Monthly Archives: October 2014

Fighting The Ten Headed Monster

HydraI stood beneath my husband as he felt larger than life, towering over me like a mythical monster with several heads. Here is what those heads were saying to me;

The loudest head of all shouted out with so much conviction “I won’t do it again” and I thought “You say that all the time but you do”

The ugliest head of all shouted “I hate you, you b@t*# you never helped me, you want to see me fall” and my inner voice cried “I helped you more than I helped myself”.

The most crooked head of all spoke collectively and calmly in a sing song tone that went up and down, “It was only once, I haven’t used for ages” and my knowing self told me “but I found all the evidence to say otherwise”.

The most lost head of all, facing the wrong way with its head back to front, is looking up at the sky, even though its eyes are diseased and it cannot see, and shouting in anger “You Allah! You did this to me. You wrote me off in that Book of Yours! This is my destiny! And then you will throw me in Your Hell Fire. It’s your fault Allah! I hate your religion!” and my frightened voice says “But Allah gave us free will and He gave you so many signs and chances to change”.

The most manipulative head of all, the one with the narrow eyes said through its gritted teeth, “I will take away everything from you, no one else will love you, I will make your life so hard if you leave me, in fact I might even kill myself if you try to go” and my self that trusts Allah says “My Lord will take care of me”. 

The weakest head of all, the one that occasionally gets stomped on by those huge monster feet; the feet that have several brains from its several heads telling them to go, back and forth, left and right, directionless and lost, that weakest head, the one with no ears said “I can’t do it, I can’t change, I see no way out!” and my frustrated self said “The solution is in The Quran and Sunnah – have you not heard me all of these years?”

The hungry, thirsty head, the one drooling with its putrid saliva, the one that causes the heart to beat faster, the one that makes the feet dash from the Straight Path, said “I do not care about you or any one else but me! Give me those drugs and I do not care about anything but those drugs! Give me MORE!” and my sad self said “You never put me first, you love drugs more than you love me.”

The exhausted head said “I’m so tired, I cannot do this any more, I cannot think, I cannot sleep, I cannot rest, I am sick and tired of being sick and tired” and my confused self looked on and wondered how he had the strength to carry on and my confused self told my worried self that it might one day have to find a way to explain the death of him in a way that would protect his honour. “No one wants to die a junky, no one wants to enter the grave on drugs and no one wants to be raised in the state of intoxication on the Last Day”.

The blaming head, the one that stands high above the rest, the one with the biggest nose so it cannot see what is below said in a snarling voice “You did this! If you were more supportive, if you were around more, if you did not start that fight, if you didn’t say those words to me, if you were a better wife, if you did not go out that day, if my parents were better parents, if I had not met that guy, if I did not bump into that dealer, if I didn’t have a headache that day, if I didn’t have everyone on my back, if I didn’t have stress, if my family didn’t let me down……. then I would never have used” and my broken self said “If only you would take responsibility for yourself, repent and turn back to Allah so He can forgive you, grant you a good life and enter you into Jannah”

But hang on whats that there hanging down at the bottom. It is hard to see but there it is, peeping through the legs of this multi-headed monster like a shy, anxious, child peering round the legs of its mother…

The truthful head, the one with the sad eyes and the tiny mouth that speaks in a mere whisper. What are you saying little head? What are you trying to say beneath all those frightening voices? We can barely hear you over all that noise, what do you want to say? “It is my fault. I made those choices. I hurt you badly and I hurt myself. I am sorry. I want to change and I need help. Oh Allah help me, only You, My Lord, Allah, can save me now” and I said “Hey little head, here is a sword, take this sword of truth and chop off all those other heads, but only you can do it. No one else can reach those other voices but you, because they are growing out of you.”

And so as the monster continues to rage and try to reach out and grab me, trap me, break me and I realise I can no longer fight this frightening being. I realise that the time has come to run. Now that my hand is emptied of my sword I say “The sword is in your hands now. It is time for you to fight yourself. My battle is over. I know now, I cannot fight your addiction, only YOU can” and now my hands no longer carry the heavy weight, my hands are free to hold something far more special. I embrace freedom, I grab it with my two hands. Freedom from the fight. 

 Anon

Breaking free

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It is never easy for a person to know when they should break ties with a person. As Muslims we are taught to prefer mercy over anger, like our Lord, Allah, The Most Merciful. We are encouraged to not harbour resentments, to give people a chance to change and repent and we emulate the Prophet Muhammad who was gentle and kind to those who sinned. We hear the verse from the Qur’an; “… and fear Allah through Whom you demand your mutual (rights), and (do not cut the relations of ) the wombs (kinship)…” (04:01) and we tremble at the thought of Allah being at war with us because when He created the womb he promised it that He  would be at war with all those who broke ties with it.

download…and its a BIG but! The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, also said; “The believer is not stung from (the same) hole twice” (Bukhari). 

