Life has many lessons to be learned, but one of the greatest lessons I have learned is how attachment defines who we are.
While growing up, I often moved countries with my family. In total, I count 12 schools I attended during my nursery, primary and high school years. Getting used to anything was useless as a child. In a year, we would move houses. In two years, we would change schools. And in no more than five years, we would move countries. By the age of 12, I had a mantra: “life is all about meeting people and saying good-byes”. Attachment was not an option for me.
Then I grew up and finally lived in a country for longer than five years. I started to fall into the attachment trap. I started getting attached to people, places, secrets and things, and in all these areas, I was deeply hurt.
With the past I had, I figured I was not one to get attached, but I found that I had no control over the attachments. Attachment creeps in undetected and takes over your emotions silently. Before you realize it, you are in quicksand and it’s too late to pull back.
When I was 22, I had a special love for the colour maroon. I dressed my room in the deepest shade of maroon. I had maroon curtains, a maroon duvet, and a maroon couch. I accessorized it with candles and cute maroon decorations. I got attached to my maroon decorated room.
It was a place where I found solace; in it, I had all I needed — my books, my computer, my bed and my peace. Little did I know how attached I was. That year, we went on holiday to a place above the clouds where there was a one-of-a-kind amusement park, but all I could think of during that time was my room.
The moment I got back I knew I needed to make changes immediately. I changed the duvet and the curtains and reduced the maroon accessories to a minimum. Although this attachment made me feel great while I was around, it was not worth the suffering when I wasn’t.
I also started getting attached to people and noticed that the closer the relationship got, the more I stopped being myself. It was about pleasing other people and making sure not to step on their toes.
Attachments to people define us. As good as it is to have close friends, they learn our habits and know how we will react. They know exactly what we are going to say. Therein lies no more room for change and creativity in our reactions.
Attachment to people also means trusting someone enough with your emotions and matters, and disappointment is bound to happen because of our natural imperfections as humans.
So instead, I got attached to items. I got attached to my books, and then I had to move and leave everything that I had behind as there was only so much space for me to carry my treasures.
I got attached to my fairy-tale ideas of marriage and then divorce happened.
I got attached to my secrets and that bubble burst.
I got attached to someone’s word: “trust me,” she said, and before I knew it, trust was broken again.
Attachments bring comfort, but as soon as you realize how unstable and unpredictable life is, you know that there is always room for disappointments.
In a hadith (classified as hasan) reported by Al-Albaani, Al-Haakim narrated that the Prophet (PBUH) said:
Jibreel came to me and said: “O Muhammad, live as long as you want, for you will die. Love whomever you want, for you will leave him. Do whatever you want for you will be requited for it. Remember that the believer’s honour is his praying at night, and his pride is his being independent of people.” (Saheeh al-Jaami’ 73).
How beautiful is this hadith? And how beautifully does it explain life to us? The underlying message is to be attached to Allah (SWT) and not to people.
I still haven’t mastered independence and I still do get attached. I guess we are all bound to our cultures, beliefs and family attitudes. All these different aspects of our lives define who we are because we allow them to.
Attachments have a lot to do with defining us and you cannot know your true worth and ability for as long as you are bound to the shackles of attachment to things, people and/or places.
It takes bravery, confidence and self-trust to be able to move forward from these attachments and create your destiny, as you want it: to find your true passion in life regardless of who you befriend and who is in your life. No one should ever be given the power to define and make you. You are a unique being with your own set of rules and standards. Set them and free yourself from the weight of attachments.
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