Thursday, January 11, 2018

Life Updates: Chapter Ten - My Rock Bottom

(side note: All posts are not recently written. They were written according to how I was feeling in the present moment I wrote them. I just write and then post each one in the order in which they were written at the time- and I know we are in 2018, thanks.)

"Verily, with every hardship there is ease." (94:6) 

In my "Chapters" series, I have been sharing my experiences and thoughts with not only myself but also to my online readers (whoever is actually reading- lol.) I have been writing a lot about my struggles and my not-yet triumphs with life. It has given me comfort and helped me find solitude. Alhamdulillah.

It is safe to say that since I have started this blog, I have hit rock bottom many times. My most difficult struggles started back in 2014 and continue up until present day 2017. I took long breaks in between blogging because I thought that would help me figure things out and also because I thought I had nothing to write about because I was going through hardships. I thought that my silence would help me deal with life.

I guess through those hardships, I realised that I do in fact, have everything to write about and it is something that gives me relief. I remember in 2014 I suffered from severe anxiety and panic attacks and writing helped me in many ways I never thought it would. Writing is something wonderful and I encourage everyone to open up a blank page and just write. Write to yourself, to Allah, or to the world. It doesn't have to be structured, it can have all the spelling and grammar mistakes possible, and it doesn't even have to make any sense so long as you write. Writing can give you more release than you can imagine. It allows you to organize your thoughts even if it looks like a messy chaos in front of your eyes. Sometimes we just need a little relief in our lives. Duaa comes first, no doubt and after that, writing can really help you channel your thoughts and feelings and give you a sense of comfort and solace.

My rock bottom lead me to write and through that writing, it allowed me to see things in a different light. I opened up my own eyes to different possibilities and different outlooks. My rock bottom lead me to focus on the present moment. My rock bottom continues to lead me closer to Allah. My rock bottom allowed me to realise that I am human, I make mistakes, and I stumble.

Though sometimes I don't feel close to Allah at all, I recognize that all this hardship is allowing me to learn about myself and who I am as a Muslim woman. It is an ongoing journey that allows me to discover new things about myself and about my life. Even though my external environment has not changed, I slowly feel like my inner self is taking on new shapes and forms. Although many times I slip and fall and wish that I can just stay lying on that cold, wet floor, I force myself to get back up with the help of Allah.

I still battle with myself, though.
Every. Single. Day.

Some days I feel like I have life all figured out, and other days I feel like I am back to ground zero, running away from reality, slipping and falling on that cold, wet floor.

I struggle to stay patient and positive and I sometimes think that this is the forever outcome of my life. Hard to stay positive when life has been so stagnant for a long time. Hard to stay positive when everyone around you moves forward with life and you are still standing still. Hard to accept your decree with a content heart. Hard to stay focused and keep going. Everything becomes hard when you have hit your rock bottom. This is life. Whether we like it or not, life is not meant for us to sit, settle, and enjoy permanently.

My rock bottom brought me to places I never knew existed. It was dark, it was weird, it was raw. I can still remember it because it is just a matter of time until I reach that place again. This is life. But at least when I reach my rock bottom again, I will be better prepared. I will look back on this post and remember that this journey is meant to not be a perfect one. I will remember that I was once here before and even though I hated every single second of it, I came out better, I came out stronger, and I learned more about myself than I ever would have had I never gone through any hardships and hit rock bottom.

A lot of the times, rock bottom to us is somewhere we live our lives trying to avoid. When someone has hit rock bottom, we often think "oh poor her.." or "oh that sucks, good thing I'm not in her position!" but because I have hit rock bottom one too many times, I have began to see the beautiful light that Allah has promised. Sometimes relief does not have to be a tangible or dunya related thing. Relief could come from within; it could be spiritual, mental, and emotional. I thought that relief meant that I would be physically removed from my situation and given something better. Sure, that is one form of relief but then I think to myself, no matter where I could be, there will always be circumstances that will not be in my favour, because things NEVER go the way I want them to.  So what makes the most sense is to find that balance within. Knowing that no matter what you do or where you go in life, things will never be perfect and there will always be things that go against your wishes. Those things we can't control, but what we can control is what we feel within. We have full control over how we react, how we handle our life, and how we deal with things. When you can achieve this, then you will have life in your hands.

