What He Taught Me About Liberation

As a mid twenty something woman I could not imagine allowing my family to uphold dictatorship over my life.  Especially not for the purposes of adhering to the accepted norm of society or family tradition.

We come from two very different worlds, which I understood from the first day we met. But I didn’t think our different worlds meant anything other than that. Him- a Muslim from the Middle East, and me- an American believer in God. However, that alone didn’t define who we were. There were so many other characteristics attracting us to one another in the first place.  Our socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds, ethnicity, religions, and native languages were so distant from one another, yet staring us right in the face. Those differences for me were intriguing, a challenge, partly what made him more unique than anyone else in my life. But for him they were a reminder of why we would forever remain in the box labeled ‘I like you, but….’

Sitting in his living room listening to him tell me why we couldn’t move forward I sort of spaced out. His words all started to sound the same, sounding much like a language that is foreign to me. No, he wasn’t speaking in his native tongue. Rather a language of fear, cowardice, defeat, lacking control. And that’s a language I just can’t comprehend.

We had been good friends for awhile at this point, and there was an apparent chemistry. Neither of us wanting to act on that chemistry we went on pretending there was nothing there. Before Thanksgiving we finally decided we were too old to play the high school “I have a crush on you, but won’t admit it” game.

He’s the type of guy that makes you realize there’s such a thing as everything you’d want in a man. He even put those “hood dudes” that I once adored to shame.  Genuinely good at heart, he would never do anything to hurt or disrespect anyone. Funny, super intelligent (which is such a damn turn on), loves music, takes an interest in the things I love, well traveled, well read,  loves his family and would do anything for anybody. I could go on all day.

I knew, we both knew, it could never go anywhere. But sitting in his living room listening to him finally say it and why was the killer. A part of me envisioned him going against the grain to do what he had to do for it to work. I felt rejected. I felt like I was being given up on before even given the opportunity. I thought to myself of all the people who had ever been denied before ever being able to showcase their capabilities.

“I am more than willing to try this if you are, but I’m 90% sure I can predict the end result,” he said.

“What’s the end result?” I quickly asked.

He kept dancing around what I wanted him to come out and say.

I wanted him to blatantly tell me that his family would never accept him dating an American or Christian woman. I wanted him to tell me that where he’s from casual dating was not acceptable, and that by considering a relationship with me he had to think of marriage because in his country that was just the way things were. I wanted him to tell me that he was willing to give up his own happiness to satisfy the selfish desires of his family. I wanted him to tell me that he wasn’t willing to live his life now and deal with the consequences later. Hell I would have accepted him telling me he could never bring home a black girl with tattoos who comes from a single parent home (even though I doubt that’s far from the truth). Anything would have been better than his roundabout way of trying to make himself feel better.

I am only slightly sad because of how great of a guy he is, and how good he would have been for me in more ways than one. But it’s not like I was thinking wedding bells. Mostly, I’m sad for him.

Sad that he chooses to continue only halfway living. Only halfway living by denying himself the experiences that would truly make him happy. What I tried  getting him to understand was that this was a choice, his choice, and he had the power to do something about it. Only he chooses not to. Unfortunately, in his mind it’s not really a choice. For him, not disrupting the family’s values held precedence over his own happiness.

As his friend it was about more than just our situation. It was about his life, his happiness, his well being. His family had controlled other aspects of his life that made him completely and utterly miserable, but he allowed them to do so.

Maybe it worked out for the best this way. This would have been a constant battle between my efforts to get him to choose things based on what he wants vs. him feeling bad for not being the “good son or good Muslim.”

My dear friend sparked a new found gratitude for who God made me. Some people lack the courage to change their current situations. Others are people pleasers that physically and emotionally drain themselves to please everyone else. Many let happiness pass them by out of the fear to follow the road less traveled. How liberating it would be to live free of the chains that confine us to the expectations of others.

I thank God for a spirit that will break loose from anything that jeopardizes my liberation.