Aisha

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Hi! My name is Aisha and I am a 27 year old Somali-Pakistani woman living in Northeast London. I identify as Somali because I was raised around Somali culture more. I am a mom of two- I have a 2 year old daughter and an 11 month old boy. Even though I was raised by a single mother, I never drew inspiration from my mom. I had an abusive childhood and because of that, I began to draw inspiration from other women in my life.  What I learned from my mother was the kind of woman I did not want to be like.

My dad is Pakistani and my mom is Somali, which a lot of people get very surprised to hear. They met in Saudi Arabia which is where I was born, although we moved to Pakistan when I was four years old. A few years later, we moved to Switzerland because of my mother’s family lived there. Because of circumstances, my mother and her 5 children came to the UK while my dad remained in Switzerland. Eventually my dad came to the UK but when I was 13 years old, my parents got separated. I was very relieved because it was a good kind of separation – circumstances were getting toxic.

My childhood was one with a lot of physical and mental abuse. There was a cycle of trauma my mother had suffered and it took me a long time to realize, but it was because of a generational cycle that she passed along the abuse.

My childhood was one with a lot of physical and mental abuse. There was a cycle of trauma my mother had suffered and it took me a long time to realize, but it was because of a generational cycle that she passed along the abuse. For example, I am a darker shade of skin than my sisters are- I am quite melanated. In both the Pakistani and Somali culture, “light skinned” girls are considered beautiful and for years I hated the color of my skin. I was considered an “ugly duckling”. My mother would pin my sisters and I against each other by calling my other sisters prettier and me a “bookworm”. I was made to hate my sisters for being  a different version of beauty than I was. As a child, these comments and competition from such a young age resulted in a breakdown of self. Because of this, I had huge insecurities on who I was.

My mother wanted us to get married, but my younger sister and I refused. Because of this, we got kicked out.

My mother wanted us to get married, but my younger sister and I refused. Because of this, we got kicked out. My older sister took us in and we moved there. It’s interesting because all of my sister and I are against everything we were raised to believe. Growing up, we were all divided and against each other, but now we’ve worked through the trauma. We realized that our toxic feelings were not from us, we had been taught that.

One sister in particular that I drew inspiration from was my little sister. When we look to others for inspiration, we tend to seek people older than us. In my case, even though she was two years younger than me, she is someone who knows who she is, what she wants and where she is going.  I feel like I am still trying to figure out where I am going. Given our childhood, somehow she knew that what we were going through was not normal & one day she would escape the nightmare whereas I was taking each day as it came and not seeing the bigger picture.

When we look to others for inspiration, we tend to seek people older than us. In my case, even though she was two years younger than me, she is someone who knows who she is, what she wants and where she is going. 

I think growing up, one female figure I could count on was my aunt, my mom’s sister. She had been living in Switzerland her whole life and was always there to take us out. She showed my sisters and I the world, things beyond the stereotypical things that Muslim girls are taught. We are told in our culture that Muslim girls should only aspire to cook, clean, get married. She showed us that there is so much more. She taught us that we are capable of doing so much more than just getting married. I am still in touch with my aunt to this day, because I feel like in a dark time she was there for us and I really appreciate that now.

Despite my rough time as a child, there was happiness in the end of the tunnel for me. I met my husband in the first week of university – we both started the same job on the same day. We ended up getting happily married in 2014 and have two children together. Even though every day is a battle in trying not to repeat my own mother’s mistakes, I am working hard to draw inspiration from so many positive influences that show me what kind of a woman I want to be.

Even though every day is a battle in trying not to repeat my own mother’s mistakes, I am working hard to draw inspiration from so many positive influences that show me what kind of a woman I want to be. 

I like to use my platform that is my blog (I do makeup and fashion inspo) as a means to discuss and raise awareness  on postpartum depression & the fact that it’s okay not to be okay. I hope to raise awareness on the fact that just because you are going through these things or more, it doesn’t mean you’ve failed as a mother.

I feel like in Islam, moms are put on a very high pedestal. While this is great, that does not mean mothers are never wrong. I know a lot of girls have also suffered abuse at the hands of their parents but aren’t allowed to highlight the abuse because ‘she’s your mom’ and I think it’s important to discuss that because it can be very confusing to navigate. Just because someone is a mother does not mean it doesn’t matter the KIND of mother she is, even in Islam. Culturally we are frowned to even discuss this topic, and so many young girls never realize that their pain is something that can be fixed.

I realized it’s very easy to fall into the routine of raising our kids the way we were raised, but the only way to stop it is to end it with yourself by being consciously aware of your parenting habits.

The thing is, a lot of the time, mothers are raised in toxic environments. If they don’t analyze what happened to them when they grew up, they go on to raise even toxic daughters. As a mother of a daughter myself, I am very, very vigilant on how I raise her. I am trying to move away from everything my mother was. It was so hard to go through my childhood, and I do not want to do that to my daughter. I realized it’s very easy to fall into the routine of raising our kids the way we were raised, but the only way to stop it is to end it with yourself by being consciously aware of your parenting habits. For my mother as well, it was a generational thing, and I am really blessed and happy that I am slowly but surely breaking that cycle of abuse.

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