Ioana's story, a 20 year old student, brings you back somehow to the story of Romeo and Juliet, in a modern interpretation. She used to have all that she could ever want: expensive cars, pool houses, holidays in exotic islands, expensive clothes and even the freedom of going out whenever she wanted with her friends, having every week the money of a medium economy wage per month! (so, to explain, in one week she was given the money that a normal worker was earning in one single month..and she didn't have to work for them). And she gave up all of these mentioned above, without thiking too much, just to have the chance to be with him, a gipsy boy from a peripheral neighbourhood in town.
It All Started...
In the last year of secondary school, before highschool. They have been together since then..nothing could have separated them, except for the 1-2 month periods when her parents used to drive her far away from Bucharest, demanding to her that she shouldn't see him anymore, that she should forget him for good. "I was a young girl, obedient and I was attracted to those rebel and non-conformist type of boys", said Ioana.. when slowly but gradually starting to relieve of her pain. "Some buddies wanted to make us acquainted, but at the beginning I didn't like him. We played for a while that mouse and cat game until we finally reached the same page together, and started being friends... the way friendships are at that age. We used to hold each other's hands, write notes to one another, and kiss each other in parks. There was one problem though, my boyfriend was part of the 'bad kids' category and nobody could even imagine how me, a hard-working graduate girl, could even interfere in the life of a 'black sheep boy'. There was a period when everything went fine and nobody seemem to mind that we were together..until our Romanian language teacher caught us in one break, kissing on the holeway. That's when all the chaos started.
She Told My Mom...
...that I was hanging out with a gipsy, that I rarely attend classes, that I have absented a lot and that I always am near him..which wasn't all true. She was overreacting. I used to skip classes from time to time, it's true, just as any schoolgirl would do, but I was very much in love with him and I wasn't in the mood for studying. When my mom found out about us, she made a huge quarrel. She immediately came to school, spoke to him, told him to leave me alone, that we come from different society groups and that we have no promising future together. Having these been said, we couldn't manage to see each other anymore because I was constantly being watched; the school guards weren't guarding the building anymore, they were guarding Ioana against seeing with Alin (the gipsy); teachers were constantly "looking after" me: where I was going during the break, whom I was meeting with, I could barely go to the bathroom alone. My mom had probably alterted everyone about this situation.
I Spent All My Summer Away From Bucharest
When my parents saw that after my secondary school graduate exam he was waiting for me in front of the building, they decided it was best I left Bucharest. They confiscated my mobile phone, took me to the mountain-side and kept me there for 2 months, so as to every little chance for us to see each other be destroyed. And they were convinced after this that I had lost all contact with him. Indeed, that summer we never spoke to each other, nor saw each other, but when school started, I borrowed a mobile phone from a colleague of mine, I called him and he immediately came to highschool. A single phone call was enough for us to continue our relationship from the point where it was ended.
This lasted until June, when my mom found out again from a "secretive" colleague of mine that we were together again. Another big quarrel took place. That I had made a fool of her, that I had been involved with gipsies. She was so angry, that her face turned white... And being for the fact that I didn't want to tell her his name, she went back to secondary school, ordered the teachers there to look into the files and found out his real name and address.
She Forced Me Go To His Parents
I remember now when I was crying in big tears, in my mom's car, telling her over and over again that I didn't want to go. We had barely reached the gate that my mom started screaming like hell so that everyone on the street heard her, that we weren't from the same social group, that he wasn't meant for me, that we had better end our relationship. His mother reacted calmly. "I, myself, would like for him to hang out with a gipsy, but if he is very much in love with your daughter and she manages to make him happy, I cannot interfere between them". My mom wasn't satisfied with those words and she didn't gave up until she made it clear to the gispy's mother: to tell Alin to leave her daughter alone.
My parents then isolated me even of my girl friends - they had the distinct impression that my friends were my accomplices. All this time, I tried to speak to my mother, I told her to let me have the life I wanted to. I tried to explain to her that I cared deeply about him, that he is different from the others, that HE makes me happy. But she couldn't hear me. In spite of these, my mom's attitude towards me had radically changed. I admit, we didn't use to be very close. If I had a problem, a concern, she wasn't the first person I would run up to speak about it, although we were together when doing shopping or going out to jogging.
