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Posts from the ‘Life’ Category


Sexually abused by servant

Sexually Abused By ServantDear Asad,

I am a twenty one years old girl living in Dubai, UAE. I study in a well-known university and will soon be graduating from there. I am told I am intelligent, good looking and kind. My parents are keen for me to marry after I complete my studies.  I regularly get many marriage proposals both from my family and outsiders. I keep on rejecting them without giving them even a second’s thought. The reason is not because I am arrogant or vain but because I can’t see myself spending my life with any man.

There’s a reason for this. I was physically molested many times in my early teens by an ex-servant in our house. He used to perform oral sex with me. This was a regular occurrence and lasted for three years before he got a job in Africa and shifted there. I knew it was wrong and I hated it but was scared of him. He always used to threaten me that he would kill me if I told anyone about it. I was young and I didn’t have the courage to tell anyone. Even now nobody knows about it, neither my family nor friends.

I still haven’t got over this sick and traumatic experience of my life and I don’t believe I ever will. I blame myself for it. I still get nightmares about this phase of my life. The effect that it has had on me is that now I can’t ever imagine having a physical relationship with any man. I can’t let any man touch me, neither can I touch him. Even thinking about it repulses and depresses me.

Every time a marriage proposal comes for me, I become overwhelmed by emotions and cry alone for hours locked up in my room. My parents don’t know about what happened to me earlier on in life and obviously they don’t understand or sympathise when I decline a proposal. They are very worried for me. I feel guilty being the cause of their worry but I can’t bring myself to marry anyone. The thought of letting any man touch me is unbearable. I would rather commit suicide than have a physical relationship with any man who becomes my husband. What am I supposed to do? Please help me.

Sexually Abused by Servant

Dear Sexually Abused by Servant,

I am very sorry to hear about what happened to you in your early teens. Sexual abuse is one of the most severe acts of destruction upon humanity in existence. It is by far one of the worst kinds of evil that can be perpetrated on a person by another. It’s traumatic to be a victim of sexual abuse, especially at a young age.

The first thing you should know is that it was not your fault. Most victims of sexual abuse feel terribly guilty, for a variety of reasons. They blame themselves for being abused in the first place. Please don’t blame yourself for it. Be aware of victim blame – victim blaming is holding yourself responsible for what has happened to you. Unfortunately, most people remain victims in their hearts, minds and souls after an incident or series of incidents such as these.

Another thing to remember is that you are not alone. Many women and young girls are walking on the planet today and have been sexually abused. You are not alone!

Sexual abuse gets stronger in secrecy. Do not live with the burden. Talk to someone, it will help you. It can be a loved one or a friend you trust. It would be best if you were to talk to your mother. This may hurt your entire family initially – with all things that are difficult, it may be painful in the interim, but will be less hurtful in the long run. It is a risk worth taking!
Just be careful as to who you disclose your hurt and trauma to in this area. Some people might hold it against you in future and regretfully victims of sexual abuse are marginalised by society to a degree.

Seek help from a professional therapist. It helps to understand your healing process. Find a professional therapist you can trust and who preferably is a specialist in dealing with such cases.

Prayer is a very useful tool. Become grounded in your faith to see you through this difficult time. You cannot overcome this in your own strength.

Work through the grieving process. Allow yourself to mourn the loss of your innocence through this experience. Allow yourself to move through the emotions attached – from denial, to anger, to negotiation, to depression, to acceptance.
This is a journey and may take some time. Give yourself permission to grieve this loss and caution your friends and family on the days you feel ‘off’ that you are busy dealing with ‘stuff’ and that they should give you space to process what you need to for the day.
Try and take good care of yourself while you are processing the grief. This hurt can be very destructive in this area and if a conscious effort is not made to control yourself in this area, it can easily spiral out of control.

Try not to return and rehash the past once you have processed it. Once you have processed the pain and dealt with it, move on from it. It is easy to become trapped in self-pity once you have been through something like this.

Choose to forgive yourself and to move forward in freedom. Do what it takes to forgive yourself. Journal, talk to friends and family, talk to God, write a book or an article about it. Forgiveness is for you, not for the offender and you owe it to yourself to be set free through the power of forgiveness from the chains that bind you to this experience.

Unfortunately, this article is not one that ends in a happy ending. You need to realise that the crime that has been committed against you as a victim is serious and that you will likely fight this battle for most of your adult life as different dimensions of the abuse arises.
Sexual abuse can invoke a case of multiple personality disorder and extreme disassociation in susceptible individuals. Unless this is thoroughly dealt with in the correct manner, very often people who are survivors of this extreme crime against humanity bear the scars for life.

Do some research on Rape Trauma Syndrome. Learning about the health and psychological conditions affecting survivors of sexual abuse has been cited by researchers as a positive coping skill associated with faster healing.

You are right in not marrying. I would advise you not to marry till the time you feel you are completely ready for it. Getting pushed into marriage will worsen your condition further and most probably than not, it would end in a failed marriage.



My son committed suicide

Dear Asad,

I am a sixty years old man living in Mumbai, India. My youngest son, out of my two sons and three daughters, committed suicide a few months ago. He committed suicide because he was suffering from clinical depression. There were many reasons for his depression; one of them was I, his father. Let me explain.

He had gotten married in 2007 to a girl from our community. We had chosen the girl for him and he was fine with that. Ours being a joint family system, where the whole family lives in the same house, it was not very easy for our new daughter-in-law to adjust, especially since my wife is an extremely possessive and a bad-tempered woman who didn’t treat her daughter-in-law very nicely. After a year, the girl got tired of all this and went back to her parents house. We tried to patch things up but she and her family were adamant that our son get a separate place and they both stay there. We refused and she filed for and got a divorce.

Our son loved his wife and was heart-broken to have been divorced by her. He went into depression. We took him to a few psychologists and doctors but nothing helped. Believing that companionship might be a cure for it, we got him married again in late 2010. He didn’t want to get married as he still had feelings for his ex-wife but my wife and I along with the rest of the family pressurised him and he had no choice but to accede to our wishes.

