What if the world doesn’t want to be saved?

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My way home

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.

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Distribution of Syrian migration around the world. Source: https://www.iom.int/world-migration

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.

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“I wish we can all go back to Syria and live a nice normal life again. But I will survive here” Side of the Refugee Crisis Expo at UNICEF HQ – NY, 2016

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.

You win.                      

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3 responses »

  1. Please don’t give up, Suad. You are a wonderful representation of all that is good in our world. My heart breaks at the thought of alls thats going on in your family and not to be able to participate. You are the person that will drive the change. Rest a while. Leave the weight down. Let someone else wrestle with it for a period. But do stand tall again. See that Therapist. Give yourself breathing space. You are an amazing woman. An Amazing Human Being. Product of Syria, Exported to Ireland, belonging to the World. For everything, there is a reason. xxxx

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    • Dearest Mary, your warm heart is one of the most beautiful things in this crazy world. Your words mean a lot. They are a hug through time and space. I will be fine, it is not optional. Thanks for keeping in touch :*

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  2. Hi Suad. I just found your blog from a presentation you gave in February in Brussels, and just wanted to let you know how much this post resonated with me.
    I am not from Syria, but I am from Venezuela, and we are not technically refugees. Still, I left my country 5 years ago and cannot go back. I haven’t seen my parents in 3 years and don’t know when I will see them again. The economic and social problems in my country mean that whereas now they are better than most, soon they will struggle to find the little food they have now and every day they are more in danger of violence from common crime that is rampant in my city. My father suffers from a severe chronic illness and his health is declining because there is no more of his medicine in the country. I’m scared for them and my cousins and aunties every day. I am also under such strict visa regulations that I cannot start a family or feel actually grounded. Just perpetually looking to the next step I could take to secure my stay for just a bit longer.
    I can’t go home, but here I feel alone and misunderstood. Invisible. Fidel Castro died last week and it was hurtful to see the world’s absurd mourning of a man who ruled a country whose citizens risked their lives daily to escape on rafts to the US. Cubans did anything to escape. He should not have been celebrated. An idea is not alive, it does not suffer.
    Recently I went to a political rally and the man speaking said that when you stand so much for an idea that you don’t back down to protect the people you should be protecting and empowering as a leader, then you are a failure, because your job was to stand for the people, not just your ideas. I feel as though the world has forgotten us, it has abandoned us to our fate. It’s scary and sometimes it makes a voice in my heart that screams in despair because I cannot believe that this is where and who I am.
    But I also see a therapist (for various reasons). I talk about these things, and sometimes it helps. I take breaks, I stop reading the news for weeks at a time to forget for a moment that this sadness is where I am. I try to decorate the sadness as strength, and sometimes it works.

    You seem like a very strong person. No one weak could take your journey and still stand – or get up if they fall or need to sit. The therapist’s own mental health is their own deal and they are trained to manage it and see a therapist themselves. Go see one, sometimes as people we just need help carrying our burdens. Keep writing, and talk to somebody. Hopefully these words from a stranger who just felt a bit of identification with your story will not put you off too much.
    Take care of yourself.

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