Child death, Culture, death, emotions, grief, parenting, Personal Growth, Relationships, Saudi Arabia, Women

The Club I Never Wanted to Join

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There are those clubs in life that we join with enthusiasm, that is within our control and decision, that we decide to engage because it coincides with our interests, our hobbies, passions, joys, and identity.  Although life’s path indoctrinates us into other clubs or groups that we never sought membership for, but we received a lifetime membership that usually involves emotional fees instead of monetary fees.  Almost one  year ago, I received one of those unsolicited lifetime memberships to the Mother of Dead Children when I delivered my full term 38 week old stillborn son, Mr. Baby (aka Mohammad Hatem Mominah).   A membership card I have tried to burn, to throw away, and return to sender, but the damn gold status membership card keeps finding its way back into my hand of cards.  This unsolicited club membership likes me to invest my emotions, my cognitive energy, my time, my sleep, my lack of sleep, and at times, my sanity.   While the members of this club experience some of the same initiations, each club member also gets specialized individualized treatment dependent on their own story, their personal characteristics of the card member, but most of us get to pay the yearly premium of guilt, blame, and sadness.

There are no rules and regulations of expected behavior of carrying this card from the membership itself, but people that have not gained membership to this club have developed stereotypes of how you should “be” and what is acceptable to say to you or not say to you.  I have perfected the art of listening, and composing a smile, or at least a blank expression, but I also have a ticker tape that silently runs through my mind, that if ever was exposed, could unleash a nasty sarcastic spew of my inner coping.  As a member of this club, I have gathered support and understanding from other gold card carrying members, but those outside that club, that have never experienced what it means to lose a child, will offer their own advice of how you can be a gold star performing card carrying member.  While every parent that has lost a child has a different way of coping, my own inner dialogue, which I long ago nicknamed as my “ticker tape” has at times ran rampant in my mind in response to messages  to what others have said to me in the past year.

  1. You should be grateful that you have other children.  Yes I am selfish and ungrateful…. (guilt) What is wrong with me?
  2. You need to get over it and move on.   I am weak and sorry I have those days that I secretly wish that I could have crawled into the grave with my child….(guilt) What is wrong with me?
  3. God never gives you more than you can handle.  Really?  Ummmm….because I am about one second away of letting you see on display what falling apart looks like.….(guilt)What  is wrong with me?
  4. Far worse things have happened to other people, you  should be grateful.  Yes far worse things have happened….I did not gain membership to compare my experience with tragedies of the rest of the world.  Yeah I get that far more horrible things have happened in the world, but thank you  for your insight and wisdom, but it still doesn’t change how I feel….(guilt) What is wrong with me?
  5. Say “Thanks God” or “Al Humdallah”. I have never been one to do or say things unless I really feel that way, and  maybe I am an ungrateful,  selfish person, because I am not grateful for carrying a child for 9.5 months to hand that child over to be buried in the desert’s sand.  I am not grateful to get this unsolicited membership card……Sorry if this upsets your world view, and doesn’t coincide with your perceptions….I will not say something that I do not mean, because I do not view this as a will of God…this was because of medical human error,  my own screwed up body, my own inability to deal with stress, and because I was too physically and mentally exhausted to stand up to the voices that said a C-section could wait for a couple more days,  even though I knew it couldn’t.   I am not in the mood to make you feel better…because I feel like shit.   If it makes you feel better, please say it, but do not say it to me, and do not expect me to say it.  Special note to medical professionals….please shut up and do not even have the audacity to mention this to me…. (guilt) What  is wrong with me?
  6. At least you are still alive and here.  Really?  That could be questionable on a moment by moment basis…..(guilt) What is wrong with me?
  7. Maybe it was for the best, maybe there was something wrong with him. A doctor examined him, there was nothing wrong with him visibly, although I would not allow the hospital to dissect his little body.  Even if there was something wrong with him.  I just wanted the chance to look into his eyes…even for just a little bit.  I wanted that baby,  even if there had been issues…. (guilt) What is wrong with me?
  8. You are not the only person to lose a child.  I know that, and do you think that I don’t’ realize already that I am not handling this with grace …Do you really think that if I could I wouldn’t stand up  and be this fortress of strength? (guilt)  What is wrong with me?
  9. At least you never had the chance to get emotionally attached…it is better that he died before you had the chance to know him. Please fuck off because I did know him.  I carried him for 38 weeks… you have no idea…… (guilt) What is wrong with me?
  10. You gave yourself black eyes/ bad luck because you were so happy to have the baby.  Your statements are more of a reflection of your black  heart and how you view others as well as how you view yourself… Please…could you just please shoot me and get your freaking torture over with.  I was happy to be expecting a child…and you stand before me and say that it is my fault that I made other’s jealous……really….this is just too much….while you may think it, and that is your right….really shut the fuck up.  Trust me….I have enough guilt for not standing up to doctors, changing physicians, or dealing with stress effectively…I don’t need your negative energy to add to my black world right now.  Bad things happen in life, and death is one of the inevitable truths of our existence.   (guilt) What is wrong with me?