The outcome was not what we expected. Instead of settling down with his new wife to a happy married life, as we foolishly believed he would, he went deeper into depression. He didn’t like his new wife and pined for his ex-wife. One day he told this to his new wife and she left him and went back to her parents. We discovered she was pregnant. We asked our son to bring her back not only because of the baby but more so because we feared dishonor amongst our community but he declined. The whole family again pressurised him to do what we wanted but this time he had had too much. He drank poison one night and was found dead in his bed in the morning.

Needless to say we were all devastated. His mother went into deep depression and became paralysed. She still cries for him every day.

I blame myself for his death. If I, along with the other family members, had not forced him to bring home his second wife, he would not have committed suicide and would still have been alive and well amongst us. I so much wish I hadn’t done that. I wish it was I that had died, not him. Words cannot begin to explain the turmoil, anguish and pain that I feel within me. Nothing dulls the pain. I feel like a killer. I feel as if I killed my own son, the son I helped bring in this world, my own flesh and blood who I dearly loved.

I would give anything to have him back but know that’s impossible. I can’t go on living like this and now just want to die. I pray and wish for death every day. The pain is so much that at times I feel like killing myself and ending my misery. But I am too weak to do that. I don’t know what to do. I just see darkness in my life and nothing else.

Devastated Father

Dear Devastated Father,

I am very sad to know about the death of your son. May God have mercy on his soul. May God also give you the strength to deal with the loss of your son. No doubt it must be extremely difficult and painful for you.

Without blaming anyone (blame never helps, is counter-productive and can’t reverse what’s been already done) I would just like to say that the guilt that you are feeling now is quite natural. You blame yourself and you feel that you are justified in doing so. I beg to differ with that. When a loved one commits suicide, you might be consumed by guilt – wondering if you could have done something to prevent your loved one’s death.

Although, you are partly to blame for not heeding his wishes and forcing him first into a divorce and then into re-marriage, no one, including you, can be held completely responsible for his suicide. It was his decision and his action. Remember that your son did not mean to upset you. He felt he needed to die to get away from himself (or the situation he could not control any more), not you, and didn’t want it to upset you.

As much as you want and no matter what you are willing to do, you can’t bring your son back. But what you can do is to try to help yourself in grieving him and moving on with your life. It will be hard, but there are some things you can do to help yourself, in the short run and the long term.

  1. Know that you are entitled to all of your feelings and emotions. During the first year you will probably feel numb. You may experience intense anger, guilt, denial, and fear, all of which are normal for a bereaved parent. For many, after the first anniversary of your child’s death, the numbness begins to wear off and the true reality can hit you very hard. Many parents say that the second year is the hardest. It’s possible that our brain creates this numbness to protect us from going insane, from feeling the full blunt of our loss all at once.
  2. Talk to others who knew him, or others who have experienced the same thing. Strength can be found in numbers. The key is to talk about it and get every emotion – sadness, grief, and others – off your chest.
  3. Find a grief counsellor or group if you are having a particularly hard time and have no one to turn to. It might also help to do this to get a fresh perspective that friends and family of the person who died cannot offer.
  4. Staying busy can help move past the grief. While you shouldn’t hide from your emotions by working or staying busy, remaining active can ward off depression and dark thoughts.
  5. Prescribed medication may help, however will not dissolve your pain. Many parents feel that anti-anxiety or anti-depression medication helps them cope better. There are many variations of these medications, and finding the right one that works best is often a daunting task, but worth it, if it helps in the long run. Just be mindful of the fact that many are habit-forming, and try to keep from becoming dependent upon them.
  6. Fight a good fight in honour of your child. After the loss of a child, parents often feel as if they have died too, that their will to live left with their child. For some, finding purpose in life seems fruitless, while others are given new purpose through their loss. Consider giving your time and efforts to a charity that mainly deals with suicide.

Know that time is a huge factor. It may be some time before you can even look at your son’s photographs without losing it. Memories will hurt to your core, even the good ones, in time you will come to cherish those memories, and they will once again bring a smile to your face and joy to your heart.

My prayers are with you, your family and your dear departed son.



In love with another woman

Dear Asad,

I am a forty years old Lebanese man living in Dubai, UAE for the past twenty five years. I am married with two children. I got married at the age of thirty to my wife MA who was twenty five at the time. MA is a good woman and the decade that we have spent together has been one of happiness and contentment. She is a good wife to me and a good mother to our children. She is a housewife and takes really good care of our home and family. She has never given me any cause for complain. Although at times I felt our marriage had become a bit boring and monotonous over the years, I never gave it much thought believing that this happened as years go by, that the magic couldn’t last forever. That is until JL came in my life.

It all started a year ago. JL, who is twenty seven, joined our company as a PR executive where I have been working for the past five years and am now a director there. She was vivacious, outgoing, lively, good looking and very confident. Many men in our office tried hitting on her but she ignored everyone. Because of my senior position in the company and having a wife and children, I didn’t try to befriend her in the manner the other men tried to. I think this appealed to her and she started showing interest in me. At first I thought it was just out of professional duties as she knew I was married with kids but as time passed she made it quite clear how much she liked me and enjoyed my company. It was a big boost for my ego, to be approached by the most good looking young woman in our company. I didn’t decline her advances and we started going out together. One thing led to another and we soon started having an affair. This affair has been going on for more than six months now. I have fallen in love with her and want to spend the rest of my life with her. She too wants the same.

The problem is that she is unwilling to accept my wife. Being a Muslim, I can have two wives at the same time. Although JL is also a Muslim, she is against my having two wives at the same time. She has made it quite clear that she would only marry me if I were to divorce my wife, MA. She is willing to accept my children if I share their custody with their mother, MA.

I have thought a lot about it and though I don’t feel very good about divorcing MA, not least because she has been such a good wife but also because of not having my children with me all the time under the same roof, I have decided that I will still go ahead with it as I love JL too much to lose her.

