Updated: Jun 9, 2021
On Sunday evening, a Muslim family went out on a walk in London, Ontario and were ran over and murdered. They are survived by their 9 year old son who is recovering from injuries. It was a pre-meditated, hate-motivated attack. In the aftermath, Muslims across Canada are re-traumatized by the ongoing islamophobia experienced individually and as a community. As Muslim women, here are our personal reflections.
I woke up tired and a little anxious. Almost instantly after opening my eyes, I had the murdered Muslim family from London, Ontario on my mind. I also thought of their 9-year-old son, and the impact of that level of trauma on a child. I became angry, frustrated…at every racist comment I ever heard, every person that stood by and did nothing, every politician’s empty words.
PAUSE. What are you feeling? Overwhelm. Frustration. Anger.
And my mind started racing again. I can’t just watch this. I need to do something. I need to write. I need to tell people it wasn’t okay and what it was like to experience this as a Muslim. I need to think of how to help the community during this time. What’s my role as a therapist?
PAUSE. I value community, contribution and justice. I know I am more privileged than many others and can use my voice, and I want to. But I need to slow down and feel my feelings so I can think more clearly.
What are you feeling? Anxious.
I need to go on a walk. I need to be next to water. I need to disconnect from social media and my thoughts and connect to myself and nature.
I started feeling better, almost light. I’m back on social media, answering emails, went to the first meeting of the day. I was about to move on to the next task, but something felt off.
PAUSE. I feel heavy. My head is heavy. I need to lie down. I napped for 15 minutes. Weird, I never nap. I need to make sure I don’t minimize the impact of tragedies like this one. My body always tells me, it always reacts.
And my mind starts again, what are you going to? How about you just BE.
PAUSE. Maybe I’ll do a body scan.
Note to self: You will have all kinds of reactions today, and be inclined to act or distract yourself. REMEMBER TO PAUSE.
What advice could you give Muslim Canadians right now? You will feel different things. You may remember past traumas. Your body will react different ways. It’ll come and go in waves. Be kind to yourself. Let it happen. I know I’ll continue checking in with myself and pausing throughout my day. Try doing the same.
With everything that has been happening around the world and recent news of what happened in London Ontario, many of us, including myself, have been experiencing a mix of emotions: anger, guilt, frustration, sadness, hopelessness and fear. Social media has been a space that I have been actively avoiding- hence my lack of appearance on it. There were days were I had the urge to post but most of the time, it came from a space of anger... I am sure many can relate. What was really important for me to recognize is that while anger was my automatic response, I wasn’t really giving space to other emotions I was also feeling.... fear being a big one!
Why am I sharing this? Well, I think that many of us are in a very similar space and it’s important to normalize these difficult emotions while we are experiencing these challenging moments in our own personal lives AND witnessing the suffering many are experiencing in different parts of the world... it’s incredibly overwhelming.
I can’t reiterate how important it is to recognize and validate the emotions you may be experiencing right now. THERE IS A REASON WHY YOU FEEL SAD, ANGRY and AFRAID. Checking- in with yourself and taking care of your own needs at this time is incredibly important and needed. Nourishing yourself with connections and things that you value is a fundamental human need.
There has been a knot in my throat for the past few days, sometimes it’s lighter... other times it’s gets tighter. One thing that has been really helpful to me is to notice the knot and try to find somethings that can alleviate the tightness, whether that is going for a walk with a friend, sharing jokes with people or watching a comedy movie, running or feeling the breeze of the summer nights ( my fave!).
Please check-in with yourself, ask yourself what might be helpful at this time to lessen the tightness of the knot. Talk about it with others who can relate or even just write about it. Try to engage in things that are grounding and connected to your values and needs - no it’s not selfish nor weak.
- that was my little reflection of the day. I hope it helps in some way.
After reading the news about a Muslim family killed in London, Ontario I quickly felt a very familiar feeling, the feeling of a pit in my stomach. It’s the same feeling I had back in January 2017 when a shooter entered a mosque in Quebec and killed five Muslims. The first thought that rushed through my head was “that could have been my family”.
For the first time ever, I began to feel extra conscious about the Hijab I chose to wear and the modest clothing I chose to wear, not because I am not proud to wear it, but because I wondered if I would ever be putting any of my friends or family at risk who are not visibly Muslim, when we are out in public together. However, as I took a moment to reflect and ask myself why I’m feeling this way, I was able to identify the emotions I’m experiencing (i.e., anger, fear, terror). I recognized that being conscious of my appearance is driven by my emotions and does not align with the other values that I have chosen to live by (i.e., authenticity and modesty).
In situations like this, it’s extremely important to take a moment and reflect on what you’re feeling, whether that be writing it down in a journal or in the note app on your phone, check-in with yourself and ask yourself what you need to feel even slightly more grounded. For me, I needed to disconnect from the anger and sadness which social media has not helped me do. I decided to play some instrumental Mediterranean music, I listened closely and tried to identify the different instruments that are being played.
After feeling more grounded, I reflected some more and asked myself what types of actions I can do to raise awareness on Islamophobia and contribute to my community. Sometimes it can be difficult to process such horrific tragedies and it’s important to allow yourself to feel every emotion, then it is important to ground yourself and reflect on those emotions.
Give it a try! Take a moment and answer the following:
-What have you noticed about your emotions after reflecting on them?
-Are there any feelings or thoughts that are particularly stronger than others?
-What do those emotions feel like? Even smell or taste like?
-How do those emotions contribute to your thoughts and behaviours?
As always, reach out if you need to, whether that be a friend or a mental health professional. The walk in counselling clinic has same day counselling sessions in various languages.