My Heart Aches
Normally Ramadan has impeccable timing for me. After a heartbreak, hardship or burnout, Ramadan comes and I am revitalized. This year Ramadan felt lonely, empty, and dark. My heart aches. I want more and more and more from this month. I wonder, am I being greedy? Or does God love when I ask from him? I frequently find myself talking back to my “self loathing greedy” self- Are you kidding me? Are you ridiculous? You have SO many blessings. You’r smart and very successful. What are you whining about? Stop it! A million people would trade places with you. Yet, I still struggled with finding complete peace and happiness. I wonder if these are some of the many feelings Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain might have felt too. I wonder if these are some of the many feelings doctors who have died from suicide might have felt too… Damn.
The inner dialogue and guilt for not cherishing what you have now eats at you. Isn’t this what you wanted? Isn’t this what you worked so hard for? Why can’t I just be happy? God gave you what you prayed for all these years. How are you not overly thankful right now? How are you not throwing yourself into fully engaged worship this month? I wonder if this guilt is what keeps people from speaking out as well. Most people would be ashamed to speak out. I am ashamed. I always try to find the positive but somedays, and even some months, life gets so dragging.
And then I read this caption by @themaryamamir on instagram:
At times I began to feel overwhelmed with guilt and loathing myself and frustration for my lack of ability, until I remembered: God is AlKarim (the Generous), even when I’m struggling, He is Al-Shakoor (The Appreciative) of even the smallest I can do, even when to me, it seems faulty and flawed. He is Al-Salaam (the Source of Peace) even when I’m battling with myself inside.
We don’t ask Him for His Mercy because we deserve it; we ask Him for it because He is Ar-Rahman (The All Merciful). We don’t beg Him for His favors because we’ve done enough; we beg Him because He is AlMujeeb (the One Who responds). We don’t hope for His love because we show Him enough in action how much we love Him; we hope for it because He is AlWadud (The Loving One). So let’s not leave Ramadan overwhelmed with guilt and fear and simply being done. Let’s leave it grateful Allah blessed us with witnessing it and knowing that ANY small good we did, any emotional pain we struggled through, He acknowledges, appreciates and rewards for it.
Let us leave knowing we have a Lord who is Al-Noor (the Light), and regardless of us being undeserving or life being overwhelming, we can be committed to slowly, with our faults and struggles, working and asking to bring His light into our hearts and our lives.
“God is the Light of the heavens and the earth” (24:35).
It Gets Better
Then something happened as the last 10 days approached. I was working from home and each day after tarawee I felt better. I felt happy. I felt peace. I don’t know what it was I did differently, but I stopped ruminating in the past and future and started living in each moment. I became present. I did simple things. I listened intently to the sound of my breath during prayers. I pushed down my fleeting thoughts of what happened and what will happen. I also forgave myself finally (or maybe it was God who forgave me). Maybe I don’t have to always be positive about life and my future. Maybe I just have to be curious about it. Maybe that’s just enough to keep a smile on my face and light in my heart. For now, that’s good enough for me.
Join the conversation using the hashtag #medinramadan to share your reflections of ramadan.
I certainly don’t have all the answers to burnout, and I don’t mean to simplify the solution or these type of feelings either. These are merely my thoughts. Please seek professional help if you’re overwhelmed. Life is worth living. You are important. The National Suicide Preventions Lifeline 1-800-273-8255