I spoke to my wife MA about divorce and naturally she was devastated. It was very painful to see how much of a shock she got when I told her that I loved somebody else. She was completely shattered and kept on crying for days at end. Eventually she accepted the idea of another woman in my life and begged me not to divorce her and let her stay married to me. I am a rich man and can quite easily afford to keep two wives in two separate homes. But JL is adamant. She has threatened to walk out of my life if I don’t divorce MA within three months. I am in a quandary now. I love JL and don’t want to lose her. At the same time, I don’t feel happy divorcing MA because of no fault of her own. What should I do?


Dear BH,

Let me start by saying that you are being quite selfish and self-centered in this whole episode. All you are thinking of is yourself, your love and your happiness. You are not giving much consideration to the other people involved who would be dramatically and negatively affected by this action of yours, meaning your wife and children.

MA has given you ten of the best years of her life. She has given you two children. She has been a good wife to you and a good mother to your children. Do you honestly believe she deserves what you are planning to do to her? What would be her future after that? What would she go through emotionally? How many suitors would she find being divorced and a mother of two? She is already shattered and heart-broken.

And what about your children? Right now they have a happy and complete family. They come home to loving and caring parents – parents that are in the same house. Imagine what would their reaction be when their parents split up and start living in separate homes? How would they feel alternating their days living with their mother and father separately? How would they take it? They are quite young and the divorce of their parents is no doubt going to have a devastating effect on them. Instantly they would go from a complete home to a broken home. It most probably would affect them for years to come, if not their entire life. Are you ready to make your children go through all that?

Has JL met your children? Have you seen how she is with them? What guarantee do you have that she would prove to be a good mother to them and a good influence on them when the kids are over at your place? What I have gathered from your letter is that JL seems to be a selfish person who is only interested in her happiness and well being without giving two hoots about anyone else. If she truly loves you, as she claims, then why is she not willing to be the other wife? Why does she want you to divorce your first wife when yours and her religion allow it? She seems like a manipulative woman who knows she’s got you wrapped around her little finger and based on that is making demands that are cruel, unjust and would negatively affect your entire family. And how do you know that she truly loves you and is not with you because of your position, status, money, etc? If she truly loves you as she claims then how can she find it in herself to leave you after three months if you don’t divorce your wife? That’s not true love. That’s manipulation and cold calculation.

It’s perfectly normal to have feelings for two people at the same time. It happens. But what you need to ask yourself is that do you really love JL or is it just infatuation or lust? Do you really want to spend your whole life with her at the expense of breaking up your marriage and your children’s home? And what guarantee do you have that you won’t find being married to JL monotonous and boring after a few years?

I would advise you to seriously and impartially take stock of the whole situation. Weigh all the pros and cons. Consider the lives and happiness of all people involved. Do all this before taking any drastic measures.



Failure in life

Dear Asad,

I am a 45 years old, single, Polish woman living in Krakow. I am writing to you because I have this strong feeling in me that I am a failure, that I have failed in more or less in everything that I attempted in life,  be it education, career, relationships or anything else. I don’t know why this has happened to me. I have worked hard and given it my best but it still never was good enough. I never achieved the success which others had. People I knew who were younger and junior than me have gone on to better positions in life and I am stuck in the same rut. In fact, if anything it feels as if I am going in the opposite direction, from bad to worse. I can’t cope with this feeling of being a failure anymore. I want to feel that I am a success, that I have achieved something in life but don’t know how. When I look at my past, all I see are my failures, nothing else. I don’t want to live with these regrets anymore. What should I do? How can I get rid of this feeling of being a failure in life?

Alicja Jagoda

Dear Alicja Jagoda,

First of all, you need to ease up on yourself. You are being very hard on yourself. Ask yourself if you are being honest with yourself when you do that. Granted that you might have failed in many things in life but that does not mean you are a failure. Not at all!
Punishing yourself is the least productive thing you can do. Learning from your choices is self empowering and exciting. At least you have a good story to tell. Beating yourself down can quickly make you ashamed and afraid. It’s hard to realise that you’re being self-destructive.

There are many people in life who are afraid to dream big or to attempt anything grand in life because they are afraid that it would fail. They are scared of failure. They get so used to this way of thinking that it prevents them from trying new experiences, no matter how easy or small they might. They are content (but not happy) living their lives in their comfort zone and are afraid to venture out of it.
You on the other hand are the opposite. You have the courage and willpower to try new things, which you have done throughout your life – Kudos for that! It doesn’t matter that you failed many times. What really matters is that you tried – that you got out of your comfort zone and gave it your best. It takes strength, character and confidence to do that. Be proud of yourself that you have these attributes. Not many people have them.

Try to get to the bottom of why you failed in most of your endeavours. It could be because of different reasons. Rather than blaming yourself or feeling self-pity, you need to find out why you failed, how you could have done things differently to achieve better results. You need to analyse this calmly, rationally and systematically. Ask yourself why you think you failed. It can help you realise your hopes and dreams.

Try again. Luckily, you have a failure under your belt with which to navigate the next adventure in your life.



I need direction

Dear Asad,

I am 52 years old. My husband passed away from pancreatic cancer on November 4, 2006. His family would come to visit my husband while he was sick. They visited but didn’t help at all. Sat and watched me run around half crazed with fear and worry. His parents went as far as to contact police and social workers and other assorted personnel in an effort to take custody of my husband while he was in ICU. I had to fight them and ultimately one that battle and was able to care for him until his death.

His wish was to have his family treat my two children the same as his biological child. He had legally adopted them and his parents attended that proceeding. Moreover they gave the appearance of being happy and accepting of the adoption. When my husband was first diagnosed he begged and pleaded and insisted that they remember he had 3 children not just the one biological one. His parents said they’d honor his wishes. They didn’t. Additionally, my husband was adamant that his family not attend his funeral. I followed his wishes to the final letter but it infuriated his family. I didn’t care as I was the one who had to ensure my husband’s wishes were carried out. I felt it my responsibility even if it made others angry.

