They say when you die, your life flashes before your eyes. But what happens when your marriage ends, do you remember all the happy moments, or do you take the unhappy ones with you to get you through.
Le dernier nuit. I thought forgiveness had no limits. Quelle surprise. (You Want To) Make a Memory by Bon Jovi. Sometimes memories aren’t what we hope them to be, we color them differently than they are. I remember the year and a half of conflict. There were good pink moments too, but a lot of grey in between. Already Gone Kelly Clarkson would be our theme song. I don’t think I could ever forgive myself for making him cry. I don’t know how to get past the tears I have cried either.
I remember dreading her arrival at the airport. I remember the months before she arrived and discovering things about him I didn’t want to know. I remember her looking at me, seeing right through me, like I didn’t exist. Or maybe I didn’t feel that I was really there. A ghost. Just part of the scenery. There is a moment, a switch, when you know your life will change. It did that weekend of April 25 2009. I remember feeling incredibly left out, like I didn’t belong. That we were just playing pretend, make-believe, none of this was real, just until she got there, then he would play his part and I would play mine. Feeling disregarded, invisible. It’s unlike any pain I have ever felt.
I woke up, it was dark. I called out, turned on the lights. No one was in the living room. I went to the bathroom. Saw her garments, staring at me, patronizing me. I started to cry. I had lost my husband. Our marriage was over. I just bawled. Knock, knock! Arabic, a female voice. Crap! I thought. I couldn’t open the door, show my weakness. I finally came out of the washroom. Silence again. It was like a dream. I hid under the covers, awaited my sentence. He arrived, asked what was wrong. I ignored him, pretended to sleep, completely horrified to have walked across the living room improperly clothed thinking I was home alone. He was concerned, I was crying. Somehow, I knew it was over, and I can’t explain why. I finally told him, the truth. I told him I felt crazy and stupid. He said, you are crazy and stupid. A part of me snapped. Maybe I deserved it. We have tried, for a year and a half. I can’t be a cultural wife. I can’t handle this. Please divorce me. I tried to take it back. He was shocked.
The next day, when I came to my senses, “I’m not myself. This is not who I am”. The week before I prayed to God to end this marriage if it brings me farther away from Him. God was listening. It ended that very same day. He dropped me off at the Greyhound, acted like everything was fine. He waited until I returned to Ottawa, and called, “You should go back to Toronto.” “Are you breaking up with me?” I asked. “At least do it to my face!” I screamed, I was scared and angry at the same time, walking back to the apartment, such a sunny day. I begged, “I’ll change, I’ll go to counselling, I’ll do whatever you ask.” But even I didn’t believe my own words. Sooner than I thought, he had found a lawyer. Within 24 hours, I booked a cargo van, and drove it there. He looked distraught. She was in another room and pretended not to be there. I was crying. She told me he wasn’t worth crying over. She didn’t cry. I felt like a movie. I drove the van back. He insisted on coming, but I’d rather crash and die then let him join me. Somehow, I managed to arrive back in Ottawa. Carried all twenty boxes up three flights of stairs, and finally crashed emotionally at the end. He was shocked I left so quickly, but I stayed for the three/four months waiting period until it finally ended July 2009.
I don’t know if your heart really recovers. I don’t know how it can. I don’t know if it’s suppose to. The months that followed, he wanted to be merciful by backdating the separation date to a year prior since we had the excuse that we had never lived together. The entire papers were in French with insufficient translation. The first time I had really seen his signature, that made it real, was when I had to get my own signature notarized on the divorce papers in July. They say it really doesn’t hit you until you see those damn papers. It’s true.
My job at the same time was also coming to an end. My best friend had moved to the West. It was time to leave the East. My friends, some stayed and some strayed. My family was shocked and unsure as to how to support me. Heck, they didn’t even know you could divorce in Islam. I had no reason to stay, and many reasons to leave, and make a new start.
Since then, him and I have made peace. We’re in a much better place apart than we are together. I wish I had seen this before to save us both the heartache of grieving over what is dead, and was very much so before our reunion. Sometimes we wish for things to be different than what they really are, and this gets us into trouble. I no longer dream. I just see things as they are. Maybe this has led to my sharper edges, to protect myself from feeling so much pain again. So much pain.
When I was younger, I use to believe the best could happen if you truly believed. I use to believe the same in myself, and other people. But as the years have gone by, and the tests have gotten tougher, I don’t know if I believe in this anymore. I want to believe, but in the end, I’m the one who gets hurt, badly. Alhumdulillah.
But I’ve also seen miracles too. In my life, and in others. Maybe you have to push past the limits of your hurts, if you are to discover the possibilities of your heart. Ameen.
B.o.B., “Don’t Let Me Fall”
Marc Anthony, “That’s Okay”