Feminism, Humanistic Psychology, Uncategorized, Violence, Women

I Walk

I walk with you because I am that woman who felt the burning pain of a slap, the punch of oppression, and the embarrassment of being pushed while others laughed, or looked away nervously because” I had it coming” for daring to question the unfairness of patriarchy.

I walk with you because I am that woman who had a gun held to her because I dared to stand up against a controlling man that should have never been allowed to possess a firearm.

I walk with you because I am that woman who knows what it is like for others to discount your pain, blame you, and make excuses for a man’s violence.

I walk with you because I am that woman who held my silence of unwanted sexual advances, sexual harassment, and sexually being groped because I did not want to be the “bitch that brought it upon “herself”.

I walk with you because I am that woman who knows what it is like not to have health insurance and wondering whether to buy food or go to the doctor.

I walk with you because I am that woman who knows what it is like to be a young divorced mother raising a child financially and emotionally on her own.

I walk with you because I am that woman who knows what it is like to have love for another that is not seen as acceptable by the masses.

I walk with you because I am that woman who knows the beauty and love of others that may not look or believe like me.

I walk with you because I am that woman who has been called a “ crazy bitch” for being strong and motivated.

I walk with you because I am that woman who has been paid less than my male counterparts although they had less education and less experience than me.

I walk with you because I am that woman who has dared to empower her daughters to have an opinion, to have a dream, and to not let their gender determine their outcomes in life.

I walk with you because I am that woman who believes that it is better to build other sisters up worldwide than tear them down and scoff at them for breaking socially gendered boundaries.

I walk with you because I am that woman who believes that patriarchy is not only detrimental to women, but it hurts men as well.

I walk with you because I am that woman who believes women should have the choice to make their way through the world with their hair covered or uncovered and not fear for their safety.

I walk with you because I am that woman who supports other women who forge careers into unchartered territories, but also supports the women and men who decide to stay at home with their children.

I walk with you because I am that women who has seen the results of bringing children into the world that were not wanted.

I walk with you because I am that woman who believes in a higher power, but also know I was giving the ability to think, reason, and communicate that serves a purpose beyond myself.

I walk with you because I am that woman who does not see a world that is black and white, right and wrong, but a spectrum in between that tells the story of each individual.

I walk with you because I am that woman who know others may not support my beliefs, but they do not have the right to dictate my choices. My choices are between God and myself.

I walk with you because I am that woman who knows each of us has our personal path, but we can support each other in the walk.

I walk.

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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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Culture, Feminism, organizational psychology, Psychology, Saudi Arabia, Saudi women driving, Women

Saudi Women Working from Home: A Productive Strategy for a Cultural Problem

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Women in Saudi Arabia are just beginning to emerge in the workforce.  The role of women in the workforce in Saudi Arabia has been mostly limited to either careers in education or the medical profession.  Cultural factors such as gender segregation, transportation issues, and social perceptions of women working have been some of the major influences of keeping Saudi women out of fully joining the work force in full ranks, although the number of Saudi women in the Kingdom graduating with college degrees outnumbers their male counterparts.  The Ministry of Labor (2010) reported that more than 80% of female Saudi college graduates with at least a bachelor’s degree are unemployed in the Kingdom.  This number represents a significant amount of unused talent that is currently underutilized in the society.

For those unfamiliar with Saudi Arabia, the question may be asked “What is keeping women from joining the workforce?”  There is not one specific reason, but instead of culmination of different social factors that have led to the limited employment of  Saudi females in the Kingdom.  Saudi Arabia’s government rule is based on a sect of Islam called Wahhabism, a more strict interpretation of Islam, which has been interpreted in the Kingdom in the form of  gender segregation of males and females unless they are related to each other, or married.  This has forced organizations that hire females and males both to develop work environments in which males and females are segregated and have limited contact.  From a financial standpoint, one can understand the reticent behaviors of some organizations to hire women into an organization because of the special accommodations that must be given to the work environment to accommodate women in full force.

