I got married young. Well, not too young. I had just turned 20, and I thought I had all the answers. Me then versus me almost 10 years later…oh, boy. What a difference.
A lot of maturing and growth occurred between now and then. And for that, I’m grateful.
If you had only seen the immature Facebook rants and friendship drama I was involved in. Ugh. Very embarrassing.
But that’s all in the past now.
See, at this point, I have bigger fish to fry.
I had just turned 29 — and divorce happened.
Hmm… *Shifts eyes back and forth*
Before we dig in, this is not a “bash” essay or a “woulda, coulda, shoulda if I had only known” essay.
No matter how we view the unfortunate and fortunate events in our lives, everything happens for a reason. I believe it. This is more of a personal self-discovery piece — the thoughts and questions on the aftereffects of an Islamic divorce that’s on everyone’s minds, but no one dares to utter out loud.
No matter what issues I had in my marriage, I never, ever thought we’d end up divorcing. I mean, after eight years of matrimony, I thought that was it. Right?
Wrong. Very, very wrong.
We’ve all sat around the table listening to our friends talk about their marriages — the good and the bad — but we never realistically put ourselves in their shoes when it came to the big one, divorce.
“What if your husband did that? Would you leave him?”
“What if you just wanted to move on? What exactly would happen next?”
I was that person. For some reason, I thought I was exempt from the “D” word — that if I did A, B, and C, then it would make it all better, and everything would automatically work out.
What I failed to understand was that people change, and we have absolutely zero control over it. The only person I was in charge of was my own self. And no matter what I did, it wasn’t going to change the outcome.
Sometimes in life, we have the tendency to think that just because we do A, then B should inevitably come next. We can’t control outcomes; we can only control how we deal with said outcomes. And this isn’t just for marriage, but friendships, jobs, health, etc.
Another thing about being Muslim and getting divorced is how we perceive it as the “End-All, Be-All” for the woman. Sister such and such is getting divorced. Who will marry her now? Will she uncover? How will she support herself? Will she date? It was probably her fault anyway. If she had only done what she was supposed to do, then divorce wouldn’t have happened.
Unfortunately, there is a stigma attached to an Islamic divorce. And usually, somehow, it becomes the female’s fault. Bullshit. Marriage is a two-way street. If you are divorced or going through one, don’t ever let anyone bait you into believing it was all your fault.
Photo: Reel Clever Films Detroit
The interesting thing was — when I was going through this divorce, everyone kind of became relationship gurus. LOL. This is fine for the people who either went through it or just gave good advice, but others? Not so much.
Here’s a bit of advice. No one knows your spouse like you do or did, so keep that in mind when seeking consultation from others.
There is a stigma attached to an Islamic divorce. And usually, somehow, it becomes the female’s fault. Bullshit. Marriage is a two-way street. If you are divorced or going through one, don’t ever let anyone bait you into believing it was all your fault.
During my divorce period, I was asked to write about my experience. I thought it was too soon to talk about it. I didn’t want to come off as the bitter, Black, Muslim writer. So I held off. I planned on writing a few pieces when everything was finalized and when I was in a little bit of a better place.
A few people encouraged me not to reveal my divorce publicly because of the backlash I’d receive from the community (Oh, yes. It happens). The dreaded questions about what happened — and the sad, droopy faces and awww’s.
I’m not going to lie. In the beginning, I was very ashamed of the divorce. I felt like it was tattooed on my forehead. Everyone in the community knew my dirty laundry. It was etched into stone and followed me around like a dark cloud with lightning thundering around it. I felt exposed and basically like a failure.
Divorced. Divorcée? DIVORCED!
That word became me. And I was it.
But then, I got to thinking about life in general. A bit of a reflection. I thought about all the positive things I’d accomplished during the marriage. And all the things that I still planned on accomplishing after it. I figured out very quickly that I was still the same writer, blogger, sister, and friend that I was before… just without the other half and a ton more bills. Haha!
Then the question arose, why should I be ashamed of my divorce?
I share a lot with you guys already. Plus, this is a major milestone — one that many of us have either experienced or will experience (I hope not, though!). How many women have been through the same thing, doubting themselves through a divorce? Thinking much less of themselves? Wondering what’s next for them?
I feel like, through my life stories and gift of gab, I have a duty to share and teach. Trust me when I tell you that I’m not in the running for “Divorcée of the Year,” but I’m still growing and learning through this process, and I’d like other girls and women to do the same.
I feel, as women, we should be able to talk about these deep, risqué issues that plague us every day.
As a Muslim, sometimes a lot of topics are hush-hush, but how is that really helping? By being quiet and not sharing vital information, how is that going to elevate us as a whole, as a community of badass chicks?
I guess I’m kind of a rebel when it comes to these things.
But it’s time to break out of this mold that we, as Muslim women, have created and allowed society to keep hold of. We aren’t these empty human shells. We have emotions and we go through divorces.
It’s not a death sentence.
It’s not the end for you. Or me.
There is so much more to the world than the small label of divorcée.
Leah V. (@Lvernon2000)