COOKING UP A STORM

I have always been an extremely skinny girl. You could have easily counted my bones if you’d seen me naked. I take it from my father, who was just as skinny when he was young. Having said that, I have also been underweight all my life because I barely ate. Just as for being a tomboy, to me not feeling hungry and eating the tiniest amount of food was nothing strange.

I just never felt the need to eat. No, I have never been anorexic, nor I ever had any eating disorder. I was born with it. I grew up nicely and hit every milestone with a swiss clock precision, but I simply ate nothing at all. My mum, who has always been an extremely anxious person, had me checked millions of times by any doctor she could find. My father still recalls the embarrassment of having a doctor who just left the house crossing his path with another one that was about to get in, waving at each other and commenting “first child syndrome?” “yeah, good luck!”. Anyway, no matter how many consultants my mum rang, the diagnosis was always the same: “Madam, your daughter is just not hungry enough”.

You would think that, after 100+ doctors, my mum would just resign to the fact that there was nothing that could have “healed” me from this “horrible issue”, but we are talking about my mum here, who always knows best and who definitely knows more than any doctor in her (often deluded) head. I don’t know, to this day, why she took it so personally and why she made such a drama about it (she still does, by the way: when I told her the other day that my personal trainer at the gym put me on a diet – to build muscles – she screamed blue murder because “YOU? DIET? YOU ARE SO SKINNY YOU LOOK LIKE ANOREXIC”). All I know is that, even though she was doing it for my own good, she made my life hell on Earth.

fotoOK, to be fair to her, in addition of not feeling the need to eat, I became quite soon an extreme pain in the arse with my fussy eating habits. The combination of having an extremely low level of hunger with an extremely high level of fussiness and squeamishness, meant that almost everything triggered my “nope, my stomach is closed” feeling. Believe me, it was so dead easy to upset me. If cutlery, glasses and plates were not absolutely spotlessly clean (including no water stains) I just couldn’t bring myself to eat, and because I have a very sensitive nose, these better not have smelled of eggs (it is still one of my pet hates today!). Meat had to be cut into microscopical pieces, because I would have spit everything back on the place if any amount of fat reached my mouth. My plate had to be half full. Pasta had to be barely cooked. Fruit had to be as unripen as possible as I couldn’t eat it if sweet (I still have a thing for sour flavours) and in case it had a stone in it, like peaches or apricot, my mum had to dispose it before I saw it or – shock horror – touch it: It makes me feel weird just thinking about it (And writing about it, aaaaahhhh), it gives me goosebumps and it totally freaks me out.

Lunches and dinners were dramas, with my mum trying to feed me anything she could and me refusing it. The story was always the same: she put food on the table, I would barely touch it, she proceeded in losing her cool, frustration would rise to the roof, she would demand I eat, then she would start threatening, then yelling, then my father would intervene by barking at me to fucking eat my food and I would end up crying staring at my plate, praying my food would just evaporate like water in the heat. This drama at some point changed though: my mum discovered a medicine called Carpantin: it was liquid, it had a sweet, absolutely vile taste and it made me drowsy as fuck. I think my mum made me drink litres of it throughout my childhood. It stimulated hunger, and it kind of worked as, during “the cure”, as my mum would call the month or so she made me have that shit, I ate more than I normally would. Whenever I saw those bottles in the medicine’s cabinet, my heart sank. I don’t remember why, at some point, this hell ended (I think that there has been a shortage of it and my doctor just stopped prescribing it because “enough is enough”).

The mantras I heard day in, day out, was that I looked sick, that I was skin and bones, that I looked like a stick with clothes. When I was a child, I almost felt a sense of pride: I looked like a boy and I didn’t mind, I fit into tiny clothes, nobody teased me for being overweight (though in the 80s being overweight was rare) and it just seemed a fun thing, so I was welcoming those negative comments about my body because to me they were something cool.

Well.

Not so much when teenage years started: my peers started to have boobs and curves and well, I still had bones on show. Hearing constantly “you will go to the hospital because you are all bones! “you have only skin attached to your bones!” “look at you, you are so skinny you look sick!”, “you are a stick with clothes on”, “you should stay in the science room as you’d be perfect as a skeleton” went from fun to steadily eroding my self-esteem, and once that was gone, it fuelled hate for my body.

Partly because of my fussiness, and partly because I wanted to gain weight and shush all the “skinny bitch” shit, I started to learn how to cook by myself. My mum is worldwide famous OCD: if anything is not spotless (especially her kitchen), hell will break lose, so she never taught me anything in case I made a mess in her house. I didn’t mind, I wanted to do things my way and learn flavours, techniques and recipes all by myself: yes, I’m a loner when it comes to learning and I thrive when I am left alone to do my own things (this is also the way I managed to get a Law degree: no classroom, just me, my books and a tutor for help).

Turned out, cooking became a relaxing session for my brain: I didn’t have to think anything but what I wanted to eat and what steps I had to follow in order to feed me what I wanted. There was no fussiness, no anxiety, no drama: I had total control on everything: the flavours, the portion sizes, the recipes. Moreover, it helped me be more curious about food, more inclined to taste and give it a go. An amazing world of possibilities opened its doors for me and I loved it because I was the undisputed Queen of it.

