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Living a lie at home


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I'm having a lot of problems at home recently and just thought I would post here for any advice. I'm 22 years old, female and come from a muslim background.


The relationship between me and my parents/brother has always been very strong, we laugh and do things together and generally enjoy each others company. The conflict however starts because I do not believe in religion and my mum is a very strict muslim.


For years I have just gone along in order to keep my mum happy. Sure we occasionally do have a fight over something in the religion, but things usually go back to square one, pretending to live as a happy caring family.


Basically when I was 11 my parents encouraged me to wear the headscarf, and although I wasn't very sure, I wanted to make them happy and agreed. I pretty much instantly regretted it, but thought that I would give it a try. After a few years I told my mum I was sick of it (in a polite calm manner) however she said because it is compulsory as a muslim she could never feel happy about my decision. This coupled with my extended family (hungry sharks waiting for a mistake to gloat over) made me decide to wait till I was older.


The older I grew, the more I knew a life of following a religion blindly was not for me. I wanted to have the choice to experience things and I thought university would be the perfect opportunity. I was literally itching to live away from home, my first true freedom, I could do whatever I wanted.


So when I moved out for university, it was a bit of a shock to the system to find that I never actually wanted to party till I was collapsed on the pavement, or have ONS. But what I did enjoy was the lack of parental nagging over religion. And my newfound freedom to not have to wear the headscarf, not have to pretend to be something that I wasn't.


Every year I kept saying I would tell my parents part of the truth. I could never tell them the whole truth about disliking the religion because it would hurt them deeply. I have a great relationship with my family and I really didn't want to lose that in my own selfish way.

So finally I told my parents over summer that I wouldn't be wearing the headscarf anymore, I said I didn't mind to compromise for their sake by wearing it to family gatherings etc. if they felt uncomfortable.

My mum was extremely upset, not so much about the extended family but more so that I was not being a true muslim. The conversation was quite emotional and I ended up having a panic attack, after that moment I find myself still pretending to wear the headscarf and things going back to a state of 'happiness'.


However I am not happy at all, I continue to lie and hide my own thoughts away in order to make my parents happy. I know that if I want to be happy my mum will not be, and vice versa. It is a double edged sword.


Living back at home has made things so much more worse, the more mum pushes me into religion the more I despise it and her (even though I love her so much). I can understand her views, she feels as though she is allowing her daughter to jump into the fire and regardless of my pleas for some sort of compromise, she feels she cannot compromise on such a big part of her belief.


I have come to the point where I feel numb and depressed all the time, rather than occasionally. I feel there is nothing worth living for, what kind of life am I living? I am a naturally shy person and don't really connect with people very often so to turn for support and open up makes things very hard. Sometimes I just want a train to run me over and be done with the whole thing.

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I am sorry for your situation. It must be a very difficult.


At some point, you have to decide whose life are you living. When at the university, when you could be "yourself," you were happy. Now, trying to fit yourself into a box which is not for you, you are very hopeless and depressed.


You have spoken to your parents about how you feel, and you know how they feel about it. If you believe that there is no chance of them changing their minds, then I think you should just respect how they feel and not raise the subject again.


At the same time, in your own house (now, and with your future family), it is time to think about who you are and what you want. Start to live the life that reflects yourself. At their home, continue to wear the headscarf out of respect for them, but quietly ask for respect for yourself by living true to yourself and your beliefs.


In the end, you can't control how they feel. But, you can control how you feel. Clearly, bowing to the desires of others before your own needs is going to create a very bleak future.


All the best!

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I am sorry as well that you are going through this. But I commend you for wanting to live a life by your own principles. It's also great that you care so much for your parents. At least you are acknowledging their feelings. It would be nice for them to do the same for you. But I think the difficult part with them is that they have lived a certain lifestyle for a long time and so it can be uncomfortable to adjust to something new (but this is mere guessing on my part, I could be wrong. Feel free to correct me if I am). Also, you are 22 and approaching the transition between adulthood and childhood. From here on out, you are going to be making decisions on how to live your life. Because it IS your life. It may involve redefining your relationship with your parents and your family by establishing yourself as an independent person.


It may drive a temporary wedge between you, but if your parents care about you and truly want the best for you, they will eventually adapt. But give it lots of time. I agree with what bashful said, that you should wear the veil when you're home to respect their beliefs but in turn, ask them to compromise by keeping an open mind about yours.


I think it's hard enough for parents when their kids leave for college, but it's even harder when their kids want to adapt a different set of beliefs. So they may need time and a gentle introduction/transition to your beliefs. Also you can't control how your mother feels nor are you responsible for her feelings. if she gets upset, it's not your fault, it's just merely something she needs to come to terms with on her own.


If you continue to do things just because your family wants you to them, then you will not be happy. You may even start to resent them. As hard as it is, you have to live your own life. And I know what you mean about being shy and thus having a hard time connecting with people. I am going through similar things in my life (as in defining myself as an individual and gaining confidence in making my own decisions even if I don't get a lot of support from my mother), so I have an idea of how you feel. Sometimes I wish I had a solid group of friends to whom I can turn for these kinds of situations. But it will get better. Are there clubs and groups you can join at your school?

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Thank you both so much for your great advice.

I think it is just making the best out of a difficult situation. Sometimes it is easy to forget that loving my parents and being happy don't have to be a separate entity! I think I'll definitely start to slowly push the boundaries while I'm living at home. And hopefully soon if I save up I can move out

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