| This is the 568th story of Our Life Logs® |
I was always a curious child. Wandering around, always wanting to know more and to be more. I was a curious child with fire in my veins. I knew I loved to create; it was a fuel that kept the fire inside me alive.
Who knew that fire would be so vital?
I was born in Croatia on July 23, 1983, one hot summer day and, as my mother always said, I was a troublemaker from the moment I came to this world. I never found it fun to do normal things that normal people would engage in. I’m sure it wasn't a picnic to be around very much alive and creative child, but I digress. I didn’t have all the colors in my life that I wanted, so I had to create them myself.
You see, my childhood was anything but happy. My father was an alcoholic and he was abusing my mother, my siblings, and me. Writing and creating was my escape from the hell I was living in.
I’m the little one on the left, holding the cat.
I remember as it was yesterday, when one night, I was 8 years old, my father came home at 3 AM, drunk as always, and dragged me from my bed. The instant I woke up from my sleep, my father's hands started to hit me. There would be many more scary moments, but that the night that changed my life forever. Ever since then I would get lost in music, literature, writing, and creating.
From eight years old and onward, I kept a pen and a little notebook on my bedside table for the inevitable nights my eyes would suddenly pop open at 1 AM. I would scratch a word or two, a line or two; it was quite a ravenous process, really. Instinct, maybe. I would always fly and dream of my future in those moments. As a child, I saw true war in the Balkan region (the Croatian War of Independence, led between 1991-1995). My creativity was the tool that kept me from all the horrors that were happening to my people. My writing kept me happy. It was my cure.
I told myself, once I grow up, I will write and make others happy. That is all I wanted, to put a smile on everyone’s face and make them feel something. As an empath (which I will find out later in life), it was really my true calling.
So, you think I immediately became a writer after I finished high school? Ha! You are wrong.
Real-life got involved in my childhood dreams. School, family obligation, finances, work, even my country… Anything that could destroy my inner child piled up like walls around my passions. My parents did not want such a nice, young girl to go to college or be professional or whatever. They were so traditional. They wanted me, a 19-year-old girl to get married to the 30-year-old suitor they picked out and have lots of babies and live the rest of my life like every other traditional family in Croatia.
If you know me, you know I obviously did not go that route. Thank god. But I still didn’t go to college like I had wanted. I became a hairdresser for many years, always thinking that writing was not for a silly small-town girl. All the while, I still dreamt about the big things in life. I still didn’t know what they were, I just knew I wanted them. I knew that being what others were was not for me.
In 2004, my mother got breast cancer. She went for surgery and lost her breast. She has spent 2 months in the capital on surgery and treatments, and once again I was alone with my art. School, housework, taking care of my siblings and my drunk father was more than any teenager can handle. But once again I had writing to be there for me.
I left my career in hairstyling in 2004. With a blessing and a big fat tuition check from my grandad, I went to school and lived a normal life, at least for the outside world. I graduated with my master’s degree in 2014 and began working in an office. Boring, if you ask me. I let outside noise and norms tell me that I'm a grown woman and I need to act like that. I was still a creative outsider (mind you), but I let myself be overworked and unhappy because everyone is doing it and it’s “normal”. The outside world was telling me I’m not Bukowski and I should stop being childish. And sadly, as a part of my “being-a-serious-grown-woman project,” I started to wear a normal hairstyle, I got a normal job, and I started to blend in with the grays of the world.
Eventually, my boss, at that time, was very aggressive and overworked us. The hours piled up; the deadlines were sharper. I ended up going to the emergency room three times before finally quitting my job and dedicating my time to health.
The body aches of that time just didn’t seem to wear off. I knew something was seriously wrong with me, but I didn’t know what. After two years of visiting doctors with differing opinions, I got my diagnosis in 2017, at the age of 34. I was told that I had Multiple Sclerosis (MS). I pictured the continuous cycle of discomfort. The muscle spasms. The weakness. I imagined it eating my body and then my soul. I imagined growing bitter and unfeeling. My life is over, I thought to myself.
