Living in Palestine: a year in review.

It’s a year, exactly tomorrow, since I moved away from home, the only home I have ever known. Montreal was pretty much my sanctuary; I was free to do what I wanted, whenever I wanted. I know that life isn’t about just that, but I felt free to express myself even though I was an outcast due to being part of a visible minority. I felt more myself in Montreal than I do here in Jericho to be completely honest. This post is to share my story and my transition into living in the Middle East…more precisely Palestine. First of all, whenever people ask me how it has been, I simply say that it was the hardest year of my life…not because I didn’t have all the goods or all the money or all the materials in the world, but mostly because of how easily I seem to have lost my true sense of self. It is probably hard to understand for many because I am an Arab, I should easily fit in…but on the contrary, I was and will continue to be an outsider and that people remind me of every day.

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One of the main issues that had me so depressed was the fact that due to political unrest and issues in this country, I ended up losing my Canadian citizenship here and was treated just as those poor stateless citizens, which is fine by me (now at least), but I will not lie and say that I took it with a grain of salt. I felt like I lost a big part of my identity. I was not used to be stopped and interrogated and watched and followed. I felt alone and hopeless. Being away from my family felt hard and not having much here made me depress even more. Nothing seemed to cheer me up and for the longest time, I buried myself at home and didn’t want to see anyone or go anywhere. I wasn’t interested in making friends or going out with my husband even. Besides, It wasn’t even easy making friends, girls can be so vicious and hurtful sometimes, it’s scary. I was considered an idiot because I didn’t spend all my waking time painting my nails or brushing my hair. There was no girl power to say the least…that made me realize how lucky I was back home to have my girl squad by my side. My girlfriends helped shape me and push me out of my comfort zone. They lifted me up when I was down and I did the same with them. That to me is pure gold! Therefore, I guess what I am trying to say is that my experience here in Palestine further pushed me to stay safe in my own house at all times. Months passed and losing myself seemed more easy; I let everyone use me, abuse me and step over me.

I couldn’t for the life of me find a job to keep myself occupied…like no one wanted to hire me!!! They all knew I had the qualifications, but for some reason everyone seemed threatened by my baggage. I never wanted to take anyone’s place, I just needed a job to keep me busy and occupied. Unfortunately, everything I tried but I failed, miserably. I felt ashamed, hurt and very much incompetent. I know it really wasn’t my fault, but I couldn’t help but think that I sucked at life pretty much. I couldn’t even get a volunteering gig because I seemed too nice and by that, I mean, I was probably hiding something (totes wasn’t). Adjusting to my new life was quite difficult, but I did it anyway because I was at least with the man I love. Then when light seemed to appear at the end of the tunnel, I worked in a tourist area for a good three weeks only to have the owner not pay me anything. It has been seven months now since stopping that job and still got no money from them…every time something bad happened to me, I kept saying I deserve it; it’s what happens when you’re nice; which ended up pushing me into my sinkhole further down. I think I ended up being harsher on myself than others were. I mean yes I was labeled as an outsider, but for some reason my will to keep fighting has faded and I was completely unhappy with the life I had. If it wasn’t for my husband being by my side, my depression would have been tremendous. I went to other touristic related jobs, here in Jericho, only to be told that I needed to remove my veil. Like why??? I never removed it in Canada and worked pretty much my entire life, why would I remove it now??? It was such a struggle for me to find any job that I gave up on that and that led me to feel like a failure to humanity.

I am not saying it was all bad, life is certainly difficult for many people here and I am thankful that what I went through wasn’t as hard as what others go through, but never in my life have I felt completely alone as I felt here in Jericho. I asked for help only to be rebuffed brutally. I tried to make my surrounding better but I was laughed at for caring for stupid things such as the environment, charity and kindness. People are so oppressed here that they lost all sense of care for others in their own community. No one has the time to be socially charitable, which is very sad because I know it’s not their fault but that doesn’t have to stop them from holding on to what’s right. I think this is what bothered me the most in my stay here, not finding someone with the same values as me made me sick to my core; so sick that I too wanted to be evil. Twisted, I know! I felt like everything I learned from my mother and family no longer had a meaning.

I guess what I am trying to say is that even though life hasn’t been easy for me here, I am thankful for having went through what I went through because it showed me to be even more grateful for what I have in my life; my family and friends are more important than any amount of money one can have. Living simply and modestly is even more of a mission to me than it was before; being around the people you love is enough to keep you happy abundantly. Life is too short for us to waste our time to fight for titles, positions and social/political status. It is all meaningless!! Just be content and satisfied with what you have in front of you, and then life is so much sweeter!!!! I would never have made it through without my loving, understanding, selfless husband. I have been hard on him many times through my stay and was probably my punching bag but never did he ever complain about my stinky attitude and for that I am truly and utterly indebted. So, even though this year was hard, I think I came out stronger and more focused to remain humble and happy.

See, no one pushed me to go through with this change or with this adventure, but taking the chance was worth it in the end, because the love I have for my husband is endless. I will treasure this year in my heart and use it as a guide to lead a life of yes! I will follow my dreams relentlessly and ensure that every moment goes by with a purpose; never wasted and never meaningless. I know that many might judge me for being somewhat open about my experience here in Jericho, but this is my side and I stand by it!

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