Cooking became my life saviour when my post-natal depression took a turn for the worst, and I lived on a chain of endless panic attacks. Guess what was the main thing who triggered my attacks? Yes, food: I became scared of dying of an anaphylactic shock from a random allergy. I know, rationally, that it was absolutely insane, but there and then? No way, Jose. It took me 2 years to discover that the feeling of suffocating and dying triggered by food was due to a combination of asthma and gastric reflux, but in the meantime it was constant horror.
Anything that was not plain pasta (and I mean just boiled, no oil, cheese, nothing), plain rice or water sent me in a terrible meltdown. I lost so much weight in the space of two months that I (truly) became a skeleton with clothes on. No one seemed to care though: doctors brushed me off with “first time mum syndrome”, “it’s just baby blues”, “cheer up and enjoy this moment”, like I was having a blast living in that horrible.

I could have never tolerated anyone cooking for me at that stage. I would have never, ever, trusted anyone to cook exactly how my anxiety dictated and with the only few things that spared me a panic attack. I spent more time than I’m happy to admit staring at my kitchen thinking “here we go again… Russian roulette bring it on….”. I started re-introducing things little by little, one item at a time. Depending on how brave I felt in that moment, or how strong I felt to push myself, I increased variety, I added spices and flavours. It took ages but being the master of my own resurrection has been very empowering (but please, if you read this, don’t feel like there is no help out there: there is. Don’t surrender like me. SEEK HELP. I beg you), but it left massive mental scars that only now I’m managing to heal.

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A cake I made recently to celebrate Seb Vettel’s victory at the Belgium Grand Prix

Now that I’m better, I am back at loving cooking for what it is. Over the last couple of years I have also improved my baking skills, and every now and then I test my creations on my colleagues. Funny thing is, when I started bringing cakes at the office, their feedback was “good”, “nice”, “ok”, “amazing”; now that it happens quite often, they are used to it and their feedback is like Michelin Star inspector: “needs more moisture”, “this was good but slightly too lemony”, “amazing, but decoration could have been neater”.

By the way, since I see that my blog gets read all over the world, if you have any recipe please please please share it with me (any good dhal recipe would be greatly appreciated!)!

IT’S BRITNEY B#TCH!

Before anyone says anything: yes, I am a metalhead and proud.
Yes, I grew up with Kreator, Megadeth, Slayer, Testament and the whole lot of thrash metal; I got more band merchandise than what a “normal” person is supposed to own; I probably spent way too much money on heavy metal gig tickets than what I should have done and yes, I even got Slayer tattooed on my left leg.

But.

I have an insane love for Britney Spears.
I love her, I worship her, she is the mighty Britney bitch and I’m a devoted, proud fan. Whoever says anything bad about her in front of me ends up at the receiving end of a massive rant so don’t you ever dare do it, ok?
LEAVE BRITNEY ALONE, OK?

siso2Lot of people teased me for being a Britney fan in the past, and some still tried to teas me nowadays. As you can imagine, I care about it just as much as I care about what Kim Kardashian ate for lunch today: a big, fat zero.
People think it is absolutely odd for a metalhead, who is all Slayer and horns up, to listen to such a cheesy popstar. The fact that I (predominantly) listen to Heavy Metal doesn’t mean that I cannot appreciate anything else, I mean, I grew up being Madonna fan, and maybe one day I’ll tell the funny tale of that time I went to see her gig alone lying to my mum, but for some reason people are not that bothered about me being Madge’s fan as about me adoring Britney.
I have never bothered to explain the reasons why I am such a fan to these people, mainly because:
a) I knew the people having fun at me were not really interested in hearing them anyway, they just wanted more stuff to laugh at my expenses (like I give a single fuck about it), and
b) because, fundamentally, I couldn’t have been remotely arsed to waste my time and energy to do it, and since it involves my mental health too, the less thing I shared the better.

I did a post on Facebook once about it, but I have been stupid enough to cancel it because it was very personal, and I didn’t want my ex to see it (yeah, call me Queen Dumb, I deserve it). I’ll try to re-explain it here, and I promise this time I won’t remove it.

I hated Britney Spears.

43159It took me a split second to hate her, as soon as I caught a glimpse of her on tv. She was a fabricated cute little girl vomited out of that Disney club where everyone seemed to be pushed out to make money: Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera… you name it.
When she came out with “Baby one more time” I was already a metal head, and she was the personification of everything I hated in a girl: pretty blonde hair, pretty body, dumb acting like a teenager, silly girlie face and behaviour, that horrid baby voice, the hideous clothes, the even more hideous dance moves…
Shivers down my spine.
She was indeed beautiful, a classic case of “all the girls want to be like her and all the boys want to be with her”. Everywhere you went, every time you turned MTv on, she was there, with her stupid bimbo songs about stupid bimbo stuff. Jeez she made me want to pull my hair and rip my ears! She became big like very few pop stars did, she sang with Michael Jackson (think whatever you want about him, but he was the King of Pop ok?), she did a song with Madonna (!!!) and who can’t forget her performance at the MTv VMAs 2001, with a massive snake on her shoulder? Or the one with Madonna and Christina Aguilera? I watched all of them in a sort of shock horror (for the record, “I’m a Slave for You” it is not one of my favourite songs still today).
I kept disliking her for years, who cares about that American, ex-Disney stupid girl anyway right? She is nothing like the Real Queen of Pop Madonna, I don’t care.

However, the picture-perfect image of this lovely cute girl suddenly started to break. She became like a wild beast in a cage, trying to get out of a very gold prison she wasn’t happy to be locked in anymore… and one day she just lost her shit. Royally. Like a supernova explosion, she literally exploded in a massive, full blown mentally insane fit: she shaved her beautiful, gold blonde hair, she beat the shit out of a paparazzi car with an umbrella, she was completely, completely insane. Her eyes when she shaved her head where those of someone who’s not right in their head and that cannot be stopped unless sedated. Everyone who was there with her was either trying to get a picture of her or trying to upset her even more to make her go even crazier. I felt sick in the stomach.

