Seeking Happiness

You do not have to be good. 
You do not have to walk on your knees 
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. 
You only have to let the soft animal of your body 
love what it loves. 
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine. 

–from the poem “Wild Geese” by Mary Oliver

As some of my readers know, this blog was made private for a short time and could not be accessed. This is because at the time, I was going through quick and rapid changes in my personal life as my husband and I have separated and will be legally divorced by the middle of next month.

You won’t find me divulging my most personal details regarding my ex and you also won’t hear me speaking of him in any disparaging manner so all of you haters and drama queens out there can keep your comments to yourself. The reasons for the divorce are many layered and have been a long time in the making–even before my apostacy–though admittedly, and perhaps obviously,  my loss of Islam was the nail in the coffin.

It seems that people, women in particular, are expected to follow duty first and put happiness on the back burner. I think this is tragic and I have made a conscious effort to put my happiness first and foremost. This doesn’t include shirking all responsibilities, because things like the well being of my children or the advancement of my career are both things that make me happy. For me, it does, however, include having complete independence in making my own decisions and deciding my own destiny.

It is because of this fact that I don’t know if I am marriage material. I rebel against any percieved attempt at control. I beat myself up because I think I’m not good enough. It took me thirty six years to realize that I am good enough. Actually, I’m pretty damned awesome. It’s when people place expectations on me that I can’t (or don’t want to) meet that the misery appears. So I say fuck their expectations.

I do not believe in an after life. I believe that this life is the only one we have. Religion seems to encourage sacrificing this life with the promise of a better one. This is complete and utter rubbish. The only thing we can be sure of is this life and it can end at any time.

Let us all learn from our sorrows so that we may experience joy.

It’s good to be back, y’all.

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25 Comments

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25 responses to “Seeking Happiness

  1. Welcome back! I’m happy to hear you’ve found strength in yourself, and love for yourself and joy through yourself.

  2. I’m really sorry to hear this, my marriage ended last year and I know how hard it is to take this decision. I hope you’re holding up OK. It sounds like you are pretty strong in yourself and I’m glad that you know you are awesome (it’s amazing to hear someone have the confidence to say that!) I think many women struggle with bending to others’ wishes or expectations a bit too much. I know I do anyway. Bravo to you for defining yourself and going for happiness. ❤

  3. Welcome back. Congratulations on making such a difficult decision, and I hope the divorce goes smoothly. (I’m also divorced from my first husband so, like Sarah, I can relate.) I wish you much happiness in your new life, and if you ever need to chat with someone who’s been through single mom-dom, let me know.

  4. your words have hit a spot with me. They reflect exactly how i feel about marriage and myself in a marriage. I am just not marriage material. I have always beat myself up about this fact; somehow I decided that that in itself is a flaw in me. How could a woman not be marriage material?

    But I am not marriage material, and I can be one with that. I should be one with that.

    I always thought it was an absurd notion to suffer in this world if that meant an everlasting afterlife in heaven. It seems though that some people allow others to suffer on their behalf. And I feel that my hijab is like that for my husband. He doesn’t mind if I suffer, because in his mind he believes that my suffering will lead me to heaven, and my suffering will lead him to heaven too. Apparently, my hijab is his key to heaven’s door, with or without my suffering.

    How utterly absurd.

    I wish you all the best. I hope your life is one filled to the brim with joy and happiness, both for you and your children. Your strength gives me strength.

    • You are stronger than you even know.

      I feel deeply for your situation. When I went through my apostacy I walked around with rage burning in my chest for months. It wasn’t an easy experience, but it was the most liberating and cathartic of my life. Stay true to yourself. It sounds cliche but it will lead you to peace.

  5. Jen

    I love you. That is all. ❤

  6. Sandy D.

    Well Steph, I am Muslim, and I feel that it is one’s choice to take religion or leave it. Just because you are not Muslim anymore doesn’t mean I like you any less. 🙂

  7. Welcome back, and best wishes on your pursuit of happiness. I hope you find everything you seek and create the fulfilling life you deserve.

  8. Adeel

    This vert moment is all there ever is , as for afterlife, who knows? Another thing is that there is no certainty in this life either, people want certaintiy so they cling to ideas. A few quotes of John Lennon come to my mind conerning your post.

    “There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.”

    “I’m not going to change the way I look or the way I feel to conform to anything. I’ve always been a freak. So I’ve been a freak all my life and I have to live with that, you know. I’m one of those people.”

    and finally….

    “I’m not afraid of death because I don’t believe in it.
    It’s just getting out of one car, and into another”

    – John Lennon

  9. Love you too Steph.Always have. Always will. xoxo

  10. Welcome back! I missed you and your intelligent writing.

    I’m so happy that you know that you are awesome because every woman should know her worth.

