A letter to the Muslim girl who found my blog by accident

My dear,

I don’t know you. I don’t think you know me either, because you found my blog by accident whilst Googling something that truly broke my heart:

search term: "i'm a bisexual muslim my mom took away my phone with messages between me and a girl what should i do"

a search term in my blog stats.

I cried when I saw this. I cried because it reminded me so strongly of a time in my life that was very painful and very bleak and during which I had nobody to talk to about the things that were hurting me. I don’t know if you stayed to read my blog or if you clicked the link and decided I didn’t have the answers you were looking for. I don’t know where you are now or what you’re doing or even if you’re safe. But I’m writing this anyway, because once upon a time I felt very lonely and very scared and I didn’t know what to do, and maybe you feel that way too and maybe you might see this and feel a little bit less alone.

I want to tell you a story.

I had my first boyfriend when I was nineteen. He was Christian. I met him in med school. My dad didn’t even let me have male friends, let alone a boyfriend, so I had to keep him a secret. We were engaged within two months (bad idea in hindsight, but I digress). I would talk to him on my mobile using credit the two of us bought with whatever spare cash we could scrounge up. When my dad wasn’t home, sometimes I’d dare to use our landline to call him. We would Skype whenever I was allowed to use the internet, which wasn’t often because my dad was very suspicious and thought I might be talking to boys online. (I guess he was right.)

Anyway, one night my dad found out, and he kicked me out.

It was one of the scariest things I’ve ever gone through in my life. I remember packing as many clothes as I could fit into canvas grocery bags. I remember that my brother tried taking my phone and laptop from me but I fought him until he left me alone (though he broke my glasses during the struggle). I remember thinking to myself, this can’t be happening. It was New Year’s Day, 2010. I was twenty years old. I had never lived away from home in my life. I remember my youngest sister accompanying me to the front gate and tearfully hugging me goodbye because neither of us knew what was going to happen next. I remember that my brother chased me down the pitch-black street in the middle of the night to demand that I give back my house keys so I couldn’t sneak back into my childhood home. I remember passing a family who were out celebrating because it was New Year’s Day and exchanging greetings and being glad it was dark because it meant they couldn’t see me crying. I remember thinking my life was over.

My mother’s house was two blocks away (she and my father divorced in 2008) so I walked there in the hope that even though she and I were somewhat estranged, she would take me in. She wasn’t home, but my grandmother was visiting, and after I tearfully beat at the door for five minutes, she woke up, saw it was me and let me in. I remember breaking down crying in my grandmother’s arms. I remember trying to explain to her what had happened to me. She was very confused because she didn’t speak much English and had trouble understanding me at the best of times, let alone when I was sobbing and incoherent and scared.

(Writing about this now, I feel a shadow of the paralysing terror I felt then, and my breath is catching in my throat. I was so young and scared and alone and I was sure it would never get better.)

My mother got home and I explained things to her and of course she let me stay, because she’s a good woman who loves her children more than she loves following rules. I slept on her couch for the next six months. My father sent me angry text messages, then got my younger siblings to call me and try to guilt me into breaking up with my boyfriend and coming home. Eventually, I wrote him a letter telling him to leave me alone. The phone calls and text messages stopped and that was the last I saw of many of my siblings for months. I remember having nightmares that they had all died and I hadn’t been able to say goodbye. I woke up crying over and over again and I couldn’t tell anyone or call anyone or do anything at all but wait for the terror to pass.

I’m telling you all of this because I know a little bit of what you’re feeling right now. When I came out to my mother as bisexual, she was initially not thrilled. We fought about it. She yelled at me. She cried. She asked if it was a phase. She outed me to people without asking my permission, which infuriated me. Those were a hard few months. I felt even more alone, like I was being rejected by both of my parents, not just the one who’d kicked me out. I wondered if my mother even wanted me, if she wasn’t secretly sick of having me in her house. Over time, we came to an understanding and now we’re very close, but those were hard times for both of us.

I don’t know how old you are or where you live or what your situation is like. Perhaps some of what I’ve written here is resonating with you or perhaps it isn’t. But I wanted you to know – if you’re still here, still reading – that you are not alone. You are not unloved. Being Muslim and bisexual can be so hard and you can feel like the world hates you and I want you to know that I understand that and I’ve been through it and you do not have to be ashamed if you feel scared or lost or like nobody wants you around. I know all of those feelings. But you need to hear this: none of that is true. The world doesn’t hate you. Not even all Muslims hate you. I love you. People like my mother who are loving and kind and accepting love you. People like my Twitter followers who asked me if there was a way we could reach out to you and support you love you.

