When You Love Yourself

Embracing Your Heart
Written by Aya Radwan

Aya shares in a story form how Fareeda, a beautiful young woman, who put on a tough act to help her mother recover from her surgery, had to battle a one-sided relationship that was sucking life out of her. Will she be able to make it and love her newly discovered self or will she give in to pain and heartbreak?

Aya shares in a story form how Fareeda, a beautiful young woman, who put on a tough act to help her mother recover from her surgery, had to battle a one-sided relationship that was sucking life out of her. Will she be able to make it and love her newly discovered self or will she give in to pain and heartbreak?

This is Fareeda’s story, or at least that’s what she wished her name was, meaning ‘unique’, it certainly fit her well after I heard her story. She settled comfortably in her seat inside the cafe we met in, ordered a simple latte with no sugar so she could add honey instead. She was beautiful, not drop-dead-gorgeous nor plain, she was just beautiful. Her soul clearly reflected on her face as she had an easy-to-love approach towards everything and everyone. With a twinkle of mischief in her eyes she asked me if I could change her name to Fareeda instead of her real one, and I couldn’t refuse.

After pouring honey in her coffee, she suddenly had a focused look on her face, as if trying to decide something, then she said: “I could easily say it started with my mother’s operation to remove a banana-sized mole back in 2012. But to say the truth, I’ve been accumulating years of silence long before that.”

She shifted in her seat, and began: “I’m an only girl, so I took on a huge responsibility helping my mother who was trying to balance work and home, like all working mothers. My brothers didn’t enjoy the same patience I had since I was young, to be the shoulder my mother could rest upon when tired or scream at when angry with life. I always tried to help as much as I could, there just seemed so little I could do at times.”

Her eyes were blank as she said that last line, her facial expression erased by the remembrance of some unwanted memories. She sipped her coffee for the first time, as the warm liquid made its way down her throat, I heard the sound of a gulp as though the liquid hit a speed bump, then the clearing of a throat.

“I’m stalling.” She admitted, “It all started about six years ago. When the first brave enough guy ever talked to me. I could tell you right now that I should’ve been smarter but I don’t wholeheartedly believe that because I had to learn.

Tell me, have you ever loved someone who didn’t love you back?” She blurted the question so suddenly I thought she was talking to herself, I realized she was looking me straight in the eyes with a strange glow in her own, almost as if she enjoyed surprising me.

“It’s alright, you don’t have to answer. It started in my second year in college, he was asking me something about my economics’ presentation, or he was trying, I was so absorbed trying to arrange a reply while pretending to listen to his remarks. He took my nodding as an agreement to his notes and walked away. Pretty chick-flick, no?” She raised one eyebrow with an amused smile on her lips, I was intrigued by how she was entertained by this, her own heartbreak.

She sipped more coffee and continued, “On our last year of college we became friends after I accidently shouted at him. Since then, I became his most trusted friend while hope sprung and died in my heart all the time, at the flutter of his words. ‘It’s not his fault.’ I kept telling myself, though I would never have admitted to loving him. Never!”

“So, I called myself obsessed. I cringed when I saw him liking or commenting to other girls who happen to be my friends on social media sites, and whom I knew had no interest in him. I cried with joy when he got accepted for his dream job and prayed thanks to God! I thought about him before going to sleep, only to wish he’d visit my dreams, and wake up hoping he had a good night’s sleep. I stood by him through many calamities which I’ve sworn to keep secret, all while torturing myself about my sinful feelings. I needn’t portray him as an angel, I knew all his flaws and I accepted him just as he was. It was then that I had to confront myself that I was actually in love, not obsessed!

I knew I had higher status in his life than any other girl but it began to fall short to my satisfaction. When I admitted to my feelings, something changed. I couldn’t play safe anymore, my suffering increased, I thought that by being just the listener from the beginning that it would be a hint for him of my feelings. Though, it became harder not to get hurt, not cringe, to be happy for his successes or sad for his sorrows. It became harder to do it all because all I felt was something shrinking inside of me, taking away my breath with it.

I began to lose myself in the hole where I’d once thrown all my feelings in and drowned. My life became like a spiral, and without noticing I drifted away not just from him but from everyone. I believed no one could understand how I felt, how I had to muffle my sobs every night so no one could hear me.

