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Q: I have spent a depressed life since my childhood as my parents separated and I was brought up by my mother only. Now I have been suffering due to the obstacles to get married, even though a lot of efforts were made by my mother to find a suitable proposal for me. I am facing taunting behavior from my family and society. Now it’s getting unbearable for me. Sometimes I think I will not be able to survive anymore. I think about committing suicide and getting rid of all the troubles of my life. I have no siblings and have felt lonely throughout my life. But I cannot live alone the rest of my life because being a single woman is really hard in my society. I feel vulnerable and insecure. How can I survive alone? There is no way for me.
Answered by Aisha Mohammed-Swan

Dear Sister
I am sorry to hear about what you are going through. I can hear your pain through your question and it truly makes me sad. It sounds as if your parents’ separation had a huge impact on your life, your emotions as well as your mental health and your ability to connect with others. While I am not clear on your relationship with your dad, or if you even had one, it seems you have been missing a lot of nurturing, affection and acceptance since you were a child. This appears to have had an effect on your self-esteem, self-worth and ability to appreciate the beautiful, intelligent, pious young woman that Allah has created. You stated your family and your society are “taunting you”, which is a very cruel thing to do as well as un-Islamic. They should be ashamed of themselves.
My dear sister, while we cannot go back and change the past, the abuse or trauma you might have suffered, I can only say that we have the power and ability to change our future. You are only 29 years old. While I understand that in your society that may be “old”, trust me sister, in other societies (many, in fact) it is not old at all. Therefore, your age is just a matter of perspective.
Additionally, you have many options in life. You just need the confidence and creativity to explore them. I would kindly ask you to take an inventory of who you are! Make a list of all your good qualities; I suggest no less than 10. Then make a list of all the things you would like to learn, study. Make a third list of your dreams and aspirations and review them daily. I would like for you to insha’ Allah begin to see yourself for who you truly are and not for the things that are missing (dad, siblings, etc), or the things you once wished for. Rather, create a bright new future based on what you want to do and accomplish. That is where the lists come in. The lists will help you sort out your feelings and build up your self-esteem and confidence as you write down your good attributes, your blessings and aspirations. There is something empowering about seeing all your good points and goals written out. If read them daily, they become part of us while the “old parts” from our past, which were formulated by negative messages, begin to fall away, and we can begin to shine.
I realize you want to get married. However, sister, I urge you to do this “self” work first before pursuing a marriage. It is like when you find a lovely little flower bud, you must give it water and sunshine and pluck away the surrounding weeds in order for it to grow, open its lovely petals and blossom. People are a lot like that, too, and since it appears you were not nurtured to that point yet, you must do it yourself. Many young women such as you have had to do that. There are no perfect families. In fact, some families are downright dangerous for children and should be dismantled. You have grown into a wonderful young woman, you just need to realize it. It also seems that your mom did take good care of you, despite your need of other things to feel whole. She did her best with the circumstances she was given. With this said, I pray to Allah that you will begin to grow and bloom into your full purpose and internal beauty. It will take some work to develop your self-esteem and feelings of self worth, but I am confident you can do it. I believe in you. Once you begin to ignore the hurtful words of others and hold your head high, once you begin to love yourself, you will find a whole new world opening up to you. You may want to go to a university, you may want to travel or visit another country, or you may want to do charity work in your community. You may find that you want to join Islamic study groups for learning or Islamic social groups for enjoyable times. The possibilities are endless. How? Well, the fact is the more we get involved with life, with stepping out of our “comfort zone” and trusting Allah to guide us in new experiences, the more new doors open and the better opportunity we have to make lasting friendships, to develop new interests. Dear sister, you know suicide is not the answer. You know it is a sin as well. I believe you love and fear Allah too much to do such an act, and I believe you are better, stronger, and more resilient than that. You will not be alone the rest of your life. You will blossom into the beautiful flower filled with confidence and joy. Make du’aa’, ask Allah to guide you on this new journey, stay close to Allah for He does love you sister very much.
Lastly, I kindly ask that you seek out the services of a counselor for this new journey. Counseling will help with your depression as well as helping you continue to make progress when you feel like giving up. A counselor can also be a good referral system for support groups and other needs you may have.
You are in our prayers dear sister, please let us know how you are doing. Remember, you will not be alone, this is just a life test, a phase. You will emerge from this seemingly dark cocoon into the light as a beautiful butterfly ““ strong and grateful to Allah that you passed this test of not only struggle, but a test of your faith as well. n
(Aisha Mohammed-Swan received her PhD in psychology from the University of Integrative Learning in 2000. Aisha worked as a Psychologist for 12 years for Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center in New York with a focus on Depression, Anxiety, Marriage/Relationships, Community-Cultural Issues, and Life Stages).
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