As an empath and a deeply sensitive person, I spent most of my years caring for others to the point of codependency. I always sought to help, assist and take care of others, entangling myself in deep attachments that were not always healthy and that sometimes made me lose myself. As years went by, I learnt the very hard way that human beings will disappoint you deeply-whether intentionally or otherwise. They definitely will. This is because, at the end of the day, we’re humans- we’re flawed by nature. We all make mistakes and sometimes, you and I will be on the receiving end of these wrongs.

Some people will use you and then abandon you, some will betray you, and some will hurt you in unimaginable ways even if they weren’t out to do so from the start. And I came to realize much later on that the reason I always ended up hurt in my relationships with others, was because of my deep attachment to them.

I put my people on a pedestal and had such high expectations of them because, in my view, I would do the same for them, and much much more. I made them my objects of admiration and sometimes obsession, blinding myself from the fact that you cannot own another human being, regardless of how much you do for them or what they mean to you.

At the end of the day, each one of us has our own story, struggles, flaws, baggage, expectations and goals. And however much we pour into other people, they are not obliged to do the same for us. It is true that in our religion, love and brotherhood are highly promoted, yet the reality is, how many people sincerely care about those around them?

When we attach our happiness and fulfilment to worldly things and mortals then it is a recipe for pain. We shall keep pursuing it-whether it is the love of human beings, or their approval, wealth, status, or fame- it will never fill us. Instead, we will become slaves to these attachments.

“Anyone whose heart is attached to the creation, hoping for someone from the creation to help him or provide for him or guide him, then his heart submits to them and (according) to the degree that his heart submits to them, he becomes their slave. This holds true, even if he is outwardly a ruler or guardian over those whom he treats as masters. The wise one looks at realities and not at appearances. So if a man’s heart is attached to his wife, even though that is permissible, his heart remains a prisoner to her and she may rule over him as she pleases – though outwardly he is her master and her husband. In reality, he is her prisoner and her slave, especially if she knows how much he is in need of her and how much he is in love with her and how much he feels she cannot be replaced by anyone else. At that point, she rules over him as the tyrant master rules over his subjugated slave, who cannot escape or go free. Indeed for the heart to be taken as a prisoner is a much greater matter than for the body to be taken as a slave or prisoner. Even a body that is a slave can have in it a serene and peaceful and happy heart. As for the heart that is a slave to other than Allah (the Exalted), then that is true humiliation, imprisonment and slavery.”

-Ibn Taymiyyah Rahimahullah

An older sister in Islam that I really look up to sat me down the other day and told me her story of being deeply betrayed by her very best friend of about twenty years, and then went on to say, “You’re naturally a giver and I see how you care about other people and how you go extra lengths for them…I of course do not want to discourage you from helping others and being there for them, I just want you to be careful about how much you give of yourself. We do want that genuine, amazing sisterhood, but beware, this is not the world for it. This is not the place to lay out your entire heart for people. We can hope for that in Jannah in shaa Allah. As for now, know your limits. Don’t go above and beyond for people at the detriment of yourself.”

I have been sitting with her statements to date and I ponder a lot about them. Reflecting on my past and how my deep attachments to people mostly brought me extreme pain and disappointment, it totally makes sense. The life of Dunya has no value in the long run, except for what we shall have prepared for the next life. And perhaps it is high time we accepted that we can never truly find fulfilment in this life through other creations. It is only by our relationship with Allah Subhanahu Wataala.

This reminds me of something I read a while back, quoted from Ibn Al Qayyim Al Jawziya Rahimahullah: 

“If a heart becomes attached to anything other than Allah, Allah makes him dependent on what he is attached to. And he will be betrayed by it.”

The pain, grief and heartbreak we experience from our objects of attachment are meant to remind us that Allah alone is the One we can fully rely on, have high expectations on, and trust completely. It is comforting to know that regardless of what happens, or how much we falter, He will always be merciful to us. Always awaiting our return. The hurt is meant to return us to Allah, the only One who will never fail us.

Even as I continue to unlearn so many things in my life, I realize I cannot do this without the help of Allah Subhanahu Wataala. I realize that I have no one but Allah to protect my soul from unhealthy attachments, from being blinded by love, and from holding onto what is not meant for me. He is the one who can fill the void inside my heart with peace and serenity regardless of who or what is in my life or the circumstances I am facing. I thus aim to have Allah as my very closest friend; the only one I know for sure will never hurt me and the only one I can lay bare to all my baggage and pain, without shame or fear.

