some people beg for them but never get them. I plead to this world to stop disregarding effort for lack of skill and knowledge because we are all trying to learn something and do something.

Don’t be the one that takes it away from them.

reception to rejection

Thrice, I have been rejected by boys I sought after in my lifetime.

Rejected of the love that I desired in exchange for the affections that they might offer.

What is this in life? What is it to be rejected over and over again only to be told that it is useless, that I need to change myself?

I cannot garner such attitudes, This is the way I am, so deal with it. I am not changing myself for anyone.

But what if that one person that you so desired promised you the better life if you did change yourself? What if they promised the future of tomorrow, secured and steady in the event that our lives change?

Many of my rejections I took as an insult, a plague in my thoughts that I cast out to make myself mentally and emotionally stronger. Many times those thoughts are transformed into excuses to why I didn’t need to change.

I was my own person, and if they couldn’t deal with it then they didn’t deserve me.

Years pass.

I’m a better person emotionally and mentally. I’m strong, independent. I’m relied on a lot, grown up. I’m unique in my own ways. I handle rejection better now.

But I spent so much time depending on the expectations of other people that made me change myself that I forgot to set expectations for myself.

I no longer know what makes me happy because I spend too much time making others happy. I find it difficult to express and understand myself because I invested more time into empathizing with the people around me. I sought the approval of others that I didn’t think about whether I approved of the person that I was.

I realized that I hated myself.

I couldn’t love myself.

I was insecure of myself.

I couldn’t look in the mirror without pointing out the flaws rather than perfections.

What saved me from it?

Rejection.

I wanted to be better. I wanted to improve myself. I wanted change my lifestyle. I wanted to think ahead for my future rather than live in the now.

Now is relative, the future is planned.

Plans change but our goals remain intact. We set ourselves up with expectations, expect to compromise and keep working towards that bridge.

I got rejected by the first person I’ve ever loved but my reception to it changed.

He made me realize my potential that I never knew I had. He made me see that I was someone rather than a something.

He made me see that dreams are easier to touch if we tried.

Today, I frequent the gym to 3-4 times a week, and albeit for less than an hour because I’m still new to it, I still make the effort.

Today, I’m inspired to do so much more than the meager everyday work that we do everyday. Routines are anything but instruments of growth. What we need are lessons and challenges everyday and today, I challenge myself to do something different. Yesterday, I cooked dinner for my mother as she arrived home from work. Today, I went to the gym to work on my bum exercises when I was so shy to do it before.

Tomorrow, maybe I might work on my diet.

My love, the one who’s hurt me multiple times because he thought he was “teaching” me, he helped me to realise that life is so much more than before. I hate him for the things he said to me, such hurtful words that brought my self-esteem lower than before but in return, he wanted me to care for myself better.

He didn’t love me, but he cared for me. He couldn’t love me because I didn’t love myself. He didn’t love me because I wasn’t beautiful enough yet.

I might not be good enough for him now.

But I know that one day, I will be better than him.

And I know that I will come out stronger and better.

This is my reception to rejection.

strength of a thousand worlds

He thought I couldn’t do it.

I threatened to leave many times. I threatened to cut off all ties with him if he ever hurt me again, and every time, I couldn’t do it because I felt like I needed him. I wanted him, even if I had to watch him from afar 7000 miles away.

And many times, I would go back to him because I loved him far too much to completely cut him out of my life like he was nothing.

Even then, he relentlessly hurt me and I forgave over and over again because I wanted him to change and I wanted him to just accept my feelings for what they were instead of treating them like they were nothing more than a whim.

He thought I couldn’t do it.

One day, he hurt me again.

The next day, he apologized for the first time.

I was prepared to leave him but when he apologized, I thought that maybe, maybe he might change and this would work as after all.

We were past lovers who were trying to make it out as friends. It wasn’t going very well because of my feelings for him and because of his insensitivity to my feelings.

I told him that if he hurt me one more time, I would leave. I told him that I was his friend, not his punching bag. I wasn’t around just to let him emotionally abuse me like that. I wanted to help him because he was alone and had no one.

Or so he tried to make it out to be.

Weeks went past quickly.

He told me he was trying to date this girl and wanted a solid relationship with her.

At first, I was surprised because I didn’t know he was seeing someone, somewhat. Then, I felt upset. I had some right, because I loved him and he knew it, and didn’t hesitate to tell me about this wonderful girl he wanted to be with.

I told him I was upset even when I should be happy.

I wanted to leave him. I made the resolve to. I gave him the reasons why I wanted to, and it came down to the fact that he had used me for his own personal, selfish reasons and had allowed me to fall in love even when he didn’t want me to. I was angry that he kept seeing me even when he knew that he had to break my heart one day.

He asked me to stay.

I was the only person he trusted, he said. I never hurt him. I was the only few people who cared about him. He didn’t want to lose me over his pettiness.

But I was so angry.

He wanted me to stay, expected me to be his friend even through the hurt he caused but he told me not to expect anything out of him.

But I said I didn’t care anymore. Do anything you want, I told him.

We didn’t speak for days, until one day I thought about him again and got angry again. Every time my mind goes to him, my thoughts are clouded by this shroud of anger and madness because of how he hurt me and used me.

We fought again.

I told him everything I needed to, everything I’d been keeping inside of me for the past few months.

He threatened to leave me if I kept doing this, kept getting angry for things that happened in the past but these were things that he did to hurt me. I couldn’t forget them as easily as he could since I never hurt him.

He thought I couldn’t do it.

I threatened to leave countless of times but never did it so he threatened to leave me instead.

