Thursday, September 08, 2011

Not My Best Friend

We've been married almost 6 years. And we're parents.

They've been the most eventful years of my life, hands down.

And we have been through a lot - more than any other couple we know who've been together around the same time we have.

As we approach our 6th anniversary, I am sitting across the room from you - typing on my laptop with cold, sweaty hands, buying time because very soon I have to tell you something I am not sure you will like - and I really want you to.

To practice for telling you I have discussed it with others and it was easy - because I wanted them to like it but not as much I want YOU to.

It is always harder with you because it counts more. You count more.

After 6 years, I know I probably will always have this same sensitivity to everything you say and do and think. I know that you do love that - how responsive and reactive I am to you - but that it gets too much for you sometimes. And that you manage me by creating space around yourself and barriers between us sometimes to tone things down and maintain life at a pace that you find tolerable.

After 6 years, I know when to respect your space and your barriers, how to fight the seemingly endless need for more closeness & be less demanding - for a while. I have learnt to let myself be managed and handled by you and for you. But I am always nervous when faced with something that may create new distance.

After 6 years, I am more or less resigned to the fact that I will never have a husband who is a best friend. Never. My best friends will always be other people. You will never be a witness in my life, the outside observer, the friendly listener. You are much too much the center of it, too often part of the very issue I am grappling with and need to talk about.

After 6 years, I know you're destined to reside on the emotional and intellectual extremes of my being. I know that someone can make you feel so fundamentally fulfilled at a certain moment that when it's over you can't believe it actually happened or was possible. But then you find they can do it again. You get to a point where you realize that no matter what happens in between those moments, you can't bear to miss a single one of them. That is us. The curve of our life will always have extreme lows and extreme highs. The lows will come from disappointment/resentment at coming down from the highs and longing/impatience for the next high.

After 6 years, I know who you are and who I am well enough to accept that we really are opposites, that this will never be a comfortable or predictable situation and that it will always take work and be stressful at times. I know this because people don't really change. They may adjust but they don't really change.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

My Family

My husband lost his father on the 22nd of January. The family decided to bury him in Egypt - which was his wish.

And that is how they all came to be in Egypt. One day I may feel the need to write what that experience was like for me personally. Being alone with my son in what still feels like a foreign country - away from family and friends. Losing contact with Egypt. The endless sleepless days and nights infront of the TV. Getting back in contact etc....

Sometimes public events are so seismic in nature that one doesn't feel comfortable talking about personal experiences. The history of that period belongs to millions of people - to the whole region - and beyond. And I know that even for my husband and his family, public emotions overshadowed the private grief for a while.

For now though, it is back to earth. I know in a way, the grief has just started for them. First it was the mad rush to make arrangements for the trip and then well, a revolution.

But now they're back in the house where he died. And I am trying to be strong both for my husband - and for his mother who has lost her life partner. True, this was not a shock. My FIL has been very ill for quite a while and we've been living in daily expectation. But still, the finality of death - even without the element of surprise - is painful.

At the same time, I miss my family so much. My FIL's death was a reminder that when our parents get to this age, our time with them is limited and it feels like too long since I've last seen mine.

Family is a recurring theme in my life at the moment. Family and homeland. Egypt(my husband's homeland), Tunisia & Algeria(both my mother homelands) and to a limited extent, Morocco (my father's homeland). All these places where I have roots and family ties. I am so North African. And North Africa is where it's at right now isn't it? Our Arab Spring. Is it really finally here?

I am no longer afraid to hope that it is. And that it is almost there for Libya too. And that it will grow and spread all over the region - although not at the same price.

I had thought it would be my son's generation who would do this, that we were finished, drained, too diseased with apathy and cynicism to ever feel the idealism of revolutionaries. And maybe some of us are. Maybe I am. But I am so grateful that others apparently aren't. And that they made it possible for me to live to see this. And that our children now have a better chance and something to build on.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


Sunday, September 12, 2010

So he wants to know why I refer to him as my partner and not my husband.

