An entry from my journal dated Dec. 2, 2015 (+ some things I added now for clarification):
Today I found out that Prophet Musa (عليه السلام) (also known as Moses) was insecure about the way he talked. Bushra shared that with me during our History of Law class when Dr. Bashiran was explaining a story about him. And, the moment I heard it, I thought “Someone else- A prophet! A prophet is like me.” And I found out that this duaa:
رَبِّ اشْرَحْ لِي صَدْرِي وَيَسِّرْ لِي أَمْرِي وَاحْلُلْ عُقْدَةً مِّن لِّسَانِي يَفْقَهُوا قَوْلِي
“O my Lord, open for me my chest. * And ease for me my task. * And make loose the knot from my tongue, that they understand my speech.”
was said by him. Especially for the last part. And that’s the part I say the duaa for. And it all just makes me cry, because he knew. Or, I know. I know how he felt.
People don’t know what it’s like, they tell you to work on it, to work on accepting it, but it isn’t that easy. Mama just had a talk with me about how I should work on myself, and how I didn’t do it earlier because I was too lazy, and about how that’s the way I am, and she kept on stressing that I have to toughen up and work on bettering myself. And I fully agree with her on the things I have to do, but I don’t agree with her on why I am the way that I am. I didn’t not work on myself earlier because I was too lazy. I just… I didn’t know. I didn’t know it was an issue. I just thought that it was what it was. I didn’t even realize I was insecure about any of this until now, and that’s all because I’ve gotten used to hiding it, and pushing it away. Ignoring it. She thinks that I could have worked on it in school. That being with a constant group of people throughout the years would have made it easier for me. She doesn’t know that I used to have trouble admitting this problem to even myself. She doesn’t know I’ve just recently accepted it. That I just recently opened up that door and faced whatever I had kept locked in there for many, many years. I used to find it hard feeling so vulnerable with just myself. My friends would have made it worse. My friends weren’t even really “my friends” throughout most of my school experience. (Which is a story for another time.) I talk more Arabic with my university friends than I do with my school friends because I feel too exposed doing that with my school friends. They’d be very aware of the fact that I’m Speaking Arabic. And that would have made it worse. (It still would.)
I wrote a post a couple months ago about how I didn’t like my Arabic-speaking-self because she felt shallow–flat–with no depth to her. That isn’t true. She’s got a lot of depth to her, apparently. She’s got enough depth to feel connected to Prophet Musa (عليه السلام) in ways that probably not many really get. Enough to feel grateful that the “And make loose the knot from my tongue, that they understand my speech” part of the duaa exists for/because of him, because she knows it exists for her, too. She brings up a vulnerability that my English-speaking-self would probably never have understood had she not been coupled with this Arabic-speaking-self of mine. She’s the quiet one. The one that understands. The one that can connect with others in ways more meaningful that words are. She isn’t terrible. She isn’t lazy. She isn’t flat. She’s the self I carry within myself. She’s the part of me I protect. The part I have always protected. Even from my own self. And for many reasons. Sometimes, it’s because I don’t think people will be as careful with, and understanding of, her as I am, and other times, it’s because I’m scared others will be as judgmental as I am of her, if not worse. She’s an anchor. And it’s time I realized that she does more than weigh me down. She keeps me from drifting away. She helps me to firmly stand my ground. My English-speaking-self might be the one to charge into battle, but it’s my Arabic-speaking-self that has learned and practiced to not run away from one. She’s brave. And it may not feel like bravery, but I don’t think bravery is supposed to feel the way I expect it to. It’s not being fearless. It’s feeling scared shitless but still doing whatever it is you are set out to do. It’s stomach aches, and nerves, and sweat, and it’s the drive to continue on despite all that.
I am not ashamed of her. She is my most intimate part. She isn’t a box, or a cell; she does not confine me. She is a door- a path- a line that connects me to the people like me in ways that only we understand. A line that goes thousands of years into the past, and that will carry on into the future. Something that ties me to those before me, those with me, and those after me. I am not alone. I never was.