You are so very loved, my dear. You are so very, very loved. And I know you feel like you’re alone, but you aren’t. We’re here for you – the other misfits, the other people who were told they didn’t belong. We’ve formed our own friendships and our own families and we are so, so ready to be here for you if you would like us to be.

It’s very likely that you will never read this. I don’t know where you are or what you’re doing or if when you found my blog, you decided to stay. But if you did, know that you are amongst friends here. You are amongst people who will not ask you to feel bad about yourself because of the way Allah made you. You are amongst people who will love you and support you and hold you while you cry just like my grandmother held me and who will be your friends when you need friends, just like my friends were there for me when I spent days on my mother’s couch staring at the wall wondering if my life would ever be the same again. (It was never the same, but you want to know a secret? It got better. Things get better, sometimes. Hold onto that. They might very well get better for you, too.)

If you’re still here, my dear, then know that we are here for you. You have people on your team if you want them. Your mother can take your phone – and, if she’s like my father, do all manner of other nasty things to you – but you are not alone and she cannot stop us from loving you and wanting to support you even if she chooses not to support you herself. If you need someone to talk to, if you need people to tell you that everything will be okay, if you need help finding a safe place to stay or a new phone or really anything at all: write to me. Leave a comment or email me from a computer at school (jaythenerdkid @ inbox dot com) or tweet me or send me an ask.fm question anonymously or whatever you like. I’m here. Lots of people are here.

We love you. You are loved. You are not alone. It will get better. I promise.

May Allah protect you and guide you, my dear. You are in my prayers.

With love,

Jay

Advertisements

29 thoughts on “A letter to the Muslim girl who found my blog by accident

  1. Ameen.

    I’m a fricken adult with kids of my own, & I haven’t even come out as bi to my (Fundamentalist Christian) parents. It’s a scary thing to come out on your own terms. It’s terrifying to be unintentionally outed.

    I hope this young woman is safe.

    • I really hope she’s safe too. I remember feeling terrified in my own home because I never knew when my dad would snap and either kick me out or take all my things or lock me up forever.

        • I wish I had your capacity for forgiveness, it isn’t easy carrying around all this hate for everyone who has ever laid hands on me. But for me it would just be lip service, I’d still feel all the resentment and anger. You seem to be a really good person. Thank you for sharing such a private and pivotal memory, it really helps to see the world from a different perspective outside of my own little bubble of reality.

  2. Oh my goodness. My heart. I am sitting here crying reading this bc I feel for this young woman and your own experience. It reminds me of similar struggles friends shared with me when I was a teen and others I know of today who are struggling with their sexuality and where they fit in with their religious communities. Thank you for sharing these words in order to help young ones. May we all find it within ourselves to treat others, especially the ones who need it the most, with love, compassion and understanding. Ameen.

  3. Covering some pragmatic stuff, just in case it helps someone (this may be shutting the barn door too late for your inspiration):

    http://www.wikihow.com/Clear-Your-Browser's-Cache

    Or, I hope you were looking from a library computer. Librarians are often awesome superheros of information gathering; if you are uncomfortable with a question you can say that you are considering writing a report for school and need help with sources. (You’ll get some extra info on how to cite things properly that you might not need at the moment, but I promise someone has asked a far stranger question. Also, you will be a quiet relief from telling skeezballs not to look at pron next to little kids.)

    Also, if you’re having a relationship that involves sexual contact, please get informed about disease prevention. Pregnancy isn’t the only concern, and at least the HSV virus can be acquired from kiss-happy grandmas and end up in an awkward spot! (Scarleteen is great for factual info, and has info on communicating in relationships too – again, use the library or clear the cache.) I’m gearing that advice towards teens just in case, but I realize that plenty of young adults might need the same info.

    For phones:
    I use TextSecure on my Android phone to password protect messages in a separate stream; if the app weren’t on my screen I doubt any but the most tech-savvy parents could find it. (The download is free, and if you and your girlfriend use it the messages are encrypted… which actually might be more of a hassle than it’s worth if you’re Muslim.)

