Editorial Note #1: This article was originally published in 2011. I am currently on holiday and unless titled Dispatches, then what you are reading was scheduled for publication in advance of my departure.
As most of you know, I was born and lived the first years of my life in North Africa where mama and baba were working at the time. In preparation for my daily travels, I used to lay out baba’s largest map which covered the entire floor of our living room. I would “travel” on my tricycle across the globe in that way, talking to myself and making up imaginary friends as I went and with whom I would have adventures.
Mark was my friend and we met while I was in Europe. Mark was my height and he too had a tricycle. I would tricycle sometimes three times around the globe until I reached his home (Europe, any part of) where he would join me.
We went to Turkia together and made fun of the name, asking if we wanted it mashwi (grilled) or ma’li (fried). Then there was the one time we went to Amrika and met white people. They too were our height and had tricycles but we never let them travel with us. They always wanted to eat hamburgers and we wanted ma’looba. Mark was nice and never argued with me. He was also a Transformer and he was able to do magic tricks when he wasn’t saving the world.
Mark was my first crush. I loved him for his very large brown eyes and softly feathered brown hair. He was polite and never spoke back to mama or baba, which made for lovely dinner time.
We belonged to a club (as in country, not ‘up in da…‘). Often times I would take Mark with me in my pocket – one of his hero superpowers, to shrink himself into a very small Mark so that I could carry him with me and tell him my secrets and share with him my dreams.
At the club one evening, I didn’t feel like playing with the other kids and so I sat and had a lovely grownup conversation with The Man At The Front Entrance. He wasn’t a bouncer exactly, more like a valet and a welcoming committee rolled into one.
He was black (like Sharon whom I lovingly call ‘Brownie’ and who calls me ‘Miscellaneous’) and he was my friend. He always asked me about Mark. On this one particular evening, when I was no older than four years old, we had the following conversation that shaped the rest of my life:
“Alhamdulilah, he says Salaam!”
“Say Salaam back.”
“You can say it yourself – here…!” and I took Mark out of my pocket.
“I’m teaching him Arabic!”
“I see it’s coming along very well.”
“It is! Mark’s really smart because he’s a Transformer and he’s from EUROPE!! But he eats ma’looba!”
“Transformers are smart.”
“Mark has a question for you!”
“Mark wants to know why you’re brown and what it means!”
“I’m brown because Allah made me brown.”
“Why didn’t Allah make me brown?”
“Because Allah made us different colors to add variety and fun to the world.”
“But are we the same? Mark wants to know!”
“We are the same.”
“So can I be brown?”
“If you sit in the sun long enough, maybe.”
“And can you be pink?”
“I already am. Look…”
…and with that, my friend turned his hand over and showed me his palm which was as pink as my own.
“Heeeeeeeeeeeey! You’re brown and PINK!!!! LIKE A RAINBOW!!!!”
“That’s right. There’s parts of each of us in one another.”
“Mark says thanks for your answer!”
“You can tell him he’s welcome.”
“I will! I’m going to get an orange Mirinda, do you want one?”
“I would love one.”
“Can Mark and I have a hug?”
“Of course you can.”
“Mark loves you.”
“Please tell Mark that I love him too.”
Photo courtesy of FowlerFellow.
“Since masculinity is defined through separation while femininity is defined through attachment, male gender identity is threatened by intimacy while female gender identity is threatened by separation.” -Gilligan
Women are defined through attachment.
Yesterday, I wrote that there is this thing which weighs me down. And yesterday, this very thing crushed me. This is something that happens from time to time, only yesterday was the first time I chose to write about it. Always and unequivocally, it is triggered by a conversation about marriage with my family. The last time it happened, I didn’t write about it, and instead spent eight days, evenings in bed falling asleep at 8pm. I promised myself I would never let that happen again, because my life is so f/cking blessed as is without a man and an as-of-yet utilized uterus and what a luxury that this is what depresses me, right?
Now. Because it is only when I understand things that I can put them to rest, and because I understand things best after I have written about them, I put fingers to keyboard and wrote about it.
Subsequently, I was overwhelmed by the love that people chucked at my head, and the incredible amount of women whose private messages amounted to shared war stories: “I hear you. I understand you. I too have had to fight this battle,” and also to the slightly more hysterical ones who wrote: “I hear you. I understand you. PLEASE DON’T GET MARRIED BECAUSE OH MY GOD I WANT YOUR LIFE AND TRUST ME YOU DON’T WANT MINE!!!!”
Two particular shout outs: First to SW who sent me statistical information on how most women who are murdered, are murdered at the hands of their spouses. Second, to JJ who very clearly hates her own children, and managed to make this hatred hilarious.
The bottom line is, I am relatively accomplished.
Measured by the same stick used to measure a successful man:
an excellent job and publications,
an exceptional higher education in an extremely difficult M.A. program,
I am well beyond accomplished.
Measured by the same stick used to measure a successful female:
I am not so accomplished.
Couple the above measurements with my culture (not to be confused with my Faith), which says that completing our Faith is half of our deen (religion). Said another way: If unmarried, you are incomplete – a sentiment which is indeed non gender-specific.
Here’s the reality: Islam does not discriminate.
And because I am a Believer, and God knows best, there is no way in hell that God would create such a discriminatory hierarchy within Islam, because Islam is the un-gendered discourse. There is the male, there is the female, and then there is the divine which is genderless.
In fact, there are 99 names of Allah, and the one to which Muslims refer to most, is al-Rahman (the most merciful), within which is rahm (womb). Reflect on that for a second, then get back to me.
To discriminate means to sideline and marginalize those of us who — for whatever reason — have not yet been married, or who never get married. And this is not my Faith.
Now. If the above logic isn’t enough for you…then how about…
Those who get married and then abuse their partners?
Or those who get married and then cheat but never get found out?
Or those who get married and then divorced and never marry again?
Have they completed their deen more so than those who simply never get married?
The f/ck it does.
As to the “science” which places all women at a disadvantage sooner or later, then to you I send a big fat hey! Remember the time you thought the earth was flat? Or the time you proved that “white people” were better? Or when you were adamant about the classical elemental theory? Or that time you believed ether was a carrier of light waves and radio waves?
One last time: Allah does not discriminate, and on any day, I will gladly take on anyone who speaks to the contrary.
Society, however? Men and women will gladly create such a hierarchy, if only to make themselves feel better, by making others feel less. And men, as has been proven time and again, will decry it as their fitrah to shun the women with whom they are most compatible for those whose t/ts sit higher. But God, my God, the God who does not discriminate, and the God who does not favour one gender above another? I believe that He does not.
Those of you who believe that He would, then you need to re-situate and re-evaluate. And you need to ask yourself what part of your nafs it is that your perspective feeds, because my guess is it ain’t your piety.
On most days I believe that, and I internalize it at a much louder frequency than the other side of that coin. But yesterday, the other side took my feet right out from beneath me.
Usually, unlike yesterday, and because I do believe that Allah knows best, I believe that whatever He has in store for me, it will be precisely so that I might reach my full potential. And the reality is that my full potential may have absolutely nothing to do with marriage or having a child.
To be even more frank, looking at nine out of ten couples around me (Muslim, Arab, and not), on most days, I am pretty relieved I am not married. Because men? Well…they’re not all they’re cracked up to be when they perceive a woman disrespectfully as their property. And I would hazard that less than 5% of all men carry women in their hearts as Allah intended and so clearly instructed.
I wanted you to know this because so many of you are worried about me. And though I was desperately sad yesterday, I am like one of those Bozo the Clown inflatable bop toys, filled with enough hot air to bounce back harder and faster than most. Only, I am prettier than Bozo. I hope.
We’d croak when our partner died. No fun.
Two days ago, I was discussing soul mates with my friend. Whether we believed there is only one person out there for us, or if we actually had multiples. I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening considering this while in pottery class painting lopsided bowls, and I believe my initial instincts were right: that there is always more than one, and it’s always hinged on timing.
Also, that we don’t have an endless supply of soul mates. Like, we don’t run around smashing into them here, and there, and everywhere. Maybe we have three if we’re lucky. I like the number three, and have always said if I have kids three would be ideal (my ovaries just yelled: NOT ANYMORE, BABY! right before they started sobbing) because if one dies, then you have two left and the chances of those two also kicking it aren’t very high. Welcome to the basement of my mind, Reader.
That said, I’m not entirely sure what a “soul mate” is, and the name alone is so heavy with expectation that it’s making me uncomfortable. I mean, when you’re sitting across from someone, do you think: Is this my soul mate? because I don’t. I usually think: I would really like to touch your hair, and sit in your lap. Upside down.
JUST KIDDING, MUMMY!! MISS YOU!! SKYPE ME!!
Maybe better to call it Extreme Chemistry Which May Become Soul Matey If You Both Share The Same Level Of Interest In One Another And The Timing Is Right And You Become A Team Who Communicates Well And Laughs At The Same Things And Shares Secrets And Then With Time You Know You Are Indeed Soul Matey, Marty for short. As in: Do you have the right Marty with this piece?
A while back, I wrote this while trying to understand sexual chemistry, and I returned to it this morning to see if I still believed it, which I do. (I mean…who needs to evolve when the word coincé is so elegant?)
“Soul mate” is like “I love you.” They are sacred, to be respected, and never used lightly because the more you spread them around, the less worth they possess. Take me as example, I have only ever said “I love you” to one man. This means that the weight and worth of these three little words, in that order, are on par with the Wittelsbach-Graff Diamond.
Next man to whom I say this will do one of two things, depending on whether he is in fact a man or a clown. The man will revere it; the clown will experience shrinkage as he does not possess the strength of character to carry such a gift. The man will take pride in it, as it will be my heart spoken and reflected within him; the clown will perceive it as pressure from beneath which he needs to get out.
It really is that simple, and I really did just compare myself to the world’s most expensive diamond. You should too. This is the standard to which you should hold yourself, and absolutely nothing less. If your current piece makes you feel like you’re some kind of burden and they’re giving you time because (insert a roll of their eyes) you’re so needy and ugh why won’t you just leave me alone, stop messaging me! Uhm. You have a problem and you need to exercise that shit from your life. Yesterday.
It is also the standard to which you should hold your man / woman / undecided. Quite honestly, I would bust a clown out of my life if he talked about the twenty other “soul mates” to whom he expressed his undying love before he met me. I am not interested in being an egg shoved into a carton alongside a trillion others.
Sidebar: If I was creeping a potential man on Facebook and saw that every single woman he dated he brought home to his family, and entrenched in the lives of his friends, I would find this a complete turn-off. For me, it means that when he intros me to his family, and his friends, I am just another egg in the carton. There is nothing special about me or the relationship which makes the introductions a little more weighty. Also, I am pretty sure that my mum is yelling from the Middle East: THIS IS WHY YOU’RE STILL SINGLE!!
You remember my first Marty, about whom I wrote here. Marty is all across the board intensity, compatibility, and vulnerability which is natural, easy, and fun (people often forget that ‘fun’ is among the most important and relevant of glues that hold together a healthy and long-term relationship). It is neither calculated nor measured, but rather it is what it is. Often inexplicable because it is what I consider the “ex” factor, where God’s hand is at rest on your heart in the presence of another.
I came close once after my first Marty, but no cigar, and I am curious: How do you know you found Marty?
Colin receives all of the accolades.
Last week, I was on course for work. When introducing ourselves, we were asked to name our hobbies. After I listed approximately 32 items, one of my fellow classmates shared that he collected toys. Specifically, they are toys from the 80s.
A few days later, I was still thinking about this revelation and too eager to contain my excitement.
Did he collect Care Bears?
Cabbage Patch Kids?
My Little Ponies?
“DOES YOUR ROOM SMELL LIKE STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE?”
“CAN I COME OVER AND PLAY?” I kept wanting to yell across the classroom, with painful hysteria.
But I am a supposed adult, and so I instead bottled everything in and sat on my excitement for three terrifying days wherein I became increasingly depressed because I do not like to colour between the lines. Then Wednesday happened.
He sat next to me for lunch and I nearly stabbed him with my soup spoon, so excited was I and scared and curious and mad all rolled into a ball of volcanic energy. How volcanic? I shook and spilled my soup with excitement. I may have missed my mouth a few times, too.
When opportunity presented itself, I casually introduced the topic and I sounded a little something like:
“Do you think they’re going to bomb Iran?”
“Mmmmm….I don’t know. WHAT KIND OF TOYS DO YOU COLLECT?” spill soup, spill soup, spill soup.
“YOU SAID THAT ALREADY!! I HEARD YOU THE FIRST TIME IN CLASS!! BUT WHAT KIND!!!!!”
“If I were to come over. Or, if you were to have your friends come over, would you let them and me play with them? Or are they on a shelf behind plastic?”
“They’re mostly collectors items, so I don’t really play with them.”
“BUT THEY’RE TOYS AND EVERYONE KNOWS WE ARE MEANT TO PLAY WITH TOYS!! LIKE, YOU DON’T LOOK AT AN APPLE AND NOT EAT IT DO YOU?!”
“They’re collectors items.”
“BUT YOU CALLED THEM TOYS!!”
“Right. So back to Iran.”
“I AM REALLY UPSET AND SAD NOW. I ALSO DON’T THINK IRAN HAS TOYS.”
Soup spill. Soup spill. Soup spill.
“I COLLECT BOARD GAMES. For my friends, of course. When they come over, I ask them if they want to play board games.”
“Yeah. It’s fun. I have a lot of games. But I am trying to find the original Battle Ship. All of the new ones are electronic and they confuse me because they blink a lot. But I can’t find an old one.”
And so the conversation trailed off and I cleaned up my soup, a little saddened that Colin didn’t have toys with which I could in fact play.
Cut to next day lunch, when Colin walks over and says “I have a surprise for you,” and out from his man bag he pulls a traditional Battle Ship game.
He had gone to a sacriligeous store in which people chuck “old” things, many of which are toys. He went to look for a Battle Ship. For me. Just for me.
And he found it, and he bought it, and he gifted it.
For no other reason than because: Colin is a nice man. A thoughtful, kind, sweet man, well raised by his momma.
Thank you to all of the Colins of this world. You are appreciated beyond measure, and you raise the bar. Thank you. Thank you and thank you for the soup spill. Soup spill. Soup spill. Soup spill.
Dear Know-It-All, I feel as though I am stuck in a rut and can’t get passed it. Every guy I like turns out to have commitment issues or isn’t into me. Everyone else seems to be either getting engaged, engaged, married, pregnant or just had a baby. I feel as though the universe is conspiring against me. Is there something wrong with me? How can I finally get ahead to a good relationship, marriage and all the rest?
Hello love – Before I tackle your Q, I would like for you to please stop looking to the experiences of others, if you wish to really find your own path in this world. It really honestly is alright that everyone else is using their uterus and has a partner, while you are not. Shed this need to compare yourself to others; choose instead to figure out only your own path in this small short world. (And sometimes, we believe it is best that we are sovereign, unmarried, living single within the guidelines prescribed by God, while managing the occasional psychotic break where we either shake our fists at the sky, or try to do something equally stupid to ourselves, by our own hands. This too is alright; do not let anyone tell you that you are less because you are unmarried; most of all, do not let yourself tell this to your own heart ever, not under any ciscumstance.)
Now. Let me answer your Q as simply and as clearly as possible – no, there’s nothing wrong with you; yes, you are actively pursuing men who are not available. I know that you didn’t ask a second Q, but it is implicit in your asking the first, and also in your comparing yourself to the experiences of others.
Contrary to what some people may believe, this is not random for anyone. If you stand far back away from your scenarios and from the men whom you have pursued / been interested in, you will note that the only common denominators are (1) you; and, (2) their unavailability.
My answer to you is one where you will be forced to ask yourself some uncomfortable questions; two to be specific. First: Am I actually yet ready for commitment? (Take it from a woman whose been there – it is very easy to delude ourselves into believing that we are in fact ready, when we are not. Meaning, I had to at one point stop whispering ‘I want to go skiing’ while strapping on my skates.)
