Life is a constant effort and a continuous struggle, well that’s a very depressing and demotivating start to a post right? but sometimes that’s what life really is. Grabbing yourself up, standing on your feet and sometimes not moving but just standing there for the whole day for it to pass. Some days that’s all the effort you can put in and for you, that’s a lot.
Days like these are constant or you can say on repeat for most of us in our lives. For some, it happens because we have lost that passion and we keep looking for it. For some, it’s a desire we have been waiting for so long to be fulfilled. For some its a problem that we don’t see a way out no matter what we do. How hard we try the situation never seems to be changing.
But that’s not actually true, the situation is changing because we are constantly changing, we are not that same person when we first had that desire, we are not that same person when we first encountered that problem, we are not that person who didn’t realize that they have lost their passion. We have come far enough with that pain, with that loneliness, with that emptiness and that happened because of that change. We needed to learn that there will be times when we would long for something to happen and it may take years for it to happen and we would have to learn to live with that emptiness for those years, changing our behavior that not everything we want will drop in our lap as a gift. Not everything we want, Allah is obliged to give us.
The passion we have lost. It was in abundance when we never cared. We never bothered to work on it. We never recognized its importance in our lives, the impact it had on us to make us feel alive. We were so indulged in so many other things that we forgot to take care of it. We forgot to appreciate it. We took it so for granted that when it disappeared we never even realized it was gone until it hard in the stomach with that heavy feeling of vomiting but nothing coming out of it.
Do you stop for a moment to think why it has happened? why there came an instant problem that makes you question your whole life and where have you spent it. A desire which seems so impossible that you question when I have prayed for so many impossible things in the past and they all have been accepted why this one isn’t being manifested and why is it so difficult for me to have faith this time and ask again. Why when I had so much passion for this particular thing whether it be painting or writing or whatever it may be that inspired you. It is so difficult to pursue it now or even work on it when this was the exact same thing you knew makes you happy and you so desperately wanted to do it at that time (in the past).
The reason is we took all of those things for granted, the passion we had, the self-awareness we had that no matter what situation comes I am covered because I have Allah. The faith we had that he has promised ‘Ask me, I will respond’ and he always did and we always got what we wanted. So we never cared as if we deserved all those things and never bothered to be thoughtful of them and acknowledged it and be thankful. We took it for granted thinking there must be something special about me that I have all these things, the passion, the acceptance of every dua, the positivity to always have a positive outlook on life.
But that’s not the case, yes we are special because he has created us in a special and perfect way but it’s him who makes us special, not us. It’s him who gave us these gifts, these blessings. But when we forget our purpose, the reason he placed us on this earth. He takes these things away to remind us. It is him we’ll always be dependent on. It is him we’d always look up to when we’ll need anything because if we just asked only for the things we wanted. We would be a mess. He gives without measure without count.
So when you think you are stuck in a situation and you can’t find a way out when you want something so badly but he is delaying his response. When you have all the things required to pursue your passion but you just don’t feel like it. Then there must be something that needs to change within you and if you look closer you will know what it is. The situation isn’t changing because you are not changing. You never showed gratitude for what he gave you but you showed anger, disbelief, and disrespect when he took it all away which was already from his kingdom.
This didn’t just pour down on me one day, well it kind of did, but it happened when I realized what was I doing and what exactly needed to change. I needed to change before it was too late before I missed any more opportunities before I missed my life passing before me and Me not even realizing it.
It was a day when I was facing a situation which had just sprung upon me two, three months ago and me not knowing what to do? I was resisting it thinking it’s another failure so why even bother trying to go through it not realizing whether I like it or not I was still living it and I had to live it and it wasn’t going to pass until I learned what I ought to learn from this experience and changed what needed to be changed.
That’s when it hit me why I was facing problem after problem in the same category because there was something that needed to be fixed inside of me, that’s when I remembered my IBS ( irritable bowel syndrome) and weight loss journey. I had Ibs since 10+ plus years but I never knew I had it until 2015. It mostly occurred when I was traveling from Pakistan to Saudi Arabia or vice versa, but when I shifted to Pakistan for my higher education it started happening more often. I saw some doctors but as I always hated going to doctors and since not many could figure out what was wrong with me. I stopped seeing them and endured my pain and suffering thinking maybe the water doesn’t suit me or the food. I kept struggling with it for years. It used to get worse when I would travel, mostly I would end up with constipation when traveling and diarrhea when in stress.
Years later in 2011-12 it got a bit severe when I started seeing blood but then it again disappeared. So I hoped I am fine now and maybe it was an infection. I never changed my eating habits because I never had to as I was very skinny so I didn’t care much about my eating habits and what to avoid except since moving to Pakistan I couldn’t eat rice late at dinner because they were heavy on my stomach. So I concluded that was the only problem and I am fine.
Fast forward to 2015 it was the final year of my MS and during that time my IBS had resurfaced again giving me nightmares. It was turning into a mess and my days would pass in coming in and out of washroom, until I came across a doctor who saved me by telling me I had IBS, well it didn’t really save me as I needed cure but atleast, for now, I knew what was wrong with me for all these years.
As I mentioned that I was skinny my entire childhood and teenage so I never really gained weight and I was not a person who would eat just whatever. But time changed as I took it for granted never thinking I could ever lose my skinniness and gain weight. In a matter of few months or you can say 3 months I had gained 15 kgs. I was in university and my parents were in Saudia so there was no obligation for cooking food at home every day and eating. I could eat anything I wanted so I ate like I would die tomorrow well not really but from junk food to ice creams, you name it, I ate it. When my friend came from England for her wedding shopping she saw me and said either you have swollen up or you have gained weight and I looked into the mirror and realized it was the latter one. Along with IBS now I had another tension to look for.
