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Adda B Say So: Dear Divorcee, You are NOT alone

By Fatima Zahra Umar


My dear sister,

I am writing this letter to you to let you know you are not alone.

I know it feels like you are alone, but my dear you are not. There are plenty of us out here sharing in your struggles and triumphs. We know what you are going through.

We know how it feels to be ridiculed and humiliated because you have turned your back on a marriage that was doing you more harm than good. We also have been and are continually judged every day for refusing to die slowly to preserve a toxic status quo.

We know how it feels to be deprived custody of our own children because being a single mother is a bad thing for our kids. We know what it is like to be constantly chastised for refusing to stay “because of the children”.  We know that is just balderdash, as children will not benefit from a home that is constantly on fire. Toxic homes do not preserve anything apart from delinquent behaviour, abuse and pain. As good mothers we know our children deserve better than to grow up internalizing toxic behaviour. We know that your tears dry on their own, just like ours when we think of how difficult a life it is we lead.

We know what it feels like to lose bosom/close friends because mu zawarawa ne. Someone you grew up together with, someone whose friendship is an integral part of your life, will be avoiding you because you are now a divorced lady.

Your friends and family members might even start saying things about how you are living a dangerous life as a divorcee and warn every ‘sensible lady’ against fraternising with you. You are a bad influence and hence must be avoided at all costs by any woman who wants to preserve her mutunci.

You would think this zawarci thing is as contagious as Ebola innit? As if you just woke up one day and thought : “wow I think I fancy a divorce today”.

The hardest and most painful decision I have ever had to make is deciding whether to remain married or not. They say patience is a virtue but so also is courage. It takes an incredible amount of courage to reach that decision even in a marriage that no longer serves you well. No woman in their right mind would wish divorce upon herself and her family. Divorce is brutal and it tears your soul into a million pieces. It affects everyone, especially the kids. It is not a fun activity anyone embarks on.

When I started #DivorceDiaries I had no idea how many women (and men) wanted to talk about the pain and changes a divorce put them (and is still putting) them through. I started writing about my own experience and it has now taken a life of its own. There is a recurrent theme throughout these diaries; divorce hurts everyone. My dear sister, you are not alone. If you ever want to share your experience, give me a call. I am here to be your friend and sister, so many of us are.

We know what it is like to raise our children on our own with no support from their fathers. We know how tough it is. So many divorced women are raising their children by themselves, not even the paternal families are bothered. A good friend of mine has been raising her daughter, with help from her parents ever since she got divorced when her daughter was 5months old. Her daughter is now 15… the girl’s father has no idea where she is or even what she looks like. He is alive. His parents are alive. And yet society allows that. Yet, the only thing society is worried about is “when will you marry?”

We know how it feels to be objectified, harassed and humiliated because we are believed to be loose and without any morals. We know what it feels like to be belittled by any and every idiot that fancies himself a male, because after all mu zawarawa ne.

Apparently Zawarawa move around with placards on their foreheads soliciting for zina, I must have missed that memo! The society we live in is the kind of society that will demonise us women for zina while completely ignoring/downplaying the role of the men involved. This demonization is almost always done without any physical or circumstantial evidence. God help you if you are working/financially independent. Our people hate that. It drives our people crazy when you don’t come to beg cap in hand for money to buy sanitary pad or recharge card. When they see you doing well in your career/business it drives them nuts. How dare you live a fulfilling life without a husband? How dare you try to make something out of yourself after ditching matrimony? How dare you be successful? How dare you refuse the advances of questionable and irresponsible men, because you have standards? Who do you think you are, thinking you can have standards? Who told you that you can even choose when you should be grateful you have suitors? How dare you feel comfortable at home when you should be thinking of getting married?? How dare you buy a car? How dare you live a happy life when you should be worried about not being married? How dare you have any ambition beyond remarrying? How dare you??

I have had people ask me these questions, I kid you not.

“How can you be smiling so much in your Instagram pictures? It seems you are not worried about your situation, wannan rashin hankali ne!”

Anybody that wants to shame or harass you for not remarrying, especially one of these lewd men, tell him marrying divorcees is a Sunna. As for those men that are experts at preying on the vulnerability that comes with being divorced: Tell him that this Sunna should be revived. Enjoy watching him flee.

Do not worry; you will develop thick skin like the rest of us… We have the power to choose to lose or win in this life. I choose to win.

My dear sister, I urge you to win!!

My dear sister, there is nothing as liberating as focusing on your life and your goals! Whatever it is you want to do, please go for it! Do not doubt yourself. What happened to you has happened. It was written and ordained to happen. It has happened and has passed. It does NOT define you. It is NOT who you are. It is merely a status. You really do not owe this hypocritical society of ours any explanation.

My dear sister, be focused, be diligent and hardworking because it will take you places. Believe me the best revenge is success. Become unstoppable and limitless. Go back to school, get a job, start a business… do something and empower yourself. There is really no limit to how far you can go when you put your mind to it.

My dear sister, do not allow yourself to be blackmailed into marriage. You need to take time and heal from the wounds of the past. Do not rush into a marriage because your family is on your neck. Do not rush into a marriage because you are tired of being a “bazawara”. Give yourself time to heal and grow out of all the baggage from your divorce before committing yourself to another.

Be patient with the way family treats you. Be patient with the comments friends and associates make about you. Be patient when they complain that you are taking up space. Laugh at the insults. Ignore the gori. Work hard and build yourself. Let your success and hard work kill them.

My dear sister, everything good will come your way Insha’Allah.

Lots of love,

Yours Sincerely

Fatima Zahra Umar

(Adda B)

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