Every little girl dreams of growing up to wear high heels. Then this dream evolves to become about a handsome man who will come on a white horse and take her to a wonderful world that is much better than her reality.
The years I lived in the midst of war suffocated all of my dreams, and led me to believe that these dreams were dead and would never come to life again. But I was completely wrong. I have recently realized that dreams do not die. They might become overshadowed by pain and sadness, but they never disappear.
When I came to Switzerland, I fell for a man that I had never met before. It was as if I had been waiting to meet him forever. My life has changed tremendously since I met him – I am now a married woman with responsibilities and social relationships that are very different from what I used to have before.
I am very happy with my new home, and I am very much in love with this man, with whom I share my life in all its details. But what disturbs my life is the fear that still inhabits me. The fear that developed over years of horror and pain refuses to depart from my mind and heart. Even when I am asleep, I hold my husband’s hand like a little child attached to its mother. Perhaps I am too scared to lose the love and happiness he has given me – or is it because I finally found the warm and loving hand that I had dreamed of for years? I do not know, but I know that I do not deal with my husband as a partner – I often act like a little girl, seeking his love and kindness. I sometimes manage to take the role of wife and partner, but I usually fail, and act like a little girl again.
Unfortunately, he is happy with me acting like that. He is happy to play the role of the husband and the father at the same time, because he believes that a father’s love is unconditional. But I do not like that he accepts my behavior, and complies with my desire to be treated like a little girl, because I know that my behavior is wrong, and I wish that he would criticize me and help me change.
I am, of course, not trying to blame him. I understand that he wants to please me, and that he thinks this behavior will disappear as soon as I settle and feel safe. But I am sure this is not something that will go away with time. I am too attached to him, and I feel that this fixation (affection?) is like a symptom of a disease caused by the losses I faced in my life. Someone once said, “Identifying your issues is the first step to solving them,” and I hope that this applies to me. I am scared to lose those I love, and this goes back to losing my father, and then to losing so many things along the way: losing security, losing dignity and losing many other things.
As for my life in this new place, I find it really hard to deal with Swiss people. They are kind people – they smile every time they see me. I sometimes wonder if they smile because they like me, or because they feel sorry for me. But what makes my life hard is that I do not speak their language. I live in Bern where the spoken language is German, which is a language I do not speak. I sometimes feel like a mute person. I cannot communicate or interact with people. Although I use English with people sometimes, I should learn German as soon as possible. Language is our main means of communication, and I cannot live without interacting with others.
I am amazed by the Swiss respect for law and order. People are very respectful and considerate, no matter where they are: in the street, in shops and in train stations. The other thing that amazes me is how much they respect time. Trains, which are a great means of transportation, are very accurate, which was a little overwhelming in the beginning, because in Syria we never learned to respect time.
I feel that I will learn a lot in this country. Switzerland combines great traditions with modern science and education, and I know that I will finally become the person I always wanted to be.
I always wonder what and how I can give back to this country that has welcomed me. Life is like a circle, and a person’s happiness is never complete unless she gives back. I will hopefully figure out a way to thank this country with my deeds. I will, however, never forget Syria, and will never stop loving it. It is my home country. I love it and I want to help it, despite all the pain it caused me.