Grieving Our Revolution

Monday 25 January 202112:53 pm

On the 10-year anniversary of Egypt's "Arab Spring," my heart can finally grieve the loss of old dreams and hope for a kinder country.

As an Egyptian woman and writer, I was so committed to writing a long list on what we have achieved in the ten years since Egypt’s historic revolution: political awareness, and a wide range of personal freedoms - especially for women.

Today, there are more women in leadership positions, more women living on their own, and more public discourse against sexual harassment and abuse. These are great things, but not everyone benefited from them, and not everyone would agree that the revolution is the reason behind those changes.

However, like so many other writers, I questioned the point of making such a list of victories. Why does it still matter to say that the revolution was a good thing? Especially that more than half of the country believes otherwise. Asking such questions is perhaps the greatest evidence of how much apathy the current situation in Egypt has created.

I call these feelings of agony and despair, “Revolution Grief.” As Egyptians we have had to

come to grips with the fact that our revolution did not transform our country into a kinder, fairer, and more democratic society. I am part of a generation that is shamed, shunned, and helpless. Everyone who was part of the revolution in Egypt still has no real place in political discourse. Our voices are not allowed in the media and we hold no positions of power or influence. That is if they are not in jail already.

To grieve is to feel sorrow and pain in response to loss; a loss of a person, a dream and maybe your very identity. I talked to therapists and friends to see if it is normal to still be grieving ten years later. Well the answer is absolutely.  Unfortunately, the majority of us - no matter where we live- are showing symptoms of trauma and PTSD; anxiety, depression, despair and apathy. Many of us have days where we cannot get out of bed. Like today, after I pushed writing this piece till the last minute, I am here editing it under my blanket in a dark room.

It is really hard to process the death of friends, the loss of some to jail and having our narrative stripped from us. I don't know if we'll ever fully recover from this. What I know for sure is that a proper process of grief can save our future. At least we won't continue going down the spiral of defeat. 

Everyone who was part of the revolution in Egypt still has no real place in political discourse. Our voices are not allowed in the media and we hold no positions of power or influence. That is if they are not in jail already

There are five stages of grief; denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

I spent the first few years in denial. It was so hard for me to believe that pure and good hearts can be easily defeated. Believing that means losing hope in humanity. So, I convinced myself that we are on a pause. I went on a healing journey, traveling and studying counseling. I thought that if I can only heal myself and help others heal, we will get back stronger. But definitely I was delusional. 

Then, I got stuck between anger and bargaining. Every time I see a distressing piece of news from Egypt, I feel a sharp knife piercing my heart. I turn to Twitter to write a tweet or two - to bargain with reality and to feel empowered. Until last December, as I was faced with writing this piece. I felt depressed and stayed silent for a few days. I realized that anything I write will be preaching to the choir. And all those eight years, I have been looking for a new purpose. For a new role in the world. A path that made me study Public Policy, to be equipped to save the world and forget about Egypt. 

But as we all know, the more we run away from something the more it sticks to us. The truth is that the undertone of my life since 2013 has been anger, sadness and apathy.

The last stage of grief is acceptance. Acceptance is the last step before healing and freedom. Acceptance is usually quiet and withdrawn. It is maturity in a way. The same way we accept that our bodies decline as we grow older and the same way we accept that love doesn't last forever. If we want to heal this, we are to accept that we have at least lost this round of the revolution. This does not mean we will stop showing up for our friends or that we will stop speaking up or will give up on those of us who are still in jail. It only means we will reach a sense of resolve that will enable us to see clearly and make conscious choices. 

The last stage of grief is acceptance. If we want to heal, we are to accept that we have at least lost this round of the revolution. This means we will reach a sense of resolve that will enable us to see clearly and make conscious choices.

Coping with loss and grief is personal. Everybody feels and processes things differently. I can’t tell anyone how to grieve, I can only invite you to assess your feelings as you put this experience to rest. Because only then we will be able to act freely and not as a reaction to our trauma. Only then new avenues of opportunities will open to us. I personally have not published a long piece on the revolution since June 2013. I believe that acceptance and choosing to alchemize my feelings through writing this opinion piece is only  possible at the end of the grief cycle. I am hoping that each one of us finds our own alchemy that will not only heal us, but will heal our country. For the generations to come.

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