All of us in the diaspora have, in one way or another, been affected by traumatic events our grand-grandmothers and grandfathers have survived.
These events that happened over 80 years ago are still part of us and exhibit themselves through our behavior, how we connect to others, how we build relationships, how we resolve conflicts…
Yet, diaspora has been more fortunate, because both in the US and Canada, talking openly about emotional and psychological challenges is a norm.
This is not the case in Ukraine.
To this day, caring about psychological wounds is not common in the Ukrainian society.
Veterans are coming back home after fighting in the Donbass war.
They have seen their friends blown up in pieces.
They have sustained daily barrage by the Russian GRAD rocket systems.
Thousands have been maimed, disfigured, disabled.
Veterans don’t say much, but you can see the war in their eyes – the sadness of loss, the guilt of surviving, the anger of being rejected by the society; the flashing images of deceased friends, the whistling missiles, streaming blood, tears and numbing pain.
Having looked death in the eye for days on end, many veterans come back to civilian life with different – and deeper – values. They value dignity, authenticity, honesty and a sense of connection to their fellow soldiers with whom they had fought and survived together. These values and the accompanying depth of human connection are hard to find in peaceful life.
Wives and husbands of the veterans (yes, husbands because there are many women veterans) have also changed dramatically. They have experienced utter fear for their spouses. The worst part of this fear is that they had little, if any, control over their loved ones’ fate on the frontlines.
Veterans’ children’s lives have also been transformed. Many kids have nightmares. They have spent months waiting for their mothers and fathers to come back from war. And when they finally come back, they are not really home – they are lost in their minds, still trying to survive, one day at a time.
These kids will grow up…
Some of them will stay in Ukraine and will bring their trauma into their families.
Some of them will come to the US or Canada. And they will meet your children and they will marry your children.
And the two histories of trauma will converge and affect your grandkids.
This is the reality – we are all connected. We are one family…
To Be Continued….