When The Terror Hits Close To Home
I celebrated my birthday a few days ago and it was another great one, filled with love, friendship, and family. I had dinner with the kids, went out with hubby and friends, and received the most amazing and thoughtful homemade gifts from the kids. I felt so loved and it was another reminder that my blessings are great.
Yet despite it all, my mind and my heart has been heavy. Since finally getting DirectTv, I have been watching a great deal of CNN International and BBC, mostly to stay apprised of the side show that is American politics at the moment. Instead, I keep seeing the places that I’ve lived and loved being attacked and terrorized.
These past few months have had my emotions all over the place. It’s as if the world around me is imploding. I was angry about the seemingly never ending attacks on black men in the United States. I was sad about what was happening in Syria. I was angry and embarrassed about the outcome of the US election. The continuous attacks around the world have added to this sadness.
Whenever something happens in New York City I am deeply impacted because that’s my hometown and it’s where I grew up so I take it hard. I’m still not over 9/11 and I wasn’t personally affected by that tragedy. The thing about this lifestyle is the crazy attachment we often feel with multiple cities and towns, in multiple countries. When you live somewhere for one or more years, have made friends, have learned customs and languages, and have your children in school there, it’s almost impossible to not be impacted by what goes on.
So when those very places are being attacked, and hundreds of innocent people are being killed, it’s heartbreaking. I think of myself being there, I see the victims in my mind doing the same things with their loved ones as I did with mine, and I think about how selfish it is to feel thankful that we weren’t there at that moment.
We were at the airport in Brussels, Belgium, as well as in downtown Brussels, quite often. We lived in Charleroi, Belgium, where the terrorists who carried out the Paris Bataclan and restaurant attacks were from, and were arrested. It was a surreal experience to watch it unfold from our window while watching the Belgian news. We also sat at cafe’s and restaurants in Paris, just as those victims had. We were at the airport in Istanbul, many times. We were at the Christmas Market in Berlin. We lived in the Karsiyaka neighborhood of Izmir, Turkey where the latest bombs went off. One of the few times my hubby and I were able to enjoy a night out alone in Turkey, was at club Reina in Istanbul. When I saw the reports from the club after the fact, and they showed the blood stained walls and piles of abandoned shoes and purses, I immediately broke down.
Knowing how close we were to so much tragedy, and how close we are to it at any given moment is unsettling to say the least. It’s human nature to be more impacted by things if they happen close to home, or if it has some relationship to them and their lives. So this for me is so real and so scary.
The feeling of being somewhere months or years before other innocent people lose their lives is an eye opening and humbling experience, and not just for me. I’m a part of an extended group of women who live overseas just as I do. Each time there is a terror attack, someone is taking an online role call to make sure families in the affected areas are safe and accounted for. These women are supporting their men in our basketball communities abroad, and the number of bombs, gun attacks, or threats of violence is heart breaking and so scary for all of us. We have to think about whether we should return home, with or without our men, whether to pull the children out of school, and even whether to avoid going out in public, or using public transportation.
It just really puts things in perspective because while I may have the choice to pack up and leave, most people can not so easily escape such extreme and constant violence. No one should be forced to walk 8 miles because they are too scared to take a city bus for fear of a bombing. No one should fear a night out amongst friends because someone may kill them for going against what some phantom person or group feels is wrong.
As an American, I feel that we should care more about what happens in the world because we should care about humanity period. We also know the pain of terror attacks domestically, such as the recent attacks in Orlando and Ft. Lauderdale, so we’re all affected and it shouldn’t matter the nationality of the innocent victim.
As an American living abroad, I feel such a connection with my adopted home countries, and considering that I spend 9-10 months out of every year overseas, it would be impossible not to feel deeply affected by so much suffering. What’s worse is that we are essentially powerless to stop that deranged individual or group from carrying out a well planned attack on a random target.
So I guess I write as a way to share my sadness because I’m often alone out here and don’t always have someone to commiserate with (hubby can only listen to me say the same things over and over for so long). I also share my hope that we all begin to feel more empathy and outrage when these attacks happen, even when they happen abroad and may not affect our lives directly . One can only live in a bubble for so long.