The second more important Q to ask yourself is if you come up with ‘yes’ to the 1st: Why do I only believe I am worthy of a love unrequited?
We really do seek out only that which we believe we deserve, and emotionally unavailable men (and women) are nothing short of vampires feeding on our emotions. In this reality, there is nothing sexy or merciful, kind, respectful or caring to be found. Basically, within this sort of an engagement are none of the characteristics of a healthy and lasting relationship.
That said, there is something more happening in-between your head and your heart and you need to understand what it is before you plunk yourself into a situation which is unhealthy in the long run because expecting that someone alter their emotional availability after marriage is like asking a Care Bear to turn into a Unicorn. An emotionally unavailable boy/girlfriend will only turn into an emotionally unavailable husband/wife. This in mind, the answers you find here may be extremely painful to face, so put on some big girl panties and dig as deep as you can. If you have one or two beloved friends with whom you can discuss this openly and honestly then I would encourage you to seek out their help and guidance as well.
Once you’ve sorted out these two questions, and once you have seen the answers for yourself, you will be able to see the weakest link in your behaviour which you can then attack to break your own pattern. Unless you decide that your pattern makes you far happier than any altered state.
Good luck and keep your prayers strong,
My ego hates Freud
Over coffee with Trouble (welcome home, Mr G), my friend and I conversed about the current state of affairs regarding social media. His words were “[Insert any thoughtless social media tool.] It’s the lowest form of behaviour; approval by total strangers to feed egos. Congratulations!”
He drove home a point which I had started considering when one of my last articles received several hundred Likes in under 20 minutes. It felt amazing and validating, until I felt commodified and quantified into a tiny little box that had nothing to do with who I am (though most of my sum to date is found in the totality of my near 1,000 cumulative posts; something which I hope evolves daily).
I was asked to begin this site in 2004, by my then editor Charlie, while writing for the London News Review. Over the course of the last nine years, this home is where I come to sort my ideas, experiences, and where my voice is strongest. Daily, I receive several requests to add money-generating items and daily, I move these requests to trash because I do not wish for this space to be anything but the purest expression of me (with any ulterior motive slimmed to the highest degree possible).
Then suddenly, I had several hundred Likes on just a few words. My ego hit an unmatched sugar rush until I remembered that other time another of my articles received over 1,000 Likes in under 20 minutes. Catch that? I had forgotten, and then was suddenly reminded.
Do you know what I have never forgotten? The first time my Aalya’s beloved Sophia called me khalto, which is the Arabic for ‘aunt’. That time I met a man who, when he swept his eyes over my face, made me want to touch my lips to his and learn him. The every time that my father places his arms around me, and the every time that my mother has put her cool hand to my forehead, reading Quran to calm my aching heart. The rare moments when my baby cousins come to me for advice, spilling hearts through phones and I am able to make them laugh through tears. And, every single time that my girlfriends and I laughed so hard we began to cry.
Sealed into memory that which is non quantifiable. Non brandable. Not Likeable. That which brings nothing to our lives but the warmth of others, within whose eyes we often reflect our own hearts.
Unfortunately today, with the support of social networking tools such as above, I do believe that we are less. Literally, we have become slaves to egos feeding on the Likes, favourites, re-tweets, re-pins (ad nauseam) of others. Please don’t misunderstand this an argument in support of sovereignty as it is most definitely not. 1) Because I am not a self-involved Russian novelist; and, 2) because I believe that we are defined within the space of our relationships with others both platonic and not. Always, I have fiercely believed that we are both who and how we treat those around us.
Quick hits for egos
Philosophically, I imagine that the above has led to a shift in how we define our own sense of self-worth and value. These tools are making us less because they are a means to instant gratification, reflected in the following three ways. First, our value comes primarily from how we are perceived by others, many of whom do not know the true shape of our hearts, but who are instead given a PR spin on what we wish to represent of ourselves. As example, think about that time that a guy instagram-ed a photo of him beating the sh/t out of his girlfriend, or that time that a 27 year old man took a selfie of himself while he raped his 4 year old step-brother. Do you remember that awesome filter he used? Exactly.
Second, shallow (and completely meaningless) instant gratification becomes our driver and our go-to; by extension should something require work and effort we instead deny its place in our world. Maybe worse is that we become incapable of doing the work required, making the effort needed.
Third, as direct consequence of above (and important only to those of us who believe in God, so skip it if you don’t), it becomes far too easy to no longer place at the center of our actions anything to do with Him, but rather only our need for the shallow instant gratification of others, and ego-fill. This is a far greater and deeper discussion which I have not investigated enough to discuss too freely; rather, I will write only the surface of it for me, which is that ego and instant gratification are not the ways to Him. In fact, they are directly opposed to purification of the self according to absolutely all of the great Faith traditions.
Sidebar on this last point which requires much unpacking not suited to this one article: Again, please do not misunderstand the above as a call to disassociating oneself from the approvals of society. It is an argument in favour of seeking – according to your own moral code – the approval of the best in society.
What’s the fix?
The following is by no means comprehensive, but speaking only for myself, I recently deleted every single person on my Facebook who I do not actually know or to whom I am not connected in some way on an intimate level. There might be a total of 5 Facebook friends who are not in either category, and who I have kept for reasons not of this space’s concern.
Second, I deleted my statistics counter on this site, which used to tell me how many people visit daily, for how long, and for what reason. I have only kept the function which indicates the search terms they used to land on my site.
Third, I deleted the tool at the bottom of each article which shows (both you and I) the number of Facebook Likes per article.
My Pinterest is limited and it is merely to share the same words here.
I use Twitter as a tool to streamline the information I seek, and I couldn’t give a sh/t about re-tweets, followers and favourites by others.
I do not have Instagram; I have left Tumblr; Flickr is where I keep my photos as back-up and for re-sizing.
It’s my own wee start. Maybe, if you agree with any of the above, you can find yours too.
I, equally serious and very concerned about my answer, rang back with:
A nail file
Clear nail polish
With these things, there is no ‘emergency’ ever.
Right. So clearly, I am a bona fide urbanite. I am not into farming, nor have I ever been chucked into a tent by my parents for fun, and when we used to drive through the forest, it was with our windows up and our air conditioning on. This forest, it is called Nepean. Also, immigrants don’t camp (seriously. We don’t understand why you would choose to sleep on the dirt and pretend it’s fun. We think you’re lying, Caucasian; and, we’ll have a bed ready for you inside the toasty warm house as soon as you’re done pretending – we have instructions to do this in our Newsletter).
Turns out I had failed to meet some sort of necessary ‘survival’ quota. My friend, the asshole, stopped walking and instead stood to lecture me for near 12 minutes on my failings. I quietly ate my ice-cream and stared at their increasingly reddening face, wondering when I would next get stuck somewhere I would need a match, rope, knife, candles and duct tape other than in the basement of an illegal S&M bar, not that I know what that is, and not that I am judging.
Also, I was wondering how long it takes a full ice-cream cone to melt and what that might look like on the head of my friend. I started laughing, but only to my own amusement and not theirs.
If I were clever, I would have asked the asshole to show me their survival gear because their little man-bag surely didn’t carry everything they were listing off. If I were really sophisticated, I would have texted his girlfriend to ask her if he has a special ‘emergency kit’ other than a condom.
Admittedly, his lecture got me to thinking very big thoughts which hurt. They went along the following lines:
Am I allowed to drink my own pee?
Which berries will kill me, and not merely act as excellent antioxidants?
If I had to, would I murder and eat my friend to survive?
Why don’t I look for water and fish, first?
What do I do when I see a bear?
Are bison still roaming Canadian hinterlands?
What, precisely, is a bison?
Where, precisely, are the hinterlands?
If a Maha falls in the forest, will anyone rescue me or will I be eaten by ants?
Are ants carnivores?
What do I do when I run out of toilet paper?
(Thanks God I am carrying the toilet paper.)
How many bars will I have on my berry?
Why am I out in the fucking woods alone?
Will there be ice-cream?
You get the idea.
While laying in bed that night, I realized that I might be in danger. Some day. If I decide to make my way out into the woods alone. Or Martin Sheen shows up and starts yelling at me about an Apocalypse. I would be among the first to perish unless wordsmithing, confidence, humour, and positivity become survival skills.
I am not one to lie to myself; if I were a contestant on the Hunger Games, I would be the first to die by accidental suicide. The silver lining? I would be neither dirty nor gaunt, and pray without some weird rash.
I sat up and scribbled down some lessons I needed to learn, which are:
- How to survive in the wilderness (self explanatory)
- Fencing (because I might one day have to duel for my life)
- Car mechanics (because I really should know more than to point, blink, and make sounds when I visit the mechanic)
- Hockey (because, as a Canadian girl, I will likely have to share my piece with the world of hockey and if you can’t beat’em…)
…and most important:
- Homesteading (for when the Americans attack)
Recommend that you do the same (without the pleasure of an asshole to lecture you).
Image found on a “Christian skills for survival in the woods” article. No joke. I don’t know what that means, either, except for no Jews, Muslims, or heathens allowed?
.2. Trust him. Unless he’s treated you in untrustworthy fashion, trust him.
.3. If you don’t like something, then tell him. Don’t expect him to figure it out on his own or to read your mind.
.5. Don’t flirt with other men to show him you’re desirable. He knows it, but if you need to do this, ask yourself if you know it enough.
.6. There is nothing easier than getting laid and this is a choice you are free to make. Recognize that most men are binary; choose where you belong, then respect that choice. He will, too. (Caveat: If either of you change your mind, deal with it like adults.)
.9. Don’t belittle or degrade him in public or in private. When you do, you are directly belittling and degrading yourself. If you can’t get behind this, you need to put down your glass of wine and see a specialist.
.10. When he shows you vulnerability, don’t “do you want a tampon for that vagina?” him. Respect him and be gentle with him; only mature men are capable of engaging emotions traditionally afforded women alone.
.11. If he doesn’t want to talk about it now, then drop it for now. Put a pin in it and schedule a later time.
.12. Don’t argue in public. Don’t yell in public (if you can, don’t yell ever). Discuss it when you are home, quietly and respectfully.
.13. Most men measure success in terms of their job and how they are perceived outside the home; find a man whose status depends equally on these, as well as the light in which you and his family sees him.
.14. Don’t measure yourself by Sex and the City standards. If you really need a pop culture reference, use quality – see Friday Night Lights.
.17. Don’t knitting circle your relationship. Seek only the advice of those in healthy relationships, people who love and respect you and your bona fide.
.19. Don’t script in your head, not tell him about it, and then get angry when he doesn’t stand on the X.
.21. Learn to receive. Afford him the opportunity to give freely and from an honest generosity of spirit rather than obligation.
.23. Step up. Have Faith. Get on your knees and pray when you are confused.
.25. Don’t play the damsel in distress (unless you’re in actual trouble). Don’t cry (unless you are genuinely sad).
.26. Don’t ever hit him. Just because you’re smaller and you’re “the girl”, you never have the right to hit him. In fact, you never have the right to hit anyone. (But if he slams his fist into you, or grabs you by the throat, then by all means…so that you can run out and to a police station.)
.27. Don’t compare yourself to the other women in the room. Don’t belittle, be rude to, degrade, or disrespect other women. Love the sisterhood; it is through us that men will learn to love and respect the sisterhood.
.31. If he’s apologized about the past, LOVE OF GOD, walk away from it and leave it in the past.
.32. Don’t hold him responsible for the shit-head behaviours of men from your past. Rather, explain your triggers.
.35. Respect and value your time apart.
.39. Take your word seriously if you want him to take you seriously.
.42. Stay away from men who deal in drama, fault you for everything, and disrespect you in any way, shape or form.
.44. His personality is not a diaper; don’t try to change it.
.45. When a man shows you who he is, believe him. Especially when his message isn’t composite of everything nice.
.46. Don’t be angry with him when other women throw themselves at him; trust him to do the right thing and to make it clear that he has a bona fide whom he respects.
.47. Just because he’s at your boob, it doesn’t mean you have a free pass to mother him. If this is your inclination, you’re not with the right man or you’re not yet mature enough to be engaged with any man.
.48. You’re not to police him. If he can’t keep his dick in his pants, this is not about you. It only becomes about you if you stick around long enough for him to step out on you again.
.50. If his past is in the past, don’t bring it up as a means to punish him.
.51. Don’t punish him for telling the truth.
.53. Sex is neither reward nor punishment, but rather one of the most important means of communication between you and your man.
.55. Be responsible for your choices and decisions.
.56. Did I mention? Have fun. All the time. As often as possible. In any way you can manage it.
.57. Break your own rules, if you think he’s a cut above the others. (But always within the confines of respecting yourself and him.)
Editorial Notes: The above came as a result of the interest generated by 31 Ways on How Not To Be A Cad (originally for men, at the request of men). Additionally, this weekend saw the beginning of a little Pinterest page to compliment these articles; you can find the above (including all missing) rules in the Gentlewoman’s Rules board.
.1. Respect her. (Respect yourself.)
.2. Don’t just text her. Start calling instead. Conversation is a lost art form; revive it. (Text only when others are around and you want her to know that you’re thinking of her.)
.3. Get to know your emotional states (aside and apart from anger) and learn to work through them.
.4. Send her flowers. Send her a basket of fruit. Send her a hand-written letter. Send her tangible things which balance the world of virtual exchange.
.5. Learn her. Pay attention to what she likes and engage these things.
.6. Treat her kindly and gently. Both physically and emotionally. There is a time and place for the harder stuff, but it’s inside of the gentle shape of a man’s hands that a woman feels most loved.
.7. If you are not receiving what you need from her, LOVE OF GOD, don’t seek it elsewhere – especially if you are missing the energy of her female attention. Talk to her about it and explain your needs and give her the opportunity to meet them.
.8. The word commitment is never, not under any circumstance, not ever, to be taken lightly. If you take it lightly, don’t expect her to be serious about you.
.9. Work hard.
.10. If you can’t handle what she brings to the table, leave the table like a gentleman. Don’t ghost; ghosting is for insecure douchebags. The fact that we have a word for this behaviour says more about men, than women.
.11. Learn how to have an emotionally charged conversation without fighting or folding.
.12. When you f/ck up, apologize. Immediately and unequivocally. Eat sh/t when you have to, as you should.
.13. Be interested in a woman equally for what she brings to your bedroom, your mind, your soul. Don’t settle for less or none of these points will work.
.14. No matter how painful to you and her, tell the truth. Always.
.15. Give her the room to surprise you. Meaning, always let her have room for secrets.
.16. Surprise her. Meaning, always leave room to teach more.
.17. Make her laugh a lot and all the time.
.18. When she stops laughing, pay attention.
.19. Share more with her than you do with anyone else in this world. She is your rock and your number 1 fan. As you are hers.
.20. Keep your word. If you can’t, then keep your quiet.
.21. Don’t ogle other women. You’re not 12, and you didn’t just discover your dick. Seriously – don’t ogle other women because it’s gross. This doesn’t mean don’t appreciate beauty; it means know the difference between appreciating beauty (as we all do) and wanting to bend beauty over the side of your bed.
.22. Learn how to communicate like an adult. Learn to say the words “I am scared. I am confused. I am nervous. I am worried. I am sad”. You’re not a toddler who, at the sign of any one of the myriad emotional states, either sh/ts himself or starts screaming and having a tantrum.
.23. If she tells you something bothers her, respect it and work hard not to do it again.
.24. Drive the situation, but don’t be a rapist.
.25. Don’t suck and blow at the same time. Get clear in your head, then make it clear to her. If you need advice, seek it first from your father, then second from a male friend in a healthy relationship.
.26. Learn that the art of seduction has nothing to do with the physical.
.27. Have her back. Always and unequivocally. When you disagree, do so in private but never. Ever. Not under any circumstance, are you allowed to hang her out to dry in public. This is critical – it says that you are a unified front and if she’s not receiving this message, she looks at you and does not see security. Whether we like it or not, no matter how hard we try to fight our gender shapes, a woman wants to feel safe. If you can’t deliver on this, you are not ready for anything serious.
