My Heart Is With The Ukrainian People

28 February, 2022

I am not a foreign policy expert. However, I do know what it’s like to grow up after a war, under Communist rule. To have my father be in hiding due the realities of re-education camps, executions and disappearances into the night.

I know what it's like to flee with my parents for our lives, to seek refuge. Where anywhere is better than this nightmare.

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For those of us who have experienced open warfare and fleeing for our lives - whether personally or ancestrally - the war in Ukraine may be igniting body echoes of a familiar terror that lurks beneath the surface, hidden by ordinary everyday life.

For most of my life, I turned away.

I turned away from the Yugoslav wars, the massacre of Rohingyans, and the genocide in the Congo, all of which resulted in waves of refuge-seekers in my parents' home suburb, where I grew up.

I turned away because my nervous system did not have the capacity to meet the unresolved body echoes of terror. I was living in survival mode (and unaware of it), yet to have discovered the transformative power of somatic psychotherapies.

Yesterday, I grounded myself in ancestral love and strength, and sat with my body echoes, and allowed the constriction and tension to build. My body contorted into gut-wrenching sounds that were dis-allowed due to the survival imperative. You see, survival requires the discipline of silence, and fleeing requires the discipline of over-riding all other primal needs.

Completing the physiological responses of overwhelming terror restores the nervous system to homeostasis and, as a somatic trauma therapist, increases my capacity to bring heart-full presence to the terror of others.

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Terror is always intermingled with grief and existential confusion.

Maybe one day, I will understand why.

In the meantime, I stand with the people of Ukraine. I share your terror and grief, and your hope for peace. You inspire me with your bravery and your humanity in the face of this nightmare.

I also know that it's not bravery when fighting or fleeing are your only options for survival.

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Myheartiswithukraine

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