I remember watching the footages (the “perks” of being a celebrity is that all your ups and downs get ruthlessly broadcasted on and on and on….) and I just felt… sorry.
I was so sorry for her.
I wanted to hug her, to hug her like I would have hug my best friend in a similar fit of rage, and just cry with her.

For once, I felt even luckier than her: very few people witnessed me losing my shit, having panic attacks, and ending up in a very horrible meltdown, or not making it on time to get to the toilet during one of my anxiety attacks and… well…  etc. etc. Everything people know about my problems is what I decide to share. It is up to me what I want to make people aware of, I have full control of it. When I cut my long hair very, very short, not too far from Britney’s shaved head, because I hated myself and I wanted to rip off the only thing I liked about me, I didn’t have an army of people outside, taking billions of pictures of me and laughing at my expenses. It was just me and a stupid hair stylist, who should have spent a bit more time talking with me and maybe, just maybe, convince me to gradually shorten my hair, rather than chopping all my locks in one go then grabbing the razor like he had been waiting for that moment all his life. It took me 6 years to set foot in another hair saloon, such traumatic was that experience. Still, no one waited for me outside to laugh at me and my almost bald head. Thankfully. I would have killed myself there and then, and I mean what I’m saying (I was that fragile).

Britney? Not so much. Every single detail fed tabloid for months, and years. Her pictures, the measures that her family had to take in order to keep her alive and (medically) cared for, the custody of her kids gone to that work-shy sleazebag of her ex-husband, everything. It still haunts her today, 11 years later. Everything she does, good or bad, she will always be “the one who went mental” in 2007. All. The. Time. Give it a bloody rest, we got it!!!

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My metal collection and Britney (with her show’s ticket!)

That day, Britney may have lost her marbles, but she gained a fan: me.
I started rooting for her. Every progress she made, I was there cheering for her. When “Blackout” came out, I bought it immediately, and much to my surprise, I loved it to bits. It is still amongst my all-time favourite albums ever, together with Slayer’s “Reign in Blood”, Kreator’s “Endorama” and Megadeth’s “Rest in Peace”. If you wonder, my favourite song from “Blackout” is “Break the Ice”. No discussion about it mates.
When she performed “Gimme More” at the VMAs in 2007, not in her best mental and physical shape, I cried all my tears in front of the tv: everybody bitched and trashed her, saying she was a fat cow unable to move and sing. Yes, she wasn’t exactly in the same shape of when she was dancing with that bloody yellow snake years before, ok. However, what I saw was more than what the tv transmitted: I saw a strong woman, performing in the face of all the shit that happened to her, still trying to do her bit in the best way she could. Yes, it was atrocious, but I dare you do the same when your mind is in a blur: best of times, when I’m in my worst states, I can barely tolerate to function, let alone get on a stage and putting up a show. When it was my turn to go to work even though I was suicidal and out of my right mind, that performance kept playing in my head: “if Britney did it in front of a huge crowd, live on tv where millions of people were watching, so can I” I kept repeating myself. Every single minute of every single day.
Still today, every time I have to face something difficult, I channel that thought in my head and off I go.

eb359a9539d9191cb2b9a1e7241f2f6e
That’s my Britney!

I am so happy that not only she recovered, but that she is still a successful performer, has her life back on track, a smoking hot body, her kids back with her and so many good things. Think what you want, I don’t care, she deserves everything she gets.

Why all this blurb about Britney?

Well, on Friday I went to see her live in London, for the very first time in my life.

Yes, I was still recovering from food poisoning, but I was there.

I wore my hair extensions, some very pink and funky makeup (I had to get ready at the office, in the only Friday where everyone was in, so I had the pleasure of doing a walk of shame out of it) and yeah, as you can imagine, I was so agitated and emotional that I felt almost sick.

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Me on the train back home. DEVASTATED.

The gig was…. Well, the only thing I can say is that I cried all my tears. All my emotions, all my suffering, all my mental problems… I felt like it was the beginning of a new era for me. I sang all songs, I danced like crazy, I laughed and had fun with everyone around me, it was just magical. Magical.
I don’t care if she lip-synced all her performance, or if her moves where not super complicated: the whole show was just exceptional, and I had the night of my life.
Before anyone asks: no, I didn’t take any picture of video of the show. I kept my phone in my pocket and just lived the moment as it was unfolding (and I was too busy trying not to lose my fake eyelashes because I was in a flood of tears).
The next day I felt like I suddenly became a 98 years old woman, since part of my body ached (including my hair: fucking hell, hair extensions are heavy!!!). I regretted not having bought tickets to see her even Saturday and Sunday, but hey, I’m sure it won’t be her last tour and who knows what the future holds for both of us?

SICK SICK SICK

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Me at work in between sick moments. I looked like shit and I felt just as shit

I’m on the mend after 48 hours of being severely sick. I’m sitting here at home, with a cup of tea (sadly, with my stomach being so upset, I don’t think I’m ready for coffee just yet), trying to relax and feel a bit better. As long as food stays down I’ll be quite happy, though my stomach and I have definitely seen better days than these. I hate feeling sick.
I hate when my days have to stop because of whatever is going on in my body (or head). I hate when I am forced on having “grounded at home” days, and I cannot go to work, to the gym, or even just outside for a walk. Even trying to distract myself watching tv is almost impossible.

I said it previously that I’m a workaholic. Work has been, for a very long time, the only thing that made me feel great about myself. In my darkest days, working has been a life-saviour, and if my brain is still working and functioning, it is because work gave me lots of things to do, to think, to process, allowing myself a good break from whatever demon I was fighting. It still does it today, to an extent.

