CLOSING THE CHAPTER

So let’s say some aspect of a relationship didn’t work out. There was a misunderstanding or a falling out with someone. Someone wronged you. Some hurtful words were spoken. There may have been a parting of ways – a divorce, or you are still in touch, but still disturbed and hurt by what happened.

You know that you should move on but somehow … it still feels raw.

You are afraid to visit some places, because you know it will provoke certain memories. You avoid certain friends for the same reason. Even browsing through social media is like walking in an emotional minefield. Time has passed, but you can’t seem to close the chapter.

OUR TRUE OPPRESSORS

Even if we have been wronged, most of the real oppression comes from ourselves. How? We may have been hurt once, but when we keep allowing our thoughts to relive the various incidents of pain, heartbreak and injustice that has been done to us, we keep victimising ourselves afresh.

We may not realize it, but when we replay the unpleasant incident – whether by talking, thinking or writing about it, we are re-opening our wounds. Instead of healing, we are creating bigger injuries and more scars. Each recollection hurts us afresh; like physical wounds, emotional ones can also become poisonous and infected.

Nobody benefits from this. The one who has wronged us will not feel our anguish, and are probably oblivious to the pain they caused in the first place. However, it is not the wrongdoer to be blamed if three years later, we are still crying over The Big Fight, or The Final Argument, or The Incident.

So we may have been betrayed, cheated, lied to. We may have had our hearts crushed. Such is life. People are not perfect and they are bound to create emotional injuries to one other. The Qur'an repeatedly tells us that we were created as a trial for each other. But the truth is, the oppression of others to us is multiplied many times over by our own oppression to ourselves. This happens when we keep dwelling on the details of such ugliness, and spilling fresh tears by recollecting things which are best forgotten. We have no one to blame but ourselves for the continuing hurt.

This behaviour is unhealthy. Numerous people post their traumatic experiences and personal scandals on blogs or Facebook, articulating their pain to the public under the banner of "artistic license". Others do it under the pretext of appearing strong, to convince others that they have moved on, when in reality, a person who has moved on is always silent about the past. There are yet others who claim they have buried the past but in reality are digging into it every day with their bare hands. Worse, there is usually a generous measure of backbiting in the process, transferring a good amount, if not all, their good deeds to the wrongdoer in the eyes of God.

As a result, many people deny themselves a second chance at happiness, punishing themselves and rebuffing others – “I was hurt before, I will never get married again”, “This person lied to me, I will never trust anyone again” and other variations of the same theme.

Studies have been conducted into the power of repeating ideas of people inside themselves. These studies found that one of the most powerful factors of the people who lose themselves – jail, psychological meltdowns, suicide - is not the original trauma which happened to them, but is the amount of re-enactment of the incident in their minds. They generate the drama of their suffering internally, over and over again, until they believe and live out what they repeat. This internal replaying leads to a self-fulfilling prophecy ranging from victimisation to hatred that will influence future behaviour and relationships.

If we relive this drama by ourselves, we are the ones who generate the distress; and this leads to emotional paralysis. Soon we will find our time, the prime of our lives, beauty, finances and intelligence wasted – simply because we are stuck in a self imposed emotional stalemate.

This is the real killer, when we destroy ourselves by our own hands. An example is when a woman loses a man she loves (or vice versa). When Allah gives her a better man, she cannot love him. Why? She is so preoccupied and pained by her previous experience, that she cannot let go. She clings to the baggage of her past to the point that she loses her own present, no matter how beautiful it may be. These studies conclude that the majority of people lose themselves and their future, not through a negative or sad incident, but through the amount of internal repetition of such incidents. Now imagine if this is how one deals with all the sad incidents of life – the tragedy is multiplied and amplified to the point that all the collective incidents become the core of the person’s existence.

This is why for some people, it takes the smallest trigger – a venue, a word, a meal – for all these painful memories to come flooding back and for everything to fall apart. It is because the memories never left in the first place.

What is the point, apart from the emotional prison and misery that will continue to shatter your heart? Why do you do this to yourself?

Where is the Islam in such an approach to life?

WHAT IS OUR GOAL?

Sometimes, when certain wrongs have been committed, there are various means of recourse. In matters of personal property for example, one can claim rights against the wrongdoer through the proper channels. In matters of the heart, such remedies are not so obvious.

The believer knows that every act of injustice will be rewarded accordingly by Allah. From an action which hurts one’s feelings, to the stealing of another’s property, all will have to account to Allah for their actions on earth. There is even retribution for intangible wrongs such as emotional hurt, where the damage cannot be calculated in terms we understand. However, the believer knows that when they have been denied their justice on earth, they can still stake a claim against the wrongdoer in the next life.

If you believe in this, then entrust your emotional affairs to Allah, and let Him deal with the wrongdoer. If you have faith in Allah's justice, you do not have to monitor the situation to assess the results, but simply trust that Allah will deal with the one who wronged you. A true believer has no time to recount bygone incidents like a broken record.

GETTING OVER IT

I am not saying that you should be a superhuman with no feelings. Hurt is a very real feeling, and it can cut deep. Emotional wounds take time to heal. However, what we should avoid doing is to continuously nurture the pain. We should confront the incident, but we should not dwell on the hurt. Islam is about moderation, including emotional moderation. One cannot mourn forever.

