Reflecting on the past… 

Ten years ago, I met my ex-husband at a coffee shop in Colombo.  

Ten years later, I’m seated on my living room couch, divorced and feeling somewhat alone for the first time in a decade.

It’s not as bad or hard as I thought it’d be. I assumed I’d have mood swings and bouts of dismay at the choices I’ve made and I was right, I do. I tell myself this is normal however because I also feel content for the most part. I’ve learned to accept that the differences between my ex-husband and I weren’t things that could be changed or dealt with in the best light, and it was a good and wise decision to accept something isn’t working out, especially when it isn’t, instead of putting on a farce and pretend like everything is okay (when it obviously isn’t) just to appease the families and community.

I’d still say the divorce happened not because he was a bad person. He just wasn’t the right person for me. Sure he made mistakes; and so did I. But our compatibility and reactions to certain events that happened during our time together called for a better understanding of our marriage, and the final conclusion that it was now or never to make a change. There’s no point to life if you’re living in misery.

I’ve come to understand that this is something not every and many women out there feel. I personally know a handful who continue to be miserable in their marriages simply because they feel they have no other choice but to be so. I can’t understand the reasoning behind this conclusion however. Throughout my time of contemplating what I should do, I always reminded myself that I have choices. It’s my life and I damn well have choices. No one is limiting or constricting me, other than own self.

I’ve expressed this notion in public and in conversation, but there’s always a mind block when it comes to the women who are in unhappy marriages. They’ve grown accustomed to thinking they are alternative to the feeling of miserable and pretense of being married. I know what the latter can be like because I pretended to be okay for a year or so. When I began to feel indifferent towards my ex-husband, I tried to understand why this was happening and what had led to these changes within me. I didn’t leave me feeling happy, that’s for sure.

I’m not afraid or ashamed to say I’m divorced. I wear it like second skin nowadays. Whenever I meet new people, it’s one of the first few things I share and it’s okay. I feel the need to be honest with new faces and I also feel it’s important to mention so to new faces. Being married was a part of who I was for sometime in my life, and being divorced is a part of who I am today, so why be afraid or ashamed to admit that I once was married? It’s okay.

Like I’ve said earlier, I’ve had mood swings and hours of dismay. I’ve had bad days and sad days. Occasionally I still do but again, who doesn’t? Every one goes through ups and downs and again, it’s normal to feel this way. Not every single day of your life is going to be picture perfect and full of smiles and happiness. Do I ever regret the choice of getting a divorce; hell no. It’s very clear and apparent that I am a much happier soul and individual being divorced than I was being stuck in an unhappy marriage. I’ve come to accept that notion and emotion wholeheartedly and with that acceptance comes the reality that this decision certainly was no mistake.

I’ve also been asked a couple of times if I miss the company and presence of my ex husband, or rather the company or presence of a significant other, especially when I had been with him with nearly ten years (we dated for five and were married for nearly four). I think about it now and then when I look at friends my age who are happily married, and it boils down to the my reasons for being in a good place right now – I am quite happy and content. So no, I do not miss having another individual in my life. I think this also has to do with having time for my own self, discovering and learning who I am and giving my self the attention and love I needed. When there’s so much to fulfill personally, there really isn’t a need for having another being in one’s life. At least, there isn’t for the time being.  

Whenever I do feel alone or lonely, I turn to the things and people I love the most and keep close. I’ve been traveling and discovering my beloved island home. I’ve gained and lost friends in the past 18 months. I’ve broken and made ties with old and new people in my life. It’s a roller coaster ride every single day. It’s scary and uncertain as much as it is fun and exhilarating. Overall however I think it’s important to know the people who will always stand by your side, support you silently no matter what choices you make and also understand the difference between those who are there for you for ulterior reasons, and those who are there for you simply because you matter to them. Difficult times in life definitely have a way of showing you these types of people.

