“social anxiety”

shall I tell you the way it feels,

the swampy bog of worry and panicked thought?

to stand knee deep in it is both a comfort and dread

here, in the center, no one can touch me, see me, criticize me

it is me and this repugnant slime,

a manifestation of the worst of me.

and so it sucks me down until I realize

I cannot breathe and there is no one

and the dread is overwhelming.

It is ungratefulness, they say,

that which makes up this clamorous quagmire,

this insidious morass which demands so much of me,

and becomes envious if I dare try and leave.

If I try to climb out of its maw to rest upon its

viscid shore,

it redoubles its effort, it bubbles and spits

it reminds me no one can befriend me, how could they?

and regurgitates my flaws, my wrongdoing,

my sins, upon its abhorrent banks.

And I desist in my resistance,

and slip slowly again into the gurgling mire.

Comforted that none will see me sink.

 

 

Nesha Usmani

4/19/2016

 

 

 

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Keeping Promises to Myself

Since I was a child, I feel like I have been analyzing the people around me, comparing them to the state of their families, neighbors, cities, and the rest of the world. I’ve wondered why people talk so much, why some see little beyond the center of their vision, not even glancing at the peripheral.

I know the value of friends – I do, I really, really do. I have turned from an introvert, to an extrovert, to an introvert again through years of schooling and friends that have all had varying degrees of influence.

And I have interacted with them in various different ways, too. Sometimes being overly nice to compensate for not fitting in, and sometimes shutting myself out; too afraid to talk to anyone for fear of humiliating myself or feeling awkward, ugly, fat, stupid, conservative, liberal…what have you.

As is obvious, there are very few people in this Dunya I can truly relax and be myself around.

Maybe once I thought myself as someone who could cope with many friends, someone who loved people and could get along with anyone. Allah adjusted this for me. Gave me those I thought I could trust and showed me they could break me in half with barely any effort. He gave me those that love me unconditionally, and showed me that I could inflict the same harm upon them, sometimes obliterating their trust in me. Sometimes taking me out of their heart.

I realized the importance of silence in the face of empty words that take up space and offer no benefit. Is that not the nature of the worst of people, the worst of habits, even the worst of foods?

They fill up the space, but at best they offer nothing else. At worst, they metastasize like a malignant tumor and poison the things around them. They squeeze into the seats reserved for better things. Things that reciprocate and last, things that make an impact. And when the time comes for you to make the better choice, to choose Salah over sleep, or carrots over cookies, or wisdom over gossip, it has become habit. You are used to choosing the poison; the consequences diminished by the opiate force of routine.

Promises to Myself.

I cannot count on any number of fingers or toes the amount of promises I have broken for lack of respect for myself. Maybe for lack of self-esteem. Maybe motivation. Or maybe simply the habit of speaking words that carry no weight. Empty shells pretending to mean something.

How can we value someone else if we do not value ourselves? How can we keep a promise to another human being, but easily break promises to our own selves?

Maybe a broken promise to someone else will be forgiven. But broken promises to oneself usually go unrecognized, unpunished. They turn into the norm and we inflict harm upon ourselves quietly but steadily. The broken promise turning into addiction, abuse, sickness, lack of motivation, lack of esteem….the list goes on.

No mobile app or diary will amount to the loss of potential when we betray ourselves.

But maybe in silent reflection and quiet determination, in the meditation of self, we can find ourselves again. Sift through the loud, chaotic debris of the lives we lead, and just make one, quiet promise. One to keep.

I Want to be a Mom.

I love babies.

Tonight, at the dinner party, I realized just how much I want kids in the future inshAllah.

It’s a bit of a fruitless dream right now, since I don’t really have anyone in my life right now who wants to make that happen with me, and I don’t know if I ever will have that. Allahu Allam. The past 5 months have held such emotional turmoil that I feel like I can’t take much more heartache. I need a miracle, ya Allah.

But tonight, the house was filled with laughing children and babies. And everyone seemed so at home. Literally, people laughed, cried, held serious conversations, made new friends. SubhanAllah. I love that people feel this way in our home. Someone told me that only Allah can bring that to a household. Not furniture, or a good interior design, not good food, or party games. Just blessings from Allah that the guests you invite enter your house feeling welcome, and leave feeling like they’ve just been fed and entertained by family. SubhanAllah.

Do you realize what a blessing it is to have people love you and your family and want to spend time with you and yours ?Any idea at all? Once you realize that what Allah has given you (blessings), whether it be wealth, a house, brains, wit, etc, ALL OF THAT…once you realize that all of these things are also TOOLS to gain MORE reward from Allah, and you use these tools exactly for that purpose…WOW!! Amazing things happen, man!! SubhanAllah. What you have been given by Allah, is also for you to share, for the sake of Allah!