The only real benefit that I believe I have gained from my membership, is the right to say “Please consider what you say to someone that has lost their child”.  I know the intentions are there to try to comfort the person, but each person deals with loss and grief in their own way.  I apologize in advance to anyone that I have offended by my honesty and language, that is not my intention, but to provide an insight into the grief of one mother on a year long journey of coming to terms with the death of her child.   Entering the private thoughts of another is one way to understand a situation and have some empathy.  I am sure that in the past that I have unintentionally made statement in regards to someone’s life events that were not helpful.  This experience has taught me that sometimes words unspoken are best.  No one can tell a the person what they should feel, or how they should behave when faced with death.   Sometimes the well intentioned comments only add to feelings of guilt, sadness, selfishness, and unfairness experienced by those grieving.  What you can do…sit quietly, listen, and understand that person will never be the same in some ways.  Yes they will learn to smile again, they will learn how to live again, they will learn to breathe….but it is in their time, and in their way.  Grief is a path that each person travels differently and it is not a path that can be magically fixed.

Happy Birthday Mr. Baby.  You earned  your angel wings  before you ever had to  breathe  in the experiences of the harsh realities of life on earth. One of my favorite messages sent was “The angel opened the book of life, and  said “This one is too perfect for this world…and closed the book”.  For this, I can honestly  say “Alhumdallah” or “Thank God”.  Until we meet again my little baby.

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Betrayal, Feminism, Personal Growth, Relationships, Saudi Arabia, Women

Living in the Shadows of the Cloak of Darkness

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I have been living in the shadows, the shadows of sorrow, pain, and broken trust that have kept me out from my own inner light. You helped me create those shadows, by blocking the light with your words, you actions, and the images of betrayal that left me in darkness. You cloaked me in black to cover my inner light, expecting me to thrive out of the spotlight, while I slowly withered away into a state of the breathing dead.

Objects of reality only create shadows, and you do not represent reality, or an object that is solid and real, but a hollow figure that is nothing more than an illusion of deception. Just as I moved into the flimsy shadows by my own free will, I am stepping out of the shadows and casting away the cloak of black, back into my light to take my place among the living, escaping the shadows of doubt. I will leave you to your own drama, with all of your fellow actors to play on your stage in your shadows of deception. Shadows possess no depth, dimension, or color, but are superficial images cast on walls perhaps to spark one’s imagination of creating stories and tales. Shadows cannot exist without light, and no longer will I allow you to steal my light for your shadowy manipulations, but I am reclaiming my light to see my world as it is.

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Humanistic Psychology, Midlife, Personal Growth, Women

Mid-Life Reflections

43rd bday pic
I have crawled and walked this earth for 43 years today; the crawling has not only included my time as a small child, but metaphorically crawling during difficult times in my life. Some of those difficulties have been the results of circumstances, different people, and yes, I must admit brought on by myself as well. Perhaps we have to crawl for moments in our life at different times to learn how to walk a new or different path. Today, I am getting off the floor to walk on my own two feet again, but I know to do that I need to strive towards the following:
1. My own self value is not determined by how others view me, act towards me, or value me.
2. If people love me based on conditions, I will still love them unconditionally, but I know
there conditional love is their weakness and not my own. While I will love these people
unconditionally, I will have boundaries in how much energy I invest in maintaining the
relationship.
3. Only consider criticism from others that is given with authentic intentions, only give
criticism that is given with authentic intentions.
4. I will not let fear hold me back in living. Fear is the one emotion that keeps us on our
knees and makes us slaves to others and ourselves.
5. I will only say sorry when I truly mean it. I will not say sorry for being honest and
speaking my truth, or being sorry for who I am.
6. I will no longer keep my silence when it damages others or myself. I have held my tongue far
too long causing myself physical and emotional pain.
7. I will not allow others who are filled with hatred, greed, jealousy, and selfish intents to
bring drama in my life. This is their drama and issues, not my own. If I have done something
wrong, I will admit it and say I am sorry, but I will no longer allow you to bring destruction
and unneeded pain in my life. I cannot force anyone to respect my boundaries, but I do not
have to engage with destructive people and their games regardless of who you are.
8. I will forgive, but I do not forget. Forgetting is not a skill, remembering and learning
from experiences teaches us to avoid mistakes in the future and that is a true measure of an
intelligent skill.
9. I will not take people, blessings, or my world for granted. Showing gratefulness is a
reminder of the beauty in our world that at times can be obscured.
10. I will work towards those parts of me that can improve, while at the same time accepting there
are some aspects of me that are innately me and learn to love those traits.

