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Auld Lang Syne
Times Long Past
And so, we complete another revolution around the sun today. Can you believe it? Well, done, hooman! Look at you go, after the terrible couple of years we have all had. You are loved beyond measure! Before I move onto the rest of this essay, I wanted to stop and give us all a fcuking loud woot woot for surviving. Savour your victories. What do you feel grateful for, right now? Lean into that feeling, friend.
Another revolution, another turn of the hand of time. A day that thrills + frightens us because of the possibilities it represents. We immerse ourselves in a cyclical introspection, it can feel simultaneously disquieting and joyous and bittersweet. What did I lose? What did I gain? How have I improved as a hooman? What shift have I created for myself and the people in my life? What suffering and angst did I transform? What vision do I have for the future? Have I stopped to feel grateful about the fact that, a decade ago I prayed to be here, in this present spot? Let me tell you about what it felt like being me a decade ago. More than anything, this reminds me of that treacherous terrain and explosive landmines I have walked through—I find I forget what I have survived and done in the minutiae of daily existence.
A decade ago my marriage of nearly 20 years ended on Christmas day, I felt truly alone for the first time ever in my life. I had travelled to France that autumn, where I was raped twice and that physical violation sat like a rotting carcass in the pit of my being. I secretly + silently braced my heart (Qalb) for the Hell I could feel coming—I would invent new circles of Hell in my suffering and grief over the illness and death of my dad too— as my fierce indomitable father began failing and mostly outwardly denied it. Dad’s response to a soul crushing life obstacle never changed as long as I knew him—ridiculous optimism that resembled absurd denial of reality. Sometimes mum would jolly him along, like in this instance—we pretended he wasn’t as sick as anyone could so clearly see.
We really do see what we want, we can convince ourselves to ignore an obvious problem because it feels too monumental to embrace and walk through. A terminal illness of the designated caregiver in any enmeshed family system will disrupt the integrity of the system, which can no longer compensate for the dysfunction of the enmeshment. Feel free to substitute the word controller for caregiver in that previous sentence if you wish. The illness causes a rift that forces each member to redefine themselves in relation to a family system, which has the massive energy pull of a collapsing star. My family of three had trouble doing this, redefining ourselves in the face of this new reality. Dad suffered and I felt helpless in the face of it.
I could tell you all sorts of stories about who is a villain, complete with labels and a feeling of moral superiority. Yeah, what would be the point—I did plenty of this horsesh1t throughout my grieving process. I did not grieve graciously or gracefully. I grieved like a massive sh1tbag asshole—the wounded part of my Self found its voice this decade, and like a long sleeping vampire awakened too soon, it raged and lusted to burn away the world in its enormous pain that often felt too heavy for any living creature to carry or even hold standing still. Yeah my grief-wound behaved like The Eye of Sauron.
Looking back now I can see so clearly the things that escaped my vision at the time. How long did mum and I each see and pretend we did not? I no longer dwell on these thoughts. I no longer devote much of my brain cells to thinking that my actions could have changed God’s will. Still, the Bible did tell me when you try to hang onto a thing you lose it. I, a human, respond to everything by trying to hang onto it, sometimes humans can be like Lenny from Of Mice and Men. The Qur’an tells me God tests those whom He loves who love Him. The trials and tests, like in any other education stream, help strengthen my capacity and give me the individual self-knowledge that I can do this thing called life. I can see the lessons now that I could not see then, in the chaos of profound and primal human loss. What a frightening and horrid journey to lose one’s beloved parents. Bismillah may we all walk each other home from this terrible sorrow.
A decade ago, I resembled a fragile egg, early on the heels of a deeply a traumatising + spiritually abusive encounter with the fraser valley addiction recovery community. To this day, I don’t think I want to go near the town of Abbotsford. The startling lack of compassion still can boil my blood if I decide to travel down that thought rabbit hole. Bismillah, I choose not to—today I sit in a life I desperately prayed to have a decade ago. How about them apples? An apple tree does not lament the destruction of the seed husk from whence it grew. So, indeed—how about them apples, now?
So what will I find when I unravel 2022?
