Six days left

This trip home has been hands down the best one I’ve ever taken. Most likely because this trip has not been overshadowed by feelings for The Mr. or a lack of closure on the marriage. Priceless is the word that comes to mind. I want to try to explain to you all how it feels to come here after being in Saudi for a stretch of time, but I’m afraid my words will never be adequate. I want to detail it all for myself so that when I return to the Kingdom and eventually have to deal once again with loneliness, isolation, and anger, I can come back here and dissect how I feel now and try to somehow get these feelings back again when I need them.

I don’t know what it’s like to go to prison, so maybe it’s not a good comparison, but that’s now I feel. Every time I come home, it’s like I’ve been in prison and I’m suddenly free. I catch up on new music, the latest movie trailers, and the increasingly ridiculous TV lineups. I hug old friends and family members I have grown too far apart from in my absence. I look at how their lives have moved along, how children have grown and developed.

Finally, outside the prison walls, I’m free to be myself. I wish I could explain to you how that feels. I’d choose that feeling over love, even.

Being here is like an affair with a previous lover. You remember all of the good times, and the good far outweighs the bad. He knows you, mind, body, and soul. There’s a familiarity about it that leads you to thinking that maybe if you never drifted apart, life together would have been grand. You know it’s just an affair and affairs always end, but oh, while it lasts.

The littlest things–things that most people probably don’t think twice about–send tears rolling down my cheeks. The feeling of comfortable sun and cool wind on my freed skin is intoxicating. Goosebumps form on my arms as the wind tosses and tangles my hair as I drive myself around town with the windows down and music up. The sound of wind blowing through the trees, of birds and crickets singing their songs, of thunder and lightning and raindrops. The smell of flowers and freshly cut grass and bonfires and weekend barbeques instead of exhaust and dust and body odor. It’s humbling and overwhelming and awe inspiring.

Being here is like coming up for air after being held under water. I am drowning in Saudi Arabia. ย Most days I feel like giving up and letting it drag me further down. And I’m the one who tossed myself into the deep end, which isย hard to deal with. I always think I’m fine with my self-imposed position on the back burner, but these trips home always remind me that maybe I’m not fine with it.

I know I’d have struggles no matter where I live. And my God, do I miss the struggles I had here. I can’t tell you how much I miss a 40 hour work week, arguing about politics, paying bills, that ring of salt that builds up at the bottom of your jeans from trudging through too much slushy snow in the winter, getting stuck at a railroad crossing when you’re late for work, trying to squeeze in doctor’s appointments, and complaining about gas prices. I’d take it all back if it mean no more being alone, being so far away from family, no more waking up angry and without direction, no more wasting away some of the best years of my life.

I’ve got 6 days left and I can feel my mind trying to reel my heart in. Don’t be too happy, don’t feel too much relief, don’t laugh too much, and definitely don’t think about love or freedom or happiness because those things don’t belong to you anymore. Don’t imagine what life you could be living because, remember, this isn’t your life anymore. This is just a break from your reality. Don’t get excited. Take it easy. Come back down to Earth and remember that this is nothing but a really expensive dream.

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30 thoughts on “Six days left

  1. Breathe it all in – deeply. Then take one last deep breath to sustain you for the next plunge.
    And let yourself dream … just a little.
    (Enjoy this time to the fullest; I couldn’t help feeling both so happy and sad for you as I read this post. Hugs.)

  2. This post crushed my heart. I want to rip you away from KSA and make it all better – but it’s much much more complicated than that! Much love.

  3. This post made me feel sad for you. It made me feel sad that the only way you could continue to enjoy all those things would have to be without your daughter. It’s a shame that it has to be that way.

  4. Heartbreaking – are there no alternatives to going back to the kingdom. Is there anyway that you and your daughter could stay in the States? Unfortunately, decisions we make follow us forever – some for the good and some otherwise. .

  5. Undertheabaya I’m so happy for you that you were able to finally go back home! That’s exactly how I feel after every time i visit Saudi Arabia! I miss the greenery the smell of fresh grass, the small if flower being outdoors and freedom to drive/walk anywhere without being stared down!! I don’t know your situation in details but I never really undrerdtood why you don’t just droop everything take your daughter and leave!!!

  6. I’ve read your post several times today. It has really, really struck me, and had me crying the first time I read it. All the silly things I complain about (some of which made your “problems I wish I could have” list). I made a serious effort today to appreciate the tiny things, because there are so many who can’t. Not just the women in Saudi Arabia, but the people who are in prison, the people who are sick, heck, the people who are just so miserable that they just can’t enjoy things. I hope you’re able to able to take as much love and joy back with you as possible.

  7. That’s exactly how I feel when I go home back to India on vacation.The rain drops , the smell of the soil ,the breeze of air …the birds cherping , the girls smiling lol .Back here no friends no outdoor life no socializing , it’s just work and playstation.Hope you get a break every 6months just to keep you happy if possible.

  8. I cried reading this. No one who hasn’t been there knows, but girl I know. My heart bleeds for you. I miss you already. Sending virtual hugs from your soul sista <3

  9. Sigh. I know exactly how you feel, and I grew up here so I’m a confused soul. This place can never truly be my home and neither the country of my parents because I’m already so different from there.

  10. Heart wrenching … maybe you should start planning for the next trip home however long after its going to be, that way there will be something to look forward too while you take your deep breath …

  11. I think I’ve read all of your blog posts, but this is the first time I’ve commented. Thank you for sharing your experiences; you are such a strong woman. I pray for you and your daughter. You have given me strength and insight into a world that is so unknown to American women. I hope you are able to cherish your time in the States with your family.