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Emotional abuse, Humanistic Psychology, parenting, Personal Growth, Psychology, Relationships

Love: The Difference Between Unconditional Love versus Conditioned Love

Mom and me
I have heard and even used myself the expression “love can heal the world”. Lately I have been questioning the concept of love; we throw the word love around, which in reality has different meanings for different people, as well as the context of how we use the word. For example, I might say, “I love your dress”, “I love you”, “I love my children”, “I loved that movie”, “I love my spouse”, or “I love my parents”. In the context of this article, I am speaking about the love we have for other living and breathing creatures, and more specifically human beings. Even narrowing down the term love and using it in context about people, the way we use the word “love “ and what it means is ambiguous. Love can be defined as an action, expression, or emotion. Love can be expressed as a thing by using it as a noun, or an action by using it as a verb.

Although we may have different ways to use the word love, there are types of “love” that we need to question as to whether or not they actually meet the criteria of love: Unconditional love vs. conditional love. Unconditional love involves both a genuine care and concern about an individual, which involves both recognizing that individual as a unique individual with both strengths and weaknesses. We express our affection for that individual, which does not necessarily mean that we condone or support their negative behavior, but we still have positive regard for them as a person and human being. We set limits of what is acceptable behavior in the relationship that is healthy for both individuals, balanced with respect for both individuals. This type of love is mature, respectful, and may transition through time according to the developmental stages of each person in the relationship, and what constitutes appropriate roles for these individuals. For example, I think of unconditional love I have towards my children. My oldest daughter is almost 23 years old and I have experienced as a mother our relationship from her being an infant to entering the world as a young adult. As an infant, all of her needs were met through me and she needed different levels of guidance through each stages. Through each stage of her development, her independence grew, as she became a unique individual. Both of us through these different stages made mistakes, but my love for her and I believe her love for me is not conditional. I recognize she has both strength and weaknesses, as I am sure she realizes I too as a person have strength and weaknesses. I will love and respect her as a person, regardless of the mistakes she makes, or if she has different ideas and values than my own because she is my child that came from my womb. Although I may not support her behavior through either financial means, as well as I may voice my concerns, at the end of the day, I still love her. I experienced this same type of unconditional love from my parents, who often disagreed with my life choices, but have provided emotional support (and yes even financial support) through different periods in my life. My family of origin is not perfect, and yes, we have dysfunction that flows through our relationships, but conditional love was never a part of those relationships.

Conditional love involves only showing affection for an individual when they behave or act in accordance with one’s wishes, commands, wants, or desires. Conditional love damages an individual in that they only believe that through their appearances, achievements, materialistic offers, and yes even handing over their own control will win them the love of another person. Conditional love is often used as a form of emotional abuse in which one individual places conditions of giving their affection to another person; it is a form of being selfish, narcissistic, shallow, manipulating, and controlling another person. We have all seen this type of love, from the parent that expects their child to follow all of their commands and the parent showing love is conditional upon the child meeting those demands. We have seen this through spouses that expect their mate unquestioningly to obey their authority, and meet all of their needs. We have seen this through friends who stand with us through our bright times, but mysteriously disappear during our down periods in life. Conditional love places restrictions on individuals, and never allows them to develop to their full potential. This is not “love”, and when we come to fully recognize this as a species, we may realize that “unconditional love can heal the world”.