Again a year later coming to 2015, it had been a year since I was trying to lose weight and by this time it had become difficult to let go of food. When I discovered I had IBS my doctor told me I had to change my diet because there are certain foods which don’t react to my body in a good way so I end up having diarrhea or constipation. I came back to Saudia for Ramadan and told my parents about it, but trying to check every food item and trying to lose weight both were a constant struggle for me, not losing weight would create stress and that would end up in an IBS cycle. I was a complete mess and my desire of attaining my previous weight and living a life free of IBS seemed distant or rather impossible to achieve.
This journey took some time, my time in Saudia was horrible I had some other stress too, so IBS wasn’t going anywhere and neither was weight. I came back to Pakistan and the doctor told me to go for colonoscopy. That was a nightmare too but I had to go through it as there was no other option. Results came with me having minor ulcers. Ultrasound guy suggested going for exercise and workouts as it will make me happy and release my stress. So I opted for that. It did help to some extent but when I checked I had lost 2 kgs before joining the gym without any exercise and just by staying happy and carefree not worrying about if the numbers aren’t coming down but to tell you the truth I didn’t even think about losing weight in those two months when I actually lost 2kgs, but when I intentionally tried I had lost only 1 kg. I hadn’t changed much of my diet except for eliminating milk from my diet as I had discovered I was Lactose intolerant and only eating homemade food, Ghar ka khana surely helps so doing this and trying things to know what works and what doesn’t two years passed and now it was May 2016.
I was desperate to lose weight but I was still stuck at 67-68 since I had come back from Pakistan in April 2016. Ramadan was coming again I had liked facebook pages, signed up for diets, planned to avoid sugar and fruit chaat and pakoras in the Holy month and I did all of that but stressed too along with my other baggage of tensions and at the end of it no matter what I did the scale didn’t move.
I was frustrated, hopeless and tired, not knowing what to do and seeing people who were losing 20, 30 kgs made me agitated I would even exercise but I hated it. I did two, three days hardly and then would always give up because of the burning headaches it gave me apart from body aches. I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t able to lose just 7kgs of my body.
The reason was I needed to change my eating pattern my food choices, I needed to develop new taste buds and flavors. I needed to learn cooking because that was the thing I was avoiding for so many years. I wanted to learn cooking so I don’t die if no one’s around to cook for me but I never liked cooking so I never made an effort to learn it. But I remembered that I prayed that Allah somehow made me learn cooking so I’m not such a douche when it comes to cooking and this is what he was doing, he was fulfilling my wish, responding to my dua even when I hated every part of it. He made me learn it by trying different recipes apart from our casual desi dishes because I needed to avoid fat, Roti (wheat bread) and white rice which I was addicted to. In trying new things I made new recipes and slightly got in the habit of cooking which took my mind off from losing weight and relaxed my muscles and restless mind.
I just prayed that I want to lose weight and imagined the numbers I wanted to see on the scale. Months passed and even though I still didn’t enjoy cooking so much I was happy with the food I made and ate. I cheated too, had a lot of cheat meals but I never crushed myself with the guilt. I am not a vegan Allah has made things halal for me I wasn’t going to make them Haram upon me. I am a food lover, a big time foodie I wasn’t going to compromise on that but I also wasn’t going to compromise on my health either. Even though IBS triggers with stress and tension and food too. I realized I couldn’t control my stress levels and difficult situations they were still there but I could control what goes into my body without sacrificing my love for food and compromising my health.
Months later when I kept stepping onto the scale to see my weight, numbers started coming down, from my weight plateau of 65 I now saw 64.5 and for me that was huge because that was the change, not only in my body but also in my mindset. I had stopped worrying because I was content that I am putting all of my efforts but the result is not in my hand but in his. So I needed to let go and just be persistent and patient because a small progress made every day is still a progress.
From 65, I came down to 64 then 63.5 and then finally by the end of dec 2016 I was at my desired weight of 60. The one I had when I was in school and high school. The weight I had longed to see on the scale and the figure in the mirror. It was the exact same weight I had many years ago but still, I wasn’t the same person. a lot had changed. This change had changed me. I had the same body but a different person.
Seeing myself in the mirror and receiving compliments from people told me the change was worth the effort. It indeed tore me apart from those miserable pains of IBS and bloating, from a bad figure and knee pain, from feeling insecure and worried. It taught me I can not control what comes my way, but I can be grateful for what I have and if I am not it will be taken away in minutes without me even realizing it. So if I don’t acknowledge it and look after it now, once it’s gone, I’ll have to pay a heavy price to get it back again.
Knowing I am not the only one who have lost things which I thought were once mine. I am grateful for the reminder, for the pain, for the struggle, and for the change because if I had resisted it, I would always be that fat, still sitting in the washroom, looking at those blood spills, begging for my life and peace.
So whether be it your youth, your passion, your faith or acceptance of duas, no matter what you have that you cherish the most about yourself but not acknowledge it being in your life, make a commitment to be grateful for it. It is not wrong to be forgetful we all are but it’s wrong to be ungrateful because he gave us all these things as his Rahma (Mercy) and we will never be able to deserve them.
So when stuck look within and ask yourself why you are hating it and what are you resisting. It might be the time to change.
But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah Knows, while you know not. 2:216