A year ago, I got an email that was about to turn my life upside down.
It was an acceptance letter from Ankara University stating that my husband was to make his way to Turkey in the next two weeks. At first, we were in disbelief and agreed quietly amongst ourselves that we would not accept this ridiculous, reckless invitation. Moving halfway around the world was crazy…right?
We sold everything and went. I don’t know why. I think my husband was tired of Toronto and wanted a fresh start. I think I wanted to prove that I was brave enough, spiritually adept enough to withstand a big change and still keep all the important bits of myself in tact.
Turkey was about to prove me wrong.
We arrived with no home. We stayed with a Turkish family who took care of us as best they could. But they could not shield us from the trauma we were about to face.
I fell into depression. My husband got stuck in anxiety.
Then I got sexually assaulted by a taxi driver who wanted to try his luck. My husband got severely bullied and mistreated by those whose job it was to aid his transition.
I reported my assaulter who got sentenced to 4 years of prison. Almost like karma wanted a little bit more balance, the court judge humiliated me in front of my assaulter and his family.
My husband could not do a thing about those who abused their power and subjected him to hurt. He continued to get bullied by those he relied on most.
I ran back to Canada as fast as I could. I bit of myself had died when I found myself trapped in the cab with that coward. I went to therapy, sweated it all out on my yoga mat, and still somehow ended up without a home, alone, and unable to breathe.
So I returned to Turkey, at least my husband was there. We could help each other get through this bizarre time of our lives.
But then I got depressed again. My husband couldn’t take it. We did the best we could to survive. I stopped wearing my headscarf, and found people were less interested in bothering me now that I looked just like them. I took up the Turkish Ney and lost myself in the hauntingly beautiful song of the reed.
Slowly, I started piecing together some semblance of a life again. Out of nowhere, the Turkish authorities deported me. I still have no idea what I did wrong.
So I came back to Canada.
And now my husband is here too. And we decided not to return to the land that hurt us so much.
Because I am super competitive, I found my first reaction was disappointment. I wanted to conquer Turkey, overcome the obstacles and win the challenge of transitioning into a new land. I didn’t want to give up like this.
But my Sufi teacher told me the suffering we were facing in Turkey was just unnecessary and that life would throw enough at us here where we have our family and friends to support us.
I sincerely underestimated how much a support network helps.
I am finally starting to see that none of my achievements are my own, but were attained on the backs of those who loved me and those who challenged me, knowingly or otherwise.
Our life is not lived in isolation. We are all in this together. Nothing is ours alone.