 I did not leave my home after the funeral for approximately a month. No one came over to see me. We were members of a church, my husband being an elder in the church and I went to see the Pastor. I literally asked him, “where have you been?”. Do you not care about me? Isn’t there a passage in the bible that states “take care of widows and orphans?” He gave some silly response that I don’t even remember now as its not worth remembering. But in essence he had no reason but for his laziness and lack of compassion and maybe even knowledge. 

I had one remaining friend who entered into my life a few months before my husband died. She was extremely helpful in all aspects and even served as a champion for me in some occasion. She ensured I was still alive and brought food and other life necessities to my home. Unfortunately, we are no longer friends. I started feeling better and stronger and she started feeling pushed away to the point one day we had a heated argument and the friendship broke entirely. I have since contacted her an thanked her again for her help as well as apologized if I had done anything wrong or offended her. 

4 months after my husband died I received notification of a lawsuit filed on behalf of his son (who was an adult) and filed by my husband’s former wife. The lawsuit was funded by my husband’s parents. They wanted my home and 100k for the benefit of my husband’s only biological son. The laws in the state we live in mandate that my husband has 3 children legally. A share-share alike provision.

It was long almost 17 months, and it was hard this legal battle. Fighting people that promised to love and protect me and our children. They’d attend every hearing and frown at me. They’d berate my daughter at times or ignore her other times. During the course of this legal battle my older sister contacted me. I had not seen nor heard from her in almost 14 years due her drug use and other bad behaviors. She contacted me to tell me our mother was dying. From the same cancer that killed my husband. My daughter and I immediately flew to the next state to see my mother. She wouldn’t let me in to see her at first but I suppose her heart softened slightly and she reconsidered and I met with her. 

I would drive 500 miles on Thursday after work and spend the weekend with her. Then drive 500 miles back on Sunday to go to work on Monday. I repeated that for a month or two until it became too much stress for me. As the lawsuit was still ongoing and work was stressful and I was grieving my husband. Additionally, my siblings…a twin and older sister and brother who are 2 years older and also twins fought me constantly and bitterly. I had proposed to move my mother to my home to care for her in her final days, with hospice assistance of course. My mother wanted to go, my siblings objected. They hadn’t bothered to see her in years so I was confused as to their objection. Ultimately my mother made the decision to move with me and we made the 500 mile trip to my home. 

As is usually the case with pancreatic cancer my mother passed away. My siblings didn’t bother coming in her last days even though I called them and offered to pay for airfare to expedite their arrival. They accused me of stealing things from mother’s home and accused me of influencing her to change her last will and testament. Which I did not do. My older brother received the entire estate and I was and remain perfectly fine with that outcome. 

The lawsuit concluded around the same time with a ruling entirely in my favor. 

I do not have any contact with any of my siblings whatsoever. My sister had called a few times but was mean, horrific, abusive and highly negative. I had to block her from contacting me in any form.

So with all the clutter gone I was finally able to start to grief my husband’s passing. I was very sad, depressed, lost and confused but went to work anyway. I cried every day to work and every day coming home. Coming home to an empty house is painful. However, time passes and that does ease the pain. 

My son who is in the army came home occasionally until one day he met a woman. She took a dislike to me though never met me. I knew my son and his girlfriend had conflict, often as he would call me and tell me. I kept my thoughts to myself as I did not think they would stay together long and there was no reason to aggravate the situation if it was temporary.

One night my son came home. He was drinking heavily and I said something to him about his GF. He physically attacked me. His sister contacted the police. While they were in transit to my home my son broke doors, punched walls, damaged other things in a rage. The police arrived. My son was calm then. I talked to them and explained that my son had just returned from Iraq, his father has died and perhaps life just crumbled for him. All was fine I told them. They left. Almost immediately my son attached me again. He did not stop until I was knocked out on the floor and his sister screamed. Suddenly it was as if a light switch was turned off and there was my son again. Crying and begging for forgiveness and just wanted to cuddle me like he was a baby all the while apologizing. I told him I loved him but this cannot happen. Ever. He told me he would seek help for his anger. He agreed that there was a problem and that he would seek help for it immediately. He did have to get several stitches in his hand for damage he did.

We continued to talk, my son and I for a week or two after the incident. But he suddenly started to become busy and/or unavailable. 

A few months later my son married suddenly married this woman and called me to tell me so. A few hours later he called me again and asked about getting an annulment. I drove up to where he was living immediately to see what, if anything I might be able to do to ease the problem. His wife was cold and unwelcoming and unresponsive to any question I asked. Ultimately they were both sent to Afghanistan (both military). I have not spoken to or seen my son in 3 years though I send him messages on the internet occasionally and tell him I love him and to contact his sister. His sister sends messages and he does not respond. I know now that he is divorced from this wife and she is in another country now. 

The friend I mentioned above was in contact with my son at all times. What was the final break to our friendship was that she had information about my son, his life, where he was living, etc., but would not tell me what it was. She issued an ultimatum that if I “cut her out of my life I will get no information about my son. If I remain friends she will keep me informed.” She was not giving me any information and an ultimatum regarding my son was to me unacceptable as I felt she had no right to withhold from me. 

At the urgence of a friend I started to go out to different event, venues, etc. 

I was introduced to a man from a mutual friend. We were together for 16 months. An emotional roller coaster caused (mostly but admittedly not all) by his behavior. 98% of the time we were very well matched. He was aware of my husband’s passing and that I talked about him but it did not bother him or intimidate him in anyway.

He announced 3 weeks ago…almost as a side note to a mild conversation… that he was moving out of state for work. I asked, “what about us? A future?” His answer was simply, “I don’t know. I didn’t think about it.” That hurt and I told him so. 

He was moving his things slowly into my home as he had to move out of his house. However, he picked a fight with me out of the blue and packed up all his things and left. I told him he need not pick a fight to make it easier to move as it seemed a convenient way to end things…angry instead of sad. 

