BALI bombing survivor Carren Smith told her incredible story to an appreciative crowd of about 40 Gympie businesswomen at Kingston House yesterday.
She was the guest speaker at a women's networking event organised by the Enlightened Goddesses Business Network, which connects women throughout the Sunshine Coast and now Gympie.
Carren's metamorphosis from victim to motivational speaker began in 2001.
She had been living with her partner of eight years in Sydney when he was sent to Alice Springs for eight weeks of work.
On his return, Carren's partner acted strangely and distantly for months, until Carren reached the point where she couldn't handle the situation and confronted him. The couple started counselling and Carren moved in with her best friend, Jodi.
On October 14, 2001, her partner committed suicide. Carren blamed herself and hated herself and made a decision almost a year later to end her own life.
"I thought my family and friends would be relieved," she said yesterday.
On October 12, 2002, she boarded a plane for Bali, where she intended to do the deed on the anniversary of her partner's death.
Jodi and another friend insisted on going with her.
The night they arrived, the three friends headed for the Sari Club. Carren felt at peace. She knew she was going to end her life in two days.
"The nightclub was packed with Australian footballers. Jodi and I were standing close, talking."
The bomb went off at 11.30pm.
"I remember waking up to find myself covered in people. Those people were not moving." Carren started to squirm her way out of the rubble.
The place was alight. People were running past, screaming. The flames were heading for her.
A tall man - "the most handsome man I have even laid eyes on" - was standing in front of a hole in the wall, helping women get through, away from the fire. But outside was also a scene of devastation.
"There is nothing human about the human instinct for survival," Carren said. Somehow, she jumped a 10-foot wall and made it out to the street, where an Australian man on a moped told her she was in trouble and to climb onboard.
Carren didn't realise it, but half her scalp had been smashed in and was sticking up in the air. She was taken to a hospital where 38 staples were put in her head and she was forced to share needles.
Her crushed skull was pressing on her brain and she was told she needed surgery.
She was in the fight for her life, despite her original intentions when she left for Bali.
Carren decided to not have the operation in Bali, but instead get herself back to Sydney, which she did.
Doctors operated in the nick of time.
Three days later, she learnt both of her friends had died in the bombings.
For the next six years, she suffered suicidal depression until her new partner jolted her out of it by telling her she was "doing this" to herself.
Since then, Carren has turned herself into one of Australia's most successful speakers.
"Take your experience and turn it into a new meaning that gives you power and potency" is her message.