LOVE YOURSELF

Placeholder ImageThe main reason a woman struggles with polygyny is self-esteem. A woman who is secure in her own skin, involved in her own activities, and has a high level of self-love doesn’t seem to battle the brutal issues of having a sister wife that some of us with lower self-esteem do. Don’t get me wrong, even the most confident woman will have days where jealousy will overtake her. It’s natural to have the occasional feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt.

Psychology Today magazine published an article called ‘Listening to Jealousy’ in their December 2016 issue. In it, I found a paragraph that grabbed me and completely summed up all the fears I have about my husband having another wife. “Living with uncertainty in a relationship can be stressful. You can never be completely sure that you won’t lose a partner to someone else. But you can make uncertainty work for you by keeping yourself from becoming complacent and reminding yourself, in the best way possible, that no one can ever truly possess another person. We can only hope to connect, for as long and as deeply as possible.  ‘We all have to manage these inherent dilemmas of love. Yes, my partner loves me, but if someone very attractive comes his way, there is always a possibility. That is the reality we all must face.’ “

Although I don’t totally agree with everything in the paragraph, the basic idea is there: our mind tells us there is always the possibility that he will grow out of love with you because of the love of his other wife. Such a thought is a sure way to sabotage your mental health and the health of your marriage. Put your faith and trust in Allah. If your marriage is meant to last, it will last, no matter how many other wives are included in your family. Put your faith and trust in your husband as well. Don’t doubt his love for you and his commitment to his marriage with you. In most cases, entering polygyny is done with good, pure intentions, in which case Allah will reward him, and the rest of his family that is patient and supportive in sha Allah.

So, if you’re like me, you’ve allowed yourself to sink a bit too deeply into a pit of self-doubt. How do you get yourself out and create a better attitude? Here are a few suggestions to transform your low self-esteem into genuine love for yourself.

  1. FOCUS ON ALLAH:  If you make a conscience effort to focus on your deen, you will have less time to focus on yourself and any insecurities you may be feeling. Create a daily worship schedule and stick to it. Include reading and studying the Quran, making duaa, extra prayers, and even watching a lecture. Each activity can be as short as 10 minutes throughout the day. When you take the extra time for Allah, be sure He will reward you with higher self-esteem.
  2. NURTURE YOUR HOBBY:  Take advantage of the free time you now find yourself with. Even if you have young children, more than likely, the absence of your husband on the nights it’s not your turn, provides some freedom. If you don’t have a particular hobby, work on finding one. Close your eyes and imagine an activity that excites you or puts a smile on your face at the idea of doing it. It can be as simple as writing, or as complex as refurbishing furniture.
  3. RECONNECT WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY:  Plan, organize and host halaqas. Call up a friend or relative you haven’t seen in a while and offer to meet them for coffee. Visit an elderly relative or neighbor and bring a sweet treat along with you. Being more social will take the focus off your insecurities, as well as your husband and his new wife, and will allow you to communicate, share, and connect with other loved ones.
  4. PAMPER YOURSELF:  Dedicate at least 30 minutes once a week to treat yourself. Soak in a bubble bath, get a massage, get a new haircut, treat yourself to a new outfit, read a magazine or book you haven’t had the time to focus on, put the kids to bed early and watch your favorite movie, etc. The level of pampering is only limited by your imagination. Once you get in the habit of making yourself a priority, you will begin to feel special and important.
  5. BEGIN A ‘SELF-APPRECIATION’ JOURNAL:  Devote at least 5 minutes every day to write down what you appreciate or like about yourself. It could be a general physical attribute, or it could be a specific action you did that day that made you feel good about yourself. When you get into the habit of focusing daily on your positive traits, it’s harder to dwell on the negative ones.
  6. BE OPEN TO EVALUATION:  On those days when you find yourself critical and low, you may want to write down exactly what is bothering you. Go back to it later and evaluate if it was just a bad day, or if there is some truth to it. We all have flaws and things we can improve in ourselves. Occasional self-reflecting can be beneficial, but only if it’s done with the intention of improvement and doesn’t become a means of beating yourself up and being overly critical.

