Ease After Hardship

The Blessing of a Shattered Life

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Photo by Henry Be, Unsplash. Lettering by me. ๐Ÿ™‚ย 

by Lenna

I saw a post by on Facebook by a mother who has lost her daughter to a drug overdose, and her words struck me. She said she felt fractured into a million pieces and didn’t know how she would put herself back together again.

There are those of us who know all too well exactly what she means. Even if what happened to us is different, the result is the same.

For me, it began with the person most beloved to me going suddenly, inexplicably criminally insane. He was a perfectly good person with no signs of trouble. Then suddenly he became murderously hostile to everyone, engaging in violence even against himself as well as others.

We felt terrorized. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that. The hospital admitted him on the grounds he was having homicidal ideations, including me among his targets. But given the state of healthcare in America, facilities let him out after only short periods, as soon as he said he was not feeling violent. Then something would happen, and he would go back…and forth.

Even back then he kept saying he was going to strangle me, sometimes adding lurid details of what he had planned. I still shudder to think of some of what he said, and can’t bring myself to type it here.

Mental Health Care “System” in America

The mental health “system” in the US is a revolving door. They only admit people to a facility if they are having suicidal or homicidal ideations or both. Then they just do “crisis management,” which means they drug them up and send them home, usually within a few days. In our case, as with so many others, the long-term “care” facility turned out to be jail.

Later, after these first few events launched the sequence, we would struggle against many other trials. Illnesses, drug abuse, violence, serious injuries, and even death, in unimaginable proportionsย for nearly half a decade. It was my mother who first was freed and granted peace, as she is the one who died.

I don’t expect anyone to understand or even believe this accounting of what’s happened to us. Nevertheless, things have unfolded as they have, and I’m left standing here to survey the results.

The End…Almost

What started in the fall of 2012 I didn’t recognize for what it was at first. But that was the beginning of the horror show. It would end in the summer of 2017 with that mentally ill person I mentioned finally making good on his threat.

He did finally try to strangle me. I may write about that incident in a separate post because that experience alone was massively transformative.

In the months since that awful summer night, things have finally started to seem somewhat normal. But I still always feel vulnerable to some fresh trauma striking, restarting the horror show all over again.

I was so happy when one of my friends said she prayed to Allah and asked Him not to test her so hard. I never knew that was even an option! So, of course, I’ve been praying this same prayer ever since.

Yet, oddly enough, I’m truly grateful because it was only through being fractured, even pulverized to dust, that I was able to start rebuilding everything in a completely different way. This was a process that started even in the midst of all this mess and is still going on.

In the days before, I felt very comfortable. I felt confident and had a strong sense of who I was, and I was at home in my culture. Reconciling Islam with my way of life wasn’t easy, but I didn’t struggle with it too much because I didn’t even realize how far astray I was.

My understanding of this deen was not systematic. I was still a product of my own experience and upbringing, trying to graft Islam on top of that. That doesn’t work very well, at least not for me.

Starting Over…

I’m not sorry all that happened to me, even though I can’t imagine living it all over again. It was the price I had to pay to receive right guidance. Some people really balk at the idea and even scold me for saying such things, but it’s my experience, so how can they really know?

Not long ago I wrote a piece called “Convert Troubles” which was about discrimination against converts by “born Muslims.”ย I still believe everything I wrote there, and think discrimination is unfair.

At the same time, I do think people are a product of their raising and experience and in general. Muslims who were born and raised in the West, like me, really have to work at purifying our hearts and understanding Islam on its own terms. Many of us will never succeed, and that is why, I think, so Muslims are skeptical of us.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’ve succeeded, but rather that at least now I’m striving. I can’t say that I was before, at least not toward the right things. ๐Ÿ™‚

In fairness, though there are many “born Muslims” who are also led into temptation and confusion. I’ve seen many of them myself. So I guess what I’m against is shortcuts. Putting people in categories so it’s easier to deal with them rather than taking the time to know what they really think and believe.

Nothing comes easy in this life. Without an absolutely devastating horror show that literally lasted for years, I would no doubt still be thinking the way I used to think, and doing the things I used to do.

Small, Tentative Steps…

I’ve mostly gone quiet now. Not online but in real life. It’s taken me this long just to feel okay.

To be completely shattered means you’re going to have to rebuild absolutely everything, Your sense of self and how you relate to everyone else. Your view of the world and how you related to everything and everyone in this world, and most importantly how you see Allah and His message.

The only person I’ve wanted to see for the most part since the summer incident is my cousin, who was born when I was just one year old and has been with me for my whole life. I feel threatened by the rest of the world, so I’ve just shut it all out to the greatest degree possible. I even avoid Muslim friends who are dear to me. I’m trying now to reconnect, though it’s hard to feel anything in common. With anyone.

When everything is truly terrible, it’s like the trauma itself is your only friend. I sincerely hope that doesn’t make sense to you. ๐Ÿ™‚

Anyway, it’s going to take a long time, I think, to contemplate all that’s happened and what it means. Much longer than just a few months.

All I know is that before all of this, I was lost, confused, and astray, and I didn’t even know it.

Alhamdulilah for every blessing. For all that seems good, and even all that seems bad.

46 comments

  1. Wow. No one could have ever imagined from your posts that you ever went through some thing like this. I admire your courage to face it, fight it and then rebuild yourself.
    I too shut out the world. I come off as a rude, to the point person. Its just my defense mechanism. I never intend to be like that. I am trying to change my attitude, but its very hard.
    I hope you are doing well.

