Prior to getting married, I had informed her that I suffered from depression as a teenager and that I was diagnosed with an emotional disorder, but for years did not experience anything. In other words, it was probably a wrong diagnosis. However, she used this knowledge to her advantage. Shortly after the phone incident, she began to communicate with my mother via email, informing her that I had been “abusing her” since day one and claiming it had something to do with my past diagnosis. My mother, concerned, one day called me and begged me to visit a psychiatrist. Conveniently, my spouse had already set up an appointment in advance. For the sake of my mother’s tears, I obliged without protest.
I told the psychiatrist everything my spouse wanted me to say. I was awarded with a new diagnosis and a regiment of new pills to control my “spontaneous moods”. Now, along with the pain killers and lack of physical therapy, I was forced to conform to a schedule of mental and emotional reprogramming.
The drugs turned me into a zombie. My spouse was noticeably happier though. She would smile as she helped to walk me around in public, the students and other bystanders commending her for her “sacrifice” and devotedness to her husband. I was so emotionally and mentally paralyzed that I could barely speak; but the thought of suicide finally entered my mind. At this point, if I could have formulated complete thoughts or sentences, I would have asked someone to help me end my life.
Noticing the shell of a man I once was, I stopped taking the pills in secret, feigning swallowing so that she would think I was being observant to her requirements. I would actually dispense of the pills in the toilet or bottom of the dustbin when she wasn’t around to watch me. Sometimes I would simply forget to take the pills and she would promptly remind me that I was being “irresponsible”.
Then a day came where I finally decided to stand up and refuse this lifeless existence. I remember it vividly. It was like any other day. We were walking in a nearby mall as I was attempting to train my muscles back to strength given my lack of physical therapy. I remember being in a lot of pain that day. As we were walking down the hall, a group of women in front of us were walking too slowly for my spouse’s liking, especially since they were not dressed appropriately. I only recall this because she informed me, as at this point I was not allowed to lift my head from the floor for any reason while in public; at least not without her permission.
I attempted to manoeuvre around the group on my cane, but was unable to. My spouse reacted in agitation by insisting we go to the other side of the hall where people were walking in the opposite direction. I tried, but was still blocked. My spouse did not insist on telling the group of women to move, but instead chastised me for not being faster, accusing me of “wanting” to limp behind these women because of my “carnal desires”.
I stopped immediately after she said it and turned to her calmly with what little cogency I had left and said, “If this doesn’t stop, I want a divorce.”
She seemed stunned, but didn’t respond. For over a week after this, I ignored her. I ignored her snide comments and even her apologies. I just didn’t care anymore. I was completely empty. I finally felt like nothing she said or did matter. I was too numb to care.
She retaliated. With only a week or so until Ramadan, she called her parents and told them I had physically and emotionally abused her since the beginning of the marriage. They came to her rescue without question and took her away. In the process of her abandonment, she managed to take the remaining of my work earnings which I had saved to pay for the rent, leaving me with nothing to survive on. Later, she would tell me the money was “owed to her” for her “service to the marriage”. I was left then to take loans from my parents in order to pay for the apartment and basic necessities. Her accusations didn’t stop there though; she extended them to the other students and my friends as well. Most of them believed her without question. Not one approached me to inquire if it was true. No one saw fit to entertain an “abuser”. She had even spoken to my parents and convinced them of my “problems”. It took me hours to show them the evidences for them to believe I was the one who was wronged. This was perhaps the most embarrassing period of my life.
I’ve never felt more alone. Still in pain and misery, I went back to work before the Ramadan break started. I tried to compose myself, but was unable. I found myself bursting into tears randomly as I sat alone in my office. The other teachers, especially the men, had little concern for me even after I told them what had happened. They were incredulous. They saw me as weak. At this point, I was contemplating suicide again. Only one of my colleagues cared enough to inquire; a teacher in my department. She was a divorcee and had gone through a terrible break up herself. She tried to talk to me, but I was unresponsive. Eventually, she convinced me to come out for iftar and she would try to uplift me by teaching me tajwid. She insisted it be in public, so I wasn’t so much bothered by the invitation. However, to be regrettably honest, non-mahram relations were the least of my concern by this time. I just wanted to stay alive.
I attended an iftar with the sister and we had our meal in the presence of other brothers and sisters breaking their fast. Shortly thereafter, she began to teach me tajwid. For the first time in a long time, my feelings of depression and suicide subsided. I felt some hope.
But that didn’t last long. Unknown to me, in the very same gathering, was a friend of my spouse who quickly reported what she saw. That night, I received threats to hand over the identity of my colleague, or she would call my workplace and inform them of some “terrible things” about me. I obliged.
My spouse immediately called up my colleague and harassed her for hours in voicemails and texts. Not because she was jealous, but because she couldn’t stand the fact that someone would dare help me; that someone would free me from her control. In that moment, a miracle happened. The sister in question didn’t believe anything my spouse was saying and defended me. It was then that I realised something. Although I had given up on myself, Allah had not given up on me.
My spouse was not content. She promptly called my workplace the next day to inform them that I was a “threat to children” and an “abuser”. The details she told them are too horrendous for me to write here, but it was sufficient to get me fired. Not only had I lost my physical health, my sanity, my wife, and most of my friends, but now I had lost my only means for financial survival. That night, suicide entered my mind again, stronger than ever.
I took all the pills I had left in the bottle, hoping that I could overdose fast enough to end the suffering.
But despite having given up on myself, Allah still didn’t give up on me. As soon as I felt the effects of the medicine, I somehow snapped out of it and began to frantically message everyone I could. I selected names at random on my phone until someone responded. I barely knew this person, but Allah sent them to me and I was rushed to the hospital. I was saved. But again, gossip never stops.
My spouse found out from a third party what had happened, despite me not advertising it. She told her friends to inform others that I had “faked” my suicide attempt for the sake of pity. Everyone believed her. But once again, I was too numb to care.
The next 2 weeks there was silence. The harassment had ended long enough for me to recover. A little while after I received a call from her and her parents ordering me to grant her a divorce on their terms. I refused. Then, I was responded to with threats of violence if I did not comply.