Anyway, back to babies…there were three. 2 baby girls and 1 baby boy.

One baby girl didn’t cry at all, the other baby girl was fussy, and the baby boy cried every single time he was even an inch away from his mother, subhanAllah.

My attention was entirely focused on the silent baby. Part of me wanted to go and mingle with my friends who came, but a bigger part of me just wanted to make sure the baby I held in my arms was comfortable…and…just cuz I wanted to hold her and play with her and make her laugh.

For a few hours tonight, I was inseparable with my friend’s 13 month old daughter. She had dark eyes, I couldn’t tell if they were dark blue or just brown, I was too focused on her adorable smile and chubby cheeks. I kissed her so much on those cheeks of hers that by the end of the night they were red!!

I honestly didn’t think the little tot would become attached to me. She was so quiet and poker-faced that I was actually intimidated at first. But, after learning her language and smiling at her repetitively, I gained her trust. And it wasn’t soon after that, that she started to hang on to me, not wanting me to let her go. Every time I set her down on the floor, she would try to crawl back up into my arms. Whenever someone took her from me, she would lean towards me with her arms outstretched in a soundless plea, subhanAllah

Soon, she would smile whenever I would come back to her after talking with friends. And it wasn’t very long afterwards that I started to feel like I was hogging the baby from her own mother! Although, I’m sure she didn’t mind. She needed the break to eat in peace and catch up, I’m sure.

Another odd thing I do want to mention is that my maternal “instincts” were outta control tonight. There were so many babies and children, and so many things they could bump into or trip over, stairs that they could fall down, hot drinks that they could grab and burn themselves with. Left and right, left and right, I was jumping in front of toddlers to stop them from going down the stairs alone, grabbing their tiny little limbs to stop them from falling or grabbing something dangerous, gasping and not paying attention to what people were saying because I was distracted by a baby playing with a folding chair.

A baby. With a folding chair. Folding chair. Weird metal thing that folds near soft fleshy baby.

WTH NO.

Ok so maybe I’m a little paranoid. And maybe it would be different if it were my baby. Actually, it WOULD be. My baby’s not going near any damn folding chair. Or chairs. Or styrofoam cup. Or stairs. Or forks. Or wooden toys. Or brick walls. Or walls. Or sidewalks. Or concrete. Or ice cubes. Or carrot sticks. Or cats. Or potato chips. Or McDonalds. Or wheels. Or shoes. Or the kitchen.

Ok imma stop.

I realized tonight how difficult being a mother is. How crazy would you be if the tiny chubby cute-fest that you birthed was running around near basement stairs and drawers filled with knives? Let alone going to school by herself in later years?

I’m getting anxiety just thinking about it. But it just makes me want to have children more.

You really do need to be a woman to understand what I’m feeling right now. Whenever I’m out in public and hear a baby cry, I find myself looking alertly in the direction of the sound. I just want kids so badly.

If I never get married and I’m making enough money, I would adopt, inshAllah.

I know all you moms are like “damn, she’s naive.”

I’m not. I know all the ups and downs, the emotional and physical roller-coasters. The terror in raising your child in today’s world (for me, at least).

But, man, it’s worth it. I took care of my youngest sister when she was a baby, I still sort of take care of her. Watching her grow up has been probably one of the most interesting and fascinating parts of my life.

It also, however, has taught me the value of patience and good parenting skills. And how easily children can adopt a bad habit or quality from you.

I heard a funny proverb about this in Indonesia. “Orang-tua kencing berdiri, anak-anak kencing lari.” I’m unsure if the Indonesian is correct or not (I think I’m forgetting it 😦 ) It means “Parent pees standing, children pee running.”

Basically, if a parent has a bad habit, their children will become influenced by it, sometimes in an even worse way.

It makes me think a lot about how I want my kids to see me. Not as a doormat. Not as a tyrannical figure. Not as someone to fear.

I want my children to look at me and just be happy I’m their mom. I want to set a good example for my kids. I don’t want them to be embarrassed if I kiss them in front of their friends, because I damn well will!

I guess, it all can be summed up like this.

I want my children to love me and look at me they way I love and look at my mom.

I’ll never get embarrassed if my mom kisses me or hugs me in front of my friends. I’ll never let anyone disrespect her (watch out if you do). I’m starting to realize just how much she’s done for me, and just how much I really, truly, love her.

I love you, mom ❤

May Allah forgive all of your sins, send you Angels to pray for you, make Qiyamat easy and full of shade for you, and give you Jannat Al Firdaus, and give you Papa as your eternal spouse in Jannah, because I’ve never seen a man who loves his wife more than Papa loves you, mashAllah. Ameen.