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AN INTIMATE, INSPIRING TRUE STORY THAT WILL GIVE YOU STRENGTH TO FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS AND STAY TRUE TO YOURSELF
ARE YOU BRAVE ENOUGH FOR THIS EMOTIONAL THRILLER ?
If the answer is YES, your test of perseverance starts here…
Author’s dream to live in England came true in 2004 but when years later she suddenly loses most of her belongings, health, career, money, home and her soulmate, she decides to share the story which leads the reader to a profound self-discovery and enlightenment.
A very well written book, that I hope will be read widely, as it carries a message for us all, you can search all your life and never find or like Monika, you can look inside yourself and find the answer. This is more than a story, it is also a spiritual awakening.
– Allun J.
A masterpiece on the life journey towards enlightenment. I bought 3 copies for all my friends because everyone should read it. You will feel inspired to follow your own journey to a spiritual awakening. This is Paulo Cohelo in a beautiful, brave and intelligent woman with a heart and soul filled with unconditional love. This book will change the way you look at your own life. Brilliant!
Rarely do you watch movies and read books with such unpredictable endings. Her search for the ultimate love, peace and happiness made me want to look into spirituality more as I am inspired to learn more about finding that unconditional love the author described so well.
– Sean C.
This book has left me thinking about life, love and relationships for days! What a touching, moving storyteller the author is. So raw, so pure, so honest, so no-bullshit story that made we gasp from different emotions. She is not afraid to start from nothing in a foreign country, on her own, moving bravely through countless challenges.
– Andy M.
Modern classic. The most unpredictable storyline I have read, the author is so open and honest about her feelings. This is Bridget Jones on a spiritual journey to find love. Deep, powerful, emotional, touching. I couldn’t stop reading it from page one till the last one. Beautifully written, reminds me of Stephen King in style.
– Stewart L.
READ FIRST CHAPTERS FOR FREE NOW
Chapter 1 – Die Before You Die
‘The path to paradise begins in hell.’
‘The lorry’s here!’ Mama exclaimed from the kitchen on hearing Cezar, our German Shepherd, barking relentlessly in the garden.
I ran outside and saw two men climbing out of a white lorry while my stepdad was opening the gate.
‘Come on; you can drive inside!’ he exclaimed, waving his hand invitingly and once the lorry had backed into our driveway, the men opened the back door.
My whole life was in there.
I helped with unloading the boxes which contained most of my personal belongings. One of the men took out my white bike with a straw basket which had, when I last saw it, contained groceries and tulips. Next came boxes of different sizes, each labelled ‘Monika—Poland.’
‘It’s over. My life is over.’
It was quiet. Nobody said anything, as if two surgeons were performing an autopsy to examine the cause of death. Only Cezar barked occasionally, running around the lorry and unaware of what was REALLY happening.
‘Can you please sign here, ma’am?’ one of the men asked, giving me a pen and a clipboard.
I didn’t cry as I signed.
I had to be strong.
After the lorry’s departure, I walked into my room which was now filled with stacks of boxes. Opening them one by one, I noticed the print canvas of John and me standing cheek to cheek, lovingly holding hands at the bottom of the white doorsteps of Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna. Then, in between randomly-thrown-in shoe boxes and my jackets, I noticed the book that John had designed shortly after we’d met. The cover featured a picture of us in a warm embrace outside Windsor Castle. The title said:
Monika and John
First Month Together
I ran out of the house and then through the back gate into the fields of barley, feeling sharp stalks cutting my bare legs, as if enemy swords were about to strike the final blow in my losing battle of the game of life. Breathless, I fell on my bleeding knees, gazed at the red sky of everlasting fire at the gates of Hades, the Hell on Earth I had found myself in, and I screamed out, crying, ‘Why?????????????????????????????????’
The next morning, I woke up to the sound of the birds singing in the garden and a massive pain all over my body, letting me know that I was still alive.
‘Why have I woken up?’ I asked myself, ‘I don’t want this reality. This is not how I’m supposed to be living.
Sleeping was the only thing that stopped this excruciating pain, but only because it made me unconscious of the world around me. It wasn’t so much about the pain being physical, even though it was, but because it tore my soul into pieces. The moment my consciousness came back from the sleep, telling me: ‘Wake up, it’s another day,’ I could already feel needles pushed into my heart. My eyelids, swollen from crying for weeks, could hardly lift their own weight, making me want to stay buried in the darkness of my soul. The torturing muscle spasms, radiating from my back and squeezing my chest in a deadly embrace, made it hard for me to breathe. The beating of my heart, louder than the ticking of the clock, forced me to beg for one thing.
I yearned for it to stop.