.28. Step up. Have Faith. Get on your knees and pray when you are confused.
.29. Have fun with her.
.30. Have fun with her.
.31. Have fun with her, because while the above are serious in nature, your relationship should only be serious 25% of the time while the rest of the time should be light-hearted and fun. Life is difficult enough as it is and when we choose to engage someone, it should be someone who lightens our load, rather than adds to it. If you find yourself in a relationship where 75% of the time is spent in a state of difficulty or anxiety, then leave. Leave. Life is too quick and precious to sell both yourself and her short.
Thank you for your amazing site. My friends have been reading you for years and then we talk about your articles afterwards. I was in a really shitty relationship for almost 4 years where my ex was super jealous and we would fight all the time about stupid stuff. I started lying about things not because I was doing anything wrong because I didn’t want to deeal with the jealousy or the fights. After a while I started lying about the stupidest little things that didn’t need lies. I am now dating a new guy whose pretty amazing and he caught me in a really stupid lie and now he’s really angry. I don’t want to lose this guy and I don’t know what to do. How do I stop lying?”
Sometimes, I love people. Today, I love you. Well, maybe not today but, like, the day that you wrote me, on Saturday – I began to love you without even knowing you. I am sorry that it has taken me days to respond.
Here are a few things that you should keep in mind, of which I have no doubt that your guardians taught you:
The truth is that we live in a world where honesty is brutally under-valued and very much the subversive rather than the norm. High-fives and hugs to you for wanting to elevate yourself above the sh/t heads. But, I will strongly caution you not to be changing your behaviour for someone else; rather, that you are doing this because to remain in your current state is far more difficult and uncomfortable than what it will take for you to move in a different direction. Change isn’t easy, and it’s why people get paid tons of money for being Change Management Experts.
The answer to your question is two-fold, one to do with your new piece, and second (more important than the first) is to do with you.
On Your Piece
We all have triggers that belong entirely to ourselves. Clearly, some of your triggers come as a result of a difficult relationship with a difficult man but they’re still your triggers, and unless you communicate them to your new piece, he can not be held responsible for stepping on a landmine.
You need to sit down with him and start your conversation with: “Babe. My pants are on fire…” and then get your hands dirty and your knees bloodied while telling him the truth, even if you feel like you’re going to choke on it. If he is a man worth his salt, and someone who cares about you enough, then he will engage what you’ve placed on the table. If he’s not willing to give you room to commit an error, and then recover from it, this relationship will not survive.
Before you do this, and if you really think you’re going to pass out, either have a drink or get on your knees and say a prayer for God to give you the courage you need to step up and do the right thing.
On Your Self
Lying, like any behaviour is best seen as a muscle. If you exercise the lying muscle enough, it becomes a meat-head and your honesty muscle atrophies. Your exercise then has to be two-fold: (1) Stop lying, so that the liar muscle weakens; and, (2) Start telling the truth, so that the honest muscle builds up.
Eventually, the lying muscle will become too weak and the naturally strong muscle – the truth teller – will always step into a situation and the environment presented because it is the stronger of the two. Exactly like when your stronger arm compensates for your weaker arm.
My advice here is: Get it done.
It’s really that simple. You want to stop being a liar? Then stop lying. And while you are engaging this No Lies Policy, please give yourself a little room for error. Your natural state, out of fear, is to lie to self-protect, so that is your comfort zone. Naturally, you will every once in a while have to default back to your comfort zone (because, you know, it’s comfortable and familiar). Be okay with this, tell your man about this, and do your best to remedy this sooner rather than later. In due time, with diligence and effort, you will find that the distances between defaulting to your natural state of pants on fire grow exponentially.
Good luck xx
Image courtesy of WorkplacePsychology(dot)net.
By now, for those of you living here, you know what my primary point of reference has become, and it is most definitely not the spoken word of others (because people lie); it is, more than ever, my instinct. Since last year, this has become heightened because I ignored my instinct and kept arguing my way out of my own body and heart’s push to run. Contrary to my dreams and intuition, I chose to instead keep trusting the wrong person.
Every single person – trained saboteur, professional liars, stewards, government employees, actors, etc. - every single one of us, we are liars, and we have our tells. If you pay close enough attention, you can learn a person’s tells. I did quite a bit of reading on this subject last year, and every piece I studied began with the same theory; at the core of being able to pick up on the tells, at the study of it, in organizations where this is a part of the work being done (such as spy agencies), there are some people who are far more intuitive and naturally inclined to seeing the tells. People who are extra vigilant about their surroundings, who pay extra attention to the behaviour of others; something which can not be quantified.
Here’s things: When we care about someone, we study them. We learn them, and we read them. Because I am such a sh/t liar, and because it takes a lot for me to in fact tell a lie, I can and have always known when someone was lying. Last year, the tells were standing sideways so that I could not see their full body. Turning their back when telling a lie. Shuffling papers randomly when lying. Turning red. Shoulders hunched. Hands in hair, quickened breaths, voice raised.
My tells? I eventually, panic-stricken and worried that God will smite me, usually blurt out ‘I AM LYING. SORRY! I’M SO SORRY! CAN WE START OVER?’ It’s my biggest f/cking problem, that I choose not to lie. I hate that this is how my mother raised me because people do not trade in honesty, but rather deception. And when one trades in any manner of open book, people get freaked out. So me, I have a problem and it is that I can not even pretend to lie. Oddly, it’s become my thing, even when it shouldn’t be – telling the f/cking truth. I think, maybe, also, this is the reason I am so in-tune to (non gender-specific) f/ckheads who lie. [PS None of the above is to be confused with Mean-Girling. I am an unmatched tops Mean-Girl (to those whom I do not really know, because I'm that much of an a/shole) and made myself a promise to last year cut this sh/t out because it is a grotesque behavior.]
Lesson #11: Pay attention to your piece, all across the board. In the early stages, in the middle, in the ether. Everyone will lie, and so the key is to distinguish between lies which people tell to spin of themselves a better PR machine in order to impress you (ie I am having a steak at Sparks in NYC vs I am eating a hot dog from the dude at Sixth & 8th) versus the great lies running deep deception (ie they are a rapist, a paedo, a cheater, married, a sociopath, a narcissist, a beater, a murderer etc.).
I would counsel that you have one or two friends whom you trust, and who are of a different temperament than you. If you are not 100% solid in yet trusting your own intuition, then ask the opinion of those who love you. If you are second guessing yourself then here’s an exercise: Sit down and write out your immediate instinctual response to a situation. In a column next to that, write out what you finally learned as the truth. Tally the number of times you got it wrong, Nob-Head. If you’re constantly getting it wrong, then you have some serious work to do. (How? I don’t know. Sadly, I don’t know everything….)
Lesson #12: Define your lines in concrete, not in the sand. Define your lines hard and adhere to them. Last year, my (best male) friend David said to me pointblank: “I have known you since University. Your standards have always been this high and over the last few months, I have watched you actively lower them, a lot. This is not a good sign, Maha, and you need to pay attention to what you’re doing to yourself so you don’t wake up incapable of getting it all back”. Smart one, he, and something which I took to heart. This year, I put this lesson to good use – I set my own line in concrete, and when the time came to action said line, I did, and I have not looked back. Purposefully, the pouring of this line was quite a ways out from the edge, in the interest of circumstance and environment, and so that I might never walk away saying “I didn’t give this enough of a chance”.
You know what I can now confirm? That it was the right move which saved me from years of grief and pain, something far easier to see when not buried in the land of dramatic love-problems.
Lesson #13: When Lessons 11 & 12 are in synergy and you have made the decision to walk away, then please…walk away. If you can manage it, I would even say run the f/ck away as hard as you possibly can. Basically, Get. Over. It.
Your life is too precious to waste. Unless you, or your loved one are sick; unless someone you know has died; unless you do not have access to clean water, to healthcare (hi ‘Merica!), to shelter, to safety, then you have no reason to wallow. You really don’t. Especially if you’re single and don’t wish to be – what you suddenly have is the luxury to meet someone new and go on a different adventure. This, I think, might be my favourite of all lessons. Get up, and move on without looking back. It may sound callous, but I’m not here to cuddle you (unless you’re 6’0 or above and smell nice…which, again, send me your résumé).
I have said this repeatedly, and will state it once again: Have three days of really ugly cry and mourning sessions. Get on Skype with your besties and let it rip. Wail, question the existence of God and why he would ever do this, eat pizza for breakfast and poutine for brunch. Get the self-pity completely and totally out of your system over the course of three days but then. Get. Over. It. Swear to God, no one is worth anything more. And don’t listen to the studies that tell us it takes 15 – 17 months to get over a “love” when all other studies tell us that over 90% of the emotional pain we feel is associated with our think patterns. Put in a different way: If you choose to believe the former as opposed to the later, then understand that your future track will be exercised very very differently than had you chosen otherwise. No one knows the value of both your time and your self better than you, so choose wisely.
Editorial Note: While I am writing about things of 2012, please do not confuse this with only now “getting over it” as Lesson #13 states. The “GOI” came very very quickly in 2012, but the talking about it – for purposes which I will not mention here, ever – could only happen now for very specific reasons beyond my control.
One of my dear friends last year told me that I, unlike any other individual she knows, has a sense of loyalty unmatched. Meaning, when I care about someone in the romantic sense, I actively choose to disengage from others entirely and without hesitation. Even when not dating said interest, I turn down dates and invitations from other men because I believe that to engage someone, while having feelings for another, is a way of cheating on my self.
Writing that out hurt me more than it hurt you to read it, because God damn, I am some kind of masochistic asshole, aren’t I?! I have been staring at that sentence for some time trying to stomach the total stupidity of this thinking and all I keep coming up with is ‘I need a f/cking cookie maybe laced with some arsenic’.
Maxi would call this a form of ‘dating inception’, of which he too has been guilty. For always, I have never seen this as my being loyal to others, but rather my being loyal to myself, respecting my own feelings rather than deviating from them – even if they are feelings standing alone in the middle of a football field, when it’s ski season. And, they’re trying to blow a bubble-gum bubble when the wind is coming at their head at the rate of 100 km / hour.
Sidebar: I would like to here blame my mother for raising me in a way which misunderstood the world as being one covered in plush carpet, including the ways by which other people treated us. Really, she raised me far too loyal for my own good – and always, she used the words self-respect which, you know what? 98% of the world knows neither. (PS “Thank you, momma” I do often grumble. Because no one is writing an article about how much of a sh/t-head I am, though no doubt many could.)
Last year, I did this with an unmatched devotion. The outcome? I spent near 3 months in a state of hell, perpetuated and supported by someone who fed off this loyalty like an emotional vampire. (Let me make something clear – I don’t act and think and feel in a vacuum. If anything, I have always erred on the side of caution and before even assuming that a man is interested, I usually suspect the exact opposite. So, unless a man has engaged fully to create an emotional web between the two of us (like a little spider), I do not engage.)
This is something of which I am now extremely cognizant and which I have changed beyond any shadow of any doubt, for the better. It seems that The Shut-Off Valve, she works in many different ways.
Lesson #10: Loyalty should not be exercised but in a state of complete and total balanced trust. The question then becomes how does one know when it’s time? To get tautological, you know it’s time, after a length of time. When it has been established, through actions, that if one of you gives more than the other, then the other will make up for it by giving more, that you might not need to give as much. Think of this as your rubber band theory – the band is the relationship and it is being used to its acme when it is stretched and perfectly balanced between two hands. When one hand is tired, the other one automatically knows when to step in, and trusts that when it becomes tired, the other hand will step in to help support the relationship remain at its acme.
It is as tricky as it sounds…because the pessimist will ask “but if you are both waiting, then what if neither of you ever steps up and the situation never expands?”
The answer to this is equally as easy – if the situation never expands, then the situation was never meant to expand. Simple. If it isn’t organic and happening on its own, if two people aren’t naturally, because they both want to, stepping up their game incrementally in balanced manner, then they aren’t, nor should they be going anywhere. In the long run, this is best for both. Again, and as always, don’t force the situation (because the f/ck are you interested in being the one who always does the work to make things work? Surely, surely my love, you have better things to do and more important people with whom they should be done? These two questions I now put to myself before any others).
Here’s things – this is absolutely critical in the early stages of dating. It helps you both learn to give and to receive; it defines borders and shared experiences and lets you each put in the elbow grease required to build and maintain a healthy environment within which neither of you abuses the good will of the other. Without this really exquisite dance, neither one of you will have earned your place in the other’s life; this always always always then leads to imbalance and is a far shorter and quicker road to resentment.
Also, this rule sucks balls if you are a natural giver. Sorry.
Her groundbreaking response was: “Why don’t you tell him that?”
I waited for the punchline and when none came, I was further stunned into silence when she added “Why don’t you tell him you feel a-b-c” as a statement rather than a question volleyed back my way.
I was feeling something, and rather than talk around it or pretend it wasn’t there or re-shape it so that he wouldn’t feel uncomfortable with my feelings (because you know, heaven f/cking forbid anyone be made uncomfortable at my hands), I should instead just say it.
Sidebar: Here’s what you need to know about A – she has been in a healthy relationship for years. A loving, kind, generous, sexy, healthy relationship with an amazing man; if I am going to take advice from anyone, it’s from those who have and who continue to make it through.
I don’t know how much attention any of you pay to things outside of my amazing site, because I understand how addictive I am. But recently, there has bee an all-consuming trend in romantic / relationship / dating advice which sells the woman (never directed at the man, because whoa is he who has feelings) a variation of the following: B/tch, if you feel it, it’s yours to deal with and not his to undo. Your feelings are your own and not his problem so just deal with it, already, and outside of him.
For a while, I bought into this and something shifted in my head. By my own hand and through this advice, I started reigning myself in. If I felt something, I swallowed it and didn’t discuss it – then, I pathologized it, berating myself for feeling it, constantly thinking “I shouldn’t be feeling this. How can I possibly feel this?” And the most insane part of this pathology was never even about crazy lunatic feelings. What I was feeling were things as simple as When I ask for something, I would like for you to meet it. And if you can not meet it, I would like for you to tell me that you can not meet it and why…” Not grand demands, either; little normal healthy realities and expectations – like, you know, a simple A to a simpler Q.
I was never the above woman, in fact I have always been the polar opposite all across the board, with both platonic and non relationships. If I felt something, I said it; if the individual before me was uncomfortable by it, we explored things together until we were both comfortable with what we were engaging. Because I’m not a dick, and because my purpose when engaging such matters was usually to either salvage a relationship or ensure that I never let anything build up to a point where everything came out of me at once and the person before me had sat in the dark for months.
What happened last year is I placed someone’s feelings above my own, and in time, I figured out that he was not worthy – not even of a friendship. Circumstance forced me to keep swallowing my feelings well beyond the point of exit from the situation, and so internalizing this way of thinking bled beyond the situation and it was only when A made her above statement that the blood clot formed immediately.
The lessons here are simple ones – in any kind of a relationship, platonic or otherwise, you need to be able to tell your partner / friend what in the f/ck is happening in your head and in your heart. Relationships, by definition, are not about sovereignty. They are about shared experiences and feelings do not fall outside of this realm; if anything, they are critical to the health and well-being of said relationship. I have always stated that communication is key, so if you’re engaging someone and your mind becomes a monkey, then you need to state it and state it clearly. Because the alternative is that your mind fills in the spaces of a script unheard of and invisible to your partner.
I am a creature who is naturally inclined to communicating and I do this because I never want you to say that you didn’t know. I like everything to be on the table so that I can make decisions based on as much evidence and information as I can collect. Me, I live and feel in extremely vivid colours, and I muted and diluted that reality of me for so long – this, a part of the reason that I became paralyzed even in the written word. So now I know.
