On the day I left Philadelphia, I was consumed with stress and grief. So many things had happened to me and the children over the past three years. My mind could no longer comprehend and my heart was unwilling to be patient any longer. In fact, it no longer had the ability to withstand the constant lack of respect. I had been stripped.
For the past three years I sat and contemplated day in and day out. I could look at our relationship and see everything that was wrong with it. What I could not understand is why I was still there.
Love had been squeezed out of my heart, so this was not a contributing factor. I kept saying to myself that I was staying for the children; boys who needed to become men. This is what I told myself. I was a product of divorce and I knew what it felt like to want my father. However, it was more to it than that. Somewhere along the way, I stopped believing that I deserved to be happy. This is the real reason I stayed.
I really don’t think my mind was settled on divorce at that moment; but I knew I had to get far away. He was toxic and everything in his life was too. At t his rate, I would have lost my mind and my children too. Receiving a job offer to teach in Sudan came in the knick of time.
I had never really heard anything positive about Sudan in the media so my expectations were blurred by the unknown and the negative images of the media. Once I arrived, a sense of peace fell over me. I felt safe. It was so different from the urban backdrop of Philadelphia. Everyone was so calm. They seemed so functional.
Over a period of 3 1/3 years, I went through a transformation that changed my life forever. I had a good job, lovely neighbors, and a secure environment. The boys played freely and were able to establish good relationships. The best thing of all is that I was doing everything alone. I felt empowered. I received absolutely no assistance from my children’s father. Every single thing we had came from my efforts and the help from my Creator.
Not only did I begin to feel I could be happy again; I was happy once again. It had been a long time. True happiness had not been a part of my life for over 13 years. The only thing I could see that was of any value was my children and the effort I put into rearing them.
I remember sitting up one night contemplating. I reflected on my life back in America. I accepted the reality of all that had happened in my marriage. I embraced it and I repented for it. I repented for allowing myself to be oppressed. I was created for greatness but I had allowed myself to be treated less than I was worth. In a relationship, no one can be oppressed without a certain amount of consent from the other and for this I repented. I was not created for that purpose.
Visiting Kassala, Sudan was monumental. I got a chance to do something I have wanted to do all of my life; go mountain climbing. I arrived late afternoon. The foot of the mountains had such a silent beauty that I could never explain it. To the right of me were the mountains, to the left was open desert, and in the distance I could see another mountain chain. It was explained to me that on the other side of those mountains was the country of Eritrea and if I climbed a small way up the mountains I could see even more.
Some of my students started running up the side of the mountain and I ran after them. It felt so liberating. When I got about half way up the mountain, I stopped, turned around, and looked at the scenery. Tears came to my eyes. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I watched a caravan of camels go by and some Bedouin children playing in the sand.
I felt free, uninhibited. Then I looked over to the other mountain chain; the one forming a natural border between two counties. From this altitude it did not seem like a barrier between two places, but rather a peaceful giant sleeping unmolested, undisturbed.
In order to leave the familiar and experience something new, all I had to do was crossover. All the negativity held in my soul, al the heartache, bitterness, low self-esteem, and felling of rejections were released that day. The shackles fell and I crossed over, leaving it all behind. I was free.
About the Author: Fatimah Abdulmalik is a freelance writer and editor originally from America. She has spent the last twenty years traveling and living abroad; sharing her knowledge of the English language and writing about her experiences. She likes to write about acculturation, education and green living. You can follow her on twitter, facebook, and Google+.