I was a product of turbulent times in the country of Croatia while it was under the heavy influence of Communist thought in the past. It was a time of ideological battles and I believe that the pressures these battles exerted on me unconsciously shaped my consciousness while I was growing up. I have seen literal wars being fought at the midst of my country and I have seen its massively ill effects not only to its participants but also to those who are supposed to be innocent.
It should not come as a surprise that I was eventually made to migrate in Germany where I stayed for most of my early years in life. Perhaps it geared me to be very perceptive and keen about the events in my surroundings, especially while I was still in Croatia. Right after I was born, the setting that was made immediately available for my senses is one that is rife with tension and tumult. Even at an early age, I became very involved in my environment as I cannot help to react with my exposure to those rugged times. My migration to Germany served as a diversion from what I was exposed to in Croatia. Surprisingly, it did not stall from continuing my alertness with the things happening around me and how the people behave in relation to those events.
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I lived and was raised in Germany and saw myself shaped by the culture and ways of life I found there, something that is very different from what I have accustomed to in Croatia. While in Germany, I thought of myself as being a foreigner, even though I was still not yet very old when I moved there. I felt like I was a foreigner in the sense that I was not exactly born there and it was not the immediate environment where I found myself when I was born. I believe that the very first formation of an individual’s consciousness is prominent in the very first setting where he gets exposed to. In that sense, Croatia played a vital role in shaping my initial personality and self-consciousness. However, the continuation of this identity and consciousness-building became stronger only when I left for Germany.
It was in Germany where I finished high school and graduated in a business trade school. Apparently, I did not find myself totally estranged in this place as I was able to survive life here until I finished my basic education. I was not a foreigner in the sense that I felt like being heavily discriminated by majority of the people. In addition to that, I also did not find myself groping for a sense of belonging in the new place where I found myself residing. Indeed, it was not difficult for me to establish ties and find connections, however shallow, with the people I met in Germany.
Life was stable and peaceful in Germany until I was compelled to undergo another geographical transition. In 2000, I moved to the United States of America, with hopes of meeting new people and understanding more personalities. I eventually decided to join the US Army and partake in the defense of the nation – my new country where I give my full allegiance to. I served under the Army for eight years and those years were enough to make me perceive things differently. I obtained an injury in Iraq during one of those battles and spending time under recovery only made me see the various kinds of hardships that people had to suffer from. It may be normal for us to think that the kind of hardship experienced by people in this lair of recovery is only that of the physical type. However, what I have seen is in steep contrast to this normal perception.
My understanding only got more pronounced when I worked in Iraq as a medical personnel. This experience gave me the chance to coexist and work with doctors, nurses and other medical agents. My experience with them only exposed me to the tough life of clinical medicine. Apart from the patient’s moans of pain and the medicines that are to be prescribed, these personnels also constantly deal with the trauma being manifested by many patients and the need to appease their emotional and psychological states. I believe that these experiences only motivated me better in pursuing my interest in psychotherapy. As I worked in Iraq, it became inevitable for me to meet casualties from the war who are suffering from undeniable trauma. Many of them became unusually reflective of their present conditions and introspective with their lives.
The effect of the war has been so great that they are led to contemplating about the direction their future lives will take. On my part, I understand that all of these serious contemplations are being motivated by certain psychologies which influence their processes of thinking and their ways of regarding their present conditions. I naturally developed my compassion to these patients and made me more interested in probing the human psyche and understanding the way their minds operate.
Eventually, I was designated as the supervisor of our division where I was given the precious chance of handling the soldiers’ emotional states. This event made me develop my counseling skills even more as I dealt with people who carry really heavy emotional baggage. I dealt with soldiers who have become so overridden with fear and desperation, pain and cynicism. My role was to redirect their thoughts by giving them pieces of advice that can soothe their emotions and make them see the things that their negative dispositions prevent them from seeing.
When my medical discharged was finished in 2007, I completed my BA in CJ. After that, an unfortunate happened to my husband. He got severely injured while in Iraq and I served as his caregiver. Accompanying that responsibility is the task to encourage him and make him recollect all the hopes that the incident may have taken away from him. I made sure that I was always there to make him feel my presence and to counsel him about the way he should look at his situation. Definitely, all of those things I did were in line with my desire to keep him from falling into the trap of hopelessness.
I also worked as a PARA professional from November 2008 to August 2009. In June 2009, I began my Special Education training which I am continuing up to now. However, due to my disability, I changed my Master’s Degree to counseling. What prompted me to make this decision are the things that I have seen while I was in Iraq. It pained me to see many Veterans of the War receiving not enough counseling that can help redirect their thinking as they undergo a trying time in their lives. I have developed this sense of compassion for them and I would like to continue devoting my knowledge and passion to them by working as a counselor.