A friend of mine asked me once, ‘Don’t you hate?’ and I said, ‘No.’ I gave up hate. I had to. It was the only reasonable thing for me to do in order to raise my children as decent human beings. The only reasonable thing for me to do in order to be able to raise my children as decent human beings.
I hated. I did, with passion everything that was connected in any sense with the place where the attack happened. The country, its people, its food, mementoes, the memories, I hated it all. Dozens of scarves that I bought there, rugs, books, I gave almost all of them away. I believed that I’d never wear or use them again and I hadn’t, for a long while.
Initially, I was busy with grief, guilt and rage.
The time stopped, my little universe was shattered in thousands of pieces and I was in a complete dark. Dungeon. Pitch-black all over and all I could do was feel my way around searching for something. A light, a twinkle of hope that somehow I was just stuck in a terrible nightmare and that I needed to wake up. Somebody had to wake me up. I WILL wake up! There is no other way!
Then, I went through the surgery. It gave me the initial push to start moving again and reach out of the dungeon. I went through the physical recovery, physiotherapy and I despised it because I had to be among other people, speak to them, answer their questions, pretend that I cared about what they said when I didn’t.
I hated it all and I hated myself.
The time passed. Life started happening again.
I travelled, started a relationship and joined my efforts in recovery with my soon to be husband. We were there for each other in every way. Able to understand and support one another, to leave each other in peace and silence when we needed it. I’m the silent type while my husband is a talker. It was a bit of a difficult match at the beginning, especially because I had the notorious passive-aggressive approach to personal relationship matters for most of my life. It took me a terrorist attack to break that cycle too. (Yup, you got it, I learn the hard way).
Anyway, my soon to be husband and I had a lot more going for us, so the differences between silent vs talkative type were not a dealbreaker. Our relationship was the front line against the cycles of misery, rage and hate that both of us created for ourselves respectively.
‘I will permit no man to narrow and degrade my soul by making me hate him.’ – Booker T. Washington
I am not a hater. My parents didn’t raise me that way. Hate is unnatural and uncomfortable feeling for me. Yet, I felt it and wore it without thinking of it too much. What burst the hate bubble was a week of another emotional earthquake that shook me only eight months after the attack.
We set the date for our wedding and although I hadn’t had a great relationship with my dad, I was still excited to share the news with him. I knew the news would make him happy and it did. Dad started making different plans straight away. Two days later, he called me back but I missed his call. Another two days and we found out I was pregnant with our first child. The following morning my dad passed away. I never returned his call.
Although the relationship I had with my dad was weak and shaky as we rarely saw each other and we didn’t really talk much, certainly it was far from hate. The news I received was sudden, unexpected and devastating and one thing that it did was deepen my feeling of guilt.
All I could think of were good memories I had with my dad growing up. The thick snow on the ground, big beautiful snowflakes quietly falling while my dad is pulling the sledge explaining the nature to me. How we collected conkers together for my school assignment while dad talked about chestnut trees and answered my questions about anything and everything. How we chose books to buy and talked about them after reading them together…
As a contrast, a memory of us sitting on the roof during the attack became a constant. We were sweating, sitting on the tiled floor in the blood puddle, listening to the noise of bullets and RPGs. A helicopter that was sent to extract us had to pull out because the shooting in and around the house intensified. We could only wait as we had in the previous few hours. My husband now sat next to me with tourniquet high up on his arm but still bleeding. We were all quiet when he put his hand on mine,
– We gonna get out of here, you know.
– I know – I said, thinking – No, we won’t…
We went quiet again and just sat there. I felt as if I were detached from my body sitting on top of the water tower, watching us in pain and fear but calm, tired and waiting. The day was bright and hot. Mum… Would I see her again, have coffee with her or laugh with her again? When was the last time I told her I loved her?
Going through all these files of memories when my dad passed away unlocked the door that I shut tight and chained after the attack. Plus, pregnant?! I’m going to have a baby! We’re going to have a baby! It felt as if the missing piece were put in the right place in the puzzle and the whole puzzle illuminated, revived me. I felt ready to get up, brush my teeth and start the day.
‘A baby is not the answer’
Broken relationships cannot be patched-up with babies, we know that, but this was different (how many times have you heard that?). I never thought I’d say this, but the baby was an answer. It patched-up broken relationship between myself and I. At the time, I was nervous, worried, insecure and although I said after the attack that I’d not have children, the knowledge of the new life that we created rekindled me. It was the best surprise ever – there is a new life within me that bears my new self.
As if I pulled the curtains and opened the window, the light was back in and I took a deep breath of fresh air. I could see my life in a perspective again. The road opened up ahead of me and I could stop going in circles now. It was the time for me to focus my energy on creating and nourishing my new life instead of hating the old one.
The only reasonable thing for me to do was to give up hate. I had no energy or time for it anymore and it was not an option. ‘New’ was the word of the day and we decided to live it. Nothing represents the New better than the change of environment, so we changed countries and distanced ourselves from our triggers.
I gave up hate to recreate myself and build a new life for us.
We closed the first book in a series and opened the second one. The clean sheet before us, quill in hand.
Photo: ‘Embryo’ by Bisa Jelisavac. Farewell gift from a family friend before we moved back to the UK.