Some of my favourite duas that I recite to seek Allah’s love, closeness, and protection are:

يارب إزرع في قلبي حبك، أشغلني بك وحدك، قربني إليك أكثر كي لا أبكي إلا من أجل شوقي لنور وجهك .. اللهم حُبك

My Lord, plant in my heart your love, occupy me with you alone, bring me closer to you so that I do not cry except for my longing for the light of your face. Ya Allah, your love…

‏اللهم إني أسألك حبك، وحب من يحبك، والعمل الذي يبلغني حبك، اللهم اجعل حبك أحب إلى من نفسي، وأهلي، ومن الماء البارد

O Allah! I ask You for Your Love, the love of those who love You, and deeds which will cause me to attain Your Love. O Allah! Make Your Love dearer to me than myself, my family and the cold water.

يا حي يا قيوم ، برحمتك أستغيث ، أصلح لي شأني كله ، ولا تكلني إلى نفسي طرفة عين

O Ever-Living, O Self-sustaining and All-sustaining, by Your mercy I seek help; rectify all my affairs and do not leave me in charge of my affairs even for the blink of an eye (i.e. a moment).

At the times when I am so overwhelmed by situations or other beings, and desperate to find peace in only Him, I keep my mouth wet with the short form of the first dua: 

اللهم أشغلني بك وحدك 

O Allah, occupy me with You alone i.e. Your worship and Your love.

May Allah strengthen our souls and Imaan. May He guide us to Him and make us among those who rely upon Him alone. May He grant us beautiful friendships, connections and relationships that will thrive both in this world and in Jannah. May He protect us from the unhealthy attachments of this world and the fitna and all the evil in it. May we always have the wisdom to only pursue His pleasure and love, Ameen.

If you read my post without sending me money then you are a thief. You might as well throw a brick through my window and loot the place. Only joking, I do this for love because I have integrity. I press important issues in our society today to help you understand how other people think and work 🙂

I think one of the most shocking things I learned from my friends was how open some of them were with their own parents. It just baffled me when I would sit and listen to a friend talk about how he could express his emotions to his parents and get a ton of encouragement and support. I just had to sit there and pretend like my mind wasn’t being blown at the concept of people talking to their parents about things.

I have only a few friends who have had their own difficulties with their parents who understand the circumstances. I have a Nigerian friend who says his parents were super strict and it has really affected his social life as an adult. Even at 30 years old, he finds it extremely hard to connect (romantically) with other people. When I opened up to the woman who I thought loved me about all this, she cut me off claiming she isn’t my therapist.

The questions are; Does our childhood affect our adulthood? Is it easier to love and nurture a child than to ‘fix’ an adult with attachment issues? Is opening up a sign of weakness? 

There have been studies that show how a traumatic childhood (parental divorce, child abuse, death of one or both parents) can literally change neural pathways of a child’s brain forever. The attachment theory argues that the attachment patterns we experience as children impact us in powerful ways throughout our lives. Many of us who experienced an insecure attachment will go on to create strained, hurtful or painful experience in later relationships. The good news is, as adults, it’s possible to develop earned secure attachment. Blaming your parents or yourself will not change anything. We can only learn as much as we can from our past and try to move forward positively, learn how to actively work against actions that show broken attachment. At some point, others may even be quite interested to know how we became so loving and caring. If all fails we can always seek professional help. 

Another opinion is that it is the fault of society, that as Plato said, “people don’t mean to hate each other.” It happens because they are poor or desperate or really thirsty or in need of a vacation or struggling to pay for their second homes. Everyone has issues, it’s only that one person’s issues are different from the others.

You know I would love to continue with this but i have to go and appeal for money since I don’t get any funding. ? My closing statement: You who hold children dear, look after the little ones or forever in the world they will feel lost. Their happiness lies in your hands. 

Attachment theory is a psychological, evolutionary and ethological theory concerning relationships between humans. The most important tenet of attachment theory is that a young child needs to develop a relationship with at least one primary caregiver for social and emotional development to occur normally.

Photo Courtesy: http://www.andysavage.com/

Mr. Love was not only blind, he was bipolar too. Every other day I would see him take a morning walk around the park. On one day you would see him waving his hand enthusiastically to all the neighbours who called out to him on his way, grinning all the way from teeth A to Z, his head held high, his sunglasses worn in style and his dimples adding spice to his beautiful smile. But the next day? You would see him walking head down. His cheeks would be swollen like he just rubbed off some yeast on them. His forehead would have lines formed that wouldn’t disappear for the rest of the day. On such a day, you wouldn’t want to shout, “Hallo Mr. Love” like you’d always do. On such days, he was untouchable and very unpredictable. At the smallest thing he would create a scene, or cry or get so furious that his face would turn pepper red. So on these gloomy days, everyone in the neighbourhood would give him space. Ignore him, avoid him and sometimes totally run away from him.

