A Look Back — Part 3

We’ve made it to the final part of the look back on my past three years of blogging. Of course, if you haven’t read the first two parts, it would be helpful to do so.


May 31st, 2013
Living in Saudi has forced me to grow in ways I wouldn’t have if I’d lived elsewhere, so I feel almost attached to the place. And as much as I hate to admit it, I’m kind of bummed to be leaving it, even if only for a few weeks. Perhaps I’m crazy.

July 5th, 2013
Every time I travel home I imagine it getting easier. I imagine that it will be a little less painful to watch my dad cry as I leave, that missing out on holidays and family time will feel less depressing. That coming back to a place where there’s no one to hug, where getting to the people whose company I enjoy is such a hassle, where basic daily tasks are a major production will somehow become like second nature to me. I’m always wrong. And it’s not because I don’t try to make it different, or to think about it differently, or to look at the positives. It’s this place. I swear it is evil. A place that makes otherwise normal people behave selfishly and strangely and makes simple, peaceful living nearly impossible.

July 13th, 2013
I cry for many reasons. Sometimes I don’t know what that reason is, but if you’re a woman you know you don’t really need a reason to cry. My tears most often represent the anger, frustration, fear, loneliness, helplessness, or regret that I find difficult to otherwise express or share with others. Sometimes it’s all of those things at once. I’ve tried just letting it go, but letting things go for me usually means burying, and we all know how well buried issues eventually find their way back to the surface. And it’s usually not pretty when they do.

I have begun to imagine each tear as a wordless prayer to the only One who really knows me inside and out, hoping that my sobbing comes across accurately as pleading for help out of the situation that only that One can get me out of.

August 7th, 2013
There is no such thing as the love of your life. We are not put on this earth with only one chance at love. I know that in the midst of it all, the one your with feels like the only one, but that’s simply not the case. Heartbreak sucks, but it doesn’t have to kill you. You can and will move on and find someone new if the relationship you’re in comes to an end. If he wants to let you go, let him.

August 23rd, 2013
I hate that after everything we’ve been through, and even though I so desperately want to move on, I still have “what if” moments about my marriage. I’m worried I’ll never really feel closure. I’m a slow learner it seems.

September 2nd, 2013
The last few weeks for me have been the ultimate test of my claim of doing whatever makes my daughter happy and putting her needs first. Believe me, walking the walk is much more difficult than talking the talk. It’s also been a major exercise in letting go of my ego, my need to control & to define, my need to be right, and my tendency to believe that everyone around me has a divine obligation to cater to my wants and needs.

I’ve learned that I have a long way to go on this journey, but that I’ve also come a long way from the person I used to be. And I feel pretty good about the little human I’m raising, that she feels secure enough to be without me sometimes.

September 14th, 2013
A few weeks ago on one of our regular Thursday night get-togethers, my friend B and I stood in her kitchen and compared our guts. We squeezed our love handles and I talked about my crazy stretch marks and we had a good laugh. We’re at opposite ends of the body size spectrum , but it felt good to laugh and talk openly about our jiggly tummies. And it feels good to really deeply love my whole self, imperfect body included, and not envy how anyone else looks.

September 22nd, 2013
It was hot and I was pouring with sweat and my clothes were sticking to me. Do you know how hard it is to shimmy out of shapewear when you’re sweaty?! I considered throwing it away and letting everyone see my underwear, but I NEED that thing and it was expensive. So 15 minutes later, after an intense aerobic routine, I completed my potty break.

September 23rd, 2013
Saturday was the wedding anniversary and I didn’t care! It doesn’t sound like a big deal, I know, and I even hesitated on writing this post until I read my post from last year’s anniversary misery and realized how far I’ve come. I was worried that day would always haunt me in some way, and now it will only haunt me as the day I wore shapewear to an un-air conditioned bazaar.

September 24th, 2013
In Riyadh, a place I was once comfortable in because it’s so easy to blend in, I get tired of feeling like one of the crowd. One of dozens of other women wherever I go dressed exactly like me. Sitting here I’m aware of how good it feels for people to be different. Different races, languages, and styles of dress. An old man walking slowly and whistling just like my grandpa used to. Individuals. It feels good.

Life is funny because not only does it take you to places you weren’t expecting or planning on going, but because it puts you in situations that force you to appreciate it.

In a way I feel like I needed this whole mess I’ve been through. I know it’s corny to say that everything happens for a reason, but I really believe it does. I have such an overwhelming sense of appreciation and gratitude for everything in my life, the good and the bad, the planned and unplanned, and I have to admit that it’s only because life had its way with me.  I’ll let it do so more often.

October 27th, 2013
I feel it coming the same way you feel that nagging scratch in the back of your throat the night before you wake up with an ass kicking cold. I feel sadness pulling at me, trying to drag me back down into that dark place I wish I wasn’t familiar with.

