Trust your gut. Protect your energy.

I’ve been speculating a lot on gut feelings recently. For those who know me, I am a very spiritual person. I am also quite emotional. I hated this about myself for the longest time, but I’m learning to love my emotions as a part of myself. After all, they are our God given GPS guide, right?

It’s hard. We want to listen to our gut feelings and we want to just sail through our emotions, but egos, blockages and residence don’t allow us sometimes. There are times our egos take us into a whirlwind of emotions that we fake a gut feeling. There are other times that our gut feelings are so strong but we stomp on them because we are so insistent on getting what we want at that time in that place.

You know what? This shit is completely normal. It’s completely understandable and it’s completely human. Desire sweeps us off our feet. We think we want something without studying the reality of it and without wondering if we’ve created this placebo to pretend to fulfil our innermost deepest desires, or whether we want it.

This happens a lot in friendships and relationships. We idealise people and scenarios because we feel like they’re our saviours from a room within ourselves that we treat as a dumping ground which we don’t want to dive into and sort out. We plaster it with what we think are fulfilling interactions, but are simply just avoidance mechanisms.

We quickly build dreams on hopes that have no real foundation, because our ego at that time tells us it’s what we want. The whispers of our ego are so strong that we convince ourselves it’s a gut feeling. I’ve made this mistake a lot and I’ve paid some pretty heavy prices.

With gut feelings, they just come. One time, I was with someone I really cared about. Some things from this person that I used to see were more apparent to me. This person’s anger, emotional distance and somewhat dubious behaviour jumped out in my face. Before we had even managed to sit down, one reaction from one tiny instance stuck with me and I had a feeling that I would never see this person again in the context in which we were.

We sat down and I was quiet. I didn’t realise I was quiet until this person mentioned it. I looked at my orange juice and I realised it was almost finished within minutes; something I almost never do.

“You’re very quiet today. Usually I’m the one who’s quiet and you’re always talking and today it’s the other way around.”

I laughed and I tried to make an effort to speak, but something wasn’t right, even though the situation was completely normal. I just knew this wouldn’t last and I was grieving something that hadn’t even ended yet. An hour later, came the beginning of the end.

When your gut is telling you something, your senses are alive. You don’t know why and how, but they’re alive. You feel your internal space open up.

When you’re coming from a space of anxiety and “this just has to work out because I need it to” or “watch this bullshit will manifest – I’m so sure of it” or “I can’t function without ___ so it has to come back into my life”, these thoughts aren’t a gut feeling. Such thoughts are accompanied with desperation and panic. There’s an attachment to these thoughts that make us believe it’s the end of the world if they don’t manifest, so they must manifest because that’s how our lives have to be led.

Introspect saves us a lot. I’ve dealt with these by learning to enjoy my own company. I’ve fostered a sense of curiosity to battle my ongoing anxiety. Rather than needing things to turn out a certain way, I look at what this thing represents to me and I try to hold on to the underlying feeling.

For example, if you need to get into a certain academic institute to feel adequate, try replacing it with feeling proud of yourself for all that you’ve achieved to capture this adequacy you crave. That way, you’re detached, but you’ve also got enough energy to invest in actualising your dream rather than depleting it with stress.

Introspect also stops us from dragging on a friendship and relationship way after its expiration date. If you need to put in more energy to keep a spark, consider if it’s something that is meant for you or not. Yes, rough patches pop up. Yes, we must overcome and we must communicate, but if you feel like something is draining you and you’re jumping through hoops trying to fix what can’t be fixed, let go.

There’s a huge difference between giving up and letting go. Giving up is allowing things to crumble and breaking them so they shatter before your eyes. Letting go, however, is different. When true colours show, when problems arise that weren’t sorted out by communication, when toxic habits are far too deep, etc etc. You just know. Trust the feeling and peacefully move on.

If something is meant to be in your life, trust it will. People come back when they’re supposed to be and friendships rekindle at the right time. Breathe, trust yourself, love yourself and listen to yourself. Know that you’re self sufficient and nothing in this world that leaves you can make you less of who you are.

Just as I was writing this, an old friend messaged me. Turns out we had both been thinking about each other at the same time for the past few weeks. We really do communicate on an energetic level. Trust this communication happens and there are conversations our energies have had that we need to actualise in our physical lives. This includes gut feelings before goodbyes.