No doubt, this goes both ways. If you are someone who lives in muted tones and are more comfortable within the ecrus and greys, then you have every right to share your world with someone who will not try to dip you in crimson red. (The impasse here is that many people are at first very attracted to the bright colours, but then became exhausted by their vividness. So learn yourself and learn your limits on your own time; please don’t figure this out by chewing up wo/men while you sort your sh/t.)
Lesson #6 then: If anyone tries to tell you that your feelings are not the problem of your partner, then tell that person to bury themselves into the bosom of Ayn Rand and get the f/ck out of your life. We are creatures at our best when in a state of honesty. (Unless we’re sexual predators, war criminals, animal kickers, etc.)
Lesson #7: Don’t exhaust yourself or your partner with your feelings. Meaning, while it’s key to share and be aware, don’t make your relationship an on-going therapy session. If you have baggage, as we all do, deal with that outside of the relationship and before you step into it. That way, when you’re in the relationship, you’ll be able to point out the landmine triggers to your bona fide. If you care about and respect this person, you don’t want them stepping on an emotional landmine and losing a leg. You want to point them out, couched in the simple ‘please don’t step over here because it hurts me, and when I hurt, you hurt’.
Lesson #8: Know when to communicate and how to communicate, and if you don’t have these skills yet, then develop them before you date someone and you find yourself starting every conversation with “We need to talk…” (and if this is where you find yourself, then you should probably take a step back and reconsider whether or not this relationship is for you. Even though they’re work and effort, if your relationship’s balance is defaulting to trauma, drama and pain, rather than a balance of sharing and fun and sexiness with the occasional difficulty, then you’re in the wrong relationship).
Lesson #9: Learn your friend, and only then…date your friend. The best relationships I know are those who were friends first, and lovers second because they had accessed a level of honesty oftentimes masked when the initial engagement is purely a romantic one.
About two and a half years back, A called me a ‘man eater’, following this up with ‘you were put on this earth to put beautiful men in their place. Your standards for yourself and them are so high that it’s impossible for men, and you become their biggest challenge. All of them have failed and it’s no surprise that they always come back and tell you, even years later, they really f/cked up when they lost you.’ This has always stuck with me, seared into me word for word, having then left me curious if my own rules of engagement were too unyielding.
And so, shortly thereafter, I decided to soften my ‘rules’, which really, it is only one general rule to which all others might be traced. Basically, it is that I never suffered fools, and let this be known. If a man was a dumb-ass, I didn’t stick around long enough to write a PhD dissertation on the Tao Of His Dumb-Ass. Instead, I let him know he was a dumb-ass, had one or two ugly cries with my beloved friends, hit the Shut Off Valve and bounced without further hesitation and definitely not once a look over my shoulder.
Since then, I have been trying to soften my ways from black and white to grey, choosing instead to let dumb-asses be dumb-asses whilst convincing myself that to be a dumb-ass is to be human. Only, here’s one thing about me on which you can always 100% count: I am fascinatingly all-or-nothing. So, I went from the sharp definition of black and white to sloppy muted grey where nothing was clear but rather only drooping boring hues of ecru and dirty grey.
My discovery? That if you give a dumb-ass an inch, they will take a mile and then send a mass Facebook invite to all other dumb-asses calling them to attention. I was suddenly surrounded by dumb-asses whom I could not stand and for whom I kept making excuses. It got so bad last year that I managed to awkwardly, and against my own moral code, attempt compassion for a morally bankrupt situation.
Moral of the story #2? If you want to date a woman worth her salt, then please don’t be a dumb-ass. If you don’t suffer fools gently, there is absolutely no need for you to lower your standards so that the fools can make a feeding frenzy of you. Instead, engage only those who share the same shade of your moral code – like, they be aqua to your turquoise or sea-foam. Or maybe pink to your scarlet orange, as to have the exact same moral code is breeding ground for hubris and stagnancy of learning and evolution. Always choose someone who elevates you, rather than someone for whom you must lower yourself that you might be at the same level.
Moral of the story #3? Understand and live the difference between lowering your standards, and compromise. Without compromise, there is no relationship (friend, or not).
Moral of the story #4? It’s alright to be a judg-y bitch when you’re deciding whether or not you will place a part of your heart in the hands of another.
Moral of the story #5? Best and most crucial that you have your self-respect and self-worth while single, rather than neither while partnered with a dumb-ass.
Since a little girl, I have never been capable of looking at a situation and not trying to undo it, in order that I might understand its machinations. Unlike those blissfully at peace with not knowing, I have never, not once, been able to simply sit back and be alright without understanding the Why of that in which I find myself. Also, because I am not Ayn Rand, this means that with equal lunatic enthusiasm, I try to understand the Why of Others’ behaviours because the situations at which I am staring are rarely sovereign in nature.
Let’s be clear – if I walk into a wall, I don’t wax philosophic as to ‘Why did this wall hit me in my face?’, while when I walk into an emotional wall, I do investigate ‘Why is this wall suddenly sprung at my feet?’
Admittedly, this can be quite uncomfortable for people because I have been told that I don’t need much information to see right through the person before me. I have also been told that I often hold a mirror to the actions of others and most of the time, people don’t like what they see and who am I – really – to hold any kind of mirror?
Since I have behaved in this manner for so long, I can even give you the Why Of my Why-s because I am freakishly meta. The Why Of is because it is how I take responsibility for my actions. Like a bumbling bee, I buzz around a situation and exercise it from every single angle so that I understand why it happened, what I did to make it happen, what lessons I will extract from it and how I will then use said lessons toward my next scenario. Does that sound exhausting? Because holy sh/t is it ever. Especially in light of the fact that my situations are of a #FirstWorldProblems nature. (Let’s be honest; it’s not like I’m solving the f/cking Middle East crises here. I mean, my site’s tag-line points to my nickers.)
More important, however, is did you catch the essential problem of this behaviour? Please read the above paragraph a second time and look at how I de-facto fault myself by investigating: what I did to make it happen. You know what that tells me? It tells me that I am either completely drunk 100% of the time, or a bona fide psycho. At the very least, it tells me that I, a Muslim carrying much misplaced Catholic guilt, through the need to own my sh/t and be responsible for it, end up all too often taking on the sh/t of others and internalizing it for them when they can’t be bothered.
Like I don’t have enough problems already? Jesus.
Worse still is that I have yet to learn the glaring obvious-ity (not a word; should be a word) that: most people do not own their sh/t. In fact, most people will become defensive and very upset if one even suggests that they take a step back and look at their own behaviour. A weird squirrel in the middle of the road bewildered by the pile of sh/t which just dropped from the heavens, I stand around with a furry finger outstretched pointing at said pile of sh/t, gnawing on a nut, waiting for the pile’s rightful owner to come over and clean up their mess. Only…they don’t, instead choosing to swerve and drive off and away while I am left mumbling to my girlfriends why aren’t they looking at their pile of dung and investigating it because, isn’t that the right thing to do? My furry little arm remaining outstretched as I keep side-eye-ing the pile of sh/t and after enough time, I decide to investigate and clean it up on my own. Because we all know – squirrels are crazy mother f/ckers.
Wow. For sure that might be the weirdest paragraph I have ever let come to light.
Anyway, once upon a time, Jills very clearly and strongly stated the following three little sentences to which I keep returning:
This is not you.
Whatever is happening, it has nothing to do with you.
It is not your sh/t to sort or to internalize.
A revelation of sorts that, basically, the world does not revolve around me. (I know. It makes me sad too, dear reader. Because wouldn’t the world be a better place if…?)
Accordingly, I decided to change my tune and to instead start actively engaging my avoidance gene. But for a few blips, and genuine curiosities, it has in fact been quite liberating.
All that to say that one of the lessons learnt from 2012 is that I am now the squirrel carrying a nut and bouncing around cleaner streets, rather than the weirdo little one standing next to piles of other peoples’ poo. To stand next to anyone else’s poo is a choice and it should be exercised with great caution and only when you have established – beyond the shadow of any doubt – that the person whose sh/t you are standing next to is either (1) your official bona fide who is equally standing next to your pile of sh/t (we all have one, some are just kernels while others are swamps); or (2) one of your best friends (if not today, then someone whom you believe will in fact be amongst your platonic best friends in the future, so this standing next to their pile of sh/t is an investment being made in anticipation of a high return on value).
The quarter hippie-Buddhist-Sufi-sociopath in me that worked hard to believe that giving is reward in itself? She is no longer so readily giving; rather, she has decided to become picky. Before my spirit-animal squirrel stands next to anyone else’s pile of dung, they will need to earn it. Which, you know what? In fact provides the earner with a greater appreciation since they had to work for it. (Leading directly into Lesson #2 already alluded to above, and to be addressed soon enough inshAllah.)
Thank you 2012.
Today is the first day of Eid, also known as the first day after Ramadan during which time I was unable to drink coffee during the daylight hours (much like a Vampire who can only drink blood after sunset). One understatement is that I am very much enjoying the daytime coffee, as this photo illustrates.
Cartoonish in its understated ways because I’m going to follow it up with the gem that: this last year has bounced me between some challenging situations. And by “challenging”, I mean a clusterf*ck of hits and lies from which I was left shaken in ways I didn’t think possible. Why? Because I didn’t think human persons were capable of weaving such intensely dense webs of deceit intended only to serve their own needs and to hell with anyone who is caught in their cross-fire.
I was a girl who was caught in the cross-fire and who – just until this week – experienced tremors from the associated PTSD.
To the people who willingly catch the kindness of others in their cross-fire, f*ck you. Seriously and very hard. The line that you were not supposed to cross is ALL THE WAY BACK THERE, MOTHER F*CKER, and may your sh*tty Karma bust your ass for the indefinite future. Especially if you never womaned up and owned your sh*t and apologized for it. (These sentences, by the way, are what Jills calls “release sentences”. They feel awesome.)
Directly, it affected my writing. I often found myself in a state of paralysis because every time I tried to open my eyes to see, the fog would make them blurry and this place, this home of mine, has always been where I come to find clarity. (Thank you for your unparalleled patience these last few months, by the way. I am always at a loss when I read your emails because they are so filled with encouragement and kindness.)
Organically, and by no doing of my own, this month of Ramadan opened so many doors (in closing so many others); nothing short of complete rejuvenation on every level. Had you told me this would be the case last year at this time, I would have called you a liar and asked to borrow your peace pipe.
Not to be confused with gratitude for the people above, I am thankful for all of the challenges and the lessons learnt, each one of which has been seared into my person. More important however, is that I am grateful to God who seems to have my ass covered at all times, always extracting me from a situation moments before it implodes. Always, and at every turn, He has ensured that I have been chucked clear enough of the explosions that I am not harmed physically, rather only emotionally terrorized by what I found in the debris. And with friends like mine, the therapy to recovery comes cheap.
Today is the beginning of a new phase and I am so excited because I feel physically and emotionally light and I am filled with only gratitude and warmth. Case in point, I was yesterday walking from the car to my office across the bridge overlooking water. My chest felt like it was breaking apart, incapable of containing its own happiness. I know – I sound like a crackhead. Really, no one knows this more than I…but honestly…honestly…my greatest lesson learned from this past year is that unless a loved one is sick, in pain, hurting, then I – in this country, with this life and these infinite blessings – I have nothing about which to complain (though I would never begrudge you your hangnail and I will always be the shoulder on which to cry, and I will always pick up the pieces of your broken heart and glue them back together as carefully as possible even if it means I will get a hundred slivers in the process).
If you, like me, believe that this phase of life is but the shape of a dream as we enter into the next world, then really? It’s all gravy, baby. And no one, and no thing, is worth the pain of your heart.
May your days be blessed and may the shape of your heart fill only with love and light. x
The photo was taken this morning at La Bottega Nicastro. Not only do they serve the best damn coffee in the world, but they also make the best damn sandwiches. Dunno for what you’re waiting, but you need to get yer damn ass over there right now.
Once upon a mid June’s eve, I received an email which left me frowny-faced and put off. For a while thereafter, I prayed that God provide clarity re a particularly challenging and often uncomfortable circumstance in my otherwise golden world. He answered my prayers in the exact manner which I had laid them out:
1) Sooner, rather than later;
2) Give me clarity through words;
3) From the horse’s mouth;
4) That I might make a decision; and,
5) Accept with neither grief nor pain, this clarity.
And so, I took my pain and hurt and allowed it to wash over me for a three day mourning period wherein there was an emotional ebb and flow between anger, hurt, confusion, gratitude, and oddly – relief. Relief because somewhere in our hearts, we always know before we see, and our choice is to either turn a blind eye or remain eyes wide open and accepting. I chose the later, treated the situation like a science project wherein I stated my hypothesis, waited for the outcome, and then made a decision accordingly.
The situation aside, because it is merely some pages in the story of my life, there is something most challenging about having our prayers received and answered with such sharp outlines, that to blur or ignore them is quite impossible. Challenging because often, when we experience pain, most of us wish to wallow and roll around in it. A compulsion to look into every one of its dark corners and cry out of fear and hurt and some more pain and more reminders that YES! We ARE hurting! Lest. We. Forget. Even when we have made the decision which brings on the sadness.
Further evidence that we human persons are often a complicated clusterf/ck of wtf-s?! Confirmed by the science of understanding pain, wherein it has been found that much of our emotional sadness is in fact brought on by our own chosen and well-tread patterns of thinking which, after enough time, become neurological pathways in which our thought patterns find their footing quite easily. As example, take if you have treaded the worst-case-scenario path for often enough, then your natural inclination will be to automatically walk down that road in the next scenario and all after. (Clearly, I am not here discussing emotional trauma due to abuse or of a chemical sort. I am sh/t-talking about the every day lameness of broken hearts, dating fiascos, broken friendships, #FirstWorldProblems, pain over the ending of celebrity relationships, etc. (ROBSTON 4evah!))
I wish I could understand why this compulsion often exists, but in the absence of that knowledge – relatively impossible to pinpoint – I believe the only thing we can do is to refuse it. Definintely, a jihad of sorts, not to wallow in hurt and pain and lick our wounds for any extended period of time.
Like in the above instance; something was happening, I asked for clarity, I prayed for relief, I received it. So why in the sh/t would I then be sad about it for any period of time?
This, a reinforcement of a world view I have been working through for the past few years. That ultimately, this world is nothing if not always a struggle at every turn, and where we can avoid self-cutting, we really and truly should. At the end of the day, all we have is a handful of years which, when we pass out of this place and onto the next, will feel like nothing more than a dream.
The challenge to us then becomes training our minds to look at the darker corners of sadness and say ‘Thanks but no thanks’, to look at Mr Wallow’s bed of supreme seduction and respond with ‘Nope, not interested. My life is outside, precious moments waiting to be found and experienced. Take your bed and shove it, please and thank you’.
I’m not saying it’s easy, but I am saying that it might be necessary.
Photo courtesy of Rumi (Like, if you do not already).
No entry and no comments.
This is simply a moment which I need to capture here.
I will be writing again soon – I am so very very sorry that I have been absent for so long; love each and every one of your messages and stories and warmth xxo
“Human emotions are most directly influenced by smells that act directly into the brain. Your scent or pheromone signature determines, to a very great extent, how persons respond to you – positively or negatively.” (Source: Skin Biology)
Once upon a time, I had a very big crush on someone. Then one day, I discovered some things about this individual that not only shut down the crushing, but threw it into the middle of an ocean and dropped a nuclear bomb on it.
I have before always said that the Universe speaks to us in different ways – dreams, gut feelings, instinct, all of which are items unseen. When it comes to matters of the heart and body, there is one more unseen which I keep forgetting to mention, and that is pheromones.
Returning to the crush mentioned above, there is a particular memory which had (and will continue to) always strike me. I was standing next to this person when I caught a sniff of him. Not of cologne, and neither of shampoo nor deoderant, but rather a smell of him; his pheromone signature. I was immediately and quite violently repulsed. Enough that I had to take a step backwards and recoup from what my body had just frantically texted me and attempted to post on my Facebook wall: Something’s not right. ABORT! ABORT! ABORT!