Would I ever get married again? Who is to know. Right now, I’m only focussing on myself and the things that matter to me so my answer would be a big fat ‘no’. My mind frame cannot wrap itself around the idea of wanting to go through that ordeal one more time and simply tie myself down to one person and get the government involved by signing a piece of paper. It just doesn’t make sense in my head anymore.

Am I bad person to have gone against ethics and religion and gotten a divorce? Well, to each your own. Everyone has a different opinion and perspective on the subject of divorce. Mine is an open perspective – I simply did not want to stay in an unhappy marriage and after having tried to make it work, decided to part ways. Does that make me a bad person? No, I do not think so. Rather, I think it makes me a vary and mindful person with a personal opinion. Would I recommend same for others who are in unhappy marriage? Not really. I’d say given the circumstances, try to work it out as best you can. Again, remember you always have choices. Only when you feel as if you are out of possibilities and choices should you think about separation or divorce.

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Hard days

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Hard days are ahead.

You know that feelings in your body and mind; how? I have no idea, you just know it. When has life ever been easy any way? If last night and this morning wasn’t testament to that notion, I don’t know what else could be.

Yes, hard days are ahead.

I haven’t spoken or seen my mom for a day. This is unusual as I live in the same house. However, I’ve currently retreated to my in-laws since it’s empty for a few days. I’ve literally run away from my parents – I don’t want to see them. Especially my father. But I think what nags at the back of my mind, is that I haven’t seen or spoken to my mom.

You know, how people say that you’re Daddy’s Girl? I’m my mom’s girl. It’s different between us. I can’t really explain how I got to that conclusion, but I just am and it just is. We don’t confide in one another or anything of that sort but we do have like an unspeakable and indescribable bond between us. Even now, when I am hurting and yet choosing to stay away, I miss her and I wish she would understand.

I wish she could see how much I’m hurting and how long I’ve been hurting for. I wish I had her undeniable and silent support at all times. I wish she’d say to me that I don’t have to put up this facade for her or dad’s sake and just get on with my life. I wish she’d just understand. And by understanding, I wish she would let me be me.

My dad on the other hand; our relationship is complicated. We don’t communicate much. When we do, its never or hardly ever about each other. These days on the hand have been on the subject of my future and marriage. On a personal note, let me just vent out at the top of my lungs and say – MY LIFE ISN’T UP FOR DISCUSSION!. It never has been, it isn’t and it never will be. What I choose to do with it, is my decision. Last night’s ‘meddling’ post was with regard to that actually. I couldn’t keep my head straight and yep, that’s what I wrote in the heat of the moment. My dad loves to meddle with my life. Who doesn’t any way?

From being told what to wear, who to meet, where to go and what not to do – I’ve been told it all. Right now, it’s marriage counselling. I thought counselling was supposed to be a personal and private thing. Why in the world would be want to butt in on that? Of course, it’s my father…so obviously he’d butt in on it. It’s pretty normal for him. This is where I roll my eyes and sigh in frustration. On cue people, it happens on cue.

I don’t fucking want to go for counselling. It doesn’t make me feel any better and I certainly am not going just because my father says I should. Meddling with my life as always. Why? Why? Why? Why does he enjoy meddling so much? I think it has to do with our culture and community – both LOVE to stuff their noses in places and businesses that they shouldn’t. They thrive actually in place and businesses that aren’t theirs. I’m getting catty now…sigh…it’s normal these days to have catty feelings. This whole thing is just catty and depressing anyway. This is me being catty, at 2.30 am and I’m not even yawning. I’m frustrated and unhappy and very saddened by the thought of being this way.

Gonna end this post right here… I shall return tomorrow…possibly…

A detox


How addicted are you to social media? 

For the most part, I tend to stick to Instagram and Facebook Pages for business purposes, Whatsapp for keeping in touch with my friends and Snapchat occasionally as well. I’m way past the idea of uploading every bit of my life in detail on Facebook and right now I’m very happy with life this way. No one has the right or need to pass judgement on the recent lunch I had or the dress I wore to dinner or who I’m hanging out with and what my thoughts are on the current situation around the world. 

