Jan 25, 2009

Losing myself?

I have been here in Riyadh for about 4 years and a half. Although I have gotten used to life here in general, it was not always like that. I initially came in a happy and excited girl that was full of ambition and hope for the future. I was going to start a new life here, and continue with my education. I was always an independent person, so much so, that my mother used to leave me with my younger siblings from the age of 15 while she traveled back and forth to her family. This independence I achieved at such a young age, had me doing things people my age wouldn't even think of. I would get all my own paperwork done, I worked throughout university so that I would not have to ask my parents for money (they would be ready to oblige, but I wanted to do it for myself) and I HATE asking for money, it just makes me feel low! Anyway, I met my dear husband, and moved here to Saudi in hopes to strive, and build my future here in the Great Kingdom. Once arriving here, I saw that things were not as hopeful as I once thought, my husband had taken over everything for me. He would purchase my tickets, he would make my appointment, he would tell me to wait in the car, or tell me to stay seated as he got things done. How could I just sit back and have everything done for me? My husband was merely following the customs he was raised with (although I married him because he was so open minded). Places I would easily walk into anywhere else in the world, were Male territory now. I remember walking into a music store once when I first arrived with 2 of my cousins (aged 8 and 10 at the time). The man behind the counter came running to me, and told me I had to leave the store immediately, I was shocked.. I asked him why? He pointed to a sign outside the store stating that woman were strictly forbidden! I was shocked, yet I had to leave, and wait outside while my cousins got me whatever I wanted. I still remember the shock I felt when I went to several restaurants and cafe's seeing signs that woman were prohibited unless they were with their mahrem (male guardian). I remember one day when my husband and I were sitting in starbucks, and the religious police walked in and started ID'ing people, they did not bother us, but I saw them go to a closed off section that was filled with women, and told them they would have to leave as there was no legal guardian with them (mind you if they had a 10 year old boy with them, they would have been allowed to stay!) Anyway going back to my initial subject on losing my independence, I was talking to my mother the other day, and I told her that I came to Saudi as a FULL person, someone with ambition, with high hopes to achieve something, and as the days became weeks, and the weeks became months, and the months became years, I feel like I have been losing little pieces of myself along the way... I have seen change occur in the big city, when I first arrived things were much stricter then they are now, I see woman doing more with their lives, yet their achievements are hidden from the public eye. I want to stop this path I am going on, I want to find light at the end of the tunnel! Am I selfish for having these thoughts when I have my daughter to raise? I want to be perfect for her, I want to show her the beauty of life, yet somewhere in me, my unhappiness is growing stronger, I smile to the world, yet I cry within myself. I LOVE my husband, yet I hate the life he has given me here (May Allah forgive me). Maybe I just need a vacation, and tomorrow I will awake with these thoughts buried back where they should be, deep down within me somewhere that shouldn't be found. Losing Myself Edge of Sanity Music: Dan Swano Lyrics: Jonas Renkse Dan Swano: Lead Vocals, All Guitars, Bass Benny Larsson: Drums Losing time counting hours I'll never see myself again And even though I'm alone I can't remember what I'm missing So I leave it be Closing down I expect the hopelessness And even though I'm alone I can't remember what I'm missing and that's all I need I am lost I feel I am sinking now like I was made of rain Like a wave I roll into the endless night I am not afraid as the darkness starts to make its way I breathe as hard as you as I end my day I sigh and shelter as I try to sink that deep as deep as you and make sure that I won't fall asleep Losing days I need no hours I'll never be myself again And even though it's killing me I can't remember what I'm missing So I leave it be


