Standing Ground

Jul 16, 2022

Before I forget: sorry if you couldn't contact me, I've been suspended on Reddit and Twitter. On Reddit for defending myself against a person who called me an imposter (apparently the "Do you want to talk about it?" is harassment according to Reddit). And on Twitter - for saying "killing russians helps bring world peace." Yeah, OK, fine, technically that one was hate. I hate russians. Can you blame me? I created alt accounts and I still wreak havoc on the internet. You can block me, but you can't shut me up.

Meanwhile, I am still having a very hard time. I was about to write a post a few days ago and say that things were looking up since the arrival of HIMARS, we did not have an air raid for over 48 hours! Buuut I'm writing this after the 4th air raid today.

HIMARS are still awesome and I love them so much, please send more. But the Russians are known for throwing tantrums when they lose, and the only thing they can do is take out their frustration on civilians. I am very scared. These missiles they use cannot be taken down by air defense warfare, they are not seen on radars. The satellites are telling us when they launch, the government announces the air raid - and then it's a lottery... Sit there in your little hallway and guess: will your house be hit today or will you be the lucky one?

Picture by Iryna Vale (the text says: "Every time I hope they miss")

Before you ask: no, I still don't want to evacuate. This is exactly what the russists want: scare people out of the country and make the crisis even worse. I am not leaving, I am standing my ground. I am terrified, I am shaking and crying doing this, but I'm standing it. I'm working, I'm volunteering, I'm buying coffee, so the guys at the coffee house can pay the taxes, and I'm donating to the army and all my favorite charities nearly every day (that's why I recently opened my bank account and was terrified to see how much I spent on donations last month. Two-month salary - just gone! Got a little carried away when they were collecting money for Bayraktars. No regrets though.) I am doing my tiny little part, and I'm standing my ground.

A few days ago I was sitting there, in my shelter under the air raid, and I was looking for some old photo for a friend who was sitting in her shelter in another city hundreds of km away, and neither of us knew if we survive till the end of the conversation. And while I was scrolling my phone I found this video I made last year. It was a very windy day, and I felt ridiculously happy and at peace, and I made this funny video to remember that day and that wind in my hair:

I saw it and I felt like I would never be able to feel that happy ever again in my life. Like, even if we win this war right now, if you tell me that all my wildest dreams came true: russia does not exist as a country anymore, I am safe, we are all safe, it's over, we can rebuild our country as we like and make a nice beautiful life for ourselves - I will still not feel that happy. First of all, I don't believe I can feel safe - ever. I know now what it's like to be hated by a whole group of strangers, to be seen as sub-human, to be told to shut up and die, to be called slurs. I know there are people out there, these hateful parasitic russians spread all over the world, who think I'm not human and should be dead. I know what cruelty people are capable of based on that hatred, I know that a genocidal war can happen at any moment, that my life that I'm filling with all these carefully chosen details, can be gone in an instant. Like, I really wanted a new vase, and I walked through several stores to find the one I liked, and I am so glad I found that particular vase... My entire life is full of these tiny little details that make me happy. The pigeons that live on the roof of my balcony, my favorite grocery store that has the soft cheese I like, the pond in the park that my grandfather built - all of it can be lost in a flash. Every time I look at the sky I subconsciously look for missiles. Every time I look at the sea I look for russian ships. Every time I video chat with my friends and they take off their headphones to listen for something, my mind immediately jumps into all these scenarios: "Air raid? Explosions? Helicopters? Belorus attacked? Someone came into their room to tell them about a nuke??? Are they safe? Do they need to run? Do I need to run?" and before they tell me it was their spouse bringing them coffee, I'm already halfway into the panic attack choking down tears and scrolling news websites.

I can never be this happy again. How can I be happy when I spent so many nights hoping that I don't die within the next half an hour, or if I have to die that it happens quickly and painlessly? How can I be happy after my father begged me like I've never seen before to leave him and my mom behind and run to Poland? My dad is a grumpy man, I don't think I ever heard him say "please" to me before, and the way he begged me to go that day broke me forever in a way I can't describe. How can I be happy when everything I see every day is suffering and death and ruin? When I know that the victory we eventually get is temporary because for as long as russia exists, they'll keep trying to destroy us. They say we are "brothers" and have "the same spirit", but the truth is they hate us, because we are different, and they can't keep pretending that they are better than us while we live our quiet peaceful lives right next to them. For as long as russia exists they will tear their neighbors down - remember I said it. This is how their nation was built, literally from the day Moscow was established: the first thing their founder did was come back to Kyiv with an army, loot it, and burn it down.

I am finishing this post the next day after I started it. It is 6:20 am, I sat down to type at 5 after the last air raid was over. It's been 6 or 7 air raids within the past 24 hours. There's been an explosion an hour ago, something is on fire in Odesa, we've been advised to keep our windows closed to not get poisoned by the smoke. I know that this ruzzist tantrum is a sign that we're winning. I know their terror will continue. I know we have to keep going and we can't afford to back down. I have no more strength to take it all, but I will carry on regardless.

The sun is up, the new day is here. I know that we will win. Some years will pass - they will come back and I will have to fight them again. And I will be afraid again, and I will cry in my little hallway. But I will do my tiny little part to contribute to our resistance, and if I die, I die standing my ground.

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