Marija Vrebalov Đorđević, a citizen of Novi Sad, is a heroine who faced difficult challenges in life. Twenty two years ago, she experienced a serious traffic accident and two clinical deaths, after which, despite demanding operations and a long period of recovery, she was left with a permanent physical disability. Today, this remarkable, talented woman works as a consultant on accessibility and a consultant in design and feng shui. She has recently published her first book, the autobiography ‘The Light of Darkness’, which she will present to the Novi Sad audience at the Svilara Cultural Station on 27 October. This book was created on the basis of personal notes she wrote down after the accident. She has been writing about her feelings in a diary since she was a child, and she posted about her personal dealing with pain and other unexpected life events that followed the accident, such as the divorce from her first husband and the fight for custody, on social media and selflessly shared her intimacy with others, in order to find some solace in everything, but also give hope to those whose life brought them a similar scenario.
‘From the very first text I posted, I’ve been aware that every written word is a great responsibility. I knew that it was exactly what I had been missing throughout all the years since the accident, knowing that there was someone who knew how I felt. I would feel every time that it’s good that I bared myself, that I’m writing my truth,’ said Marija Vrebalov Đorđević, a woman who became a synonym for courage and strength.
Today, she is writing her story on the new pages of her life, is happily married and lives for the smile of her husband Saša. She celebrates life with a new spark in her eyes and says it is up to us to decide how we will feel about something unpleasant and deal with it. In anticipation of the promotion of the autobiography ‘The Light of Darkness’, to which we invite you to come on 27 October at Svilara Cultural Station, we got the opportunity to talk with this remarkable woman who is an inspiration in many ways.
Did writing this book contribute to seeing the unique experiences that you have shared with your followers on social networks from a different perspective? Did the need to condense so many intense experiences on a relatively small number of pages bring a new perspective and experience?
For me, each reading of the diary has been a new experience. When I started arranging those diary entries, there were days when I didn’t have the strength to continue. Some events are written down to the smallest detail, and while going through them I was overwhelmed with shivers, fear, and distrust regarding my own life. The summarisation of the texts happened at the moment when that experience dissolved in me and when my being accepted and understood it.
Writing a diary, as you often say, has always had a healing effect on you. How much did it help you, and how can a person cope with the pain caused by the life situations you went through?
My father has taught me that you can’t run away from pain. That was the most important lesson that took me a long time to learn because there was a lot of pain in my life from an early age. Mom died early, when I had just entered the secondary school, then dad had a serious car accident just two months after her death, he was in a coma… then I was alone for a lot of time in a big house that turned from a fairy tale into a horror. Then I took my diary and wrote several times during the day. My peers could not be my interlocutors. I didn’t share the fear for my dad, sadness, anger, and despair because of my mom’s death with anyone. The writing was a getaway, a confrontation, a conversation on paper with them.
Are you now aware of the impact your posts about your experiences have had on a wide readership, people’s personal lives and the tremendous inspiration and hope they bring? Is the book just another step in the same direction?
From the very first text I posted, I’ve been aware that every written word is a great responsibility. I knew that it was exactly what I had been missing throughout all the years since the accident, knowing that there was someone who knew how I felt. I didn’t have any expectations for a single moment, and when I received messages in my inbox, I felt for the people who wrote to me. I would feel every time that it is good that I bared myself, that I write about my truth and feelings that are sometimes unbearable, and that the people who contact me have the same or similar feelings.
How do you perceive life today and what are the life values that you firmly believe in? Is luck one of them?
Life is a complex phenomenon, and it is clarified and simplified by truth, love, and persistence in those qualities. We create our own happiness.
Is the title of your autobiography, ‘The Light of Darkness’, a kind of glimmer of hope, and how important is it to you, as well as to those who followed you on social networks, that you now have your life story rounded off with a book?
Each of us has our own path, our own personal darkness, some rock-bottom which we think it’s impossible to get up from, some fear that swallows us up and won’t let go, and we have to deal with a lot of it on our own. The time we live in is full of uncertainty. We don’t know who to trust, we are looking for truths in various spheres, and the essence of the book and my writings, suggested by the title of the book itself, is that darkness has its own light, that they are always together and that everything is within us.
What do you enjoy most in your free time?
I enjoy conversations with my husband Aleksandar the most. I’ve been missing that my entire life – a husband to whom I can open up completely without judgment and belittling. We enjoy together the places we loved as children, we laugh all the time, and I enjoy it. Laughter heals. We read to each other before sleep, depending on whose glasses are in the bed.
Are you planning a visit to one of the numerous events of the Other? Europe programme, within the European Capital of Culture project, from 7 October to 27 November, dealing with inclusive events with an emphasis on the creativity of marginalised groups?
Of course! Especially when I personally participate in the implementation of one of the most important projects for me, since I have been a wheelchair user, in the field of culture. In addition to writing the Accessibility Strategy and an Accessibility Guide for Cultural Institutions, we will present the programme ‘Uroš Predić for Everyone’, on the occasion of the 175th anniversary of the Gallery of Matica Srpska, in the form of a film, a children’s publication, comics and a programme for people with disabilities, in the Gallery, on 21 October, at 7 p.m.
Author: Marina Marić
Photo: Vladimir Veličković