free stats Carmen's Web: Round one
Saturday, June 09, 2007
Round one
Thirteen years ago this month, my mother banished me to Egypt. Her Egyptian daughter was becoming too American and college in New York would only allow this transgression to worsen. She had to nip it in the bud. She waited until the day after my high school graduation to inform me that I was to go to and stay in Egypt for an indefinite amount of time.

I didn't go willingly. I yelled, pleaded, and cried. I appealed to her maternal instincts and threatened life-long hatred, but nothing worked. She didn't want to be responsible for the trouble I would get myself in if I stayed. What that meant is that she didn't want to get in trouble with my father, who would've blamed her for not raising her kids properly.

I hated her for a very long time. Real, genuine hatred. I stopped talking to her for nearly two years and things returned to "normal" only when my grandmother died. It was hard to hold grudges then. By that time, I had become the daughter she wanted and expected. I spoke more Arabic than English, was devoutly religious, and met and got serious with a proper Egyptian Muslim man. No more reason to worry about me.

Until now. Now my mother finds herself in the same exact situation she found herself in over a decade ago. The only difference now is that she finds herself without any kind of ammunition.

I told my mother about R earlier today. I didn't plan on it. I certainly didn't wake up thinking, "I'm going to do it today". There were a number of factors at play that led to the big bang. Last night my next door neighbor (who's Egyptian and is essentially extended family) invited me to her brother's house for game night. I told her I had plans with R and she told me to bring him. I wasn't comfortable with the idea because I haven't exposed him to anyone on my side, but she told me that it's about time I do it.

So I called R and asked him if he wanted to go. He seemed uncomfortable with the idea but agreed to go. As we were driving I noticed him become fidgety. I had never seen him like that. It was as if I were taking him to meet my parents!! I told him to stop being so nervous, that we were going to hang out with people our own age. He should be nervous when he meets my parents, not these people.

The pep talk didn't help much. His discomfort was so palpable and we nearly got into a fight because of a stupid comment he made about meeting my family. I had to control myself though because this is all my fault. I've put him in this situation. I've kept him a ghost for so long and have put this fear in him. I vent so much about my parents, Egypt, can I expect him to carry even one positive thought?

I dropped the conversation and we went to my friend's house. He had a great time. He was uncomfortable at first, but everyone welcomed him warmly and he took to them immediately.

This morning I woke up feeling frustrated that I contributed so strongly to his discomfort. And started hating myself for not being able to muster up any strength to get this part of my life going already.

I went to the gym to release this frustration. An intense workout and a surge in adrenalin had me very restless. As I was driving home, Pat Benatar's "Love is a Battlefield" came on the radio, which put me in an unexpected trance. When that video came out in the 80s (and if there's one thing that made the 80s what they were it's music videos), my brother, who couldn't have been more than six, told me that regardless of what happened in life, he would always love me and would never abandon me.

I came home, lay down sweaty on my bed and tried to control the millions of thoughts forming in my head. My mother was in her room talking on the phone and I just couldn't take it anymore. I've been waiting and waiting and waiting for the right moment, but there is no right moment. I'm either going to tell them or I'm not.

So I went into her room and asked her to get off the phone. I told her I needed to tell her something. She sat down and listened intently. I began by telling her that I've known someone for a while now and she said "I know". Which wasn't a surprise to me. She's not an idiot. She just chose not to say anything about it. I told her that he's not Muslim and watched her eyes grow a little. Again, she knew but the fact that I was confirming everything like this kinda shook her senses.

She asked me how I could put myself in such a situation. I told her that what's happened has happened and that I needed to tell her. I then dropped the nuclear bomb...we both want to get married.

I have never seen my mother's face form the way it did. Her eyes weren't full of anger or rage, they were full of pure fear. She asked me what I was thinking and that this could simply not happen. I explained to her how I came to my understanding that it was not haram and she simply wouldn't hear it. It's haram, it's haram is the only thing that came out of her mouth. Every religious class she took say it's haram, all the sheikhs say it, thousands of years of fiqh say it. It's haram.

I expected all her arguments, thanks to the anons that wrote their fabulous comments on previous posts. I had an answer for everything. Of course she simply wouldn't hear it. She said that she couldn't approve of such a thing. I told her I wasn't looking for her approval but just didn't want her to cut me out of her life. She repeated again that she couldn't approve, which basically means that she won't have me in her life. We had to cut the conversation short because my father walked into the house but not before I asked to read her books on sunnah. We'd talk about this again, but when we were both slightly calmer.

The confrontation went exactly as I expected. I could've scripted it. It wasn't a success, but it wasn't a failure either. My mother didn't get hysterical and I didn't break down. I was tempted at one point to throw a shoe at her head as she kept repeating, "it's haram" but I maintained composure. I mean, it's taken me two years to get to this point where I'm comfortable with my decision. I can't expect her to be comfortable with it in two minutes.

So there it is. The wheels are now in motion. I thought I would feel a weight lifted after telling one of my parents, but I don't. I actually feel kind of sick. Butterflies keep forming in my stomach. I also hate that I have now afflicted my mother with the same terrifying thoughts that have plagued me for the past two years. Now SHE'S going to get the sleepless nights and the stomach knots. I never wanted to do this to her. I kept putting this shit off because I simply didn't want her to go through this.
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 4:41 PM
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Who: Carmen

xx-something egyptia-yorker who's spent over half her life stuck in two worlds not of her own making. unable and unwilling to fully embrace one identity over the other, she created (is trying to create) her own place in the world where people love each other unconditionally, irrespective of artificial boundaries, and where dancing merengue is as necessary to life as breathing air.

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