Peeling faces

Several years ago, I was in such a bad place that, for a few moments of time, I considered suicide.

In those moments, I truly thought that death was my only way out.

I am so grateful that someone inside me allowed those moments to pass.

It took me a few years to get myself out of that bad place. Things got worse before they ever got better. But I’m glad I let that moment go.

And in a way, I appreciate that I had that moment.

It taught me that those moments come sometimes. It taught me that things can go so horribly, horribly wrong that we think we have run out of options; but if we just breathe, if we just let the moment pass, if we just move into the next moment and be, if we accept ourselves as human with all our frailties and evil and ugliness, if we wait for the next moment and then the next and the one after that, if we continue to plough through our filth, we can, eventually, come out of the other end.

It taught me to expect that which cannot possibly be tolerated. That sort of pain, confusion, or loss doesn’t just happen once in our lifetimes. It will come back again and again and again, slapping us in the faces, punching us in the guts, pummeling us in the head. But if we just allow that most horrible moment to pass, it will make us stronger. We’ll be more equipped to deal with that moment when it returns. And it will. But next time we’ll have the skills and the experience to wait the moment out and then to let it go. And then to forgive ourselves for having it.

I think of all this after spending two days with friends I haven’t seen in years. None of these friends know of these moments of mine. But I know they have sensed them in one way or another. And I know they have also been through horrible moments of their own.

My friends, like me, are of a generation of Muslim Egyptians who are trying to make sense of life. We are trying to create our own understandings. We have a shared sense that we’ve been told how to believe, how to live, how to understand, how to be for too long, for too many generations, over too many lives. We want to take ownership of our minds and our actions. We want to create our own narratives and to live our own stories, no matter how messed up those stories end up being. And man are they messed up.

We’ve gone through similar phases, just not necessarily at the same time and not in the same way or with the exact same conclusions. But without saying much, without going into too much detail, we understand each other. And we love each other more the more we realize that none of us turned out to be angels. We’re all human. We all have our filth and ugliness. And we’re all insanely beautiful.

Going through that moment those several years ago, I could never ever have imagined that a day would come when I would discover that the people around me then will understand and love me for who I am. They’ll love me not because I’m perfect or pure or angelic. They’ll love me because I am not but still persevere. Or at least I really try to most of the time.

I considered killing myself. I looked through the medicine cabinet to consider my options. I shut the cabinet, went into my room, and cried and cried and cried. Things got much worse before they got better. So much worse. But I pulled through. I waited. And then I worked on myself when I could no longer stand what I had become.

I’m a work in progress. I’ll have my ups and downs. I’ll have my wins and my slips and my falls. So will my friends. So will my country.

But no matter what it will be all right. I have people who love me and who I love back. And we’ll help each other through it.

The aftermath of Egypt’s revolution has meant that my friends have dispersed all over the world. It’s not what any of us wanted despite the luxuries or sense of safety or better educations, jobs and lifestyles most of us have managed to find. By leaving Egypt we’ve left so much behind. Many of my friends can’t go back. And so many other friends left behind in Egypt wish they could find a way to leave. Yet others have been killed or imprisoned.

We are a generation that is not only going through so much personal change through rediscovering who it is we want to be as human beings, but is also going through a tremendous amount of pain, loss and confusion for what is happening in our country.

But perhaps one has led to the other? Or they both lead to each other? Or one will solve the other?

I love my friends. They are perfect. What makes them perfect is their innumerable imperfections.

We are a generation of Muslim Egyptians who are slowly peeling away the many faces we have worn, trying to be something we were told to be. Slowly, I am discovering that underneath it all is something insanely beautiful.





One comment

  1. I cried and cried and cried reading this through…. it washed a lot of pain, bitterness and past memories away…yes, …..we’ll help each other through it. Love you tons. THank you for coming.

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