Pretty much, the face in the photo attached is the expression of what my body felt when I sniffed him.
This physical message, it came before the news which would send my crush into Shut Down and Nuclear Bomb mode. Interesting, yes?
So. Next you have an as-of-yet unrealized crush, find a way to smell them. If you must, please pretend to trip, or engage in a stop drop and roll; whatever you need to do to get in their and perform a proper scratch ‘n sniff. If your body experiences immediate PTSD then pull the ripcord and abort and / or redirect-to-another the mission STAT.
I’m fully convinced that a person’s natural scent, their pheromones - they are quite possibly one of the top most crucial determinants available to us in our decision making process, and the least thing to be ignored because it is the one thing which can not be affected. Careful careful sniffing, please.
Editorial Note: The following was originally published on 8 March 2012. In honour of Canada Day, I am re-posting.
I was recently in Nova Scotia for work, and had a really wonderful time but for when the winds were UFC-ing my face.
There on Citizenship related stuffs, we were able to look up my original papers. Because I am an immigrant. Just like you! (*Unless you are aboriginal.) As we slowly made our way through the micro-fiche roll, I became increasingly nervous because flopping through my demented head were: ‘What if they have no record that I am a Canadian Citizen? Will I have to change the name of my site? Will they deport me? Will they rush me from behind the filing cabinets?’
These thoughts amplified when the micro-fiche flipped itself into oblivion and no “Maha” was found. My mouth became dry, I eyed my colleagues and thought: I could definitely out-run you, except for maybe the Viking.
Luckily, I didn’t need to do this because they found my photo, and application completed by my baba. My reaction was instant: I wanted to starfish face-plant on the floor and cry a combination of happiness and relief. I wouldn’t have to outrun them, wrangle the Viking, or claim clemency.
My reaction was visceral: Because these documents — which I had never before seen — represented the struggle, hard work, and commitment of my family and so many others like them. That Application for a Citizenship Certificate represents still a love letter to this country, my country.
It also addresses a reality I did not know until I later spoke with my baba, who told me that he was not allowed to submit the application with the word “Palestine” on it, and was instead instructed to write “Stateless.” But he refused, and stood firm that if the word “Stateless” was to appear on our applications, that it would not be in his handwriting, and so it was not. “Palestine” is crossed out, and replaced with the word “Stateless” in a hand-script foreign to my eyes.
The lovely folk printed the sheets and handed them to me as a keepsake. Staring down at them, I thought: Canada, you are one of the greatest loves of my life. I began to cry, and had to immediately place my sorry ass on emotional lock-down.
Because — as already mentioned — I was in the presence of a Viking and I didn’t know him very well. Had I been in the presence of the Sisters only, I would have let my tears fall. But with a Viking, I wasn’t sure with what sort of a reaction I might be met, and feared that he maybe chuck me into a snow bank and demand that I run and find a boat. Dunno.
Anyway. Point is, I was very shaky and excused myself to the washroom so that I might deal in private.
Unfortunately, I walked into the wrong washroom. Really wish I could tell you that I “stumbled” into the men’s, but I had in fact landed my busted ass in the washroom for the impaired. (Maybe I mean handicapped? What word am I supposed to use here, know-it-alls?) Rather than leave immediately, I decided to stick around and figure things out while dealing with my soppy emotions.
Only in place of facing my emotions, I instead discovered my Mount Everest: The toilet seat for the impaired, a mechanism I could not work.
I tried to ease myself onto this contraption very carefully because of the very real possibility that I might wee my leg accidentally (and if I was worried the Viking would chuck me into a snowbank for crying, I was paralyzed by the thought of what he might do were I to wet myself in public).
I am nothing if not determined. So I angled, and then angled some more, I used my yoga techniques, made like a trapeze artist in Cirque du Soleil, got on tippy toe, approached it as though it were a small horse, and even tried to unscrew half of the toilet seat so I might sit on its bare bones; I was met with nothing but the reality that there was absolutely no way I was going to pee on this toilet without risking the dunk of my bare bottom into the water itself.
After eventually accepting defeat, I made my way to the regular toilets (around the corner, down another hall) where I was able to hover like a proper debutante.
Because God works in mysterious ways, my back-alley confrontation with the toilet afforded me ten minutes to subconsciously recenter my emotional compass, and to once more control everything starting at my head, moving down to my heart, and landing squarely in my pants.
Thank you Canada, for both your warmth and your toilets that are not holes in the ground demanding I stick my bottom out like a dancer in a Fitty Cent video, and aim. Please don’t change too much.
Today I learnt of the passing of one of my favourite university professors – Marvin Glass. He is the original and most clear image I hold of my first days at university, exactly 20 years ago. Standing at the front of the class, at the bottom of hill-d steps, hair a mess of black fuzz, Marvin scribbled on the chalkboard and I thought: I have a mad scientist for a professor, and what product does he use in his hair?
He took everything many of us believed about the world and turned it on its head. A fierce advocate of human rights, he carried as sharp an intellect as we should expect of academia. Marvin offered me a scholarship into the philosophy program which I declined for several reasons, choosing to instead take as many philosophy classes as possible even when completing my Master of Arts degree in an adjacent field. It was Marvin’s love of philosophy that I adopted at the age of 18, carry well into my adult years and which – inshallah - will run with me for the rest of my days.
I was watching a film when a character mentioned Marx, and I thought of you. Twenty years I have thought of you at such random moments, always with it a smile. News of your leaving this world has brought with it an unexpected sadness, Marvin. Undoubtedly, you will be missed even by those who were scared by you (yes, you were often quite scary because you never, ever, did you ever suffer fools lightly). Maybe especially by them as they are the ones whose minds you sharpened most.
On behalf of all of your students: Thank you for every single bit of it.
I have been sleeping with a guy for 3 months now regularly and I think he might be sleeping with other women because we agreed that this was just hooking up. About two weeks ago, I told him that I wanted to be exclusive and he said that he wasn’t interested. I know how much he likes me. because we’re perfect when we’re together so I don’t understand what’s holding him back. We are perfect and is there anything I can do to make it easier for him to be able to give me what I need? I texted him a few times this week but he hasn’t responded and I don’t understand what’s happening. What can I do? I miss him so much! Thanks!
Dear Oh my God I Don’t Know What To Do With You (OMGIDKWTDWY) -
Oh honey, I want to give you a hug whilst simultaneously slapping you across the face. Let me be the first to say that the bridge pose is one of my favourite yoga poses, during yoga. It is not something I am fond of emotionally for any extended period of time unless I know that there is a strong man’s hand beneath my back providing support. In order to even get there, however, a man has to earn and prove that he is worth his salt rather than having it bestowed upon him by me for no reason. (For the record: His sleeping with you does not, in any dimension, amount to worth earned.)
I want you to keep in mind the following generalization which has stemmed from much research: Men fall in love far more quickly than women (on average, a woman takes about 14 dates to a man’s 3 dates to consider herself falling in love). Additionally, both men and women are far more intrigued by that for which they must work. A booty call hook-up requires a few words typed out on a smart phone and then maybe 6 minutes in bed. No one is in to impress the other and though you may believe that you have a magic v@gina, it will not make him fall in love with you. Unless it can sing; then…well, I might fall in love with you, too.
The scenario in which you find yourself is simple and shouldn’t be complicated: He was just into you for the s/x. If he was interested in you for anything above and beyond that, he would have made it clear (likely before you, according to research). That you have told him you want more and he has hit the Avoidance Button is not complicated. Really. He’s not sitting around with his mates pondering the Pro-s and Con-s of being with you. He’s not having sleepless nights wondering if this will work long term. He is definitely not crying into his coffee mug wondering what he might do to “to make it easier for [you].” In fact, he has made it unequivocally clear: He’s. Not. Interested.
You know what he might be doing? (A) Not thinking of you at all; and (B) Texting other women and solidifying another booty call or calls scenario.
I am giving you a hug, because I know that hurts. In fact, it sucks the big one that the boy whom you like isn’t the boy who likes you back – we have all, absolutely every single one of us, been there. Do yourself a favour and don’t wallow; instead, have a few good cries with your girlfriends and then get back out into the dating game. Ultimately, in the grand scheme of things, one boy isn’t such a big deal. Rather, he is a footnote to an end note in the story of your life. In order that he is a big deal, the feelings you have must be reciprocated from his end with equal force. Trust.
Be selective in your choices, most especially in this realm of relationship. The more you value yourself, the more with-value you will be treated by a proper gentleman.
Let’s take this a step further and break down your sentiments. First, that you believe you are “perfect”. Wrong. I mean, clearly: Wrong. If you were perfect for one another, he would have invested in the relationship above and beyond some slapping around of fun-bits.
Second, you “don’t understand what’s holding him back”. What’s holding him back is that you’re not the one for him. Again, I am giving you a hug. Don’t rationalize this beyond what he has said to you; don’t read into this more than is necessary – if he cared about you, and he was a man worth his salt, he would do whatever was needed to be with you. This is the proper behaviour of people who care about one another; there are no stop-obstacles, but rather challenges to be overcome in order that people may be together. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lazy of mind and spirit; and, they haven’t yet learnt how to love enough.
Third, you are curious to know if there is anything you can do to make it easier for him. Yes. You can cut him off. This is easier for you and easier for him, though it may cause you a little bit of pain now, it is far better than excruciating pain down the line because this will only get worse.
Already, there is imbalance between you and while the ebb and flow of imbalance is natural every once in a while, you have hit tidal wave levels from which there is no recovery. One of you wants more, the other clearly wants nothing.
This is what we call an impasse, a non-negotiable starter and you must choose from one of the following three scenarios: (1) with grace, accept what he has told you and cowboy-up, walking away; (2) keep texting and messaging him while he ignores you. Unless he is Jason Bourne or on the run from the law, there is no reason why he shouldn’t be messaging you back. Ask any man and they will state the obvious – when they care about a woman, they will always find a way to communicate; or, (3) go back to sleeping with him and de-valuing yourself in the process. De-valuing because you have already made it clear that you want more, and he has made it clear that he’s not interested. So if you go back to sleeping with him, your message is this: I am willing to take your scraps, not receive what I need, and still let you f/ck me. Also, I am wishy-washy. (I’m not sugar-coating this because I have seen one too many of my girlfriends place themselves in this position. Beyond any reasonable doubt – most men and women, unless they are cut from a character of stone – will respect others only as much as she respects herself.)
In preparation for future engagements with other men, ask yourself if you’re interested in being anyone’s booty-call. In this age of free and fast hook-ups, it is almost expected of women to be “cool” with this. To that, I say: F/ck this expectation. It is not for me, and any man who wishes to engage me will understand this. It may not be for you either, but in order that you might communicate that efficiently and rationally, you need to be solid in your self-awareness. Know where your red-lines are with a man and engage them accordingly.
With that, please remember what I have written before – each of us, we are a variation of the Wittelsbach-Graff Diamond and unless you treat yourself according to that strength, and with humility, no one else will.
Best of luck; I’m in your corner,
Image courtesy of I Know That Girl Yoga.
“Terrorism is not the weapon of the weak. It is the weapon of the morally bankrupt and mentally depraved. As Muslims, we should join all civilized human beings in condemning it in Boston, Baghdad or Burma. We condemn it if it is state-sponsored or orchestrated by rabid, depraved individuals. We condemn it whether the victim is Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Hindu or professes no religion. We condemn it with no hesitation or equivocation, for God tells us in no uncertain terms in the Qur’an, “Do not kill the life which has been sanctified by God…” He mentions elsewhere in the Scripture, “Whoever kills an innocent life it is as if he has killed all of humanity…” We affirm the sanctity of innocent life and condemn all acts of terrorism in the strongest possible terms. A strong, unqualified, universal rejection of any act of terrorism is the first step in contributing to its eradication.” via Imam Zaid Shakir
To learn more about the 95% of the Muslim world who loves and cherishes Islam, rather than the political machinations and manipulations of people who would use this Faith as one for violence, you may start by getting to know one of my favourite Imams, Zaid Shakir on Facebook and on his web site New Islamic Directions.
Furthermore, you should familiarize yourselves with Zaytuna (the Arabic word for ‘olive’).
This is Islam. Nothing else.
My heart is heavy for Boston, and my prayers are for everyone in that amazing city; equally, it is heavy for every individual who will be hurt by the reverberations of this act of terrorism.
Editorial note: The following is from a very dear friend and so I have much more information than she has provided in the letter. In order to understand my response, what you need to know is that her last substantial relationship was an emotionally devastating one; to finally exit said relationship, she needed to break a cycle of emotional abuse levelled at her over the course of years. This abuse was intended to do two things in a domino effect: (1) belittle who she was and what she represented, rendering her person never good enough; so that, (2) she did all of the work to be “good enough” so that he would love her “enough”. The reverberations of this abuse continue.
This is how it happened.
Monday – last day of texting.
Last evening before going out I decided to write him and tell him [some v big news] that we should celebrate over drinks. He wrote back congrats and suggested tonight.
SO- I sort of asked him out. Which I hate. I mean, he initiated the whole thing…but I put pen to paper. That makes me feel vulnerable in a way that I dislike immensely.
He did volunteer to come all the way to my hood which is far – and nice of him.
That’s a bonus.
I don’t know…I just need to remind myself that it’s a meeting of two people nothing more. He has to charm me just as much as I have to charm him.
I just feel like I like him a lot already based on our chemistry last weekend and I want it to go well.
Thankfully we are meeting at 8:30 so I have time to do [...] prepare. He [does something I like] TOO! Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! See? I have a problem.
Alright. So…I think that there are a few things going on here. Before you dive in, I want you to know that I want you to have everything of which you dream, including a man who pursues you all across the board. (Here, I listed all of the ways in which the above man did very clearly pursue Juliet.)
That said, I have a sense that the pendulum for you has swung in a fierocuous other direction after the last time you cared deeply about Mister X. In that scenario you were the one left to hustle and hustle alone in order to receive approval. I believe that the consequence of this is that your headspace now finds itself on the complete other side as a means of self preservation, having convinced itself that it should never ever be the one to make any move. That you will never be the one who seeks approval, negotiate, sacrifice, make a change. That none of the work required will fall to you.
Because he is the first man about whom you have shown a genuine interest since Mister X, I understand completely and entirely your fear of engaging anyone in a way which would place you back into the same sitch as the one with Mister X. With this in mind, and after establishing that he has in fact pursued you thus far, I want you to be alright with sometimes doing some work (to meet him half way), while other times doing none of the work, and some other times not letting him do any of the work.
Babe, in order that you may engage in a healthy relationship, here’s what you need to remember for both this man and the ones who follow, until you find your Person:
1) The only relationships which are one sided are the abusive ones. If you sit back and refuse to do anything, then you have turned yourself into Mister X. Further to this, imbalance is not fair – it does not give you the room to give generously, and it does not afford the new man the room to receive with equal grace.
2) Mister X is one dude. He is not every dude, he is not some dudes. He is merely a dude who – if you let him bleed all over other men – will continue to be a factor in your life. To treat other men from the starting point that they may be Mister X diminishes from who they are in direct corelation with giving Mister X more power and presence in your life still. To keep both the power and presence of Mister X in your past, with him, is an extremely difficult and challenging thing to do (I know, because I have struggled with this exact scenario myself, as has every single woman on the planet who has dated more than one man.) This is a little bit of a jihad – where you actively fight the impulse of painting all men with the sick wierdo behaviours of Mister X.
3) Open yourself up to this all the way. YOU LIKE A MAN!!! YOU ARE EXCITED ABOUT A MAN!! YOU ARE WORRIED THAT HE WILL NOT LIKE YOU AS YOU LIKE HIM WHICH IS…YOU ARE WORRIED ABOUT BEING REJECTED!! (I am not yelling, by the way, I am really super excited and all I can think to express that is caps!! BECAUSE THIS IS THE FIRST TIME THAT YOU LIKE A MAN THIS WAY SINCE MISTER X!!).