When we look at the condition of the average carer of an addict, whether you are the parent, spouse, child or friend, we will see that we have been bitten from the same hole over and over again, very often to the point of what any one with a clear mind would consider oppression. Why could this be a form of oppression? Let’s take a brief look at how addiction affects those around the addict;

  • Financial oppression – Addicts commonly drain the resources of the family,images (1) demanding extra money for drugs, alcohol, gambling or to fund other addictions. Money that would normally be used for the family by way of food, leisure, bills etc is often spent on the addiction and places the family under strain. Partners who may not have the luxury of not working and mothers with young children are often forced to go out to work in order to keep the family with their heads above the financial water. In some cases, addicts become aggressive or violent when demanding money from their family, or may turn to crime to fund their habits which can lead to all kinds of consequences that leads to hardship for the family. 
  • Psychological Oppression – Where to start with this broad subject? In a nutshell, the stress and anxiety that a carer goes through while living with or caring for an addict is immense. The worry starts the moment we open our eyes and through until the sleepless night. The carer of an addict can get to the point where depression kicks in, feelings of self-harm can emerge and a general overwhelming feeling of helplessness and hopelessness dominates our entire world. The carer becomes so preoccupied with the addict in their lives, that everything else takes second priority. This can be especially hard for those with children or other dependents or challenging careers. Without professional help carers of addicts are at risk of suicide or other self-deprecating behaviours.  
  • Physical Oppression – The first thing that often springs to mind when discussing 603593_366501096755341_519949164_nthis section is physical violence. But it is so much more than that. As discussed above being the carer of an addict leads to psychological oppression. Stress, anxiety, depression and so on all have physiological affects on the body. Prolonged stress leads to changes in the brain, causing parts of our mental capacity to shut down as the brain learns to cope. Stress is caused by the release of adrenaline from the brain, into the blood stream so that we can cope with situations of danger and be more alert. The fight or flight syndrome kicks in. But the body is not designed to be in this state continually. As the adrenaline continues to be produced, anxiety increases and the person suffering, in laymen’s terms,  will not know whether they are coming or going. Prolonged stress leads to all kinds of physical symptoms from headaches to more serious stress related diseases like strokes and heart attacks. Therefore, when carers are being placed under continuous hardships and difficulty it is a form of oppression. 
  • Violent Oppression – It is a common assumption that most addicts are violent anddomestic-violence aggressive but when we look at statistics of crimes committed in the United Kingdom or USA we will see that most crimes are committed while a person is under the influence of substances. Many addicts, substance-related or not, have the potential to become violent towards their partners or other family members. One of the main contributors to this is that addicts have little or no control over their emotions and can become angry and aggressive easily. When intoxicated that potential is heightened and inhibitions are lowered, meaning a person is more likely to behave in ways that go against their moral code. Those around the addict are often subjected to aggression and violence. Domestic violence rates are high among families where substances play a part and there is a direct link between addiction and domestic violence. Please refer to our article on this subject here . Carers are more likely to put up with their loved-ones violence, believing it really is not them and its just the alcohol or drugs making them that way. Thus, the carer falls into a cycle whereby they are stung from the same hole over and over again and it can be hard to find a way out of this punishing cycle.

The home office released a revised definition of domestic violence in 2004. This is it;

The cross-government definition of domestic violence and abuse is:

any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to:

  • psychological
  • physical
  • sexual
  • financial
  • emotional

Controlling behaviour

Controlling behaviour is a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.

Coercive behaviour

Coercive behaviour is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.

With these definitions in mind, it is clear that very often the kinds of behaviours displayed or acted out by addicts can fall under the banner of domestic violence. Very often carers of addicts stick by their loved-one because they believe it is only the addiction that causes the person to behave in these ways, holding out hope for the day their loved-one decides they want to quit. In many cases, this is true, that without the substances or addiction in their life, the person is much their real selves and does not behave in unacceptable ways. Unfortunately, it can take many years, some times decades, for the addict to finally turn their lives around. Meanwhile, the family or partners suffer a lot of hardship while they wait for that day.

