I think of myself as being a good person. I am funny and smart and care about my friends a lot. I work in a great team and since I moved to Berlin, my life has improved. Sure, I miss my family terribly, but we keep in touch and we're always honest with each other. I have a good life. And most of the time, I am happy.
On 18th of December my niece was born, in the morning. Her name is Ana and there's noone in this world whom I love more. She already thought me that you can love someone before even meeting in real life. I talked to her when she was still in the womb, whenever I got the chance. And she was kicking Cristina's belly as a response. That made me laugh and I told her how excited I am to be her aunt. I explained how many plans I have for us - we will talk in German, we will eat too many cakes and we will jump around and play with animals. I will be the aunt who will love her forever and will do anything for her.
She's my Ana.
When I received the news of her being born, I was at work and I told everyone that I'm "Tante Ioana jetzt". I promised to bring some cupcakes next day, to celebrate the new member of our family. I was over the moon. I was so happy, I couldn't contain my joy. I was laughing and crying and smiling and repeating the same sentence over and over again. I am an aunt!! Ana is here!
I called friends after work and told them the good news. Two of them asked me to come at their home and eat home cooked meal. "We will celebrate! We will exchange Christmas presents and talk again how happy we are to be part of each other's life."
I left my apartment 20 minutes earlier, but the bus was late that evening. I wasn't in a hurry, so I walked to the first metro station. I was happy. Life was good. My niece was born, I was about to see my Berlin family and Christmas was coming. But 5 minutes before reaching the metro station I was almost killed. I crossed the street on a green light and half way through I saw a car approaching fast. Do you now that scene in a movie when a character's life flashes before her eyes? It's exactly that. I saw myself dying. I saw myself being hit by a car. But I had good instincts - as my doctor explained a couple of days later - and the fact that I found energy to run and avoiding being hit meant that the adrenaline kicked in fast enough.
The guy stopped because I started yelling at him - in German! - and people started paying attention. He parked the car and came to talk to me. I managed to sit down, in the neutral ground of the road. He didn't really care about me, to be honest. He said he didn't see me and I should be fine. My heart was beating so fast and I realised I will not be able to breath normally, so I screamed at him that I'm not gonna be fine and he needs to call the ambulance. I've been dealing with a lot of anxiety in the last year and been going to therapy for a while. I learnt how to recognise a panic attack before it becomes really bad.
The guy didn't want to call an ambulance, and I couldn't call an ambulance because I couldn't breath. I can't talk in German when I am focusing on not dying, but he didn't care. Soon cars stopped, people were passing by and started asking questions and the ambulance came.
Before reading further, remember this: I am a woman from Romania and I was crying in the middle of the street. I was concentrating on breathing and was scared that my heart was gonna explode.
I remember everything so accurate, that I can tell you every conversation. I remember one person carrying a big gift bag in which there was another small gift bag. I remember the woman's face who stopped her car to ask if I'm all right. I remember everything with so much accuracy that I wish I could erase this memory. There was a lot of victim shaming. They all talked in German and when I screamed at them in English that they should take this very seriously - as I almost got killed and I need to go to the hospital!! - they realised I actually understand what they are talking about.
So I was scared, I could barely breath - and I had to answer their judgemental questions "you're from Romania, huh? You are alone here, no? Are you on any meds? Have you been drinking? Do you live alone?" They didn't ask me about the accident. They treated it like it was something normal and I should just move on...I was yet another Romanian woman complaining about a German man. I am in my 30s, using the public transportation and he is in his 60s, driving an expensive car. Very "Pretty woman" of them.
I was in the hospital that evening and a friend picked me up and drove me home. On 24th of December I was again in the hospital. I was scared. I am still scared. I am scared when I cross the street on green light. I am scared when I see a car approaching. There's no "move on" button that makes one "new". It's going to be a long process , that I know.
Yes, I am thankful for being alive and for being an aunt. I am so happy about that. I am also happy because this year I wrote a text about a friend of mine who is gay and another gay person wrote me that I chanced his life. He feels accepted now and he's happy we're friends.
I am thankful for the new connections I made and I am thankful for all the lessons I learnt this year. I am thankful for being in Berlin and having a roof above my head. I am lucky to have a great flatmate. I know how to recognise the blessings. I know I am privileged and I have amazing people around me. This is why the road to recovery will be easier for me. I know.
But this doesn't change the fact that I'm scared. Doesn't change the fact that I am dealing with anxiety. I'm getting help, yes. But just because I found the strength to ask for help doesn't mean I have an easy life. I am struggling and hoping and fighting and praying. My life isn't fabulous. It's filled with moments of fear and moments of joy. Moments of anger and moments of laughter. It's been a rough year for most of us, I know. We talked about it a couple of times. And I am saying once again - I am thankful for having so many good people around me.
But if you - by any chance - are reading this, I want you to know that you're not alone. And by you I mean anyone. Anyone who wants to give up, please don't! Ask for help. Ask once, ask twice, ask for a thousand times. There are so many beautiful souls in this world. You just have to find one person. I promise. You will get help.
I wish you a magical 2019! Happy New year, my dear ones. Let's make our life easier for each other. There are plenty of reasons to be thankful.
Liebe Grüße aus Berlin,