Hadn't realized I was doing that. Sth I picked up here I guess? I pointed out that a lot of people we know here use partner much more often than husband/wife.

He pointed out that this was usually because they're not married and/or don't believe in marriage. That we - on the other hand - do believe in marriage - are infact married and that I never believed in sex outside marriage or cohabitation etc...

He also said it was disconcerting to find himself relegated to 'partner' after several years of 'husband' and a child.

So I said I was sorry and that I will stop, that it's just a figure of speech that crept up on me from new friends and that I wasn't even aware I was doing it but am now and will do my best to stop.

Husband, husband, husband. Have been practicing infront of the mirror.

Speaking of mirrors, I have found the prettiest mirror for his old room - now our room. It is oval and full-length and has a bright red sparkly frame. It is beautiful and I really enjoy walking past it.

Baby steps. It is not having a whole house of my own to decorate. It is still only one room. But at least sth in it is mine and it makes me feel a little bit more at home. I know it is high-maintenance with a baby in the house but for now it makes me happy.:)

Monday, March 22, 2010


My husband's career is really taking off.

I know how hard he has worked for this and for how long. More than anyone I know how much he loves his work and cares for his patience, that if anyone deserves this, he does.

But standing next to him at a big professional seminar where he was invited to speak and seeing how much attention and admiration he was getting from his colleagues, his professors and his management, I couldn't help feeling sad because my own career is in limbo.

The feeling was a shock frankly. He had asked me to take the information and create figures and charts and fancy graphics etc.. to create a hi-tech presentation. He was worried the content was too dry and too technical and would be too boring. And well, I do have time on my hands so I spent a couple of weeks researching and drilling into the data to understand it well enough to be able to present it well. Not an easy task because let's face it, the material WAS dry and boring.

As time went by and the day of the seminar approached, I started to build up the same nerve attacks I would build up for my own presentations. I had more sleepless nights than he did!

As he spoke I was watching the audience, trying to read body language and reactions. I was so desperate for him to do well. Up until he finished speaking, I felt like it was MY presentation too. I felt that we were a team.

And everything went well. He was great. He may not be great with Powerpoint but he is well-spoken and charismatic and he knew his stuff. I was worried for nothing.

But then at dinner after the seminar, he was surrounded by people I didn't know, speaking a language I am trying to learn but still have a very flimsy grasp of. And he was the star.

And I couldn't help it. I thought of the times when I was the star. I remembered how good it feels to succeed. I remembered how ambitious I used to be, how much I loved challenges, how much I enjoyed meeting impossible deadlines, succeeding in the most adverse conditions. I remembered the rush that you get when you pull off something you know not everyone could have pulled off and when that is recognized. And I missed it so much.

So yeah, I think for a moment in there, I envied him. I wanted to do as well. And it hurt a lot to think how my career is in limbo, to think of what I left behind, of how hard it is to start from zero and prove yourself all over again in a new country and get to the point where you truly feel you are in your element, you know the industry and the market, you know the clients, you get invited to all the professional events, you get unsolicited job offers, you can take on anything.

Of course, he knew. It's annoying how well he reads me when I don't want to be read. He got all worried and protective, trying extra hard to introduce me and involve me so I don't feel left out, telling everyone he couldn't have done it without me etc...Everything a good husband would do. And consequently I was left feeling like a monster for worrying him instead of letting him enjoy his moment.

I love him and I always will but I don't think I'm cut out to be the woman behind the great man.

Since that night I can't seem to get rid of these feelings. I get jealous just watching him dress for work in the morning. If he takes work calls when we are together, I get jealous because I remember when I used to get lots of 'important' calls too.

Is it normal to feel you want to compete with your spouse? Why do I only feel this with him? I mean, I am not threatened by the success of friends or relatives or siblings so why him?

I hate myself for feeling this way. I mean, we're in love and we're married. We're meant to support each other. I should be supporting his success. I should be proud and happy for him. What kind of wife am I?