Many cultures within Islamic communities view divorce or separation of relatives as a bad thing. Sometimes other family members do not support a persons decision to lock off from the addict, fearful that the addict will get worse or that Allah will be angry for abandoning them. However, there is also the points to consider that if the addicts behaviour has become oppressive or the people living around them are suffering psychological trauma then it ought to be considered to remove the addict from those peoples lives. Sometimes, carers can become stuck in a cycle by which the unacceptable has become acceptable. Carers compare times when things may have been a lot worse, thus becoming immune to how bad things actually are. If a person was to look in on their lives they would be horrified at how they are living, yet the carer has become so used to living in this hardship that he or she cannot see how bad things have become.

nothing-changes-if-nothing-changesIf you are a carer, you will have probably told yourself so many times that if you were a person looking in, you would be screaming at yourself to change this way of life. So why don’t you do something about this. In Alcoholics Anonymous they say “nothing changes, if nothing changes”. If we continue to live the same old routine, play the same old records, how do we expect a different outcome?

Many carers choose to stay in the relationship and look back on their lives, wondering why they did not leave years ago. Many never envisioned that it would go on for so many years. Some people told them to leave, some told them to “have sabr (patience)” and stick it out. It has been a confusing time over the years. Whether to stay, whether to go. Sometimes carers try the separation route for a while. The addict realises what they have lost, they give up their addiction for a while, they come home and then….. you know how it goes. The cycle continues.

No one can make an addict stop, but the addict. And no one can make a carer decide when enough is enough, except that carer. All that we know is, our destiny is in the Hands of Allah and He Knows what we should do. But there is a bit of legwork involved. Here’s how;

  • Always make duah, every step of the way. Keep asking Allah to guide you to make the right choices and do what will please Him the most. 
  • Make salatul Istikara before you do anything or make any decisions. (prayer for making a decision). This will give you peace of heart that you are placing your trust in Allah and the outcome will be from His guidance. 
  • Seek professional advise. Counselling empowers us to find the tools within us to make changes and break cycles of behaviours. It helps us to realise our own self worth and know that we deserve better and the respect of others. 
  • Keep yourself safe. Your safety is what is most important. To be a slave of Allah we need to be of sound mind. If someone is harming us psychologically or physically, this is oppression and will break us. Islam teaches us to never allow anyone to do this to us. 
  • Remember that Allah is with you and will never abandon you so long as you keep turning back to Him. 

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A reverts story: “I didn’t marry you for this”

Jane’s story my_light_at_the_end_of_the_tunnel_wallpaper_jxhy

I am an white, English sister, married to a Pakistani guy I met at uni. Let’s call him Faz. Drugs brought us together. Faz was my drug dealer at first, supplying me and my friends with cocaine. It didn’t take long for us to realise we liked each other and we soon became a couple. After a year of a party lifestyle my own drug use was taking its toll on me. Underweight and suffering from a number of consequences from my lifestyle I started searching for a better way to live. I knew I had to give up on drugs and drink. I told Faz I wanted to stop using drugs and drink and live  “a cleaner way of life” and that is when Allah began to guide me. In quran170911the Quran Allah says He never changes a person until they change themselves and I really see that is what happened to me, Alhumdulillah. I began to ask Faz about his religion and he was reluctant to tell me as he felt guilty that he was not practicing it himself. So I took a different route and read every book on Islam I could get my hands on. As I read every page I absorbed everything with happiness. This is what I had been looking for. Within a few weeks I had taken my shahada (declaration of faith) and embraced Islam. Faz was overjoyed and he too stopped taking drugs and started reading books about Islam. Within a few weeks we were husband and wife.

The months of marriage were blissful. I studied Islam hard and adopted a lifestyle that was very comfortable for me. I started wearing hijab and attending study circles. For a few weeks Faz came too but it soon became clear that I was leaving Faz behind. No matter howHelp-heroin-addict-get-help-and-recover2 hard I tried to encourage him to join my in studying Islam his heart seemed to lean towards his old lifestyle. He became moody again and started going back out with old friends. In my naivety, I never imagined that he could have started taking drugs again but it was not until two years later that I realised things were much worse than I could have ever imagined. Faz had been taking heroin and crack cocaine and that explained a lot about his behaviour, disappearing acts, weight loss and erratic sleeping patterns. It was like pieces of the jigsaw coming together as I realised what all these different incidents and events actually meant. If I would have known back then, that I would still be telling this story 12 years later and Faz is still struggling with his addiction I would have made a lot of different decisions. But by the decree of Allah, I have stuck it out and been witness to 12 years of push and pull, backwards and forwards, separation, happy times and terrible times. The proverbial roller coaster has taken us on journeys that would take years to tell the story.