Another issue that has hampered the efforts of women to enter the workforce in full force surrounds the issue of women not being allowed to drive vehicles within the Kingdom.  A woman must rely on a male family member, a private driver, or some type of private taxi service to ensure being able to arrive at her place of employment.  Currently Saudi Arabia does not have a public transportation system, which would allows women to move freely in the cities.  While this not may not pose a problem for women from the upper socio-economic classes of Saudi, who can afford a private driver, as well as the expense of having her own car, those with limited financial resources may find it difficult to afford having a personal private driver.  In addition, even for the women who can afford the luxury of having a private driver (and this is speaking from my own experiences) there is nothing more frustrating than recruiting a driver from another country, paying the fees to have them brought to Saudi Arabia, only to have them disappear in the middle of the night to seek other employment.

The current changing economic and social factors in the Kingdom require that women be able to pursue employment.  As the growing young population of Saudi Arabia has exploded, the practice of the majority of the citizens being supported by their families, or through government “gifts” is no longer practical.  In addition, the divorce rate among Saudis has been estimated around 60%, one of the highest divorce rates in the world (Le Renard, 2013).  A possible strategy for certain job classes of women would be allowing them to work from home.   Most of the organizations within Saudi Arabia manage people that is similar to the time period of the industrial movement within the United States, where quantity produced( Greenberg, 2011), it considered superior over quality, although many of the organizations are trying to create knowledge based environment.  Digital and internet services within  Saudi Arabia has the highest rate of homes and usage of internet services of any other Arab country (Simism, 2011), making the practice of some women being able to work from home a transition that in terms of technological infrastructure, not difficult.   As positions across the world continue to transcend into a more service, instead of production oriented type of work, a phone, computer, internet service, and a place to work in the home have facilitated the process of allowing employees to transfer their workplace from office space to home space (Turcotte, 2010).

Phillips, Phillips, & Robinson (2013) showed in their case of performance of individuals working at home that it increased productivity, decreased stress for employees because of removing the stress of the commute to work, as well as reduced traffic congestion by allowing employees to work remotely.  In addition, organizations can benefit from this practice by reducing operating costs by reducing the space needed for office space, as well as increased employee performance, engagement, and reduced turnover.  This would be especially promising in terms of Saudi Arabia because of the reports of low employee performance and engagement, as well as high rates of turnover with Saudi employees (Sadi & Al-Buraey, 2009).

This is an underutilized option to employing women within the Kingdom, but setting up the management and training of people working at home would be critical in implementing practices with organizations within the Kingdom.  This option would open up careers, as well as organizations that have generally not been open to women because of the social stigma, or the reluctance of some organizations to hire women because of the issues regarding gender segregation.  In addition, this would allow women to circumnavigate the transportation issue that continues to be a hurdle for many women, through either financial strains, or the on-going problem of losing a private driver and being unable to get to their place of employment.

 

References

Alharbi, (2010). Minister of Labor: 80% of unemployment graduates women and mechanisms to

Address obstacles to women’s work within 8 weeks. Alwatan. Retrieved from

http://www.alwatan.com.sa/Local/News_Detail.aspx?ArticleID=31220&CategoryID=5

Greenberg, J.  (2011).  Behavior in organizations (10th ed.).  Upper Saddle River, NJ:  Prentice Hall.

Le Renard, A. (2013). Young urban saudi women’s transgressions of official rules and the production of a new social group. Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies, 9(3), 108-135.

Phillips, J., Phillips, P., & Robinson, R. (2013). A case study of ROI in organizational performance of working at home. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 25(4), 111-131.

Sadi, M.  & Al-Buraey.  (2009). A framework for the implemental process:  The case of Saudiization.  International Management Review, 5(1), 70-84.  Retrieved from http://www.usimr.org/IMR-1-2009/v5n109-art6.pdf

Simsim, M. T. (2011). Internet usage and user preferences in Saudi Arabia. Journal of King Saud University-Engineering Sciences, 23(2), 101-107.

Turcotte, M. (2010). Working at home: An update. Canadian Social Trends, (91), 3-11.

