if the purpose of a writer is to pay attention to things that most other people don’t notice and to illustrate the extraordinary in ordinary situations, then i feel that i have often failed in these tasks. i don’t know why i do this, but i often avert my eyes from details that i should be paying attention to. and, while i don’t know if the exact clinical definition of disassociation applies to me, i think i disassociate a lot (self-diagnosed). i’m stuck in the past while in the present, and while i’m in the present, i think of the future. i’m detached from my feelings most of the time. i question the way that i feel, but i know, in the back of my mind, the way that i feel is true.
I vacillate between wanting to clutch the quran
close to my heart and tearing it, ripping out
the pages, burning all the verses. I guess I ought to be grateful that I can express this, in America. But I feel that I would have been the same had I been living in Afghanistan.
Today my mother made me feel guilty, again, about my future plans. She says I’m leaving her all alone, that she doesn’t have anyone to vouch for her at home. That she would have preferred I stayed at home with her, found a job near home, saved some money, been close to her.
Alone is a funny word. I tried to explain that she wasn’t alone and it’s not like I’m leaving forever or that I won’t come back to visit. Still, she says, she doesn’t have any close family nearby. What will she do when my brother, her last child, leaves the house? She’s going to be alone and that’s hard for her.
I am torn between victim and victimizer. Am I being selfish? Am I being cruel to my mom? Yes, she has had a difficult life: losing her own mom at 18, leaving her home country because of war, being stuck in a loveless marriage for more than 30 years with a husband who wouldn’t let her work in America, which has left our family constantly near or at the federal poverty line, putting her life’s desires and ambitions permanently on hold to be a housewife. To uphold a certain ideal, to show the image of a nice family by covering up the dysfunction and rot inside. By not leaving. By not getting a divorce because that’s dishonorable. Because divorce is not something good women do.
On top of all this, she gets a lesbian daughter who, for obvious reasons, can’t stay at home with her forever.
But how much more can I attempt to rationalize this?
Is my mom just trying to guilt-trip me and manipulate me into doing what she wants? Would she be reacting the same way to my moving out from home (again) if I was getting married to a nice Afghan man?
Nobody in my family has really asked what I want in my life. And now I realize that my mom wouldn’t be happy or satisfied in any situation where I get to decide my destiny. Because the act of decision making was taken away from her and she can’t imagine a world where an unmarried girl can make her own decisions.
A little distance is healthy sometimes.