I don’t like using the word depression. I’ve felt worse, that’s what I keep reminding myself, so this can’t be depression. I don’t feel like the people look like on commercials advertising the latest drug, all sad and weepy, struggling to get out of bed as their children hover nervously in the doorway.

I get up every morning, do the mommy thing, try to keep in touch with close friends and family, but I’m sad. It’s not debilitating, but it sucks ass. Sometimes it keeps me up late at night and sometimes it sends me back to bed after mommying and school running has been completed in the morning.

November 14th, 2013
I’ll keep coming here, however sporadically, to remind myself and to let you all know that no matter how sloppily you get through your messes, the thing that matters most is that you get through them. I’ll get through this because I have to, even if I’m not so graceful about it.

January 7th, 2014
I watch the old me like an out of body experience. I see her pain, her disappointment, and her fear. I want to be the one friend she wasn’t afraid to confide in so I can tell her it’s ok to let go and move on. I want to tell her she’s so much more than she gives herself credit for. I want her to know she deserves more than what she’s getting. I know that she knows deep down that leaving him would be for the best, but she can’t see beyond her blinding love for him.

January 12th, 2014
There are times when my alone-ness sinks into loneliness and I can’t help but miss his presence, the smell of his cologne after he’s left for work in the morning, his lap which made the perfect resting place for my feet, and his chest which made the perfect resting place for my face.

I know this will pass. I’ll cry myself to sleep for the next week or two and then he’ll say or do something that will make me sure that I hate him and thankful once again that he’s not around to pollute my environment. But it always comes back again.

February 2nd, 2014
I feel like I’ve been lied to about love…like maybe we’re all being lied to about love and that maybe that love in its purest form is rare between a couple. I think the things that we’re taught in the name of love are really just cleverly disguised symptoms of attachment, and considering the temporary nature of life, attachment to another isn’t something we should be longing for or teaching our children about. This idea that someday I’ll find someone to love who will love me in return and then my life will be worthwhile and complete is toxic. It ruins lives. I’ve wasted a good chunk of my life trying to make a man want to be a part of my life, thinking that my life is less real if I’m not giving myself to a man instead of just living while I’m alive. I don’t want to do that anymore. I want to redefine love for myself and I want to teach my daughter differently.

March 28th, 2014
On the other side of all the hurt and shame there is healing, love, and forgiveness. On the other side of mistakes and regret there are lessons and there are second chances. And even though our life often times ends up being everything we could have never planned for ourselves, life can still be great.

April 26th, 2014
Stop hanging onto men and relationships that are no longer serving their purpose in your life. Learn to let go. Learn that letting go doesn’t mean that the love you feel for someone is over. Learn to love without attachment or expectation. Learn that loving without expectation doesn’t mean that you should love without standards or boundaries.

May 4th, 2014
Freedom, no matter how trivial it seems,  is priceless, my friends.

May 17th, 2014
There’s nothing I look forward to more living in Saudi Arabia than the act of getting on a plane and leaving it behind.

May 27th, 2014
People will abandon you and sometimes those people might even be your friends or family, but despite that abandonment, in whatever way you can, in whatever circumstances you’re in, find a way to be authentically you. Be just as proud to go against the grain as you would be do go with it. Don’t just march to the beat of your own drum, dance to that shit, too. You’ll never regret being true to yourself, I promise.

9 thoughts on “A Look Back — Part 3

  1. Hello Mandi! I have been silently following your blog for a long time and I just wanted to thank you for your honesty and passion behind the words you write. I started reading because of an interest in the culture, specifically the impacts on women in Saudi culture. I’ve stayed with you because of your experiences as a human being. I can relate to you in some ways, specifically the depression aspects you write about. It is something I have struggled with for many years. I live in America, and if you ever want to talk or vent, please know that I am here for you.

  2. Hi mandi!
    Thanks for sharing your journey with us. I feel like I know you so well and receiving your blog posts is like catching up with the latest goss from a friend. I only wish your situation would improve! I wish for you to move back to the US, I wish for you to be able to go for a drive, play some music and let your hair flow in the wind. Haha and sometimes I feel hate for “the MR” lol honestly I get so many feelings when reading your posts, I think that’s because you are a wonderful writer. I think this is your gift and your honesty makes you that much more admirable.
    Take care Mandi… I’m putting all my positive wishes out into the universe for you, some duas too xxx

  3. I’ve read some of your posts and have read your 3 year journey synopsis.. Thank you for sharing your life with us.. You’ve gone through so much and I hope things pick up for you! Just wanted to say to remember always that you are strong and smart and nobody should bring you down!

    Good Luck!

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