I haven’t been on Facebook for personal reasons as such. I only use it to share my work updates thus far for the past three to four months. It’s been quite a relaxing and free couple of months. I am not obliged to share anything, to comment on someone’s post, to pass judgement on someone’s wedding attire or social status and laugh at another’s pun indented joke or see where my friends have been dining. I don’t want to know and I don’t need to know. If you want to know about what’s going on in my life, talk to me. Call me or message me, don’t go to the Facebook page. 

Plus, I don’t understand why I would upload my entire life on Facebook. I see people who tag themselves in their honeymoon locations around the world, upload a snap of their newborn covered in blood, rave about their divorce because it feels like an escape from reality, shout to the world about falling in love and I just don’t want to do that anymore. Not on Facebook and not on social media for that matter. Yes, I do have a personal Instagram account but I only upload a picture every now and then and that too when I have something to say, not oh so randomly. I never used to be a private person, but over the past two years, I’ve become just that. On this blog however, I feel like I can say what I want to say. This is my mind map, where I unload most of my thoughts and feelings and where people can’t pass any judgments at me. If someone does, I just hide the comment. I am in control and I like it that way. 

Because for the most part, I felt like I had lost control of my life. Over here, I have a sense of it. I’m learning to pick up the pieces as we speak, and in a good way. My marriage isn’t the most perfect but the past week has been…alright. On a scale of one to ten I’d give it a four for the moment and that’s okay. However I do also feel that if my feelings do not change as the days and weeks and months go by, some drastic changes have to be made. I’m sure of that and quite adamant bout being in control of what goes on in my life. 

I no longer wear the hijab and hardly wear a shawl anymore either. This does not define who I am as a Muslim or my faith so don’t be oh so quick to pass judgements on my choices. Who I am is between me and my God. Just because I do not wear a shawl does not mean I am not modest or I am shaming my faith or family. I simply do not allow an item of clothing to define who I am. 

So back on to the social media detox… I think I’ll continue to be this way. I’ve had people wonder if my marriage is on the brink of separation or divorce and why I haven’t uploaded any images with my husband, but why should I feel obliged to answer these questions if I do not want to? I don’t need to upload an image of him and I just because we are happy or unhappy, together or divorced. I’d I don’t want to, I just won’t do it anymore. 

My detox may confuse some and cause friction in their minds but I just can’t sit down and give a care to what everyone thinks. Those days are over. I’m looking forward now towards better things. 

Me and my hijab

I started wearing the hijab right after I performed Hajj. For those who do not know what Hajj is – it is a religious pilgrimage that is performed in the holy city of Mecca. It is a compulsory rite to every Muslim to at least perform it once in a lifetime. For the most part, it was assumed that I would automatically start covering my head after I got back home. For the month that I was away, I kept asking myself if I was ready to do this and if I really wanted to go ahead with it or not. Sometimes I feel like the greatest battles we fight are not with others but with ourselves. When I got back home, it is customary to greet family members who visit with ‘salaams’ and the head covered so for some time, I did cover my head. Other times at home and elsewhere I had my scarf around my neck as usual.

My husband didn’t approve of me doing this. Every single time we left the house to go out to see a friend or for a cup of coffee, he’d confront me about covering my head. “Why isn’t it on your head?”, “did you forget to put the scarf on your head?” were common questions. They were asked in the manner which made me feel like I had done a great sin and had a sinking guilty feeling inside me. I’d look at him in a pleading way and almost expect him to understand where I was coming from but he never did. I’d reluctantly then cover my head.