As I grew up, I couldn’t help but wonder why Mr. Love was the way he was. My grandma would tell me his stories from time to time. He was an extreme person, we all knew that but despite all that, we also knew he had the purest soul ever. He loved children and whenever he was at the park, he would sit at his favourite spot on the bench right in front of the playing field. He would then call out to the children and hand them sweets. My friends never got tired of conning him. They would always come round two for more sweets and pretend to be other kids. He loved helping people despite his disability and was the most affectionate person in the neighbourhood.

“It is because of his blindness; that is what makes him so bitter to life,” my grandma would justify his behaviour from time to time.

“That doesn’t justify his hysterical behaviour you know mum?” My mother would debate, “God tests us in different ways. He should accept his condition and be happy with life.”

“But he IS happy!” Grandma would insist, “It is just sometimes he can’t control his emotions…”

Rumour had it that Mr. Love was once married to a lady called Pride. I wasn’t born yet but everyone talks of her dazzling beauty. She was too beautiful, they say. Elegant height, almond shaped eyes, thick lips, some said she was more beautiful than Angelina Jolie, some said she was a little bit less beautiful than her. The theories were many but no one could out-rightly reject that she was beyond pretty. Everyone wondered why she accepted Mr. Love’s proposal yet she could have been married by some Saudi prince or some tycoon somewhere. But as they say, the heart wants what it wants. Perhaps her beauty was somehow a threat to him because he was always too protective, too attached which ended up in them having a divorce. Pride no doubt loved her husband, he was handsome anyway, but she had a great impact on him that made him drift away from the people. She had set standards for her husband and herself. She chose whom Mr. Love should talk to and whom to not get involved with. Her classy and sassy personality pressured her to maintain an image, and for her to do so, she also had to control her husband excessively so that he doesn’t destroy her image. As such, Pride was not all that much liked in the neighbourhood. She had changed their lovely Mr. Love.

There was another rumour about Mr. Love although everyone who talked about it, would do it in whispers, with heads close together, with fingers on their lips. “Mr. Love almost killed a man with his cane once. He was messing up with Pride.” Mr. Love was too jealous, they say. He didn’t want any man getting too close to his muse.

“But isn’t that how all couples are? Jealous?” Grandma would justify again.

“Mum! He almost ki…”

“Shhhhh!!!! He might pass by and hear you!” Grandma would say in a low tone. “What is wrong with you anyway? Why are you always against Mr. Love?”

“Don’t act like you don’t know Ma. He broke Kind’s heart remember?” My mother replied.

“Who is Kind?!” I whispered quickly.

“Kind was Mr. Love’s second wife. After that incident of Mr. Love almost killing a man with his walking cane, Pride asked for a divorce. She thought it was healthier for Mr. Love to be away from her, and safer too. She claimed that Mr. Love was becoming insane with his emotions. Well, she made a right decision. Many of us wanted her out of the neighbourhood. So they parted ways. Then after about two years he met Kind. She was a short, curvy lady. She was her own kind of beautiful and she worked as a social worker at the children’s home. Nonetheless, no one stopped comparing her to Pride. How more beautiful she was, more classy, more elegant bla bla bla…” Grandma explained.

“She was from down-town. A very simple lady with a great heart unlike the town princess; Pride. Plus Mr. Love was way more handsome to suit her beauty. So everyone now thought Lady Pride suited him better. Nonetheless, Mr. Love had his own kind of attachment to her too. You know, they all forget how smart, intelligent and soft-hearted Kind was. AND, she was able to mend back Mr. Love’s relations with the community.” Mum said.

“So why did he break her heart?” I lower my neck closer to them and whisper again.

“Because his heart was already broken by Pride…Once your heart is broken dear, you can only patch your holes with rags but never to be fixed again. You can never be whole again.” Grandma said, shaking her head sadly.

“Still doesn’t justify what he did to her mummy!”

“What did he do to her?”

“He left her. Just one day he woke up and told Kind that he can’t live with her anymore, that his heart was too damaged, that he couldn’t totally love her like she deserves to be loved. He then asked her to leave before he was back from his morning walk.” Mum explained.

“But you previously said he was already getting attached to her! why would he do such a terrible thing to an angel like Kind?!”

“Well…no one can ever tell. Some say he liked her too much it made him afraid she would leave him too like Pride did. Some say he still loved Pride. Some say he was still hurting from his past…the theories are many…”

“I say, it all has to do with the inferiority complex he suffers from his blindness. Perhaps he believes he doesn’t deserve all that affection so he doubts all those that love him. I feel sorry for him. He is just a lonely man…” Grandma says.

“There he is!” I say as I climb on the coach to look out of the window. There he is; Mr. Love with his walking cane, head bowed down, his cheeks swollen. “Just one of his gloomy days,” I sigh.

Mum follows me to the window, stares at him for a moment before saying, “That poor disturbed man really needs divined intervention.” She sighs too and I sigh again, this time louder than before, “Oh poor Mr. Love!”