Another Short Happiness
Autumn came again, 2nd year of highschool and a new seeing each other again, another period where we used to hide wherever we could. It came to be very hard for us because my parents wouldn't give me as much money as before - I had ridiculed them - my boyfriend didn't have much either, so we couldn't afford going to a movie or just to drink something. And so, we sat in the nearby highschool park, near each other, for hours and hours, wishing just one thing..to be together. We had also managed to see each other when we would run from parties and walk across town on foot like two crazy people, enjoying every spare moment. I remember now that our so-called happiness was shadowed by the fear of not being caught and there were days when we used to hide like prisoners hide from cops. And we managed to hide so well, that it wasn't until two years later that my mother found out about this.
The Silence Before the Storm
All this time I had to lie to her. Because she was constantly questioning me why I didn't have a boyfriend and I felt that my mother was sceptic in her heart regarding myself being with "that gipsy". I was trying to convince her that I wasn't in the mood for boys. I was constantly giving her silly arguments such as if I wanted to go out with somebody, a lover would keep an eye on everything that I made and that I wasn't in need of such a thing. My mother respired... until one day. When she found a letter. Which I had written a long time ago, in a time when I was desperate, because it was very hard for us to see each other: my mother was checking me all the time, she used to call my girl friends and I had to constantly make a plan with everybody and tell them where I were, what I was doing so as to be covered, protected. And I had had enough, I was tired of this. I went through a nightmare period because I was completely isolated; if somebody called me on the telephone, my mother wouldn't allow me to answer it, I didn't have neither a mobile phone, nor internet at that time. My last years, at least, in Balotesti - my parent's house was there - were terrible: I would come from school, eat, then I would go up to my room and sit there until the next day, without leaving it. And nobody would come and check up on me, to see if I was ok, or if I was still alive. And in this state of nervousness, I wrote a few lines on a piece of paper, where I told myself that the only solution would be for me to leave, far away from home, but I decided not to do this because it would upset my father, whom I love very much.
Some More Shindy and Interdictions
My mom got her blood up when she found out about the letter. Not only did she realize that I had been with Alin for 2 years without her knowledge, but other things were also mentioned in that letter that made her boil. The fact that I had confessed that I love my dad more than my mom and that I had slept with my boyfriend, had her lose her wits. I hadn't decided to take this step until last year's end because I had realised that he is my choice, my soul-mate, the man I couldn't bare to imagine living my life without. I told my mom that she was the one to have suggested to me years ago that when I would first make love it had better be with the man that I loved. And I tried over and over again to explain to her: he is the one I love. It was then that my parents made me choose. Either him, or they. I can't really say that I chose in any way because I moved to my grandparents, I told my mother that whatever she wishes to do, she can't separate us, unless I decide it, for whatever reason. And I also told them not to torment themselves so much anymore. They couldn't understand, even today they cannot understand how I gave up all I had for my boyfriend. My decision to leave the house was taken when I accidentally found out what my mom had done to break us up: she had the police sent to him in order to accuse my boyfriend of illegal drug selling. I even burst into laughter...if he was selling drugs, where were the money?! Because he lacks of it, unless his parents give him some. He may be different, but he doesn't smoke, he's a quiet person and only drinks from time to time at a party.
She also tried in another way to separate us: she made somebody send him (Alin) messages that claimed I was dating other men, that I'm not loyal to him. I mean, she preferred to embarrass me in front of him instead, than to live with the thought that we are together! Of course, the minute she saw that Alin didn't take it personally and that he wasn't buying it, she became very furious! For me, it was the last straw - I have had it! Enough was enough!
