Warning: This entry contains whine without cheese. Incoherence and pure emotion are contained within. And girly thoughts, and nafs-y thoughts. You have been warned.
Due to recent events and non-events affecting my emotional life recently, I've done some reading and some thinking about the nature of love.
There are really two places, maybe three, where I get love: my friends, my family, and my students.
That's love as expressed in actions and in words.
And that's good. I like all 3 and I'm aware now that I'm fully dependent on the first two for balance. My family, especially my mother, provide the greatest love I have ever known. My friends, my peers, keep their eyes open and watch my back, and that's crucial, because I have some blind spots that need their watchin' just like theirs need mine. My students rarely show they love me like all that (well, the older ones- the fourth graders let me know that they appreciate my steadiness with them), though I know they do. They're more an outlet where I, with my teaching (I am not some kind of pervert people, just a born teacher), show that I care about them, their spirits, what they do and what happens to them. That's why I teach. It's love.
I keep reminding myself that I have very present love in my life. I take my fingers and pry my mental eyes open to see it, because I live in a world that pushes *ahem* heterosexual romance and regard as love, and recognizes the love that I live with in a very distant second place to that romance. Which is something pretty lacking for me. I have to recognize that love for what it is, legitimate, and pure, and OKay for me to have.
I've mentioned before that I feel the lack of touching with men pretty keenly, especially since I've begun to focus on bringing my understanding of Islam to light in my daily life. (I feel it to a much lesser extent EVERYWHERE, since the aunt and uncle and two of the three cousins I live with are mostly exactly the opposite when it comes to touch, and I live far, far away from the rest of my family.) That's the part of that, um, romantic love that I can dig (My jury is still out of public view on that recklessly lusty stuff). What my mama calls being 'up under' people. Reading newspapers with heads on shoulders, sitting and touching arms or thighs incidentally when you eat, arms wrapped around necks and waists as you walk, elbowing when you tease, hugs and besitos when you run into peeps on the street or at a party or in the library, walking up behind the seated one and rubbing the shoulders and playing in the hair, tag-you're-out on the field. I miss this.
More, I feel starved for it. Touch-starved. To the point that where now when something like that happens, I've caught myself giving a great, long, sigh **whhhhhewww**. An unwilled release of tension present for so long I forgot it was there. I practically deflated like a balloon once. (It was funny then, and now, but now I think back on it as the point where I realized that it was happening.)
Since I'm being out there, why stop with that observation?
The one thing I still resent about Islam the action(and not Islam of the spirit), the one reason I've seen that really just kills about living as a muhejebah and holding myself to being a Muslim, is the removal (without reconciliation, I now realize,) of touch and easiness with men from my life. What I knew and hoped for as romantic love is NOT in my life. I grew up as an American Black with dreams of growing up and getting kissed and gettin' married in a white sleeveless dress with the man I met and stayed with since freshman year in college and got to touch mentally and physically before I married him. Okay, as I grew the dream got revised, but I made a decision that I didn't realize would crush it so neatly and completely.
Call it nafs. I realize this isn't the most pristine thing to admit. But it's reality. Resentful is just the way I feel. I refrain, but, like I said, my reaction to events and non-events make me feel mad about it. This is not joyful acquiescence to the will of God.
That's what's bugging me, and what made me start to think about the other loves that I do have, subhanAllah.
I've also said, and I do believe, that everything is choice. So I'm mad because, wait wait wait. I'm CHOOSING to stick to a POV and way of life that has me resentful and miserable? But it's true. I could be like so many people I know who are Muslim and pray like clockwork and have boyfriends and girlfriends (note intentional pluralization), tight clothes and public TOUCH.
And in the non-events of recent times I've been inching toward that. Listening to the nafs going , "Why not? Does God really care? Can't you be Muslim and still enjoy this? This is a natural normal desire in life!" I was talking to Em about it the other day, because we were talking about our abilities to be part of two different cultures, and other peoples' struggle to accept that. I was aggravated over my current crush, and talking about being both American and Muslim, and she said, "I don't belong to any culture that contradicts or tries to restrain the other. So I don't know how you do that."
At the end of it all, I have to live with myself. Which is why I do have lines that I won't cross, not for what others will think (and unfortunately as an unmarried Muslim convert who hopes for a match from the Ummah, I prudently DO keep others' eyes and opinions in mind), but because everyday when I say 'Astaghfirullah' during Isha prayer I do account for what I've done. I resent mySELF when I've explained to some stranger that yes,within Islam there are Surahs and Hadith that explain that women shouldn't be in closed rooms with strange men, while at the same time I've spent an hour dreaming about being alone with a friend who would qualify as strange.
The only help I have for myself is to turn my head away from the possibility of that romantic love being present for me. I don't know if it's possible, but Lord knows I am trying b/c the one person on earth I want to love more than anything is my own self. I don't like this and I don't want to be resentful anymore. Nor tense and harpy-ish. Prayer works until I go out into the world. And my state of living is not such that withdrawing from the world is an option.
Anyone know how to give herself a hug as good as any man's? Let me in on the secret.