That Never Happened

the worst part of

Primo Levi was a chemist, and Italian Jew, who was sent to Auschwitz – yet survived the Holocaust. He eventually was able to return to his home town where he thought that he’d be greeted with concern and sympathy. Indeed, when he arrived back in Turin after the war came to an end, the people gathered round him, and they stared and shook their heads. They asked him what had happened? What on earth had he been through? He looked emancipated. He was weak, and close to death.

Yet, when Levi shared the facts about the horrors he had seen, the terror of the death camps, and the inhumanity, the people turned their backs and, one by one, they walked away.

Why? The truth was too distressing. They just couldn’t take it in. They simply couldn’t process and accept what they had heard.

So, Levi now was left to bear the trauma all alone. He felt lost and forsaken for his suffering was extreme. Yet, no one there would listen; no one seemed to really care. It was like it hadn’t happened – like the truth was just a dream.

If you’ve experienced a trauma, then this likely resonates. Of course, it’s not the death camps but it’s like a mini death. Yet, often we’re abandoned by the people who should help. They can’t deal with what’s happened, so they turn and walk away. This leaves us isolated. We’re abandoned in our grief. We try to act like normal – for the topic is taboo.

But … You can’t ignore a trauma for it eats away at you. The pain remains inside you; it wreaks havoc with your life.

Levi found his own solution – for he started noting down the fragments he remembered from the years in the death camps. He wrote things on old tickets, on discarded bit and scraps. In time, these were collated and they formed a manuscript: his first published book, If this is a Man.

I’m pretty sure this process helped preserve his sanity. We need our anguish witnessed and acknowledged in some way. We need to tell our story. All that pain must be released. For Levi, this was freeing.

Has your story been heard, too?

14 thoughts on “That Never Happened

  1. Thank you so much! This is awesome. And that is unimaginable that he could experience that reaction, afterwards. After what could only be the worst trauma imaginable. What incredible strength he showed. That is very inspiring to me, and can be to us all right now! 🙂.

    Just reading this helped me a bit, helped me remember the feeling of writing my stories and having them read and commented on. I’ve recently resolved to tell more of them, hopefully I’ll get to it tomorrow 🙂.💙

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow. Thanks for sharing Levi’s story. I’d never heard of him.

    I know this blog is mostly for betrayal spouses/partners, but you know what really came to me when I read this? (TRAUMA) My husband was a doc and had a successful career and many colleagues. Quite a few of them knew he tried to end his life (not uncommon with docs) and not ONE of them reached out to him, even months or years after. They turned their backs on him, like the people in Levi’s home town.

    I have shared my story. Not only in my blog, but in groups, in person with a few treasured women who were also betrayed, and in therapy, of course.

    Great blog! Thank you!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yes, I agree, it speaks to all kinds of trauma. I’m really sorry about your husband. That’s a bit of an indictment on the health profession. You would think they would look after their own. That must be heartbreaking for your husband … I’m glad that you’ve been able to share your story. I’m sure it has helped a lot of people.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a great post. The strong ones are given the heavier and hardest burdens to carry and resolve themselves. The gifted or different also experience this. The weak people who only have a care for themselves are unable to relate or support. Their support is worthless, this is why so many journey alone and in isolation. This has been my experience friends and family I have had to cast aside and walk alone.

    I learned to build resilience, strength and inner power plus more to pull me through my life there are days I have to force myself to go out as the world around is cold and cruel. More will turn away then help.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Interesting. I think people turn away sometimes because not only do they not know how to process someone else’s trauma, but I think they feel somehow someone else’s trauma will rub off on them. Like those that hear about others being cheated on, but are convinced it could never happen to them because…. somehow we brought it on ourselves. Then they create distance instead of understanding and compassion.

    I feel grateful for two things. One, that I was careful with who I shared my story and that they were mostly very helpful, and two, that I started blogging to get my story out of my head. xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a really good point Kat – one I hadn’t thought off. And I think those 2 last points are essential: using discretion when we choose who to share with, and having the chance to share anonymously online.

      Like

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