      1. Walaikum asalam.
        Nahh actually I have been told many time even in real life that I come off as rude. Its something Im working on, especially since Im married now. After reading my own comments I get the impression that no one can have a fun and humorous chat with me. Its just got to be straight, to the point discussion.

        But now Im off to eat the well deserved briyani I made, but I got to make the raita and chutney first ๐Ÿ™‚
        You are more than welcome to join me on this expedition ๐Ÿ˜›

      2. I freelance in digital marketing, and one asprect of that is writing. Ad copy and blog posts, mostly.

        I also hire and manage our remote teams of writers, graphic designers, developers, etc. It’s a part of my job I really like. We have people from all over the world.

        The guy I’m working with over Skype today is in Bangladesh. ๐Ÿ™‚

      3. Wow! I love writing too. I had been thinking of starting my own blog, but I wont be able to manage one as yet. Maybe someday though.

      4. If you do start a blog at some point, please let me know so I can visit, insha’Allah.

        Also if you write something here and there , you’re welcome to guest post here. ๐Ÿ™‚

      5. Thankyou. I would love to post here if I plan to write.
        I will let you know insha’Allah.

  2. Wow. No one could have ever imagined from your posts that you ever went through some thing like this. I admire your courage to face it, fight it and then rebuild yourself.
    I too shut out the world. I come off as a rude, to the point person. Its just my defense mechanism. I never intend to be like that. I am trying to change my attitude, but its very hard.
    I hope you are doing well.

      1. Walaikum asalam.
        Nahh actually I have been told many time even in real life that I come off as rude. Its something Im working on, especially since Im married now. After reading my own comments I get the impression that no one can have a fun and humorous chat with me. Its just got to be straight, to the point discussion.

        But now Im off to eat the well deserved briyani I made, but I got to make the raita and chutney first ๐Ÿ™‚
        You are more than welcome to join me on this expedition ๐Ÿ˜›

      2. I freelance in digital marketing, and one asprect of that is writing. Ad copy and blog posts, mostly.

        I also hire and manage our remote teams of writers, graphic designers, developers, etc. It’s a part of my job I really like. We have people from all over the world.

        The guy I’m working with over Skype today is in Bangladesh. ๐Ÿ™‚

      3. Wow! I love writing too. I had been thinking of starting my own blog, but I wont be able to manage one as yet. Maybe someday though.

      4. If you do start a blog at some point, please let me know so I can visit, insha’Allah.

        Also if you write something here and there , you’re welcome to guest post here. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Hi I found this story too close to home for me. I applaud you in being able to share your story. You are a brave warrior and I can’t believe how quickly you are recvovering. After my last assault (attempted murder) was 10 years ago. I would no way have been able to share and be so together as you are. I cried reading your post and I also cried for me. Our stories are very similar. ๐Ÿ™ I am sooo very sorry for your mother. And I’m also sorry for what you have gone through. Mental health issues, drugs etc.. are deadly and I agree the options to help and treat these things are not great and many people needing help never will agree that they need help. I went through 10 + years of abuse from a mentally deranged psychopath. It has changed who I am and changed my life in many ways. I tried to end my life after the last attack and found myself while healing from wounds in the hospital seeing a special therapist, that helped me to value myself and continue on. This person also introduced me to Islam.

    My child whom I love dearly is from the night of the last attack, rape and pre meditated murder. This person is in and out of jail. I divorced him before the last attack. I had protection and restraint orders. He was ordered never to be able to live in same city as myself either. When he got out of jail for the 8th time, his vengence and hatred and delusional mental state was on overdrive. A piece of paper won’t stop anyone, and police forces can only do so much. I was strangled and stabbed 3 times myself ๐Ÿ™ I would not be alive if it wasn’t for brave neighbors and the police. My family was very ashamed of everything and shunned me through out the years of abuse. I’m very proud of you choosing to share your story. Your a strong person and I’m proud to call you my sister. I know we’ve had different opinions and things but on a personal level I can identify with you so very much.

    I never heard I could pray to be tested less.. alhamdulillah. I will start to do that. Your an inspiration and a beautiful person. May Allah reward you and shower you in praise. Much hugs and love.

    1. Thank you. I’ve thought many times how much we have in common. More than you know, even beyond this story. For me it’s helpful to put this into words, and in writing here in my own space, because I’m not that comfortable talking about it in real life. I get too emotional, and it feels like people will not believe me, and even if they do they won’t understand. Because how can someone who’s never had something like this happen? And yes, there’s a stigma you have to deal with sometimes too, however unfair that may be.

      I also like knowing that there may be someone out there who feels comforted by reading this, and knowing they’re not alone. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Lenna, this made perfect sense to me, unfortunately: “When everything is truly terrible, itโ€™s like the trauma itself is your only friend. I sincerely hope that doesnโ€™t make sense to you.”

    I’m so glad that you’ve confronted your trauma (and the world at large) with your new approach. Please do know this — you are greatly loved.

    Peace be upon you.

      1. Hi I flagged the other comment I had made a few weeks ago, I never realized it would show my personal full name etc.. Can you please edit it out or delete it. Thank you.. For the life of me I don’t know how I did that… I must have created some other account or did it under fb not realizing it would leave my full name.

      2. I was able to change one, and had to delete the flagged one. The difference is one was in the old, native WP where I had full access to edit. The other was in import limbo, when I first went to Disqus. That one didn’t open the username to editing.

        Please let me know if I missed any others.

      3. Thanks Lenna I appreciate. I didn’t realize that my comment would show up under my name. I did read WP FAQ, I had no idea WP was so cool.

Comments are closed.