I find myself now completely immobilized. I was laid off from work, after 15 years employment with the same employer, this past June and have not worked since. I don’t want to leave my house. I am filled with anxiety to the point of not being able to eat and I can feel my heart racing. The anxiety causes me to be awake at night into the wee hours and I cannot stop my thoughts from racing. I feel numb usually but when I do feel I feel like crying. I just don’t know what I’m crying about. I do not wish to think its self pity because it feels different than that. I just don’t know what it is. I think about just selling my house and moving. But to where? I am wondering if the grief process for my husband was not completed and the end of this relationship with a man who told me that he loves me even as he was backing his things has triggered something. Or I’m just grieving the end of this relationship. Maybe both. 

I have tried to force myself to get up and get out but its very difficult. I do leave the home when necessary but don’t stay out long. Finances are tricky which prevents me from taking a trip or going to events that would perhaps help me get past “this”.

I don’t believe I did anything wrong in this recent relationship. If I did then it was subtle and not damaging. I took care not to say harsh words, do wrong things or inflict any negative behaviors. I had learned how to be a good partner with the knowledge I gained from my husband’s illness and subsequent death. 

It was chaos at times in this relationship. It was good at times too. Intellectually I know I should probably be relieved that its ended. It has ended on a good note and we remain friends. For now. Emotionally though it hurts. My husband’s passing set the benchmark for me in emotional pain and I can honestly say this does not hurt as much as that. 

But now? I took inventory. I suddenly find that I have no friends. Where they went I do not know. I think they are just busy with their lives and usually I’m the one they went to with problems they cannot fathom that I have difficulties and may need help. I have sent a couple friends some very specific messages basically clearly stating I need you. I received no responses. 

The loneliness I feel is tremendous. The sadness is almost overwhelming at times while at others its almost manageable. I know that there are millions of people in the same or similar situation I am in and that I will meet new people one day. But emotionally it doesn’t feel that way. 

My first husband has recently contacted me after 17 years of almost no contact whatsoever. We divorced without argument or discord. He and I are in agreement that we simply grew apart. He wishes to make amends for the abandonment of our children. He feels we have something in common now, in addition to 2 adult children in that he remarried as I did and his spouse died of cancer too. I wonder if his contact with me now hurts or helps me in my situation. I also wonder if it matters since his contact is about him and his demons rather than me and mine. 

My thoughts race constantly. I am anxious constantly, I find it hard to breathe, I can’t sleep and I cannot focus on anything for very long. My ex boyfriend calls or texts me though an all those symptoms disappear. It’s a matter of hours essentially that he will be moved from this state and into another. The likelihood is probable that I’ll never see him again. I then wonder if I am simply addicted to this man. Can that happen? If so the only cure for it is passage of time along with his absence. Is this temporary and I must only be patient? Or is it simply that I was able to finally love again after my husband? And now its being taken away? I think about him all the time along with the knowledge that he is not thinking about me. 

I never imagined my life being so empty. Empty of people. I have always tried to be a good friend to others and I have discovered that not all people care to be the same type of friends. 

I pray for direction. I pray for guidance. I pray for goals and objectives. I pray for motivation to pick myself up yet I cannot find the will to do so. That alone makes me feel ashamed and wasteful of my life.

What is wrong with me? Why can’t this heavy weight lift off my shoulders? Why can’t I remove this elephant off my chest? Just accept what has transpired and move on. I tell myself today just be happy! Or try to be at least. Act as if I am happy and maybe the feelings will come. It doesn’t work.

I Need Direction

Dear I Need Direction,

You have been through a lot. The past few years must have seemed like a roller coaster ride of pain, heartache, abuse, sadness, misery, anxiety, depression, nervousness and uncertainty. It’s a lot for anyone to bear. Made all the worse by the fact that you had to go through it all alone; without having a shoulder to cry on, without having anyone in your life who would hug you and assure you that everything would be fine, that it was just a matter of time before you would be happy again. Suffering pain or loss is bad enough but to experience it all alone compounds it.

You are and have been a very brave person. You fought whatever obstacles life threw your way and won most of your battles. Not everyone is capable of that.

How and what you are feeling right now is natural and due to many reasons. One, you are alone. You don’t have anyone to share your feelings or experiences with. Friends or family – everyone left you. More or less, everyone is gone from your life due to different reasons. Some people went away from your life because they passed away, others just abandoned you and left to live their own lives. There is no one to console you, support you emotionally, to share your feelings with, no one to talk to discuss things and try to make sense of them.
Misery loves company. If your ex-husband has contacted you, don’t shun him off. He may have contacted you out of his own needs but it might be good for you too. You are absolutely alone. You would benefit from having someone in your life who’s has been through similar circumstances.

Second reason is that you didn’t get enough time to fully process the effects of all the incidents that occurred in your life. You didn’t get the chance to feel them and deal with them at your own pace and terms. One after the other, difficulties kept on coming and you were tumbled along by life from one situation to another.
An example of this is that you didn’t get enough time to grieve your husband. You had to deal with his family as soon as he passed away. That must have been an awful time for you. What with the pain of your husband passing away and on top of that your in-laws bringing a lawsuit against you. That distracted you from grieving the death of your husband in the manner and time that you must have wanted or required.

Third reason is that you didn’t get closure in most of your relationships. In nearly all of them, people just left you without formally and appropriately ending ties with you. You were left in a lurch in almost all of them.
They might have done it for various reasons, one of which you figured out yourself……”he picked a fight with me out of the blue and packed up all his things and left. I told him he need not pick a fight to make it easier to move as it seemed a convenient way to end things…angry instead of sad”.
Not getting closure is painful. We keep on trying to figure out the reasons why the relationship(s) ended. We make excuses for others and usually end up blaming ourselves for the failure of a relationship. This is extremely unhealthy as it destroys our self-esteem and prevents us from fully moving on and starting new and happier relationships.
If your ex-boyfriend is leaving you and you believe you won’t ever hear from him again once he moves to another state, then before he leaves try to get closure for this relationship. Otherwise it would be more painful for you once he’s gone.
If possible, try contacting everyone who left you and have a heart-to-heart talk with them. Otherwise, write a letter to each individual and in it state everything that is going on inside you. Be explicit. This would help you in getting some closure. You need not necessarily post these letters.