I don’t mean any disrespect to those who do wear the hijab and do it so well, but I was very uncomfortable doing this. I didn’t feel like because it was not coming from within me and I was simply doing it because I was told to. I wasn’t asked to; I was told to. This went on for a few weeks and it came to a point where one day my husband said to me, “I’m telling you as your husband to wear the hijab,” and that was that. A command. I’m someone who won’t easily bow down to anyone unless my heart was in it. But my husband and I had been arguing over the subject for some time and I just wanted it to end and wanted to be able to go out without instigating yet another argument over covering my head.

I told myself that I’d do it for him. Not God, but for him. I told myself that I’d try my best to keep at it; to make peace with the notion. I told myself that if I ever felt like I couldn’t do it, I’d still make an effort to plaster a smile on my face and get on with it. I did it for five months. When it came to a point where I felt like I was being a hypocrite, I sat my husband down one day and I told him I wasn’t happy doing it.

He looked back at me shocked. “I thought you were happy doing it,” he said. “How could I be when it wasn’t my choice in the first place?” I asked back. “Because you are doing it in the name of God Almightly.” “I’m not; in my heart I’m not doing it for Him, I’ve been doing it for you. For you so that we won’t argue all the time and fight about it.” “You need to make yourself be okay with it and do it for His sake.” “I don’t know if I can.” “Try.” “I am trying.”

The conversation went nowhere.

I thought I should put more effort and heart into covering my head. But a year and a couple of months later, here I am, still covering my head not for the right reasons. Muslims argue over the topic; some claiming it to be a choice others claiming it to be compulsory. I’m not one to argue. It is meant as a sign of modesty of women; but my argument is, does it mean I am not modest when I am not covering my head? What is modesty in today’s world anyway? Men look at you no matter what you are wearing; be it the abaya or a mini skirt and crop top. I believe that modesty lies in what’s in your heart. My faith does not confine women to shun themselves from the world. My faith celebrates women and whatever it may be, I know that I am a good Muslim whether I cover my head or not. What will prevail in the Hereafter because of my actions and choices is up to God.

My husband knows I am not happy covering my head even to this day. I’ve brought up the subject once more in recent times and I was yet again left with no choice. People can argue over it being my choice and I should defy my husband over this. Believe me, I’ve tried. But what is there to gain of it arguing over it when life almost becomes unbearable with the constant fights?

But the choice should be mine, right? What is better – to argue constantly or let things be? I can’t seem to decide. I’m tired of being pulled apart in this manner. I’ve lost sight of who I am because of it. I feel like I have no identity. I feel like a hypocrite every time I step out of the house. Yes, I also think in a practical manner and the heat has been killing me. It’s hot around my neck and all I want to do is shove my scarf down a drain. I miss my long hair and being able to style in so many different ways. I cut it almost like a boy because I didn’t see the point in having long hair and covering my head. I cried over it in the bathroom. My husband does not know it upset me that much. And yet, when I step outside this afternoon to meet a friend, I will carefully pick a scarf that complements my outfit and wrap it around my head and go out for a bite. I’ll pretend like everything is fine when inside me, I am unhappy. I’ll laugh about an incident that happened a day ago and adjust my scarf well if it happens to slide down. We’ll spend an hour or two catching up and I will go home, where I will immediately discard my scarf. The day comes to an end and I will sleep and then wake up to yet another day that I will do the same – wear the hijab not because I want to, but because I was asked to.

On marriage…

Is marriage important in today’s age and time? I find that the answer to this question is really complicating. Putting aside what religion says, is it really a necessity?

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Too many friends (couples) and family members (married folks) seem to be falling apart nowadays and obviously it makes one question if marriage is all that important. “Marriage has almost become a negative term today. In our days and age, we married out of love, out of necessity and out of respect. But today’s generation has it entirely wrong. People fear the word marriage because they feel like it ties them down. Going into a marriage with this sort of fear is not going to help strengthen the relationship and bond between a husband and wife. It’s only going to cause tension and doubt,” said Kathy (62)

The thing about fear is spot on. Today’s generation is afraid of getting married. The life-long commitment, staying true to one another, the responsibilities, managing finances, thinking about starting a family and so on are serious concerns. Of course, there is no guarantee that every marriage will work out but that’s what makes marriage so special – the need to constantly work at it to keep it strong.

