My [redacted] Journey

A teacher's search for inner peace.


How Do I Live?

October 2, 2013

Dear Readers,

I didn’t want to write; I don’t want to write.  However, my sister said it might just help.  I’ll give it a shot.

To whom much is given, much is expected.

Yes, this I know.  I have been given so many blessings in my life.  I have so much in my life to be thankful for that it seems completely selfish of me to want anything more.  And I know that much is expected of me.  That is why I have always held myself out to be as strong as I possibly could be.  But, sometimes you just have to…

Let go and let God.

And I am struggling with that right now, dear readers.  I am praying and praying.  And my prayers are not for me.  I know I will be OK; a little worse for wear, but OK nonetheless.  I pray for my tutor, my friend, my love, my Egyptian prince: ESS.  I pray that he not be in much pain, but I know that he is suffering.  I know what kind of pain he is in because I saw the ravages of this same disease inflicted upon my daughter.

Talk about irony, right dear Readers?  Seriously, who knew that after it took me 26 years to recover from my daughter’s death that the man I love would fall victim to the same disease and inevitably face the same horrible death?  How tragic is that, dear Readers?

I guess I did learn something in those 26 years of grieving:  I don’t want to grieve another 26 years..  Now just in case any of my children are reading this, I’m not thinking of taking my life, so get that out of your head.  What I am saying is that somewhere in the deep, dark, recess of my soul, somewhere further back than what is noticed, I want to live.

That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

I am one of the strongest people I know.  I am highly blessed and divinely favored.  God did not put me on this earth to wither on the vine.  He put me here for a purpose.  He put me here so that I might make a difference.  He put me here to be a leader.  He put me here because He knew I would be a strong warrior.  He put me here because He loved me and He knew I would love Him back.  As I have stated before dear Readers, when I love, I love fiercely.

God never gives us more than we can handle.

Some years after my daughter died, my dad told me that.  He said that he admired me for being as strong as I was.  He said that he knew I could handle anything God gave me.  He also said that the reason God had never taken one of my dad’s children was because God knew my dad could not handle something like that.

Well, God must think I can handle a whole lot of emotional pain.  And in the end, He is right.  I can handle a great deal of emotional pain.  I will see my way clear of this mind-numbing, spirit-crushing, physically debilitating emotional pain, and I will be the better for it.





I would like to invite you dear Readers, to view a little something I put together last night.  It seems I’m not getting much sleep these days (good thing I’m on fall break) and I need to try and work through my pain.  Some people may choose to pussyfoot around the pain, not me, I plough right through it.  I hope you enjoy it dear Readers, because for one, brief, shining moment, I did.  Peace, ~v.



You Can’t Keep a Good Man Down



September 30, 2013

Dear Readers,

This is an open letter to ESS.  Feel free to continue reading.  However, should you opt to continue, you are sure to come away with more questions than answers.


Meeting you was fate, becoming your friend was a choice, but falling in love with you was beyond my control.  I would have loved you no matter what.  I hope you will read this some day soon; some day very soon.

I no longer feel the need to shield you from publicity.  So many things in our relationship, I kept to myself.  Some, because revealing them would hurt me, and some because the information would hurt you, and that, I could not bear.  However, it is now time to clear the air, so to speak.

From the bottom of my heart, ESS, I am sorry that you are sick.  I know what a painful death this will be.  I know this because my daughter died from the same disease.  Wow, some coincidence, right?  At least I know why you kept it from me for so long.  It must have been quite a shock to you when I told you how my daughter passed away.  And I revealed that to you in the first day or two you became my tutor.  How you must have tortured yourself, not wanting to believe you were sick and knowing that you would eventually have to tell me.

You have felt that you were sick for sometime now.  You have felt it ever since I met you.  I remember the first time you came to “our” apartment in Ruwais.  When you left, I walked you downstairs and to the parking lot.  It was there that you revealed so much of yourself to me.  I remember it as if it were yesterday.

You confided in me that you had loved a girl once when you were younger, you wanted to get married, but your mother said no.  You said that up until 8 years ago, you were not a good son.  You told me that you ran around with women and did other things that hurt your mother.  By the time you were almost 30, you decided to turn your life around.  I think you chose to go to Kuwait with your brother because you would be out from under the watchful eye of your mother.  But you would never be too far from your mother’s influence.

It was then, early on in our friendship, that you revealed to me that you were married and your wife was pregnant.  You said that your mother told you one day about a year ago that it was time for you to get married and that she had a girl for you.  You went back home to Egypt, you were married, you and your wife became pregnant, and you came back to the UAE.  If I remember correctly, you said you had only been with your wife for a total of about 6 weeks in the past year.  You said you didn’t love her.  I believe that.  I can see how your culture creates marriages based on anything but love.  And I understood this.