I think about him all the time along with the knowledge that he is not thinking about me”.
To be in love with someone and in return not being loved by them is extremely painful and emotionally humiliating. It brings all sorts of insecurities and erodes our self-esteem. You need to counter that. Every human being is beautiful and unique. All of us have some greatness in us. You need to understand this. You need to understand the fact that if he doesn’t want you in your life, this doesn’t necessarily mean that there is something wrong you. On the contrary, he might be the unlucky one who can’t see a good thing when its right in front of him. Think about that.

A disturbing thing is that one after the other, the people in your life have left you. Your friend, your partner, your kids, your siblings – none of them are there for you. Also you had an estranged relationship with your mother.
Have you ever tried looking for reasons why this happens to you all the time? Have you ever considered the possibility that inadvertently you might have pushed them away? Are you pushing them away because of your personality, temperament, insecurities, etc? Or are you one of those unlucky people in life who is surrounded by selfish people who leave you as soon as they don’t want anything more from you? This is something that you need to ponder on and try to come up with answers.

All that happened, happened. It can’t be changed. You can’t go back in life and change the course or outcome of events. It’s done.
What you can do though is to try to make your present and future better. It might be difficult but it’s possible. Start by taking things one at a time. Write down a list of all the things that you now want from life, both short and long term. It could be anything. Nothing could be too trivial or too big to be out of reach. Write down everything that comes to your mind. This could be an ongoing task with the list being revised as many times as you want, whenever you want. After making this list, start by taking one item at a time and try to accomplish it. This would give you goals and objectives in your life along with the desire to accomplish them.

Another thing that you could do is to involve yourself with social work. It would help a lot in calming you down. It has a deeply gratifying effect on one’s soul. It definitely would take a lot of your anxiety and pain away.  It could be a source of peace, contentment and thankfulness in your life.
Helping out others who need your help would  take your mind off your problems. In time, you would start feeling that your problems are not as big and insurmountable as they seemed before. This would bring lightness in your life and demeanor.

Another thing that could be helpful is travelling. Travel to some place. It doesn’t have to be far and expensive. It could be to somewhere near that fits within your budget. Travelling would allow you to see new places and meet new people and take your mind off your problems. It can be therapeutic and entertaining.

You spoke about selling your home and moving. That would be a bit drastic and unsettling especially in your condition. Instead try to find your next job in another state or country if possible. That would take you away from the place which has been the epicenter of all your problems. Sometimes moving away helps. If you believe it would be helpful for you then go for it.

I know that there are millions of people in the same or similar situation I am in and that I will meet new people one day. But emotionally it doesn’t feel that way”.
It’s good that you haven’t given up all hope and believe that eventually you will meet someone. Keep this hope alive and make yourself receptive to welcoming new people in your life.

It’s good that you are praying. Praying helps a lot. The belief that GOD is there to help us out of our problems…..that’s a powerful and soothing feeling. Keep that up.

There is nothing wrong with you. Just give yourself time and be true to yourself and others. Things will definitely get better.



I miss my wife

Dear Asad,

I am a 55 years old businessman. My wife passed away a few months ago. We had been married for nearly 30 years. We had no children. We just had each other and now she’s gone. I miss her terribly. Life seems so meaningless and not worth living without her. I wake up each day and go through the motions of a typical life without being interested or experiencing joy in anything. When I am at home, everything reminds me of her. When I am out at work, I constantly keep on thinking about her. I try to keep myself busy in my business but it isn’t helping.

My siblings, who are all very close to me, are very worried about me. They have suggested that I remarry. I was shocked to hear this. I can’t imagine a life with any other woman after my wife. I have told them so. They say they understand but want me to have a complete home again with a life partner. I, on the other hand, can’t imagine being with any other woman. Even the thought makes me sick. It makes me feel as I would be cheating on my dear, departed wife. I know they mean well but how do I make them understand that that’s something I don’t want.

Widowed Husband 

Dear Widowed Husband,

First of all, please accept my condolences on the demise of your wife. May God have mercy on her and bless her with a place in heaven. Amen!

It’s been a tragic loss for you and what you are feeling right now is completely natural. The feeling of life having no meaning and being uninterested towards everything is normal. This is how it will be for quite some time. Right now you are going through what is call the grieving period. This is the time when one is the saddest after losing someone, when everything seems unrealistic, when nothing in life holds any charm or happiness, when everything – even the normal everyday chores – seem like a burden.

With time, things will improve. This does not mean that you will forget your wife. What it means is that you will come to terms with the fact that she is no longer with you and that you have to move on with living a normal, emotionally healthy life. It will take some time – depending on you – but it will eventually happen. There will come a time when you will be able to think of your wife without feeling as much pain as you do now. There will be good days when everything would seem fine and then there would be bad days when you simply won’t be able to bear the loss of her. Hopefully, as time passes, there will be more good days than bad ones.

Although your siblings mean well, as they want to see you happy and settled, I believe it’s too early – in the state that you are in – to be attached to someone else. You are still very much living in the past with the memories of your wife. Right now, it must be unfathomable for you to think of any other woman. And rightly so. Please tell your siblings that at present you don’t even want to think of any other woman, let alone contemplate marriage. Try to make them understand that you need time – as much time as you want, not as much as they want to give you. Talk to them politely but firmly so they don’t keep on pressurising you constantly. The condition you are in, pressure is the last thing you want. Tell them that when they talk about you marrying again, it pains you and makes you sad. Being the loving siblings that they are, I am sure they would understand eventually.

Lastly, give yourself time. Time to think, time to feel, time to assess your situation and your feelings as they evolve over the coming months and years. This would allow you to plan what would be best for you in your given circumstances.
Also don’t close any possibilities. You don’t know how you would be feeling in the future. Therefore, don’t make any decisions in favour of or against remarriage right now.
Also don’t rush into anything. Time is a great healer. Give it a few months, even years if you want. If and when you feel you are emotionally ready to move on then think about getting married again. Not before that. Otherwise it won’t be fair to you and the new woman who comes in your life.