January exploded onto the scene in ways I would rather not remember and in ways I cannot forget—this January Saga set the stage for the rest of the year in my household.
February felt like a garish spill of blood in a field of white flowers. I managed to buy The Book of Joy by Desmond Tutu and The Dalai Llama even though my life felt like a joyless blight sent straight from Satan himself. I was a joy warrior and fought the attempts to dissolve my spirit by gathering the most joyful and fun pictures and art works I have and made and pasting them to my closet door. I fought the misery closing in on me with everything in me on every good day.
March seems like an unhappy dream—looking at the selfies I took and I see not a smile amongst them. I chose to wear easter colours to cover my hair back then—purple and also yellow. I designed a coffee cup for myself and latched onto a neighbour who proceeded to make my crisis all about her and that was the end of a short weird connection.
April splashed into reality like a knife in my heart. Deliberate and vengeful drama on the day before what would have been my father’s 86’s birthday sent me into a nasty and intense PTSD spiral. A new friend helped me see the familiar hell of home with fresh eyes and that small observation led me on a path that would help me find the answers I sought.
May took my mother, the sky and cosmos of my heart (Qalb). In her death, mum gave me new life. I returned to my home town for my mother’s funeral, dreading it, and feeling pleasantly surprised at the welcome I received from my sisters, whom I have hated with a fierce passion for decades. All of that fell away with her death, it really doesn’t matter—we are here now. Whomever feels glad I exist does. Whomever does not can fcuking bite me. Strangely, in her death I feel closer to my mother than ever before and all the pain and rage of the fallout from my father’s death fell away and only grace and gratitude and a very surreal patience rushed in to fill the vacuum. I began life coach training.
June is when I met the lovely and badass Najah Adreak. Yes, you are a badass when you are a cardio-thoracic surgeon, someone who uses power tools to split open rib cages and also delicately repairs the complex frail physicality which houses the seat of Rahma. I wrote on June 16 that I felt angry at my mother’s death and that grief felt like fear and desperate urgency.
July brought resolve and a gentle fighting spirit. The perks of being a crone who has lived through some wild sh1t is that I can look back and see what NOT TO DO. If relationships are labs, well, this time around I know what I did not do last time around—lean in. Oh, I leaned in this summer and I fought with everything my parents taught me about love and some sh1t I learned on my own. Robert and I hiked our way toward one another. We hiked and hike and hiked around the golf course and even to the next municipality (Burnaby) through the hottest times of summer.
August brought with it a new discovery—the asshole inside my head as a distinct entity representing me being my own worst enemy. The saga which began in January reached a new dramatic level. We gave birth to a poisonous cactus and we survived. Also I discovered AI art and it provided an outlet that soothed me through the rage and grief and chaos storms that August presented. August saw a long time fear of mine materialise, and I recoiled and raged as I saw extremists in my Facebook feed cheer the barbaric attack on Salman Rushdie, one of the most morally courageous public figures of my life.
September I began something I thought I wanted and then discovered that I didn’t want it after all and was happy to let that dream go. I learned the most important sisterhood is the one my mother gave me and that I can joyfully and patiently nurture that one. I began to spend time with the Qur’an and created a sort of visual tafseer with Midjourney ai.
October brought a special new friend—I began looking after my neighbour’s Basset Hound, who happens to be a therapy dog, a few times a week. Reconfiguring friendship relationships happened, removing some chairs from the table of my life, so to speak. It felt good to let go connections that no longer served compassion.
November came like an unexpected wind—I did a thing, in a really difficult year, with some enormous odds against me, I finished my life coach training, passed my exam and got my CCA certification.
December, a previously bittersweet time, became a time to make new memories. The first birthday after my mother’s death turned out to be a joyful time—Irshad Manji and her sister came to my place and brought ZamZam’s Shawarma for supper. We had an engaging discussion and I may have gotten animated when the topic of extremism and Salman Rushdie came up because I cannot be anything but passionately fierce about how fcuking wrong that barbaric attack was and Irshad + Ishrat agreed. Still, I had visions of them returning home to break out the Valium after spending a few hours with me ahahahaha.
What a year that was, huh? What will 2023 bring? I cannot even imagine.
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