Trust your inner light because it’s guided by God.

Peace and love and light and all things amazing to you all.

Love you all xoxoxox

The 3aib-ness of being female, happy and single

I was on holiday recently visiting family and naturally, being in my mid-20s, marriage was on the table. More than ever, people would politely pray I find a “good Arab man” so I can move back to the Middle East and live happily ever after with 46 kids and cook a pot-full of rice every day.

Even in the UK, my parents are growing increasingly impatient, asking what is “wrong” with me, bringing up proposals I’ve rejected and fearing my lifestyle, which is basically almost vegan will deter a suitable husband.

“You need to start eating meat because your future husband will not accept your diet”

“It’s good you go to the gym, but don’t expect your husband to want to be healthy too”

“I don’t understand how ….. is engaged/married and you’re not! You’re so much prettier than her!”

“If you didn’t reject …. you’d be in a different situation right now” [I know, which is why I don’t regret following my gut instinct]

“You have until the end of this year to find someone or I’ll get involved and make sure you marry the next person who comes to you”

I’ve noticed not caring about our relationship status as such and leaving everything to God is something that scares elders. They feel as though us being happy with where we are is a form of us getting too comfortable with our single-ness. We’re building our lives so much that we may be unable to accept just anyone.

For them, marriage is central. I understand why. I feel sad when I see my mum genuinely feeling worried that it hasn’t happened to me yet. I look at myself and I see myself getting fitter, stronger, happier each day. From our discussions, however, she looks at me and sees me getting old. It’s a mentality that is so deeply rooted in our culture that you can’t really blame them when they see us going against the grain.

We do things differently. Yes, some get married early and some get married late. Some get engaged or married early and then break it off only to realise it’s not worth marrying the wrong person and then start to take their time when they are ready (me). Generally, the anxiety of getting married was very much prevalent in our early 20s, but as women reach their mid-late 20s, the concept doesn’t become less appealing per se, but we learn that life can be enjoyed because God has blessed us in the best way for us.

Our society refuses to accept this and want to pile the pressure on us not because they want to see us happy and settled, but they want to make sure we’re “normal”. We’re supposed to accept God’s decree to prove ourselves as women of faith, but at the same time we’re supposed to drown in misery because we’re not conforming to societal norms. It’s not our situation that is threatening, but the way we deal with it; when we’re not worried, we’re transcending normative cultural expectations of us, which is deemed threatening.

Follow your own path

It must be understood that being put in this environment doesn’t encourage us. It’s counterproductive because they want us to feel enough guilt and shame until we somehow get married, creating negative correlations in our heads. Whether we realise this or not, shame is subconsciously internalised and it needs to be fixed with inner work. While you may not back down from your principles, the ongoing “what is wrong with you?” comments do whether you like it or not have an affect on you. That’s completely okay.

It’s fine to recognise that certain comments can make you question your path because when you bury the effects of them, they internalise in ways that become difficult to reach. I remember when I put on weight in my early 20s, I was always told to lose weight or I would never get married. This piled onto my self esteem issues and is one of the reasons I’m still fixated on the illusion that I am overweight.

It’s okay to realise that when people say “why not you?” triggers your insecurities, even if it’s not insecurities on your relationship status. While I laugh “why not you?” comments off when people discuss marriage with me, the “why not you?” mentality in other aspects of my life.

Get out of your way and trust your instincts

Allowing the negativity around you to internalise stops you from manifesting what you want. If you refuse to commit until your needs and standards that you’ve set for yourself and your S/O are met. If someone tells you that your standards are too high and you don’t actively counteract that, you’re not going to find someone to meet your standards because you automatically have your mind set on the negative.

You don’t need to be ignorant of your worth, you can very well know your worth, but if you don’t focus on your worth, knowing your worth will do nothing for you. Knowing your God-given gifts will take you nowhere if you don’t focus on trusting yourself and walking your own path securely, rather than because you have no other choice.

Don’t shut down the criticisms you’ll get because they’ll build up in your unconscious mind. Remember, your mind records absolutely everything without you realising. Bring the criticisms and comments to the surface and counteract them with affirmations and prayer.