I used to dread the thought of the weekend. Whereas now Fridays are my “yeeeeeaaaah” days, back then they were a nightmare of epic proportions: what do I do now, alone with my mental illness?

You know what I never understood? How people can be very sympathetic with you, very understanding and caring, if you say something like “oh, I am so low right now, I have the flu and I’m feeling miserable”, but dare and say “my head is not right at the moment, I’m in a very bad moment and I can barely contemplate the thought of getting out of bed” and brace yourself for a barrage of very weird reactions.

No, fresh air won’t help me feel better. Maybe it would, but maybe I can’t bear the thought of going outside my house alone. Why don’t you offer to stay with me and play by ear to decide what to do together, if you really want to be helpful.
Yes, a nice bath and a cup of tea may be a good idea, but these are not antidepressant. If I’m on a panic, anxiety induced attack, I would be too scared to have one in case I die: I had to jump out of a lot of the loveliest, luxurious bath I made for myself because I felt slightly uneasy, I got scared of fainting inside and die for drowning in it…
Why don’t I go out and see some friends? Which friends? Maybe it shouldn’t be me asking friends out but the other way round? Have you ever thought that maybe, just maybe, I’m embarrassed at my condition and I don’t want anyone to see me like this? Or, worse, that I don’t want to see people who would only see me for the illness I bear and go “aaaahhh poor youuuu” because I already feel sorry for myself enough?

Fair enough, dealing with someone with mental illness is not easy. I understand full well that we can be extremely moody, even unpleasant at times. We can seem to be egoistical, to “think only about ourselves” and to not take into consideration other people’s feelings. I know because I’ve been dealing with my mum, suffering with extreme anxiety and depression for half of my life and believe me, at times I really hated her behaviour (I still do), even though I know is the illness talking and not her. Imagine the fun when the both of us have been suffering!

Please understand this: we are not mean, we are not insensitive, we are ill.

mentalThe worst thing I have been told is “come on, life is beautiful, just snap out of this bad mood and enjoy it!”. News flash: someone who is suffering from mental illness can’t just snap out of it: they are not “just a bit sad”; they are not “a bit tired” or going through “a bit of a rough moment”. If it was that easy to “just get over it”, rest assured that anyone would: no one suffering with mental illness, myself included, would rather keep suffering for the sake of playing the poor victim of a very cruel life. We would love to be able to just “have a very good night sleep”, wake up refreshed and leave our issues behind us, like they were part of a very bad nightmare.

I know that mental illness has been (and still is) a taboo that people don’t want to talk about. There is some awareness, but still a lot of misconceptions and ignorance around it. When I say that I managed to work full time, with a baby and a house to run even though I was depressed and suicidal, people look at me like I was an alien fallen from space. Not everyone who is suffering will stay locked inside their house, hiding under the blankets in their beds. Most of us manage to live a kind of normal life. I knew of colleagues who were very depressed and still, the routine of coming at work at 9am and leaving at 5pm gave them something to hold on, a reason to wake up every morning and fight for another day.
Mind you, some of us have to do it anyway, like it or not, if we want to pay bills and put food on our tables. To me, work has been a holiday from my thoughts. Even though I had to deal with panic attacks and constant anxiety, it was better than being at home and have only my thoughts to deal with.

When my nightmare finally arrived at some sort of an end, I became super workaholic, enthusiast, excited, you name it: I just wanted to savour every moment, to treasure every second. Even though it took other 3 years to be better, and therapy to guide me into a stable, clear, and positive self, this attitude at work (and life) didn’t stop. That is why, on days like this, where I’m forced to stay in bed and do almost nothing, I feel like an animal trapped in a cage. Of course, I’m happy that I’m just vomiting because of a stomach bug and not suicidal because my brain is in deep trouble, but still.

Oh well, my rant is over, let me rest a little bit more now, fingers crossed tomorrow I will feel better!

OVERPROTECTED (BY MYSELF)

Apologies if it took me a while to post this. I have been very busy at first, then very unwell in the last few days: I think I caught some sort of stupid stomach bug, who knows, and I just couldn’t type anything at all. Or thinking anything at all!

Aahhh I hate being sick!!!

As we speak, I’m currently in a defensive, ultra-protective mode. I feel like if I could, I would hug myself constantly and tell me “I love you, don’t worry, I’m here for you, should anyone come closer they’ll get hell, keep focusing on what you are doing”.
For the record, there is nothing threatening me or potentially hurting me, whether physical or mental, I know it rationally, but I can’t help and have this feeling of “you better keep an eye around you”.

I think these feelings are the result of me finally coming out of the very dark place I slipped in when my relationship ended. No, better: from the very dark place that I allowed my ex to put me through, and from the realisation of what I actually had instead of what I decided I wanted to see in our relationship, which was… well… the very opposite of what a loving, caring, uplifting and affectionate relationship is. Hard to admit when you spend two years in a massive illusion.

I feel like I’ve woke up from a very horrible nightmare, and I’m reassessing everything my relationship has been (and, most importantly, what it has NOT been): the pain and tortures I’ve been put through, whether by him or myself trying to win his love, or trying to feel worthy of the crumbles of love he threw at me when convenient; what his behaviour really was; the lies; the abuse; my stubbornness at believing in love when love never was there, not even for a single moment, and how stupid I have been to hate myself so much for allowing such a twat to hurt me and traumatise me for his fun.
Yes, to his very own admission, he used me only for his needs, and to do that, he faked any feeling he said he had for me. Most of the tortures he put me through, were for his own amusement, such as flirting with other (hotter) women right under my nose and showing it to me. He hid his own insecurities by deepening mines. But, this idiot that I was wanted to see in this disrespectful behaviour like a kind of proof that he loved me because he was “testing me” to see how strong my commitment was. To see if I were really worthy of his amazingness.
Bloody hell, can you believe how incredibly dumb I have been? If I could be swallowed by the ground where I stand as we speak for the embarrassment I caused myself, that would be great.

