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After Divorce, I Want to Start My Life Anew

Question and answer details
U (35-female-US)
2014/05/07
Assalamu Alaikum, I’ve written to islamonline few months ago, before the site changed. I received a very helpful reply from counselor Hwaa Irfan. I’m in much better condition now Alhamdulillah; I have better grasp on things, more clarity on life and its purpose. What I would like to ask you about is what I need to be working toward. I was married for about five and a half years. My marriage ended last year when my husband filed a false restraining order against me, basically to get full custody of our four year old daughter and get me completely out of his life. We had a very violent and abusive relationship. He was very controlling and angry person with a lot of resentment. I had loved him and took care of everything to the degree it was possible for me but last few years, the abuse and neglect went to extreme degrees and I started retaliating. I became completely reactive and an emotional wreck. I thought about divorce multiple times but never in a million years, had I thought he would take our only daughter away from me. U.S court dismissed his false restraining order and split custody between us. I took care of my daughter from day one till this time; I couldn’t imagine a life away from her. She was devastated without me; we both were under deep trauma. This was indeed a calamity for my four year daughter and me. He had never taken any responsibility of her. Even now, he fought her custody but gave her to his parents to take care of her. Both of us mother and daughter cried a lot at the beginning but now we are used to it and just go through the routine. I work and can support myself by the help of Allah. However, I have no family in this city so I’m all by myself. My life events have forced me wake up from heedlessness. Before this, I had truly never understood what it means to be a Muslim, slave of Allah and follower of Prophet (SW). I had always prayed and read Quran but never pondered over the meaning. Now, I have the clarity to see that regardless of what happens to us, our purpose is to strive towards nearness of Allah. The question I have is, I’m very alone. Nobody around me is like me. Everyone has family and people around them. I have family but in Canada. I’m like a stranded boat in the middle of nowhere. I don’t want to get married again because firstly, it’s very difficult to find someone, and secondly, I don’t want to compromise my relationship with my daughter in any way. Please give me an objective perspective as to where I should be heading, what should be my reasons to move on and how should I survive in a world that is so very heedless, materialistically competitive and just want to think about next vacation, next party and next shopping spree.
Dr. Maryam Bachmeier
Answer

As-salam `Alaykum Sister,

Drawing near to Allah is the only path that will lead to inner peace. You have made the right choice. And you are correct to notice that it is difficult to find companions on this path. Many who choose to keep their focus on growing spiritually have times in their life when they feel alone. I truly know the feelings of isolation that can come from feeling alone in the world and how devastating this change in your life can feel. Yet this is how the door to your heart was opened to Allah.

Life has a way of unfolding. Once the trappings of one world are shattered, you have an opportunity to begin anew, yet you are in a “strange land”. It is true that the religious path facilitates spiritual growth. It is also true that many who live religiously do not have any intention or even awareness of a spiritual path. So, if you have consciously chosen to grow spiritually, and this is your intention, you might feel alone for a short while. Until the day comes, if and when you might remarry, it would be wise to explore your strengths and also your passions and use these as a guide for choosing a vocation that you can put your energy into. Remember, all that we do as spiritual human beings is for Allah.

With that, do the following exercise:

1. Write down all of the things you enjoyed as a child, what games did you play?

2.  Make a list of things you thought of doing that you might be interested in as a vocation.

3. List your strengths.

4. Imagine the type of work environment that you can see yourself in. For example, are you with many people? Are you by yourself? Are you more physical or more mental? Once you have analyzed your ideas, your strengths, and your basic temperament, you can narrow your vocational choices down to just a few. It may not be the time to work just yet, but this will give you a direction and a focus. Find a way to serve Allah by serving humanity by doing good works, and explore what those good works might be.

Once you have developed a basic direction, you will be able to list the steps along the way. Perhaps, you need some education, or you need to join a group in order to fulfill your vision.

With that, you will also want to consult with your local Imam or Sheikh (community leader) as well and balance your life so that you are also involved in community activities that are spiritually enriching. Are there any women’s groups in your community? Do you go to the Masjid and pray? You will be surprised that even a married woman who is pious can become a very good friend.

Where in the US are you located? Some areas have very nice Islamic Centers where you can attend a variety of functions and meet people. This would be good for your daughter as well, because you can bring her with you and she will learn about Islam naturally. Again, make it a priority to call your local Imam or Islamic center and find out what is available. You can look that up on your Internet.

By being around like-minded people, you might find your inspiration for your next chapter of life, with your daughter on your path. If you have a chance, write back after thinking about these things and doing the exercise. Perhaps we can bring greater shape and definition to your world and walk for this next chapter.

Remember, ultimately, you must pray for guidance, as Allah is your first and final authority in your life, and praying for this guidance will help you feel more secure about your future. Indeed, Allah will guide you in sha’ Allah.


For further guidance, please try the following links:

  • After divorce, I Hate the Single Life
  • Life after Divorce
  • Wife's Rights after Divorce


About the Counselor:

 

Dr. Bachmeier is a clinical psychologist who has been working in the mental health field for over 15 years. She is also a published researcher, former adjunct professor at Argosy University, writer, and consultant to her Spiritual community in the areas of mental health, clinical disorders, cultural, family and relationship issues, and more.

Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information that was provided in the question. You are strongly advised to seek face-to-face counseling and consult your physician or therapist when making a drastic change in your lifestyle in terms of behavior, medication or diet etc.

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