I thought I would never see my family again. I was told I was a disgrace and that I had committed one too many betrayals against the Arab culture. I went to my half-empty dorm bedroom and tried to kill myself. I was so sick of the pressure and the blame of being who I was, and I figured I’d be doing everyone a favor. An honor killing, if you will, except contrary to normal tradition, I’d be inflicting the “honor” on myself.
Clearly, I didn’t succeed, considering that I’m writing this right now. I was drinking and had a pair of scissors and two bottles of pills to help me in the act. My roommates came in to our apartment and I was then caught.
And later, after I woke up from a dreadful alcohol-induced sleep, I got up to deal with the mess(es) that I had made. I forced myself to act strong, like it wouldn’t hurt, like my parents’ absence in my life would be for the better and that the only detriment would be finally paying my own phone bill.
My work ethic and relationship with my boyfriend were struggling. It’s improbable that this was a direct result of family problems, but consequently, I felt like I was losing all of my support systems at once. It came out that my boyfriend was cheating on me, and we temporarily broke up.
Already sick, I didn’t eat for days and started slipping back into the toxic habits of drinking myself to sleep and hanging out in sketchy places. My classes threatened to be too much for me in seven weeks, and I, once the valedictorian with a 98.6 core average, prayed to pass with B’s.
I struggled emotionally and physically, finding it difficult to keep food down and enjoy the things that used to give me any pleasure, like sex, reading or spending time with my friends. Thunderstorms blackened the unbearable Georgia summer heat, and I doubted that I would make it to the fall.
My boyfriend and I reconciled and got back together – I elected to choose forgiveness because resentment and anger never got me anywhere I wanted to be in the past – and things gradually returned to a semi-normal state.
I buried myself in schoolwork and started drinking less. My parents began speaking to me again- it wasn’t how I wanted our relationship to be. I still didn’t trust them, and I know that mistrust went both ways. But I stayed with them for a week that summer, and it went well. While fearing the loss of the essential scholarship due to my difficult upper level summer classes, I received a report card covered in A minuses and felt relief.
The past year has had its stressors: getting mugged and lost, genuinely fearing for my life on multiple occasions, a sex addiction, numerous cases of adultery, my parents’ marriage failing (and my father’s use of me as a scapegoat), and adjusting to a rigorous class and work schedule in the big city.
But every time I thought I was drowning, I came up above water. I’ve found confidence in myself to face whatever obstacles life throws at me and faith that I will survive it.