Reem Abdel-Razek, this is for you, in honor of your supreme struggle and your vast determination. I love you, sister-in-arms:
We feel guilt that it takes us a long time to ‘get over’, to process unspeakable trauma and violence.
We feel guilt being around our colleagues and friends because we are so easily triggered, intense, moody, self-absorbed, disconnected, because we are so unstable. We tend to closet ourselves away, to hide, to withdraw because of this.
We feel guilt that we can’t just fix ourselves now that the worst is over and things are better.
We feel guilt for being unhappy when our whole lives have been wrought with tragedy.
We feel guilt that others are made uneasy, bothered, by our severe pain, consider.
We feel we do not deserve to be, do not belong among other people.
We need dire help with such frequency that we begin to view our entire existence as an imposition.
We feel guilty with how frequently we fail, don’t show up, don’t complete assignments on time, how often our minds hold us hostage and make us sick, how consistently we are incapacitated, and how many apologies and excuses we have to keep on making to everyone around us, how much like imposters we feel, because is it even possible for someone to get sick THAT often?
It doesn’t even matter that we’ve beat incredible odds, that we’ve accomplished incredible things, that we are smart, dedicated, hardworking, giving, and strong.
It doesn’t matter, my dear Reem, that you spoke up against the oppressive with courage, strength, determination, though you suffered costs no human should suffer. It doesn’t matter that you escaped, saved yourself, and now face the terrifying possibility of being sent back. It doesn’t matter that, though you are weighted down with mortal grief, you take stride after stride with self-betterment, a new life, healing, and championing human rights in mind.
Except for, it does matter. You inspire. When I look at you, I lose all ability to can
But still we feel guilt that parts of our communities are BOTHERED at us for being that type of person that formed and shaped herself in response to severe injustice and trauma.
We feel guilty for being JUDGED by people who have no idea what it’s like to live the kinds of lives you and I have lived.
People who cannot fathom what it does to a person.
We feel guilt for being judged for handling our burdens–ours–is if those who judge us can comprehend their weight.
And you know what? FUCK THAT NOISE.
But we also feel guilt because we feel that we are alone– that nobody else feels this way, that it is not normal, acceptable to feel this way.
But you are not alone, Reem. I am here with you.
Nor are you, reader, alone.
If you are a victim of trauma, repression, suppression, violence, depression, or mental illness and you feel these ways, I invite you to comment, raise your hand, in support, solidarity, together.
You are not alone. This is okay. You are not alone.