4) Don’t let this possibility scare you. Be open to everything and anything all across the board starting at this is just “a meeting of two people and nothing more” all the way to “this might be my person” and then let the chips fall where they may. Just two nights ago you told me not to plan, but rather to let things happen organically. This was excellent advice of which I am now reminding you.
5) I am so excited that you are going out with a man about whom you are excited. It has been years, my love, and you deserve this excitement. It is right and it is healthy and it is necessary because it is the Universe telling you all of these things and it is a sign of moving forward (not that you haven’t already, but you and I know that this is different). Please don’t overshadow this excitement with fear, and should the worst happen then we’ll deal with it at that point.
I understand and hear your fear, and you may choose to sit back and remain in a safe space without engaging for the rest of your days. Thing with that is, you are self-inflicting isolation but you will still eventually get hurt – if not by your own actions, then by a million other things which will come at you, not relationship associated. Hurting is a part of life, and the end goal can not be happiness and security, but rather living which entails feeling as many of the things which this world’s emotional spectrum has to offer.
I have said this before and will remind you of it – this man, the one with whom you are going on a date? He may turn out to be a complete sh/t. He might have bad breath, bad manners, or simply a bad attitude. The man after him may be a Conservative. The one after that might still live in his mum’s basement at the age of 42. Chances are that you will go through several more men before you finally find your Person (and I know how much you want to find said individual). There are a plethora of reasons for which he and the men to follow may not be your Person.
The good news here is that this is about you, not them; more important is that this is about you, not Mister X’s residue in your world. So, every one of these men, should they not work out then your rear-view mirror must view them as a set of training wheels and nothing more. As with Mister X, there were many lessons learnt and your choice at every junction was to use those lessons to either become a kinder heart, or a more hardened one.
I think that a majour component of life’s struggle is the direction in which we choose to point our hearts. Jaded, scared, bitter, angry, kind, understanding, open and vulnerable, are all directions in which you choose to point your heart. Several studies continue to show that most deathbed regrets are centered on all that which people did not do (for fear, for shame, for a multitude of reasons). Keeping that as the foundation on which you place your heart, then carefully choose in which direction you prefer and run with it. So that when you’re dying, you won’t regret it. Like, on your death-bed dying and not just a metaphor for your dying. When your ahunret or something. For serious.
All my love,
Shortly after moving into the neighbourhood, I was walking along Elgin Street and about to turn onto my McLeod Street when I was stopped dead in my tracks. Streaming out of the street-level apartment on my right hand side was a female voice killing Prince’s When Doves Cry. Not a little, and definitely not kind of or sort of, but rather completely and entirely she had Prince by the (I imagine) teenie tiny little ones and making him sound like a child in comparison.
Between her voice and the funk they laid down, I was left with no choice but to stand swaying in the street with my mouth hung open in admiration and awe. Basically, how I always stand when alone on the street.
For those of you who have lived here for some time, it will come as no surprise that I am a bona fide creep. Specific to this point, you will not be surprised to learn that I stood on my tip toes trying to look into the window of said apartment, hoping to get a glimpse of the divine woman delivering a better version of this song than Prince might ever hope to do in his high heeled booties. So creepy, in fact, that I pulled out my blackberry and tried to take a photo through the apartment window so that I might see who was singing. Not just once, but twice – once without flash and once with. All I saw was blurred mesh. (What had I hoped to do with the photo if it showed the female? I didn’t get that far, because I’m not the smartest person in the world.)
Anyway. After the song was over, I clapped. Staring up at the window, I clapped and smiled and promised myself that I would write a note of thanks and tape it to their window
and surely they will be my friends and she will sing me to sleep. I am not exaggerating when I write that their version of When Doves Cry was really just that exquisite and then some.
Sadly, while I may be a creep on the regular, I am equally a knob-head and so never got around to writing that letter of thanks. Instead, I continue to feel a sense of shame and guilt every time I walk by the apartment because I have not thanked the woman and the band for that beautiful experience. Along with the shame and guilt, I always walk past the apartment with a sense of hope that her voice might find me a second time. But it has not.
As the only thing currently sleeping in my bed is Melodrama, I last week walked past the apartment and turned to look forlornly up at their window. While mumbling “Rapunzel, Rapunzel…” my eye caught on a shiny poster for a band called The Red Rails in precisely the same spot I had planned to tape my letter of thanks. Pukey with excitement because maybe it was her!
Rushing home, I took the stairs two at a time and chucked myself at my laptop when in the apartment to get on The Red Rails site and also immediately look for them on Facebook so that I might message them and ask if they were her and why wasn’t she in their photos they all have a penis and I’m pretty sure she was a girl who was singing and maybe she’d like to sing me a lullaby? Would she like to be my friend? (Insert sinister smiling emoticon here.)
I received a response immediately, thanks God only after I refreshed my screen about 700 times. Steve (drummer of The Red Rails) was generous enough to direct me to the musical genius that are The Hornettes (who don’t all have a penis), a sampling of which is here for your grooving pleasure and which I defy you to listen to only once:
They are amazing, non?! Like, SO AMAZING!!!! And they are local, which makes me love them that much harder.
I messaged them my creepy story (but didn’t tell them I tried to take a photo, lest they block me on Facebook), and I have both their Facebook page and their twitter account bookmarked so that I might attend their next gig when I am in town. I also promised Steve that I would yell a hello into the apartment next I walked
and by which I really actually mean ‘stalked’ by.
Bookmark them and give them a twirl. Also, spread the word please and thank you.
Remember that time really recently when I told you about how you need to trust and be open to vulnerability? Well guess what, kittens? I recently kicked my own advice right squarely in her fun parts.
The reality of which forced me to wonder: What happens when We don’t follow Our own advice? (I use ‘We’ and ‘Our’ in the same way as Her Majesty does, because we have both bookmarked the photos of Hot Harry in Vegas. HOT HARRY!! CALL ME!!) And further: How do We recover from said blunder?
What happens when We don’t follow Our own advice?
This one’s easy. First, the 37 lunatic clowns in our head paint their feelings on the subject matter. Second, Charo does an interpretative dance of said painting. Finally, we communicate said dance to our shiny new person. In Swahili.
In short, what would happen is a clusterf/ck of crazy.
In my case, I decided to document said clusterf/ck by placing it in an email, peppered with many sinister smiling emoticons.
Now. The person on the receiving end of that clusterf/ck could have either met me with their own clusterf/ck of lunacy. Instead, they chose to stand down and deal with me in the only way I deserved – as though communicating with Lennie, the gentle giant retard in “Of Mice And Men”. (I love Lennie. LENNIE!! CALL ME!!)
How do We recover from said blunder?
We apologize, immediately and unequivocally.
We explain our sorry a/s and all which led to and gave breeding ground to the clusterf/ck on display. Ultimately, when engaging a shiny new person, it is absolutely critical to be alright with our own little bits and bobs of past hurts. Most important, we need to understand their roots and explain them accordingly so that the shiny new person knows that we are not scared to understand ourselves, explain ourselves, and work on ourselves (which is simply a way of saying: I care about you and because I care about you, I want you to understand me. Also, I really like my new shoes, don’t you?).
This goes for all relationships, platonic and otherwise.
Don’t do it again. Or, at the very least, work really v v hard to curb your enthusiasm when defaulting to above clusterf/ck.
Now. If your shiny new friend can’t handle the fact that you have some past hurts to which they must pay attention, then they likely won’t be your playmate for too long. Notwithstanding all of our crazy, it’s only the people who are willing to let us be human (and so to hurt, to make mistakes, and to always be a work in progress) that should be valued enough to remain a part of our lives. The others, they are better left to pedestrian stylings of plastic relationships and surface explanations. (You. You deserve better.)
I mean, even God insists.
Two key elements in any relationship: Trust. Vulnerability.
Two key elements that make me want to punch myself in the face and pull on my own hair (but I get it. Hard): Trust. Vulnerability.
The expression of the little girl in the photo is the same expression my heart would have (if it could make a face) every time it has to engage both of these things in the world of dating (because interestingly enough, both trust and vulnerability are extremely easy when it comes to platonic engagements for your WebMistress).
The two go hand-in-hand and can not be dissociated, presenting the tautological equation: To be Vulnerable, one must be willing to Trust. To Trust, one must be willing to be Vulnerable. And by “tautological”, I very seriously mean “asshole”. Why? Because each and every one of us has in our history either (or both, whatever is your flavour) a douchebag player or a crazy bitch who had no problem taking advantage of both our trust and vulnerability.
Two of the key ingredients to a healthy, loving, long-term relationship, and which when in abundance, open the doors to deeper commitments and more facile communication between lovers. I can hear you grumbling: Trust needs to be earned, and so…you and I, we are fighting almost as hard as I fight myself to engage both trust and vulnerability in any new romantic endeavor.
One of my own personal jihads is to live by “trust should be freely given; people innocent until proven guilty”. Worst case scenario? Someone else proves that they are untrustworthy. Worst case scenario take 2? Someone else turns out to prove that they are not cut from same moral fabric as ourselves and so we turn up the music and ask them to Sashay! Shantay! their untrustworthy arse right out of our lives, please and thank you. (Err. Just in case: Please do not transfer funds to Nigeria as follow up to that email sent to you by the Prince. He? He is not trustworthy.)
When do they go from trustworthy to un?
Most of the time, it’s not clear cut. Like, you won’t have your new piece standing in your front window Marcel Marceau’ing “I AM UNTRUSTWORTHY SHHHHH!” and offering you cookies as recompense. What you will have is a series of flags to which you must pay attention – because these flags, they are on a map and in time that map will reveal itself and you will be able to connect the course as laid out by said flags.
Don’t believe me? Think back to the time(s) that someone has f/cked with your sense of trust and revisit all of the flags that you had stared at eyes wide shut. What do you see?
In the absence of an actual professional con job, most people trip up – this, not because they are dumb (though generally they tend to be), but rather because the Universe, She does not protect those who are unworthy of protection. She does not protect those who would take advantage of a gentle heart; She is in your corner. Trust Her, if you can not trust anyone else.
The only thing I can tell you here is to pay attention to your gut instinct. If something feels off to you about someone, then pay attention, while always beginning from the premise that everyone is innocent until they prove otherwise.
And here’s the big BUT…
In the interm, what do I do if I am feeling like an extra on the cancelled (and amazing telly show) Carnivàle?
Listen. Before we go any further, please let me be the first to state for the record that I can be a crazy person who tail-spins when it comes to matters of trust because of a couple of douchebag players in my own personal history. (Can I tell you some stories!) Honest, there were times when it felt like the inside of my head was suddenly filled with 37 cars stuffed with clowns each carrying a knife and a chain and even some bottles of acid. For real. That’s how crazy it got.
How does this get managed? My girlfriends, a very very select few who remind me that what I am thinking of and reacting to is not the person of the day, but rather a person of ago. Basically, they punch me in my face and pull my hair for me so that I might continue to engage both trust and vulnerability without letting the shit behavior of someone from ago affect, reflect on, pollute, sully the excellent behavior of someone in the present.
The biggest kicker in all of this is that even someone who is trustworthy might end up smashing your heart into little pieces at any given moment. That’s the risk, a risk which exists even after years of commitment. (Thanks, BB!) We can all avoid this risk, by living beneath a rock. It’s really that simple. And even more poignant is that you and I, all 13 of us, might get our hearts smashed and ripped and torn apart 87 times before someone really lovely comes along and helps us place a bandage over the last cut and then not only gives us a cookie, but actually bakes one just for us. One day, the return on all of this risk, it will be a windfall inshAllah.
My advice to you: Get your pen on and define your top three friends, best for the job those who know your history as well as you do. Tell them that they are officially on stand-by for a potential state of clowns-in-your-head and tell them that you need them to stab each clown in the eye, one-by-one. Make no mistake that you are at war with the clowns and you need an army both internal and external to smoke them out and annihilate them on point.
With such violent imagery in my head, I suddenly am at a loss as to how I might end this article. So: THE END. TA-DAAAAH!
The amazing picture taken from Sheranator(dot)com.
I couldn’t have been older than six or seven years old when this happened in Gaza. It was around Eid festivities and so the family had lamb. Precisely like the Scottish, we too take the stomach of the sheep or lamb, scrub-a-dub-dub it until it is shinier than a new FIFA ball, stuff, sew, then cook it.
I had never had any before that afternoon, and so sat around watching my teeta clean the stomach (scrub-a-dub-dub literally in a basin tub) until it was snow white, and surprisingly jiggly. She then stuffed it with rice, onion and a gagillion different spices before placing it in the oven for a few hours of cooking. When ready for consumption, it was proudly placed atop the dinning room table like a v large soccer ball who had forgotten to wear its black.
Proud, white, wobbly.
Every time someone took a breath, it would jiggle. I stared saucer-eyed at it in stunned and terrified silence; why was dinner moving, I wondered. if I acknowledged its presence respectfully, we could both pretend the other one didn’t exist and we would leave each other to our own quiet lives. I would not eat it; it would not jiggle over into my mouth. It was a simple understanding that did not and still does not require much explanation, yes?
I ate my salad while keeping an eye on the giant wobbly white stuffed stomach. I didn’t speak to anyone, hoping that my silence would invalidate my presence. Unfortunately, and from a v young age, I have been a shining star impossible to go unnoticed. Did you just snort? I did.
Suddenly, my Ninja Momma remembered that she’d carried me around for 9 months and shot me out like a bullet. This ONE TIME physical activity of hers meant that she could coerce me into doing anything, and where coercion was not an option, then emotional terrorism was and remains still.
I was raised with 7,319 Rules. Rule #264 was You Can’t Say You Don’t Like A Food Unless You Have Tasted It Because People Are Dying From Starvation Don’t Be A Spoiled Entitled Brat. There was no escape. Mumma told me that I would be having karshaat; I said that I would not.
She said again, as did I. I looked to my seedo who told his crazy daughter, my mum, that as with religion, there can be no coercion in matters of food. She said she had launched me from her body and she had the right to decide, not anyone else. My grandfather and everyone else at the table told my mother to leave well alone while I sat crying terrified that I might have to chew on the white wobbly object which smelt of lamb.
As with most matters, my mum had her way. Sort of.
She had never done this before, and she has never done this since, but she actually took a spoonful of the karshaat and forced it into my mouth. While I was crying and surely snotting all over my dinner salad.
The result? I threw up. Projectile vomited all over the Eid dinner table while still crying and now definitely with running nose. (Put a pin in it: The snot would have been clear as I was not ill, so not so bad really. Also, I was a shining star child, so it probably looked like diamonds. Snorted again, did you? Yea, me too.)
Ninja Mumma stood stunned as I continued to cry. She quietly took away my dinner plate while her mum and dad, especially her dad, berated her for her insistence that I take white wobbly lamb into my face. My seedo then took my small traumatized body away from the table and instead made me my favourite food – one fried piece of cheese and one fried egg, because I was on a Communist kick and was, in solidarity with them, rationing and walking around shaking with a cold chill in July. In the Middle East, the desert.
Admittedly, I was rather intrigued by the events of the afternoon as until that point, I was unaware of my ability to throw up so rapidly and with such force. I had a new party trick ready for the decadence of Roman times. While eating my sunny-side up egg and chewing on my fried cheese, I said a silent prayer for my mother possessed that one and only time (she never. Ever. Tried to force food into my face ever again) and for the little wobbly white lamb who once could, but now would no longer ever.
Image courtesy of Cutest Paw.
1.5 tbsp olive oil
Super finely chopped onion (you should cry; if you don’t, you’re not human)
330 g lean ground beef
1/4 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cinnamon
9 (not ten, and not eight) large very ripe tomatoes
Salt + pepper to taste
Allayah toppings, beneath-ings, and accoutrements
1 c white rice, short grain
2 c water
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 c pine nuts
Dill pickles (I am partial to Bubbies because I am at my best when an insufferable asshole)
1) Heat up the 1.5 tbsp olive oil, add the onion, then simmer on medium / low heat.
