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Own Who You Are

Story of Leena Kollar

Life is too short to stay in a relationship where you can’t be who you are. And if you feel like you have to walk on eggshells, you’re in the wrong relationship. 

Like many women, Leena Kollar learned those lessons the hard way. For almost ten years, she endured an abusive marriage with a narcissistic man who built himself up by constantly tearing her down. In his eyes, Leena did nothing right unless she did everything his way. He enforced his demands with a seething anger that left Leena shaken. 

“On one occasion, he picked up our toaster oven and slammed it onto the floor,” she recalls. Her husband’s intimidating presence pushed Leena to hide the vibrant woman God created her to be. 

“I lost myself in the relationship,” Leena admits, “My identity was completely tied to him—whatever he wanted, needed, or liked, I followed suit. Even when he had an affair, he blamed it on me for not meeting his sexual needs.”

Though shattered, Leena stayed, fearing how she would care for her two children and survive financially without her husband’s income. Then one day, after a fierce argument that left her in tears, Leena’s four-year-old son placed his small hands on her face and said, “Mommy, please don’t be sad. It’s going to be okay.” 

Those words broke Leena’s heart—and flooded her soul with resolve. “I knew I had to get out because my son should never have to comfort me; I should comfort him. I realized I deserved better, and my children deserved better.”

Leena began asking herself what kind of life she wanted and took steps to make it a reality. She shunned her husband’s intermittent love bombs and the fake promises that he would change. She filed for divorce, reaching out to friends and family to help her make a new home for her children while she rediscovered herself. 

“My faith got me through the hard times. So much relates to God, your value, and being loved,” Leena counsels. “I turned my breakdown into a breakthrough. I chose to find joy outside my marriage. I refused to let my pain hold me down. I wanted to find myself again by rediscovering myself while still honoring that I was a mother, artist, and writer.” 

Leena began living her life authentically, even launching a new venture called Behind Nashville, promoting the people and places that make Music City so great (behindnashville.com). 

Leena’s rediscovery was so liberating, she wanted to inspire other women to embrace themselves and their lives. She wrote Dear Me, I’ve Missed You, a straight-from-the-heart book that contains wisdom she’s gleaned from marriage, motherhood, and divorce. It’s Leena’s story, written under the pen name Aria White, but its truths help other women recognize that abuse is not okay. They deserve better and can make it happen. 

“Believe the signs of abuse, but don’t believe the fake promises,” Leena warns. “Abusers don’t change. Your intuition is your superpower,” she adds. “Listen to it. Get out of a bad relationship and live authentically. Go after what you want. Ask for what you want. Know you are beautiful and perfectly made. I’m a red marble in a blue world, kind of quirky, but that makes me fun and different! Own who you are.”

Need help? Call 1.800.799.SAFE (7233) or visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline to live chat at thehotline.org

You can find Dear Me, I’ve Missed You on Amazon.