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Betrayal, Emotional abuse, Midlife, Relationships, Women

The Lie in Believe

Believe
Believe? An interesting word in both meaning as well as the composition of letters that compose this word. Marriam-Webster (2014c) defines believe as “to accept or regard (something) as true” or “to accept the truth of what is said by (someone)”. As I have studied the word believe, I find it ironic that the word “belie” are the letters that I write down to spell out “believe”. Marriam Webster (2014b) defines “belie” as “to give a false idea of (something)” or “to show (something) to be false or wrong”. The word belie has a dual meaning depending on the context of how it is used. Belie can be the act of trying to deceive another individual, or refers to the act of trying to refute what another has said, hence showing their deception. As I further try to decode the composition of the word “believe”, I have noticed the word “lie” is the middle of the word “believe”, and composes the end of the word “belie”. Marriam-Webster (2014a) defines lie as “to make an untrue statement with intent to deceive” or “to create a false or misleading impression”.

I find it painful and agonizing that I have wasted so much energy in not only trying to understand the symbolic morphology of these three words, but even more so painful that I have spent so much of my energy in living out my life with regards to these three words: Believe, belie, and lie. These three concepts have pervaded the past years of my life in my attempts to escape reality. I have wasted energy trying to believe the lies. I have wasted energy trying to belie the lies I have been told. I have engaged in a vicious and self-destructive pattern of trying to believe these lies, while my intuition has engaged me in the counter process of showing the belie of the lies. This process has done nothing more than taking me on a roller coaster of emotions. There are those brief momentary highs of believing the lie, only to send me into a downward spiral filled with hurt, pain, and betrayal as my acts to belie (to show something to be false or wrong) have shown the belie (to give a false idea of something) of others around me.

While I consider myself a moderately intelligent person, my stupidity is my failure to learn to quit purchasing the tickets on this roller coaster ride of believe, belie, and lie. The individuals that have been the operators of this ride, and who I have continuously bought the tickets to the roller coaster of agony, are the greatest salesmen because they know of my most inner weaknesses. Their ability to keep selling me another ticket comes from their knowledge on my own insecurities and inner weaknesses, which the art of sales and marketing are based on feeding on the insecurities and needs of individuals. In all honesty, how can I blame the salesmen? For in every sale there has to be a willing customer ready to snatch up the next deal. Why is it that I continue to buy this ticket, even though I know the ride will leave me nauseated and leave me wrenching a stream of vomit of my own soul? Perhaps it is time that I exit the amusement park to take away the temptation of purchasing another ticket on the “roller coaster of believe, belie, and lie”, in not only its symbolic composition, but the emotions that come with the process of believing. I no longer choose to believe the salesman.

References
Marriam-Webster Online. (2014a). Lie. Last accessed May 20, 2014 at http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lie
Marriam-Webster Online. (2014b). Belie. Last accessed May 20, 2014 at http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/belie
Marriam-Webster Online. (2014c). Believe. Last accessed May 20, 2014 at http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/believe

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Betrayal, Culture, Feminism, Islam, Misyar, Relationships, Saudi Arabia, Women

Misyar Marriage: The Prostitution and Betrayal of the Female Gender

abaya half face
For those living outside of the Arab world, the concept of “misyar marriage” is a foreign concept, although the equivalency of misyar in the Western world is that of having an extra-marital affair. A relationship that is often based on meeting the sexual needs and conquest of men, and perhaps women, with no strings attached as far as responsibility on the part of the male. Misyar marriage is a secret marriage contract entered in by a woman and a man, in which they engage in sexual relations, in which the man has no responsibility to provide financial support, no responsibility of any children that may be born out of the sexual unions, as well as there is typically a “time span” in which this secret marriage is valid for. The women that engage in these marriages, may temporarily benefit in terms of materialistic gifts, vacations, love nests that are temporarily erected to carry out the acts of sexual relations, as well as meeting their own sexual desires. Perhaps these women also may have secret aspirations that the misyar marriage will transform into a traditional marriage through time. These types of marriages are not registered with any type of government agency or authority, and they occur in secret, often away from the knowledge of legitimate wives, family members, or recognizing the temporary union to the public. The Islamic religion strictly forbids sexual relations outside the boundaries of marriage, hence the human creation of the misyar marriage, which allows people to fornicate, perhaps only once or numerous times, while avoiding the worldly consequences or responsibilities of engaging in sexual relations.