2) When onion is golden, add the ground beef, allspice, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Sautee until brown.
3) Purée the hell out of the tomatoes until they look like this:
4) Place tomatoes into a large pot, add the cooked beef, the additional 1/2 tsp allspice and 1/2 tsp cinnamon, then simmer on medium / low for 90 minutes.
In related news, and while the above is simmering…
5) Make the rice. 1 cup rice to 2 cups water. If you need instructions on what you actually need to do, you’re my hero.
6) Heat the additional 1 tbsp olive oil in a small pan. Add the pine nuts and golden them (By the way, is there a verb for “golden them”?), usually no more than a minute. Not that I have ever burnt them to a crisp and needed to start from scratch but not before I had to stand on a chair and fan my fire alarm which was set off by the smoke. I’m just here intuiting a general ‘one minute’ intuit.)
Serve as such…
Layer the rice, then the allayah, and sprinkle with pine nuts. Serve with a side of pickles (I can’t resist Bubbies and had already eaten 3 by the time I took this photo), and fresh green chili pepper (or sprinkle with dried chili, as I have done here because I am a nobhead who forgot to buy the fresh green kind).
Bon Appetit! Or, as the Arabs say: Sahteen!
But first. Thank you to everyone for the amazing messages and notes of concern. Yes, this is the longest I have ever gone without writing, almost two months and instead recycling earlier articles. Now to the article itself, with the greatest thanks for your patience these past two months…
Do you know your burn rate? In business, a ‘burn rate’ is defined as “the rate at which a company (esp. startup) uses its cash to survive, the money spent each month above incoming cash flow,” otherwise known as a negative cash flow, moneys spent before one starts to generate a profit.
In the emotional world, this would basically amount to how fast you burn through your own emotional-fat stored before you start to receive emotional-fat to top up your love handles once more. Extend this idea to that it is never a one-time deal, but rather an on-going burn and profit ebb and flow in any relationship.
I’ve recently realized that understanding one’s own emotional burn rate supports and often-times safe-guards a relationship. Very rarely do two people have the same emotional burn rate, and the absence of knowledge of one’s own burn rate can translate itself into a handful of devastating falls for the relationship and those involved. When we understand our own, then we can at least manage ourselves accordingly when our piece’s burn rate runs much faster or far slower than our own.
Because, we can not enter into a relationship with the intention of either changing ourselves or our partner, and so the best thing which we can do is understand who we are, that we might manage our behavior when we suddenly introduce Factor X (the new piece).
As example, take me who has a ridiculously high burn rate but then only requires a very very small amount of return in order to completely (and then some) top up her own burn rate. On the other hand there’s Kitty, whose burn rate is so slow it might be misconstrued as non-existent. Pretty much, she’s always “meh.” Me, I don’t understand with which crayon colour I would scratch out the “meh,” let alone live by it. Not to mention, there is nothing about which I could ever be “meh” and if anyone tried to force that on me, I would totes Hulk out and then start to cry and maybe wet myself somewhere in between.
In the hypothetical, if I were to become involved with a man who had an extremely slow burn rate, two things would need to happen:
Once more in the hypothetical, if I were to become involved with a man who had an extremely fast burn rate, two things would still need to happen, the intentions of which (like the above scenario) create a sense of balance among the two people and also afford them the room to be who they are while accepting of the other’s nature, the one with whom they are having the sex fun-times.
I must admit that I am extremely excited about this information because until Gillian introduced the concept of burn rate, I had neither thought about it in the emotional sense nor considered this perspective’s implications on a relationship.
Word to the wise: figure out your burn rate, be aware of it, manage yourself inside of it and then watch and learn how to best manage it with your piece with the understanding that you both respect the differences and give one another the room to be who you are (so that neither of you comes back one day and says “…who in the hell is this person I’m sleeping with?!”).
If you are unfamiliar with this beautiful man’s story, please take the necessary 11 minutes to watch this and learn from it. Love and light to you each and all xx
Video from KarmaTube
Three foundational notes: (1) Yes. We get that sometimes we all falter and we lose perspective and we are hurt and confused by a wo/man’s behaviour because we like them more than they like us and the below is difficult to action. As such, it is best to see the below as goals for the future; (2) This is not a dissertation on the subject of fe/male stuffs, but rather dating stuffs non gender specific. At end of day, it turns out that everyone, male and female, is an idiot in the early stages of dating; and, (3) Naturally, once people become exclusive and enter into a relationship reflecting the mutual decision to make one another the priority, all of what follows is softened and altered.
Mistake #1: Being invested too early
Why are you in such a rush? If something is meant to be, it simply will be. A slow hot burn filled with anticipation and absence often builds excitement. Investing emotionally too early means that you haven’t taken the time to get to know / learn about the individual before you. Investing too early usually amounts to falling in love with a projection of who you want this wo/man to be, and often has very little with who they really are, setting the both of you up for failure.
Take a deep breath and relax. Take your time getting to know this new individual and don’t invest too much too soon. Someone becoming a priority is a spot to be earned and that takes both time and work, having to be mutual for it to be healthy and carrying real potential.
Mistake #2: Over communicating
If you are in the early stages of dating and you have a groove and suddenly s/he doesn’t contact you, LOVE OF GOD, relax and please don’t perceive it as being the end of the world.
A disappointment, yes, because it sucks when someone changes a fun rhythm.
If you were the last to message, trust that they will contact you soon. If you really can’t wait, send one more message but no more. Note: This is not playing ‘hard to get’ which is an ignorant move, but rather demanding balance and respect in communication and setting the tone for both of these things early on. Message one to one, back and forth. If one person stops and the other keeps moving forward, imbalance is created and resentment breeds.
Mistake #3: Asking more than once
You message a question and they don’t respond – Do you want to hang out this weekend? What are you doing for New Year’s? Would you like to hang out Friday night?
What do you do? You do nothing, is what. Most definitely, you do not ask again. For me, personally, this has become a hard-line in romance. When you pose a question, the proper thing is to receive a response; when none is offered it’s just a flat out indication that someone is rude. (Manners are as underrated as good taste is dead.)
Bottom line is, s/he’s either taking their time to figure things out, or they’re not going to answer. Unless this individual has given you reason to not trust them, then trust that they will get back to you. If they don’t within some time, then view it as an opportunity for you to figure out if you’re really as into them as you originally thought.
Flip side: If they say no, respect and accept their response with grace. Being angry about someone not wanting to spend time with you isn’t the way to appeal to the fe/male heart. Instead, be thankful that they were honest enough to say no (hopefully politely) and then turn your attentions elsewhere to find the individual who is as excited to spend time with you as you are with them.
Mistake #4: Making excuses for them
You are dating an adult, not an infant toddler. Do yourself a favour and don’t make excuses for their poor behaviour, if any is displayed. If they do something which doesn’t sit right with you, instead of making excuses for them, ask them to explain what happened.
Simplest and most often example is when someone doesn’t call when they said they would. Unless dead in a ditch or with lost phone or broken hands, this is ill-mannered and plainly disrespectful. It means they don’t care about your time (or theirs); don’t excuse it, don’t ignore it, and most definitely don’t be okay with it if it doesn’t feel okay for you.
Mistake #5: Overstaying your welcome
If someone’s not into you, you know it. Dating is not an ocean, and this person is not a lifesaver jacket. Do yourself a favour and don’t overstay your welcome. If they’re too cowardly to tell you that they’re not into you, follow your gut and bow out with as much grace as you can muster.
Good luck and God Save The Queen!
Image from Hodder & Stoughton Publisher.
Building bridges, mending gaps, shortening distances between ourselves is not an act most of us perform wilfully. Rather, we are more comfortable sitting in a state of exclusion, preferring to define ourselves by what we are not, rather than the commonality within. This, the baseline of Otherness.
There’s a key element missing in our treatment of one another, which I believe is the contributing factor to this wilful exclusion: Respect.
Many of us don’t care enough to learn about one another, and so within this created void, what we are really saying is “I don’t respect you,” “I don’t care enough to know you to understand you.”
Extend and elevate this thinking to something as personal and as intimate as Faith.
Islam was premised on this notion of respecting others – one of the core principles of our faith is to accord full respect to every religion which has belief in God as its focal point. A shining example of this is a hadith about the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), who in the year 10 H, gave free access to his mosque and full consent to the Christians to celebrate their religious rites within this mosque, although their adoration of Jesus as “the son of God” and Mary “as the mother of God” were fundamentally at variance with Islamic beliefs.
Did you catch that?
One of God’s Prophets did not try to convert, change or annihilate another great Faith tradition; instead, he honoured it by bringing it into his home and allowing it to exist as is.
Too many in this world continue to be told that they are better. Taught that they will go to Heaven while most Others will not. Generations kneaded with disrespect, supremacy, and hatred, instead of encouraged to build bridges and find commonalities among their brothers and sisters in humanity.
For me, there is so much heartbreak and shame in this, how so many of us have chosen to position ourselves above others, and use Faith as the reason to do so.
For the longest time, Muslims understood “Islam” as to surrender, based on the idea that God placed us on this earth so that we might worship Him and nothing more. I never understood this, because I couldn’t wrap my mind around the concept that Allah would grant us free will and then ask us to simply surrender — this perspective always seemed like a little sick joke for me and so I was never able to fully embrace it.
Then I heard Tariq Ramadan speak about Islam as a means to peace; that to enter into a state of Islam, is to enter into a state of peace within our hearts. And that, dearest Reader, makes complete and total sense to me. Because for me, Faith can not be about God’s need — since He needs nothing — but rather about humanity’s need. And clearly, we need to bring peace into our hearts, else we will Lord of the Flies it into infinity and beyond.
Which brings me to my next point…
Connecting Islam to earlier revelation
In the Quran, God said: “Behold, We have created you all out of a male and a female, and have made you into nations and tribes, so that you might come to know one another.” (Al-Hujurat 49:13) Not so that you may hate or hurt or oppress one another. But rather to engage, to learn, and to love one another. Who in their right mind would ever believe that God seeks to create divisions in His own world meant to create trauma rather than an opportunity to something better? This is our choice where different faiths and ethnicities and belief systems exist, and anyone believing differently is headed for fundamentalism.
Sadly, and most notably in 2012, very few of us afford this principle room and space within our lives because we don’t care to, we are too scared to, and / or we are more comfortable believing that We are better than Them.
I see this routinely, and have had vehement arguments with my own Tribe about this matter. The argument being that “Muslims are better. Full stop.” A sentence as laughable as the beliefs that “Christians are better. Full stop,” and “Jews are better. Full stop,” and “Buddhists are better. Full stop,” and “Atheists are better. Full stop.”
Because. BETTER THAN WHAT AND WHOM?
A drunkard Muslim who beats his wife is better than a Christian man who treats his family with mercy and asks God’s grace? An oppressive Jewish settler who invokes God’s name every time they thieve Palestinian land in the name of some fucking divine writ is better than the atheist taking to the streets to demonstrate against oppression, genocide and apartheid? A psychotic Christian who goes on a murdering spree in the name of Christianity, as a means to defend against encroaching Islam is better than a non-Zionist Jew who sits firm in a Palestinian orange orchard while an Israeli demolition team faces them down?
Are you kidding me?
Are you kidding you?
Do you really believe that God has made you better, by default because of your ethnicity or the religion into which you were born (or later adopted)?
You are better only with respect to your treatment of others.
You are better when you exist in a state of humility and see everyone as your equal.
You are better when you understand that you don’t get to decide WHO. IS. BETTER. A role belonging only to Allah on the Day of Judgment.
You are best only when you understand that you are one of a whole, and that whole belongs to Him and Him alone.
Building bridges is a choice, and it is a choice at every single turn. Further remember that bridges aren’t only built where similarities exist, but they offer a space where people can meet and say “we are not the same, but within that difference, I respect and honour you still, because we are of the same Whole, and we all belong to and shall return to Him.”
I hold fast to my belief that the respect we extend to others is a direct reflection of how much we value and respect ourselves. Choose wisely, and happy Sunday.
Image courtesy of Planet Ware.
Rumi wrote: There’s joy in my heart: I have joined my lover tonight;
Finally free from the pain of our parting tonight.
As I dance with my lover I pray, oh Lord, in my heart:
May the keys to morning be lost forever tonight.
I have always loved both the sentiment and the drunk-on-Love affliction which he carried with him at all times, and about which he always wrote.
For Rumi, earthly love was the closest experience one can have to divine Love; that our constant seeking out of connections with a lover — or lovers, if you’re durrrrty — is because in this world/dimension, we are cut off from the One who loves us deepest, hardest, most overwhelming and in the most intense manner (while excluding the sexuals). I mean God, in case we’re a little dumb today.
Most recently, I was at dinner with some friends and at around 2 a.m., we decided to discuss relationships and love and the juiciest parts of being a human person,
which we all agreed was a nice handful of a soft knead-able bottom. I made the stupid mistake of articulating that one day, I would like to properly f/ck off with my husband. (Note: No other man would get this, but rather just the one powerful enough to win me. [And yes, the correct word here is in fact powerful because I have finally accepted that I like me a powerful man; not in terms of access in society, but rather in terms of strength of character and determination and unyielding, unflinching, unapologetic masculinity and virility. I want the one man on top of the rest of'em. Full stop.])
But I would. Leave Ottawa. Not see anyone but on Skype for at least a year, including my family. Have an internet connection to write and make sure Burger King has not gone bankrupt. Ideally but not necessarily, this would be in some sort of a shack on some sort of a body of water in some sort of hot country where there is no war. Also ideally, this place would not have humidity else I will be forced to run’round with a kerchief and/or a shower cap on the entire time lest insects catch themselves in my hair. On the menu would be fresh fruits, and a lot of fish. Candles in the evening, mostly — avoiding as much electrical light as possible, and computers shut off at 7.
Why technology off in the evenings? Because I hope that I will then be spending most of my time in all sorts of positions unbecoming a lady. I dunno if ‘inshAllah’ is in the right context here, but I’m talking about the love of my life, my husband, and not, like, “bitches, let’s get this gangbang ON, inshAllah.” So I imagine I am here v good with Allah. Which…
Hia! Love you!
Please ensure that Love Of my Life (LOL) comes with extreme stamina. Because I don’t wish to break him. Which I probably might. Please make him strong enough to win me, and then to handle me proper. Thank you.
My friends thought I was insane. Do you? Do you think this sounds amazing or completely crap? Presented with the opportunity, would you go?
Would you leave for a year and do nothing but love your hot piece of a/s, learn about them, solidify your composition with them, create your vision with them, figure out how to grow in the same direction with one another while still giving one another the space to grow in solitude?
Would you take a whole bunch of board games, and a few decks of cards, and share your secrets and hopes, fears, dreams, and a few tubs of ice-cream and also teach them to dip french fries in mayonnaise and to pour cumin over popcorn and wear only the most minimal of clothing?
Would you spend days sunk into too many cushions and blankets, drink coffee in bed, feed one another, laugh out loud when your lover makes a fool of themselves to make you smile and then rush them for the 6th time that day?
Would you tell them everything and understand that between you there is no room for judgement? Ever.
Would you do this away from all of the distractions around you as you sit, right now, today?
I would. In an instant.
Truth told, I could live this state forever if the right man has won me. And if this can’t happen today, I know it is where and how I will grow older. Living in Canada the rest of days is simply not in the cards for me; it will have to be shared between here and elsewhere hot with sand and heat and solitude. It is how I was raised, it is how I will end in this world until I — pray — get a backroom in the basement of Heaven.
Even if you think this makes me sound like a naive fool: I really and truly can’t wait for all of the amazing fun to roll over me
while I’m rolling around on top of the hubs, laughing and thanking God for the wickedness of a blessed life. InshAllah.
Do you script? Meaning, do you sit around imagining the only one particular outcome is exactly this way and it has to be reached by a, then b, and then c, and then become upset when the other individual doesn’t meet your mark?
I used to do this extensively, like a fucked up little monkey with carrots for a brain. Terrible, really. And filled with so very much disappointment.
