waking up in a women's refuge
I open my eyes, and instead of seeing the trees outside my bedroom window, I'm faced with the grey steel of the upper bunk bed.
My 3 year old son has crept into bed with me, after falling out of his own bed during the night. I guess I'm not the only one having a hard time getting used to sleeping in a bunk bed. We lie there together, myself, my son and my 5 month old baby bump. It's a tight squeeze.
I glance around the huge room we've been given in the women's refuge. I take in the ugly curtains, the bright pink tasteless bedding and the inadequate wardrobe space. I don't even want to unpack. There's not even anywhere to hang my towel and I'm definitely not leaving it in the shared bathroom I've been allocated. Speaking of which, I'm now sharing a bathroom with strangers for the first time since my university days, the only difference being that I now have a 3 year old sitting on the floor waiting for me to finish, playing with his cars whilst I urge him to be quiet so that we don't wake up and annoy the women sleeping in the rooms next door.
I so desperately do not want to be here.
I tell myself it wont be for long, but anything longer than two nights feels like an eternity to me right now. I want to crawl into bed and pretend none of this is happening and just wallow in self pity. But the beds are uncomfortable, far from cosy, and really not the ideal location for a good self pity session. So instead, we head downstairs to have breakfast.
The kitchen is shared with other women and their children, and whilst they're nice and polite and welcoming, I just want to be in my own home with my own privacy.
As much as it's comforting to know that other women are in the same situation and I can clearly see that they're receiving beneficial help and moving forward in life, I struggle with the different personalities, the smell of cigarette smoke and the arguments between them after they've had one too many beers after dark. I wonder to myself as I lie in the darkness trying to sleep at night, how did my life end up like this?
I escape at the weekends to my parent's home, in order to return to some kind of reality and family life. But I'm never completely at ease, as I spend most of my time listening to the negative thoughts in my head telling me that I'm a burden to my family, that I'm a failure and that everyone is now talking about me and judging me. I feel guilty for putting such a burden on my elderly and very sick parents. But I'm so desperate to not have to face the reality of the refuge that I continue to escape there every weekend.
But Monday always comes around quickly and I soon return to the refuge and back to the stark reminder of what my life has come to.
I pray and hope to be housed soon, so that I can finally start afresh with my children. This is the main reason I'm there, it's the one chance I have of being given my own security, my own home, away from my ex.
My baby bump is getting bigger and bigger and I pray at night that I won't go into labour in the refuge by myself. Who would drive me to the hospital if I was contracting too much to drive myself? Who would look after my son if I was in a bad way? Why was I even having to contemplate these kinds of scenarios - this shouldn't be happening to me! And so the self pity and depression would take over even more..
Thankfully, alhamdulillah, the promise of being housed came through and I moved to my parent's home as I awaited the birth of my second child and the keys to my new property. I'll be honest, I hated the property I was allocated. I felt that after all that struggle, I would have been allocated something more 'inspiring' for want of a better word. And the area the house was in left a lot to be desired. But beggars can't be choosers, so I took what I was offered and tried my best to make it a home for myself and my children.
The peace of being in a new home by myself, free of the troubles from my marriage, was short-lived. After a month of being in the property, the neighbours from hell moved in next door. For over a year I was subjected to music pumping through my walls, domestic arguments that sounded like people were throwing each other down the stairs, drug use and drug dealing - and the icing on the cake - their human faeces left in my garden whenever I dared complain to them...which wasn't very often seeing as I was a single mother with two young children and I was actually quite scared to stand up to such people.
Eventually though they were evicted and in their place came the nicest neighbours I could have asked for. And life in this new property has been pretty calm and content since then.
So why am I telling you all this?
Sometimes, when we ponder the decision of whether or not to leave our marriage and take that scary path into the unknown, there can almost be this subconscious expectation that once we've made that decision, everything should be easy, effortless and just work to our advantage. And if it's not, we can question whether we should then take that decision or not. It's as though, if something is going to be really hard then we should just not bother. If it's going to be easy, then we'll leave, but if its going to be a struggle and a tough journey, then I'll just give up and stay, even if what I truly and desperately want deep down inside, is to leave.
My journey was not easy, in the slightest. I faced emotional, physical and financial challenges all along the way. I expected things to just work out effortlessly and be easy, now that I'd made that huge life changing decision to leave my marriage. So why were things still difficult? Didn't I deserve a break?