    It is sad that you had to separate from your ex. Wish spouses were more understanding and supportive. You are a WONDERFUL mother. I bet you know that already but just wanted to say it anyway.

  11. Ah, I thought you were just taking a short vacation or something. Glad to see you back and declaring your awesomeness! 🙂 Best wishes always!

  12. almostclever

    She’s back!!! Yessssssss….. Welcome back. People come into our lives as teachers. You have learned what you needed about yourself, now it’s time to move on…. So happy for you.

    People always question why divorce rates are so high in industrialized countries and developing countries with rising GDP and education. I always wonder why no one sees the simple answer: Because women are free to exercise their rights!!!!

  13. You all warm my heart. Thank you so much everyone!

  14. Candice

    Welcome back! I know your journey has been hard (and probably continues to be) but it’s great to see that things are going in the right direction for you.
    I get kind of annoyed with divorce statistics because even if they show people getting divorced who might have been able to have a happy life together or offered their children better by staying together and working harder, they also show all the couples who in a different culture with more pressure to stay married or harder divorce laws would have stayed together and been unhappy or even abused. It makes the high divorce rate kind of a great thing to see it from this perspective… The freedom we have to exercise our rights, especially as women!
    That has been kind of off-topic but it relates in that you have been able to get out of a situation that was not best for you or anyone else, and with the pride you deserve to have 🙂

  15. So good to see you back here, my friend!

  16. Hi Stephanie,
    I’ve been away from the blogosphere myself so I wasn’t aware of some of the changes you’ve gone through. As an apostate and divorcee myself, I can truly empathize with what you are going through. I truly admire your strength!

  17. petals

    non blog-writing apostate here who also has been through the divorce… only reason being my leaving islam. Me too, I admire your strength, in a short time you loose your husband, your life as it used to be, your religion, your everything… it’s a big step! You can be proud of yourself that you had the courage to take it.

  18. Coolred38

    Ive been reading back posts for awhile now and assumed your blog was inactive. I was saddened by that as I wanted to leave comments everywhere but assumed they wouldnt been seen…so didnt. Im glad to see you are back on track now, and my first comment will be…your struggles with Islam sound very much like mine were at the time. Even with my questions and comments nearing unbelief…the muslims around me insisted I keep those thoughts to myself and just carry on…basically pretending to be Muslim and to believe just to make THEM feel comfortable and able to associate with me. Im Sorry. I try very hard not to be fake and reading your posts I realize that you dont like to be thought of as fake either. SOmething a lot of us that leave Islam struggle with…due to how the Muslims around us prefer we suffer our questions and doubts in silence rather than burden them with it. Been there done that. I hope you find a better sense of peace now even though a sad road had to be travelled to get here.

  19. Charlene

    I just want to note that just because you’re not “marriage material” doesn’t mean you can’t have a successful relationship. Despite my early resolve to be single forever because I didn’t want anyone telling me what to do, I’ve managed to fall into a decade-long marriage to a wonderful man who would follow me to the ends of the earth. Or at least to the West Coast and back. I’m perpetually surprised by this, as I’m pretty sure we’d both be quite happy on our own or with other people. But we function well as partners and have no reason to not be together. And we decided long ago that “marriage” can mean for us whatever we want it to mean, no matter what our parents or the culture at large says it “ought” to mean.

    Indeed, I think the fact that I’m not “marriage material” may be a large part of what makes my marriage work!

  20. I just accidentally came across this blog and I’m actually crying reading it because this is EXACTLY how I feel! Stephanie, if you are not too busy, I could do with some advice and would love to contact you by email. I have literally just separated from my husband. I became muslim nearly 4 years ago after I met him…and now I’ve made the decision to leave him, all of a sudden, I’m having strong urges to leave Islam and to go back to being super-happy-me. Before I met this man, I was extremely happy, bubbly, laughing 24/7, constantly had a smile on my face. The last year of my life has been mainly stress, anger, depression, exhaustion, although my 15-month old daughter is my light and joy! She keeps me going! But I don’t know what to do although this post just sums up exactly how I’m feeling at this moment. Help me ladies; I could really use some support and know that I’m not the first person to go through this. And I’ve only just turned 25…surely this is not life!!

  21. Jay

    I am sorry to say this, this may sound harsh, this might even be borderline meanness, but, this might shatter your world, but there is no such thing as happiness. And if you can define it let me know I wish to see it.

    Most people think they can be happy if they shirk responsibilities (you); most people think they can be happy if they could get some money and be rich; none of them are ever happy they chase a phantom into the grave — and there, suddenly, from behind a red cloud, reality hits.

  22. Wow. How can you say there’s no such thing as happiness?! And the fact that you also equate happiness with shirking responsibilities?! Happiness comes in many forms and I certainly don’t find happiness in abandoning my duties or chasing a quick buck.

  23. new here…this was awesome.

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