Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow.

I received this story from a brave young woman. I don’t know her name, but I hope she knows: we’re listening. Thank you for sharing your story. You may be confused, but you are strong. You may feel conflicted and restricted and frustrated, but you are not alone. Your story is the story of so many individuals–people struggling all over the world to find and be their true selves, to not have to hide from the people they love. I can’t tell you that it will get easier, or that there are any quick fixes, but I can tell you that sharing your story can change the world. It’s taken me years to figure out how to understand and work through the internal conflict that I grew up struggling with, but it was through telling my story that I finally began to understand my role in it all. Keep writing, keep questioning. You are not alone.

Much Love,


Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow.

Today, I was feeling pretty upset about all the rules and restrictions in my life and how controlled I am in this house. I frequently type my problems online to look them up and see if anyone else is going through the same thing – which they are usually not. Today I looked up “I’m not allowed to wear a bikini” and “Muslims wearing bikinis” and I found your article on Huffington Post. I’ll be honest, I shed a few tears…your article really hit close to home. I’m always lying to my family, to my friends…to myself. I don’t want to lie, I’m sick of lying – but I have to, to get what I want in this house. If I tell the truth, I won’t be able to do anything, I won’t be able to socialize, wear what I want or see the people I want. All I would be able to do, would be to sit in this house and study…

Let me give you a bit of background information. I was raised in Canada and am Canadian, but originally Pakistani. However, many of my friends argue that I am not Canadian and “How can you be Canadian?”. I reply with “How can you tell me who I am and who I am not?”. I identify as Canadian and to me, Canada is my home. In 2009, at ten years old, I moved to the Middle East. It came as quite the culture shock. We never really were a religious family, we didn’t pray five times a day, we didn’t go to the mosque often, and my mother didn’t wear a hijab. So then why? Why are they so strict, when we aren’t even that religious? Why must we have all these rules? I often wonder if there are more rules imposed on me here, than there would be if we still lived in Canada. These past few years have been tough in particular, I’m growing up, growing older and my parents can’t seem to accept that. They still see me as ‘daddy’s little girl’. I’ve tried time and time again to remove that notion from their minds, but as they say, I’ll always be their baby girl. I have always had guy friends and best friends growing up, it never was a problem, until I turned thirteen.

Thirteen, wasn’t a good year for me. That was the age I had my first boyfriend and when all the lies started. Of course, my parents found out – thanks to my Pakistani ‘friend’s’ mother. The day my mother confronted me about it is a day I’ll never forget, but very much wish I could. It was the day when my mother spit on me, the day I cried myself to sleep, the day I vowed to resent them for the rest of my life. Well that was three years ago and that boy is long gone. I never liked him anyway. I’ve realized, the only reason I fight and I rebel is because I hate being told no. The more rules my parents force upon me, the more I resent them and the more I rebel. But I’m tired of fighting, I want to be on the same side – but they will never give in to the things I want. I want to hang out with my friends, without it having to be a big deal. I want to hang out with my guy friends, without the situation being sexual. I want to wear shorts and tank tops and dresses and skirts. I want to go swimming and actually enjoy it, and not feel self-conscious because I’m the only one not wearing a bikini. I don’t want to have sex, I don’t even want a boyfriend at the moment, all I want is a little freedom. Is showing my armpits or my knees really a crime? Is hanging out with my friends who are guys really asking to get raped? Is going out to dinner with my girlfriends really that wrong? Every day I ask myself these questions. Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow. They say I’ll understand when I’m older, how much older? I will never know. As for now, I’m just trying to get through this day by day, until I’m free.

I love my family, I really do. But they hold me back. I’m not as independent as I wish I could be, I’m very reliant, which I hate. I’m stuck between honoring my family and being who I want to be. I’m caught in between tradition and modern society. I’m torn between my religion and my freedom. I’m so confused.

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