In these situations, it would be easy to buy into the worldview of the evil temptress whore, that uses her sexual energy to lure away the family man into lurid sexual activities, but to be completely honest, the only individuals that benefit at the end of day from these situations, are those that advocate the social acceptance of misyar, and the men that engage in the secret “affairs”. I am going to call it an affair, and not refer to it as a marriage for the rest of this piece, because calling it a “marriage” degrades the sanctity of what marriage stands for in terms of respect, honesty, and authentic pure intentions. In addition, in terms of the Islamic principles of honesty, truth, and compassion, this practice is devoid of any of the aforementioned virtues. Misyar is built on the intentions of secrecy, deception, and in all reality, a lie. A lie not only to the legitimate wives and children of the men that choose to engage in this practice, but also to the women that agree to enter into the practice, as well as the risk of children being born out of these unions that have no legal and social rights of having two parents with the benefits of being recognized as a child of both parents. The women that are affected by this practice either by choice or by being legally married to a male that practices this way of life are victims. The children born out of these sexualized temporary unions, as well as the children of legitimate marriages in which their father engages in these practice are victims, forever being scarred by the father’s lust, selfishness, and disrespect of the female gender.

Most men and women enter into a legal traditional marriage, with the expectation that love, trust, honesty, respect, and honor will be the pervading values of the union. It is often viewed as a lifetime commitment in which the two people merge their lives in their efforts to form a family, grow together through the different developmental life stages, as well as often have offspring to continue their own legacies into the future. While indeed Islam does have practices that provide routes for men engaging in polygamy, in which they are permitted to have up to four wives, in reality even Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) did not advocate the practice of polygamy by the conditions in which were set by the act of taking more than one wife. One of the conditions is the man must treat the wives equally in terms of his affection, and material provisions and gifts. Perhaps a man can give equality by the material possessions and gifts that are given, but the equality in terms of affection is almost humanly impossible. In other words, it is permitted, but do not do it because even Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) could not equate his affections equally among wives. In addition, the first wife must agree to the husband taking another wife and if she does not, she is permitted to divorce the husband.

This case scenario illustrates traditional marriages, but the practice of misyar does not even inform the wife of her husband engaging with sexual relations with another woman. The practice of misyar is not only a form of deception and lies to the legally sanctified traditional wife of a man practicing this form of deception, but it also puts the wife’s very health and life in jeopardy. Many countries require testing prior to traditional legal marriage of both the man and woman undergoing testing for the presence of sexually transmitted diseases (STD). Two of these STD diseases such as AIDS or hepatitis most often are fatal to those who are infected in the long-term. In addition, other sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia can cause infertility, or genital warts, which increases a woman’s risk of developing cervical cancers, and least of all the embarrassment and humiliation of being diagnosed with the social stigma of an STD. The practice of misyar, because it does not require the marriage to be legally registered and is engaged in deceptively, does not entail the male or female to engage in testing of STDs. This is a lethal way to spread the transmission of STD’s not only between the two people that are engaging in the deceitful practice of misyar, but also to the innocent unsuspecting wife who believes she is in a mutually sexually exclusive relationship with her husband. In all honesty, neither the men, nor the women who engage in the misyar marriage are virgins who have abstained from sexual relations in the past, and are most likely to have the highest risk of carrying an STD. In fact, some of the women who engage in misyar relationships have a history of engaging in “secret sexual liaisons”, or misyar, one after another, to finance their style of living. For those of you from Western cultures who may be reading this article, we do have slang terms for these women such as “sluts”, “prostitutes”, or “whores” in all honesty.