Of course, I'm still trying to figure this all out and trying to accept this concept.
Sometimes I fear for the next time I will be met with my rock bottom again. Nobody likes to be faced with a place that exposes our vulnerability and weaknesses; a place where our deepest emotions emerge and our negative thoughts take over. But there is nothing wrong with feeling vulnerable and weak because after all, the human being was created weak and vulnerable. We cannot hide from what we truly are. The more we run away from this, the more we will end up disappointing ourselves.

Accept your rock bottom, live in it for a little while, explore it, get acquainted with it and use that vulnerability to climb back up into the reality of  this life. The first few times may seem heavy and hard, but after awhile, you will realise that your rock bottom has turned your weaknesses into strengths and you will understand that hardships and struggles can be a beautiful thing because they shape us into who we are and who we will become, insha' Allah. The ease you find within is much greater than the ease you can find around you in tangible forms. Our environment we live in will always change and things will never go the way we want them to. The storm around us should not bring down who we are inside and who we are inside is the very same one who will take you to that eternal happy abode, Jannah , insha'Allah.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Insanely accurate!

Just taking a random break from blogging about my boring life's struggles *lol* to share with you something quite amazing! One of my close friends shared with me this link and told me how accurate it was to best describing my personality. I was a bit curious as to what she would attribute me with to this video. I watched a little, then I continued to watch more and then I finished the nearly 12 minute video. WOW!!! Insanely accurate. I think this video did a better job in summing up my personality in 12 minutes than I could in a one hour interview! Minus the bars and clubs thing...I would definitely say this is verbatim of my whole life's story *lol*

I think it is definitely interesting to find out about your personality. It gives you insight into knowing more about yourself and allowing yourself to get in tune with who you truly are. It seems these days, instagram, snapchat, facebook and twitter are the only things that define our personalities. That is just so hashtag-boring. Everyone looks the same, talks the same, likes the same things and can't think for themselves! Live a little and dare to be different! 

Anyway, just wanted to take a random break from my posts to share this random video and link with you so that maybe it can spark some interest into discovering more about who you truly are. You may be surprised at the results! 

Here is a reputable personality test link that I find pretty accurate (if you answer honestly lol)  check it out and take a tour into your own self ! I took the test and I thought I wouldn't score the same but lo and behold *lol* here are my results : 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Life Updates: Chapter Nine - Giving up

So I decided to take a browse around my blog (and I encourage you to as well, it is free of charge!) and take a look at some older posts that I wrote. To my surprise, I noticed that for the past four years there has been a reoccurring theme where I speak about my emaan, my hardships that affect my emaan, and me being in a physical environment that is not in my favour. It is kind of funny to read back and see myself speaking about the same things I am blogging about currently. I guess it is a re-occurring theme?

The reason why I wanted to point this out was that it reminds me again and again that life will NEVER go the way I want it to nor go the way I expect it to! I was in KY, a place I physically, absolutely detested and still I was going through struggles and hardships - externally and internally. Now I am back home in my beautiful country yet I find myself in a circumstance which if I had a chance to choose, would definitely not choose it at all!

That brings me back to remembering what Islam is all about. How even if the external circumstances are not befitting to you, you must be content and pleased with what Allah has given you and to connect with your inner self. Finding that richness deep within instead of looking for it around you.
“Wealth is not in having many possessions. Rather, true wealth is the richness of the soul.”Source: Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 6081, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 1051.This is such a simple yet deep reminder.