As a Muslim, the first thing we should do is to say "Alhamdulillah". No matter the degree of pain or how broken we feel, there is a higher wisdom in it. Whatever the incident, it would not have happened without the will of Allah.

Instead of complaining and questioning His divine decree, we should question ourselves. There are a multitude of reasons why things happen. Sometimes, personal catastrophes are necessary for our personal growth. In others, it is Allah's way of removing someone harmful from our lives. And in others, it could also be a call for deep introspection, to examine where we ourselves went wrong. After all, are we so perfect that we have done no wrong or hurt others, deliberately or by mistake?

The bottom line, however, is that the situation should make us reflect and move closer towards Allah.

Comments

gulfaam2013@gmail.com's picture

Assalamalikum...this is such a nice article..relieving...And personally quite appreciate the aspect that through this website you have been focusing so much on the personal emotional aspect that underlies every humanbeing...simultaneoulsy emphasising on islamic way of perceiving and understanding that underlying emotion whatever it might be...
thanq
keep coming up with more insightful articles..
will be looking forward to..
AllahHafiz

Afia's picture

Hi I liked reading the second two paragraph.when I first started to read I was getting angry at why would the writer just judge the person who got hurt in such insensitive way.Coping with your sadness is being patience and keep strong faith in Allah but simply ignoring the past time what one person has gone through is impossible we are not dolls even animals remembers if someone hurts them how can you say that? What if someone killed someones child and that someone knows who that person is why would they forget that? The grief is never ending They might say yeh it was in his kismat Allah give them saber. I used to be a healthy and happy girl I got hurt by my in laws soo much that I ended in the mental hospital. It took me one year to get in a better condition and I am not as normal as I used to be I get angry at them they hurt me sooo much but funny thing is whatever I have gone through no One cares but Alllah knows because he was with me when I was all scared and alone in the mental department. I cannot forget that and every time I feel any minor disability in me I remember the people who got me to this place when you give lots of care and when you lose youself you cannot move on sorry to say I disagree with the first part of your blog. I don't think anyone should or can forget what they have gone through... I am sorry I disagree with you!

saniye's picture

The article was aiming at a general pain or suffering to those people who had been hurt in the past and does't allow to go forward with their lives. Obviously everybody has different experiences and different levels of pain. In my opinion your pain was very traumatic, and i have a divorsed cousin who has lost both her sons, so I can empathize for you both, but i can't advice either of you as your pain is very deep routed ; all i know is everything happens for a reason,i.e. maybe to toughen you up, or do away with the family etc cause they did't see your value or maybe you should be more careful in your next relationship and appreciate it when the time comes - only Allah knows and when you get close to Allah He is always there, supporting You in every way-Move on in life, live the best you can for you are special and Allah knows it.

Sister's picture

I agree to a certain extent. I also didnt like the beginning of tgis article although I ubderstand why this is being said.

Emotional and mental scars can last for years depending on how deeply an individual has been effected. I dont think its fair to say a victim only has themselves to blame if they still feel traumatised after many years.

I was a victim of domestic violence and psychological abuse. Although I dont dwell upon it and have moved on with my life I automatically get defensive if anyone tries anything with me even if I trust the person. Its like a reflex. Would you say this means im to blame for being defensive? I dont think so...

lina's picture

Response to Afia: Many parts were accurate. All of it was interesting, but I do have to agree that a lot of the words and the tone in this article was invalidating to people's feelings and discounting people's experiences. Yes we must stay strong, we must trust in God to help us through and reward us and those according to their deeds but we also have a right to feel the way we feel. This article in the beginning seemed to bring readers down and was adding insult to I jury. Insha Allah we will all be guided on the right path and helped and blessed in many ways. Aameen

admin's picture

Asm. Bad things happen, that is a fact of life. You have been treated unjustly and Allah will punish those who have been unjust to you and who have placed you in this position. However, it will not help your own healing if you alre constantly reliving the bad memories. I'm not saying that you should pretend they never happened, but rather, look forward. Forget the others who have wronged you, for Allah will deal with them, but rather, focus on your own healing, repairing your emotional, physical and psychological scars. Look forward, sister, not backward. Live day by day, and don't let a bad memory ruin your day, instead, strengthen yourself, strengthen your iman, and slowly replace all the bad memories with good ones insha Allah. May Allah make it easy for you to get over all these terrible things which have occurred in your past, ameen.

shakera's picture

This is so beautifull, how many days, months even years we spend drooling about our past and hurting ourselves again and again. This article is very beneficial for the people in this situation.

peace lover's picture

subhanallah!!! dis is hard like u ave said

henna's picture

A very well written article that I am sure a lot of people including myself could relate to. Looking back on my life that is all I was doing holding on to emotional baggage whereas I should have been concentrating on strengthening my relationship with Allah swt as he is the only one we should be relying on, may Allah guide us to the straight path

Muhammad Yazid's picture

Jazakallahu khair to the writer for such a beautiful article. Beautiful is not an overstatement.

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