I am Elena!
In June 2005, I met a person online who overturned my world. By sharing with me her life, she helped me face the reality I was living and the life-long trap and nightmare I was heading for. Meeting Meg was my tipping point. I could no longer keep betraying myself and living a lie, for others. In February 2006, I ran from my home in Russia and a few months later headed for the open sea. I wasn't afraid. This was the best time of my life! Finally, I was in control of my destiny.
In April 2007, Meg and I reached Meg's home in British Columbia. That voyage changed my whole life and reshaped me completely. I became my authentic self! I loved myself and discovered that I had dreams and the courage and strength to pursue them.
Today, I do everything in my power to encourage others to live as it is right for them, as their heart tells them. To me, there is no other way, my life would be squandered.
Where to find me
Want to get in touch? I am not on social media. Reach me via email, or on Telegram.
Meg and I
В 2005 году я познакомилась с Мег. Она взорвала мою жизнь: у неё не было мужа, не было детей и она делала то, что ей хотелось. В своём окружении я никогда не видела женщину, в которой было бы столько энергии и для которой не было бы слова "невозможно". Это был конец моему старому мировоззрению. Оно стало рушиться вместе с моими страхами. Я поняла, что бояться-то нечего. Кого мне было бояться? Своей матери, которая заставляла меня выходить замуж, предавать себя и ломать себе жизнь? Общества, которое меня уничтожало? Такое общество мне было просто не нужно.
Я сделала всё возможное, чтобы вырваться из моей темницы - из дома и страны. Я бежала к Мег в Киев в феврале 2006. С тех пор у меня началась вторая и настоящая жизнь. Я не вру ни себе, ни другим. Я живу так, как нужно мне. Важнее моей жизни для меня ничего нет.
Сегодня всё, что я делаю, направленно на то, чтобы вдохновить других бороться за свою жизнь. Ничего, кроме самой жизни, свободы и честности с самой собой, нет драгоценнее.
TITLE: Talking to the Moon
AUTHOR: Elena Vaytsel (memoir, screenplay)
GENRE: biographical drama
COMPARABLE FILMS: Rori’s Way, Thelma and Louise, Pleasantville, Brokeback Mountain, Erin Brockovich
LOGLINE: An online encounter with a westerner spurs a Russian woman to do the unthinkable; reject forced bondage to a man and take charge of her life by defying her society's most sacred pillars: despotism and misogyny.
SUMMARY: 17 years ago, I was faced with forced marriage and motherhood. I didn't resist. So completely indoctrinated, I couldn't even conceive of standing up for myself. Like other Russian women, I was groomed by my society to aspire to nothing more than bondage to a man and a lifetime of childbearing and servitude.
Then, I met Meg online. The Westerner unwittingly shattered my every preconception of womanhood with nothing more, or less, than common sense. By telling me I didn't have to do what didn't feel right. By not acquiescing to bondage with someone I loathed. That I could, and should, live my life the way I want to! That I must respect myself.
What I was seeing for the very first time in my life, was a representation of a woman who was not a victim. Meg bowed down to no-one and lived as she wanted! Her life was her own! And it was an adventure. I discovered that freedom for women was possible. I discovered that I had been lied to. That all along, I could have made life choices that were right for me, I didn't have to hurt myself. That the dogma I'd lived all my life by was there to keep me in line; blindly participate in my own subjugation.
My discovery of my own freedom clashed with the very fabric of social life in Russia where a woman has no right to her body and to chose her destiny. I had no idea what to do about it.
Meg invited me to meet up with her in Ukraine's capital. My first reaction was to refuse. I could not see myself existing without the approval and support of my family and society. And being with Meg, not with some man, would immediately turn me into a pariah. Weeks later I was no longer afraid. I saw clearly, my future would be a life-long agony and lie. It wouldn't be a life if I destroyed myself for others' vision of me. I could no longer stand my world a second longer. Meg and I finalized our plans to meet in Kyiv.
Counting down the days and weeks to my escape to Ukraine, I endured daily molestation by my fiancee, under threat of blackmail. My mother sensing something was afoot, fought harder to move me into a flat with Dmitry. All around me, my girlfriends were falling pregnant. I was the last one standing. An abomination. And I was planning a trip to Ukraine, to meet with a total stranger. A foreigner! And a woman! In the eyes of others I was acting strangely, and I was keenly watched. It was going to take all of my stamina and resources to escape the future that was laid out for me. Hardening with every hour.
On the day of my escape, I was a machine, letting none of my emotions show. With only a secret in me - in a few hours I would be free! I endured the last minutes with my boyfriend at the bus station, spent six hours freezing on the bus to Moscow, crossed Moscow barely aware of anything around me. And finally I was at Domodedovo airport, watching the jets outside, in awe. Life of my own was within my grasp! Breathless, nearly fainting, I boarded my flight.
Words can't describe what I felt when the jet touched Borispol's tarmac. I was aware of every step I was making crossing the airport. Meg was waiting for me just beyond a few walls. Meters between us dwindling!
When my and Meg's eyes met I felt as though I was struck by a lightning. Meg was before me, looking at me! I was in her life and she was in mine! We were real for each other, no longer just words on the computer screen. I walked on, unaware of anything but Meg's face getting closer.
Surrounded by people greeting, hugging, Meg and I stood before each other, speechless.
