The Egyptian Runaway Bride

Date posted: April 1, 2006


I love sunset tea in the terrace with my mom; I love the tea, the sunset, the mint in the tea, her cat playing with the teabag, but I hate the conversations she strikes! I was enjoying a great moment with myself watching a lovely bird flying in utter freedom across the horizon when my mom broke into my space capsule and asked me: "Why did your last engagement last three days?" I was too perplexed to reply when she hit me with the second bomb of a question: "Why did you break up with your first fianc? two months before your wedding?" I was still trying to figure out where these darts were coming from when she hit me with the question that I see in the eyes of everyone I cross paths with "Why are you still single?" By the time words found their way to my mouth, she was already stoning me with her questions: "What was wrong with H, A, M, K, B, T. R, N, O, S, E, Z ….? Why did you turn down C, D, X, F, G, I, J, L, P, Q, U, V, W, Y ….? Why don't you get married to one of your friends? Why do you have brothers that I never gave birth to? Don't you want to have a baby? Don't you want to have a home? Don't you want to be happy? Why are you a runaway bride?"

My mind got on the time machine and I remembered the first marriage proposal I got; I was 16 and he was 22. I remember feeling flattered, excited, and important; none of my friends had any man show that much of an interest, I was the center of the attention of my whole family, and I was already dreaming of the ring, the wedding, the dress, the honeymoon, and the home. I do not remember I had any thoughts about, or feelings towards, the guy. My dad, of course, gracefully turned him down and I did not seem to mind much. There was a time when I saw "suitors" twice a week and at times I saw two per day. As a little girl my granny, the best story-teller ever, used to tell me nice stories that involved mainly princes, castles, white horses, and happily ever after. It was not difficult for the little girl in me to wear the princess's crown and gown, and ride behind prince-charming for an eternity of love and happiness. My mother, grand mothers, aunts, and any woman who ever set foot in our house wished me one thing: A man who would take care of me and make me happy!

Judging by the standards of our society, I was a "normal" girl growing up; I had nothing against men, marriage, kids, and mothers in law. When I turned 20, all the heads turned to look at the lucky man whose ring will adorn my finger. I kept them waiting for a few months then finally it happened; a good guy, decent in-laws, and a ring were what I had until I got my first job. We were engaged for six months, about to get married, and it felt so wrong; I was always in a bad mood, I lost a lot of weight, my stomach turned once and never turned back to its normal position, and my mother referred it all to the normal fear of "the new life". I had a few issues with his hygiene standards, begged him to shower, brush his teeth, use deodorants, and cologne. He promised to make me faint on our wedding night and he wanted to deliver our first baby himself at home! My eyes rejected him and all my senses were quick to follow; hence, the breakup. Ten years later, I am still single, and I have gone through a great metamorphosis since my teen years. Countless men came my way; I have seen those who stink in the mind, those who stink in the heart, and those who stink in the flesh! They all just stink!

On my 31st birthday – literally – my mother sent me a "prospect" to the office and that day on her terrace, she cross examined me, questioned my sanity, and was totally oblivious of my motives. I made no sense to her; I asked her why people got married and she told me that I was no longer seven to ask such a silly question. That was a clear sign that my peaceful sunset tea was over and that I had to make a quiet exit. So, why do women get married? To have a home, to have kids, to leave their parents' house, to start a life, to make love, to be responsible …? This is so wrong! Biological and physiological needs like food, air, shelter, and sex, and safety needs like security, protection, and stability are at the very base of Maslow's hierarchy of needs. The need for belonging and love is midway between these two basic needs and the two superior needs of esteem and self-actualization. Looking at my aspirations now and my beliefs ten years ago, I can only be eternally grateful that I am not married to any of the men who came into my life.

A ten minutes meeting with an NLP guru (Neuro Linguistic Programming) six years ago changed my life. He asked me what I am looking for in my prince-charming and I innocently said: "I want him to make me happy". At the age of 25 I still believed in fairytales; a gorgeous man will stop me on the way to work, get off his horse, kiss my hand, kneel, point his magic wand at me, and order happiness to take home in my heart. The NLP expert clapped twice, woke me from my beauty sleep, and told me that if I was not a happy person on my own, no one would make me happy … ever! He asked me to find out what made me happy and pursue it, and only then, I will find Mr. Right! Here comes a total stranger telling me that I am wrong, that my granny misled me, that Walt Disney's princes are not to be found in real life, and that I have to find happiness on my own! His words marked my memory and I slowly moved up Maslow's pyramid towards achievements, status, responsibility, personal growth, and fulfillment. Now I am facing a bigger problem!

The more sophisticated my needs grew the more difficult my quest became. I came a long way on my own and now I expect much more than a house, food, and clothes from a man. In the movie Runaway Bride, Maggie Carpenter (Julia Roberts) asked Ike Graham (Richard Gere) if there was one right person for everyone, he said: "No, but I think attraction is mistaken for rightness." I have been attracted to many people but none of them felt right. There were always the ominous mental notes, the odd vibes, and the bad sparks. In my future vision of myself, I see kids and lots of fun, but no man … I see myself as a single mom. My mother says that I am difficult and that I will grow old alone with a pair of cats. What is difficult about asking for a man with who I can have endless conversations? Who will be faithful? Who will hold my hand as we watch TV? Who will make me feel like the most beautiful woman on earth even when I feel like a shaggy doll? Who I know will come to my rescue whenever I call? Who will give me a knot in the stomach when I think of him? Whose name or number on my phone will draw a smile on my face? Who is my equal? Who appreciates my independence, cherishes my strength, and respects my weakness? Who is not some needy freak or disgusting creep? Who will let me be and love me for who I am? Is this too much to ask for nowadays? I am no princess so I no longer expect a prince!

I have been loved by the wrong guys for the wrong reasons and I have been also rejected by many guys for more wrong reasons. I have been with guys who made me feel like a queen on a collapsing thrown and others who made me feel invisible; some were in it for the challenge and others were there for the entertainment. Those who said the "forever word" either wanted a girl that "seemed" to conform to the social norms that govern a "good girl", a business partner, a free ride, a personal punching bag, or a caged bird of their own. Some were just desperate! My relationships are plagued with power struggles, and in the process of getting in or out of a relationship, I broke many hearts, smashed many egos, and tortured many souls. I have also had my share of heartbreaks and sleepless nights. Maggie Carpenter finally made it to the alter; she proposed to him saying: "Look, I guarantee there'll be tough times. I guarantee that at some point, one or both of us is gonna want to get out of this thing. But I also guarantee that if I don't ask you to be mine, I'll regret it for the rest of my life, because I know, in my heart, you're the only one for me." I will wear a ring and keep it, love a man and keep him, and get married and stay married, only when something in my heart tells me that he is the only one for me and that if I let him go, I will regret it for the rest of my life!

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