As salaam alaikum,
As Ramadan approaches (it's essentially right on top of us, hehe), I usually like to get all reflective, center myself, mentally prepare myself for a month of prayer, devotion, repentance and mercy.
Insha'Allah, the month will still be those things for me, but I may not quite find the center before the beginning of my fasting. This year has been emotionally and spiritually tumultuous, in the best possible sense of the word. There have been ups and downs, goods and bads...it's been a pretty awesome year, in the range from positive to negative senses of the word. In one year, I've graduated from medical school, moved across the country, bought my first car...
...and may have given up on marriage.
Like, really, in the way that you give up and you don't think wistfully back and you don't shed a tear.
I haven't given up on marriage entirely, no. I'm not going to turn away what God provides me, if he so wills. But...
...I just recognized how much undue stress and worry came from me trying to find a suitable match in a niche market. It really was depressing and ate away at my self-esteem. I was looking in a very specific pool, which is so small, it's not even a pool at all.
No one can say there's a pool of practicing Muslim men who actually have good character (i.e. are not racist, sexist or misogynist, for starters, then the requisite positives), who are ambitious, either professionals or students, speak at least one language that I can also speak, and who would consider a black woman as a wife.
Of the ones who are not married, I can't say that any exist. I've never met one.
So I'm convinced that they don't exist. So what am I waiting for? Nothing. So I've stopped holding my breath, truthfully.
And aaaaaahhhh what a relief it is!
Because, look at how damaging that list is. One of the things that stressed me out the most is sweating about whether I would be acceptable to such a man. When there's a specific type of man that you're looking for in your niche market, that a few may exist isn't the problem...the problem is if they'll be attracted to you.
It's such a damaging way to view potential relationships. It led me to settling for a whole lot of other things...like, whether I was attracted to the man.
And it set me up for a constant feeling of inferiority, because as I saw friends marry very compatible, God-fearing men, the only conclusion that I could come to was that it was me who was not enough.
Thus my chronic, though waxing and waning low self-esteem.
It's all but the grace of God, we all know, but we can't help but feeling that we actually are at the mercy of human beings. Though my eventually marriage is really contingent on God's plan for me, and if He brings someone compatible and suitable into my life...we can't really feel God as much as we'd like to, so I really feel like I'm at the mercy of human beings.
And I realized that the decision I'm making, year after year, as my reproductive organs age, was really about Muslim community vs. Muslim isolation. It's one branch of that decision, anyway. I've searched and faltered in my search for a compatible community, just as I've searched and faltered (and faltered some more!) in my search for a compatible Muslim partner. More times than not, I'm completely isolated as a Muslimah when it comes to community.
And in terms of my marriage prospects, I face two options of Muslim isolation. I either don't marry at all, or I don't marry Muslim.
As a woman dealing with my niche market, not an eligible and compatible Muslim bachelor in sight, I have consciously made the decision, over time, that I will sooner live a life alone with no partner than to end up with a non-Muslim partner. So, with no community and no partner, I am a Muslim in isolation.
Even if I were to choose to marry a non-Muslim, I am still a Muslim in isolation.
Neither is what God meant for me, meant for us.
And I feel like it's because a lot of us (myself not excluded) are living in ways that God didn't mean for us...
...making it hard for me to find a community and for a community to find me.
Making it hard for me to find a partner, and a partner to find me.
I can't fit into my local Muslim community, unless I were no longer myself. And I can't be but myself.
I can't marry into my niche Muslim market, unless I were no longer myself. And I've tried, several times, but I can't but be myself.
But it's true. Life for me is much less stressful and I can focus on important things once I'm no longer trying to make myself fit into my Muslim niche market, hoping for a Muslim man who will put up with the fact that I can't speak Arabic, I have kinky hair, I am black, I don't wear hijab right now but don't exclude it in the future...and everything else that I am that no Muslim man has ventured to know more about because I guess talking more to me would be haram.
Or he's already married.
No more worrying if I'm enough. Time for me to be enough for myself.
Because I guess we are born alone and die alone...