I may not be from your culture, but I know there are many reasons that people get married.  From my  experience, love is way down on that list.  Sad, but true.  And although I feel no guilt for falling in love with you, my heart goes out to your wife.  Your wife, who is as young as the girls I had in the classes I taught there.

I know what 17 year old girls dream of and they do not dream of getting married to men who are twice their age.  They also do not dream of living in a different country than their husband.  And they certainly do not dream of their husbands falling in love with another woman.  17 year old girls in your culture do dream of getting married.  However, they know that the love is not there when they are first  married and they hope that someday it will be.  Sadly, my heart hurts for your wife because I know that you will never love her the way you love me.

A good man.

A good man.

Your falling in love with me was inevitable.  I write this with no conceit, whatsoever.  You were raised to believe that men and women must be kept separate, always.  To you, it was normal that there were never any groups of women together at the garden.  To you, it was normal that there were no women, ever, watching the men play soccer at night.  And never would you see a group of married women, just sitting around, drinking coffee and chatting at a local restaurant.

Men and women never mix socially.  So, of course, our being together was tantalizing.  But no, not really.  Although you were raised in a culture that seemed to suppress feelings of love between a man and a woman, you came about it so naturally.  The love you had for me simply overflowed in your heart.  As did mine for you.  For both of us, it was the most natural thing in the world to be by each other’s  side.  We were so together in everything we did and everything we were.  We were both larger than life, but not really.  We both stood out in a crowd, but we tried so hard to blend.  We both laughed out loud when we heard something funny, yet tried to stifle our laughter when people would stop and point.  We almost always followed the rules, but knew that there were no rules for who you fall in love with.  We both followed our religion and our beliefs, but we accepted that we fell short at times, and had to ask for forgiveness.

So, we fell in love.  And had I not lived in the Middle East, I would have never understood, much less accepted our relationship.  When you explained to me that your religion allows you to marry up to four wives, I accepted that.  I accepted it as if I had known it all my life.  So our wanting to get married was the natural course of our relationship, at least I thought so.  But you knew differently.

I respect and I accept the role your mother plays in your life.  But as you are so fond of saying, “We are from different cultures.”  So no, I do not understand.  I will never understand how a mother can put her own happiness above that of her child’s.  You know how very much I love my children, yet, they are all spread out across the globe, across the continents.  This can make me sad at times.  However, knowing that they are happy will keep me happy for the rest of my life.  I would be miserable one hundred times over before I let my children see one day of sorrow.

And that, ESS, is how I feel about you.  As much as it hurts, as much as it tortures me, I must let you go.  No regrets, no guilt, no hard feelings.  You told me you had a choice, come to me and hurt your mother or go to your family and hurt me.  You explained, “It is whatever.  Either way I go to hell.  If I go to you, I die with my mom mad at me and I will go to hell.  If I go to my family, I die with you mad at me and I still go to hell.”  Well, that is too much for me to bear.

How it began.

How it began.

I forgive you, ESS.  I love you and I forgive you.  I know that you could live the rest of your life with me and never see your family again.  But deep in your soul, you would be tortured.  Your mother’s displeasure with that decision would haunt you for the rest of your short life.  And although you will hurt without me, you will be able to rest in peace because you will know that you have my forgiveness, you have my blessing.

I just want you to be happy, and if that’s not with me that’s fine.  Besides my children, you are the only person I’ve ever loved enough to put before myself.  Seeing you happy, makes me happy, and that’s what love is, right?  But I’ve come to discover that being happy is a luxury that we cannot always afford.  Being at peace, being forgiven, these are priceless and these I give to you.I want so much to be by your side and hold your hand and stroke your brow.  I want to hug you and comfort you, just as I did my own child.  I want to wish away the pain and watch you rest in comfort.  I want to love you today and on the day you take your last breath.  I want you to be at peace, now and for all eternity.  I want to never forget how deeply and passionately I loved you and you loved me.

I want you to always remember that I loved you to the moon and back.  And I will always remember that you loved me more than more.  Good night my sweet Egyptian Prince.  Love, your beautiful Queen.

Peace, ~v.


This Sucks More Than More

Goodnight, sweet Prince

Goodnight, sweet Prince

September 21, 2013

Dear Readers,

Events have played themselves out this past week and it saddens me to have to report that my relationship with ESS is over.  It is a fait accompli.

