Finding Freedom Within – Ruby Usman – Australia
Having grown up in the slums of Pakistan, I was conditioned by the culture to think of myself as a “non-being” – someone whose pleasure and goals weren’t important. I saw men beat their women (sisters, wives and other family members); children were yelled at and abused and I was myself sexually abused as a child for many years.
Luckily, my parents weren’t following the cultural norms so despite these cultural conditions, I was able to study and even get myself a job in a multinational firm. It was almost like living in several worlds at the same time. Inside my own home, we were taught equality, respect and the value of good education. Outside my home, I was a slut because I didn’t follow norms and didn’t wear hijab. And inside my workplace, I was a confident woman surrounded by people who were educated and respectful of my worth and skills.
It was a strange world. Being aggressive was the prerequisite for me to stand firm in a world dominated by men.
In 1997, I got married with the dreams of love, respect and a life of harmony. Sadly, it didn’t turn out that way. My married life was dominated by unconscious cruelty, painful sex, illnesses and a visit to a hospital. The cultural norms made it very hard for me to leave that marriage. I felt stuck and had no where to go. The only place of reprieve for me was the roof of the house where I hid away from time to time and cried.
My freedom came in the form of a job opportunity in Singapore. I left Pakistan in June 2000. This also gave me a pathway to finally leave the marriage. We got divorced in July 2002.
I was finally free (at least physically) but for the first time, I was out in the world on my own and I had no idea where to start. I used to have panic attacks. I remember crying on streets because I didn’t want to go and sleep in a room by myself. Those were scary times.
I also realised that freedom was a state of mind. I was free at face value but I was still limited by my beliefs and my cultural conditioning. I had suppressed my desires and my needs for years and years and even now, when I was a free woman, my own limitation didn’t allow myself to feel this freedom.
Finding freedom became a journey of exploration. I needed to know who I was and what I wanted but fundamentally, I needed to give myself permission to have needs and desires. I had no idea how to do that. I was in a strange country, didn’t have many friends, didn’t know the western customs and traditions; it felt like I had to learn to walk all over again, undo the brainwashing and reprogram myself to have new neural pathways.
This meant saying “Yes” to anything and everything that came my way. Life experiences became my teachers; and I started collecting my experiences; learning from my mistakes and from my own explorations. I missed having role models. I missed having someone who I could ask. I missed having support and assurance and safety. But that wasn’t my path.
These explorations enabled me to live in four different cities and create a completely different life in each of these cities. My biggest learning experiences in Karachi, Pakistan; basics of western life in Singapore; fun and adventure in Sydney; love and relating in Melbourne. At the same time, my own personal healing journey took me deep into the world of conscious and unconscious mind, body and its relationship with the mind, and emotions and feelings and their impact on body and mind.
And my biggest learning is this:
*** We can’t do it alone! ***
We need love, and we need belonging.
So in Nov 2016, I have launched an online forum called Healing Wounds Together – A Platform for Adults who have experienced Childhood Sexual Abuse.
My life has been deeply impacted by these experiences. At times, I wondered if there were other people who felt the same? Was I the only one feeling these feelings of shame, hatred, anger, and self-pity? It took me a while to realise that I wasn’t.
This blogging platform is my attempt to bring us together; to “be there” for each other; to understand that we not alone and there are millions of adults (if not billions) who are affected by this and feel a lot of those things that we do. My aim is to share the following:
• My understanding of trauma and how it impacts us.
• How did I start my healing journey and how has it changed my life?
• I will give you information about various healing modalities that are out there that can help you heal.
• I intend to interview adults who have experienced childhood sexual abuse and share their journeys with you.
• I intend to interview various therapists and professionals who have impacted me deeply in my healing journey.
It is a scary world. I feel exposed and vulnerable but I also know that this vulnerability is critical for the change to occur
I hope that you will join me. Please sign up for my blog at: http://healingwoundstogether.com/blog/
About the Author
Ruby Usman is an Author, Speaker and Educator. With a brilliant business mind, an international career and first-hand experience of the hardships of life, she is an inspiring adventurer.
Ruby is the founder of Healing Wounds Together, which is an excellent resource for not only those who are affected by childhood sexual abuse but also professionals who work with them. Read more here: http://healingwoundstogether.com/start-here/
Ruby is creator of ‘Self Care Method’, which is pathway for creating sustainable collective happiness. The method is delivered through three essential pillars: self, family & relationships, and community. Read more here: http://www.selfcaremethod.com/
Ruby has also authored a book ‘Self Care for Parents’ – A 5-step method to having a happy balance in life. You can buy a signed copy of the book at: http://www.selfcaremethod.com/book/
To contact Ruby:
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