The traditional legal wife is also an innocent victim in terms of dealing with the emotional and financial drains of her husband engaging in this type of deceitful relationship. As the husband sneaks off to engage in his sexual liaisons with the “secret woman”, this robs not only the wife, but also any children of time and support in the family household that should be available from the husband/father. In addition, the husband is spending the financial resources and future inheritance of the children as he engages in arranging vacations, apartments, as well as gifts to be given to the “other woman”. Perhaps the most painful of all of this experience, is to the wife that finds out about the “secret relationship” and the emotional of feeling betrayed, belittled, and the feelings of inadequacy of worthlessness that accompanies many individuals that have experienced their partner engaging in an affair. Infidelity and the long-lasting scars can cut to the very soul and perception of one’s self as they question why their spouse has engaged in this type of relationship, that is if the wife ever discovers her husband’s extra sexual activities. It not only damages a woman’s perceptions of herself, but can also affect her ability in other roles in life, such as a mother, friend, or employee as she tries to work through the negative emotions that are often associated with this type of betrayal.

Although the women who engage in misyar are often portrayed as evil women with the intentions of gaining financial means, or the plots to secure a future legitimate legal marriage, they are also victimized through this practice. These women are typically never acknowledged as a legal wife, nor do they reap the benefits of inheritance from their sexual liaisons, or the security of a legal marriage. They are often used as a temporary escape from the reality of family life, in which men are able to fulfill their sexual desires outside the traditional boundaries of a public marriage with no future obligations to the woman. In addition, the social stigma involved to the woman that engages in such a type of relationship is often that she is “damaged goods”, either because of divorce, social status, nationality, social economic status (SES) that has been relegated to the role of servicing the sexual needs of a male without the benefits of a legitimate marriage. While some advocate the misyar also is a benefit to these women, examining this practice in regards to these women, they are marginalized, used for sexual pleasure, and are not viewed as worthy enough to legitimize their presence publicly. Their motivation to engage in this type of arrangements may be done in part for momentary financial gains, but I am sure that some of them have the secret hopes that the relationship will develop into a long-term lasting eventual legal marriage, which typically does not happen. The hope of the man acknowledging this “secret women” in the future is bleak, because he has engaged in this type of relationship out of his own sexual lust, but most often will not risk the social condemnation, his legal wife, children, or reputation to have a long-term committed relationship. While he may eagerly profess his love to this woman, you have to question whether he truly has authentic love for anyone to engage in this type of relationship to manipulate and risk his legal wife and children, as well as the “secret woman”. He engaged in a misyar relationship through using deceit and lies, and rest assured this is a character of the individual that carries through in other relationships, including the misyar relationship.

The concept of misyar is built on the concept of “secrecy”. Often when we speak of secrecy, someone is being deceived, lied to, and betrayed. While the women, who engage in these types of relationships with men are often portrayed as the temptress set out to destroy the sanctity of marriage, in reality, the real transgressors in these types of arrangements are the men that are not only betraying their legitimate legal wife and children through their egotistical actions to satisfy their sexual urges, they also are manipulating and using the very women that they engage with in these secret sexual liaisons behind the closed doors of deception and secrecy. The difference is one woman has chosen to engage in the practice, while the legitimate wife is often kept in the dark of the fraudulent behavior of her husband. The women in these types of arrangements may be marginalized by some type of socially constructed grouping in which they have been categorized either by life experiences, or by birth, but they too are humans with aspirations, dreams, and needs. Those that advocate and practice this type of secretive behaviors are the lone transgressors and oppressors of women and children, as well as illustrating the treachery and sham of dishonesty that humans can choose to engage in by their animalistic sexual urges that rob them of values, virtues, and honesty in relationships. The practice of misyar is not a practice of Islam, because Islam advocates truth, honesty, humbleness, and respect. The practice of misyar is a creation of patriarchal men, who happen to be associated with the faith of Islam, but have bent the rules to satisfy their own selfish carnal needs, and have disregarded the female gender as human beings worthy of respect. For those who have limited understanding of the Islamic faith, this is not Islam, but is a construction of a practice by humans that seeks to circumnavigate the rules of Islam to quench sexual desires, while avoiding responsibility, honesty, and respect for the female gender.

