A few days ago, I was taking a break from writing and came across a post on Reddit. It has lingered in my mind for several days. User DmitriyBragin shared five before and after photos of what the war has done to his home in a post titled, “My hometown Kharkov in Ukraine 2022-2022.”

I chose to share the picture of the supermarket because it hit me deeply. There’s a supermarket about a mile from Paul’s parent’s house in Preston, England. Its second floor has a cafe where you can purchase drinks or full meals. This picture reminds me of the one in Paul’s hometown.

When Paul and I visit Preston, we often go for a walk and stop in the cafe for tea before walking the final mile back to his parents house. Sometimes, we go after dinner, too. Sometimes, we ate at the cafe. It was a nice respite from the world.

I thought about that place as I looked at the bombed out building. It’s an image that has been hard for me to shake over the past few days.

One of the comments struck me as well.

User parsley_is_gharsley wrote:

I’m from Vinnytsia, my new neighbors are from Kharkiv. I’ve been helping them out with their son. He’s a sweet, playful, kind boy. He plays a game called ‘shelling’ where he builds Lego apartment buildings and then destroys them. He started wetting himself in March and hitting himself in April and now he constantly has self-inflicted bruises. I found him hiding under his comforter around bedtime a few nights ago. “What are you doing?” “Hiding from the Russians in the basement.”

Sometimes here the war can feel far away. But this boy didn’t escape the war. He brought it with him. It’s in his head, it’s in his body, in his bones. I fear it’s with him for life.
Outside of any politics, I want to see putin’s head roll for what he did to this boy. And doubtless, so many boys and girls like him. I will not rest until that man is six fucking feet under.

I have never been to war, but I understand this little boy. It’s sometimes difficult for me to describe what having PTSD from trauma and childhood sexual assault is like because American society focuses so much on what it is like from war.

You don’t escape. It’s always with you. It is in my head, in my body, in my bones. It is there nearly every waking moment of my life. It is there when I try to sleep. It will never go away, but I can learn to manage it.

I do hope this little boy is able to get the help he needs to heal from what has happened to him.

I long for the day when there are no more monsters.