FEATURE by Shaheeda Khan
I talaq you! I talaq you! I talaq you!
The ownership and power of this statement, is granted to men only to be used when all avenues of compromise have closed down and all else failed, then to utter and follow up with kindness. Are men abusing this power far too often? Because far too many women have felt these words, yes, felt these words, not heard, because this is not a word or a phrase or a sentence, it is an infliction. Yes, it is a series of inflictions of a man to a woman, his wife and usually the mother of his children. It reminds me of that old saying “I now pronounce you useless”.
Biological factors pertain to the self, the person the body, the being and what it goes on bodily at the time of infliction and beyond. What comes to mind are tears, clenched fists, dry mouth, head spin, immobility and even hysteria! There is an immediate change in stature and posture and even contact, especially eye contact. It reminds me of that old saying: “The body often knows more than the mind”.
Psychological factors are deeply personal and less obvious to others, but sadly, the deepest and also the most consuming and most overwhelming. The factors that come to mind are usually feelings and thoughts of anger, fear, sadness, guilt, shame, blame, coupled with helplessness and despair. These factors, remind me of the old saying: “There is no health without mental health”.
Socially, divorce legally changed your status instantly. The emphasis here is on everyone else in your extended circle with you right in the middle. So who will you tell first, perhaps your children, your parents, his parents, family or friends? When will the neighbors, colleagues, children’s social circle which may include in-laws, friends and of course, school (if they are younger) know or notice. Your divorce will affect everyone in your circle to some degree. It reminds me of that old saying: “No man is an island!”
So if this infliction is on so many levels and so psychologically deep, then how positive can we be about a quick recovery? Inflictions usually leave a wound that heals and becomes a scar and scars by nature, heal but they never disappear. It reminds one of the old saying “I will forgive, but I can never forget”.
Divorce is negative, different and bad, it is not a usual or common status or title. You are certainly not a wife anymore, but now other titles such as mother, teacher, nurse, lawyer, cashier however else you used to be referred to, or described as, have been swopped for “divorced” first and then mother, teacher, nurse, lawyer, cashier. Your circle of friends, especially married ones, may get smaller and this reminds me of that old saying: “When times are tough then friends are few!”
Divorce impacts on the inflicted person holistically on all levels, thus; biopsychosocial. With divorce, comes a huge loss of much more than just a status, as it is also the loss of a husband, a loved one, intimacy, title of wife, a life as you know it, in-laws, a family, circle of friends, second income, perhaps your home and other comforts or luxuries, your neighbourhood, and the list goes on and on, longer for some than for others. It reminds me of that old saying: “It’s as easy as taking candy from a baby!”
A divorce is suppose to be a legal entity between two adults, yet it is the emotional side of divorce that usually takes centre stage and the issues cloud over everyone that is familiar with the couple, be it business, pleasure or family. Divorce by nature is like drugs and alcohol abuse. Not everyone in our communities are using and abusing, but everyone in our communities are affected negatively in some way. It reminds me of the old saying: “Your child is my child too!”
To truly get over any loss, you have to grieve and mourn! The process of grieving and mourning and finally getting to that stage of acceptance where you are able to say, I am divorced, feel divorced and know it, you have to work through those feelings of denial, anger, fear, blame and guilt. It reminds me of that old saying, “Time will heal anything” but it is actually what you do in your time that will heal anything.
Having said all that, remember, everything is but temporary and that nothing lasts forever! No matter how distant normal seems, you will get over the husband, and through the necessary grieving process, which melts away the loss and assists you to move on. The wounds will heal and the scars will be just a gentle reminder of an important life lesson learned.
This important life lesson is one where you are exercising your right to respect and happiness as a choice. With rights come responsibilities, so strive to accept responsibility, even just a tiny percentage, as an acknowledgement of your contribution to the breakdown of the marriage too. It reminds me of that old saying: “It takes two to tango!”
Free yourself. Normality and a wonderful equilibrium will show its face when you least expect it. When fear, hatred, grudges and vengeance leave the heart and the head, which is now filled with a level of spirituality to be envied, the body will possess a positive posture of new found strength, radiance and attitude. It reminds me of that old saying, “Stick and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me”.
Open your mouth in support of other women, open your mind to endless possibilities and open your heart to love…
So sisters, as mothers and nurturers of future husbands, we have the power to turn the tide and ensure that our sons don’t become a generation of perpetrators of that most disliked act by Allah for all the right reasons. Let’s take responsibility for and pride in raising sons, who will never utter to their loved ones that infliction:
“I talaq u! I talaq u! I talaq u!”
Shaheeda Khan is a social worker and the host of VOC’s Divorce in Perspective.