Life + Love, Life Stories

I may come from a “broken” Desi family, but that doesn’t mean I’m broken

With divorce on the rise, this stigma has got to end, or at least dramatically decrease

I was in third grade on summer vacation in Pakistan when my mom and grandmother took me into a room and told me they wanted to talk. They showed me this book called Dinosaurs Divorce, which was a children’s book designed to explain divorce through pictures.

Ever since, I’ve hated the D word.

As humans, we are wired to judge people, but we must make a conscious effort to be aware of our judgments; we are extremely complicated creatures who can’t just be categorized and labeled.

Growing up, I didn’t have any friends who came from separated families, nor did any of my cousins. Sadly, 14 years later, I know many people who have experienced the D word—yet it still feels stigmatized.

With divorce on the rise, this stigma has got to end, or at least dramatically decrease. Every time I meet someone new in the desi community, I dread seeing their reaction when they hear that I’m an only child and that my mother lives in Pakistan, while I live in California with my dad. I know I shouldn’t make assumptions about what’s going on in their mind, but I trust my intuition.

I know many people who have experienced divorce, yet it still feels stigmatized. Click To Tweet

A few of my own friends admitted that before they met me, they assumed kids from divorced families probably had a bunch of issues. I don’t blame them for thinking this, but who doesn’t have issues? We all get handed different gifts and challenges in life. Why put so much unnecessary pressure on kids of divorce, who had nothing to do with their parents’ break up?

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It bothers me even more when desi aunties try to appear very open-minded and empathetic, but their actions show negative judgments about women who are either “from broken families,” “too old to get married,” or “unattractive.” Aunties have to begin to challenge their thoughts the next time they read a woman’s bio-data and shoo her away because of superficial details.

Growing up, I didn’t have any friends who came from separated families. Click To Tweet

My grandmother always says “sab sey bara rog, kya kahein gey log.” Translation: The biggest disease in life is worrying about what others will think or say.

Her wisdom is spot on. Many people stay in miserable marriages largely due to the fact that they don’t want to deal with the gossip that results from separation.

I wonder if it’s really worth sacrificing one’s mental and emotional wellbeing for the sake of looking good to the outside world.

The biggest disease in life is worrying about what others will think or say. Click To Tweet

That’s obviously not the only reason people stay in unhappy marriages – there are numerous other factors. However, we can’t deny that what others think of us plays a large role in our actions. This issue causes huge problems in the desi community, for example, parents pressuring their son/daughter to get married to someone for external reasons, despite sacrificing their child’s happiness.

I used to have a fear of marriage, because I unconsciously believed that my future husband’s family would think less of me, since I didn’t come from a traditional family. However, last year, a very special aunt of mine gave me a wake-up call.

I wonder if it’s really worth sacrificing one’s wellbeing for the sake of looking good. Click To Tweet

She said, “If you keep living in this fear, you will attract exactly that kind of person into your life.” At first, I felt a little hurt, but once it sunk in, I realized that she was just trying to look out for me.

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Our thoughts create our reality, so I refuse to allow the self-fulfilling prophecy to occur.

It’s a day-to-day process, but I am committed to showing up and being seen for my true self, unapologetically.

In regards to children of divorced parents, I pray that there are more open-minded and empathetic conversations in our desi communities. My hope is that we work towards a cultural norm where a person is responsible for their own actions, not those of their family.

Yasmin Irfani

Yasmin Irfani

Yasmin is a 24 year old Pakistani American who works as a behavior therapist in Sherman Oaks, California. She is currently applying for her masters so she can support college students in reaching their highest potential. In her free time she likes to read, explore new places on her own, and write letters to loved ones! She truly believes in Brene Brown's statement that "we cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known."

We're ready to shake things up, for the better.