Sunday 15 December 2019

Reclaiming my Fearless Heart

I have not been writing or on social media much in recent days.  I have been in a reflective mood. Thinking about life, my children, writing and why I have not been inclined to do or write much recently.  Most of all about my relationship with those around me, but especially myself.

I was anxious that I was getting lazy or losing interest in life and the excitement I have about the parts of life I enjoys most: faith, family, arts and crafts, celebration, writing, books and so on.  But after the first few weeks I started to see the value of doing nothing – the way it leaves space for reflection and also for unexpected and unplanned things to come into your life.

I think way too much, I take on guilt, I questions my decisions, I take on blame for all sorts of things. I am quick to feel sorry for people and to trust. I am cowardly sometimes in standing up for myself and I have always been scared of hurting others, to the point that I will apologise to resolve a matter even if I think it is only partially my fault. I hate conflict.  All of these things make me a kind and helpful person. To everyone but myself.

I got a bit of a jolt when I was catching up with some university friends and they were teasing me about how fierce and wild I used to be.  I would argue with a lecturer in front of the whole auditorium. I barely recognise that wilful, self-confident girl.  Then my sisters reminded me how mean and vicious I could be when they were growing up, I think my whole family were a little wary of me.  Of course I don’t want to be that person again, but there is certainly something of her that is worth revisiting and reclaiming (I think hubby has made me too soft 😊 ).

Certainly in the last few years I have tied myself up in knots over a few things: not wearing niqab, being a Muslim woman and working and a being a working mother (and holding myself back in my career for years because of this).  Also, not being a good enough mother, my kids not being genius A* high achievers and Islamic scholars in the making at the same time. Reading novels instead of religious or at least factual books. Watching rubbish online. Oh and the house could be cleaner.

I came to a point, when I couldn’t do that to myself anymore.  I had to harden my heart a little.  I had to tell myself to do what I need to do, to stop feeling guilty, to leave it to Allah (SWT) and trust he will guide me to what he wants for me, if I leave my heart open to it. Having made that decision, then to just got on with things and allow myself to do well. Imagine working hard to support your family and the feeling guilty and ashamed at doing so.  When I write it like that - it seems so silly.

It’s helped me in so many ways.  I don’t care anymore about what people think – not others, not my family, not the masjid community.  I can’t eat their opinion or approval, or wear it, or bank it. So it’s no use to me.  I had to get quite angry with myself to get to this point.  But it felt so, very, liberating!  I feel free and fearless. My salah is so much better because it’ not full or remorse or guilt, but just my best effort in each moment, sometimes not very good, but when I am distracted and lose focus, I always bring myself back to trying my best in the moment rather than feeling ashamed. I have to make a point of refusing to feel bad and just carrying on.

It’s funny, I used to see bitter, rude middle-aged women and think I hope I never get like that. But, as I hit 40, I kind of see why they get like that.  You just don’t care, you have less patience for foolishness and you are less naïve, so you see through people’s nonsense and insincerity.  I pray I am never unkind, bitter or rude. But I am enjoying owning my fearlessness.

Most of all these weeks have been a reminder to always be honest with myself  - no matter how harsh or painful – whether about the upbringing of my children, my eating habits, or my anxieties.  To hold a mirror up, face what I see and deal with it.

More than reflection, I feel that this growth in myself has come from dhikr.  I have been doing a lot of dhikr recently, particularly of Allah’s sacred names, some for my children to be good people (Ash-Shaheed, Rabb, Al Kafil), but some others for contentment and peace (Ar-Rahman, Al-Qaddus, An Nur).  I feel like these have given my heart enough rest to think clearly and be brave.

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