When the control freak faces the uncontrollable

(initially drafted on August 10, 2013)

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a couple weeks now but I couldn’t. For one, I haven’t been able to articulate what I want to say and two, the circumstances that triggered me to write it in the first place have taken up most of my time since. And I couldn’t be happier. But more on that later.

See, I’m what you would call a control freak. I’ve been self-diagnosed recently and am so glad I have as up until that point, I had no idea what that uneasy feeling I got when I was unable to control a situation was.

Depending on your beliefs, spirituality or religion, you may or may not think that you ever have control over a situation, whatever it may be.

I believe that God has given me freedom of will which allows me to have control over what goes on in my life, but not all of it. It’s the “not all of it” part that I have a problem with. It’s the unpreventable, unfixable, undoable, irreversible that freak me out; hence, the “disorder.” I want to be in control to the point that I couldn’t go on a slide at the water park a few weeks back because I felt like I was throwing myself into the unknown and that was too much for me.

Throughout my adult life, I’ve faced numerous uncontrollable situations and they range anywhere from not getting into Harvard to falling for the wrong guy. How did I deal with them? Okay I think. I mean the first and only time I’ve been really drunk my whole life was the day I got the rejection letter. And I’m still dealing with the latter given that it’s happened more than once and suspect it will happen a couple more times before I learn. But I’ve done okay.

Until the uncontrollable hit home. My very own. My téta.

You always hear of the “hal marad” (that disease) and the “Alla yeb3do” (may God keep it away from us and our loves ones) and for some reason you think that you and your family members are invincible. That it will never happen to you. Well it could and it did to the woman who practically raised me. The amazing woman who hasn’t and is incapable of ever hurting anyone.

That, I didn’t take so well.

Téta is in Lebanon and I’m in Abu Dhabi and when I first found out, I held it in and kept it together for my mom’s sake. Until I called téta one day and she couldn’t talk. That destroyed me. Only five days earlier I called her and we laughed and laughed on the phone but that day, she couldn’t. That’s when I knew that I needed to be there. That I needed to leave everything behind and be there.

A few years ago, back when I was living in the States, my other téta passed away and I couldn’t make it back in time and I still regret it everyday to this very day. I wasn’t going to let the same thing happen this time.

When I look back, I see téta in every big moment in my life. When I first walked, talked, my first day of school, my First Communion, my exams, my grades, every airport pick up and drop off. All of it. And I wasn’t about to let her go through this on her own. So I packed up and left.

I was there for 2 weeks and I think I spent more time with her than I had over the last 9 years (since I left Lebanon). And it wasn’t the sitting with her while checking what’s app, updating my Facebook status or plucking my eyebrows kinda time. It was actual quality time. She had to make an effort to talk but she did despite my pleading for her to rest and not worry. She wanted to tell me so much and I was eager to listen. She told me everything from when she fed me my own méghlé when I was a week old to when I talked at 10 months to her prayers to God that He keeps me safe every step of the way. And He has.

One night, four people were in the room with her trying to get her settled in bed as she couldn’t move much. After they left, she signalled for me to sleep next to her. She was too close to the edge for me to fit so she moved herself with all her might until I could. She put her hands on my hair and we just sat there, in silence. I knew right then and there that I was exactly where I was supposed to be.

Téta’s heart is still beating in Lebanon (heavily but it’s beating) and I’m back in Abu Dhabi. I don’t know if I’ll ever get to see her again but I do know that I did what I should have done and told her everything that I wanted to tell her especially how very much I love her.

I can’t begin to explain how hard it was to watch someone you love as much as I love téta suffer. Not eat, not talk or walk when she was the one who taught me all of it. I had to sit there and watch her shut down little by little and there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it. This would probably be hard for anyone, let alone someone who wants to be in control of it all.

See you can’t and I know that now. But there is a whole lot you can do to make the ride easier to swallow.

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Scared and free

(initially drafted on May 29, 2013)

Ever since I posted my last blog, I’ve been thinking of a new topic to write about. Something interesting. Something that you would care about. Something that I would care about.

Unfortunately, I had nothing.

Now I’m not the type of person who ever has nothing to talk about. In fact, ask my friends and they’ll tell you that I’m the type who has so much to say, I talk so fast to fit it all in 24 hours.

So it’s not that there was a lack of topics. Or that my life has been eventless since February (2012 that is –yes, I haven’t written in a year and 3 months). As a matter of fact, so much has happened since then, it scares me to even think about it. I quit my old job, I moved 2000 miles away from home, I got a new job, I co-founded an NGO, I fell in love, I fell out of love, I took a solo trip, I met countless amazing people, and most importantly, I learned more than I ever thought was possible in the span of a year.

So it definitely wasn’t that either.

The reason I stopped writing is because –as clichéd as it sounds –I didn’t know what voice I should be writing with.  I still don’t. I think I’m going through this stage in life where I’m just trying to figure it out. I never thought I’d live to see the day when I say this because as far as I was concerned, I’ve had it figured out since I was 5. I was going to grow up to be a doctor by the age of 28, then marry Mr. Perfect and have his gorgeous babies.