All the best!



Old-aged parents living alone

Dear Asad,Old Aged Parents Living Alone

I am a 35 years old man living in UK for the past 10 years. I am originally from Pakistan where my parents are settled. I have two siblings, both of whom are married and settled outside Pakistan. My parents are quite old and live alone in Karachi, Pakistan. They visit me or my siblings once a year for a month or so. My siblings and I have asked them repeatedly to permanently shift with us and leave Pakistan but they don’t agree to that. They don’t want to leave Pakistan for good. They reason they give is that Pakistan is their country; it’s where they have their roots, relatives, friends, acquaintances, etc. It’s where they were born, grew up and always lived. They say they simply can’t imagine living outside Pakistan permanently and that too at this age.

As you can understand this has led to a lot of consternation for me and my siblings. The increasing crime rate in Karachi, the poor infrastructure, the disintegration of basic services and many other problems associated with that city makes us worry all the more for the safety and well-being of our parents. We are all constantly thinking of them and worrying about how they are coping there all alone in their old age. We have kept maids and servants to look after them but are constantly worried about the reliability of these domestic staff as they are often shocking stories in the media of the crimes that these people sometimes commit.

I earn quite handsomely in UK and have a good life here. As I am still a bachelor, I am thinking of now returning to Karachi and live with my parents there. I know I will be able to find a good job there. But I like UK very much and I have gotten used to the high standard of life here. I feel shifting back to Karachi would be a stressful and chaotic experience for me as nothing over there is going right at the moment.

Worried Son

Dear Worried Son,

I get many letters from people who are settled abroad and have old-aged parents living alone in their home countries who do not want to leave their motherland for one reason or the other. Therefore I can well understand your predicament. The way things are going on in Pakistan these days, especially Karachi, it becomes very stressful for people who live abroad to regularly come across news that highlights that their loved ones are not safe back home. Add to this the fact that your parents live completely alone without having any of their children with them.

I also understand their point of view. It really is quite difficult at their age to leave their country for good and settle abroad. The feeling of uprooting from their birth place and settling in a foreign country at their age would be a highly stressful and even traumatic experience for them, no matter how good the quality of life would be for them abroad.

You and your siblings are doing well that you have tried to make their life easy by keeping servants and maids for them. This must be helpful for them to an extent as they have someone to look after their needs. But I am sure you would agree, servants can’t ever take the place of one’s own children.

You mentioned that you would be able to find a good job in Pakistan quite easily. And as you have also mentioned that you are still a bachelor, this means you have no familial ties in UK. Thus I would urge you to seriously consider moving back to Karachi for your parents sake. You owe them that much. They won’t obviously ask you to do that because all parents want their children to have a bright future and be successful and happy in life, even if it means living away from them. But deep down inside, mostly all such parents yearn for their children and miss them terribly and would rather have them live with them than be alone.

I agree that life for you won’t be as comfortable and stress-free in Pakistan as it is in UK but think of the happiness and joy that you would be bringing in your parent’s life. They will be very happy to have you back with them. Think about it.



Shall I take my son to a psychologist?

Dear Asad,

I am a 37 years old widow with four kids, living in Dubai. My late husband passed away around seven years ago. He had a heart attack while watching TV one evening with my eldest son who was nine years old. He died on the spot – in front of my son.  Obviously this was a tremendous loss for us all and we were devastated. But my son, who witnessed his father die in front of his eyes, took it the hardest. To date he has not recovered from the shock. He acts and behaves normally but has acquired serious behavioural issues, both at school and home. He has become extremely aggressive towards his younger siblings and shouts at them and beats them up regularly. This in turn has led to his siblings being afraid of him now. When he is in the house they try to stay away from him. Their fear of him is now beginning to negatively affect their behavior too. They have become stressed and fearful. They don’t want to be near him at all. They hover around me when I am at home with them and don’t want to be left alone with their elder brother.

In school, it’s even worse. He has lost all interest in studies. He has become unruly and aggressive there too. He gets in trouble daily at school and I often am called to his school because of his troublesome behavior. He is disrespectful to his teachers and tries to bully other kids. This more often than not leads to fights between him and other students, many of whose parents have rightfully lodged strict complaints against him. As he has been studying at this school since kindergarten, they know about the passing away of his father and how he was traumatised by experiencing his father’s death.  They have been very caring and supportive but now even they have grown exasperated and have given a final warning that he would be expelled if he got into any more trouble.

I simply don’t know what to do with him now. I have tried everything. I have tried talking to him lovingly, I have tried being strict, I have involved his grandparents, I also involved his teachers but nothing has worked. I now have been advised by a very close friend that it might help if I take him for professional counseling to a psychologist but I am not comfortable with that. Considering taking my son to a psychologist makes me feel as if he’s mad or something. He is not mad. He is just disturbed. I really don’t want to take him to a psychologist but my friend advises it very strongly. What do you suggest? What should I do? Will taking him to a psychologist help? And what about the stigma associated going to a psychologist in our society? I really am confused. I don’t know what to do.

Confused Mother

Dear Confused Mother,

You definitely must have had and still must be going through a tough time after the passing away of your husband. I am sorry to hear about how your eldest son witnessed the death of his father at such a young age. No doubt, it has traumatised him exceedingly. It seems, by your description of his behaviour and actions, that he has been unable to overcome that experience. It’s still very much inside him and most probably will always remain there. But what needs to be done is to find a way for him to deal with it and try to overcome it so he could move on with his life without feeling traumatised.

I totally agree with the suggestion of your friend about taking your son to a psychologist. That would hopefully be good for him. A psychologist would be able to help your son in ways that you or anyone else has so far not been able to do so. Psychologists are educated and trained to deal with issues like this. They have greatly benefited people who have been traumatised in one way or the other after a tragedy, something which your son is going through. Psychologists help people in letting go and moving on with their lives in a positive manner.