What I can see now is that this is the nature of life. We will all face challenges every day, even more so when we're dealing with the important things in life such as relationships and marriage. Basing our decisions on whether something will be easy on us or not isn't necessarily the best way to look at things, because we're missing one extremely important point - that the journey is a means to an end.
I went into the women's refuge as a means to an end. I knew it would provide me with the security and space from my marriage that I needed and also help me to start afresh with my children in our new life together. And once I'd started that new life, I realised that every single step I'd taken was worth it and that I would do it again in a heartbeat.
The journey can seem overwhelming and hard when we're looking at it as just a journey. But sometimes we forget to remind ourselves of the destination we're travelling to - and this is what we need to keep in mind, because this is what makes all of those hard and painful steps we may need to take worth it. When I look back now I see all the parts of the puzzle fitting together, just as Allah planned.
Take whatever steps you need to take, trust in the journey and ultimately trust in Allah that it will all work out, even if you can't quite see it at the time.
If you'd like help in getting clearer on your own journey and working through some of the struggles and challenges that are holding you back from having a more peaceful and happier life, then click here to book in a free relationship breakthrough session with me.
Take that first step in making a positive and permanent change, insha'Allah. Just click right here to get started.
SACRIFICING YOURSELF IS NOT LOVE
So many women innocently believe that sacrificing themselves for the sake of their children and their family, is real true love.
That their purpose as a mother is fulfilled if they do this...regardless of the fact that in doing this they are sacrificing their own chance of true love, happiness and inner peace.
I used to believe this.
My decision to stay in an abusive, unhappy marriage was based on this.
I never questioned it.
The right thing to do in my mind, was to stay and keep my family together.
And sacrificing my own hopes and dreams was just part and parcel of doing the right thing.
But what happens when we stop and really think...
Is this really the right thing to do?
Is is right to put an end to our own happiness and future dreams?
Is it right to raise our children to believe that this is all they should expect from life?
Is it right to stay in a loveless marriage?
The answer is clearly no.
Self-sacrifice in the long term will undo all the good intentions you have for your family.
Believing that you can have a happy family life, without sacrificing yourself in the process, is what will give you the courage to stand up and make the changes that will strengthen and fulfill your life and in turn those of your children.
Placing real value on your own self will inevitably enrich the lives of all those around you, with no hint of self-sacrifice around.
To stand up and make the change to value yourself and let go of this suffocating belief, then click this link to book your breaking free breakthrough session today. It doesn't cost anything other than your time, but it could work out to be one of the biggest steps you take towards improving your situation.
Book in your free session now. I can't wait to speak with you and help you realise that the dreams you have hidden deep in your heart, can actually become a reality.
I recently came across a beautiful reminder from Imam ash Shafi (rahimu Allah), that was perfectly in line with the logic and wisdom of the Inside-Out Paradigm of psychology.
In this beautiful saying, we are reminded of the following:
"Always hate what is wrong, but do not hate the one who errs. Hate sin with all your heart, but forgive and have mercy on the sinner. Criticise speech, but respect the speaker. Our job is to wipe out the disease, not the patient."
When any of us fall into the above, when we err, sin or criticise others; it's coming from a place of misunderstanding.
When we do any of these things we innocently, but mistakenly believe that we will feel a certain way, that perhaps we'll feel better about ourselves. We're desperately searching for our own well-being and our only mistake is incorrectly believing that doing any of these things will give us that.
If we err, it's usually because we believed that taking or not taking a certain action would make us feel a certain way. Our path then becomes less clear and we're unsure of the most sensible steps to take.
If we sin, we have momentarily fallen into the Outside-In illusion, where we innocently but incorrectly believe that something other than our thinking in the moment, can be the source of our feelings. We therefore chase these things, in the mistaken belief that they will provide us with some type of relief, happiness, or well-being, regardless of the fact that Allah's wisdom has already proven them to be no good for us.
If we believe others have the power to make us feel a certain way, then our speech will be defensive, personal and maybe even aggressive. We will be speaking from a place of ego, from the Outside-In, unable to see that no one or nothing, has the power to make us feel anything.
We fail to see that our feelings can only ever come from one place - our thinking in the moment.
All of the above are a result of this innocent misunderstanding of where we think our feelings really come from.
By believing they come from things outside of us (our circumstances, situation, other people); we will fall into this behaviour regularly. We don't do this on purpose, we're just caught up in the Outside-In illusion and are not seeing things clearly.