    If you can find a separate program to chat through – Skype, I think even the newer Messenger (separate Android app for Facebook) might help – you might reduce the odds of getting caught. Make sure you turn off notifications for the app you use just with your girlfriend too – there’s nothing like having the thing beep with an incoming I<3U at the worst moment. Anyway, use a separate communication route, that way someone can check your phone and just feel silly.

    [I'm not as sure about options for iPhones, but I had one and would caution anyone who is subject to having their phone grabbed and read at-will: even FREE app purchases show up in the account holder's email! There aren't as many good ways to get around stuff in a cheap phone – having a second phone with unlimited texts may or may not work – archiving the conversation may keep it from immediate view.]

    You won't always have to hide, but for all of those who have to – even just for right now – I'm going to err on the side of giving you information.

    I can't speak very specifically to the religious aspect of this, but I will say that as I've gotten older I've found a lot of accepting and loving people who follow religious paths I'd presumed were generally intolerant. They tend to be so busy with doing good stuff out in the world that they're rarely the loudest voices in a room, but they're there. And the internet is a good place to start looking for ways others who share your beliefs have found [Allah, G*d, a Creator, whomever or whatever] that loves them as they were made. (There's also plenty of ignorant hatred – try to avoid getting stuck in reading too much of it.)

  4. Thank you for sharing your experience and reaching out to this girl. I hope she is safe and somewhere she feels loved.

    I too was kicked out of my home (I was 17) and now, as a mother to 3 daughters I can’t imagine them ever doing anything that would make me stop loving them or caring about their safety. Knowing what a terrible place the world can be how can any parent kick their child out?

    I’m glad you had your mother to go to and you were both able to work through difficult times together. My thoughts will continue to be with the young woman your wrote about. Please let us know if you get any updates.

    Thank you.

  5. I had a similar experience when my folks found out I had a bf. They made me feel so dammed ashamed. I hope this girl gets the support she desperately needs

  6. The feels. I was engaged at twenty after only dating the guy a few months too. Was so terrified of being kicked out I decided to jump the gun by running away, calling my dad to tell him I was engaged and left the ball in his court to either disown me or accept that I had a boyfriend. I make it sound cold, but there was a lot of me crying down the phone and being so upset that I wasn’t even aware my fiance was holding me. I still remember it as me crying my heart out alone while the leaves whipped around my feet because reception where we were staying wasn’t good inside.
    I’m lucky that my dad was a better dad than yours. I wish I could have been your mom’s neighbour to have let you in and given you some tea that night and tell you that you’d be ok.
    Is your relationship with that brother still ongoing? xxxx

      • Is he muslim or not? I’m kinda in the same situation and so far , if we were to choose marriage then it is looking to be counted as invalid. I’m about to tell him in a couple days (parents took my phone/ I’m 22 btw) that we should take a break until fall semester to see if what we feel is real and if Allah really wants us to be together

  7. I’m so glad I discovered this blog by you. I am a queer Pakistani-American person who was raised in in Ahmadi-Islamic family. Your story just broke my heart… it’s a dark narrative that society never hears. It really related to some of my personal struggles, feeling outcasted and marginalized by the Islamic community and it examines how problematic some people within the religious group can be. Thanks for using your story to spark change.

  8. Pingback: » A Little Personal History, part 18, explaining in a timely way Humanyms

  9. Just found your incredible blog – you seem like an amazing person to have endured the difficulties you have and yet remain so determined to be yourself and help others as well. I also hope this girl finds some support.
    Your blog is very eye-opening; you are dealing with issues I have barely any awareness of (Muslim, bisexual, sexism) and while I do know there’s still a lot of racism in Australia it’s easy to forget when you’re not on the receiving end of it every day. Just wanted to express my support and say good on you for fighting the good fight and making your voice be heard. Oh yeah, and screw all those haters. 🙂

  10. My muslim friend’s parents just found out she was leading a secret life from her phone. She called one of our friends and told them that her family had her phone and that her uncles beat her. Her mom made her quit her job, her internship, and classes (She was going to school to be a P.A). They forced her to stop all contact with her american friends, so I have no way of knowing if she is okay or not. I don;t know what to do. She is my best friend so I would do anything for her.

  11. Pingback: Liebster! | Words Across Borders

  12. Pingback: A letter to the Muslim girl who found my blog by accident | mdonella

talk to me

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s