Dear Angry Arab,
I think I understand now. You were never angry with me, I just received the short end of the stick.
I’m not sure what has made you angry all these years and perhaps I will never know. However, in learning to understand my own anger, I now see a clearer picture that has been blurred for so long.
See, I’ve noticed in our community, that it’s challenging to speak up regarding our pain, and it’s difficult to shed tears if they seem unwarranted. It’s not easy to say I’m hurting when you know there are people who must be suffering much more than you.
It must have also been difficult for you as a child to be scolded for crying when you got in trouble. It was probably no picnic either when you tried to grieve the loss of a loved one only to be told to stay strong, or to be told that feeling depressed was a result of a lack of faith.
When your strength, your sanity, and your faith have constantly been questioned in moments of vulnerability, what motive do you have to ever be vulnerable?
It’s no wonder our society view women as the ‘weaker’ sex. They’re the only ones that seem allowed to be able to express their emotions, even at the expense of being labeled as hysterical.
Tell me, my Dear Angry Arab. Where is the logic in hitting a child for misbehaving and then stifling their sobs because you can’t bear to hear the sound?
You try so hard to control your child in fear they will grow up to be out of control, but have you not realized that is exactly what leads your child to ‘go out of control’? Do you not realize that your child has a hard time making decisions because they don’t know how to be in control?
But I’m not angry. In fact, I’m learning to forgive you for always being angry.
I’d be surprised if you weren’t angry.
You were never given the space to feel what you needed to feel.
Your tears were dried before they even hit the brims of your cheeks, your faith was questioned and your behaviour, dare I say, was mismanaged.
The land that you cultivated was stolen from you and you were told it was never yours to keep.
Your own leaders robbed you of your earnings and the opportunities that every human being deserves (the ones we in the West take for granted), and yet your people asked you why you never stayed behind.
You protested your government and you were silenced and criminalized when you were just beginning to see a glimmer of hope. Leaving you with nothing but a sore voice, physical and emotional scars, and economic devastation.
Then you came here and you were discriminated against, your credentials were told they meant nothing and you were kept a great distance from your parents and family.
It really isn’t fair that the world can perpetuate this stereotype about Arabs being angry and loud without ever giving justice to the reasons they may seem as such. That being said, it’s time to end the infamy.
I understand life has been difficult, to say the least. I understand now that you were never taught to handle your emotions in a healthy manner, so any emotion you feared to show was manifested as anger. I mean, how can you show emotion you don’t even recognize? It’s not like you grew up talking about anxiety, and fear was only ever seen as a sign of weakness.
So in understanding that, I have chosen to forgive you – but only if you promise me that you will try to learn to change your ways.
I refuse to be your emotional punching bag any longer. I refuse to blame myself for your shortcomings, to let you take advantage of my silence, or to let you live vicariously through me.
Your volcanic eruptions may make you feel superior but they have done nothing but harm those around you and turned them to stone.
We are in 2020. We can no longer allow our outdated teachings to control us. We have the tools available to heal us. Our society has opened its mind and is ready to openly talk about mental health.
We can heal together.
I love you, my Dear Angry Arab, and I care for you but I won’t sit here and watch you mistreat your loved ones because that is what you were taught.
I no longer want to do so myself. I know now that just because my pain may not seem as bad as others, it does not mean I’m not suffering. I’ve been emotionally exhausted so I’m taking care of myself. I hope you take care of yourself too.
You have been dragging a burden behind you for so long, and if you keep letting your anger get the best of you, you will never be able to move forward.
So please, for your sake, for my sake, for the community’s sake, be brave and be vulnerable. We cannot be guided with fear, but rather with love.
And for those who have the privilege to witness a moment of vulnerability from their loved ones, please take the time to listen, to support them, and find out what’s going on.
My Dear Angry Arab, the Earth is strong but has never been afraid to shed tears, to bear its beauty, and let the sunshine come through.
And I know that your resilience is as mighty as the Earth.
Another Angry, Overly Anxious Arab
By Maisaloon Hammoud