From this perspective, as Imam ash Shafi reminds us, it makes no sense to hate the one who errs, or sins, or has undesirable speech. The ones who do this are themselves suffering from being caught in the Outside-In illusion, so we should feel empathy towards them and focus instead on wiping out the disease.
And how do we wipe out this disease, how do we start to see through the Outside-In illusion?
It starts with understanding how we're really experiencing life and seeing clearly for ourselves that our experience and our feelings are only ever coming from the Inside-Out. Feelings are an inside job and will only ever come from the way we're thinking in the moment. It therefore no longer makes sense to search for feelings anywhere else.
Seeing this clearly is what helps wipe out the disease and leaves the patient feeling more at peace and more in tune with their true selves.
When you're operating from this place, our relationships with each other naturally and effortlessly improve.
We find we have more patience and empathy with each other. We don't take things so personally and because of this we get a lot less defensive when communicating and dealing with each other. We're not on edge as much and we're no longer listening to all of that limited thinking that runs through our minds, causing those all too regular low moods and emotional suffering.
If you'd like to understand more about the Inside-Out Paradigm of psychology, that will improve your relationship with yourself firstly and then all your other relationships as a natural consequence of this, then click here to snap up one of the last few breakthrough sessions I have going for the next couple of weeks.
Let's start wiping out that disease, insha'Allah.
Some of my clients really want to save their marriages.
They see the good in their partner, they want things to work out and to keep their family together, insha’Allah.
There’s just one small problem.
They can’t stop arguing.
We could have all the good intentions in the world for our marriage, but these could fall apart in a matter of seconds once an argument starts brewing. And before we know it, the argument has gone from zero to 100 and we’re sat there wondering why we’re even bothering to try and save this marriage.
But what makes an argument suddenly go from zero to 100? What makes it explode from a discussion into a full blown argument?
A lot of it has to do the commentary that we have running through our minds as we’re talking with our partner. We listen to their words and innocently believe that whatever they’re saying has the power to make us feel a certain way - most probably hurt, upset and angry. And because we believe that they’re the cause of these feelings during the argument, we then counter attack with our own tirade of not so nice words in order to hurt them back and in the process, make ourselves feel a little better for ‘getting them back’ so to speak.
But if what we could realise that none of our feelings come from what our partner says or does? It sounds quite out there, but what if this were true (and it actually is) and during an argument we were able to focus on what was actually being discussed, on what the real issue actually is, instead of focusing on how we’re being ‘made’ to feel.
If you could look at the issue at hand without your feelings being involved, how much easier would it be to resolve? I’m guessing a lot easier.
Understanding where your feelings are actually coming from moment to moment, and understanding that no one or no thing has the power to make you feel anything; is the key to keeping a discussion much closer to level zero than level 100.
You become much more aware of your own thoughts and feelings and how they could be proving unhelpful in these situations. Your awareness of this helps you to look at the issue more clearly, more logically and therefore reach a resolution more easily.
If you’d like help in working on your marriage and turning arguments down from 100 all the way back to zero, then click here as I’m offering 5 free breakthrough sessions over the next couple of weeks. These will go quickly so click here to book yours in before they’re all gone.
I came very close to plotting my ex-husband's murder this week.
It was the only solution that I could see, in that moment, to the continuous let-downs, disappointments and out-right idiocy that he seemed to expose me to, all too regularly for my liking.
When his so-called acts of stupidity (I had no other way of explaining them) reached new heights, I prayed he'd crash his new van (I know, that's really bad, I'm a really bad Muslim).
All I could see in that moment was my anger towards him and how I desperately needed some type of revenge that would equal the pain that he seemed to be inflicting upon me. And in that crazy moment, him crashing his van (and maybe dying, just saying), seemed like a rational solution.
It's funny what can seem rational to us when we're completely caught up in the Outside-In illusion. When we innocently believe that the reason we're feeling a certain way is because of something outside of us, outside of our thinking - in my case something that my ex did to me.
Sure, we can feel angry, disappointed, even vengeful. But we shouldn't overlook one very important fact. That all of those feelings are only coming from one place - our thinking, in that moment. Because in that one little distinction lies the difference between being angry and upset, and being slightly crazy and in my case a potentially dangerous murderer. (OK, disclaimer - I could never murder anyone, nor do I deep down wish for anyone to be harmed. But that wouldn't make for a very entertaining article would it?)
