Sometime in January 2020, Somewhere in central Moravia

My colleague told me her sister is experiencing domestic violence, systematic abuse from her husband. I felt shocked about the way she mentioned the heartbreaking issue, in a very matter-of-fact way.

What? I yelled. Can’t you help her? I asked.

We tried. We gave up. It’s an endless circle. She said

Is it? Can we break the chains of LiebeHass?

My first impression was she gave up on her sibling. Later I understood her. I was there. I tried to help my family members too. I tried hard. Trying hard in combination with help just puts off people. Maybe let us stop trying to help and let us rather focus on our own lives. Maybe that is what can cause a change.

So when my brother told me, while cutting the birthday cake of my niece, that after many years of silent resentment, he went to my cousin to ask for a pay rise, I felt proud. I wish I inspired him. I wrote to him a couple of weeks ago:  Why would an employer ever give you a pay rise to someone if he doesn’t ask for it?

Why don’t we just ask for things? Nicely. We might not get them. That’s fine. Yet we know we tried.

Anyway, family businesses aren’t for everyone.

When rummaging my late grandparent’s attic some more pieces of cakes later, my aunt called. She is my father’s sister, never had kids, and married the second time to a man who takes her too much for granted, as my impression goes. Yet, who am I to judge. I hardly visit them, being busy conquering the (business) world.

Sick with borreliosis, she said and kept on apologizing she could not make it.

Come on, it’s fine, I said.

Do you have someone to take care of you?  I asked remembering the harsh days when I was bedridden with bronchitis, which along with challenges I had ahead and my inability to ask for help, just knocked me over and broke the illusions I kept feeding for quite some years.

Don’t we need some illusions as otherwise the world would be too heartbreaking?

I don’t really want to bother people, my aunt said. (Argh, I know, I have been there like million times)

Is your husband taking care of you? I asked despite I knew the answer. I wanted her to hear herself replying:  Are you kidding?  She tried to laugh despite being out of herself due to some heavy medicine.

I am learning to ask for help, I said.

She was the first person I told it to. It was simply the moment to tell it.

Not having a husband or kids myself, sure there are some nasty moments when loneliness creeps in, when the old storylines just don’t seem to work and I don’t feel good. Yet then I think about my colleagues sister (the one with abusive husband) and my aunt (the one with ignorant husband), and I ask myself:  How do they feel?

When working for Siemens, first months I used to travel to the office by train. Later, I joined the colleagues and we shared a car, meeting at the parking lots in Olomouc at those early hours, all packing into the yellow VW Beatle of my colleague who just returned from living in London and was probably herself experiencing the reverse culture shock.

One lazy hot afternoon, travelling home by the train from a Siemens plant, a colleague from different department sat next to me. We chatted about men and life. She was dating a guy from the company, a type of a guy a freeze run down my spine anytime we met or spoke.

I used to have a boyfriend who beat me, she suddenly said.

I was shocked about her openness. I felt sorry and wished her someone with a warm heart, though maybe we tend to choose similar types.

Let me think what kind of guys I dated.

They loved me. They cared about me.

Are you able to sincerely care back?

Or as Dua Lipa sings in her Scared to be lonely: Do we need somebody just to feel alright?