I had no clue what awaited for me, how I would survive from then on and I didn't think of it. I had no fears, doubts, or expectations. I was in Kiev, away from my jailers! The horrific future awaiting for me in Russia started to fade away. Loose its power over me. Somehow I knew, there was nothing to be afraid of any more. Never again I would betray myself. And Meg, right before me, finally real, was the beginning of my new life, full of adventure.
WHAT STAGE IS THE SCREENPLAY AT?
I went through it five times. I had fun writing it and I love it. Meg hasn't read my script, so I am in the dark as to it's potential or quality. I am not going to tell you that I believe it could be a great movie. I hardly imagine it. But I love my story, I love how far I've come and how it makes people feel. I wrote my story in the form of a screenplay because I had the desire to do so.
If I see a concrete possibility of my screenplay being turned into a film, I am willing to work on it further with a studio or a writer. I would also consider selling some rights.
DO I THINK MY STORY COULD BE A SERIES?
I believe the script I wrote could be turned into several episodes of a series that would encompass the whole of the story; my liberation/escape to Kiev and my and Meg's run across the world to Meg's home in BC.
HOW TO GET TALKING to the Moon SCREENPLAY?
Q & A
How could I plunge into a planet-crossing voyage without any sailing experience or the right to land?
A life without Meg and without freedom to live as I need to, for myself, wasn't worth living for me. Once I was with Meg and away from my home, I never considered coming back. It would be the end of me. My family and my society were my jail. What I had with Meg, be that on land or at sea, was incomparable to the way I lived in Russia. It was the greatest time I had ever had in my life. I was with the woman I loved and I was appreciated, not attacked, for who I was and what I wanted in life! I wasn't afraid. I wanted more. I never felt, that I made a conscious decision to sail across the world and reach Meg's home. I was just doing what was right for me. One step at the time. My primary goals being, staying with Meg and living on my own terms.
What did I discover?
I learned to love myself. I find it to be the most important gift one can find. To learn to listen to what your heart tells you and to love yourself. If you don't, not only you will never be happy; you will squander your life.
What was I afraid of?
My greatest fear was to be separated from Meg. The second fear was, to be dragged back to my jail in Russia. The third, to perish at sea.
What did my journey do for me?
I have grown up and matured in the way I could have never imagined. I became a hero for my former self, who, I feel, is still in Russia. If I saw my current self, years back in Russia, I would have never believed it was me. Who I became and how I live now, is my dream come true.
What about the hurricane?
Crossing Atlantic, Meg and I were caught in a hurricane with a large part of our head sail open. The furling unit was jammed and there was no way we could do anything about it with the sea conditions the way they were. Wind was 40 knots, then 65. The waves were walls of water rolling onto us, lifting us. When we were on their tops the boat was trying to position itself parallel to the waves. It took Meg inhuman stamina and strength to not let the boat do that. She was at it for hours, for as long as it took for the hurricane to go over us. She didn't leave the helm once!
Looking at the sea, the endless valley of angry, boiling waves meters high, I knew, this could be the end of us. We were overpowered by the wind with the open jenoa. There was nobody for hundreds of miles we could call for help and we could be killed right there and then. But what I was thinking about was, what an amazing sight I was witnessing and what an amazing person Meg was. She just kept struggling with the helm. I fed her cookies with her not releasing the helm. I put her jacket onto her, one arm at the time. She was amazing. She wasn't afraid! She never is, that's why I always thought she was an alien.
If Meg was asked about that episode, she would play down what she did, how brave she was. She would just say, she did what she had to. But I know her saving our lives in Atlantic and what she is doing every day presently to keep us both alive and together, is outstanding. She infected me with her bravery and defiance. We were even laughing then, right in the middle of the hurricane. This was amazing laughter. We were alive! At that moment, we cherished our life and each other like never before. I often recall that day, to remind myself how precious life is and that it can end in a flash.
How did I deal with the fear of drowning?
Meg isn't afraid of the sea or dying. I was then and still am afraid of the sea. I m not particularly crazy about it, never dreamed of it or sailing. I ended up at sea to stay with Meg and go on with my life. There was nothing I could do about my fear of drowning. I couldn't just make it vanish and our destination was on the other side of the world. Fear or no fear, we had to move on. I had to overcome it. Live with it. I still do. As long as there is no country for us, we are always back at sea. If I choose to be with Meg, I also choose to deal with whatever happens to me offshore.
What was arriving to Meg's home like?
When I saw lights of Victoria in the dark, I was relieved, but I wasn't overjoyed. Mostly it meant, we could finally stop sailing. By then, it has been nearly a year! I forgot what living on land was like. And I wasn't sure if I needed humans or the way they lived. Meg and I have become a country onto ourselves. I needed to be with Meg and to be free. By the time we arrived in BC, I had everything I wanted.
What I was glad to see in Victoria, was Meg's home. Meg's house was Meg for me. I imagined, how she wrote her emails to me in her kitchen, or how she was packing for Kiev. I couldn't believe I was actually there! Before then, I saw Meg's house only in the photos, Meg sent me in her emails. It felt like a dream. I was there! And Meg and I were together!
My connection to Russia today
My connection to Russia, presently, is two people. One of them is my former co-student. I am very glad I reconnected with her and found true support and friend in her. We frequently chat and dream of seeing each other again, one day. The other person, is a journalist who I worked with on an article about my story. I have no communication with my family.
What about the war in Ukraine?
Meg and I are with the Ukrainian people in our thoughts and are watching their courageous fight against, what I can only call, evil.