  1. as Salaam Alaykum sis,
    I've been readin your blog for a a couple of months now, ever since I found out that i'll be moving to Riyadh, from Toronto, very shortly to join my husband there, and i was interested in reading about a woman's perspective there. Mashallah u write very well and it's thru ur posts that i've come to understand a lot more about Saudi culture, their lifestyle and how women in Saudi are expected to behave. I still have a month to go before I arrive in Riyadh - as a newly wed, and I really look forward to reading more about your feelings and experiences. I completely understand how u feel about ur lack of independance and control over your life, how all those things that you were so accustomed to doing by urself, were slowly taken out of ur life. To be honest, its really quite disheartening to see signs in public places banning women or those without their mahrams, not to mention that it can have a very negative impact on your self esteem. I hope that Inshallah you feel better about ur situation. I find that if i focus on positives about a situation, i start forgetting the negatives, and like u said so aptly, the thoughts dissapear into a deep, dark place. It might just be that a vacation, or maybe a road trip with ur family, might do the trick.
    Take care sis, and hope u feel better Inshallah.
    Salaamu alaykum

  2. I'm feeling you my sister. I began losing myself when I first landed in Yemen more than 2 decades ago. I felt like my past was merely a dream that I would go back to every time I felt nostalgic.
    I am now back in the US and I have been on a journey to regain my identity, or let me say create a new identity for myself, because I realized that I have gained more knowledge and wisdom after I left the US. I am a different person with a mixed mentality. :)

  3. Assalaamu alayku sister..
    your post really touched me.. I think thisis, after all, something similar to what has happened to most new Muslimas I know, some sort of loss of "me"...
    I know many sisters who have got married, had kids and are experiencing the same, even they maybe living just couple of miles away from their childhood home...

    And truly I feel for you. When I was a young revert, I used to dream about Saudi.. these days it is really hard for me to think I would ever live there. Wa Allahu aalem...

    May Allah make it easy for you

  4. I really feel this song/poem. It seems full of sorrow. I hope all is well with you.

    On a different note: I really wanted to comment on your section on Shopaholics, but...you can not be a true shopaholic if you don't hit Nordstrom's. =)

    You gotta add Nordies to the list. LOL.

    Take Care!!

  5. Mev- a 3laikum asalam... firstly I would like to say Mabroook for your wedding! And its great.. you're moving here from Toronto? we should really get to know one another. Anyway.. I thank you very much for passing by my blog.. and must tell you that there are days that are just great.. and as you have witnessed from this post.. there are days in which I can truly not get any lower! Independence is key, and for those of us that have been used to it.. its truly hard to adapt. I can keep going for some time.. but I truly just wanted to thank you for coming to my blog.. and moreover congratulations on the wedding.. I pray that your marriage is full of nothing but happiness.

    Yemenia68- Thank you very much for passing by my blog! I am happy that you are doing much better.. and you are right, we tend to learn a lot from our experiences.. and It does make us a new person.. I just hope that at the end of the day I can become a stronger new person enshallah. :)

    Random muslima- I thank you very much for passing by my blog. I must let you know that I was born a Muslim, and have lived n the Middle East before.. but never lived in a place like Riyadh.. Things are truly different here. And I believe everyone who ever lives here will end up losing a bit of themselves... even Saudi Woman.

    Terri's Space- Thanks for passing by... and yeah.. the song is kinda depressing.. lol.. I should listen to some happy music.. maybe it will make me feel a bit better.. and Nordstroms will be added now... aaaah... a shopping spree always puts me in a happier place (although temporary relief.. lol)

  6. Hi,

    Just passing through. Is there no way your family could move somewhere with more freedom for you? Think of your dear daughter - would you have her grow up to lead such a desolate life? God bless you! I do agree with Random Muslima, I live in Boston, MA and have been unemployed through no choice of my own for a year and a half, and I feel a total loss of independence, but in contrast, at least I can hope, and not despair that all of society is against me.
    Good luck to you! Be strong and don't forget to take care of your precious soul - we only have one life to live and it is meant to be lived, not observed. You are braver than you know for living through this!

  7. I just read this post. You describe very well the loss of independance, and the shift in marital relationships, that occur
    when culture, geography/society and lack of remunerated outside work combine with motherhood in a patriarchal society. A woman I know decided to return to work (here in Canada, though) when she realized her life was becoming too narrow and she wanted/needed to model being a working mom for her then 2 year old. She went back part-time only initially, then fulltime. Restored her sanity and made her (in her own eyes), a better mom.


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