Words aren’t enough. Photo’s aren’t enough. What I am feeling isn’t adequate. I realized grieving a very real aspect of the nature of humanity is so much larger then my personal internalized and externalized experiences of it. It’s a connectedness through an extraordinarily tragic aspect of human nature. The universality of the experiences of trauma through war, death, rape, murder…crimes against humanity. They happen every day. They will continue to happen.
I don’t feel in a place to begin to talk about the things I experienced in Srebrenica. I know there are some eloquent accounts from my fellow students who have written about it. Please read them.
I tried my best to walk into this experience with an open heart and soul. While I didn’t know what I was walking into, in such a preparedly vulnerable space, I wouldn’t change the experience for anything. And here, because somehow, it feels sounder to express what I didn’t expect from the experience…
What I experienced in Srebrenica was not what I expected:
I didn’t expect to vacillate so wildly between utter collapse and being completely numb. I didn’t expect to feel so much anger directed at innate things. I didn’t expect to feel physically sick. I didn’t expect to feel lonely. I didn’t expect to need someone to be there for me while I cried uncontrollably. I didn’t expect my own trauma to come up. I didn’t expect that I would feel horribly guilty about that. I didn’t expect to still be crying randomly. I didn’t expect to be smiling and laughing five minutes after crying. I didn’t expect that I would be waking up with nightmares. I didn’t expect that I would be having anxiety attacks. I didn’t expect that my experience was going to make me feel isolated. I didn’t expect that I would want someone to talk to but not feeling comfortable asking. I didn’t expect to gain a better understanding of the experience of grieving. I didn’t expect to realize how much I haven’t done my own grieving. I didn’t expect to experience so much fear. I didn’t expect to not be okay. I didn’t expect that I wouldn’t know how to talk about my experience.
I have always believed in our life we experience the three different aspects of existence. Our mind, body, and soul. The body being our physical representation of our existence. The soul being a larger part of the collective universe, the part of us that continues to exist indefinitely. And the mind being the result of the interaction of those two.
This experience connected me with my soul, and in part my connection to my own humanity, in a way that I didn’t know was possible nor have I ever experienced before. The pain is raw and it’s very real. The reality of the human cost of tragedy is exorbitant. The experience was not what I expected.