I Moved To My Grandmother
I had no clothes, no money, nothing. I remember wearing the same pair of blue jeans for 2 whole weeks. I used to wash it in the evening so as to go the next morning to school with it. I managed to lose about 7 Kilograms in 10 days because of the stress. I couldn't sleep at night and black thoughts were constantly crumbling my mind: what to do, which way to take, how do I handle the situation. My best girl friends (years of friendship) started telling me that maybe Alin wasn't the best solution out there (I later on found out that my mom was holding a campaign against me to convince them that what I was doing was wrong; everyone was against me). I only had him. My grandmother where I live at the moment understood me, although at the beginning she used to quarrel me; on the other hand, my other grandmother (from my mom's) calls me every day and cries in tears at the phone that I had insulted and destroyed their family.
My mother doesn't realize even today that I had managed to survive without her money. It was a time when I would wear only "Dolce" or "Versace" shoes and, if no "Gucci", no bag was worhty - I was like the girls in my highschool. In there, should they be starving of hunger, they can't live without a Gucci bag; that's how they can feel good and important. Having lived in this world and becoming one of them, being raised to value certain principles, it took me some time to get used to my new life. My mom isn't capable to even imagine how I manage to live from day to day having in my pockets no more than 50.000lei (sometimes I have less); (=1.5 euros or 2$ nowadays); beforehand I would own 1.5 million lei everyday (=44 euros or 60$ nowadays); how I manage to wear the same clothes for months, when in the past I used to go shopping every week; how I'm not interested anymore in the 6th series...We managed to have a discussion and told my mother that for me these things aren't as interesting as they used to be - maybe because I live in another company (social group), another reason being the fact that my girl friends disappointed me... I regained friendship with my secondaty school colleagues, who have other standards of living. They, indeed, have money, but not like those in my highschool. This new environment made me realize that not everything in this world circles around a Gucci bag. My mother's reply? She said to me that I am worth zero in front of her, that I don't mean anything to her anymore and her explanation was simple and clear: Alin has succeeded in pulling me down.
A New Beginning
I have new friends now, have other concerns and I want to start earning my own money. I'm calmer than before, but still..it is hard, especially when my mom is still spreading the word that she'll do anything to break us up. I haven't seen my parents in a long time and haven't spoken to them either. As far as my relationship with Alin is concerned, I want to see how we are going to get along as a normal couple, not as how we've been so far. There is no need for us to hide anymore, to make up stories, to be the two of us against my parent's will. In spite of the fact that we aren't planning of getting married soon, I am only 20 years old, I'm beginning to think that our relationship is going to be more and more profound as time passes by.
Psychologist's Advice: They made her choose - and she chose to be herself
"It all started in a gentle way, like any other teenage relationship who wanted to explore the wonders of friendship and those of love. A quiet girl attracted by rebel boys. A dominant mother who persecutes her, a passive father, a grandmother who supports her, and another one who isn't there by her side. These are the actors of a scenario in which a young girl is looking for her identity and discovers that love has a very big price to pay; that her parents only love and support her if she becomes a quiet girl. Aware of it or not, the young girl's objective - being herself, together with her desires, wishes, aspirations - is brought to fulfilment. Her rebellious attitude is generated by means of her age and the normative attitude of her mother. The young teenager's decision is a response to her mother's attitude."
The "Romeo and Juliet" Syndrome
There have been researched throughout time numerous cases regarding the impact of a secretive relationship for the two humans involved in it. A teacher from Georgia University announced to the public a series of facts that lead to the fact that, at the beginning, the hidden character of a relationship makes it even more intriguing. However, as time passes by, such kind of relationships may become a burden for the two involved in it, but for their families and friends as well. In many cases, real motifs occur for them to hide the relationship: different religions, racism, homosexuality.
Alin, About His Relationship With Ioana
"Our relationship is something I have fought for since I was a young boy and I can't imagine tomorrow without Ioana being next by my side. I firmly believe that we are soul-mates."
"We've been together through many tough moments, especially when her mom would caught her and punish her. I would feel so helpless for many days in a row, because I couldn't see, hear her, I didn't know anything about her. However, the most difficult time for me was when I turned 18, because she couldn't be near me, she was forbidden."