Then came the last straw.

“I’m going on a date with this girl this weekend. A second date.”

He knew it was my trigger point. He knew how much it upset me before and he used it again to spite me.

To make me jealous.

To shove it in my face.

It was the last straw.

I completely cut him out of my life two minutes later.

I’ve never felt so happy before. I felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders after cutting this toxic person out of my life.

He thought I couldn’t leave him.

I’m happy I did it.

This was the strength that I was given and I used all of it to leave the one I loved because he hurt me and I wasn’t going to destroy myself just to keep someone who didn’t love me enough to stop hurting me in my life.

I am prideful because I did what he thought I couldn’t.

I am thankful for the strength I garnered for the months that I couldn’t.

This was the strength of a thousand worlds.

the words to my love

I remember meeting you that Saturday afternoon.

You moved so flawlessly and it was insane seeing you for the first time because it was like my world was suddenly filled with colour, contrasting with the black and white that I’d been seeing in the past few months. It was insane and crazy, because I thought that I was only meeting you for the now and not the future.

I remember the things we talked about, from every conversation to every fight we’ve had. They were all important to me. Every single bit of it and every word you said stayed, good and bad but somehow, I can never bring myself to hate you enough to leave you.

We were like children hiding in the bushes and keeping secrets of crushes. We sneaked around like it we were teenagers doing nothing and I still remember the first time that we kissed.

It was on a hot, sweltering Sunday afternoon and we’d spent the morning having coffee, reading a book and then going out to the waterfront where we sat in the shade of a tree talking about things that didn’t matter to us. I remember every word you said, and everything that we talked about because that day was important to me. We took a walk back to my car and had the windows wound down when you turned to look at me with the mysterious look in your eyes.

“Can I kiss you?”

That word itself made me nervous.

We kissed. I still remember everything that I felt that day. Nervous, embarrassed, shy, happy. All of it rolled into one and yet you managed to keep me sane just with those lips. You tasted like the Big Mac you had for lunch, and you were warm, a feeling that meant that we were both alive.

To all the kisses and the ones after that.

I remember when you called me at 10:30 at night just to tell me goodnight. I felt like my mind would explode because no boy had ever put that much effort in for me. I remember when you first held my hand the night of our second date, when you just held me and caressed my skin with your thumb because that’s all you could do while I took the time to get used to it.

You were patient and you were beautiful.

My best memory of you was the day we went to a park the first time and sat side by side reading a book. You smelled so good and when we went to read in the car instead, I thought you were so beautiful. It was insane seeing you read a book because I always thought boy readers were pretty. That same night, we sat at the back of my car and we talked about the stupidest things we could think of.

And then all of a sudden, we started talking about your last relationship, and how she hurt you. Oh, your ex-girlfriend, how she did hurt you so bad that you just broke down and cried in front of me. And it still haunts you to this day, and I know that much. Because when you think about her, all you ever did was let a tear slip to let me know just how much it still affected you.

I remember whispering my insecurities to you, where and why they existed and I remember how you held me as you cried a tear. When I asked why you cried, you said something that made me want to fall in love with you.

“You are just so goddamn pure.”

I knew then that I was falling in love.

We talked about a lot of things. One thing I could never forget was how you told me that you might come back for me. It made me feel loved. It made me feel like maybe, maybe there was something worth living for in this world.

That same night, I remember driving in the dark just the two of us with the music playing so softly and I remember as you held my hand that night. We were quiet. Nothing needed to be said because just being with you made me feel so happy. I remember feeling the europhia that threatened to break me when you looked at me through the flashing lights of the passing cars and this was the moment that I completely let myself to fall in love.

“I’m serious about this.”

And I knew you were. I could see it. I could feel it. And I knew that you were serious about me.

You couldn’t sneak back into base that day and spent the night out in the my car instead until you could call a taxi back to base at 3 in the morning. You asked for a last goodbye kiss before you left for the field for a week.

I missed you.

These were the moments when we were at the prime of what we had. They were special moments that I will never forget. And these are moments that I will remember you by, never for the bad but for the good because of how you made me feel.

You were worth it.

You don’t love me. You don’t like me anymore either, I know that much. I know that I’m not someone you care for anymore because I’m just someone who fell in love with you when you didn’t plan on making anything long-term.

And it’s your fault for allowing it to happen.

I hate you with everything I have. I hate you for not taking responsibility of my love and instead the best you could offer me was a simple, “sorry” because you had nothing else to give me while I had given you my everything.

I never asked for you to love me back, not once did I beg you to love me. But all I wanted was for you to accept my love, instead of pretending that my feelings were nothing more than a whim. I liked you so much that it transcended beyond my understanding and it took me so long to understand what it really was.

All I wanted was for you to smile at me and say that you know how much I love you and you appreciated it.

You knew that I was in love with you before I did. You knew that I was falling hard and you allowed it to happen. You knew that I was in love, but you pretended to be blind to it.

To say that I would stop hating you would be too far out in the future to predict but to say that I won’t would be too spiteful so this would be the words of my goodbye instead.

These are the words of my goodbye to you, my love.

Words that you will never reach you but I hope that you will read one day.

I love you, and I know that I always will even if it might not be the same anymore. I hope that you find what you’re looking for, and I hope that she treats you better than I could and I hope that you treat her better than you did me.

I hope that one day, we may come across each other again in between oceans and continents and in that one day, we’ll both realize how stupid we were.

But don’t fret, my love. I have never regretted a single moment with you because if I did, it would mean to regret falling in love and you were someone I would have crossed oceans for.

Now, you are no longer worth it.