I always think that success in life is determined by how many children you have, having a successful career and living somewhere where you love with loved ones. I think perhaps all this time I have been missing the point because I allowed and continue to allow my external circumstances affect my well-being and emaan. Not to say, though, that your external circumstances do not have a role to play on you internal centre because it definitely does. Your external circumstances can really affect you in ways you can never imagine. Many individuals including myself can't find peace of mind in an environment that is unfamiliar or makes us uncomfortable. I am still struggling and to be honest, I really don't think I will find peace of mind until I remove myself from this environment, but at least I can strive to find a balance where I can tolerate my circumstances and try to exercise sabr.

Since my external environment is not somewhere I really wish to be, I try to do what I can and make it work. Many times I have failed and that is normal because again, I am only a human being and I can't expect myself to be in a good mood 24/7. I know a lot of us wish that things would go our way because it is just easier. When we can have what we want, live where we want to live and do the things we want to do, it is just easier.

Things are just easier when we don't have to strive and struggle. But then we would never learn, right? How else can we get to Jannah if we don't go through hardships and be put through situations and circumstances that we really don't want to be put in? Even non Muslims have to go through struggles and tests to get to where they are today! So many successful non-Muslims have struggled and suffered and then they attained what they were striving for, the success in the dunya. Allah gives us whatever we strive for. If we want the dunya, He will give it to us and if we want  the akhirah, He will give it to us. I guess it all comes down to priorities and how much we are willing to struggle in the way of Allah.

“The dunya is a prison for the believer and Paradise for the disbeliever,”[Sahih Muslim, vol.4, #7058] 
I am really starting to understand this hadith because I truly feel this way. The dunya really does not have anything good to offer. It is full of let downs and disappointments. I continue to struggle to remind myself that this dunya is only temporary and I shouldn't focus all my efforts and pain on this life. It is not my friend and it will always deceive me. It is so easy to drown yourself in this life with worries and problems which will be the least of our concerns on the Day of Judgment!

Day to day, I still struggle to accept that this life is not what I had in mind. All the tests and trials I go through are only to remind me not to settle comfortably in this life. All the tests and trials are made to remind me that I have to push and strive until the very end. But it is so hard.

Sometimes I just want to give up and submit to my desires and forget about everything I have been working towards. That instant gratification that seems so tempting and so easy. It is so easy to let your desires run like a wild horse. It is so easy to just give up because everyone else around you is living happily fulfilling their own desires. Their lives seem so exciting, fresh and lively! Everything seems so picture perfect. But are they really happy and satisfied with this fleeting life?

Then I think back to the days of my pre-Islamic life. Was I happy when I used to submit to my desires and chase the dunya life? Did I ever find satisfaction from doing this or that? Did my life really feel complete when I would accomplish x-y-z? The answer is No. Not at all. Anytime I accomplished something, I wanted something else. I wanted more. I was never satisfied and I always wanted something else, something new, something better. Even if it was unrealistic and unattainable, I would try to attain it. That is the reality of this life. You will always try to chase SOMETHING. The dunya is meant to make us greedy and unsatisfied. That is why it is such a temporary place. Once you attain something, you want something else and the vicious cycle continues. Your happiness is always termporary. It will never leave us fully satisfied because this is not the place for that.

I can't even begin to express how deceived I feel by this worldly life. It is not something I want to befriend and it is definitely not something I want to trust. Up until this point in my life, I have been deceived over and over and I have been left disappointed. Anytime we want to blame Allah for our hardships and struggles and trials, remember that it is not Allah who we are to blame but we need to remember that this is the reality of the dunya. This dunya is the external environment that we need to survive in and the only way we can do that is to keep our internal self satisfied with Islam as our religion and Allah as our Lord and Muhammad (sallalahu aleyhi wasselem) as the last and final messenger.

When we figure out how to live with this in our hearts, then truly we will have succeeded and that inner richness will help us strive until the very end. But getting there is not an easy task. It will take many moments of defeat, hopelessness, and helplessness. Surely we believe in our hearts and tongues that Islam is our religion, Allah is our Lord and Muhammad (sallalahu aleyhi wasselam) is our last and final messenger BUT when we are faced with trials and adversities, sometimes we forget.