 

In sha Allah these activities help turn you love yourself. After all, you know the saying ‘No one can love you if you don’t love yourself.’ Always remember, you are a Creation of Allah, which makes you unique and beautiful. Alhamdulillah

May Allah, SWT, bless you and grant you the ability to see the beauty within yourself.

 

 

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Merry Go Round

spinning-merry-go-round_mediumMerry Go Round

By: Anonymous

Him: “I feel guilty, like I’m cheating on you.”

Inside I wanted to scream ‘YOU ARE!’ Because it’s true. Technically he is. But he’s not. Not really. It’s not that simple. The complexities of this new life is overtaking me and turning me into a green monster full of self-doubt and self-loathing. He’s entering into a genuine, committed relationship with a wonderful woman. Logic is telling me that. My heart is telling me something else. I’m a force of swirling emotions and thoughts and all I can do is cry.

I mourn over the loss of something great. Something I never thought possible. Something Allah blessed me with as a reward for all the sacrifices I made to be a Muslim. Something He granted me in replacement for all the loved ones I lost because of my conversion.

He was a dream come true; an answer to prayers whispered for years through the lips of a broken woman. And now? Now it’s all about to change. For so many years we were the center of each other’s universe. He did such a good job loving me, nurturing me, supporting me, and letting me ‘be.’ Watching me blossom from the wounded, ragged, frayed creature into a self-confident, intact woman. We were best friends. Sharing our secrets, goals, and dreams. Confessing our past discretions and hurts. Confiding our fears and encouraging one another to have faith in Allah and move forward in all our endeavors.

It will be different now. How can it not be? He has another to love, support, mend and heal. I can no longer be the center of his universe. This realization stings my heart and shatters my mind. The end of something amazing is never easy to accept.

I feel the wall beginning to form. Brick by brick it’s slowly surrounding me. I can barely look at him right now. My body recoils at his touch out of fear he’s thinking of her in that moment. My mind is constantly battling my heart. ‘Why are you doing this? Don’t punish him. Don’t push him away!’ Yet my sullen, injured heart continues to pump fear, disappointment and rejection throughout my body. It poisons my logic and damages my hearing.

Him: “I love you.”

My heart’s translation: “I still love you, but it will never be as much as before.”

Him: “Talk to me.”

My heart’s translation: “I’m not able to talk to her right now, so I’ll half listen to what you have to say.”

Him: “What can I do to make you happy?”

My heart’s translation: “Your mood is making me feel guilty. At least smile and pretend you’re ok.”

What horrid, vile translations. I know they’re deceptions. And yet; I can’t silence them.

Insomnia overtakes me. I can’t lay still and close my eyes. This is when things go from bad to worse. How can I sleep when the love of my life is vacant from our bed; outside talking for hours to his new love? The whispered messages, private groups, vague comments and odd behavior sucks me into jealousy and self-doubt.

‘He’s never going to love you the same. He has a new wife now who will give him things you can’t. It’s just a matter of time until he grows tired of you and your old, familiar routine. The love you share with her now will soon be replaced with him. Once she’s able to open up to him freely and share with him, you’ll become obsolete, useless, unnecessary.’

The irony isn’t lost on me. After all, wasn’t I the one to suggest he take another wife? Wasn’t I the one who encouraged him? Who prayed for years for this to happen? But I didn’t expect to react this way. To feel so jealous. So be so insane.

And then the guilt sets in.

He will still be your best friend. You love him. And he loves you. You’re not losing him. You want him to be happy and to share his love, patience, mercy and compassion.

She’s your best friend. You love her. And she loves you. You’re not losing her. She deserves to be happy, to have a peaceful life, to be cared for and nurtured and mended. You want that for her. So how can you hurt so badly and be so selfish?