Ignoring may do wonders for the ego, but we’re trying to break that shit down here. We’re here to be proud of who we are, love the paths we’re on but understand that we’re human. It’s okay to be sensitive. Being in touch with our senses is what our bodies have been programmed to do.

Their 3aib-nagging comes their ego, which is why it’s so toxic to hear and absorb. Don’t fight their ego with your ego. Rebel by flowing with God’s plan from your heart instead.

Peaaaaaceeee xox

Painful truths: Our love is our mirror

“And you became like coffee,
In its deliciousness, its bitterness and its addiction”
وتشابهت أنت وقهوتى فى اللذة والمرارة والإدمان
Mahmoud Darwish – Palestinian poet

I’m tempted to talk about how this is not a love quote, but it is. I’m tempted to talk about how “real love” is not supposed to harbour toxic codependency, addiction and despondency and is smooth when you find the right person, but that’s a load of crap. Nothing in life comes easy.

Love is one of the most simple but misunderstood feelings we feel. Love is something that is engraved in our emotional fabric, but can be something that destroys us if we don’t learn about our relationship with it. We learn to love through our experiences. We lean towards what is familiar, even if it’s painful, it’s what we know.

The way we love is a mirror of our experiences throughout our lives and how we handle them.

Me? I recently realised that I feel loved when people allow me to prove myself to them. I set myself to a standard that I don’t set others to because to me, asking someone to prove being worthy of love is painful. Yet, because it’s what I know – being loved because of my credentials – without realising, I allow people to love me this way.

In my mind, it’s foreign for someone to love me simply because I’m an awesome person. I realised this days ago when I was in the shower. It was a strange revelation, but one I needed to admit to myself.

If someone downplays my career, I don’t get offended if I care for you. I actually feel the need to justify myself and feel satisfied when my justification is accepted.

This revelation took me back to all of the things I knew about love. That love is not supposed to hurt, that love is patient and it’s allowed to make mistakes. I forgive people, but I hardly ever forgive myself. I carry resentment from the actions of my past and forgive people their role when in reality, I should forgive myself before I forgive the other person.

False love-hate paradigms
I’m sure we’ve heard “the opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference”. It’s true. We love and hate with the same amount of energy. To add an extra layer, this means indifference is the opposite of both love and hate.

Therefore, we need to manage ourselves not based on the emotions we feel, but based on the energy we invest.

This is why after a disappointment of some sort, our emotions are everywhere. We focus too much on regulating our emotions when it’s really the energy we should be keeping an eye on. We go through hoops of emotions with the same amount of intensity, punishing ourselves for feeling a certain way and fearing feeling the opposite.

No matter what, no feeling we have is invalid. This is because first and foremost: we’re human. It’s also because we can view the same situation in many ways – it’s only our mood that is shaping our interpretation at that time.

But the more energy we put into an emotion, the more intense the feeling is. When you feel a huge rush of sadness, know it isn’t the sadness that is overtaking you, it’s the energy within you that has manifested itself into sadness.

Accept that a part of you is sad about the situation. Accept that you’re allowed to feel sad. But be careful with the amount of energy you put into the sadness. It’s amazing because the less you fight your sadness, the less energy you put into your sadness and the less overwhelming the sadness gets.

I’m still upset about a certain situation that I was subjected to, but for the most part, I put all of my energy in thanking God for the experience, because I know if I didn’t go through that, I wouldn’t have understood how important my boundaries are.

It’s something that even though I’ve moved on from, but I sometimes still shed a tear when I remember. I cry less often and the cries are less intense, but I still cry. I cry when I remember. Crying is healthy. Emotions are healthy.

The thing that’s stopping me from crying now that didn’t stop me then? Time is healing me, which is evident from the amount of energy I’m putting into my thoughts and feelings. I get a slight tug at the heart, to which I say a prayer for the person and myself (I like to think God is reminding me of this person because they’re in need of prayer) and I go back to what I was doing.

I allow myself to feel how I feel, but I don’t put energy into my feelings. I don’t try to not put energy, I’m just moving on. But for those who need to remove energy from their feelings, take your energy somewhere else. But make sure you take it somewhere healthy.

I did this naturally as I moved on and realised God’s will was more powerful than mine and his plan was wiser than mine; but if I knew this a few months ago, I wouldn’t have blocked my feelings until I broke down and cried myself to sleep until I was out of breath, I would have allowed myself to feel the feelings and would have utilised my energy elsewhere.

