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FaithHealthLife

Suicide and My Shahadah

It doesn’t say after hardship comes ease. It says “with”. Though I struggle today from time to time, I will always validate the ease. I am learning about my religion at my own pace. I am learning about being an adult, a woman, a Muslim at my own pace. The fact I still have the rest of my life to do so is a mercy from God. Islam is a mercy from Allah.

I sit here writing this article, this raw message to the world. My friends will read this story and random people might too. I feel exposed but I feel it’s an important story to be shared. That through Allah (swt), you can still find life in the most darkest of places.

The weeping and the mourning and the gnashing homelessness of Miami wasn’t my reality anymore. But the aftermath tornado of depression had begun. I escaped to mountainous Utah in a paranoid state with a mere wish to find the best in myself. And eventually, I did.

All red cars were my abuser’s beat Volkswagon even though he was nomadic-ally wandering the Eastern states and I was captured by the West. All numbers were algorithms, a code that meant that old witch “bruja” woman was stirring up a potion for me. I always felt her curse was following me. I was confused because as much as I hated the South, it became a romance I couldn’t divorce.

I had the temperament of a two-year-old. My mental health disorders meshed perfectly with the snowstorm. I had time for night terrors and writing insomniac tales. I often had sleep paralysis and vivid dreams.

I remember one nightmare I was standing with the remains of a burnt-down house. The smell was wretched. As I gazed outward to look at the destruction and saw hundreds of slaughtered pigs scattered amongst the debris. I remember one nightmare I spoke to God and I asked him “why won’t you let me die?” He told me “because you can be at peace whenever you want to”. I took that as permission to seek peace in my suicidal way.

I wasn’t suicidal over a breakup with a boyfriend. I was tired. From the beginning, I was born tired.

Adopted at birth is a trauma most people invalidate because it looks like you were rescued and had a happily ever after. The incubator, an infant in a box, with no connection or knowledge of bond and love can dramatically affect the psychology of a person. And something that is often ignored is the awkwardly silent racial tension of being the only person of color in a very white, well-off family.

Teachers don’t even ponder why children are acting out in school. I was just a bad girl. There was a hurricane brewing at home and I was in the “eye” of it when I was in school. I was releasing the toxicity from home at school and I have guilt to this day because by doing that, I’m sure I hurt people. I did hurt people.

Life just keeps going in spiraling circles. Insanity is doing the same thing expecting different results, yada yada, whatever they say. But my own trauma that I misunderstood, as it slowly unraveled, my behaviors became the black or white, fight or flight defense mechanism that landed me homeless every time.

I ran away. A lot. I fist fought. A lot. I was expelled from school in 6th grade. I got expelled from alternative schools. Fast forward to adulthood, I was expelled from halfway houses and body-slammed and injected with sleep potions at mental health hospitals.

I slept in abandoned houses. I usually just walked around all night and took cat naps in the park during the day. Safer that way as a young lady.

I ate at soup kitchens and spent my time in shelters. Everyone was graduating college. I was graduating from rehab.

I had my share of abandonment, neglect, and trauma. With my victimhood from emotional and sexual abuse, I often projected that as physical abuse onto others. Violence made me feel safe, in control. I was very distorted and blind. And in pain.

I met all sorts of people and followed them as if they were going to be my salvation. That’s how I repeatedly got hurt.

I had no God then. But this one day in particular I had a variety of poisons. I ingested and patched on all of them at once and then decided to take a bath.

Two days, four days, maybe five days later, I awoke back to reality on the carpet (I don’t know how I made it there but alhumdullilah). I scrolled through my cheap cracked phone to find out I was fired from my job, all my friends hated me, and no one in the facility I lived at noticed what I’ve done. I sat there, drenched in sweat and vomit…and I was in a feverish pain. I couldn’t speak yet. I slurred all my screams. I fell back asleep. I woke up to a new day. Still, no one noticed anything was abnormal with me. Because no one knew me at all.

There was one woman I worked with. She wore “that thing around her head.” That marked her identity. Her hijab, her religion, Islam. She was a Muslim woman and I had questions. So I befriended her. She knew me. And she was the only one concerned for my well-being. May God protect and bless her.

