“Sometimes in order to love yourself properly, you have to be willing to be hated by the ones you love. This isn’t easy for those who care deeply.”
—Khalil Ismail, founder of The Measured Path
The “Healing in Solitude” reflections offer a glimpse into the heart of Umm Zakiyyah, as she continues her emotional healing journey during the social distancing lockdown amidst the coronavirus epidemic. Each journal reflection represents a “new day” in her healing journey and/or a new day in the mandatory isolation of social distancing. The following is Day 7:
People can only love you as much as they love their own souls. This is something that has taken my heart years to understand on a deep level. And I’m still learning. We often hear this in connection to the limits of a person based on how much they love themselves emotionally. But I think there’s a difference between how much someone loves themselves emotionally and how much they love themselves spiritually.
Too often we allow our hearts to get so tangled up in emotional love that we forget that true, nourishing love stems from a healthy relationship that each of us has with our own souls, spiritually. Without a lifestyle of soul care, it is impossible for any of us to be truly healthy in our relationship with ourselves or with others.
Unfortunately, those of us who are striving upon a lifestyle of soul care but are still struggling on a path to emotional healing continuously seek love from unhealthy places. As a result, we find ourselves heartbroken over and over again. In this, we are still learning that those who do not love their souls do not have the capacity to love us, no matter how much we want them to—and no matter how much they themselves sincerely try to.
This is the weighty point that I was hoping to convey to my sisters in faith when I wrote this heartfelt reminder in my journal:
Know that a man who doesn’t respect his soul cannot respect you. A man who does not guard the sacredness of his private parts should not be given access to yours — even in marriage. You are not a savior or constellation prize for broken, soul-damaged men.
Too often our society teaches men that it’s okay to destroy their souls and sleep around, caring nothing about their bodies and spiritual health until they meet a “good woman.” This good woman is painted as so special and valuable that it makes this “bad boy” want to straighten up and live an honorable life. But if he isn’t straightening up and living an honorable life for the sake of his own soul—irrespective of whether he marries you—then he isn’t an honorable man, period.
No, it doesn’t matter how much money or success he has or how much he claims to love you more than life itself. A man whose soul and body is worthless to him could never value the soul and body of a female companion, even if she carries the title “wife.”
So dear women, if you love your soul and the body God has gifted you with, and are living a life nourishing your spiritual health and guarding your private parts, love yourself enough to say no and walk away. It is better to live a life of beautiful, soul-nourishing solitude than to open your heart and body to a man whose life experience thus far has only been in destroying his.
And know that there are truly good men in this world who love their souls and the sacredness of their bodies just as much as you do.
Seeking a Soul Companion in This World
When I wrote the journal reflection to my sisters in faith, my heart was praying that Allah grants each of us soul companions who love Him above all else, who value their souls more than anything else, and who are sources of compassion, mercy, and soul-nourishment for us on earth.
My heart was also praying that Allah heals and purifies our hearts such that we ourselves are healthy soul companions, beneficial friends, and sources of mercy to His beloved servants in this world. In this, I was hoping that Allah would heal our emotional wounds and purify our ailing hearts so that we can become spiritually-nourishing to others during our brief sojourn on earth.
As we pray for healthy love in our lives, it is important to remember that our need for soul companionship is not limited to romantic love in marriage. We also need healthy soul companionship in our other relationships as well. Thus, even in our friendships, in our bonds of faith, and in our families and blood relationships, we need meaningful connections that nourish our hearts and souls. Otherwise, we will continue to suffer emotional and spiritual wounding in the very places that we are seeking love.
Perhaps They’re Not Good for You
Some time ago, I saw a post on Instagram that really resonated with me: Don’t worry about the people God removed from your life. He heard conversations you didn’t, saw things you couldn’t, and made moves you wouldn’t.
As I reflected on my own emotional healing journey, I had to admit that this has been a very difficult lesson for my heart to embrace, especially when the relationship I lost was of a close friend or loved one. But in reflecting on the profound message of the post itself, I reminded my heart of this weighty reality that we so often forget as we nurse our hurting hearts:
Just keep in mind that two good people can simply not be meant for each other as friends, soul companions, or part of each other’s life in any meaningful way—and that God can be removing us from someone else’s life due to our own faults and sins, while we imagine they’re being removed from ours due to theirs. That said, yes, absolutely, sometimes God is removing a harmful person from our life while we think we’re suffering a loss.