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Aging Parents, Memories, Midlife, Women

The Day I Realized My Mother is Old

Mother at the age of 18.

Mother at the age of 18.


As I woke up this morning, I noticed I had numerous missed calls on my cell phone with an unidentified number. Living overseas in Saudi Arabia, I have realized that 99% of the time the “unidentified calls” that I miss are my Mother calling me typically around 3:00 a.m. in the morning. Even after me living in Saudi Arabia for over ten years, my mother still always forgets the time difference and calls me typically during the middle of the night. Her 3:00 a.m. calls are nothing I have ever attributed to her being 60 something years old, edging closer to 70, but more so because that has always been my Mother. She is artistic, intelligent, beautiful, and yes a bit on the whacky unconventional side where some social constructed conventions of acceptable behavior she firmly observes, others have never been a boundary for her, such as the time of the day she calls my older sister or me.

I am used to my mother saying “Kimberly, what’s wrong? I can hear it in your voice!”

My response is often, “Mom it is the middle of the night and I am sleeping!”

Although I must admit, Mother’s intuitive premonitions are often right on target. I cannot recall how many times I have received these calls just after finding evidence of pivotal people in my life latest escapades, or times when I am questioning the paths I have taken and if perhaps other avenues would have led to destinations that are more productive. Instead of feeding mother’s intuition, which is also coupled with her fears of the worst case scenarios unfolding in my life, I often answer with a curt “Everything is fine Mom”, except for those moments when I regress into a 5-year old child that needs her mother to wipe away the tears and tell me “everything will be ok”. Mother always has taken the small obstacles in life and asked the foreboding questions that make the obstacles seem like mountains, but she also had the unique ability to calm a raging storm during times of my own desperation to help me see the sun behind the dark clouds. She sees the worst in everyday situations, but becomes a pillar of strength in situations where most people would be reduced to rubble.
During the same time of all the missed calls, I also received a flurry of messages in my Facebook inbox from my mother “I know you are there”, “I see you are signed on”, and “Kimberly…Where are you?”

I note the messages and missed calls and I make a personal note to myself “Call Mother this afternoon”. I have told Mom numerous times that I typically do not log out of my Facebook account, but that does not mean that I am actually “signed on”. I did not have much concern about the missed calls and messages because I assumed she was calling me to either check on me, tell me some of the latest family gossip, or vent about her own life circumstances. These are the typical late night calls and the legacy of our ever-unfolding drama of the women of our family.

I did not feel uneasy until my oldest daughter walked into my office, as I was finishing drinking my coffee and she began complaining about “Grandma feeling sorry for herself”. It was the day after Easter, and I silently cursed myself for not calling my Mother on the day. The holidays always hold a poignant sadness and guilt for me because of Mother. I moved to Saudi Arabia with my husband and children over 10 years ago leaving my Mother alone in the United States. My parents divorced when I was in my 20’s and my sister and I both moved to distant locations, leaving Mother by herself. Although Mother has since remarried, I know her dreams of growing old with my father, with her grandchildren sitting quietly by her rocking chair while she listened to classical music and read them books was partly destroyed the day her divorce from my father, and completely destroyed when I boarded the plane to leave for Saudi Arabia. My sister never chose to have children, and as a result, I earned the nickname of being “the ovaries of the family” with my contribution of producing four granddaughters for the broken family. Although my own unconventional lifestyle choices, which I am sure that I inherited from my eccentric mother, also played a part in my actions of marrying outside my own culture and moving to a distant land taking my mother’s living legends with me.

