Last night, I felt the full weight of loneliness. It was a heaviness on my chest and an aching in my bones. It was a stone, sitting hard on the bottom of my stomach, and it was shallow breaths – never feeling fully caught up on breathing, always a full breath behind what I need to feel calm and nourished.
Being the only Muslim in your family can feel crushing. I, like many people, am prone to living and thinking in the future, and trying to plan every last detail, especially for my children. How can I ensure they’ll adhere to my teachings when they’re at school, if I’m the only one teaching them these things? We don’t have Muslims aunties or cousins for them to have these morals constantly reinforced. We don’t have Muslim playmates for my kids – will they grow up feeling like I do, the odd one out? When they try to make Muslim friends, will they feel like an outcast for not coming from a strong Muslim background? And on and on my mind swirls – on the “what ifs,” on the ways I am different, on the ways my children may experience isolation and confusion. On the ways I experience isolation, confusion, and fear.
And where the paralyzation comes in is when I think this loneliness I feel is forever. Where the panic and claustrophobia sets in is when I think there is no way to make friends, to experience the love and embrace and light I imagine other Muslims feel, especially at times like Ramadan and Eid, which is approaching quickly – sometimes like a freight train that I am terrified of, and other times like a light I am reaching for. When the paralyzation sets in is when I forget that it is Allah who has written my story, not me. It is Allah who has planned for me my family and my community and not me – and he is Al-Wahhab.
So, for today, I am focusing on a few things.
Focusing on breath.
Focusing on prayer.
Focusing on who is in charge of this life.
And I know that when I live within His will, life becomes easy. So, insha’allah, today I can focus my heart on Him and feel myself ease into the love of God.