Before this fiasco, I asked her if I could go to the mosque to learn about God. I was looking for God, you see. Even though I was certain God would fail me, I decided to seek a God I didn’t know.

This lady in hijab drove me to her place of worship, the masjid, and indeed, I learned about God. It was a special Q&A night where people in the community, mostly Mormons, come to unlearn their prejudice against Muslims or learn about the religion in general. It was wonderful. These events planted a seed. I met some of the women I would call my dearest friends today.

I had questions about Islam. That was appropriate. Muslims encouraged questions. I respected that. I was attracted to the respect the religion gave to woman specifically. As a self-proclaimed feminist at the time, this inspired me.

I was always trying to gain respect or expecting respect to be given to me. I often felt disrespected and misinterpreted. I often disrespected myself by my self-inflicting behaviors. Hijab was the first subject I learned about. It wasn’t just being concealed with garments that I admired, I appreciated the manners Muslimahs followed, which was also a part of being a hijabi.

Coming from a Catholic upbringing, I asked many questions about Jesus (as) son of Mary. I was impressed with how there was a whole chapter in the Quran named after Mary, may God be pleased with her. I was in awe that in speech, Muslims elevated the Prophets and God. “Not just Muhammad. Say Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him”. I appreciated, most of all, the concept of one God meant only one God held all the power, no partners. I liked how there was no such thing as original sin and Adam and Eve were forgiven for their sins through repentance. Meaning, we weren’t living as some sort of curse or punishment from God.

I started to catch on and learn the purpose of the religion. It is very active. From praying 5 times a day to fasting 30 days in Ramadan; no food, no water from sunrise to sunset. I thought it was an impossible commitment yet something I wanted. I had no faith in myself. Only faith in this religion and in this God to fix me for I was so broken. I didn’t know that was all I needed.

I met several other women who guided me along the way. They bought me groceries, they bought me work shoes, they took me to the mosque for Jummah prayers Friday afternoons and Tafsir Friday nights. I understand what charity looks like now. They are so kind, may God protect them and bless them.

After the life-changing suicide attempt, I laid in bed pondering what to do next. I took a deep breath and felt a chill. This was the slightest bit of hope that things would get better. Things did get more depressing, unfortunately. But I did not ever wish for death again. I did more destructive things. It was a part of my journey. If it is what needed to happen to give me the life I have today, I am at peace with my past.

I found problems everywhere I went. Each house, each square of concrete. Each person I met. Each job I had, I had problems. The problem wasn’t the “problems” themselves. The problem was how I took care of the problems or ignored them altogether. Islam would teach me how to cope. Islam would teach me how to bow down before my creator because it was only Allah (swt) who was bigger than my problems.

I connected with another Muslim woman, may Allah protect and bless her and her beautiful family! I was nervous but asked if she could guide me through the Shahadah, or the declaration of being a Muslim. I wanted to officially be a Muslim. I wanted to officially wear hijab and I wanted to actively recover through the help of Islam. By the mercy of God, I would step out of the chaos.

I declared I was Muslim.

“I declare there is no God but God (swt) and Muhammad, peace be upon him, is the last and final messenger of Allah.”

Allahu Akbar.

I sit here writing my story. I’m married with my beautiful young twin boys running around the house. No matter how I feel, I am responsible for them. I gained the responsibility I need today through Islam. I sit here waiting impatiently for my marvelous husband to come home. I am sometimes overwhelmed by the work, but I show up and try to do my part.

I can’t say I would be able to do this if it wasn’t for Allah (swt) and submitting to him. Lord, forgive me for my shortcomings. I am so far from “holy”. But my faith has brought me to sunny California, married with children. Alhumdullilah.

“Surely, with hardship comes ease.”

It doesn’t say after hardship comes ease. It says “with”. Though I struggle today from time to time, I will always validate the ease. I am learning about my religion at my own pace. I am learning about being an adult, a woman, a Muslim at my own pace. The fact I still have the rest of my life to do so is a mercy from God. Islam is a mercy from Allah.

Allahu Akbar.

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