It took me an awful lot of time and therapy to now realise that he was just mean for the sake of being mean. A proper twat of epic proportions, evil to the core, negative to bits, a total leech, and the only thing that got proven there was what a massive imbecile I have been.
Lesson learned: if you have low self-esteem and hate yourself, if you are desperate to fill a void inside you with any turd who crosses your way, if you hope to solve your issues by relying on someone else to do the hard job for you, these are the kind of people you will attract: the ones that will leech on you till there is nothing left, who’ll treat you like a commodity till they need you (for whatever: sex, money, company….) then dump you like garbage when you do not serve their purposes.

Thank you brain for finally waking up and telling him where to go (hopefully, to hell, one-way ticket).

What my issue is now though, is that I am in this weird mode where I see enemies of my wellbeing everywhere. I know I’m exaggerating big time here, and I apologise in advance to any PTDS sufferers out there reading this, but I feel like I’m in a post-traumatic situation.
Let me explain.
I was chatting to this lovely guy the other day. It was all nice and fun, till I got a joke that sounded in my mind like a “flirtatious” attempt. Listen, it was so innocent, that you must have had some mental issue to see anything remotely upsetting.
Still, like a horrible flashback, I pictured myself in my old shoes not long ago: checking his Instagram to see which other women I was competing against, or which other women he was cheating on me with (whether just by sexting or by actually having sex with); I saw myself in bed with him, whilst he had fun at humiliating me by showing me pictures of hot women to dig at my insecurities and self-esteem, the kind of hot women I could have never be like, and receiving a very detailed list of all the plastic surgery procedures I should have done to in order for him to think I’m good looking (botox on my forehead, a nosejob, a boobjob, a facelift, you name it); I saw myself spending nights crying, being hurt for fun; I saw myself being disrespected; I saw myself treated like rubbish even though I went above and beyond the call of duty to make him happy (being extra generous, extra loving, extra understanding, extra everything).

I had a panic attack.

No joking.

I suddenly felt out of air, heart racing, my head spinning, the dreadful feeling of being about to explode and die.

I dropped my phone like it suddenly became hot as lava.

I still cannot shake those feeling from my head even though few days have passed since that episode.

I tried to rationalise these feelings: after all, my “psychological freedom” is way too recent to pretend I’m ok, so much that it is normal, right now, to have a phase of “refusal” and “I can’t do this ever again”. Time will heal, the right person will come round, I will be a different person by then and all these things will be talked and put behind my back easily. I can’t expect to be out from a kind of abusing relationship like nothing ever happened to me. I would be in extreme denial if I didn’t assess what happened and pretend that not a single instant of it affected me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m using this trauma as a positive input to learn a (very harsh) lesson, to work on myself and on my strengths, to make sure I have clear in my mind what I don’t want and what I don’t want to experience ever again, but still, a little panicky voice in my brain is whispering “and what if you’ll never heal?”. Worse, part of me, when I’m tired and my brain is overloaded, tends to think “yeah… maybe I won’t heal”.

I don’t like to be so defensive.

gymI don’t plan to be in a relationship anytime soon, for god’s sake no, but I would like to get to know people before pushing them away like they have some sort of incurable plague that will take me to an early grave. Funny to think about it, I used to be so eager to not be alone that I would have put myself out there asap in the hope to find someone, and now I’m sitting here thinking “I can’t bear the thought of another man in my life”. It’s like… like this potential new man would be detrimental for the journey I’m in, unless he’d be a very amazing one. Can I be bothered to find this amazing one, at the moment? Absolutely not!

So for now, I’ll just stick with me. You know what? I’m actually loving it. I’m loving me. I’m a jolly good fun. I’m discovering this new amazing person and I’m too busy falling in love with me to look around and fall in love with someone else. Let’s see how things will pan out, shall we?

CRIPPLING ANXIETY IS MY CARDIO

I suffer with anxiety.
Well, I always suffered with anxiety.
udo4I think it is fair to say that anxiety has been my loyal, faithful partner for as long as I can remember. The only partner I wished would have cheated on me and leave me for good! But nope, not a chance in hell…!
Anxiety has affected the vast majority of aspects of my life, and even now that I’m therapy and I am more equipped to fight it, I still feel the stomach turning, the bowels moving, the breathing getting heavier and that frigging feeling of an anvil suddenly pressing my chest and making me gasp for air.

People think anxiety is just in your brain. Yeah right, maybe when it is mild.
When it’s crippling, and severe, and ruling your own life, you’ll soon see the nasty, physical effects of it: feeling sick like you are about to vomit; having to keep track of every toilet, everywhere you go because you know your bowels won’t wait for you to talk yourself out of your sudden attack; feeling like your blood pression is suddenly going down and that you’ll soon faint; your face getting covered in spots as soon as your stress level hits the fan…. No, nothing pretty indeed. I wish there was a mental illness who made you look red carpet ready….

