I Am: Muslim American
I was raised in an abusive home. My father sent my mother to the hospital a few
times. We learned very quickly not to talk about it. Dad convinced us with his screams,
Mom with her tears. My extended family knew mother's stories about broken bones
and bruises were lies. They tried to get my brother and I to tell them what was
happening. We merely regurgitated the half-truths we had been trained to tell. I
remember so clearly the suspicion in my uncle's eyes, the pleading in my grandmother's
face, but my tongue was tied in a knot I didn't know how to loosen.
A hostage, a puppet, my mouth bore the words that had been planted there. I hoped
as much as I feared my eyes would tell the Truth. No one ever acted on what they
saw in my eyes, only what they heard come out of my mouth. I thought they didn't
see. I realize now they must have felt as tied and helpless as I did.
I learned there is no safety in the world.
I am a product of both my mother and my father. Growing up with the violence, the
distrust, the lack of respect, the lovelessness, ripped something inside of me.
That hole would yawn wider and wider as the years went by. I would try to fill it
with just about anything. Nothing worked. It seemed too big even for God.
My parents were not just at war in our house, they were at war inside of me. There
was not communion between my male and female sides, there was competition. There
was not communication and comprimise, there was name-calling, ultimatums, and threats.
I was not given a foundation of trust, respect, love, dignity, equality upon which
to build my relationship with myself, with God, with the world around me. Instead,
I was raised on the rim of a volcano, never knowing when the ground beneath my feet
would crumble or explode.
My dad never hit me, but hearing him hit my mom, listening to the way he talked
to her, seeing how little respect he gave her, taught me about being a woman. Woman
was something despised, sometimes pitied, but seldom loved. She was an object. A
slave. Not really human. She was not appreciated, she was not respected, what she
contributed was not important.
My mom clung on for years. For the kids. We all wish she hadn't done that. It would
have been better to not have Dad there. It would have given us the chance to be
a family, instead of a collection of refugees, each huddling in their own corner,
hoarding supplies, listening for signs of the next raid.
It has taken me a long time to learn to forgive my parents. Both of them: him for
doing it, her for staying.
I haven't forgiven myself yet. For the cowardice I exhibited huddled in the dark
on the top of the stairs while they screamed, while he hit, when she was chased.
For being the reason they were still together. For getting sick so they would fight
about him not giving me my medicine on time. For being alive and the reason they
would argue about money or later, visitation. For needing anything ever from my
mother who was clearly struggling to stay alive herself. For continuing to love
my Dad even when he'd caused my Mom so much pain.
I haven't forgiven myself yet. I don't know how to loosen the knots of emotion and
the guilt-ridden consciousness of a child that takes all blame upon themselves.
My intellect cannot comprehend it, and my heart is afraid of feeling it fully enough
to let it go.
So I do this work. I hope that parents will hear, that they will listen, though
the arc of change is slow and incremental. I hope that leaders will pay attention
and take this problem for being the real threat to the community that it is. I do
this work in the hopes that fewer children will grow up carrying the same burden
that I do. That fewer children will have to work so hard to trust God and believe
that they can experience love. That fewer souls will be ripped in quite this way.
I do this work so that more children will have fewer barriers in their relationships
with themselves, with God, with the world around them. That more children will be
brought up on a foundation of equity, justice, trust, honor, dignity.
And today, humbled and in awe of the immensity of God's grace--of the enormity of
what happened last night in that mosque, faces turned upward, next to the projector
screen--I am so grateful for the plowers and planters like Dr. Aneesa Nadir. Those
constant and patient souls that have banged their hearts, minds and souls against
the hardened earth of this community, who have spent their years breaking up the
surface, dropping seeds, praying for the right balance of rain, sun, and temperature
to bring the seeds to fruition. ...
Oh Lord, hear our prayer.
Webmaster Note: This post is written by
I Am: Muslim American. It is an excerpt taken from her blog
"He stood right here."