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No one to listen...

Every story has a beginning, but if someone asked me to pinpoint the moment I started going downhill, I would find it difficult to pinpoint the month let alone the exact hour. All I remember is back in January 2009 celebrating my sixteenth birthday, happy. That was before.

A month later, I knew something was wrong. It took me forever to admit it, but the signs were clear as day. I had this ball of hate and anger knotted around my heart and lungs. It hurt immensely, but I shrugged it off. I put my constant mood swings, snappiness, moodiness, tears, every negativity in my life down to GCSEs and hormones. Everyone had trouble during their GCSE years, who could say I was any different? But my friends begun looking at me differently, they talked about me whilst I was on the other side of the room, they stopped asking me if something was bugging me and tried not to start a conversation with me if I looked like I might just bite their heads off. They didn’t know how to act or what to do, they didn’t know what was wrong with me and nor did I. Everything just got too much one day; my friends hated me, I hated me, the world hated me and I didn’t know how I got like this.

I knew about the support structure throughout my school, and I decided I needed help. That was the first step. It’s hard admitting to yourself that maybe, just maybe, something might be going on. I asked a teacher who I knew had the role of Inclusion Manager for information on the services my school offered, and I am fortunate enough to go to a school where we have two external counsellors who come in to talk to troubled pupils as well as the Inclusion Manager herself. I arranged an appointment for the following week. I had exactly 7 days to back out of it, and boy did I want to. I didn’t want to talk to anyone about anything; what if they thought I was being stupid? That my problems where nothing but exaggerated and I was just being some drama queen? I was convinced my friends thought I was looking for attention; I was also convinced no matter how hard I tried my friends would never understand where I was coming from and still love me. I was probably right, after all some things are too personal even to admit to yourself in your head.

That first session with Helen the counsellor was a revelation. I saw Helen every week and I talked and talked and talked and it became clear: my sister having a boyfriend was what preyed on my conscious 24/7. I wouldn’t say I was 100% religious, but I knew what my sister was doing was wrong and I felt guilty for being part of the conspiracy to cover it up from my parents. I hated myself for supporting her by lying and I hated her for putting me in such a position. I wanted to tell my parents, but not knowing their reactions killed me. They could get ultra-violent and we would be just another story girls whispered about in school; or they could be fine with it - which was too far-fetched -  so naturally I thought the worst.

Seeing Helen didn’t mean I was miraculously cured. In between my visits, the ball of hate and anger got bitter and more knottier and totally consumed me. I was under pressure to do well in my GCSEs as well as having to cope with friends who didn’t understand me and a family that had too many secrets. Everything was a mess and no answers were forthcoming. There is no worst feeling than knowing, 100% believing you are alone.

Most of the emotions I mention are downplayed. Not because I don’t want to reveal the truth behind the emotions a normal person feels - because that is what I am; I’m not depressed, not mentally unstable, nothing like that. I was just finding it hard to cope. Like any normal teen, albeit mine went one step further. I downplay the emotions because unless you feel something similar there is no way for me to explain in a way that will help you to understand feeling so secluded, unloved, worthless and 100 other negative things for a prolonged period of time. Not just a day, but months of feeling like I could disappear and everything would be perfect.

I saw Helen for a few months before my GCSEs. Some sessions were helpful - I learnt to look at things from a different perspective, to ask myself different questions and to acknowledge all the other problems I had. It was also nice talking to someone who wouldn’t judge me, who wouldn’t turn against me or use this piece of information against me in the future. When I talked to my friends, I was literally crying and sobbing and they saw the impact but didn’t know why I felt so strongly. Helen seemed to get it without me having to explain. Some sessions I felt lighter. But then there were the sessions where talking about all these thoughts whirling around and around and around in me and not actually getting anywhere made me incredibly impatient. I wanted solutions and I wanted them now. I expected Helen to wave a magic wand or for me to wake up one day and everything to be ok, but it doesn’t work like that. Sure I woke up one day feeling differently, but it was a gradual process, and so would the healing process be.

When GCSEs came, I was feeling slightly better than when I first went to see Helen: the knot was identified, but definitely not manageable. It was there, it was constant, it was just as knotty and big. Study leave started and I tried to be the perfect daughter to compensate for my guilt. I’d do housework before I revised and before my exams. Exams are stressful enough, but when my sister snuck out at night and my mum caught on, everything just stepped up a level. I think things were on the mend and then BAM something happened and I was back to square one. We lied to mum obviously and mum wanting to believe us and not having any evidence to the contrary didn’t make a fuss.

But that made me hate my mum. Why was I feeling guilty for a sin my sister was committing? Why was I feeling responsible when it was my parents job to stop stuff like this? But my parents didn’t know. But they did. I don’t know. I think they knew, deep down, but they denied it to themselves because who wants to think the worst of their kids?

I’d like to just take a moment and mention Muslim Youth Helpline. Helen wasn’t there all the time. I couldn’t rely on her to make everything better. I had to do it myself. By some stray luck I ended up across Muslim Youth Helpline’s website. I emailed them. I’ve emailed them twice. And the responses… they are worth opening up and literally baring your soul to a stranger. I found them non-judgemental but more understanding than even Helen at times. They comforted me with compliments and questions to help me take action and consider another view. It is nice knowing I can turn to MYH whenever I feel like it, and at the same time I want to do my bit for them. When I was feeling at my worst, MYH was always an option, they were there, and sometimes that is enough to see me through a day.

