You may remember our Muslim Pocket Book team member Sophia who shared her inspiring story of emergence last year. So much has happened since we started this publication process and both Sophia and our Rep Ayan decided that they’d like to share an update to show how transformation is not a linear process, but full of life’s challenges to overcome. You can read part one of Sophia’s journey via this link:
Here she shares the next stage of her painful journey of being forced to STOP, surrender and continue learning …
The journey of life is like a fast train, going in and out of tunnels: we and everyone around us has our own individual stop. For some of us we don’t get off the fast train until something forces us to stop. This heeding comes in different forms, whether it’s trauma, a physical illness, hiccups in life or an overwhelming sense of anxiety about life itself. I am sure there are many more reasons that others have experienced this, which I have not been able to mention. My personal force came in the form of the Pandemic: the dreaded lockdown, the anxiety of the uncertainty contained it in all, and the world coming to a halt.
COVID-19 trickled down its avalanche into the world causing so much devastation and loss. It hit hard, it almost brought me to my knees, and I had to redefine the ideas I had created in my head about life and my recovery. I lost all of my coping mechanisms and I felt stripped from everything I had worked so hard for during my therapy years. Even the self-help books that I had collected and invested in throughout the years were not helping me. My anxiety reached a record high level, a level that I’d never experienced before. I became scared of death. I feared losing my loved ones and I found myself crying almost every day and desperately watching the news and reading stories, hoping to have a sense of an end to the pandemic. Conversations around family became increasingly difficult, and I felt somewhat disconnected from everything, everyone and even myself.
During these days I would find myself crying about the loss of thousands of people dying from Covid-19. Then suddenly, I felt like I was grieving the death of my father all over again. This time my grief focused on how he’d died, the way he was killed. The murder itself, the individuals that were involved.
My heart was aching, I wanted and demanded answers. But there was no one I felt I could turn to, to answer all of the questions that were running through my head. Why did they kill him? I tried to bury everything I was feeling, and I became mute once again. Thoughts were racing through my head, but I did not dare to whisper a word to anyone. I felt ashamed to still be grieving my father’s death as it was so many years ago, but the pause in our lives had forced me to face the pain that was simmering deep inside me. One of my addictions was to keep busy, working all of the time: if I was not working then I was studying something deep and intense. All this I now realise was to escape my feelings and the reality of my pain…
Father’s Day Poem
To him who I never got to know, or hug, or tell him how much he is missed every day!
This one day dedicated in your name cannot justify a daughter’s love for her absent father.
All the missed first days have become dried tears, my graduation, when mum said you would be proud, what about my wedding day where you never got to give me away?…
For all the daughters and sons, waking up with a heavy heart, for the fathers whose children do not value their worth, to my mother and all of the women who played my father’s role, you are so loved!
May Allah mend all, the broken hearts of absent love that never got to blossom…
I started re-visiting old habits of suffering in silence, but I had another battle to fight. I started experiencing severe symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS). My hands felt like they were burning and hammered down. Electric shocks started from my shoulder and travelled all the way down to my fingertips. The symptoms began only at night, but then they started every minute of every day during the lockdown. One afternoon the pain was so unbearable that I started to think the worst. Doctors were not seeing patients, and everything was shut down. I felt trapped and suffered a range of emotions. Even after explaining to family and friends, no one around me knew what CTS was. For them my hands looked normal, no injury, no broken bones so they could not understand why I was in so much pain. It reminded me a lot of when we suffer mental distress and because it cannot be seen and sometimes not heard, our loved ones’ struggle to understand the impact it has on us.
Cannot be seen…
Cannot be heard…
Sometimes it is ignored
But it paralyses you
Comes to your silent hours
When the world sleeps, yours is awake…
Lies deeper than the scars,
Deep beneath the seeping wounds,
Takes longer to heal
But it is worth beginning the process
Do not let your pain overwhelm your soul
When you are ready someone is waiting to take your hand and walk beside you through this emotional journey.
Once again, I started to hear the same advice I have heard before; “go to a spiritual healer, you are doomed if you do not, this must be the evil eye”. I felt suffocated, almost like I could not breath. I started to open up to my best friend and my sister, I started to express how I was feeling. The physical pain felt easier to describe. Still, I could not express my grief and how I was feeling about my father’s death.
We started to read up about CTS and I was able to match all of the symptoms that I was reading about to the ones I was experiencing.
Then one day, my friend found me on the floor crying, I felt so overwhelmed. I started opening up about my father and the anger I was feeling. I started reading stories of other families whose loved ones had been killed. I started turning to Allah (God) and seeking guidance through my prayers. My sister suggested I try to go to a private treatment about my CTS, so I came across a consultant who was a specialist in CTS. This is how my journey of physical and emotional healing began.
I started therapy again and I knew that I could take my pain safely to my therapist. After every session I had a good cry and felt like something in me was starting to let go of all the negative emotions. I started talking about my father and I started to understand that I never really gave myself time to grieve and that grief itself came in so many different emotions. For me it was denial, I was still waiting for him to appear one day and that the news about his death had been mistaken identity. Not attending his funeral did not give me a chance to say goodbye and those feelings of never being able to meet him again paralyzed me. For me accepting the loss, my loss that Dad was gone, and in this life, I was never going to see him again. I started to accept this, and I started to let go, and I placed my hope in meeting him, one day, on the other side.
After months of being on the waiting list, I had surgery for my CTS. The first night I came back home from hospital I slept like a baby. The first sound sleep that I had in almost a year. It is amazing what sleep can do for the mind and body. I also recognised this because my CTS caused nerve pain: all those negative emotions that I was carrying around, buried deep inside, must have escalated the physical pain I had, and it was unbearable.
I found my stop on this fast train that I was on, and although the halt for me was the lockdown, it forced me to work on the underlining issues. The source of my pain, not just on the surface but on the inside too.
Alhamdulilah (thanks be to God) I sought His guidance and His help, and I was open to whatever form it came in. I was desperate to continue my healing and I know that I have some way to go, but I am back on the journey.
When I am in pain, I often think about…
What does Allah want me to learn from this?
When the pain is too deep… I supplicate…
Al-Jabbar -The Compleller, The Restorer
(Ya Jabbar mend my broken heart)
“oh Allah, Al Aleem (The All-Knowing) teach me… “
We know that in everything good or bad, there is a lesson.
Read more about Muslims Emerging Proud through Mental Distress HERE