Everyone has distinct mannerisms, and no matter how much you might try to hide them, your personality and character come to the surface in certain situations. As my grandmother used to say, “Character develops in early childhood and never changes.”

When I arrived in Switzerland I was in bad physical and psychological shape. My decision to get married was an attempt to find security and stability. I was scared and felt lost because I didn’t know the language, the traditions or even the streets. My husband—let’s call him Karam—made me feel safe. At the time, I thought I’d never be able to survive without him. I followed him and his ways without questioning anything.

But today, five months later, my personality is gradually coming back to the surface. I agree with him sometimes, and I disagree with him at other times. I am not that scared little girl anymore. The independent woman in me is alive again and, being his wife, I have the right to have a say in every little decision regarding our life and future. Needless to say, this transformation has stunned my husband, who had gotten used to my saying yes to all his plans and decisions.

My recent empowerment has led to disagreements and even some arguments between us. I understand that after months of marriage he had grown accustomed to my being weak, but I cannot continue to play that role. I cannot hide the real me anymore. I have realized my strength as I’ve slowly begun assimilating into my new life and society. I now speak some German, and I can interact with the society around me; my language skills have drastically reduced my dependence on my husband.

I guess Karam finds it hard to understand me, and I do not blame him. Frankly, I find it hard to understand myself sometimes. We haven’t been together enough for that, and we definitely need more time to get to know each other deeply. It is not a big deal—he is a good man, and he will eventually understand what I am looking for. I also know that I can and should do some work on my end to allow us to grow closer to one another and to build a strong family. I am sure that I can do that work, life has taught me a lot already.

That’s enough about my husband. I have just moved to a higher language class. German, I believe, is not a hard language, but studying it requires time and consistency. I can now introduce myself in German, buy things and deal with stores and sellers and conduct simple conversations with my friends. Unfortunately, I still find it hard to read mail, but my neighbors help with that. I can’t wait to master German, so that I can finally continue with my studies in prosthetics. I hope that through my studies, I will one day be able to help people in Syria.

I have been taking good care of my health. The little one inside me is healthy, too, and is starting to move a lot. Maybe he’s destined to become a soccer player, or perhaps he keeps kicking me because I was not happy with my pregnancy in the beginning. This baby has given me hope and life. I never imagined that a baby I’ve not yet met could give me such feelings. I saw the baby on the screen during my last visit to the doctor’s office. My husband and I were unbelievably excited. Karam can’t believe that he will become a father soon.

Motherhood is a simply amazing thing. I have so much love for this little baby–despite being physically exhausted. I can’t even find words to describe my feelings. I just can’t. Because of this little human being inside me, I now better understand my mother’s strength.

It is interesting how children, even before they are born, change their parents’ lives, goals, and ambitions. I know that I refer to the baby as a boy, but this does not mean that I would prefer a baby boy. It is just a habit. However, my husband, as an Eastern man, would definitely prefer to have a boy. I honestly dislike that mentality, and I get upset by such ideas. In my family, there is no difference between the boys and the girls. But there are people who prefer boys over girls, although they are equal in all religions. Also, the Syrian crisis has proven that women are no less than men, and that they can compete with them in political, intellectual, and military fields. In fact, I believe that some women are stronger than men. This is what I believe. ♦

Marah’s diary is produced in collaboration with Syria Deeply, a digital news outlet covering the Syrian crisis. It has been translated from Arabic.