My doctor advised me to consider talking to a therapist. She gave me some sleeping pills as a temporary relief, a short time escape from my thoughts that are raising my heartbeat. I want to sleep through it, maybe when I wake up the world would a better place? A therapist will not solve this. This needs restore factory settings.
I am done, done fighting, done swimming against the current, flying against the wind, playing against the rules, traveling the road less traveled, changing the unchangeable, naively believing that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. It does not. It eats you up, it crawls into your nightmare and it opens the door to your hidden demons. It does not kill you, it just makes you wish it did already.
Previously, I wasted an enormous amount of energy, time and resources fighting this world. I tried to make it a better place. I fought for basic human rights when I should have been enjoying practicing these rights. I constantly reminded myself of the less-fortunate, the worse cases. I am luckier than most of them. So what if I can’t see my family or they can’t come to see me and we both can’t go back to Syria? Others don’t have a family anymore. At least mine is safe. So what if I still need three more years to get a decent citizenship that allows me to breathe. 1095 days of my life, living in a suitcase, working in the US and living in Ireland, not belonging to any, can’t have both, can’t start a family or pursue a postgraduate course? Others don’t even have that luxury of visiting those two countries and at least I have a date to look forward to.
I pushed hard. I kept looking at the full half of the glass. Even when the glass was empty I assumed it is half full. I kept my head high, covered million of holes in my soul with a torn bandage and kept going.
I accepted people’s pity looks at me as an exotic creature from Syria. I answered their river of curious questions about my home country; the war, the politics, the religion, the culture, the crisis, the migration. I answered all that, the general and the specific questions in the weirdest places and absurd times; in coffee shops, in hair salons, in emergency rooms, in a taxi ride, every Saturday when I get my bagel from the farmer market guy, and in airports at 5 AM after 2 flights, 20 hrs of traveling and even up in the air. I appreciated their concerns and it felt reasonable for me to talk about my beloved Syria instead of letting them hear about it from the biased media, but there were always questions I could never answer. I keep them in somewhere deep in my mind and check on them every now and then to see if I have answers that set them free. Questions like “Where is home to you now?”, “When will this end?”, “Who do you think will win?”, “Do you want to go back to Syria?”
I also accepted my Syrian community’s negative feelings toward me as I went through my journey. I lost my connections one after the other. They judged me in every possible way; I think different than them, I talk positively about the western societies, I am successful, I am not religious anymore or just as simple as that I post in English instead of Arabic. The rest who still valued the old close relations we had got scattered around the world and went through their own dramatic life changes that it was hard to stay in touch.
I became a stranger, an outlier. Maybe I have always been one. I acknowledged the fact that I am “too foreign for here, too foreign for home, never enough for both” I am my own community, my own network of one node.
I love my job. After 8 years, 6 jobs, I found a career that makes me smile when going to bed on Sunday nights knowing that the next day I get to do what I do. I get to work with smart, kind, fun people to help make a change in the world. I joined UNICEF mainly to work on research around the Syrian Crisis, my crisis. I look daily into data; statistics of displaced, satellite images of disasters, surveys about migration routes, traces of social media related to the topic. Figures, numbers, charts, images, networks. All type of data that keeps growing bigger each day and the associated timeline keeps expanding. I watch all that and I can’t stop the flow. 1 million, 2 million, 10 million starting from the year 2011, 2012, 2013 reaching 2017 very soon.
In every corner at UNICEF, in every corridor, there is a piece of the crisis. A photo of a child in a camp, a map of my Syria with different colors and legends, a fundraising campaign. I get involved daily in meetings and discussions about the situation in Syria. The besieged, the people on the move, the asylum seekers, the scattered around the world. We negotiate how we can help, how to measure the invisible damage, reach the most vulnerable people, integrate the isolated, structure the network of the Syrian diaspora. I do this sometimes during lunch or coffee break. Like any other regular emotionless work meeting.
I feel empowered. Privileged to help. I give this project my heart and mind. It became my top priority. My life purpose. All the things that I went through made sense as they all led for this. Suddenly, in one of those meetings it hit me. Am I in those statistics? Am I displaced, forced to leave my country, can’t go back, can’t reconnect with my family, lack community support? How much emotionally damaged am I if I can’t see my recently ill father in the hospital, can’t hold his hand and look him in the eyes? I have a niece and a nephew I never met who were born during the war and am going to miss my brother’s wedding, all because of VISA restrictions and regulations, that piece of paper that changes the whole destiny of people around the world. Would that make me vulnerable? When did all of that happen to me? When did I suddenly became a victim of war and fit all those criteria? How am I supposed to save the world when I am the one who needs saving? Would Superman still be able to save the world with a Syrian passport? Would he still be allowed to fly?
This is when all the things I went through became worthless, and saving this ugly world became the most useless thing to do.
Maybe it doesn’t want to be saved? Maybe it reached a no-coming-back point and we need to unplug it, stop annoying it by constantly trying to change it, and let it dissolve into thin dust. Maybe start a new healthy world without borders. A world that makes sense instead of hopelessly trying to save this infected one.
Clearly, a therapist would not be able to digest all of that. He might even get depressed if I share with him my life. So I write as a way to heal. I send my open letter to this world. To this chaos random ugly universe upon exploding.
I am done fighting, fixing, hoping.