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'We all carry inside us, people who came before us' — Liam Callanan

My great grandparents and grandparents lived through war and were directly affected by its atrocities. They were unable to speak about their terrifying experiences and instead, chose to try and forget them. Every day, they had to push through the trauma and try to leave the horrors of the past behind. Those who survived the war just wanted to feel safe and, in some cases, try to forget those who were lost.

As I think about the fear and pain my ancestors experienced, I am grateful for the relatively stable and safe life I have. My parents also faced their own challenges, but after the war, there was a sense of hope for a better future. There was communism - alcohol was consumed to soothe the pain of the past.

Now, I have the luxury of time and safety to explore my own emotions and learn about myself. I am able to look at the war trauma of my ancestors and parents with a certain distance and acknowledge the pain they carried. In my warm and comfortable home, I can allow myself to feel exhaustion and pain, ask questions about my purpose and wants, and just be.

I honor and thank all those who paid the highest price during the war, both the victims and the oppressors who were also victims at some point in their lives. The strong women who managed without men or with wounded men, often in dysfunctional relationships, had to suppress their own needs in order to survive. I come from all of them, I take all, good and bad, and I carry all of them in my heart with me as I move forward in my own life.

Gosia Miernik, daughter of Barbara from Kwiatkowska's family and Stanislaw form Miernik's family.


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