We forget that Allah put us in the hardship in the first place to reward us and to cleanse us from our many sins. We forget that Allah is the one who will help us out and through the struggles as long as we call upon Him over and over. We forget that Islam is a religion to guide us through this life with peace and determination. We forget that prophet Muhammad (sallalahu aleyhi wasselam) endured so much pain, suffering and hardship for us ! Wow, even I forget all these things sometimes.

It is so important to keep making duaa even when you have nothing left in you. I have struggled with this so many times when I just wanted to give up on making duaa- even to this day, as I write this, I sometimes feel like "what's the point though?" But then I remember, no, there is a point to all this. Duaa is a form of worship and it is my string to hope and my way to Allah. Thus I must continue to push, shove, climb and strive my way to Him, even when everything around me wants to bring me down. 

Monday, November 6, 2017

Life Updates: Chapter Eight - Today.

Today I am feeling emotional. I have been for a few days now and whenever I feel this way, I always wonder what has changed in my routine for me to feel this way.

Sometimes I have really good weeks, and even months! Other weeks and months are not so good. I think I am having another one of those weeks/months.  I am aware of the patterns, though. I know when I don't focus on my external situation so much and I concentrate on my inner realm, I feel better. Over and over I remember that striving to strive within, will only benefit me in all circumstances.

I feel really emotional. I feel negative. I feel weak. I am struggling. Again. 

I think back to my life in the USA and all the many trials that came along with it. It weakened me to the point that I felt humbled. I thought I had life all figured out, you know? I thought that I knew how to handle life and all the things that came my way. But I guess I was wrong.
I think about all the moments I slipped and fell, not wanting to get up. I remember these moments very well. I think about all those times where I really thought I could move forward no more, yet somehow, I found it in me to inch a little further.

Through all these tests, Allah has truly been with me. He could have easily left me to go astray (may Allah always protect me and all of us from that Ameen!) but He continued to guide me. Though reciting al-Fatiha five times a day may not always sink deeper than my tongue, I know that there would be no other place I rather be on than the siratul mustaqeem- hey that kinda rhythms?  Even though there are times I don't feel that Allah has been with me, if I just open my eyes, ears, and heart a little more, it is obvious that Allah is with me.

Constantly, I am fighting.
I struggle to strive.
Some days I just feel so unbelievably irritated, so much so that I just want to crawl into bed and leave the world behind me. Other days I feel like I am on top of the world and I can conquer anything that comes my way. I guess it makes sense since I AM only human.
The struggle is real and it ain't just a #hashtag.

I share this because I want everyone who reads this to know that everything you see on social media whether it be Instagram, Facebook, , Youtube or Snapchat is not always rainbows and sunshine. I find it awfully deceiving for almost every Instagram account to be sharing the happiest moments as if all they know is travelling, shopping, looking into their spouse's eyes all starry eyed and showing their child always laughing and peaceful!

In my last post about being an only child, I didn't just talk about the benefits of being an only child, but I mentioned the importance of being true to oneself. I feel like being on social media  automatically gives us this entitlement to show our lives in a heavily, unhealthy distorted way; the way how others perceive life to be perfect and the way they all make it seem like this dunya IS worth chasing is definitely far from reality. Not only do these individuals fool others, but they are essentially lying to themselves. As soon as something hard hits them or they are faced with adversity, they don't know how to handle life because all they imagined is that life should be all fun and games. "Living the life" is something far from reality and we do not hear enough about "handling life".

Often we are too busy "living life" yet we don't even know how to handle this life! We put all our hopes and expectations into something that is only a mirage. I need to write this post mainly as a reminder to myself. Over and over, I keep having these high expectations of this or that. Over and over I have been humbled by doors closing, sometimes slamming in my face. As soon I realize that I put too much importance and emphasis into the dunya and forgetting my akhirah, Allah sets me straight. I am tested with things that really poke at my patience. I am tested with things that question my tawakkul and I am tested with things that feed my ego. Today, things are blurry and things are grey.