Just Let Go and Move On?
“Just let it go, and move on,” we’re so often told. “Stop holding on to anger. Don’t let them disrupt your peace.” When people respond to others’ suffering with this dismissive advice, I can’t help wondering if they know what emotional pain feels like, or if they even care. Or perhaps they’ve suppressed their own pain so much that it’s now hidden from even themselves.
Emotional wounding is not a choice, and it’s not a creation of our minds. Thus, we can’t just “let it go” and “move on” by deciding to feel “happy” about all the things that torment our hearts and souls daily. The human mind never has had (and never will have) the ability to simply make wounds disappear. This is true for physical wounds, and it’s even more so true for emotional wounds.
There is no path to healing except the arduous path of healing. And this means being present with the pain, and even the anger, as it finds healthy release, over and over again.
When it comes to having a soul companion to support you during this difficult journey, one of the healthiest forms of healing is having a compassionate, empathic soul who listens patiently and lovingly as you speak about what’s ailing you. And one of the most emotionally damaging things that we can do to someone is to stunt their healing or exacerbate their wounds through dismissiveness or insensitivity.
This is when we impatiently rush them through the parts of their journey that make us comfortable, or when we resort to toxic positivity because we ourselves are unfamiliar with how to navigate negative emotions healthily. Thus, we tell them, “Happiness is a choice.” Or we urge them, “Just let it go, and move on!” as if their pain is a burning coal that they eagerly hold on to because they value daily suffering so, so much.
Yet if there is anything that we should indeed “let go of” and move beyond, it is offering dismissiveness and insensitivity instead of empathy and compassion in our advice.
I think on this now as I continue my own healing journey and reflect on some relationships that I myself have had to let go of. These were relationships wherein trusted friends or loved ones sought to disrupt the parts of my spiritual journey that they found inconvenient for their own life paths. These were also relationships wherein trusted friends and loved ones tried to silence the parts of my emotional healing that they found unacceptable because their minds and hearts were addicted to a story that denied my deepest wounds.
Broken Souls Need Your Silence
“What’s the point in mentioning any of this?” they’d say to me, or “Why are you focusing on the negative when this person has done so much good for you?”
These are people who view painful honesty as mutually exclusive to sincere gratitude, and they view inflicting abuse as an impossibility if that person has also benefited you in any way. These mindsets are the very definition of toxicity for souls seeking emotional wellness.
Only broken souls trapped in their own wounding need others to deny their painful experiences in order to appreciate the complexity and beauty of their human story. These broken souls need every story to be about either an evil monster or an angelic saint. They have trouble accepting the reality that most human stories fall somewhere in between—including their own.
These broken souls also believe that the only type of wrongdoing or abuse that should ever be openly acknowledged and addressed is that which points the finger at “the other.” Their own self-denial and lack of healing compels them to reject any truth-telling wherein a wrongdoer or abuser is from their own ethnic group or is a respected elder, family member, or a spiritual leader they love or admire. Consequently, they accuse you of being disrespectful or sinful if your story violates this unspoken rule of their own unhealed heart: Your healing is only allowed if it doesn’t force me to look at myself.
In reminding my own heart that I have the right to speak about what happened to me—and that I have divine support while I do—I think of the ayah in the Qur’an where our Merciful Creator says what has been translated to mean, “Allah does not like the public mention of evil except by one who has been wronged. And ever is Allah Hearing and Knowing” (Al-Nisaa, 4:148).Validate Yourself
Today I realize that there is no true letting go or moving on until the evil or wrongdoing that you have suffered has been acknowledged, expressed, and addressed—and until your emotional wounds have been properly healed. But the bittersweet reality that our hearts must embrace is that this validation on your healing journey must come mostly from yourself.
Others likely won’t join you or support you, even if they need healing themselves.
Therefore, you must humbly accept that your idea of love, companionship, and even healing is not shared by so many whom you care about most. So you must find another source of emotional connection as your heart seeks bonds of friendship, family, or faith.
Because anyone who is more pleased with your silent suffering than your journey of healing and spiritual nourishment is not a true soul companion for you, no matter how much your heart reaches for their love.
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Umm Zakiyyah is the internationally acclaimed author of more than twenty books, including the If I Should Speak trilogy, Muslim Girl, and His Other Wife. She recently launched her “Choosing To Love Alone” series via UZuniversity.com to support struggling believers seeking to nourish their emotional and spiritual health.
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