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A Story of Resilience: Anna Polyakova

Anna Polyakova, 41, witnessed explosions, leaving her home with her family and venturing into the unknown.
BY Liubov Lavreniuk

Photo Courtesy: Anna Polyakova

The war broke into my life with explosions that I witnessed from my window, which left no room for doubts. I grabbed my three children, aged three, eight, and twelve, and left our new home, venturing into the unknown. So unexpectedly, we found ourselves in France. As refugees, our arrival was unlike that of a tourist or emigrant. Instead, it was marked by an inner emptiness, with no interest in sightseeing or new experiences. Our lives feel like we’re living in someone else’s movie. We have showed France the best version of ourselves instead of filling the void with tears.

Photo Courtesy: Anna Polyakova

The pain of longing for our lost country, loved ones, and life is a constant companion. You seem to have left the war, but you still live it. The struggle of starting anew, learning a new language, and adapting to a new culture, only adds to the weight of being a refugee. A question also lingers, who are we in this foreign land? The disappointment of being condemned by our fellow countrymen was a separate challenge. Some who stayed in Ukraine have begun to mistreat those who left, driven by envy and a lack of empathy.

I have come to realize that my own emotional state has a significant impact on my children. Although I have rescued them from the physical war, however, the war inside me cripples me no less than the sound of a siren in my hometown. To combat this, I have started to work on my psychological well-being by finding inner strength, overcoming self-judgment, and not being dependent on others’ opinions.

I have taken charge of my own happiness and that of my family, becoming a source of support for them even though my struggles included the loss of my father in December 2022. I have made an effort to focus on the positive aspects of life: traveling, blogging, self-care, fashion, studying, and working. I realized one crucial rule – everything you invest in yourself, you can give it back later. You cannot offer anything to anyone when you are consumed by negativity and despair.

I took the opportunity to fulfill an old dream of mine and traveled to Holland to see the blooming tulips. The sight of endless fields of tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths brought me to tears, as it reminded me of both the sadness of the war and refugees, the mercy and love of God, and the beauty that still exists in the world. During this time, I have also defended my Master’s degree in psychology and have started my internship by helping ten Ukrainian clients, which fills me with excitement as I see them making positive changes. I am grateful for France, however, some of me will always remain in Ukraine, and all my prayers are for it. My holy motherland and my faith in God give me the strength I need.


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