Everything just snowballed, so much so that halfway through my exams I literally couldn’t concentrate. Before I could feel like crap but still function. Now all I could do was malfunction. I was going to fail, I was alone, I was unloved.

So I told my mum.

I’d like to say, we all lived happily ever after, but it’s not that simple. My mum cried. She wept. She had no idea and I was the bearer of bad news. But for some weird reason, I felt relieved. I no longer had to worry. I no longer had to feel guilty. I no longer had to carry the burden. But then again, real life isn’t as simple. My mum was just as conflicted as me. She didn’t know what to do, to tell my dad or not? Dad has a reputation for violence. He’s feared by everyone. And when this got out, no one would stop my Dad. Mum would have no family to turn to because they wouldn’t want to know her, and I’d be judged by the actions of my sister. I’d gone from the fire, back into the fire. I was never in a pot to begin with. My mum turned to me as though I’d have the answers, and I ashamedly didn’t want to know.

My sister met this guy over the net through friends. He was the same age as her. It was the summer holidays. They’d both be going to the same sixth form. They got talking. They got close. In October they officially got together. At first I tried to be relaxed and not be the one to pressure her, but then I had to step up. But I’d missed my chance. At this point, it’d been over a year.

They’ve been together for two years now, approaching three this October. I know nothing about relationships, but I frankly don’t like him. He’s arrogant, masochistic, narrow-minded and pig-headed. He makes my sister feel like shit, puts her down and is constantly breaking up with her. My sister stays with him because she doesn’t want all of us to be right. She doesn’t want to give us the opportunity to say “told you so”. At the same time, she doesn’t think she can do better. She herself thinks if she left him now after two years she would have wasted two years and be some sort of “slag”. I would prefer it if she left him, but she needs him. She went through a phase of anorexia, is stick thin, seven and a half stone at 5”5. The doctor says she’s fine, but I’ve seen her extreme dieting, extreme exercise. It was hell. It was like watching someone you love tie a noose around their neck slowly and kick away the chair, whilst being chained and gagged on the other side of the room. There was nothing I could do.

This was all before the summer holidays. In the space of six months I went from my lowest point to finally coming to terms with much of what bothered me. And being removed from the school environment helped a lot. Now my worries are completely different.

I no longer feel guilty about my sister, that’s up to my parents and her. I don’t have a knot of anger and hatred in me, that disappeared with time. Instead I’m empty. It’s left a gaping hole and I know I’m supposed to be bouncing back, but it’s not easy.

In the space of nine months I’ve gone from being the most cheerful in the annoying sense person you could meet to a quiet, self-pitying fool. Once upon a time I was optimistic, but I don’t know where my story ends. I’m not cured. I don’t know if there is a cure. But I am better. That must count.

I just try to remind myself that God isn’t human, meaning He doesn’t hate and love like I do, meaning He doesn’t hate me when I hate Him and the world.


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Comments (8)

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In addition to prayer it is always, always better to talk to real people in order to relieve the stresses building up inside during emotional turmoil.

[1] paultasker6 at 14:25 on 31 Jan 11 report this

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Assalam alaikum dear Zahra, I pray this reaches you in the best of health and eemaan Insha'Allah,
Jazakallah khayr for such an insight into your life, it takes alot of courage to tell even one person about whats happening in your household, let alone many people. I completely relate to your problems - I lived in a household like this for around 14 years! Sometimes its nice to be given the reassurance that Allahs decree is what is best for us, even if we dont see it at the time. Insha'Allah through your trials that you have been through/going through Allah only seeks to draw you closer to Him. Insha'Allah in time you'll realise the great wisdom behind why you were tested in the way that you were. Chin up my love, Insha'Allah Allah will always guide you to goodness no matter where it lies :)
Lots of love xx

[2] Biddi111 at 13:23 on 11 May 10 report this

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Ok, so No one to listen"?
As a Muslim, that shouldn't be a thing you'd actually believe.
I think instead of turning to Helen, or any other sites, wether they be right or wrong. You should first remember, who is it that is always there no matter where you are, who you are, and how you are. Allah (swt).
You should plant faith in you that he sees you all the time everywhere, that he hears whatever you say, wether it be to him or not.
I think you should start by praying in khusho', that means pay close attention when you are reading Quran while prayer, concentrate and don't get distracted. When you feel like complaining, complain, just put it in a form of dua to Allah (swt), when you feel like confessing, confess, to Allah (swt).
Read Quran, whenever you feel like bursting.
Through bringing Allah (swt) into your life, you will feel much better, maybe not at first, but commit for a while and you will feel miraculously relieved!

[3] Aglaia at 12:39 on 5 Apr 10 report this

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We all need to heal in some way or the other, but ya ukhtii remember Allah loves you more than you can bare, and He puts you in a testing situation because he wants to give you jannah, and cars for you very much. Talk to Allah, He is always there, let the verses of Qur'an heal your soul, for there is nothing more comforting ...

[4] at 01:03 on 18 Nov 09 report this

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well u shouldnt have blmed no one in the situation cause the choices yo made was not your mother or sister fualt .
i have kept secrets like this to. some even worse i would try to keep myself out of it but sometimes guilt woul run over me. it didnt change me at all because no matter what somebody else knows whats going on and it all floats in the water. if you pray to allah and read and pray on your quaran then im sure that you will make it through it.

p.s god does have feelings and im pretty sure he under stood your hate and stree yet god is not a spirit he is a man. there are no spirits.

[5] iluvsiair at 19:36 on 17 Nov 09 report this

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