But you know what? It was far from over. Once again, I found my comfort in writing. All I had to do is to find that inner child again and let her lead the way. The one who kept her journal close. I began to mimic her and keep myself hopeful. That creative child was still inside me. I began to feel her in every pore of my being. I used my illness as a muse for my writing in the quiet hours of the day.
Still, just a hobby because I never believed I could do it as a profession. I believed it was only for very smart and creative people with amazing talents while I was just some small-town kid with a pen and a dream.
Then, overnight, everything changed. At the end of 2019, right around Chinese New Year, the news broke about a new virus that struck cities in China.
At first, I thought nothing about it.
China was far away, and they said they have it under control and that soon everything will be over. And hey, they had swine flu, bird flu, SARS...it will be ok. These scary headlines would go away in a few months as everything else before that new virus they called Covid-19.
• • •
Life went on, days went by, and I decided to start over. I moved to the capital city to work in February of 2020 to work. I told myself that if I could work just a little longer than I could leave my boring job to be a full-time writer and living in the capital would make it happen. Living there would boost my creativity, unlike a small boring city with nothing to do.
But I got lost in all the outside noise. After a month or so, an event that surprised absolutely no one… the coronavirus had “come to a theater near you...” A.K.A. COVID-19 was officially in Europe.
And as if Covid wasn’t enough, on March 25, 2020, a big earthquake struck the capital—my home—and destroyed the city center. That was my cue to split. In March 2020, I was forced to go back to my hometown.
After arriving back to my hometown and doing the 14 days of quarantine, I was lost. New rules, new virus we knew nothing about, people getting infected, dying, the harrowing news around the globe. Everything was so strange to me. I thought my life was over. Again. Mid-30s, living with my mother, everyone around me using the expression, “new normal”—it felt hopeless.
My thoughts shifted from, “well that sucks,” to, “I need an action plan...like...yesterday.”
Not long after, in May 2020, I had a conversation with a friend of mine. He asked me how I was, and I confided home with my troubles. He asked me a question that will change my life forever:
“Do you want me to be your mentor?”
The words leapt out of my mouth: of course. Finally, I felt happy—like I had a purpose. After that conversation, we agreed to meet for a cup of coffee and discuss his mentoring plans for me. His interest in me gave me such confidence.
Confidence. Oh, what it does to a heart.
Quickly, he introduced me to freelancing, gave me all the instructions I needed, and guided me through the process. He gave me valuable advice I follow to this day. He told me, “You are stronger than you believe.” He inspired me and helped me remember who I was. Then, he asked the question...
“If you could be whatever you wanted to be, what would you choose?”
My answer was more than clear: I want to be a writer. I want to write and inspire.
The coffee date that changed my life!
By the end of 2020, I started to write for free for various blogs and online magazines. I loved every minute of it. I became better and better as time went by. I was in love with the craft and my dream of becoming a full-time writer wasn't that far away anymore. It started to become reality.
Fast forward to 2021. I am still at the beginning of my journey, and I am aware I still have a lot to learn. But you know what? After the longest time, I feel positive about the future. I do what I love, I follow my dreams and my passion. Today, I’m here with you as a new writer, hoping to contribute a lot more with my stories for which I hope will inspire you to follow your own passion, your own dreams. Life is very short and if this pandemic taught us anything, it is that all can be lost in a blink of a second. So why wait? Never ever give up on yourself. Follow your passions and never let anyone tell you that your dream is too big. Only people with small dreams will tell you that.
When I started my journey, quite frankly I knew nothing. All I knew was that this is what I want to do. This is what I want all day, every day and this is my true passion. I still had fire in my veins and my inner child—that creative outsider brat—was alive once again. “We are heading for Pulitzer!” she said. But she is just a child. What does she know, right? 😊
This is the story of Lilith Ash
Lilith had a hard childhood in Croatia, where she learned to escape and thrive in her writing and creating. As the years went by, however, Lilith fell into normalcy. Normal job, normal hair, normal spirit. It wasn’t until the coronavirus pandemic and a home-shattering earthquake that she was forced to leave her “normal.” With nowhere else to go, Lilith decided to return to her inner child and write again.
This story first touched our hearts on March 4, 2021
Writer: Lilith Ash | Editor: Colleen Walker