So back to this very important distinction and what that means for us when we're caught up in our anger, frustration and disappointment.
If we genuinely believe that someone is the reason we're feeling a certain way, then firstly we're giving that person a whole lot of power that in reality they just don't have. We're putting ourselves at the whim of that person's actions. They basically control whether or not we feel OK.
But if we can recognise that they don't have that power over us (and never have), then we can start to look at things a little differently.
When situations occur, we'll inevitably start thinking about them in a particular way. And our feelings will follow suit. Thought and feeling are one. So if I start thinking about the situation in an angry way, I'm going to start feeling angry. And this goes for every other emotional response out there.
Now you may think that I'm going to start telling you to 'positive think' your way out of the situation, to think about things calmly and in a more positive way, to help you feel better.
Nope. I'm not gonna do that.
Feel angry! Hurt, disappointed - whatever you want. Feel it.
But know that whatever you're feeling is the result of one thing and one thing only. Your thinking, in that moment. Not that person or that situation. You're having a particular stream of thoughts about the situation, and you're feeling that thinking. That's it.
Now here's another very important point.
Now that you know it's just your thinking, guess what? You don't need to give it any importance whatsoever. They're just passing thoughts and therefore passing feelings. They won't linger for any longer than you give them your attention. They will slowly dissipate until you return to your natural state of calm and presence - and with that comes a really nice, logical and insightful way of looking at and dealing with your situation (and life).
And that has to be better than life behind bars.
P.S. No ex-husbands were harmed during the making of this email and I’d like to keep it that way. If you’re having a hard time dealing with your current (or ex) husband and would love to find an easier way to sort through all your troubles, then click here to book in a totally free 90 minute Relationship Breakthrough Session with me.
WILL ANYTHING EVER CHANGE?
Let's pretend it's Ramadan 2019, one whole year from now...12 months...365 days.
Can you think that far ahead?
At times it's hard to even think about today or tomorrow, let alone days, weeks and months from now.
When it's hard to find the energy to just get out of bed and try and put some sort of positive spin on the day ahead, how is it even possible to imagine what life will be like in a year's time?
But just for one minute...let’s try and go there…let's imagine that we've fast forwarded our lives and are able to take a small peek at what our lives might look like...
Have you spent the last year trying your hardest to just get through the day - and your marriage?
Have you wasted precious time reliving the cycle of problems and challenges in your marriage that never seem to go away?
Are you still feeling pessimistic, depressed and unable to enjoy life?
Has your emotional eating gone to another level, so that it now appears almost impossible to get it under control?
Has your iman sunk even lower than it was a year ago - so much so that you feel you've completely lost that connection with Allah that you once had?
Did you manage to find yourself again? Or has the memory of who you were been lost, with no hope or idea of how to get her back?
It’s one whole year from now....
Do you feel strong enough to save or leave your marriage yet?
Are you confident enough to listen to your own inner wisdom and deal with your challenges in a practical and insightful way?
Are you finally able to move past the fears and burden of making such an important decision on saving or leaving your marriage?
Have you figured out the logistical steps you need to take to get you to where you so badly want to be?
Have you been able to be present with your kids - or have you been so emotionally caught up with all of the above, that being emotionally present these days is a rare and fleeting experience.
What if it was one whole year from now and you had actually overcome the fears and excuses that were stopping you from transforming your life for the better?
What if you were able to deal with the challenges in your marriage in a much easier and less stressful way, that didn’t end up leaving you hurt and disappointed in your partner..
What if you had found yourself again and reconnected with everything that was so wonderful about the 'old you'..
What if you were now experiencing the clear mind you'd always wanted to have and were finally enjoying life, having regained the happiness that had been kept from you for so long..
What if you could clearly and undeniably see that Allah has your back and you're able to finally feel that strong connection with The One that never left you, but who you had lost sight of during those troubling times.
Take a deep breath.....and imagine your life like that...at peace and free of tension.
Wouldn't that be amazing?
And isn’t it equally amazing to know that right now, in this present moment of Ramadan 2018, that its 100% possible to have all of that and reach that place in a year's time, or less, insha'Allah.
"Allah does not change a people's condition unless they change what is in their hearts".
It all starts with you. And I'd love to be there with you as you embark on this transformational and beautiful journey.
But you've got to take that first step.
Book in a free breakthrough session with me and let's get you on your way to finally being happy and settled. Because being stuck is no fun at all, not now, not in a year's time, not ever.
Just click right here to get started.