Anxiety has been my worst enemy at times, especially when it stopped me fromudo5 experiencing things, participating into various activities etc.. How many times have I avoided the gym because I was too anxious to faint? How many Sundays have I spent dreading going back to work on Monday? How many times I have avoided meeting friends because I was too anxious to feel sick after eating?
To be fair though, it also saved me from a lot of stupid stuff: I have never ever dared to entertain the idea of trying drugs because of my anxiety, but at the same time, whenever a doctor puts a medicine in front of me, I struggle to convince myself to take it (as we speak, I’ve been six years taking only paracetamol such is the anxiety about everything else).

udo6I don’t want to write a sad, commiserating post about anxiety though. No no no, I’m not in the mood, and one of my best features is the fact that I’m an amazing clown and I can laught about anything regarding myself… and don’t they say that laughter is the best medicine? Well, I would like you to join me in some of my most hilarious anxiety episodes. Come on, anxiety can make you do rather crazy stuff at times, it is only fair that we use them for a more positive aim!

Episode 1 – the dreaded dentist

I was… I think…. 20 years old. I know I was older than 18 because I was driving my own car. Anyway, I used to have a phobia of the dentist. When I was a kid, dentists in Italy (or, at least, then ones I saw) were more like butchers than teeth’s angels. I know for a fact that more than one person has been traumatised like me and had to endure a life of crippling anxiety whenever they had to have their teeth fixed.
I have avoided the dentist like the plague since my teens. I have been so scared and traumatised that I preferred to keep my wonky teeth rather than having anyone sticking their hands in my mouth. Unfortunately for me, a single, annoying as fuck wisdom tooth decided to pop in my mouth, and I had to resign myself to the fact that I had to have it removed.
A friend of my mum told her that she had a great experience at a hospital nearby where I lived. With a feeling of doom and gloom, I decided to face the situation and book an appointment.
Worst thing that can happen to someone with anxiety? Waiting rooms. You are there, on your own, in these kind of ok rooms, and you feel like an animal trapped in a cage waiting for your turn at the slaughterhouse. The more you wait, the more anxiety builds in you. If you have the nurse popping in and out calling a name that is not yours, it feels like you just barely dodged a bullet. So, there I was, trying to not vomit, faint or die of heart attack. My legs were restless. I felt like I was sitting on a hot surface. I couldn’t read, I couldn’t think straight, I could barely, just barely keep a straight face and not cry.
The nurse called my name, and I kid you not, my legs became the consistency of jelly. I walked towards the dentist room like “dead man walking”. The dentist was quite nice, I must admit, but I couldn’t listen to anything he was saying: I was in panic mode. I sat on the dentist chair and I felt trapped. I started to sweat like all the water in my body suddenly wanted to get out.

I had to do something.

I had to get out of that room.

As soon as the dentist grabbed his mirror to check my mouth, I begged to go to the toilet.
The dentist tried to talk me out of it, but I begged him – my bowels were having none of it, you know, anxiety. The nurse, a bit annoyed, showed me where the closest toilets where located.
With the chilliest, calmest attitude, I thanked them, left the room…. And I felt my legs moving way faster than what I wanted them to move.
And not heading towards the toilet either.
I was running, running like my life depended on it, running like Ussain Bolt trying to smash his Guinness World Record. I’m telling you, I ran like the wind and some more. To this day, I never managed to replicate that awesome performance – I would have been recruited at the following Olympic Games for sure!
I sat on my car, turned my phone off and I drove away as quickly as I could, in case they chased me.
At the time I was crying hysterically, now that I think of it I just can’t stop laughing: gosh, imagine the dentist and the nurse… I am still embarrassed to this day… a bit… (but I’m laughing hard).

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My room at the hospital – after surgery, I found a massive bowl of ice cream. They can remove all my teeth!

I’m happy to say that this year I decided to do something about this phobia: I swear, I googled “dentist for very anxious patients” and I discovered that, at least in the UK, there are dentists specifically trained to deal with patients suffering from severe anxiety. Not only I managed to fix my cavities (yey!), but…. Yeah, I got my wisdom tooth removed! Ok, I had to be highly sedated, but still, I didn’t run away and the day of my surgery I showed up and went ahead with the operation.

 

Oh, and for the record: I even warned my (new) dentist saying “I have a tendency to run away from hospitals”. His answer: “I won’t stop you, but just so you know, taking that tooth out will be a 2 minutes job, and then you’ll be back in your room where a massive bowl of ice cream will be waiting for you”. Fair play to you dentist, you smarty pants!

I felt so proud of myself!! Next step? Straightening my teeth!

Episode 2: meet your hero

In one of my previous blog posts I talked about my absolute, crazy love for heavy metal. Every single time I thought I was helpless and alone, music has been right next to me, giving me last final push to do amazing things I never thought I’d be able to achieve.

This happened two and a half years ago. The worst and most horrendous part of my post-natal depression was finally behind my back. Mind you, I was not doing great, but I wasn’t suicidal either. I was doing ok and I was relieved to be able to live a rather normal life. My ex-husband and I, at that point, were married just on paper: he didn’t stick with me (and he even made things worse for me) when things got rough with my mental health, and now that things were improving and I was re-discovering who I was and how I functioned, it was me who didn’t want to stick with him anymore. To me, overcoming my mental ordeal alone and using only my willpower was the Ultimate Proof of my Strength and Fierce Independence. He proved to be a narcissist attention seeker, and I was not in the mood to feed any of his martyrdom needs.

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My VIP hoodie!