So how do I sum up 12 years of living with an addict? I fear the standing on the Day of Judgement when all this will be unpicked. Every decision I made, to stay or go, to kick him out or keep him, every time we fought, every time I swore at him, hit him, kicked him, every time I fell into depression and hurt myself, felt my eeman drop, stayed in bed all day crying. Allah will ask me about all of this and so much more. What will I say to Allah? What will I say to Allah in terms of my parenting? How did I put the kids in danger? Did my mind being on Faz all the time mean I was less of a good Mum as I could have been? Should I have left him years ago and remarried to offer my children a better life? Or just stayed single and been an amazing mum?

All you need is Allah and none otherWhen I became Muslim I imagined a life of happiness. I imagined a marriage of solidity whereby me and Faz would be responsible, good Muslims, striving together to worship Allah and better ourselves. I thought we would walk on the Straight Path, hand in hand. But in reality we have dragged ourselves back to the path from time to time, kicked each other off the path, called each other from far distant places and lost each other over and over again. The Straight Path was always there, but we kept losing it either together or as individuals and go through phases like this and then returning to the path. The times when Faz was clean, usually when seeking professional help, showed us that we could be happy and have the marriage that I always wanted as a new bride. Those times would be like a mini paradise for me. Perhaps, it was those times I was living for and what kept me in this relationship for so many years, just holding out for the happy times.

imagesThere have been times when I could not see any ‘Faz’ at all. I would look at his face and say “who are you?” then look in the mirror and then say the same to myself. I lost myself in his addiction just as much as he lost himself. Addiction does that to people. You lose a sense of who you are and where you are going and the carers can fall into this themselves. That is what happened to us. And then we projected that on to our children, who as they hit their teens also became lost. What the knew of Islam was not being emulated at home in a consistent way. Addiction destroys families, eating everything in its path.

So here I am twelve years of storms with the odd break of sunshine as the clouds part for a while. I bask in the warmth of that sunshine when those times come. I let down my guards and enjoy the moment for what it is before it passes. And then my heart breaks all over again. The wounds that were beginning to heal tear open again and life becomes our version of normal again. I do not know where to go from here. I fear The Day I will stand before Allah and explain what caused me to stay. I fear what Allah will say. That is the Day when people will point the fingers and say “he led me astray, it was HIS fault” but on that Day there will be no excuses and no one to blame but me. So what will I say?

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Tips for carers on Eid

As Eid is approaching and the community prepares their clothes and where the meet ups will be. Aunties sort out who is cooking what, who will be hosting the family and we work out what to wear. All the family is planning and getting ready for a special day. But there is someone else planning; the addict in our lives is often planning a relapse.

Sometimes they seem so well, maybe they have been clean for some time. But there is something about Eid that makes the abstinent addict relapse. How many carers days have been ruined because their loved-one has slipped? That sinking feeling, even in a crowded room, when you notice the addict in your life has disappeared from the party, or the expression on their face has changed, their face has darkened, their voice is hollow and they look – well lets face it – a bit shifty.

We size up whether or not to say anything. We don’t want to spoil things for others, we act like normal, we go into denial. All those things. “Here we go again” we think, as another Eid will be added to the list of sad memories.

So let us try to plan our Eid differently this year. Here are a few tips and suggestions that may or may not work but are worth considering.

1) Talk very clearly and openly to your addicted loved-one. Explain that historically Eid has been a difficult time for them and they have regularly relapsed. Tell them that you are aware of this and will be alert to any behaviours that match that of a relapse and there will be consequences if they do. You need to consider what those consequences will be. This is called setting boundaries and you need to stick to them.

2) Make a plan B. Just because your addict has deserted you or become intoxicated or displays unacceptable behaviour, does not mean that your Eid day should be over. Have a get out excuse that will enable you to go elsewhere or attend another function. If kids are involved, why should they miss out? Eid is meant to be the one day where we can really enjoy things. It is a choice for our addict to relapse and it is a choice the way we respond to that. We must try not to let it spoil our day, or that of those around us. But at the same time we do not ignore the problem. It is about finding that balance.

3) Confide in a friend or family member. As Muslims we can often be torn as to whether or not we should be exposing someones sins. If it is safe to do so, opening up to a reliable outsider can help to address the addiction of our loved-one and assert that this is unacceptable. Islam teaches us to turn to others when necessary if it is beneficial to the situation. Carers do need to speak out so that they can receive help and support.

These are just a few things for us to plan for and consider. I hope inshaAllah we have a good day without things being ruined by the addict in our lives.