The Unexplainable Trauma

Sarine Hallajian

The 4th of August, when shock and loss gave way to rage. When, in a matter of seconds, our hearts stopped beating. Even though I wished it was just a terrible dream that I would wake up from eventually, it was not. It was the day that Lebanon lost its people in a heartbeat.

Reliving the incidents of August 4 on a daily basis is a nightmare. It’s a victory if you can get through a day without having any flashbacks of that day. It was a preventable catastrophe that destroyed lives in a split second. The explosion had an emotional, mental, and physical influence on us. It reached the point where every one of us had to call their loved ones to see if they were alive. I was in a hospital when it happened. I saw it collapse. I saw how the windows broke into million pieces. I saw blood everywhere. I saw injured people coming in and out of the hospital. The scene and the screams were just too unbelievable to be true. Yes, a year has gone, but we are still terrified, terrified that it might happen again, terrified of what could happen to our loved ones in a single second. I'm still traumatized. I become afraid whenever I hear a bang or something loud. My pulse starts beating fast every time I contact someone and they don't pick up quickly or answer the phone late. Every time I go out with my friends, I feel bad about laughing and having fun. Personally, I am unable to return to the way I used to live or feel prior to this horrible experience. It broke my city apart, destroying our lives, homes, and dreams, and we are still bearing the effects. I'm still in disbelief that I have seen something like this and that I survived death.

Regardless of the blast's negative consequences, the lesson I learned was to be glad and grateful for what I have. Any of my family members, or even I, could have died. However, none of us did. And it is for this reason that I thank God every day for giving me the opportunity to realize that everything I have is priceless and might be torn from my hands at any time, leaving me powerless… I get anxious when my mom or dad go somewhere and leave me alone, always worrying that something horrible might happen and I won't be able to be there. The thought of August 4 haunts me; it is on my mind 24/7. A further effect of the explosion is a tremendous desire to escape this country. I love Lebanon, but I am too afraid to build a future here, to attend university or to start a family. My ambitions have been dashed, and I no longer believe that my own nation is a safe haven; I see it differently today, and I simply want to leave. Everywhere I go, every individual I encounter reminds me of that day, as if it hadn't already crossed my mind that day. I want to escape out of this prison because I don't want this horrific experience to prevent me from living my life and remaining positive. But of course, without forgetting the lessons it taught me.

August 4 I wish you didn't exist, that all those innocent people didn't die, and that we could go back to our normal lives. I wish we didn't have to deal with suffering, bereavement, and tragedy. Everyone had a piece of themselves taken away. It is completely unjust.