In the light of the two attacks in Brussels but not forgetting the ones that happened since the Paris attack in November 2015 and, there were many of them, unfortunately, Ankara, Istanbul, Beirut, Bamako… – I am posting my short reflection from November last year…
‘I cannot begin to explain how I feel after hearing the news about the attacks in Paris tonight. Am I pissed off? Outraged? Terribly sad? Or desperate to learn that somehow, somewhere I am not surprised and I feared that this would happen. Paris? Is it a surprise? Only a few hours after the attacks, while the hostage situation still lasted, some analysis came out indicating that as shocking as they are these attacks should not come as a surprise, neither should location.
I cried. I cried when I heard the news, and I felt physically weak. My hands started to shake, and my heart was pounding. I couldn’t breathe, and I couldn’t sit still, so I walked in circles in our living room while I was searching for the news on BBC, ITV or Channel 4 or any news channel to get some live updates about the situation in Paris. There were none, I couldn’t find any update on TV and I started to panic. My palms began to sweat, and I opened my Facebook account on my laptop, my Apple news on my iPad and my Twitter on my phone and I was not happy with the speed of the live updates! I wanted all the numbers, the actions, the statements, the reports and I wanted them all now. And the whole time, I cried. I am crying now while I’m typing this, because I remember and I understand the noise, the fear and the terror of the victims, the hopelessness and powerlessness, the feeling of seeing your end and being convinced that you will not come out of there alive. Those who do survive, they will not believe it and will be wondering how did they survive.
The noise is constant. Those short moments when there is no noise, the fear is louder and tangible. Eerie silence. Then the noise starts again, and death appears, and people lose their lives. Just like that. I can’t stand the loud sounds now. Once one life is taken, the death stays there, it lingers on. You think about your end, you see it coming, and you think about your worst fears, and you hope they don’t come true in your final moments. You hope that you will not go in pain, that you will not suffer too much as if the fact that you think about all this and the fact that you found yourself in this situation is not suffering enough. You recognise how powerless you are and how there is nothing you can do to change the situation you’re in. But you don’t say it out loud. When it comes to saying out loud, you say ‘we will get out of here’, ‘we will be ok’. And you don’t believe them. You know they are not true.
The fear doesn’t go away. It stays with you, you just learn to live with it. You and fear adjust to each other. You get better, you process the trauma, you deal with it in different ways, you overcome it to a certain extent, and the fear adjusts to it. It changes size, it changes shape, and it changes you.
You will never be the same person again. I am not the same person.’