‘Shaima, are you okay – you do not look or seem like yourself’ they stated. ‘Shaima why did you stay?’ they asked me. ‘Shaima, what were you thinking – you are worth so much more!’ they reminded me. ‘Shaima, you might want to go see a psychologist or therapist to deal with what you have been put through’, they held up a mirror for me. I told them maybe, but I am happier now than I have ever been by taking myself out of a toxic situation and relying on the fact that God is with me. Isn’t confiding in Him the ultimate source of healing?
“Come back my soul, do not waste time with the cold-hearted. They do not know your worth. Why do you seek water when you are the stream?” RUMI
“And a woman spoke, saying, “Tell us of Pain.” And he said: Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding. Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain. And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy; And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields. And you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief. KHALIL GIBRAN
I was taught to always help people and be forgiving when people inflict you harm and pain. However, being loving and compassionate at the expense of yourself is simply self-harm in reality. The following analogy resonates deeply with me and applied to my situation: ‘Failing to put on your oxygen mask before you help others put on theirs.’ You are suffering. You cannot breathe. Trying to reach for the surface. And yet there you are, continuing to help the abuser at the expense of your own well-being (falling victim to the classic Stockholm Syndrome).
The reality of things is that when something is not serving your soul anymore (whether that may be a relationship, a job or whatever), it might be hard to acknowledge the severity of the situation at first. Sure, your intuition tells you something is off but you cannot put your finger on it. So you proceed and so does the pain. In this scenario, you probably choose to stay and increase your efforts with the hope that you will see and feel the desired result. Maybe my boss will give me less crap if I take on more projects than I can handle to bring in more revenue. Maybe my partner will be more loving and change his/her ways if I give him/her more (more love, more attention, more money etc.). But what happens when the status quo remains the status quo? You kept trying and gave your all and there is nothing left to give anymore.
SET YOURSELF FREE
At one point, the realization will smack you in the face. It is time to let go for the sake of your own health, happiness and growth. It is time to save yourself. You cannot help a person who does not want help in the first place and you cannot change a working environment that adheres to a different value system than yours.
It reminded me of the saying: take people or a situation as they present themselves and do not waste your energy trying to paint it into a different colour. ‘If someone shows you their character and it is immodest, indecent and flawed, best believe that is who they are!’
Of course, it is easier to hold on to something or someone as we human beings are oftentimes afraid of change, but you must ask yourself what is the price you are paying? Is it worth deteriorating your mental health over? Risking your happiness and your life? I found myself in a toxic and abusive situation. So toxic I lost track of who I was. I did not recognize myself anymore. I had given so much of my time, energy, resources, mind, body, soul and more importantly, my heart – all at the expense of my mental health.
Toxicity (and the accompanied illnesses of depression etc.) does not happen in a vacuum, but develops progressively. You might ignore the red flags and your intuition, but at one point your body will scream due to the stress it goes through. And I understand, it is scary to let go and enter unknown waters. But ‘how do you know that the side you are used to is better than the one to come?’ (Rumi) Pour your love and energy into something worthy of having YOU.
Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “When something disturbs the peace of the heart, let it go.” Relieve yourself – prioritize yourself – love yourself! Letting go of a toxic person or situation will feel like a parasite exiting the body. When I finally had enough and decided to let go – an amazing sigh of relief and happiness rushed throughout my body. It was as if I was cured from an illness. The illness of feeling trapped. Within a short period of time, I immediately experienced growth. Not only did I find my fabulous self back, my mental health improved.
And now, it is time to heal. ‘The wound is the place where the light enters you.’ Removing yourself out of a toxic situation, equates growth, self-respect and protection. I became to see pain as a positive reminder and a blessing in disguise. God allowed me to taste the bitterness of this world in order to understand the sweetness of my faith. The life of this world is merely the enjoyment of a delusion, but the best ending is for the righteous. I find peace in knowing that every soul will return to God and will be held accountable and He is forever the most just – so, let go and put all your affairs in the hands of God. For I said to them, my therapist is God and wisdom is the Quran in which I find healing.
As we entered the most blessed month of Ramadan (albeit in quarantine), I hope you find the strength and courage to remove yourself from toxic environments, people and thoughts. I wish you a special eye-opening holy month – that it may inspire you to be and do better and that mindfulness will instill humbleness in you.
“May God protect us from hearts that are not humble, tongues that are not wise and eyes that have forgotten how to cry.” (Imam Khalid Latif)