I am A 51-year-old woman. I really stopped counting years when I turned 36, and I still
feel that age. After all — it’s just a number.
When I reflect, I can say that my life has been colorful, with some great seasons,
but also challenging and dark times. Life is supposed to be like that, it is like a
rollercoaster ride, with ups and downs.
I was born and raised in Croatia and had very protective parents, I was very shy, with
low self-esteem. I did not know much about life and had to learn on my own, from
friends at school or by making my own mistakes.
My parents did not show love, which bothered me a lot. I did not feel wanted or
“worth it”.
I tried, over and over, to make them proud and to win their love. It wasn’t until later in
my early adulthood — when I learned about my parent’s childhoods — that I
understood and made peace with it all.
Both of my parents were young children during the World War II, and they each lost a
parent. They were often hungry, displaced and scared.
At 19 years of age, I decided to move to England, where I spent next 4 years working
and putting myself through school. I was doing the “grown-up” thing all on my own,
and I was so proud of myself. I have fond memories from that time, even though a
relationship that ended broke my heart.
Upon arriving back home to Croatia, I was looking to start a new chapter in my
life and to get established. My country was just coming out of the Civil War, and I
could not find work anywhere.
After few months without success, I started typing different kinds of applications. One
was for the Military, a second one to go volunteer in South Africa for a year, and the
last one to work on a cruise ship.
I said to myself, “whichever calls first, that is the road I am supposed to take.”
The cruise ships it was, and ten days later I was in Miami. This is where I met my
future, now ex-husband — a year of dating and we were married.
This is not how I had planned my life but, I guess, most of the time things do not go as
planned. We moved to Las Vegas where I have now been living for over 25 years.
The few years of marriage were great.
We started with nothing, we worked hard, saved money, bought our first house,
travelled. I was living the dream. It got even better, when my first son was born — I
always wanted to be a mom.
Soon things started changing, and my husband didn’t like sharing time with me.
He started staying at work later, coming home drunk, always wanting to argue and fight
about something. A few years later we had another son.
I found out that my husband was cheating while I was pregnant.
Things were bad for few years, and I tried to save the marriage for the boys’ sake —
went to counseling, put up with all the abuse. He was never home. I was raising the
boys on my own.
Friends were telling me to get out, but it wasn’t that simple.
I didn’t know where to go.
I have no family here. I nowhere to turn. But, eventually, I realized it was time to get out.
I was devastated. At 40-years-old I lost everything — my marriage, my house — and
my life, had to start over.
I spent several years in court fighting over child custody.
My husband was trying any possible way to take the kids away from me. I had spent all
the money I had and had to borrow some from friends to pay the lawyers.
I thought all of this was bad until 04/18/2018, a day that I call, The Worst Day of
My Life.
I got a call at work to go to the emergency room, that there was an accident with my
younger son. I can not even begin to tell you the horror I felt. That day part of me died
with him.
My 14-year-old hung himself.
Everything was a blur, at first. I just remember drinking — and I don’t even like alcohol
— until I would numb the pain in my head and my heart. I was hysterical, drinking, selfdestructing.
I finally looked in the mirror one day and had an honest talk with myself. “This
needs to stop!” I reached out to help because I new I couldn’t do it on my own… I
just didn’t know how.
I started counseling and support groups. Slowly, over time, I was able to control the
panic attacks, recognize suicidal thoughts and remove myself from that dark place.
One day I came across ARCS program. I don’t even remember where I saw it, but
what got my attention was where it said: “You need to heal yourself, first, in order
to be able to help others heal.”
God knows I am work in progress, and I have a lot more healing to do. I reached out to
my Professor over the phone and felt an immediate connection with her. She is so
sweet and compassionate. We were on the phone, for a while.
She invited me to be a guest in her classroom, and I felt right at home. I was raising my
hand, answering questions, and — yes, you guessed it right — the very next morning I
signed up for the course.
It has been several weeks now that I am in the Program, and I am loving it. I am
learning so much and looking forward to our online classes — to see everyone, to get
to talk with them, and to get to know them better.
One day I hope that my life experience and the knowledge that I will gain from ARCS
will allow me to help other people.