Two Realities for Ukrainians Abroad
Mariam Naiem · 5 May 2022 · Adapted from original Twitter thread
Most Ukrainians abroad now feel conflicted about two simultaneous realities: the war vs. the routine peaceful life in their country of living. These two realities contradict each other so profoundly that we had to develop a coping mechanism consisting of two modes of thinking.
The first mode is Ukrainian. It’s within the reality of a country at war, and the everyday problems of its people. It’s death notifications. It’s fear, and joy that we are together, even in this fear. It’s a feeling that you’re not doing enough. That you’re not there. The second is the foreigner mode. It’s when, while answering the question “How are you?”, you suppress tears and the desire to scream. It’s when during the work meeting you receive a notification of your street being bombed and feel completely helpless.
Because you can’t share your reality with others, or they’ll tell you it’s too much. And you can see it in their eyes. It’s too much. True, this is too much for me as well. But we don’t have a choice. I would have never thought that a simple question, “hello, how are you?” would be a marker of two realities for me. First, in which this is a formal manifestation of politeness, and second, where it shows an incredibly tender feeling of caring for another person.