My life story started in Yugoslavia, a great country where a number of different nations for many years lived happily together, until a few greedy politicians came along and gave us the reasons why we should hate each other. I had no interest in those stories and even though, all of the sudden I wasn’t Yugoslavian but Serbian, I never stopped listening to Croatian music or hilarious Bosnian jokes. My mother taught me to always carry love in my heart and to be good, so a bunch of unscrupulous politicians and the media full of bad propaganda weren’t going to change my perception and what had been deeply embedded into my personality and made me who I was. Little did I know that I had no idea who I was and that the break of Yugoslavia had little if anything to do with it.
As products of our parents it’s logical for us to think that we are half mum and half dad with all of their genes mixed up and shaped into a brand new person that they are going to love endlessly and be very proud of. They teach us everything they know and want the best for us. At least that is a general and widely accepted opinion although we tend to overlook the fact that among parents there are also those with personality disorders that make them completely incapable of love. No child in the world could ever grasp this concept, so we grow up believing that all lies, manipulations, destructive conditions, name-calling, shaming, control and so much more was love.
My father only got married so that he can build a reputation of a family man and then hide behind that reputation all the broken pieces from his childhood that had been put back together in the shape of a self-serving, egoistic narcissist who would stop at nothing to get his own way. With his sophisticated manners and ruthless heart he ruled our lives and for many years managed to put us exactly where he wanted us to be, assigning us roles that only served his self-centred agenda.
Mother was a nurturer in the broadest possible way. She could sense that something wasn’t quite right but her loving nature and the great desire to keep her family together silenced that inner voice. She used herself as a shield determined to protect her children from any harm until they were old enough to run away to their own success and happiness. Of course, that wasn’t the picture that was painted in my head. I loved my father; he was always kind and easy going. I believed that he was the best father that ever lived as his cold heart and calculative mind were hidden behind my mother’s tears and sleepless nights.
When I got pregnant and decided to marry my high school sweetheart at the age of twenty I wasn’t running away. I was marrying my soul mate, the love of my life and I was happy. But not for long. Soon after the big wedding day we started falling apart when the long fights and never ending arguments pushed love and understanding out of our lives. Even the arrival of our baby boy couldn’t fill the chasm that was growing between us when we both failed to meet each other’s expectations.
In less than two years my hope was gone and I was facing the unimaginable reality. Girls never dream about getting divorced but my marriage was over and I found myself living with my parents again. Only this time I wasn’t my dad’s princess. I was a single mum, a disgrace and he used every opportunity to make me feel unwanted and unloved. According to my father everything was my fault and all I ever heard coming out of his mouth was what a bad person I was, in any conceivable way.
Yugoslavia was broken, the civil war and inflation were raging and life was pretty tough for everyone. My personal hardship was just a tiny drop in the ocean of misfortune; anyway, whining is not my style. I lived with my parents for the long ten years and without even realising completely lost my self-esteem, self-confidence and above all I forgot my worth. Yet, something deep inside of me was still rebellious and I made a decision that it was time for me to move out and grow up.
My son and I moved into a small flat that was in the walking distance from both, his school and my office. We were finally on our way to a brighter future. Then, as it happens when things start changing for the better, along came my second husband to be.
No, it wasn’t the love at first site. He was just an old guy who came to Belgrade all the way from England and was going to organise seminars for people who were interested in learning English. I was busy living my life, finally enjoying freedom and independence, men and romance couldn’t have been further from my mind. And anyway, he was older than my mother.
I was however, very interested in practising and improving my English and when he invited me to meet up for a drink, I accepted.
Eight months later we got married. It was a glorious sunny day in Belgrade and I still remember it as one of the happiest days of my life. Soon after, my son and I were on our way to England and although, I knew that we were heading towards the unknown and I wasn’t sure what to expect, what happened next wasn’t on my list of possibilities.
Ahead of me were the toughest lessons I had ever had in my life that have rendered me completely broken and with only one question, WHY?
‘Why’ is a good question. It forces you to think and more you ask it more whys are coming your way, and then you finally learn that everything you know is questionable, everything you believe is not necessarily true and what other people say should always be met with a big question mark, regardless of who those people are. So after going through a fair share of complaining, blaming and feeling wronged I realised that I was living a ‘déjà vu’. Back at my parents’ house with another little boy, I was only twenty years older, everything else was the same. How the hell did I end up here again? How the hell did I end up here again? How the hell did I end up here again? I just couldn’t stop asking myself the same question. Then one day the answer presented itself. It was all my doing. The life I lived was a result of my decisions and even if I allowed my parents or anyone else to influence my decisions, that was also my decision.
Four years ago I decided to leave my parents’ house forever. I took my son back to England and said to myself that the option of going back is not available any longer. I know now that everything that happens to us is a pure reflection of who we are and if we find ourselves in a story we don’t like we can only change it by changing ourselves.
Taking responsibility for your life is not easy. Saying ‘What have I done to deserve this’ comes in more naturally. However, the only way to take your life into your hands is by knowing that you are accountable and if you were able to do it wrong, you can as well do it right. When we blame other people we give away our power as we feel that our happiness and success depend on someone else.
Through my life experiences and ongoing education I woke up to a life of freedom, independence and love. I have found my inner strength, the light of my life that guides my every step as I walk into a new day, protected by faith and welcomed by the sun.