DailyRi 006: Every [Arab/Muslim] Girl Has a Secret
EVERY ARAB &/OR MUSLIM GIRL HAS A SECRET.
by the time we become women, all of us arab &/or muslim girls have a secret. one part of our stories that we cant share. it’s like a rite of passage. to my arab &/or muslim sisters reading this, hi my love. I’m not here to talk about you or expose us - your secrets are none of my business unless you want them to be. i’m just here to say that I see you, even though i have no idea what you have outlived to be here. i want you to see me, too.
I’m here to talk about Me & my secrets. I have some. i’m not going to tell you what they are, but just know that they’ve been here for quite some time now. taking up space in my head. i would expose them for the world to see, but as arab/muslim women living in dearborn - the largest concentration of arab/muslims in any city outside of the middle east - our secrets are often not ours to tell. they belong to our parents, our extended family, our siblings, the greater community, societal norms/pressures - whoever or whatever it may be that is controlling our narratives. & that bothers me a lot. that i have learned to become this open book with missing pages.
I SPEND A GREAT DEAL OF TIME WONDERING HOW MANY WOMEN COULD BENEFIT FROM MY MISSING PAGES.
I’ve been thinking about this reality for so long. i finally put words to these feelings last year when i wrote the short poem above called “dearborn girls.” writing it was so cathartic; i was finally able to identify this pain-point that i had dealt with for the majority of my adult life. this was the first short poem of many under this brand.
but writing can never feel cathartic enough when i’m still mourning the pages of my story that i’ve torn out. being an open book with missing pages is no joke. when we are taught to live “by the book,” our pages must either get with it or get lost.
if you know, you know.
many of us tear our painful pages out & burn them. we rid ourselves of these moments, without a trace. we alter our stories permanently. we feel this is our way of reclaiming our stories; of taking control of a series of events we had no control over (or lost control of). with time, some of us become convinced that these moments never happened. that’s how powerful fear is.
some of us tear these pages out gently & tuck them away somewhere safe. some of us are still praying for the day that we can return them to their rightful place in our narratives. some of us believe wholeheartedly in the power of our stories, knowing that the same pages we are afraid to share are the ones with the power to liberate us. that’s how powerful hope is.
going through real life sh*t & not being able to talk openly about it because of cultural taboos, shame culture or fear of family/community backlash oftentimes accentuates the trauma, anxiety or depression we are already feeling about those issues. some of our experiences are bad enough as they are, but having to bear the burden of secrecy strengthens their impact exponentially.
for some of us, having the space to air out our missing pages could be the difference between life or death. it’s that serious. the weight of our missing pages is the reason i am working to create a digital space for the members of my dearborn community to share our stories & heal, starting with dearborn girl, a weekly podcast for arab/muslim girls to air out their stories & take back ownership of their narratives (stay tuned & dm for any inquiries).
maybe deep down inside, my commitment to my community is selfish. maybe i am dealing with the guilt of not being able to go public with the parts of my story that could impact others the most. & who knows, maybe one day, i’ll share my secrets. but not today. i’m scared too.
TODAY, I’M IN NEED OF THESE SPACES JUST AS MUCH AS THE NEXT ARAB/MUSLIM/DEARBORN GIRL.