The Fortress

Abuse has a way of crushing trust and destroying confidence, to say the least. There came a time in my life when I discovered that I no longer had faith in my own judgement in nearly any situation. When I married my husband, I loved and trusted him. Not long into our marriage, I realized his disdain for me. Toward the end of our marriage, it appeared that he wanted to kill me. How could I not have seen this coming? How could I, entering the most important contract of my life, have made such an error of judgement? And how could someone who I believed loved me want to hurt me so badly?

Logic, close friends, and years and years of research in Anthropology, told me that not everyone is untrustworthy; not everyone is destructive and hateful. Emotionally and psychologically I had difficulty believing it, but I made a conscious decision to try to return to state of reserved trust and to allow myself to listen to my inner voice again. I scratched and clawed my way back to that point and by the time I returned to Syria, I was beginning to ease back into the pleasantness of life again; not worrying about the repercussions of every little decision or the hidden intentions of every stranger.

But now I find I’m slipping backwards again. Since my return home, my family has rallied around and supported me, but they’ve also become suffocatingly protective. As soon as an unfamiliar name slips from my tongue, the third degree is implemented. I can’t go many places on my own – someone always feels the need to escort me. I know their intentions are good but their actions are having negative results. When I complained to Sadeer, my eldest brother, he simply said “Each time I look at that scar above your eye, I swear to myself that I won’t allow anything bad to happen to you again.” Bless his heart. I reminded him that I was a survivor, that I was still alive, and I needed to live my life. I needed my family to trust me so that I could trust myself.

I don’t know if my words resounded with Sadeer or not. Only time will tell. I do know that I if I am to love again, it has to be fully and completely. I can’t have a “fortress around my heart” built of suspicion and doubt. Happily, the object of my affections is someone I have always trusted implicitly. It would break my heart to see him hurt by something that happened to me so many years ago and that is no longer part of my life, even though it still touches it. Of course everyone brings a little bit of baggage to every relationship. It’s only natural; but some bring more than others. I’m hoping to lighten my load in order to live and love more freely and unburdened.


8 thoughts on “The Fortress

  1. A luminous butterfly with tattered wings, damaged and somehow more lovely for its fragility. I have to admit it, the tale of your past brings the demon into my eyes too. I want to protect you also. But to do so would crush your strength. You must rise above your pain largely on your own in order to fully vanquish the horrors of your past. Letting your family serve as a cast over this broken bone for a little while is a good idea, but after a time the cast has to come off so that the muscles beneath will not wither. You are strong. Your family needs to realize this.


  2. I’m terribly sorry to know that you’ve suffered “that much”, with the little things you revealed it looks like a lot ! I’m sorry! no woman should suffer like this.It’s hard to know what’s right to do, it’s a dilemma..opening up is definitely hard, and that new person doesn’t have to pay for others mistakes…allah eywaf2ek


  3. To Abed Hamdan: I’ve been writing for a long time, in a journal mostly, and have found it to be very effective in the healing process. Thinking about how to describe the pain and the concerns and then watching it jump off the page at you when you re-read it is incredibly revealing. Unlike journalling, blogging allows one to see others reactions to your thoughts. The caring responses I’ve had to this post, although few, have helped immensely. Thank you.


  4. I’ve just became acquainted with your blog a few hours ago, and I feel you are someone I know already.So sorry to learn you had so terrible moments while you were married. I guess those moments made who you are now, made you a stronger person, a wiser person, a better person.Maybe you had to go through those terrible moments to be the person you are now. The wonderful person i can tell you are now, if you allow me say that.


  5. To Gabriela: It means so much to me that you have taken the time to read my posts so carefully AND to leave such supportive comments. I hope that I can return that favour as it is uplifting.I still have good day and bad, as does everyone else. Luckily the experience didn’t leave me bitter. Thank you for caring.


  6. I just stumbled upon this after reading a few of your more recent posts. It’s really sad. Even back home, a man who hits a man is not considered a man. Honestly, he doesn’t even qualify for the human being tag. As the song “Fortress around your heart” also says, this thing will keep walking on the mines he laid for the rest of his life. It’s up to you to build that bridge and it seems you will.


    1. Shoosar, I am managing. I’ve finally settled into somewhat of a routine in my life which has helped tremendously. A supportive group of friends on and off the blogosphere has been a blessing as well.

      Thank you so much for your comment and support.


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