Married couples in the yesteryears kept their marriages afloat and strong with sheer love, determination and a lot of hard work. Two individuals coming together isn’t entire a blissful combination. That is why marriage takes a lot of effort. Couples strive to keep love alive by making sacrifices, compromising when the necessity arose, by respecting one another, and also vowing to be there for each other in both difficult and good times.
“It isn’t the case today because people have become quite selfish. I find that people only think about themselves and what they want in life. But in a marriage, it should be about both individuals. If it comes to a point where you’re only thinking of yourself, then you need to get out of that situation,” said Sam (27).

So again, why get married in the first place?

“If you happen to find someone compatible, someone who understands you and loves you for who you are, then go ahead and get married. But if you’re looking at the wrong reasons – for financial gain (as an example) – you’re going to be one unhappy soul. You’re going to be miserable and constantly arguing so why put yourself through all that? I somewhat agree on a live-in relationship beforehand in this case because then you’d get to know what it’s like to constantly be in each other’s space before taking that big step in life towards marriage,” confided Shehan (30)

Live-in relationships

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As much as it’s a taboo in our society and culture, today’s generation does opt to live with their partners before getting married….or not get married at all. It’s almost like being married but not just quite there. What’s convenient about live-in relationships is that one can walk out on the other if he or she wants to. There’s nothing to hold you together and people tend to find that (as confusing as it is) comforting. They want to be able to know they can leave when the going gets rough or when they feel like this isn’t what they signed up for. For people with that kind of mind -set, marriage is out of the ballpark. A live-in relationship is a safe bet.

What about starting a family and growing old with someone you love and who loves you? “People can still do that. People ARE doing that even without being married. It’s not so much a taboo for two people to have a family without being married anymore. Yes, there is talk about the community and society but today’s generation are a bunch of tough cookies. They don’t really care about what the community, society or (sometimes) even what religion says. They are the new generation that gets to keep the cake and eat the cake too,” said Shanya (28)

Bringing in religion to this aspect, a live-in relationship is out of question. If you’re in love with someone, you’ve got to get married. If you want to start a family with someone, you have to get married. If you want to be in a relationship with someone, you’ve got to get married (ha!).

Marriage does not guarantee a lifelong relationship but sticking to the religious and cultural aspect, both individuals have to work it through. If you’re going through a rough patch, the immediate thought shouldn’t be divorce or separation. These two words should be out of the equation. When you do that, what’s left is to continue to work harder at making a marriage work. Each day is going to be a lot of work; you have to go through the good, the bad and the ugly to really come into your own.

“I don’t like a lot of things about my wife. Her messiness irritates me. She can’t cook to save a life and she has this annoying habit of misplacing things. But that does not mean I do not love her any less. I love that she’s unlike any other woman I’ve known.

I love that she ‘tries’ to make the bed look less messy when I get back home from work and ‘pretends’ to have cooked a meal even when I know its takeout from a cafe. The fact that she does those little things for me makes me love her even more. I’m not a perfect individual either and I know she deals with my shortcomings the same way. That’s really what marriage is all about,” said *Anushan (34).

**As published in the Ceylon Today newspapers**

When the mask falls off… 

  
I know I’m not alone when I say that sometimes you meet people who change overtime (as you get to know them)

I don’t technically believe in first impressions either for this very reason. 

People change and it’s easy to fall prey to how nice someone may seem during a first meeting or encounter. 

It’s a tad how I feel about marriage. 

Marriage isn’t what you think it’s going to be like. 

I’ve come to realize that the ‘happy’ and ‘wonderful’ masks have fallen off and it’s a great deal of hard work to keep a marriage afloat. 

I don’t think I like it.