This journey is so difficult and sometimes I wonder what is the point of all this! I know the path I have taken is meant to show me many sides of "me" that I have never seen before. I know that the path to guidance is not an easy one. Under all the darkness of life's lessons, I know there must be light and freedom. I continue to search, I continue to struggle, I continue to feel the burdens heavily on my shoulders weighing me down.
I let out a big *sigh* and keep going...
Today is a new day.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Life Updates: Chapter Seven- Being an Only Child

People are moving on with their lives yet I am still at a standstill. Sometimes this makes me feel sad and other times it makes me dig a little deeper into my realm of existence. As people are busy with the external aspects of life, I am busy with my internal aspects of life. All this time has allowed me to figure out who I am not only as a Muslimah, but as a human being.

 I guess I can say that all this time alone has given me the opportunity to really understand and learn what it is like to live life as a Muslimah. I feel like if I started a family early on and lived that "family life" like everyone else, I would have been too caught up with my external surroundings and totally would have neglected my Self- wa Allahu 'Alim.

I think being an only child has really helped me connect with My Self. It has forced me to become very introspective and because I always had/have time alone, it has allowed me to get in touch with myself. It has allowed me to reflect and respond to my inner cries, my inner struggles, and my inner aspirations.

Growing up, I was always very social. I enjoyed interacting with others and I always thought going out with friends or going to family gatherings was something exciting. At that time, being alone was something boring to me and I would romanticize the idea of being busy running around from point A to B meeting X, Y, and Z. Just thinking about that in my head right now makes me feel exhausted!
In high school I always envied the busy bodies and I always wanted to have a very active social life. I couldn't because I lived too far away from my school and my parents were quite overprotective. So when I was more independent, I went all out and made myself into that socialite that I longed to become.

That life was so exhausting. People became exhausting to me and I began to embrace that low key life I once had in high school. How funny is it that when I had what I wanted, I didn't want it anymore?! I was all partied out and I preferred to just spend my time with one or two friends doing something that required very minimal effort. I didn't like big groups of people and even though I could socialize and people often mistook me for an extroverted social butterfly, I actually preferred to stay home and be away from annoying humans. I just recently found out that this is what we call "introverted."

When I first became Muslim, I somehow forgot that I was a natural introvert because all I wanted to do was meet new Muslims. I thought that going to social gatherings was something that I really enjoyed doing. It turns out, after a while, I retracted back into my introvert shell.

Since I have been back in Toronto, I have embraced that fact that I am an introvert. Loud people annoy me, big groups overwhelm me, and long hours of being out exhaust me. I prefer to be at home in my room and keeping to myself. I don't have to answer to anybody (except my parents lol) and I can do whatever I want, whenever I want and nobody can bother me (unless I allow them to). I am an introvert and I am proud to be one.

Being an introvert has many beautiful benefits and it is only these past (almost) two years that I have realized what a blessing it is to just enjoy your own company, without all the outside noise (well literally in my parent's place there is a lot of noise but I have learned to drown it out). When you can just sit and think about life and reflect upon yourself and your actions, it really allows one for self growth.

At first I thought that spending too much time by myself and being "idle" would make me more depressed because I would focus only on the negative aspects of my life.
For a long while, this is exactly what happened and I would drown myself in my own self misery. I would compare myself to other's lives and feel sorry for my own "boring", "lonely" life. Of course, I am not free from that still (lol) as I am a human being so weak by nature that it is only normal that I will retract into this from time to time, but Alhamdulillah, Allah has helped me along the way and allowed me to see the benefit in being alone.

I now realise that being an only child has really benefited me in more ways than I can imagine. It has allowed me to realise that I can turn loneliness into solitude. Solitude for me has become solace. It has allowed me to hold myself accountable for my actions. It has allowed me to reflect upon life. It has allowed me to embrace and enjoy my own company. It has made me realise that at the end of the day, I will return to Allah alone. Nobody will be in that grave with me and nobody will be standing beside me on the Day of Reckoning. It will just be me, myself, and I with my Lord.