My friends began to bicker with me about being distracted all the time, how I was never around like I used to, how the ray of hope I once had in my eyes faded away. I didn’t listen, instead I accused them that they started it by drifting away and I just got tired of running after each of them because I had my own life. That was half the truth, because my breath was weakened by running after him all the time.

When he asked me why I fought with my friends, I didn’t hesitate, I told him it was because they knew he was more than a friend to me.”

Then she looked away, her eyes wandered to some distant place behind me. This was clearly touching an old wound. I admired her grace when she told me she should’ve known better, that even her frail confession to him wouldn’t have made him move. She didn’t regret telling him even when she later asked him to never speak of this incident to her.

That’s when her mother fell sick, she said, having to undergo an urgent operation to remove a mole, she had to poise herself to take care of her mother. She had to find a strong front to be able to be the shoulder her mother could lean on, like she used to. Days were long and full of pain as she had to pump hope into her mother’s heart so she would believe it and get better. And so she could, as well.

And they both did, she announced cheerfully, “I knew that him giving me up would’ve been hard for him but he would get over it, he had his chance for over a year. He had no shortage of female friends and by the looks of it any of them could’ve easily replaced me. But I! I had to sew my heart back together. It was that droplet of hope, when my mother got better, that maybe I could too! So, I’d undergo some pain first but I deserved to be happy. I mean, for so long I thought I was weak and had no will when in fact I couldn’t have been stronger. I loved someone for seven years and kept my posture even when I crumbled with misery at times alone in my room. Not to mention, I actually had an impact on his life during all this rather than being an ordinary friend.”

Her eyes lit up with happiness as she announced to me how she tried to direct the love she had for him, to discover the new person her friends were annoyed with. She said she found her resilient, stronger than before and most importantly how she forgave herself for taking such a hurtful route because she was convinced the new person she’d become was totally worth fighting for.

She went silent for a few minutes, as if she was debating whether or not to say something. “I know it sounds sort of over-board, like my love is this legendary fairy-like tale. But it is really. You see, people think that love changes your world involuntarily whether you end up with the one you’ve loved or your attempt at happiness failed. I believe that love changes you, and it is always up to you to decide how it does that. I mulled over my failure, perhaps for too long, but I realized that deep inside I had everything that I needed to get ahead, I just didn’t see it back then. Seeing as it was my first ever trial to open my heart up, I was afraid to fail, which I did, and that shattered my world to pieces. I always thought that a heart broken by its first love will meet its first healer someday, and I found this healer inside of me.”

Identity Magazine is all about empowering women to get all A’s in the game of life — Accept. Appreciate. Achieve.TM Every contributor and expert answer the Identity 5 questions in keeping with our theme. As a team, we hope to inspire and motivate ourselves and inspire you to get all A’s

What have you accepted in your life that took time, physically or mentally?

That it was okay to be tall, funny right? Even though, I’m not shockingly tall, all my life I’ve been taller than the majority of those around me, and had my share of bullying because of it. My family’s support pushed me towards getting rid of such bad influence and now I’m proud to be a tall person, who also enjoys wearing heels.

What do you appreciate about yourself and within your life?

People’s love. I think if everyone loves you then there’s something wrong, but in general, I’m blessed to know that people find it easy and appealing to talk to and trust me.

What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? What goals do you still have?

Starting a reading group at work, it was unplanned I have to say. A friend borrowed a book from me that was recently made into a huge motion picture, she took the book and before I knew it, by the end of that week the rest of my friends were borrowing books that I was thinking of buying more books to meet their demand.

Right now, I would love to get our older colleagues at work into this reading club. It’s great that it brings the newbies together, but having the older ones would add much more depth to our discussions.

What is your not-so-perfect way? What imperfections and quirks create your identity?

I am a huge fan of nodding. I nod my head mostly when I don’t agree with what the person in front of me is saying, but it would be embarrassing to say it aloud, such as if it was someone older or senior such as at work.

How would you complete the phrase “I love my_____”?

My helpless hope. I can’t live without it, although it’s sometimes hard to have hope in hopeless situations and it can backfire. It gets me hurt every now and then, the trick is to have indefinite hope in life and that makes it more intriguing.

About the author

Aya Radwan

Aya Radwan, 25, Masters' in legal studies, Writers' Bureau Student, no amount of books is enough, loves laughter, reading in the dark, chivalrous, struggling optimist and writing since age of six. Egyptian public sector employee, avid listener who has her most creative ideas right before sleeping.

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