I must interject a disclaimer here, dear Readers.  I run the gamut of emotions throughout the rest of this post.  In fact, I’m sure I will let slip a curse word or two, it can’t be helped.

Yeah, yeah, I saw it coming and so did you.  But wasn’t there even an inkling of hope as you watched me capriciously fall in love?  Voyeuristic as it was, wasn’t there even a mustard seed’s worth of faith that it would end happily?  Or am I mistaken, and the bulk of you are sadly shaking your head say, “I knew it,”?

Well of course I knew it, dear Readers.  But a girl can dream, can’t she?  On the one hand, I am a realist hiding in a cynic’s body.  The realist in me said, “This is not going to work out.”  Whereas the cynic in me said, “This is never going to work out.”  On the other hand, I have changed my perspective on a number of things this past year; love being one of them.  Given that, I did think that love would conquer all.  What?  It happens!

On the one hand, I’m all, “Fuck this shit!  I hope this tortures him for the rest of his life!”

On the other hand, I just know the excruciating, gut-wrenching pain I feel right now is going to take a long time to subside.

I have lived a lifetime not believing in this kind of love, the stop your breath, leave your heart in your throat kind of love.  I thought that love extinct, at least for me.  Someone out there please, please, please tell me that love exists.  Tell me that at my mature age, it is still possible to have this kind of love, please.  Just please, throw me a line, I’m drowning here.

“Well, fuck that!” I say on the one hand.  “And while we’re at it, fuck all this forgive and forget bullshit.  Seriously, I have never held a grudge in my life.  I always thought it was a “gift” to be able to have such a capacity to forgive.  But what the hell has that gotten me?”

On the other hand I say, “Someone, anyone please make it stop hurting.”  As good as it felt to fall in love this deep, that is how painful it is to crawl out.

Is it wrong for me to want him to hurt like hell for the rest of his life?  Is it wrong for me to hope that he never forgives himself for crushing my heart?  Is it wrong for me to hope that one day he will be all alone in this world, just as I feel he has left me?  Is it wrong, dear Readers, is it?

It is wrong, of this I am sure.  It is wrong because I would never, could never wish harm to come to anyone I love, even if they break my heart and crush my spirit.  When I love, I love fiercely; my love knows no bounds.

It is also wrong to wish harm to come to ESS because he is just as much a victim in this unsanctioned love affair as I am.  You see dear Readers, this was not his choice.  Wait, let me clarify, it was his choice.  It was his choice to choose his family over me.  You see, dear Readers, his mother gave him a choice, me or them.  If he chooses me, “this means I die to my family.”  And just like that, ESS would be dead to his family.

How could they do that to him?  And how could he do this to me?  This is tragic all the way around.  But I stand by my principles, as hard as it is at a time like this.  I love him enough to let him go.  I love him enough to sacrifice our love so that he may have the love of his family.

On the one hand I’m all, “How noble of you.”

On the other hand I’m all, “Nobility sucks!”

And just so you don’t think I’m a complete idiot, dear Readers, I wrote the following post three months ago.  I was hoping I would never have to post it.  However, on the slim chance that things did not work out between us, I wanted proof that I knew what I was getting into.


Dear Readers,

Why does my happiness have to depend on someone else?  Why does my fate rest in the hands of someone I have never,nor will never meet?  Is that fair, dear Readers?  No, but it is what I am left with.  When all is said and done, it is ultimately what I have inadvertently chosen.  For better or worse, the culture that I so willingly crept into has permeated my soul.

To say that the Middle Eastern culture is patrimonial is to discredit the puppet masters – the mothers.  Mothers arrange and re-arrange and pull the strings of their children’s’ future like so much child’s play that it breaks my heart.

It is my belief that mothers play such an integral part in their children’s future because sadly, they had very little say in their own.  Their own mothers had power over every aspect of their lives.  So now they seek to even the score, so to speak.

Daughters have little recourse save begging and/or disobeying and dishonor, either of which is a travesty.  And sons have even less options.  It is the Oedipal Complex to the 10th power.  The only feminine wiles at work in this culture are from mother to son.  Women have no control over their husbands so their power rests in the control of their sons.  And whoa to the son who dares to contradict his mother for he is surely going to hell.  But before he does, he will live a hell on earth for which there is no relief.  Disobey your mother and be disowned.  Acquiesce and accept a loveless marriage.

So that is where I am today, dear readers, waiting on some man’s mother to give her son her blessing as to whether or not I can be in her son’s life.  I have a couple of things in my favor.  One, this woman’s son fiercely loves me and two, he will go to great lengths to convince his mother that I am both deserving and worthy of his love.  However, that pales in comparison to what I have going against me:  the culture.  And in the end dear readers, culture is a four letter word.”