Alhamdulillah, by the Mercy of Allah, I have found the advantages and full benefits of being an only child and they all work in my favour - Allahumma Barik. Of course there are sometimes disadvantages because I can easily detach myself from others and because I seem to put my needs before anyone else, I may come off as selfish or self-centered. But to be honest, I feel like we all need to treat ourselves sometimes like we are only children (even when we are not) because it is only then when we focus on ourselves and keep ourselves in check that we can live an effective life as a Muslim.

Don't get me wrong, though, I do wish sometimes that I had a big family and children of my own because as busy as that kind of life can get, it does have its rewards and benefits as well. But because this is what Allah has given me, and even though I saw it as a negative thing for a long while, I have come to embrace it and accept it thanks to Allah. Through the pain, the tears and the sadness that I experienced by myself, Allah allowed me to see the benefits of being in the current situation that I am in.

I always had low self- esteem and self confidence issues because I thought acceptance comes from other people and from my external environment. But as I spend more time alone, I realise that, as cliche as it sounds, acceptance comes from within. When you accept who you are, that is when you are able to make the necessary adjustments you need in order to be a better Muslimah. Often times we think that we have to become better for the people around us but when we do that, we will only end up in failure. When we know ourselves, then we can get to know Allah and once we know Allah we can be a better sister, daughter, mother, wife, and friend. We cannot know Allah before we get to know ourselves because if you think about it, it was only through me knowing myself that I was able to open myself up to knowing Allah and finding Islam and knowing it was the true religion; I knew my life was empty, I knew the parties and drinking were destroying me, and I knew that there was something more to life. It was because I knew these things about myself that brought me to Allah and Islam.

Sometimes we just need to connect with ourselves by ourselves for ourselves because at the end of the day, nobody will do that for us. Using the excuses I once used to use, " I don't have a strong Muslim community near me", "there are no good Muslims around me", " I live in a non Muslim country" are not sufficient enough. Do you see the way the prophets used to struggle when all there were were non Muslims around? They did not live in the luxury of many Muslims at the beginning of their journeys of spreading Islam! Our connection with Allah does not rely on the people around us because as I mentioned, on the day of Judgement, we will be alone before Allah and in the grave, we will also be alone. Who can we rely on then?

Every time I write these posts I want to remind you all that I DO struggle, I DO cry, I DO feel sad and I DO fall into despair.
Sometimes it may read as if I have everything all figured out and that I got it together. That is not the case at all. I struggle each and every single day. Even as I write this, my emaan is struggling. I do not want you to think that I am some strong Muslimah who has the best relationship with Allah.
The only reason I write is because it makes me feel better and it helps me organize my thoughts. I write because I want others to know that my situation has forced me to dig deeper within and to try to find coping methods so I don't wallow in self pity. It has forced me to look at the positive aspects of my life even though many times I feel like there are none.

I feel it is important that I express this because a lot of the times, when we read people's blogs or we are on social media, we think that the person behind the screen is someone who does not struggle or go through hardships. We think that they are some pious person who knows how to deal with life. Well, that is not me and I don't ever want anyone thinking that is how I deal with life. You do not see what goes on behind this screen and you do not know what kind of challenges I have to face. So whenever you read any of my posts, please take it at a surface level. If you can benefit from it or it makes you reflect upon your own life, then alhamdulillah- ultimately this is my goal.

I wish that everyone who reads my posts will always be honest with themselves and ask themselves the same questions that I have been forced to ask myself during these challenging times. Do not wait until it is too late and do not keep making excuses for yourself because at the end of the day, your life will pass you by before you know it and as soon as your busy life slows down, you might be hit all of a sudden with all these things you never thought deserved any attention. When that happens, it may break you and you may not know how to deal with your life. That has happened too many times to the people around me and because they neglected themselves for so long, they fall into severe depression. Do not let yourself get to that point. Always try to find time to reflect and be alone with yourself even if it is for 20 minutes a day. Hold yourself accountable and be responsible for your relationship with yourself and with Allah.