Anyway, I was scrolling my Facebook newsfeed one day and BANG! Great news: one of my favourite singers ever, Mr Udo Dirkschneider, was announcing the ultimate tour of my secret dreams: with his band U.D.O. he would have played all the best and most famous Accept songs. Oh my gosh I grew up listening to Accept, and Udo has always been one of my German heavy metal heroes. Was I going to miss this event? No fucking way in hell.
Without even thinking too much I bought my ticket and my VIP upgrade so that I could meet my hero. I was geared up, I was excited, I was already singing and savouring the moment. I remember it clearly because it was around my birthday in January, and the gig would have been in April. I told my ex-husband what I did, and he said “oh, so you are going alone?”, expecting me to say “do you want to come with me?”.
I just answered “yes I am”.

 

And then I realised.

I was going to go alone.

Like, alone.

Anxiety hit me like a tsunami. A barrage of negative thoughts filled my head: what if I have a panic attack? What if I have more than one panic attack? What if I freak out and I’m in the middle of the room, full of crazy, headbanging metalheads? What if I faint? What if my anxiety gets so much that I can’t even come back home? What if, at night, I get stuck on a train back home and I am in such an anxiety state that I forget English and I can’t ask for help? The list goes on and on and on. I tried to calm down: I still had few months to go before the actual gig, and anyway, its’ not like I’d be held at gunpoint forcing me to go if I decided to not go last minute, right?

Time went by and April arrived. I had that gig in my calendar and it felt more and more like a death sentence the closer it got. Then, the day arrived. I spent a day at the office totally restless. I think I’ve annoyed the shit out of everyone that day. I begged everyone to give me an excuse not to go (do you want me to finish this work? To do anything at all? How about we have a meeting at 6pm….) but… there were none.
Ok, what do I do now?
I decided to take the evening one step at the time.
First, I decided to get there and see how I felt. The tube journey was ok, I mean, nothing different from what I do every single day, twice a day.
Next step, queuing up at the venue’s entrance. Having a VIP ticket meant I had to get there earlier than everyone else, so the place was basically empty. That helped a lot, since it took away the “oh my gosh, all these people and I’m in the middle” anxiety bit. Having said that, someone with anxiety doesn’t really cope well with waiting, and I surely wasn’t happy. I started walking around, increasingly more nervous as time went by. I could feel my stomach twisting and turning. I was about to say “fuck it, I’m going home” when I heard the guy managing the VIP list gathering people for the Meet and Greet.

Deep breath, ok. At least I can meet Udo.

I got into the venue and my heart was racing. I could feel it beating in my head.

We had to go two floors down, and the more steps down the stairs I took, the more my legs became wobbly: I thought I would have ended up fainting, falling down, breaking my head and dying there and then. Without meeting Udo! For fuck sake!

I managed to get there intact. And after few minutes…. Udo came from backstage. I udo1started crying like a baby.
He has been super sweet and kept hugging me till I managed to compose myself. I was over the moon! I kept shaking like electricy was running up and down my body. When we took a picture together, I couldn’t stand still. Udo laughed and said (with a very german accent) “no, stop shaking, we need to take beautiful picture now. And if the first is not beautiful enough, we take another one ok? No panic”. Sweet! He made my day (of course I hugged him again, and again).
When the Meet and Greet ended though, it was time to face the gig alone.

I went back upstairs, and I decided to stay on the side of the stage, avoiding the crowd. The supporting bands did their shows, and everything was ok. Then, U.D.O. time came… as soon as the first song started, I started singing and jumping. By the third, I was in the middle of the crowd. Mid-set, and I was front row singing my heart out. My brain just shut down and filled itself with music. It was the best feeling ever. I cried, I sang, I headbanged, I laughed, I was in heaven.
svenI even waited outside to meet the whole band, and I can’t thank Sven Dirkschneider enough for being a truly amazing guy. It was dark, it was cold (as fuck), I was the only female human being out there, but he spent few minutes with me and made sure I was ok and happy. Sven, if you ever read this, I have never forgotten how kind you have been with me, and I owe you!

 

LIVING FOR LOVE (LIKE MADONNA’S SONG)

I spent a lifetime being a negative person.
Not necessarily towards other people, no: I’ve always been above and beyond kind, nice, helpful, sweet, you name it; I always thought that this was the only way to have people around me: me being negative about myself, and about life in general, meant that I have never believed I could have been appreciated for who I was, but only for me being useful, helpful etc.
Yes, I saw myself only as a rescuer, as a nurse, as the shoulder to cry on, as the one who works her ass off for everyone, getting nothing in return, because I thought I was too ugly, too stupid, too silly, too unworthy.

What the hell.

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this was me – all the time

Funny thing is, when someone dared to tell me “you are such a negative person” I got royally pissed off: how dare you! I’m not negative! I’m nice! I make everyone happy! Worse: when someone dared to try and help me and talk me out of my negative narrative…. The gates of hell opened up, and I’d have been yelling, absolutely furious! No way I need fixing, this is who I am and “there is nothing I can do about me”. Load of bullshit, I know it know.
In hindsight, of course I was negative. I didn’t act the way I did, or do these rescuing things out of love, out of positive feelings: I did them out of worry, so that people wouldn’t leave me alone, in the hope to hold on to people by trading their love with taking care of their shit for them, to try and bribe them into thinking “I can’t live my life without her”.
I never saw myself, or appreciated myself, for the amazing person I am. It was easier to portray myself as the poor victim, the martyr, the unlucky ugly duck whose life has been so cruel with her. Yes, it makes you always in a defensive, lower level, but you are passive at whatever happens, and because of that, you have plenty of negative food to feed your misery. It takes bloody hard work to crawl out of your shithole and stand up for yourself.

Now, after months of hard work on myself, it makes my skin crawl writing these things I wrote above about myself: why on earth have I been so shit with me? Why I didn’t love myself? Why I hated myself so much? It didn’t come easy being where I am now though. It required a massive mental shift. It required suffering the ultimate insult before I could think “THIS IS IT!”.