Focus on what you deserve
The Qur’an explicitly tells us that we may love something that is bad for us and we may hate something that is good for you. Yes, a lot of faith in God’s decree is needed, but one of the ways to understand it is by focusing on what you deserve.

If you know you deserve someone who trusts you, then remind yourself of that. If you know you deserve someone who will want to work things out, remember that. If you know you deserve an employer who appreciates you, keep that in mind.

Attachment isn’t bad. Neither is love. It’s okay to feel and question. Loving something “bad” doesn’t make you a bad person, same with loving something “good”. It’s all about the way you love that becomes a mirror to your being and exposes your soul.

Can’t control your sons? No problem, shame their daughters.

It’s no secret that misogyny is within the very fabric of our societies. As women, we feel as though we are being watched over. We have to assess our surroundings and if we want respect, we act according to their norms, customs and values. We’re left confused and anxious because if we don’t calibrate our moral compasses with the norms of another individual, or society, we are unfairly targeted and shamed. It gets scarier knowing that the vast majority of the shaming happens behind our backs.

It’s even more perplexing when we find ourselves in a situation in which we are subject to the insecurity of others. For example, there could a particular person who may have a son that drinks, smokes and doesn’t believe in God. The parent of the son could be religious and would deep down condemn the actions of their son, but would not outwardly oppose him. So to compensate, the parent would focus on other girls and the daughters of others, as objects of honour and shame.

الْخَبِيثَاتُ لِلْخَبِيثِينَ وَالْخَبِيثُونَ لِلْخَبِيثَاتِ ۖ وَالطَّيِّبَاتُ لِلطَّيِّبِينَ وَالطَّيِّبُونَ لِلطَّيِّبَاتِ ۚ أُولَٰئِكَ مُبَرَّءُونَ مِمَّا يَقُولُونَ ۖ لَهُمْ مَغْفِرَةٌ وَرِزْقٌ كَرِيمٌ
Bad women are for bad men, and bad men are for bad women; and pure women are for pure men, and pure men are for pure women. They are free from the slanderer’s accusations; for them there shall be forgiveness and honorable provision from Allah.
The holy Quran – Surat An-Nur, Verse/aya 26.

The aya is crystal clear. The problem with the way it is interpreted many times is that people think it’s a flat out promise from God, implying the people we have in our lives are a reflection of God’s opinions of our actions. It isn’t; it’s a warning from God, telling us to stay around good people.

The previous verses in the chapter were defending Aisha (RA), the wife of the Prophet Mohammed (SAW) when she was accused of committing adultery and was ostracised from her community. The verse that I just quoted is a follow up of God defending her against the rumours flying against her. Ultimately, it was revealed as a form of advice for Aisha (RA) and to all humans who would then find themselves being accused and shamed the way she was.

The underlying message is we do not need to conform, nor impress. If bad people around you talk about you, stay away from them, not just if you’re innocent. Even if you slip up and make a mistake, you do not deserve to be reminded about it and punished for it constantly. We’re all human and we’ve all screwed up.

If someone has malicious intentions, there’s no need to prove yourself. Stay away and surround yourself with good people who forgive, motivate you to do good and elevate you.

The problem is, this is easier said than done and not only because we don’t always know who our real friends are. Because the shaming of women is normalised, we often subconsciously try to conform to their neurotic demands. We allow their norms to define who we are and we have been conditioned to accept their opinions of ourselves. Even if we’re doing nothing wrong, we have it ingrained that no matter how erratic or hypocritical they may be, the morals of others should define our behaviour and that they have a right to shame us accordingly.

In our culture, a man could drink, smoke and do all of the impermissible things under the sun and his mother (for the sake of embodying my point, of course fathers do this too) may not say a word to him. She may even go above not condemning him and would even full on accept his lifestyle. That’s between the mother, the son and God. No one has a right to speak about them. The problem is, however, is when the mother accepts her son’s lifestyle, but holds her daughters, or the daughters of others to account.

She would not condemn her son for having a girlfriend, or for drinking, but would condemn his girlfriend for being a girlfriend and would condemn a girl who drinks with her son. It doesn’t stop there. Usually, when this particular type of mother or auntie possess such attitudes, it’s as a result of an inferiority complex, which means her judging, double standards and hypocrisy know no limits.