And stop the agony of losing everything I had worked so hard for. But most of all, from losing the man who WAS the love of my life.
‘What am I going to do now? It’s over. My dream is over.’
I couldn’t have failed more if I’d tried. It was the biggest downfall of my life, and I could not understand why it had happened. I’d trusted John with my whole life. I’d given him my beating heart on a silver tray, so he could lock it up in the safe of his heart and treasure it forever. I had surrendered, for the first time in my life, giving up my independence as a woman and letting a man, another human being, take full control of what would happen to me, just as I would have entrusted God: ‘And I give you my heart and soul, I trust in your guidance, and that you will provide me with all I need in return.’ The kind of prayer that shows faith in the Higher Power and its limitless ability to look after you. Just like the plants and trees blindly know the universe will provide them with enough nutrients, rain, and sunshine so they can grow effortlessly to become the masterpiece of God’s creation. John was not God—far from it—nor any other deity. But he was part of my soul and I’d believed that he wouldn’t have let me experience such an annihilation of my heart.
Staring, from my bedroom window at the garden immersed in twilight, I could hear nothing but the crickets, dogs barking across the fields, and millions of thoughts in my head, as if my brain was software infected by a vicious virus that was about to cause damage to the whole system. But I didn’t hear him anymore. No calls. No text messages. The voice of the man I loved so much was the most wonderful sound in the world and its sudden absence now was deafening.
Only a year ago, we’d been squeezing each other’s hands, listening to the most touching Strauss concert in the Great Gallery of Schönbrunn Palace.
‘Kocham Cię,’ I’d whispered, gently kissing the most wonderful man on Earth, tearful from this surreal experience.
‘I love you more, baby! You’re my beautiful princess!’
Only a few months ago, we’d danced on the marble floor of our million-euro villa in Holland, after walking in for the first time.
‘Welcome home, baby!’ he’d said, twirling me around and gluing me to his chest so he could kiss me.
‘We can finally be happy now,’ I replied, thrilled from this historic—for us—moment.
Only a few months ago, we’d been wrapped in the intimate embrace in the warm waters of the infinity pool, overlooking the snow-capped Alps, clinking Champagne glasses.
‘Is this really happening?’ I’d asked, kissing his warm, wet lips.
‘Get used to it! This is our new life. I will always look after you.’
Only a few months ago, we’d gone skiing for the first time in Innsbruck.
‘I can do it! Look!’ I’d shouted with childlike enthusiasm, dressed in a white skiing outfit with a Russian-style hat with flaps over my ears, making me look like a Cocker Spaniel.
‘That’s great! Me too!’ he’d replied, falling on his backside for the hundredth time, making me burst into laughter.
Only a few months ago in Austria, my neck had become home to the most exquisite, sparkling-with-a-million-crystals necklace, given to me by the most generous, loving man I’d ever met.
‘It’s for you. The most beautiful necklace in the store for the most beautiful woman!’
‘Oh, thank you so much. You are too kind. How much? A thousand euros? Oh, no… It’s too expensive!’
‘You deserve it. Happy birthday!’
Only a few months ago, John had been shielding my back when standing on a boat, dressed in white, admiring the passing lights of the spectacular sights of Prague.
These and hundreds of other memories filled my mind, torturing my soul as if they were traumatic war flashbacks. They hurt me now, and I didn’t know how to stop them. They were the most wonderful moments of my life and I wanted them to live with me forever.
My life abroad was over now, even though I still didn’t want to believe it. My mind showered me with desperate images filled with hope that it was just a bad dream, that John would come back for me any day now. Just like he’d promised he would when I’d seen him for the last time.
‘I’ll come and get you when it’s all over,’ he’d said, kissing me gently on the forehead before driving off.
Since that day, I had waited to see his smiling face when he would get out of the car in front of our gate. Cezar, sensing his arrival quicker than any of us, probably because of the tractor noise of our super car’s engine, would jump up and down from excitement, barking like a complete lunatic. Mama would rush to open the gate so he could run to me, lift me high up in the air and say:
‘Kocham Cię, I’m sorry I hurt you, baby. I was so stupid. I’ve missed you! You are my life!’
My mind gave me this vision in the only hope of my salvation. But maybe I was not to receive my salvation just yet? Maybe I had to experience this spiritual crucifixion to awaken fully, stop letting my ego control my mind, and ultimately find the secret to happy life? Maybe I had to ‘die before you die,’ which according to Zen masters, would magically transform me into the human being who finally finds peace?
I woke up each morning, looking at the crystal chandelier, hoping that today would be the day when John would come and take me back to our home in Holland, where we would live the ultimate freedom from the anguish we had been going through for years. That we would finally be happy and enjoy our lives to the fullest.