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Personal Growth, Women

“Cleaning Out My Closet of Socialization”

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I am cleaning out my closet of “socialization” and only keeping those threads of socialization that fit me, and those that need thrown out I am not donating, some things deserve to be thrown out with the trash.
1. A woman is only complete with a man (trash)
2. Judge people by their position or their family name (trash)
3. A good mother kills herself to give everything possible to her children (trash)
4. Just because a person is beautiful on the outside they are beautiful on the inside(trash)
5. Life is fair (trash)
6. Happily ever after fairy tales (trash)
7. Material possessions bring happiness (trash)
8. All people are logical (trash)
9. All people play fair (trash)
10. Standing up for yourself is being selfish (trash)
11. Never say no to people (trash)
12. I must be perfect (trash)
13. Trust people in what they say (trash)
14. Everything is my fault (trash)
15. People get what they deserve (trash)
16. Do unto others what they do unto you (trash)
17. Revenge is sweet (trash)
18. I can control people, and people can control me (trash)
19. People that perform the rituals of their religion, behave in accordance with the virtues and values of a religion/spirituality (trash)
20. Truth and justice will always prevail in the end (trash)

The socialization that I will keep in my closet:
1. Trust in what people do, instead of what they say.
2. I can only make myself complete.
3. Life is unfair, but still act in accordance with love, respect, compassion, integrity, and authenticity.
4. Sometimes giving everything to our children makes them dependent, and sometimes we have to let them learn lessons on their own to build their character. We need to tell them no at times.
5. The only thing I can definitively control in my life is my own actions.
6. It is ok to say no to people when we do not have the time and resources. It is ok to say no to people when it violates your own personal boundaries or ethics.
7. I am human and I make mistakes, other people are humans and they make mistakes. Only cut those people off from you that continuously make mistakes without regret of how their mistakes have negatively affected other people. Acknowledge your own mistakes, ask for forgiveness, and do not live in guilt, but learn from your mistakes.
8. Truth and justice do not always prevail, although we should keep trying to make the world a better place.
9. Love people for their authentic selves, and not for their outward appearances and possessions.
10. Trust your intuition, but do not jump to conclusions.
11. Religion/spirituality should be carried out through in how we live life and treat other people; the rituals are a reminder of these virtues.
12. My experiences may shape me, but they do not define me.

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Humanistic Psychology, materialism, Personal Growth, Psychology, spirituality

Can a Vulture Become a Dove?

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It is the simplest of humans that try to mold a version of perfection by their adornments . A human that does not see beyond their socialized version of perfection is but an empty vessel that has failed to find their own worth and tries to adorn themselves with material objects in finding some type of worth to not only themselves, but to others as well. A superficial self that in their lust for finding some type of feeling of worth, becomes engrossed in the art of deception, lies, and valuing the materialistic objects of the world over integrity, respect, honesty, and empathy. I sometimes wish I could escape this world into a utopia where music, arts, knowledge, words, nature, authenticity, honesty, caring, kindness, and love were the prized human values. Where the vulgar behavior of impression management through material objects, power, and control were considered vile, evil, and unsightly.

Lessons in life have taught me that those who are so willing to prostitute their ethics and values in life in able to obtain monetary gain, power, or control are also the very same people who lose their humanity. Their narcissistic needs for power, control, and materialistic desires turn them into vultures circling the skies scouring the landscape of those that they perceive weak or unworthy. These vultures are not hard to identify. They are typically visibly on display if you only take the time to scan their behaviors. These people will yell, degrade, and abuse others that they perceive as less than them because of social status, nationality, race, or appearance. These people will try to charm and dazzle those that they perceive they have something to gain. These people will pursue objects that they see as for the elite, while failing to see the beauty of another person’s essence that they have just disregarded as useless because they do not have the ability to bolster their own self through their connection with that human being.

Am I innocent in this whole charade of materialism? No, I am not. I have bought the designer labels that I knew came through the blood, sweat, and tears of the innocent in sweatshops. I have walked by the homeless person and only gave a swift second look, more scared if that could become my destiny versus the humanity of offering a hand to help or listen. I have been impressed with material objects, titles, power, and superficial prestige. Although I have also learned that some of the richest people, either in character, or in talents, are often those that often go unseen in our materialistic world. I have learned that the vultures of materialistic values will pick the very life out of an individual as long as it serves their own shallow needs, only to discard that individual once they no longer serve a purpose. I have also learned that these vultures often fly in circles together and avoiding their territory serves as a form of both mental and physical preservation of the human spirit. The vultures not only feed off the dead of others, but will feed off each other as well. Being completely honest, I have even found myself flying among the vultures as I struggled to find my own identity. I have left the flock and I am trying to become a dove; representing peace, harmony, respect, and the humanistic vision of extending the olive branch of caring, kindness, and empathy. As I continue my internal transformation, I question can I ever become the dove completely shedding the feathers of the vulture, to fly a path of integrity, respect, honesty, and kindness and obliterate my former conditioning of the vulture?

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