She could speak to the mothers of girls who have done nothing wrong and belittle them and their parenting. She could make innocent girls or women feel disgusted by themselves, for no reason at all. How? By creating a bubble of her own scattered norms, which are derivative from her own double standards and facilitated by structural misogyny.

These attitudes must be directly resisted. We must make a conscious effort to unlearn the culture of shame that society has forced us to internalise. We must trust our own judgement and moral outlook. This doesn’t necessarily mean fighting every auntie that speaks ill of us. That gets tiring. The battle is an internal one that focuses on self love, self trust and the dismissal of nonsense. She is wrong, not you. She is wrong for talking about you, twisting your innocent actions or dwelling on your mistakes. We must refract, not reflect on the negativity of others.

Maybe at times you would want to, or even need to get into confrontations. When you feel it is right, don’t shy away. For the most part, rather than fighting everyone head on, simply ignore them. Do what you want and follow your own moral compass. Ignore and isolate those who shame you, even if it is almost everyone in your community. Don’t feel the need to justify your actions, or to impress them. Be yourself and don’t allow yourself to be a victim of the insecurity and hypocrisy of others. Only when you stop caring is when you find true contentment and peace and is when you’re secure enough to only allow those who truly wish you well and accept you for who you are to be a part of your life.

Your fault?

They were right. It is your fault.

It is your fault that your grace reaches the sun. It’s your fault that the sparkle in your eyes blind those who look towards you. It’s your fault that your selfless soul believes those who say they care for you. It’s your fault that you believe that they have a heart as pure as yours.

It’s your fault that you allowed yourself to trust and bring your walls down. It’s your fault that your smile reaches to the seventh heaven. Your beauty is your fault. Your empathy is your fault. Your amazing laughter is your fault. Your intelligence is your fault. Your smile, your warmth, your style, your ability to bring life to withering roses – all your fault.

It’s his fault that jealousy ran through his veins. It’s his fault that he sought to break you from the first glance. It’s his fault your heart had the power to melt his, so he forced his blood to run cold.

It’s his fault that he sought to view you as a lifeless doll to numb your perfection. It’s his fault that he closed his eyes to listen to the beat of your heart and sought to make it skip. It’s his fault that compensated for his misery by forming a dark shadow over you.

It’s her fault that she was willing to form a friendship that never existed. It’s her fault that she faked it. It’s her fault that she hated the very thought of your success. It’s her fault that she belittled you.

It’s her fault that she lied. It’s his fault that he lied. It’s her fault that she hates. It’s his fault that he hates.

It’s their fault for making you think it’s your fault.

They taught you. They force you to extend past our limits only to abandon us and make you realise that we go beyond the limits you’ve set for yourself.

Your broken heart will heal.

His evil heart won’t.

“A year after the war ends” – Darwish.

تقول: متى نلتقي
She said: when will we meet?
أقول: بعد عام و حرب
I said: A year after the war ends
تقول: متى تنتهي الحرب
She said: When will the war end?
أقول: حين نلتقي
I said: When we meet
— Mahmoud Darwish (Palestinian poet)

Static is what comes to mind. He wants the war to wait for a year after the war to end for them to meet, but the war officially ends when he meets her. Is the war internal? Is the war a matter of unfortunate circumstances that becomes a hurricane because she’s not by his side?

In some ways, the character has accepted the futility of his fate. You can imagine him writing to his love at 1am with a cigarette in one hand and the other resting on his head with the pen in between his fingers. A paper in front of him and Turkish coffee to the right. You can imagine his eyes fixated with numbness and his heart letting out an occasional sigh.

You imagine his lover seeking his comfort and finding strength in his words. It’s clear there’s history. There’s passion. History and passion that’s locked beneath this “war.” They thought they’d make it by now. They thought the wait would be over. Her palms have been sweating in anticipation, whereas his have dried up with his hope.

The older we get, the less purpose we seek. We seek to float. To merely exist and to enjoy each moment as it comes. The bigger picture matters less as it becomes an abstract fog into the distance that distracts us from now.

When we come to this realisation, we resist. We summon the energy that life has sucked out of us and we do it with such drive that we fail to foresee the logic that we will need to fall back on and forget to pick our battles.

We recognise futility and become numb again.