By Salma Medina
Had you asked me this two years ago, I would’ve said hell no, I’d rather die. But I ended up doing it anyway in a time of weakness.
I was lonelier than I had ever been in my life. After leaving Islam, I couldn’t bring it up to my family whose whole lives revolve around Islam. I knew my family wouldn’t let me live on my own as Arab girls aren’t allowed to generally speaking, and they wouldn’t let me travel elsewhere and start a life abroad as people will judge them for letting their “Muslim” daughter travel alone.
Every man proposing to me had done it because I look like a good Muslim with my long veil and loose clothes. I couldn’t even change my appearance to reflect who I was as my father would fight with me if I shortened my blouses a little or tightened my clothes a bit. He would even fight with me if I wore any form of makeup. Sometimes even shouting at me for putting on a lip balm when my lips are dry and accusing me of trying to get men to look at my lips.
Every time I attended a wedding I felt this great sadness as it seemed like I will never be able to break free and marry someone who actually knows me. I had reached a point where I was depressed and suicidal, thinking that I will never find a way out.
I was trapped and cornered.
So in a moment of absolute loneliness and despair I signed up on a dating site. An American contracter who happened to be working in Kuwait where I live reached out to me. His profile stated that he was divorced. And being fascinated with someone who looks so different from me and being so desperate for a companion outside of my conservative circle, I messaged him back.
We hit it off immediately. It was fun, engaging and liberating. I could talk with him about everything. After years of keeping loads of things to myself I found someone to confide in. We met two days after we chatted and every moment was like it came out of a movie. He was so very gentle and warm.
On our first date, he took me up the roof of his house and I took off my veil and closed my eyes enjoying the sun bathing my hair and neck for the first time since I was 12. The wind would blow my hair and I teared up feeling these sensations I thought I wouldn’t be able to experience again. He was very supportive and wanted to give me everything he could. It was magical.
Until two weeks into it, he told me that his divorce wasn’t finalized yet!
“You’re married???” I shouted, feeling my little peaceful world with him collapsing.
“Yes, but we’ve been separate for 9 months now.”
All the stories I’ve heard in my life about men claiming to be “on their way to get divorced” came rushing to my mind. Things were getting so shady and suspicious. My values screamed at me to break it off until everything was finalized. However, he told me by the time the divorce is done his contract will be over and he will leave Kuwait.
I was at a loss. He had become my shelter and the only person I felt at peace with. He is the only one I shared with all my trouble as we chatted non-stop in the couple weeks I’ve known him. My time with him was the only time I got to be myself. I wanted to follow my values but I was too weak for it.
I convinced myself that they are about to get divorced and continued seeing this man, hoping that he wasn’t lying to me. Our time together was a healing one for both of us. I was slowly being pulled out from my dark hole and my despair. And he was slowly regaining hope in love and marriage after his previous one had collapsed. We both were emotionally unstable when we met but were fixed by our time of unconditional acceptance of each other.
My days with him were all peace, comfort as he was my refuge. But my nights with him were all nightmares of his ex looking me in the eye and blaming me. But I didn’t want to be on my own again. I cried rivers over the course of our relationship and considered this guilt of mine the very natural punishment for my mistake and selfishness.
A year later, he is now divorced and back to being his original good natured man which he had temporarily forgotten. I am no longer suicidal in the slightest. In fact, I look forward to the future I can have with him. We are now engaged and about to get married. His ex never learned that he met me before his divorce was finalized. However, she might one day. And for every moment of pain she will experience, if she does, I have already suffered of guilt and nightmares enough to drown a town. I hope this at the very least will make up for my committing a sin that wasn’t like me, no matter how bad my state was.
But no. If I ever find myself in a similar position again, I’ll spare myself the guilt and move on. For now, I will thank God for sending me my soulmate when I needed him and ask for forgiveness for both of us.