All in all dear Readers, I still regret nothing, nothing at all.  As they say, “It is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved…”  Aw fuck it, dear Readers, I’m just not ready.  Peace, ~v.


I Know I’m Hard to Love

This was our day.

This was our day.

September 10, 2013

Dear Readers,

I know I’m hard to love.

That is my six word story.  Today’s Daily Prompt: Write a six-word story about what you think the future holds for you, and then expand on it in a post.   

I wanted to simply put down my story, my six words, and leave it at that.  However, the more I thought about it, the more I came to realize that there is someone in my life who deserves more than those six words, he deserves to know the truth.  And so he will.

I Am My Own Worst Enemy

This was my first choice for my six word story.  In fact, I have written these six words a number of times in journals, diaries, letters to friends, letters to myself and countless essays over the years.  Finally, yes finally, I have come to understand why I do what I do.  Finally, yes finally, I realize that I do not have to fight with myself; I can love myself.  And I do, love myself that is.  So, what now?  What comes after learning to love yourself.  For me, something extremely more difficult:  allowing someone else to love me.

I Know I’m Hard to Love

I know I make it difficult to see why you fell in love with me.  Even I forget sometimes, too.  It is not you, it is me.  But of course, you already knew that.  You wonder where the happy, fun-loving woman you fell in love with went.  Well, she is still here.  But she is protecting herself the only way she knows how.

I know I’m hard to love.  I am moody and mean.  I’m a handful and I’m hurtful.  I am impatient and independent.  These are the tools I use to build my wall.  These are the tools I use to build a wall not to keep you out, but to keep me in.  I don’t want to keep you outside, I just don’t want anyone else but you to get in.  But that is impossible for you to know unless I tell you.

I know I’m hard to love.  I pick nothing from the air and turn it into something.  I can take the smallest slight, real or imagined, and turn it into a war.  In my wars, I always draw first blood.  I want to be the one with first-strike capabilities.  I want to hurt you before you hurt me, because then my hurt will be less.

I know I am hard to love.  But I don’t want to be.  I am deeply ashamed of myself every time I hurt you.  I am devastated that I have let you see this side of me.  I am embarrassed that you know how insecure I am.  And I am afraid that I have pushed you too far.

I know I’m hard to love.  But you see me.  You see the me behind the hardness.  You see the joy, the laughter, the love for life.  You see that, and that is what you fell in love with.  You see me.  So you have to see what is in my heart, what is in my soul.  You have to see what I don’t say.

I know I’m hard to love.  What I don’t say is that I have never wanted to be with someone as much as I want to be with you.  What I don’t say is that my love for you knows no beginning and no end.  What I don’t say is that some days when I think of you, I have to catch my breath.  What I don’t say is that I don’t want to lose you, not ever…not ever…not…

I Don’t Want to Lose You

This is where my story ends.  This is where it has to end because I can’t see past these six words.  I don’t want to lose you.  I don’t.  So I will fight my fear and I will swallow my pride and I will let you love me.  I will let you love the me you know me to be.  And I will love you back.

And They Lived Happily Ever After

Now that’s a six word ending I could live with.  Peace, ~v.


I Love You More Than More

I love you more than more, ESS.

I love you more than more, ESS.

September 8, 2013

Dear Readers,

Have you ever noticed the way small children hold onto a kitten or puppy that they love?  They wrap the little guy firmly in their arms.  They hug and squeeze and hold tightly onto the object of their passion.  Unfortunately, an intervention, of sorts is usually required to save the life of the almost loved-to-death animal.  In all of their exuberance, small children tend to (almost) squeeze the life out of the very thing they love so much.  I am practically there, dear Readers, squeezing the life out of very thing I love so much.

Daily Prompt: The Excitement Never Ends Tell us about the last thing you got excited about — butterflies-in-the-stomach, giggling, can’t-wait excited.     

… telling myself I’m gonna be alright
Without you baby is a waste of time

It is a waste of time, dear Readers to try and convince my heart that we will survive without him by our side.  It seems that I have an addictive personality and the more in love I fall, the more in love I fall.

You can’t undo a fall like this
‘Cause love don’t know what distance is
Yeah, I know it’s crazy

I fell in love and I fell hard.  The distance between us has only served to reinforce my love, yeah, I know it’s crazy.  But whether it’s 7 miles or 7,000 miles, love is love and the heart wants what the heart wants.

