There are so many differences in the world, but despite our continued evolution as a society, there are still many who are stuck in the past, and are narrow-minded when it comes to our different beliefs, skin colour, physical appearance, sexual orientation, values and beliefs. This causes unhealthy tension, increased conflict and leave certain individuals or groups feeling either superior or inferior to others.
In life, we are often faced with making tough choices and decisions. Some of which, others may not agree with. This happens both at home and in the workplace, all for a variety of different reasons. I am going to share a personal choice I made which led to me being estranged from my family.
My husband and I are an inter-racial couple. Sometimes when we are out together, people still stare. I was completely oblivious to this until my husband told me one day. Why is our progress on race so slow? In addition, it was utterly unthinkable to my family that I fell in love and chose to marry someone outside of my religion. In fact my religion advocates (under religious law) that I may not marry a man of another faith. Effectively, this takes away one’s freedom to love. In our home, we observe and celebrate Ramadan, Eid, Easter and Christmas. Our children have the best of both worlds, and because of it, they are growing up in a diverse environment where they understand, are tolerant and accepting of differences without imposing their views and beliefs on others. Importantly, the environment allows them to embrace who they are, and feel secure in knowing that whatever they decide for themselves one day when they are older, it is okay.
My family was not as open minded as my children. Granted they come from different backgrounds and traditions, and certain beliefs was rooted in their lives since very young. But I do believe that despite our backgrounds and our circumstances we should be open to different choices, and different perspectives, even if it is something we would never want for ourselves, whether it’s because of the beliefs entrenched in us or because we have made the choice for ourselves. Not my family though. I was banned from visiting my mom because she lived in an extended family home. My mom and my grandmother (who raised me), and whom I lived with for all my life before my first marriage – just us 3 – did not attend my second wedding. Whether this was because they were prevented or out of fear, I will never know because they have both since passed on. In this time my mom became very ill, and when she was no longer able to recognise me and communicate at all, I was called back into the family after nearly five years. She passed on about two years after this. My husband and our children have since been made to feel incredibly welcome, but the relationship with my family will never be the same to me. My most important family now will always be my husband and children, and my husband’s family who welcomed me, and supported me from the very first day they came into my life. I was my mother’s only child, and she never had the joy of being a grandmother, and my children will never be able to talk about a part they played in her life.
My dad was never permanently present in my life. During the time I fell in love with my husband, we were in contact. He too ceased contact with me when he heard about my choice in husband. When he died, I received a call from a half-sibling with whom I had no relationship. She informed me of his passing, and said that I should not show my face at his funeral.
All this heartache, and why?
I know I am not a bad person, and nobody can make me feel that way. I don’t know what will happen when one day death comes knocking at my door. I pray that I have a very long life ahead of me with my children, and hopefully grandchildren. I was raised being told that in my religion you will be punished for your sins in the afterlife. I was told that marrying my husband was a sin. If this is the case, then so be it. Certain actions have consequences. I don’t believe what I did was wrong, but if one day in the afterlife I discover that it was, I will be prepared to accept whatever consequence there might be. Right now, I am happy, I am loved, and I am not hurting anyone. My children are happy, they are loved, and they believe that people’s feelings and choices matter. In my view, that is what will create a better world for us all to live in.
If anything, I have become more aware of my choice and the positive impact thereof. I still practice what I believe to be essential in my religion. I believe that I have done very well to ensure my children do too, and that they understand it. What they choose for themselves when they are older, is their choice. I could never love them any less, even when I might feel indifferent about their life choices and decisions. All I will ever expect of them is to be decent human beings. If this is achieved, I will feel that I have been successful as a mother. I want my children to never fear making choices and decisions that others don’t or might not agree with, if those choices and decisions are for their happiness, and growth in life. My children know that whatever causes another person harm is not okay.
Have the courage to make choices for you. You have one life. Be happy. Everyone deserves it.
- Don’t fear being different.
- Welcome diversity.
- Open yourself to the possibility of changing your thinking or perspective despite what you might know or were taught.
- Don’t let anyone define you for you.
- Be real, authentic, and true to self.
Let us all unite in making our world a place where everyone feels free to be, free to choose, and free to decide.
Until next time…
Yours in Adapting & Being