Under the stillness


In the silence and stillness of fasting, many feelings come up.

Without the distractions of food, shopping, music and other forms of entertainment,  a space is created. This space is naturally filled with feelings that come up at random or in response to things that happen. For the last few days, I have been thinking a lot about family. I dreamt about my mother too. Ramadaan is a time for togetherness with family and this is the first time in my life that I am not in contact with my mother and father. Although I have lived abroad for many years, I would always have been in contact via messages or phonecalls. This year is very different.

Since I confronted my mother about the sexual abuse I suffered at the hands of my father, she has continued to deny that it happened. This denial is not acceptable to me, and instead of being the good daughter, I have distanced myself completely and blocked her number from my Whats App even though she continues to send me sms messages. I delete them as I receive them as I am not willing to ‘pretend’ anymore and repress the little girl within me who so badly needed expression of her long repressed feelings. This no contact is the kindest thing I could do for myself.

And so… back to Ramadaan, it is supposed to be a time for making amends, forgiving and coming together as a family. But I know God knows and understands why that is not an option for me right now.

Last night after I put my son to bed, I felt a wave of sadness tinged with irritability wash over me. I felt like a girl again, sullen and sulky and I remembered how as a child (after the abuse) I used to sulk a lot. My mother and father would complain to uncles and aunts how sulky and stubborn I was and how they struggled with me.

Last night I understood very deeply why I used to sulk so much. I felt the pain and sadness behind the sulking. I would purse my lips tightly and not want to speak, words were too heavy to release. I would feel bad for feeling that way. It was all the repressed feelings that so badly needed to come out. So to any outsider, I was just a moody child. But really it was the only form of rebellion I used. All the feelings and thoughts I had weighed me down because I had no outlet. They were trapped inside me making my movements and very existence heavy and burdened.

I realised also that I need to revisit later stages of my childhood including me as a teenager, ,me as a  young adult and young traveller. Up to now, I have focussed on the five year old me. I have three photos of me as a five year old girl which I keep close. I feel that I need to get photos of me at other ages because it wasn’t just the five year old me that was affected. The effects of the evil that was done to me persisted and could be seen every day of my life after that.

I want to understand ME in the new light of kindness and gentleness that I am cultivating through counselling, friendship and blogging. So in the wee hours of the night, there I was, digging through old photos of me at high school, university and when I first met my husband in London.

I pray that you do the same if you are on the same or similar journey. Be kind and gentle to yourself because you deserve it.


13 thoughts on “Under the stillness

  1. Geez, you brought back my memories of ‘pouting.’ That’s what my mother called it, and making me feel bad in the process. She’d say, ‘If you could see your lip.’
    But your reflections made me realize, I too used only that to repress the horrors going on at night. Pouting. Such a name, blaming me once again, when in reality, if that’s all I did, it wasn’t much. I could have pulled apart bugs, terrorized the dog, or many other destructive things. I self destructed.

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      • I think you are right. I spoke to my counsellor yesterday in depth about the ‘sulking’ and I realised that it was many things. A form of safe rebellion because by sulking I was ‘rocking the boat’ by showing I was upset but it was still not outright rebellion.
        Also, it was a way of asking for help because I wanted someone to ask how I was. i had all this anger and hurt inside and my parents were not paying any attention to what was really wrong. They were pretending like nothing happened and going on as normal.
        It was very confusing for me. I had little choice and no options to impact my environment.
        I never remember my mother ever ask me what was wrong. Because of course she knew and didn’t want to know because she was too busy pretending. As well as the sulking, a lot of my anger was displaced, so I would band doors and cupboards and pots and pans when asked to do things in the kitchen with my mother. I loved baking and cooking because I did it all the time with my grandmother but I resented HER asking me and she would say I am lazy and then I would feel really bad about myself. It was a never-ending cycle of badness.


      • Ohh, that all makes sense, many components. Forced to repress such trauma, like an unlit firecracker smoldering. The pain so keen, that of waiting and beseeching others with the behaviors, “Please help. Please care.” And your mom, as well as mine, so similar, knowing full well what the behaviors were about, yet having no second thoughts, or guilt, about blaming such behavior on their child, adding to their pain and shame.

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  2. I was out doing errands, driving around, and couldn’t help think about our similarities, the newest, the ‘pouting’ or ‘sulking’ or more succinctly, holding in pain, anger and terror. What a couple of spitfires we are! That was our way to fight back no matter how much we were held down, literally and figuratively.
    I thought of a song I love by Alicia Keys, THIS GIRL’S ON FIRE. I just now looked at the words which I hadn’t known, I was drawn only to the title and chorus, but the words are oddly perfect.

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  3. I too was accused of sulking by my mother who “knew” too! She would say “All day long, your face is puffed like a puff frog” . Those words hurt so much and I still hear them today, even though my mother died 16 years ago. I was also called “Sulkianna”! In fact almost every day, I was accused of not being happy. I was really very unhappy, battered viciously by my father from the age of 4, and then molested from the age of 10. I wasn’t likely to be going around with a huge “Cheshire Cat” smile on my face would I?? But my mother thought I should. And so, your story resonates with me. My heart goes out to you, and I wish you all the love, joy and peace that you were entitled to as a child, but did not have.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you kindly for reading and commenting on my posts. I feel less alone. Yes of course, how could we have been happy as children. Of course we would walk around sulking. For my mother, i think that my sulking angered and disturbed her so much because it was a reminder of her gross neglect of me. As hard as she tried to pretend that my father didn’t sexually use and abuse me, the sulking showed that she couldn’t bury it under the carpet. I was profoundly affected then and have always been.

      thank you for your voice! I too wish you all the love, joy and peace you deserve after all the suffering you have endured.

      we have to look after the little girls within us!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ah, dear person whose name I do not know 🙂 , yes, I didn’t think of sulking in that way: yes of course you are right, your mother didn’t like you sulking because it reflected badly on her. And now I can see it was the same with my mother. Her emotional detachment from me, made her despise me and consider that my sulkiness shone light on the fact that she was not protecting me, which in turn made her feel guilty. She didn’t want to feel guilty, so of course she turned it all on to me. All part of the blame game! Gosh, we humans are so complex. I can’t understand why a mother who knows her daughter is being abused, does not move heaven and hell to protect that child. But then again, perhaps it’s not that simple. The complexities of sexual abuse (on the abuser, the abused, and those who know it is happening and do nothing about it) are not that simple as I have come to find out in my quest for healing and understanding. One thing I do know, we must look after the little girls within us – and thank goodness we don’t perpetrate the actions of our mothers.

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