My mama tried to help me as much as she could, trying to understand it all, just like I did, not knowing what to say, other than: ‘Maybe it’s for the best,’ but with such little conviction in her voice that it made this statement suspiciously untrue to me.
‘I got you your favourite cake!’ she said, sitting next to me on my bed, distressed from the state I was in.
She had never expected this to happen. There had been no visible signs of it being possible. She had hoped that my loving relationship with John was so strong that we would live happily ever after in our villa in Holland, after having got married in the Gothic cathedral, whisked away into the sunset by a white horse-drawn carriage, kissing passionately under a shower of rice, thrown high up in the air by the cheering guests.
I had never thought our love would end, either. It just could not. It was the deepest, most powerful love any human being could experience in this physical dimension. Or maybe, I had had the premonition of this disaster, and if so, why was I surprised that I ended up imprisoned in my family home in Poland, losing everything I had worked so hard for in all those years abroad.
Lying on my heated amethyst mat, which gave my muscles a relief from turning into hard lumps of knots, excruciatingly painful even at the slightest attempts to massage them out, I stared at the walls, trying to understand.
‘Is this the final message from God? Give up, Monika! It’s over! Should I finally stop this silliness of pursuing “that thing,” a better life and happiness in a foreign land? What do I want to achieve? Career? Money? Husband? Are those an achievement anyway? Is that all that can be achieved in life? Everyone can do that, with better or worse outcomes. And in any country. What is my soul so desperately searching for? Weren’t my last few years abroad a big enough adventure to teach me what I needed to know about myself? Should I just live a peaceful, less adventurous, and “safer” life back in Poland? Should I accept the defeat? But how can this journey be over? Not now. Not yet. I’m not ready for the end of it. But can I do it again? Can I start all over, bruised emotionally and physically, with a heavy heart filled with pain? Do I have the strength to lift my body from this heated mat and face the petrifying world out there?’
True, I had already done it once before. I had gone to England a naive 25-year-old girl and started from zero. But it was different now. I was ill and I was defeated, even before I started. My body and soul had been wrecked to the ground by a bulldozer driven by the man of my dreams.
True, I had already taken that leap of faith and a two-hour flight to the ‘dream island’ where anything was possible. The country of endless opportunities, if only one were ready to work hard and not let any obstacles stop them along the way. But could I do it once more? How? Where would I go? Who could I ask for help, embarrassed about my biggest life failure?
I had always hated that horrible feeling of having to rely on other people, showing my total vulnerability of not being strong enough to look after myself. But over those years back in England, trusting others and counting on complete strangers’ help and their good-will had been the only way for me to survive some of my biggest challenges. I will always thank God for sending them onto my path in the most unexpected ways, helping me to go through that journey, full of dangers lurking around the corner, some of which could have easily ended tragically.
‘Should I try again? Should I take another leap of faith and go back to England, rising spectacularly like a phoenix from the ashes? Should I prove that I can do it once more? Should I reclaim my independence as a woman? But most of all, should I regain my dignity as a human being?’
One of John’s last messages had said:
‘YOU WILL NEVER MAKE IT WITHOUT ME.’
Chapter 2 – Leap of Faith
‘Two there are who are never satisfied-
the lover of the world and the lover of knowledge.’
My plane had landed at London Stansted Airport, on a December evening in 2004, nine years before.
As a qualified English teacher, I could already speak the language of the ‘natives’, but my peaceful life with my mama, stepdad, Cezar and cat Miki, in my small town near Toruń, in northern Poland, had not prepared me for the journey I was about to embark on. I had learnt my first English words as a young girl from an American TV programme which I had watched over and over, relentlessly repeating words and the alphabet sung by animal puppets.
Over the years at school, I had become the ‘smartie’, lifting my hand high up in the air, ready to answer questions from the exercise book, even before the other children had a chance to read them. Mama, seeing my passion for English, spent every extra zloty for private lessons. We lived from one month to the next, but she always found a way to save up for them. As long as there was an English lesson that day, I would walk briskly to school, for two miles through the countryside at dawn, in minus ten degrees Celsius, with my boots squeaking in half a meter of deep snow and a thick scarf around my face, covered with frozen crystals from my breath. On other days, I wasn’t that happy. In the evenings, I travelled two hours each way on the train to Toruń, to attend private lessons with a university professor. Walking back home in complete darkness along the train tracks, I prayed that nobody would hurt me. And nobody ever did. My angels always looked after me.
I studied to be an English teacher, but I had a strange feeling that once I could speak English fluently, the world would open up to me with vast opportunities. I soon realised that my biggest dream was to live in England and speak beautifully sounding English words, every single day.