But I don’t want “good” and I don’t want “good enough”
I want “can’t sleep, can’t breathe without your love”

I don’t and I can’t.  Nothing average about me, so why would I settle?  I wouldn’t.  There’s nothing like that can’t catch my breath kind of love.

Who cares if you’re all I think about,
I’ve searched the world and I know now,
It ain’t right if you ain’t lost your mind

Yes, he is all I think about.  And yes, I have lost my mind.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

…I don’t want easy, I want crazy

I am crazy in love.

I wanna be scared, don’t wanna know why
Wanna feel good, don’t have to be right

This is the kind of love I want, dear Readers.  I don’t want to be right, I want to be in love.

There’s no such thing as wild enough,
And maybe we just think too much
Who needs to play it safe in love?
Let’s be crazy!

The greater the risk, the greater the payout.  Go big or go home.  The brightest stars burn the hottest.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained.  Absence makes the heart grow fonder.  I could go on dear Readers, but you get the picture.

“Dear Lord, do You think I could fall in love one more time before I die?”  Enter ESS and my prayers were answered.

Excitement, I mean real excitement, curl your toes, stop your breath, leave your heart in your throat excitement is what I’ve got.  And I will not let it slip silently away.  I am in love.  There is no greater excitement.  Peace, ~v.


Everything’s Gonna Be Alright


Dear Readers,

Well what the hell is wrong with me?  One little foray, one little incursion into love’s territory and I can’t even recognize myself.  I look pathetic and God knows I feel even worse.  “Snap out of it!” I want to yell as the shell of my former self stares blankly back at me in the mirror.

Of course I am exaggerating, dear Readers, but just.  It has been difficult navigating through this minefield that is Love.  How odd, that at my age I am just now discovering the delicate balance that holds my heart in place.  And certainly my brain has checked out throughout this process.  My thoughts, my feelings, they seem to have no logic, no rationale.  I am an otherwise intelligent woman.  So why is it that I am unable to reason with my feelings?  Love should have a sign over its door that reads, “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here,” or something equally pithy.

For the past 16 years or so, I have gotten along just fine without so much as a tiny, little crack in my heart.  I have taken care to protect what I know to be most precious.  And it is not as if I have a broken heart, but rather my heart is not whole.  To love someone who is miles and miles away is to live with only half a heart.  I suppose there is solace in the fact that at least my heart is not shattered into a million, tiny pieces.  Yes, there is that.

“I’m fine.  I’m ok.  No, really, I’m fine AND I’m ok.”  Because what else is there to say?  I certainly do not want to make him feel any worse and nothing I say is going to make him feel any better.  But for the record, this sucks!  This is really difficult.  Oh, I will survive this, this, this separation period, if you will.  I am certainly made of much sterner stuff than that.  I have certainly not been through the ravages of hell throughout my life to wimp out now.  No, I am a survivor and with that comes a certain knowledge that although my heart is dodging bullets right now, I will survive.  I have to, it is who I am.

However, is it ok sometimes to not be fine, to not be ok?  I don’t mean that I want to curl up in a ball on my bed and cry until I fall into an exhaustive sleep.  I just want to be able to take the load off of my heart for a little while and give it a rest.  Unfortunately, the only way I have ever been able to do that is through the time-honored tradition of a good, old fashioned cry.  And how’s that been working for you, Vickie?  Well, quite frankly, it hasn’t.  Well then, suck it up!  You are not the first and you certainly won’t be the last lovesick patron who has had to reach across the miles to tether your heart’s balance.  Put your big girl pants on and just deal with it.  Acknowledge that you are hurting right now, take a deep breath, and move forward, never straight, but always gaily forward.  See if that doesn’t keep your demons at bay.

Oddly enough, I have discovered that I am most secure when I am being the most vulnerable.  Putting the fodder that is my life in print for all to see is both terrifying and exhilarating.  Knowing that people will read my deepest, most sacred, most precious thoughts leaves me terrified.  How could I possibly want to put myself in such a vulnerable position?  What was I thinking?  Me, me who has struggled all of her life to fit it.  Now I am laying myself bare for all the world to see (well, really it’s only about 20, 30 people at best that read my blog).  However, it is in my vulnerability that I feel the most invigorated.  I am putting myself out there, I am trying to connect with people through the medium which bests suits me, writing.  And quite frankly, it makes me feel better, a heck of a lot better than crying ever did.

So there you have it, dear Readers, we have solved my dilemma.  My heart may not be whole, but at least it is not broken.  I can live with that.  I guess I really am fine, I really am ok.

Peace, ~v.