My name is Umm Saeed. My husband is a heroin and crack addict. I have been stuck in a cycle for 8 years now. My family has been through many twists and turns as my husbands addiction has escalated at times, wound down at others and stopped altogether on some fleeting moments. Oh how I live for those moments! I get those times in Ramadan, mostly.
Every year it is the same. Before Ramadan, I am at my wits end. My husband’s, lets call him Fiaz, addiction is usually way off the scale. For some reason it seems every year before Ramadan I want to end the marriage. Things have usually got really bad. I threaten to kick him out of the house. But every year he says “Give me a chance! Ramadan is round the corner. I will get clean in Ramadan and I will change, you’ll see!”. So I do wait and see. On the eve of Ramadan Fiaz makes lots of duah to Allah. He says, this is the year I will do it, and he believes it, even though he said that every year for the past 8 years of our marriage. And the sad thing is, I believe it too.
There is a mixture of true and sincere belief in Allah that anything is possible when you turn to Him for help and submit yourselves. And then there is a mixture of doubt. After years of Ramadans passing me by I feel deep down that this year will just be like the others. I recall each and every Ramadan of the past. It was a beautiful time. It was a break from the chaos of the rest of the year. Where there was hatred between us, resentments and anger, the Mercy of Allah pours down and enters my heart. I start serving him again, like a dutiful wife. I accept his arms slipping around my waist while I prepare the iftah. I enjoy the closeness of his chest as we hug and a tear falls as I wish it could be like this all year around. All my defense barriers crumble down and I let my heart reach out to him. It’s almost like I am addicted to these moments. Its these beautiful times, where I see what our marriage could be like, that keeps me stuck here. I know its possible then you see. People don’t know why I stick by him. But I see that when there are no drugs in our life, its actually almost perfect. In the same way he craves crack, I crave to get these moments back.
Some years he relapses in Ramadan and we are both devastated. But we both feel so close to Allah’s Mercy that we both cry to Him for Forgiveness, and I forgive Fiaz too. We then get back on that horse and get through the rest of the month. I’ve met other women in my position who have said they can’t fast because they are too stressed. But I need this month to bring up my own eeman (faith) and strengthen my own self. Just like my husband is trying to get clean I am trying to be a better Muslim too. I have spent so much of the year angry, shouting, swearing and backbiting him that I feel burdened down by my own sins. I need Ramadan to ‘get clean’ in my own way.
Then Eid day comes and all that love and closeness and happiness leaves with Ramadan. He usually relapses on Eid day, or soon after. And with that, my heart is broken again. With all my defense mechanisms broken down it hurts more than it did before Ramadan. The pain of the heart being broken again, in places where there existed deep scars is hard to bear. And the yearly cycle starts all over again. This has been my eight year wheel.
So what about now? How am I going to make this Ramadan different. Fiaz is clean again, absorbing himself in Ramadan. And I am aware of keeping myself safe. I have not dropped all my defenses this year because I feel the heart ache of disappointment if he relapses on Eid. I am sick of this cycle and I want this to be the year that it all stops. I do not choose to live this life anymore. I want to be brave and say if he relapses after Eid I will kick him out. But at the same time part of me wonders if I have the strength to do it. So I will use this Ramadan to make myself strong so that whatever the outcome I am ready to face anything.
I realise, looking back, that I have spent most of the last 8 years thinking about Fiaz and his addiction. What is he doing? Who is he with? Where is he going? I have monitored him, checked his emails, his texts, his phone bills. I could get a job in the FBI with my skills. I have spent so much time worrying about him that I have suffered from anxiety and feelings of depression. There have been times when I have felt like harming myself, or just wishing Allah would take my soul so that I would not have to bear the pain of living with an addict any longer. I realise now, that I wanted the easy way out. All that head space I have given to Fiaz, trying to get him to come back to the Straight Path of Allah, while all the time I was slipping myself without even realising. I held onto my prayers, just about but my Islam was far from where I wanted it to be. All because I paid so much attention to Fiaz and his actions.
This Ramadan I want to focus on myself and my relationship with Allah. I realise, how can I offer myself to anyone else if I am already feeling incomplete? The only way for me to complete myself and feel whole is to attach myself to Allah. To do the very thing that I encourage Fiaz to do. If I have Allah then it does not matter what happens with Fiaz. I will have the strength to bear whatever test Allah presents me with. I encourage all other carers of addicts to do the same this Ramadan. We worry about our addicts 11 months of the year, at the very least we must worry about ourselves for this month, we owe ourselves that at least.