I don’t remember the precise moment when I realized how heart-breaking this was for me, but at some point in the last four years I learnt to do two very important thing to manage this sort of crazy lunatic thought processes: I Clarica. To a fault, I express my needs and expectations. And I ask people to express theirs; I ask pointed questions and make pointed statements throughout a variety of interactions with them, always giving them the opportunity to say “Hey Crazy Person – that’s not what I mean…”
This means I can’t fault anyone for not knowing; the flip being that no dip-shit can say they didn’t know. Platonic or no. And the dip-shits? They are loose and runnin’ round everywhere. (By the way, the dip-shits are often too narcissistic to be aware of anything but their own needs and ego-problems.)
It also means ceding control and opening oneself to vulnerability.
By making our expectations and needs known, we provide the individual before us the opportunity to say: Sorry Missus, I don’t like your script so going to find one which is in fact more to my liking. Sub-text: I REJECT YOU! Now, take it like an adult.
Accepting this, believe it or not, is an extremely important part of being a healthy adult. I know. It hurts me more to write that than it is for you to read it. Also, it makes me want to pull out my own hair because I’d rather beat my fists against a wall and demand that (insert name of individual) LOVE my script so much that they actually eat it because how else do you express your love for something if not to ingest it whole? (Welcome to the recesses of the deepest darkest corners of my brain, dearest readers.)
The balance to this, however, is that you too get to say: Sorry Missus / Mister / Undecided, I don’t like your script so bouncing to find one more to my liking. See? Healthy.
I get it. Vulnerability is terrifying but…uhm…the boy/girl/undecided who didn’t like your script? What does that actually mean? Like…so. What? Really. REALLY. Stop and ask yourself so. What? Unless you’re an elephant with mad computer skillz, you won’t die of a bloated and broken heart. Trust me. Trust me.
Let me state one thing for the record; something which you are free to return to a million times. I’m with you; why in the shit wouldn’t anyone LOVE your script? I don’t know you, and I already love it
because I’m here to support Your Crazy blindly and unconditionally!!
Now that that’s out of the way, please take a deep breath and remember that the only way to ensure that your heart is held by an individual who recognizes the gentleness of holding a vulnerable heart is someone who knows what they have in their hands. Else, they are brutes and brutes don’t make for either good friends or good lovers.
Let’s make a new year’s resolution together. Let’s never ever project some weird Hitchcockian script on those in our lives – most notably not the ones we wish to invest in, and keep around for the foreseeable future. They’re too good for this kind of shit, as are we.
Sometimes, the inside of my head it’s like the dark side of the moon. Because it was freezing rain tonight and because yesterday my ankle was iced, I decided to walk all the way home, first time in nearly since summer when there was never freezing rain. I crunched my way through the downtown core before flashing my stunned mating hat all over Centretown.
It’s a parka, in fact, with a very large fur collar which when worn upwards looks like several antennae calling for it’s mate in the wilderness. This, for another day.
A woman was approaching with her Tim Horton’s cup and I smiled and said out loud “Good idea!” to which she smiled, paused, slowed down, walked past, stopped and called after me. Stunned, I thought maybe she was going to tell me she liked my mating hat and where could she purchase her own please and thank you? But, no.
“Hey! You’re that girl! I saw you this summer! You smiled at me and told me that you liked my scarf! I was having such a shitty day and then YOU told me I had a great scarf while walking by! YOU TOTALLY MADE MY DAY and you just randomly smiled. So frigging cool!!!! I never thought I’d find you again!!!!”
Do you do this? I do this.
I’m that girl. I say random things to random strangers on the street. Unless I am about to perform a mating ritual + dance with my parka, I always make eye contact and smile at passersby. If someone is wearing something nice, I will tell them. If they are eating / drinking something yummy, I will – like a really proper creep – make it clear that I might punch them in the nose for their food and / or drink. I’m friendly like this, because life is too short and why wouldn’t we smile and say hello to strangers in the streets?
You know who else smiles at and talks to strangers? Crazy people.
Image courtesy of the super cool K Praslowicz.
Spending my summers in London meant that my parents had many a photo opportunity to capture The Strange Wonders of Caucasians As Experienced By Maha. One of these wonders is the dog and the other, a monkey.
Muslims don’t generally have dogs because not only are we terrorists, so too are we crazy. Long story short, dogs are to many Muslims unclean. Needless to say, while I was growing up and because I didn’t see them too often, dogs fascinated me. And by “dogs,” I actually mean large fluffy objects. Certain that were a woman to present herself with massive fuzzy hair stylings, I would have used my left hand to pet her head thinking it was a dog. In my right would have been my falafel.
There was a park through which we would walk regularly and once upon a time I saw a large massive fluffy object and so ran over to pet it and call it Dog. “DOG DOG DOGGY DOG I LOVE YOU I AM MAHA I EAT FALAFEL SALAAM DOGGY DOG SOFT.”
The way my mother tells the story, she couldn’t pull me away from this thing. In the same spirit as I run my adult dating ways, I stood hovering around it in my small dress and matching sock / shoe outfit, staring it into submission waiting for it to respond; it never did because it was a stuffed toy lion.
Since my mother liked to document my extreme awkwardness, she took a photo of this event. In the image, I am standing among adults whose expressions indicate they thought I could only maybe be spoken to in loud tones, supported by sign language. Me, I am petting very gently a lion stuffed animal, with mouth in a massive smile blissfully unaware that this was not ever a dog. Almost, it looks as though I would have had a ciggy once the cameras were off.
Which, unlike that time when a monkey crawled all over my head and I didn’t think it was real.
Also in London and because the British have their own brand of hysteria, there used to be a carni man who had a pet monkey and a music box. He would stand on the corners turning the music box and the monkey, excited, would dance but never pee itself. When we approached, the monkey took a liking to me and jumped onto my head (again, something I am used to as an adult, in the dating world). I let it play with my hair and hold onto my face and sit on my shoulders because I didn’t think it was real.
Yes. Because I didn’t think that the moving, breathing, warm object making noises and sitting on my head…was real. I thought it was a wind-up toy because the depths of my stupidity? Well, let’s just say that waters don’t run as deep as my mother’s fear of germs and bacteria. How this woman – who chucked me into the shower twice daily – ever let a live monkey maul her only child is beyond my adult understanding.
Moral of the stories? Children are dumber in London.
370 days ago, I was sitting at Planet Coffee when I decided to start my little project. Randomly, I had heard of others starting such things but became anxious at the mere thought since my weakest character link is that I had zero patience and anything spanning a year freaked me out and filled my chest with flopping penguins. From across town, mum’s just yelled (again) “THIS IS WHY YOU’RE SINGLE, MONKEY!”
While BB was getting a coffee, I snapped a photo and uploaded it, thereby committing to the first day and subsequently the next 365 days of photo taking. I was panicked and wondered how would I ever make it through an entire year of doing the same thing. Until four nights back when Jills took this, the last photo of the year and I was over the moon that it was done. DONE!
I did something repeatedly for three hundred and sixty six days, and on so many of these days I searched for quotes and little quips and words which inspired my heart. I have since sat down to look at each photo and I remember so vividly each moment my life was frozen and the emotional state then running itself through my body and out of my little finger as it pressed the button. Really and truly, it is amazing that an entire year can come rushing back so clearly, both all that is wanted and all that I wish to tuck away into the corners of my mind.
As to the most important lessons, themes, and realizations of this in-image year…
1 Man Wiser
Self-explanatory. My heart was engaging, and then it was not. My heart ached for a little, and then it did not.
This story taught me one incredibly powerful lesson: always – absolutely always - listen to your gut before anything or anyone else (unless you’re a crazy person who on the regular chats with several folks in the confines of your mind. Which, if you are, please consider writing a book). I have always said that God talks to us directly (sorry, clergy!) in a myriad of ways through instinct, gut feeling, dreams, coincidental occurrences where the sliding doors led you directly to something you would have never otherwise known, seen or understood had you been one second late. Our choice is to either pay attention or not, and then to trust that where there is pain it is the lesser of what we would have otherwise felt had we not paid attention to the Universe.
1 Sassy Adventure
This is a story which has gently ran its fingers over me every year since 2006. Unlike any of the other stories which have come for a very long time, I find myself very protective of its telling.
This story, the Universe has always nudged me to turn her pages and read; instead, I have only stared saucer-eyed at Chapter 1, much like a child with water on the brain. Having finally started to free-fall into Chapter 2, my mouth waters and my body tenses with anticipation at how this story will finally tell herself to me.
1 Brit Found
Her name is Jills, and she is in a total of nine photos from this year, runner up to Cleo’s family who is in 12. When Jills and I first met, I wanted to unravel her, shake her up, shove her into a world of complete and total unknowns where she could not manage, plan, think, consider, see one moment ahead and so be forced to stare only at now and love it more than anything else which might (or not) be chucked at her gorgeous head with that heavenly hair of hers.
Since then however, I can confirm that there is nothing about her I wish to change, except maybe that her and I swap hair. She is perfect with her gigantic blue Crayola Marker and her To Do Lists, and her presence in my life is nothing short of a blessing. For her, I would like to thank A–oine, and the dentist right down from mine.
1 Female Canuck ♥d by York Uni Press
For years, my friends have been pushing me to send in articles for paper publication. I am stubborn and so keep yelling NO because I have this site which I love so dearly. Then one day Aalya sent me an email from York University Press calling for submissions; in addition to their email was hers – threatening, angry in advance should I refuse not to send in my work. Under duress and threat of pain, I sent in two stories, both of which were accepted.
When I later told Aalya the news, she simply rolled her eyes and cackled a laugh with an “OF COURSE THEY ACCEPTED BOTH!! You are a brilliant writer,” and then flipped over the subject because that’s what friends do. We believe in one another and are never ever never surprised when our friends succeed. (FYI: Aalya, she is with Baby Number 2, due very very soon. Please send her your best wishes and all of your love. Also, send her some sleep if you can.)
1 Condo Warmed, Now A Home
My home, The Cloud Cave, it is my favourite place in the world and he is always warmed by the love of my family and friends. On him, there really is nothing more to say.
1 Exercise in Daily Patience
The exercise worked, and I am far more likely to be drenched in patience than I was one year ago. Please don’t confuse that this means I don’t very often become frozen by my need to have things happen now if not, like, yesterday because what in the sh/t am I waiting for? What in the sh/t are you waiting for? What in the sh/t do you mean I have to colour inside the lines slowly and not press so hard? What it means is that the exercise has manifest itself in one critical character alteration for your WebMistress – namely, that I finally really truly believe that all good things come to those who wait.
F.P. Journe,** he has nothing on the Universe.
Thank you to all of my friends who brightened every single moment of the last year; to the nine of you still reading this incredibly long article, you may enjoy the entire #366photos set here.
**If you’d ever like to mortgage your home to buy me a gift, I’ll take one of his Chronometre Optimum-s, please and thank you.
This is pretty much my current state, only I am neither this adorable nor generally this happy to be so exhausted for such an extended period of time.
To recuperate and recharge, I will continue to take a little break from writing and will work hard to come back sooner rather than later oxo
I hope you’ve been well over on your end of the world.
I would love love LOVE to hear your thoughts on the what the difference is when it comes to being kind/generous with friends/loved ones and then being taken advantage of and/or milked silly. Specifically – at what point do alarm bells and red flags go off, where do you draw the line, what do you do about it, how do you handle it… what issues are deal breakers etc.
Hugs over your way.
Your concerns are straight to the point and so I will provide an answer accordingly. First, start by reading Balancing on Thor’s Hammer, a little article I wrote some time back about ensuring that balance is maintained more often than not in any relationship platonic or otherwise. Now, to answer your Qs one by one…
What is the difference between being kind/generous and then being taken advantage of?
It is where there is imbalance. In every single relationship, there will be an ebb and flow to the needs of the two involved. There will be times when you need more help than your friend, balanced out by the times when they need more help from you. Always, however, there must be balance, just like being on a teeter-totter. The difference between being kind and being taken advantage of occurs when what you are giving out is not being equally met in return.
The fact that you are asking indicates that your gut is currently telling you something is amiss in one or more relationships in your life. To that, you need to pay attention because God / the Universe, they speak to us in a multitude of ways, one being our instincts. Ask yourself the following three simplest Qs in order to navigate the sort of pool in which you’re swimming:
Does your friend only contact you when they are in need?
Does your friend respond in kind when you need them?
Do they make time for you, or is it more than 60% only about what is convenient for them?
The answers to the above will at least elp you better understand the sort of personality with whom you are dealing. What you do with this information is ultimately up to you but here’s hoping the following will be of some help.
At what point do alarm bells and red flags go off?
The not-so-simple answer is when the individual begins to manipulate you to meet their own ends. The great thing is that you will know. You will know, because people are not as smart or as stealth as they believe themselves to be. Additionally, and as I have always said, the Universe sides with those who are taken advantage of, lied to, and manipulated. Pay attention and the Universe, she will tell you when the person across from you is attempting manipulation. Always, always, keep your eyes wide open once your intuition is peaked.
The more simplistic answer is when you are forced to send a query of this sort to me, and when your gut instinct is yelling for you to pull back. Again, it is all about balance; if you are feeling like they jumped off the teeter totter and you have come crashing down on your a/s, then we have a problem.
Where do you draw the line?
This varies from one person to the next and has to factor in a multitude of realities including, but not limited to, the length of time which you have been friends, the current circumstance and environment (ie is your friend currently living some sort of a trauma, self-inflicted or otherwise), and the history of im/balance.
As I don’t have any siblings, my friends are my chosen family. When one of them needs something, my response is immediate and it is never ever about me. Always, it is about what they need, in order to be better and stay better. I don’t factor into the equation unless I start to feel like I am enabling destructive behaviour of a friend I love (at which point, I tap out of that portion of the conversation only while keeping all else on the table).
When I have — and I have — felt like the person before me is not as interested in giving me the balance I need to not want to punch them in their self-involved, then I tap out entirely. But first, I fire a warning shot, which is the perfect segue into…
What do you do about it?
I first address it, give the friend the room and space to not fail me at that level again and then move forward. While there are some scenarios where our friends should absolutely never ever fail us such as illness or death, there are others where more room is allotted for them to have their own s/it to go through and not be available. Once. Twice. With a conversation and a clarification that things are out of their hands right now and so they can’t be there for us and here the onus is squarely on them. Three strkes and it’s done (for me).
From this, no one is immune in my world and whereas I once used to walk entirely from said individual, what I do now is render conversations very shallow instead. The nature of our interraction changes; and, where they would have previously had my complete and total attention and loyalty when they required it, this becomes diluted. If they’re not interested in being a security blanket in a relationship, then neither am I. This, a simple rule of thumb for all interractions.
You have four choices:
Do nothing about the situation and keep feeling like your good will is being used up.
Stop dealing with only that portion of the friendship. Meaning, if this friend only wants to talk to you about their most recent break-up, tell them that this particular conversation is no longer welcome when you see one another. Tell them that you are feeling as though it is all-consuming and there is nothing left of your friendship and in order to save your friendship then you need to engage something else.
Dilute as I do above while noting that maybe some day down the line the friendship will reshape itself (or not).
Cut them off entirely. No more bullsh/t, no more feeling like the person before you is sucking out all of your energy like a an emotional vampire.
Once you have made your decision and actioned it, and equally as important, please then look to your own behavior. Ask yourself if you give too much of yourself away repeatedly to folks who have either not yet proven their worth, or who are more inclined to be takers rather than givers.
Based on this, you may need to reconsider who you welcome into your life with open arms because trust me when I tell you that those who will take advantage of our good will are many. MANY. Because they are bottom line self-involved wankers who, by definition, are only intimately interested in their own well-being and not ours. The move to protect yourself and ensure that they do not take advantage of you? It rests with you. And them…always…Karma sees them, baby.
May your path only be filled by those who are worthy of your kindness and generosity of spirit, E.
With all my love,