I spent my vacation in USA and it was so liberating. I was able to do all the things I can’t do here in Buraidah, like go to a restaurant, watch a movie in a cinema, drive, so on…. Basically the normal things that we in the west take for granted.
Readjusting into society felt a little weird at first. I can’t explain it but I felt scared. When I go out here in Buraidah most of the time I do feel a little bit of fear because you never know when the religious police are going to stop and harass you, but why was I feeling it in my own country? I admit I sat in my car for a few minutes before actually going anywhere because I was so nervous. Whenever I wore pants or anything that wasn’t a long dress I just felt I was doing something wrong. Most of my colleagues tell me that the first few days after they leave this place they feel some form of anxiety. It really is a difficult transition to go from living in oppressive place where someone is always watching you, waiting for you to mess up, to a place you have the freedom to enjoy your life how you see fit.
But that’s the sad thing- it’s all become so normal. It’s normal for me to feel scared that the motawa will harass me. It’s normal to have to rely solely on a man for transportation. Things I would never accept in my home are expected here.
When I was in the states I met a woman from this country. She had three beautiful, intelligent daughters. I asked her if she drove in the states, and she told me her husband wouldn’t allow it, and that she doesn’t even know how to start a car. I asked her if she let her daughter attend the Arabic school, but she doesn’t because the husband doesn’t allow it. I asked her if she ever went to the mosque, and as you can guess, her husband doesn’t allow it. If I had to let a man take that much control over my life, I think I would prefer to be single forever.
Now that I’m back in Buraidah I feel I am suffocating. I have a few new things that will keep me entertained inside my home- adult coloring books, stronger wifi connection, an oven- but it will never replace the freedom and independence I have in Western countries.