Walking into the arrivals on that cold December day, I was astounded by the hustle and bustle of the airport. Wearing my white jacket and a scarf loosely thrown over my neck, dragging my pink suitcase full of clothes and only £100 in my wallet, I didn’t know whether I would stay in England FOREVER. Just like I didn’t know that what I was about to discover on my journey would turn out to be far greater than I could have ever imagined.
‘If I find a job, I might stay,’ I said jokingly to my tearful mama, hugging her tightly goodbye at Bydgoszcz Airport.
But it was only a joke. Or maybe that deep-rooted desire I’d always had to live in England? To experience the far more exciting world out there, rather than just my hometown? True, I was scared. Scared of the unknown. But my curiosity was stronger than fear. Besides, I was going to stay with my good friend Marta, who had invited me for Christmas. Hakim was picking me up to take me to her house and when I saw his smiling face, waving at me in the crowd of people, I knew I would be fine.
Chapter 3 – French Riviera
‘Beauty awakens the soul to act.’
I had met Hakim on a beach in Cannes, two years before my arrival in England. Swimming in the warm, turquoise sea, together with my friend Ania, enchanted by the breathtaking beauty of the coast, I noticed the dark-haired man with goggles on his head, watching me.
‘Hey gorgeous! Where are you from?’ he said with a gummy smile, having swum closer in the crystal clear water.
‘I’m from Poland,’ I replied, surprised by his directness. ‘I’m on a bus trip to Costa del Sol, and we are just stopping here for one night.’
‘Lovely, and I’m French and I live in London. I’m a physics teacher,’ he replied and when we sat down on the beach, we talked for over two hours.
‘You are very beautiful, Monika! I’d like to see you again! I want to visit you in Poland. Would you like that?’ he asked, making me blush from his compliments and feel flattered that a man like him had any interest in me.
Watching Ania swimming, I couldn’t believe my luck. I had met this amazing man in a paradise of sun, sea, and the biggest wealth on Earth I had ever seen. I was 23 at that time and I’d been saving for this trip for years as a student, giving private English lessons in the evenings and weekends. I had always dreamt of travelling. Flicking through glossy pages of a travel magazine for hours, staring at the picturesque Greek, Italian or Spanish beaches, I’d imagined being there, despite having no idea how I would get the money to do it. But it hadn’t stopped me from dreaming. After all, dreams are free! And travelling from Poland to Spain on the bus for four days didn’t discourage me at all.
In the French Riviera, I stepped into the most magical place on Earth. Shiny super cars, looking like full-size boys’ toys, speeded up the windy roads, making loud engine noises. The tall, palatial hotels, sprinkled with palm trees, had limousines parked outside, as if the rich and famous had just had another day in paradise. Sunny streets were lined with expensive boutiques and the harbours were filled with the most stunning gigantic yachts, furnished with white leather sofas on decks where I could see myself sunbathing and drinking Champagne with the other glamorous women, wearing the biggest hats and the smallest bikinis.
In Monaco, the second smallest independent state in the world and the home of the Formula One Grand Prix, I put €1 into the slot machine inside the Casino de Monte-Carlo. I lost. But at least I gambled, and I could brag about it ever after. Just not about my winnings! The changing of the guards, dressed in white uniforms and marching outside the Prince’s Palace, a former home of Princess Grace, looked spectacular. Walking along the streets, lined with colourful houses, I was stunned by the flags which looked just like the Polish ones, only upside down. The postcard views of the sea from this ‘heaven on the hill’ made me gasp with astonishment.
‘Am I dreaming? Is this world real? What a wonderful life it would be if I could see more places like this!’
In Cannes, I compared the size of my palms with celebrities’ hand prints on the pavement of the walk of fame. Posing for a picture on the red carpet of the Palace des Festivals et des Congres, where the annual biggest film festival took place, made me feel like a movie star—at least, for a minute. Walking along the seaside promenade at twilight, I noticed a sign on the board outside an Italian restaurant. The cheapest pizza was €9, almost a fifth of my total budget, but I decided to be adventurous and order it. I ate it al fresco, buzzing from excitement. It was the most delicious, thin-crusted, juicy margarita pizza, so thin that it hardly filled me up. But I ate it in Cannes, overlooking the eternity of the turquoise sea, and that was all that mattered to me.
After this trip, my desire to live in England got even stronger. I knew England wouldn’t be the same as Cote d’Azur, especially with regards to the weather, but getting a good job there would allow me to become financially independent and travel around the world. Yes, this was now officially my biggest dream.
The dream to live in England. (…)
WHAT DO THE READERS SAY?
INTERVIEW WITH ‘TRAVEL LOVE POLAND’ MAGAZINE