Two years ago, I did something absolutely intolerable and absolutely horrific.
I’m talking about getting into a relationship, of course.
Being both Muslim and South Asian, it wasn’t acceptable for a moderately religious girl to have a boyfriend. Let alone a confused 16-year-old girl. But honestly, I wasn’t looking for a relationship during that time and it sorta just happened on its own.
I had always been connected to both my culture and my faith. So when I did get a boyfriend, it was kind of like an identity shock. Was I doing the right thing? Obviously not, but I myself was in denial.
I used those aspects of my identity to justify my relationship. I really believed that I, in fact, wasn’t doing anything wrong because dating is normal and everyone else in the brown community does it. It’s our way of bridging the gap between being an American teenager and a Desi Muslim. Plus, having a boyfriend was hypocritical, but it didn’t stop me from pursuing my religious duties.
When things starting getting serious with this boy, it was strange but in a good way. I felt like I was finally able to experience being a teenager. I was rebelling against my parents by hiding this relationship. I would constantly lie about my whereabouts without thinking twice about it.
It was especially thrilling because this boy was a year older than me and he went to a different high school. He was Desi, but he wasn’t Muslim. Even then, he still understood that I couldn’t tell my parents anything and that we had to pursue our relationship in secret. This meant no normal dates. I refused to step foot into a restaurant or the local mall with him out of fear for a family friend or relative seeing us.
But to be completely honest, I got over the idea of being in a relationship really quickly. The only real reason I was in it was that it was foreign territory to me and I wanted to rebel.
If there was anything I learned from being in that relationship, it was that relationships aren’t worth shit. If it’s not with the right person, being the one you’re going to marry, then it’s pointless. Call me traditional, but go through what I went through and you would easily say the same thing.
Fast forward a year and a half to the worst day and experience of my entire life.
I came home from school one day feeling super happy and ecstatic about God knows what. All I remember was that it was a pretty good day at school.
As soon as I walked in, I said hello to my parents and rushed upstairs to change, do my homework, etc. A few minutes later, my mom walked into my room and told me my dad wanted to talk to me about something. This was strange because I had just said hi to my dad and he didn’t mention anything.
I immediately freaked out, because mind you, I’ve been in trouble countless times. It’s not like I was a horrible child, I was just in that “teen” phase where I wanted everything to go my way. So naturally, I took my phone and deleted any suspicious pictures, text messages, etc. along with Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat.
I had absolutely no idea as to what my dad had to “discuss” with me. But I wanted to be fully prepared.
I hid my phone in my clothing drawer as I nervously walked downstairs and into the office room. There was my dad, a dramatic and worrisome expression plastered across his face.
My heart dropped. It couldn’t be what I think it could be about.
My dad began talking, and my heart started racing as I could feel tears fill my eyes.
“Are you with a boy? Do you have a *boy* friend? Don’t lie to me.”
Me being me I responded with a weak, “Uh, no?”
Then, my dad pulled up pictures on his laptop. Pictures of me and my boyfriend, together. Of us holding hands and pictures of us at homecoming a few days earlier. I was mortified and in complete shock.
I was speechless. Before I knew it, my mom came in and my dad showed her the pictures. She remained quiet and evidently disappointed. Tears were streaming down my face.
All my accounts were on private and I never publicly posted anything, so I was super confused as to how he had these. Turns out, someone had given him screenshots of pictures from almost all of my social media accounts.
My parents were trying to get me to talk, to say something to explain myself, but I just couldn’t. My body, my mind, everything was completely numb.
My dad asked for my phone, so I quickly ran upstairs to grab it. When I handed it to him, he made me unlock it as he searched through my messages, pictures, etc.
He didn’t find anything, but he still held on to it.
My dad started screaming and pacing around the room, talking about how disgusting and disgraceful this was. That he couldn’t believe that his daughter was involved with a boy. Both my parents were crying, and at this point, I was still stunned by what was going on.
If your parents are very unlike mine, you’re probably thinking about how incredibly dramatic this entire situation is. And it was, but it didn’t need to be. But my parents weren’t the chill kind, and because they were so traditional, they honestly thought their entire world was crashing down on them.
I didn’t say much. I was quietly observing the reactions of both my parents. Was this really that big of a deal? No, it wasn’t. But this made me realize how traditional my parents really were, and how intolerant they were of something of this matter.
My mom was being supportive. She tried to get me to open up and talk to her about it, and that she just wanted to know what was going on. I was too embarrassed to say anything. All I said to them was that I couldn’t break up with him because it simply wasn’t an option.
I was crying hysterically and everything around me was a blur. I eventually ran up to my room and spent the entire rest of the day and night crying my eyes out. I was embarrassed that they found out, I knew they were judging me and I honestly didn’t know what they would do next.
For the next few days that week, my parents tried to sit me down and talk to me about it. The conversations were extremely awkward and quite frankly heartbreaking. It was especially heartbreaking to me to think that something as small as having a boyfriend would cause my parents to react like this.
Then my parents started saying some really serious things. About how they wanted to meet his parents and talk about “us” and the future. My dad would look up things about interracial marriage and it bothered me so much. To think that my parents were beginning to talk about marriage!? Like I had ever thought about that with my boyfriend.
As this was going on, my boyfriend understood that it was time for us to part ways. At first, both of us were in denial and thought we could work it out. But we broke it off soon after.
I told my parents and they were relieved, to say the least. I was bitter about it for a while, and I acted like it was the end of the world. Your first heartbreak is typically the worst, and I was too young to understand anything and act maturely about the situation.
My relationship with my parents was awkward for a while. I hated them for being so overdramatic about everything. I barely talked to them after that. It wasn’t until 6-8 months until we were all normal around each other.
This relationship was hands down my biggest regret just because of the unnecessary pain and trouble it caused to my loved ones around me. It may have been fun for a year or so, but when things started going downhill, it felt like there was no turning back.
My past experience with my parents and relationships is another reason why I’m so hesitant about pursuing a new relationship so early on.
So farewell to relationships until I’m ready to get married.