As for your reservations about the social stigma associated with psychologists, I don’t agree with that. That might have been true a couple of decades ago, and that too in a few narrow-minded societies, but it no longer holds true. It’s only your thinking that makes you believe that. I would urge you, as a mother, to rise above that and help out your son by taking him to a psychologist.

Besides, what’s more important to you? That your son recovers completely from the tragic experience of seeing his father pass away before his life and live a normal life? Or the fact that you believe it’s a matter of shame or mental illness that one visits a psychologist? Do him and yourself a favour and take him to a psychologist.

All the best!



My in-laws don’t let me take care of my own children

Dear Asad,

I am a twenty six years old married woman with two kids, living in Delhi. I got married when I was 21. It was an arranged marriage. My in-laws have a joint family system and my husband’s parents, his elder brother and wife, we all live together. My brother-in-law, my husband’s elder brother, had been married for five years but doesn’t have any children as his wife can’t conceive.

Everyone in the house wanted to hear the patter of tiny feet in the house. Thus despite my not wanting to have children so soon after marriage, I was left with no choice. Within the first year of my marriage, I had a son and then a year later a daughter followed. Everyone at home was ecstatic except me. Not because I was not happy to have children but because the day my first child was born, he was handed over to my sister-in-law to look after as she didn’t have any child and everyone felt sympathetic towards her. Other than feeding him, which obviously I had to do, she took over all the responsibilities of my baby. From day one, she took him to sleep with her in her bedroom and cared for her as if she was her mother.

 I was shocked to see all this, especially as no one, including my husband, bothered to ask me for my opinion or my wishes. I spoke to my husband about it but he felt I was making a big thing out of nothing. To him it didn’t matter who looked after our baby as long as he is being cared for in the same house. I was shocked by his casual attitude towards this arrangement. I then approached my parents to ask them to intervene but they were not willing to interfere in this matter. Their advice was to be patient as they felt things would get better with time, especially when I had more kids.

 I was left with no choice other than to be patient and let things go on as they were. A year later I had my daughter. I thought that finally I would be allowed to enjoy motherhood completely and was quite excited and happy when my daughter was born. My happiness was short lived though as she was also handed over to my sister-in-law as soon as I came back home from the hospital with my baby. Again the same reason was given by my in-laws, that poor she can’t have a baby and as she’s the eldest daughter-in-law of the family, she has the right to adopt my children and besides they are in the same house. You simply can’t imagine how shocked and useless I felt. I felt that I was just good enough for giving birth but not good enough for raising my own children. I again tried discussing this issue with my husband but he casually brushed it off by saying that I was over-reacting. I again reached out to my parents for help but they again dismissed my pleas by saying that things like this happen in joint-family set-ups and I should by now learn to accept them; that things would get better with time. In fact, they haven’t.

My sister-in-law has taken charge of all matters related to my kids. She is the one who decides what they eat, what they wear, where they go, etc. She has also taken on the responsibility of their education and is busy these days scouting schools to see which ones would be appropriate to enroll them into. I haven’t been asked for my opinion or wishes in this matter at all.  

I feel like a complete outsider. No one asks me about what I want for my own kids. I feel incomplete as a woman and as a mother. I feel I am just good for giving birth and nothing else. I have lost nearly all self-esteem. I suffer from depression now and have started taking pills for that. Whenever I approach my husband about this, he accuses me of over-reacting and being a nag. My own parents don’t understand and support me. They feel I should learn to live with it. They feel that just because I have a comfortable life, a decent husband and financial security, I shouldn’t rock the boat by going against the wishes of my husband and his family. They give me examples of how much more difficult life is for many married women in our society.

They might be right about it but I simply can’t go on like this. I am going mad. This issue is eating me from inside. I have started taking sleeping pills to numb myself as I fell very stressed and tense when I am awake. I don’t know what to do. Sometimes I feel it would be best for all if I were to die. I am seriously contemplating suicide. I don’t see any other way. I am writing to you with the hope that you would able to guide me and help me. Please help me….I need it.

Wannabe Mum

Dear Wannabe Mum,

It’s quite sad what you are going through. I completely sympathise with you. To be a mother and not be able to look after your own kids and bring them up according to your wishes must be very painful for you, and rightly so.

What your in-laws are doing is not justified. True, they may love your kids very much and want the best for them but that does not give them the right to take away your kids and give them to your sister-in-law for raising them. The excuse that your sister-in-law can’t have kids so she must get priority over you to raise your kids is wrong.

The most disturbing part is that your husband doesn’t support you in your rights over your own kids. Equally disturbing is the fact that your parents are also unwilling to interfere in this matter. This leaves you totally alone in resolving this issue.

As far as I have understood your situation, you have two ways to deal with it. One, you could try to confront your family and let them know that the current situation is totally unacceptable to you and you want the complete responsibility of your kids and wish to raise them as you please. You could tell them that you would be open to their suggestions and wishes but the final word regarding your kids would be yours. This is not going to be easy as you very well know otherwise you would have tried it long ago. Your own husband and parents are unwilling to support you. It would become very difficult for you to take on your in-laws and go against their wishes. In fact, you would end up being considered the villain of the family.

The other alternative could be to try a subtler approach. Don’t just give up hope and leave everything on your in-laws as you have been doing so far. Become as much involved with your in-laws as you can in raising your kids. Be there for each and every decision, no matter how big or small. For example, if these days your sister-in-law is scouting schools for your kids, go with her. Visit every place with her.  Express your opinion and wishes in every matter.  Also try suggesting that your kids take turns in sleeping with you and your sister-in-law. Set a day each week when you take your kids to your parents house for the whole day or to stay overnight. Your sister-in-law won’t follow you there. This way you could have time alone with your kids.

You will have to be creative and resourceful in figuring how you can spend more and more time with your kids and slowly and steadily take steps to ensure that ultimately you be the one who has control over them.

All the best in this!