What about the lifestyle you want? The sisterhood, the genuine comradery, the nurturing, love, and support? How can you have that when your thoughts are so vile and your heart is so corrupt? How dare you turn such a beautiful occasion into something unfavorable and atrocious?

My emotions settle. I’m content. For a while. But then the poison in my heart rushes through my body and it starts all over again. The insane thoughts, the insecurities, the fears. All racing through me and hijacking my mind. Making me feel like a lunatic on a merry-go-round, spinning out of control. How do I get off? Where’s the relief? Ya Allah! Someone rescue me!

 

 

Overlooking the Cliff

What happened to me? How did I get here? What would my family/friends say? How can this be happening to me? What did I do wrong in my marriage? What does my future hold now?

You may have asked yourself these questions at some point in your journey through polygyny. Maybe you knew about it all along. Maybe you found out after marriage. Maybe you begged and pleaded for your husband not to marry another. Maybe you were supportive and even helped him find another wife. Either way, chances are eventually the harsh realities of having/being a co wife caught up with you. The type of catching up that slaps you in the face and leaves you stunned, confused and even angry.

You may feel like your whole world is turned upside down, maybe even collapsing all around you. You’re not alone. You’re not going crazy. You’re not over reacting. Everything you feel and experience is completely normal. Women have been going through different versions of your feelings since the beginning of time. So take a deep breath and know that you will survive this in sha Allah.

So now what? This is a very important and critical point in your life. You’re standing on a cliff right now and you have 2 options; 1) Accept this is Allah’s will for you and determine to move forward 2) Give in to the whispers, fear, anger, jealousy, etc and jump off that cliff, diving into a destructive pool of marital suicide. Harsh? Yes. Necessary? Yes. Don’t get me wrong. Moving forward isn’t going to happen over night. It’s not going to happen over 2 nights, or maybe even 20 nights. But eventually it will happen in sha Allah.

In the meantime here are some things you can do to help cope, adjust, and deal with your newfound life.

  1. TURN TO ALLAH   He is your Creator. He knows you better than you know yourself. Cry to Him, make duaa to Him, vent to Him, complain to Him. Only He can ease your sorrow and pain and eventually replace it with peace and happiness. When you find yourself getting too upset, jealous, angry, sad, etc, make wudu and pray 2 rakkat. Soak the prayer mat with your tears if that’s what it takes.
  2.  COMMUNICATE  Do not try to hide how you’re feeling. Let’s just be honest. We women can only bottle our emotions for so long before exploding like Mount Kilimanjaro. So it’s best to be open from the start to avoid days, or even weeks of silent torture only to have it bubble to the surface eventually.
  3.  FIND SUPPORT  It’s human nature to need validation and empathy. Your husband is not going to understand how you’re feeling no matter how much you try to explain and how much he genuinely wants to comprehend and help you. Turn to fellow women who are, or have gone through the same situation. You can even consider therapy or a counselor.
  4.  CELEBRATE YOURSELF  You’re in a very vulnerable stage right now where you’re probably feeling unsure and insecure about yourself and your value in your marriage. Start reflecting on your positive attributes; both physical and personality. If you’re having a hard time with this, ask some close friends what they value most about you. Let them help you see how beautiful and special you are.
  5.  AVOID NEGATIVITY  It takes a special type of woman to be a benefit to you during this time. Unfortunately, a lot of women have a very unfavorable opinion about polygyny. Their rants on the subject could only make you feel worse. Be wise about who you entrust with this news. Not everyone needs to know your personal business. If you are getting negative feedback from family members, make it clear immediately that you are only seeking comfort and compassion and there is no room in your life for drama and hostility.

May you find eventual peace and happiness in your life as a co wife. May Allah strengthen and bless your marriage.

“…and sufficient is Allah as an ally, and sufficient is Allah as a helper.” -Quran 4:45