Libya On The Couch

She was once young, beautiful and the talk of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern promise. But after four decades of enduring abuse, Libya has become an ugly, unhappy and miserable old woman. She can’t even recognize herself and is unable, try as she might, to recall any happy times.

Under her dangerous captor, she has broken down and cannot deal with the simple day-to-day tasks. When she compares herself to others, she is deeply jealous, as they have built proud kingdoms and taken care of their children and their lands. With fear, trepidation and her heart pounding in her chest, she’s decided to speak her peace before looming death and confide her regrets. 

In therapy, honesty and disclosure are a must without holding back. She’ll revisit the terrible memories and go far back. As she sits on the client couch uncomfortable and nervous, the figure behind the desk has his pen ready to write all down. He starts: “What brings you here today Libya?”

Not sure where to begin, Libya sighs and puts a hand over her face and mouth. But she says: “It is a horrible story and I am ashamed. I’ve been feeling down for years. I always cry without reason and I shout in my head. It is my children I’m most concerned about.

“They do have the will, energy and drive to live decently and honestly, but they have been stopped by others who have learnt corruption, deception and lies to get ahead. 

“I am, as you know, critically ill with terminal cancer. I’ve had to sell my jewelry and other possessions to pay for this treatment abroad and to repair the damage of the past. Who would have thought I would have no choice but to beg for strangers’ help? 

“It is the small things also that embarrass me and I’ve yet to admit, I’ve been complicit by silence and by default.

“I have neglected myself and abandoned my health. My beautiful terrain should not have taken the brunt of assault. My beaches, mountains and oasis surrounded by desert land! Of course, those wise and informed enough know and intuit the truth of my story and feel sad for me. I find this tough to accept.

“As a mother, I am aware and was always aware of all the bad stuff going on. Some of it is my fault, but most of it not. I admit also a number of my flesh and blood have been seduced by the evil and identified with our jailor from the start. 

“He gives them money, cars and houses so they do his bidding, no matter the cruelty of his requests. How they came to be mine and groomed to worship and idolize him I don’t know. I must take into account if I’m to ever to get closure and make sense.

“I don’t like to say it, but yes, I was the butt of much aggression, - mental, physical and spiritual - it became normal and I kept quite. I found ways to deny and pretend nothing was wrong. Forced as I was to do things and forced to see events nobody should ever have to witness.”

Dr: “Okay, Libya, if it helps, how far back can you recall?”

“I guess the mistreatment began in 1976. He hung and executed anyone who dared to protest and voice dissent. The same would happen on the anniversary for years to remind us the certain fate if we didn’t tow the line.

“Fear! We were so scared and captive in our own land and in our homes. We could not even pray at the mosques. The dawn raids were the worst for many of us. At school, also, the young were beaten and their curious minds shut. What followed, in the 1980s, well. Am sure you’ve heard of the 'stray dogs' assassination campaign? Even abroad, his tentacles reached very far.

“Paranoia! God, I suspected everyone an informant, even my relatives and neighbours. I checked my every word not to complain and afraid to say anything about the crazy ideological stance of the government. I couldn’t swear, except in my frustrated nightmares as I would wake up in a cold sweat. 

“Not to mention the economic strife and the stupid dinars. When products arrived, we couldn’t afford but the necessities. Everyone drove miles for years for clean water, promised as we were with an artificial river! With travel, visas were impossible to get to get out. We got so isolated.

“But how ironic, the world would see my captor as a strong and eccentric rebel who dared to challenge the international status quo. He claimed that greed and power were the enemy. Hmm, he is still telling these lies, when he has been hoarding the oil riches in private investment accounts. For what? Sick, perverse and terror ends. He thought there was a price tag on everybody’s head.”

But then, with a gulp, she says: “But maybe this time is different. Maybe today, for those of us who truly love our country and have dignified roots on its soil, something might shift. We can no longer refuse to forget or let things slide.

“We have nowhere else to go and we don’t want anywhere else. Yes, death is the highest price we’ve been asked, but what has gone on for too long must end. He’s turned us against each other and is shooting to kill us unarmed. For no other goal but to keep onto a power seat made useless and ineffective by himself.

“No matter, he may fool his psychotic ego. What has he ever done for the Libyans? Nothing! Go and see for yourself. With this revolution, though, I feel free at last to scream and shout and to talk, to tell my tale. Ultimately, I need to also heal my broken heart. The world is close enough to hear my cries and I must run with this chance to turn the tables and claim his monstrous head!”

Analyst: “Libya, am afraid your minutes are up. Should we pencil in next week same time?”