So I’m definitely not a doctor (I’m also not 28 yet so I still might meet Mr. Perfect by then or later and have his gorgeous babies.). I’m not even working in anything that has to do with science which had always been my kinda thing.

I’m actually working in PR, thinking of maybe going to law school, or maybe becoming a diplomat, or a politician, or a teacher. Some days, I want to sing for the rest of my life. And on others, I want to start my own thing. I’m all over the place. I’m so all over the place that I have 3 different standardized test prep books sitting on my desk as I’m not sure if the next step is law school, med school or just a good ol’ Master’s degree.

I’m sure this is an inevitable stage in life. But some struggle through it more than others. And for someone who has always made plans, stuck to them and put deadlines on every next step, this is a mess. It gets you to doubt everything else about your being and you start going all Oprah and questioning life and its purpose and your calling and your personality and who you are and who you should be and and and the list goes on.

Now I can’t say I’m writing again because I figured it out. Nor can I confirm that I ever will. But I think I’m starting to realize that maybe it’s not such a bad thing if I don’t.

Am I scared? More than ever. But I’m free. I’m scared and free.

Sex, that taboo

(initially drafted on February 10, 2012)

I got in a car accident a few days ago caused by an illegal immigrant who had no papers, no insurance and probably a stolen car. (But that’s another day’s topic) After the accident, I drove myself to the hospital, got checked up by a pleasant doctor who asked for an X-Ray. I got escorted to the appropriate block by a lady who seemed to be more like the hospital slut than a nurse. She winked at and flirted with every single guy we bumped into on our way to the x-ray room. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any more awkward, the radiologist walked into the room and instead of asking me if there was a chance I could be pregnant (as they would at any normal place), she asked if I was married.

Her dumb question got me to think about her ignorance as a healthcare specialist, our ignorance as a people, the taboo that we made of sex, the meaning that we gave to virginity, and this backwards world that we’re creating for the future generations.

I wanted to say so many things but didn’t know where to begin as her question was wrong on so many levels. I felt the words fighting to get out of my mouth but 5 seconds later all I spit out was: “I’m single.” I felt weak, submissive to the status quo which is not usually a trait of mine. I should have said something. I really should have said something.

We live in a society where it’s 3eib (a shame) to talk about sex in public. I feel awkward bringing up sex in front of my cousins or friends (males of females) who have never left Lebanon. It’s a no-no topic that should just be kept behind closed doors. I think the rule is: if you’re a girl and you’ve done “things” (even if you haven’t gone as far as sex), don’t tell anyone because people talk and then no one would want to marry you. Seriously, what the hell. Where do guys fall into that equation? I know a guy who would only date/marry a virgin when he has literally “de-virginized” half the population. I don’t see anyone telling him to keep quiet about it in the fears of not getting married. Quite the contrary actually, he kinda brags that he’s a man whore. But that’s ok because he’s a guy.

We live in a society where we shame a girl who gets raped to the point that she’d rather keep quiet and let the bastard who raped her go unpunished.

We live in a society where we’re formally introduced to sex for the first time in 9thgrade. Don’t get too excited. We learned about animal sex and had to do the math and figure out how it would happen in our species. We don’t have a formal sex education class so naturally we have to get our sex knowledge from other sources; Porn, other kids, random people, movies… Since the forbidden is desired, especially for teenagers who think they’re “badass” for having sex, they go on sex sprees with anyone. With no protection. With no clue.

We live in a society where the definition of a “virgin” is messed up. So messed up I want to throw up. I was at a doctor’s clinic a few months back when this lady walks in screaming, yelling, going nuts. Her 10-year-old daughter was holding her hand, in tears. The lady was so loud that everyone and their mother heard the story so I didn’t have to eavesdrop. Apparently, her daughter fell on a sharp surface and started bleeding (hence the tears. She was in pain!) and what was the mother worried about? “Please doctor, can you make sure she’s still a virgin? And if she’s not, can you attest on a piece of paper that you’ve checked her up and that she’s never had a sexual relation and that she’s “popped” because of the accident? Just in case we needed it in the future” I was in awe. In shock. I didn’t speak for hours. How do you react to that? What does being a virgin have to do with her damn hymen! And how could the mom think of such thing when her daughter is bleeding to death and is in excruciating pain? I was hoping it was a nightmare that I would wake up from but it wasn’t. I knew it wasn’t because when I told the story in another circle full of Lebanese women, hoping I’d get some of them on my side, I didn’t.

WAIT: Wait to have sex but wait for the right reasons. Ladies, saving yourselves for your husbands does not count as one. I don’t see them saving anything for us. Be with a guy who appreciates/respects the fact that you’re a virgin but would be with you even if you weren’t.

EDUCATE: Let’s educate teenagers so if they do have sex, they can do it safely. Let’s prevent teenage pregnancies, abortions and STDs.

CHANGE YOUR MENTALITY: In order to change a society as a whole, we have to start by changing our own mentality. We can’t expect a girl who gets raped to say something if deep down we’re still going to blame her. We can’t pretend like we’re cool with talking about sex if we’re going to think “slut” of the girl who brings it up.

It is our responsibility as a society to do something.