  12. Yes Saudi is like prison, but no one can take your mind & memories away. Please try & make these last days as memorable as you can! Remember when you thought this trip wasn’t going to happen? Try not to soil your precious moments with thoughts of Saudi till you are on that plane back & have to once again hide under the abaya. You have helped me & other women so so much Mandi! It has been almost 6mths since my Saudi I was with 5yrs told me he had gotten married & with held that from me for the last year & half of our relationship. Now I’m starting to realize he did me a favor by doing that. If not I’d be stuck in Saudi now. What you said about taking freedom over love is right. Until you have lost your freedom you don’t know how precious it is! I’m sending out to you my love & strength-just as you did for me…XOXOXO

  13. Mandi you have experienced now time away from your daughter. As. mothers we know how terrible that is for you with the guilt if you altimately stay in the States and see your daughter in the holidays. Your daughter is older now and many children go away to Boarding School some only return to their parents home once a year. Not ideal, but if you get yourself into this frame of mind it could work for you. It will take a lot of negotiation skills and a big sacrifice by you. When you and your daughter get together it could be the most wonderful of times. You know that you can’t fight the system, but you and your daughter could manage your lives to suit you against many odds. Not perfect but …

  14. Dear Mandi,

    I’m glad you were finally able to go back home! I think the last time i read a post by you, you were having problems raising the funds, glad you were finally able to make it..

    Sometimes I wonder why you have to stay there in Saudi. I may not know much about you (just by reading some of ur posts every now and then), but if I remember correctly, it’s because of your daughter?

    I’ve never tried motherhood, although i know its such a strong relation that many will to sacrifice their entire lives for their kids..

    but still, reading all those feelings of happiness and freedom pouring when you go back to the US, can’t you just let go and live in the US? I hope you don’t think I’m heartless, but I feel that we all live life once, and is it really worth it wasting your life there, even if just to be near your daughter?

    I know how life in Saudi can be so suffocating, which is why I’m saying this..

    Either way, I hope all goes well with you.. you’re a strong person and I really hope you a more fulfilled and happy life..

    • Yes… You dont know how is to be a mother thats why is easy to say : leave a kid and go to US have better life.
      Loving mom never leave Her kids, no matter how hard is Her life.
      Because love between mom and kid is unconditional and the purest feeling in the world. To know this you have to be a mother first.

      • To put it simply there is no better life without my daughter. This is a situation where I have to choose which arm to cut off and I’ve chosen the least painful one…That is leaving my family and my freedom.

  15. Hi mandi.
    Glad you went to the states and saw your family and had fun. I live in Riyadh used to live in London until I moved back in 2011 it has been hard. But I need you to stop feeling like this. Try and make your life count HERE, i just feel like you need to get up, tell yourself that your done feeling like that, remember all the great things you have here in saudi, friends and your daughter also readers who love your post, and that you’re safe and your daughter is getting to learn a new language And she’s mixing into a diffrent culture I don’t think she could of had that in the states, I just need you to always look on the bright side. I’ve been in your position and I’m still (kind of) there but I can’t do much about it since I’m from here. I’ll just try to be grateful, and hopeful that I can make some positive changes in my country. You know the saying “if you don’t like something change it, if you can’t change it change your attitude”?
    Take care.

    • I know you mean well, Joud, I really do. But if this was all a matter of brushing off the dust and keeping my chin up…of just “deciding” to “stop feeling like this” I would have done that for myself and my daughter by now.

  16. This post made me so sad – I think it’s my first time commenting on your blog although I have been following for a long time. I’m sorry for your experience – it sounds terrible. I do hope that somehow your situation gets better.. is it possible for you to go back to the US more often? Maybe you can hammer out an arrangement where you go back every 4 months or something?

    I hope this doesn’t sound critical but I’m going to say the following with nothing but wanting a better life for you. As an outsider, I think you are resisting your life in Saudi (I probably would too considering the fact that you are there without choice) and that makes it worse. I know you feel stuck in Saudi and that no doubt makes you want to push away from it even more… but maybe you can try to somehow salvage the good times you have there for your sanity. It’s obviously easy for me to say that because I’m not the one going through it but I really think that is your only option right now if leaving Saudi isn’t an option.

    I wish you nothing but the best and I cannot wait until I come on your blog and you’re finally free!

    • You’re totally right…I do resist my life here most of the time. It’s something I recognize and know that someday I’ll need to change, but right now I don’t know how to do that. In a lot of ways, it scares me to think of settling in and getting used to life here because resisting it is the only thing I can think to do to make sure that The Mr. knows that I am NOT ok with being here. I want him to see and feel that. I realize that’s not healthy.
      I do have good times here, but I don’t know how to let go of the resentment and bitterness to make room for more good times.

      Re going back to the states more often, the only obstacle to me going back is money. Tickets are expensive and I can’t foot the bill. But someday I hope that somehow changes.

  17. Hi Mandi :) I don’t even remember how I found your blog but I’m happy I did. You are totally inspiring human being :) you are so strong so brave- I hope you know it! I can’t imagine where you get your strength from. I have little tiny issue and already thinking of givin up. You are motivating me to be stronger and I’m sure many more. Thank you for sharing your experience :)
    I’ll pray for you that all will turn out the best for you!
    Mailika

    • You’re equipped with the same amount of strength that I am, and we are both capable of more than we can imagine. Keep your chin up and feel free to shoot me an email if you ever need someone to talk to.

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