By Vasna Ahsan.
My mother sent me a text message a few weeks ago saying that she was worried about me. When I asked her why, she said that her parents and grandparents came to her in a dream, and that my soul was in need of saving. She said that they told her only she could save me, and that the only way she could do this was from heaven. She continued to tell me that she was worried about me, and that there were consequences for indulging in “sinful” things. Then, she asked me to come home.
When I received these text messages from my mother, my heart sunk. A part of me believed her. Maybe my soul was dry, I thought — maybe, I was sick, and somehow needed saving. I wondered if my soul was truly a dark and wretched thing, quenching for thirst.
I immediately felt a panic that reflected my mother’s, as well as an overwhelming sense of being responsible for her worry. Along with feeling victimized, I also felt worried for my mother’s life — since she had a tendency to threaten her own life, I was afraid of my mother’s insinuation that the only way for her to help me was through her own departure.
After my initial break down, I began to recognize patterns of fear that were developed over my lifetime. I am a first generation American. My religious upbringing, in a way, instilled a belief system in me based on the binary of Good and Evil. I was raised Zoroastrian, a religion which originated in Iran, reported to be the world’s oldest monotheistic belief system. With this ancient culture comes a lot of myth and superstition, that to this day much of the community still believes:
“If you put your left shoe on before the right, you will have bad luck.”
“If you keep turning the lights on and off, you will attract evil spirits.”
“If you are on your period, you cannot attend any funerals or ceremonies.”
“If you walk under trees at night, spirits will get in your hair.”
“If you ride your bike outside when it’s windy, the wind will send spirits to take you away.”
Every time I accidentally put my left shoe on first, I felt off. Every time the lights flickered, I thought a spirit was in my presence. Every time I walked under the trees at night, I thought about what my mother used to tell me, and I imagined some dark being getting tangled into my hair and coming home with me. And sometimes, I believed that my dreams (as well as my mother’s) were prophecies.
Looking back, I recall memories of fear that were instilled in me from generations of fear-based ideology — influenced not only by religion, but also by European colonialism, political hxstory, and societal standing. I believed everything my mother told me when I was younger, and that created both a fear and an awe of the mystical. Now, what is mystical has become so vast and sweet to me, and I am able to see what my mother expresses through those beliefs.
Her dream expressed her worry for me — growing up in a high crime area of Pakistan, in an era of violence, my grandparents also instilled a lot of fear in my mother as a child. She was not even allowed to walk outside by herself. To detach from the immediate fear that filled me, I had to step back and see my mother’s humanness. I do not have to fear what she is afraid of — I may have an array of fears and superstitions to consciously battle, but I know that they cannot consume me.
Unlearning smells of rejection and forgetting, and sometimes completely rejecting something that has hurt you is a response that stems from fear. The rejection of a belief may even bring about feelings of shame that you had ever believed it in the first place. Rejecting the mysticism I believed in from such an early age did not feel right to me. Sometimes, “unlearning” is just a simpler way for describing the process of understanding, accepting, choosing, and reclaiming. I only came to understand my irrational fears when I noticed and accepted them — when I realized that these fears have been learned intergenerationally. I didn’t see the point in blaming my fears on the people I inherited these internalized beliefs from. I was only able to reject the instilled superstitions I had by accepting the mystical qualities of life — synchronicities exist, life is magical, vibrations are real, and sometimes my tarot spreads get Too Real. I decided to choose to emanate light rather than fear and anxiety when it came to the spiritual aspects of life; and in this way, I reclaimed the mystical as my own.
my mother dreams
of apples and honey
and receives them the next day;
my father watches
the super bowl on t.v. --
with washing machine sounds
faintly filling up
the corners of this home.
these words feel too tender to write
when one is sinking in nostalgia
yet consumed with the idea
lay around my wrists
and i think about aligning
with my warrior;
regardless of structure
or those sorts of
and my body says, ‘yes,
it is time to shed this old skin --
patterns and all.'
and when i wonder why it took so long,
i remember that
the stars will align
and then realign
when they will,
and when they do,
that patience is still
Vasna Ahsan is a writer, poet, aspiring therapist and academic who is studying social work and depth psychology in Los Angeles. She is deeply curious about human nature, mysticism, and the subconscious mind. When she isn’t writing, she’s off dreaming, taking baths, exploring, and constantly trying to find a balance between hard and soft. You can follow her on Instagram @slow.blush.