As I climbed into the car this morning to take my cat, Jack to the groomer, I felt a sense of sadness, coupled with guilt and unease. I tried to tell myself it was just a culmination of different personal situations that have occurred lately, but my mind kept drifting back to my mother and the missed calls and messages. After contemplating whether to call since it was 3:00 am in Oklahoma where mother lives, I finally dialed her cell phone number, which went directly to her voice mail. I waited a couple of minutes before calling her back hoping that she was still awake and desperately wheeling herself around the house trying to find her misplaced cell phone. And yes, this is another attribute I have inherited from my mother, in which I never remember the last place I have left my cell phone. I thought of mother and her electric wheelchair, which has given her some mobility back, but represents to me a despised icon of my mother’s failing health and fragility. Failing health and fragility that has been brought on by a lifetime of unfair situations and experiences that has fueled an emotional habit of eating to fill the voids left behind, robbing her of her ability to walk freely without pain. The hated icon that represented my inability to take my mother to the places she always yearned to see, but had been too busy during her days in which she was blessed with vitality by investing her time in her career and raising her stubborn, rebellious, and selfish daughters.
Mother answered her phone the second time I rang her cell phone. Her voice sounded weak, feeble, and sad.

I put on my most charming voice and belted out “Bulk, bulk…Thank you Easter bunny” as had been played on the Cadbury egg commercials from my childhood.

Mother gave a half-hearted laugh at the expression my sister and I have always used during the Easter holidays. Although my Mother has always struggled with health issues since the time she was born as the lone surviving twin of her and her twin Charles, to the leg braces she wore as a child to correct her physical limitations, to the numerous surgeries through her early and middle adult years to correct the physical defaults of her anatomy, and her battle with a lifetime of depression, usually a phone call from my sister or me, was enough to lift her spirits. For the first time in my life, I heard the voice of a women who was aged beyond her years, perhaps by the different obstacles and experience she had lived. Mother began telling me the story of how she had fallen and was now covered with bruises over her body. She recounted how she landed on the concrete and laid there fearing she had broken her hip. For the first time, I realized my mother had become old and was perhaps nearing the end of her physical existence on earth. Although I have watched my mother physically deteriorate for the last 10 years, I have never really faced the reality of what life would be without my mother. The realization sent fear coursing through my body, with the realization that the one person who consistently has been my cheerleader, as well as a reminder of all the mistakes I have made in my own life, may not be there for the next obstacle that are to be thrown in my path. Even though I am 43-years-old, in some ways, I have never had to be a complete “adult”, because I knew my Mother and my Father would always somehow help me pick up the pieces of a broken heart, broken dreams, or cushion the blows of reality.

My Mother is by no means a woman of perfection, nor is any of the rest of us that have lived, but she is a woman of passion, of surviving, and of strength. Although my Mother has embarrassed me with recounting some of the stories that both my sister and I spun during our years on earth, with her endless chattering that annoys the depth of my introverted soul, she has always been there to wipe away my tears, and hold my hand even metaphorically through distance when I at times did not have the energy to move forward. She has always been a pivotal figure in my own personal ethics, in teaching me to speak out against corruption and situations that serve to marginalize others. She made sure that my sister and I were introduced to the arts, music, and embracing different cultures, and people in our efforts to find ourselves. Most importantly, she has taught me that love is not conditional, and that trying to find the positive traits of others is pivotal in not only loving life, others, but also ourselves.

My Mother has always loved to entertain people by telling them that even as a child, I did not like her and would scream whenever she tried to hold me as a small infant. What Mother has never realized that her own intuitive traits have been passed on to me, and with that intuition, I feel the pain, emotions, and energy of others. A trait that made me a good therapist, as well as teacher, but also has made me prefer the solitude of quietness and peace, to a world filled with numerous social interactions. I have always felt my Mother’s sadness and disappointments and the pain she carries in her soul from losing her own mother at an early age, and other life events that followed, but there are two people that I always turn to in my own obstacles: My Mother to help me pick myself off the floor, and my Father as my protector and hero to slay the monsters. Regardless of my choices and directions in life, my Mother has always been the one person that could still hand me a lantern to travel by, when it seemed the light of day would never appear to enlighten a path to travel.

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

Living in the Shadows of the Cloak of Darkness

shadows
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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