How did time pass by so fast?
It seems like just last week I was putting up Ramadan decorations and whining about giving up my morning coffee for a whole month!
Another year flew by, hasn’t it? Taking with it unkept promises and shattered pieces of hopes and unfulfilled dreams..
And now here we are, trying once again to pick up the remains to form a faithful heart…
That’s the thing about Ramadan….
Its serenity is almost palpable. You can’t help but believe in the power of new beginnings….
Listening to lectures is one of my favorite traditions during the Holy month. This time I came across a series named ‘Rameem’ which translates into ‘decayed’ or ‘worn out’ and well.. I won’t bore you with the details on why , but I felt like it spoke to me directly. And me being me, what do I do? Ofcourse I come and gossip about it with you guys!
We’re still on the first episode, which talks about how we’re all partially broken in one way or the other, and how, in order to end our suffering, we need to rebuild the damage and become whole again. Now I have two voices inside me speaking at once; one of them is my emotionally involved side (let’s mute that one) and the other is the wise psychologist who understands that in order to rebuild yourself you have to ‘rewire’ your brain. That’s basically why I come here sometimes to share information I learnt from scholars, therapists and coaches. Healing your trauma or childhood wounds is all about ‘memory reconsolidation’ which are just fancy words for healing your memories through emotional learning.
Confused? Okay let me give you an example.
As a little child, perhaps you were not your parents’ favorite offspring, and so you felt emotionally neglected or even abandoned, which created this deeply rooted fear, because back then you completely depended on your parents for survival; they’re all you had. So instead of seeing them as being the problem (which was even more terrifying) you chose the lesser of two evils and blamed yourself. Since memory is a combination of intense feelings paired with sense making, everytime your parents disregarded you, a new lesson was learnt and encoded in your mind.
‘They don’t care about me because I’m not lovable’
‘They don’t acknowledge me because I’m not good enough’,
‘If I show my true emotions I’ll be rejected or even punished..’
‘If I tell the truth, I’ll get in trouble..’
‘If I get too close to someone, they’ll hurt me or leave..’
It’s unfortunate, yet true. Your stored past memories define and form over 90% of your present reality, making you and people you love pay the price for crimes they didn’t commit. That’s where insecurities and fears dwell, latching onto your future and impeding your healing. The lecture I referred to earlier discusses this journey we call ‘life’, and how we’re meant to face trials that will either help us rebuild the damages within us or destroy us completely. Allah (SWT) says:
“And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient” (Holy Qur’an 2:155)
Fear can either urge you to develop the heroic trait of courage or break you down to avoid living a full life, leaving you isolated and doubtful of yourself and others.
Hunger can either push you to work harder and make things happen, or cause you to lose faith in your Creator and take what’s not rightfully yours.
A loss of wealth can either compel you to plan, learn, and manage your expenses or can drown you in greediness, aggression and envy.
A loss of loved ones to death or breakups will strengthen your attachment to Allah, the eternal source of love and compassion, or leave you broken, lonely, dimmed out and scared of getting hurt again.
A loss of fruits of labor can help you reach a new level of serenity, contentment and trust in God or make you doubt His support and fairness.
Yet no one talks about the aftermath of these trials, and how they threaten to shatter one or more of the four pillars that keep us steady:
Our self worth,
Our faith in Allah (SWT),
Our value systems
and how we manage our close relationships.
Emotionally unavailable parents, betrayal or failing in an important task are amongst many things that can tarnish our self image and make us feel like we’re not enough.
Delayed responses to our expectations can make us doubt Allah’s love and support, and sadly sometimes even His very existence.
Difficult choices, temptations and unfairness can compromise our sacred values.
And as for our relationships, where we once vowed to be loving, giving, caring and forgiving, someone comes along and breaks our hearts… breaks our trust… or even worse, breaks our confidence in the power of love, kindness and connection, and then nothing is ever the same anymore…
There’s a hidden test in every trial, one that entails preserving the goodness of your heart; being strong and soft at the same time. Your perception of the world and of your abilities can either make you or break you. Right now you have a choice of becoming one of the four following people….
1- The Oblivious:
Being unaware of your childhood wounds will make it impossible for you to work on yourself. You’ll remain suffering and make others suffer with you, yet ignorant to the cause of the problem.
2- The Denier:
Some of us deny we have flaws and would rather blame others for our misfortunes. The deniers are extremely defensive, believing they’ve reached ‘perfection’ and it’s others who need to mend their ways.
This is when you’re fully aware of how broken you are, but feel helpless on healing your wounds.
4- The Doer:
No matter who caused the damage, and no matter whether it was a childhood trauma or a recent ordeal, a doer takes full responsibility for fixing what others broke inside him or her. Running away or standing still is not an option for this one. Doers are real life heroes. They know that ‘nothing changes if nothing changes’…
And yes, I know it’s easier said than done, and most of us wouldn’t even know where to start. Contrary to what some of you might think, I don’t live in a parallel world where everything is bubbly and pink. I’ve had my share of heartache and I’ve had to rebuild unspoken of damages that literally tore me down mentally, emotionally and physically. Sometimes we’re faced with pain so grave all we could do is cry and scream for it to stop.
Sometimes… Even the silent inner struggles leave behind too much debris and decay that seem impossible to restore…
And sometimes.. We never know how truly damaged another person is until we try to love them..
All the four pillars are worn out; our self image, our faith, our values and our abilities to seek connection with loved ones. And we wonder if we’ll ever be okay again. We wonder if anything can bring life to our lives…
But Allah Almighty says…
“And they argue with Us- forgetting they were created- saying “Who will give life to decayed bones?”
Say O’ Prophet “They will be revived by the One who produced them the first time, for He has perfect knowledge of every created being.” (Holy Quran, 36: 78-79)
He’s the Reviver…
When you’re hurting, your pain is not in vain…
It’s there for a reason…
For perhaps when you’re worn out and you fall apart
You’ll realize you can put the pieces back together the way you always wanted them to be…
The secret is to stop fighting the old and start building the new…
You were given this life because you’re strong enough to live it
So take care of this beautiful heart of yours and don’t allow it to harden…
Even when worn out, keep trusting that Allah does what’s best and keep putting out good…
It will come back to you multiplied…
That I promise…
Lilly S. Mohsen