This was the kind of thing I was thinking in the early days after finding out I was in polygamy. With all the negative feelings I was having, I knew I couldn’t deal with this alone. I had to get my emotions out in the fresh air, give my situation a fresh pair of eyes, and find some other perspectives besides my own and my husband’s. But I knew that I had to choose carefully who to reveal what I had gone through; I didn’t want someone who would be more upset than me about it to be giving me ‘advice.’ I needed a steady hand to hold, someone who had maybe been through what I was going through or could see the other side of polygamy, the positive side, because polygamy is part of Islam, whether I liked it or not. I didn’t want my deen to suffer – I was really worried about this, and needed those who would listen and respond in a way that wouldn’t drive me away from my husband or my religion. But I did want my feelings validated, at least to some extent – someone to listen and let me know I wasn’t going crazy, and that I wasn’t alone in all of this. However, from some of those I first talked to, there were some comments that were hard to swallow initially, like that I was very wrong to expect my husband to divorce his second wife, that I’d be splitting a family, that it’s ‘just sex’. In those first few days, this was hard to hear – hadn’t she, the other wife, chosen to go behind my back too? She must have had thoughts of my and my husband’s marriage being at risk from all of this? When someone is unaware of the details of polygamy in Islam, the rights of all wives, the absolute need not to to encourage divorce – especially with no Islamic reason – the significance of (non-nuclear) family ties – these were things I had to learn, even if it hurt like hell. This hurting had no obvious reason because I had probably as much time and love with my husband whether he’d married again or not, but still, the pain was real.
Pain makes you act to get rid of it, and I had to talk to someone, get it out and unburden myself little by little. I needed to try to understand the whys coming in my head, and my own reactions. I found solace first with a sister who was happily in polygamy, and with a Facebook group of mostly similar sisters. But I felt I needed a real life person to talk to, preferably someone qualified who would help me heal rather than fan the flames of resentment towards my husband and religion.
Alhamdulillah, I found a sister and friend who was training as a counsellor. She did listen, she didn’t judge and she gave me a few things to think about. Still I felt I needed to have someone present me with certain questions or some other therapeutic method in order to get over issues brought up by all of this, such as getting over trust issues and jealousy. I also went to a non-Muslim counsellor as later on that year I was referred by the doctor for stress, and again it was good to get things off my chest. Although she didn’t appear to judge me, it felt always more difficult when someone is not of your faith or worldview. I came across other online Muslim therapists, but I couldn’t afford the fees. So in the end, I took to journaling and eventually this blog to sort through my feelings and issues with polygamy, and hopefully help some other people along the way.
I still feel there must be a Muslim therapist out there that could help me truly ‘move on’, but for now, self-help and good old-fashioned time are keeping me on the right track, although there are plenty of derailments along the way. If you’ve had to sort through some difficult emotions and reach out for help, have you managed to find it?
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