I decided to choose ME the day I got dumped and my ex vomited all his hate and nastiness on me.

That was the last straw.

“After all I did for you?” I though. “After two years of thinking only about you? All I get is this??”

From now on, I will only think about ME.

Enough with others, enough with giving my all to everyone else but me.
That day, my world became all about ME. ME ME ME ME ME.

ME ME ME ME.

And me, if you were wondering.

I cut the negative narrative straight away: that had to stop.
I was tired of it. Tired of feeling sad, frustrated, unworthy, shit.
I decided that day that I would have worked my ass off to become what I have never managed to be, but that I always dreamed of being: a positive person, with a big, positive and full of love heart, who is (positively) selfish and who is there for the people who really love her, not for those who only want to take advantage of her.

You know what I discovered so far in my journey?

I have never been more loved, appreciated, and cherished than since I decided to change for the better.

Since I decided to cut the crap and work hard to learn to love and appreciate myself more, three things happened:

  1. I became more aware of all the love that surrounds me, but that I never noticed because I was too busy focusing on the bad things;
  2. All the people who truly loved me and cared for me went above and beyond the call of duty to make me feel loved;
  3. Those who only took advantage of me, either disappeared or I made them disappear. Heck, I even had the guts to tell my ex to fuck off for good, something I would have never dared to think about just a month ago when I was desperate to have him back! I spent a day shaking and thinking “how did I finally manage to find the balls to do it!!!”, but I never doubted, not for a single moment, that it was the wrong thing to do. Hell yeah it was the right thing. I deserve so much better than this.

I spread love and I get love back ten times fold.

I was walking to the train station this morning and all I could think of was “I feel so loved”. I never had that feeling before. It is just wonderful.

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getting ready for my shoot

I had a photoshoot the other day, something I dreamed about doing (and I can’t wait to see the end result!!!!!). I wanted to see the new me, the beautiful person I am working towards becoming, in a mirror, staring back at me.
The ladies at Dollhouse Photography treated me like royalty. They have been the sweetest, most caring people ever. I told them the reasons I wanted to do that shoot: it was a special present from myself to myself, to channel my inner Queen and show myself what a stunning woman (inside and outside) I am. Boy, they took my words to the next level and made me into a real QUEEN, crown, throne and jewels included. They took all the beauty I had hidden inside me and made it boldly show in the outside, so much that when I looked at the mirror, I thought I was a Million Dollar Las Vegas Babe.
I left the studio in my Slayer t-shirt and baggy clothes, but I held onto those feelings: I did not play a part, I am a fucking Queen. I am a million-dollar babe. I am that woman I saw in the mirror. I am that and even more. I booked another photoshoot straight away, I want it even racier than what I did and the ladies at the studio have been nothing but awesome!

I went to the gym, and instead of being my usual moaning and complaining self, I put extra effort on my exercises: I actively increased my weights, I focused on every single muscle I was exercising, I listen to everything my PT said religiously, and I didn’t back down. Guess what? It was the best session I ever did so far. Today I can barely breathe, but I see my goal getting closer and closer.

It is funny to think how much effort I put into negative stuff, and being a rescuer to everyone, only to get back grief, pain, hurt, and how little it takes to be positive and love… and end up at the receiving end of a proper love shower!

The day after I saw my ex the last time, we left in kind of nasty terms: even though we had a decent time together, he joked saying “why don’t you go away? I can’t wait to get rid of you”. It stung at first, but then I though “what a turd…”. I stopped the negative feeling right away: his loss, not mine. As soon as that happened, like a sign from the universe, my colleague texted me a picture of himself with my boss and a close friend of mine saying, “where are youuuu come here, we are in your favourite pizzeria, quick, I’m ordering an Aperol Spritz for you”. A year ago, I would have said stuff like “naaaa, I’m not feeling it, I’m a bit down….”, hoping to fish some commiseration and “poor you” messages (I know because that is exactly what I did in Boston with my colleagues, and I missed out on an epic night out because no one said poor you, they said “bring your ass here instead of being miserable alone”. I chose misery. What an imbecile). This time I thought about it, then I texted back saying “get that Spritz on the table, will be there in 10 minutes”.
I had a blast.
My boss kept buying me drinks, and last thing I knew I was not in the pizzeria anymore, I was in my office swinging a cricket bat shouting and being all competitive with my colleagues: “Krishna, throw me a nasty one!!!”. How come I didn’t break anything I don’t know. Some guardian angel must have protected me that day.
We ended up having a night out at pub nearby to watch England vs India cricket match, drinking some more and just laughing. I came back home hammered, but… it was just amazing.

Again, like if I needed another proof, when you love and send love out, love comes back to you. When you send negative feelings… that is all you’ll get back.

I like this new mental place I am in.

For once, I’m just sitting at the back and enjoy what happens around me, rather than frantically chase the wrong kind of love. I don’t need love, I don’t need to beg for it. I have it. Granted, it is not a “relationship” kind of love, but who cares? I’m not really up for it anyway right now.
If you are there thinking “you are so lucky, nobody loves me” or stuff like that (like I used to think), stop that thought right now. Give yourself the chance to be positive for a day, or even half a day: you’ll be surprised at the things that will happen to you. And if nothing happens? Make it happen! Book yourself a pampering hour / day! Sit in a park and read a book! Blast music out loud and dance till your legs become jelly!
You only need yourself to be happy, and once you master that art, everything else will fall into place.

HELLO ME, MEET THE NEW ME

Ok, Megadeth’ song “Sweating Bullets” started in a slighlty different way, but I’m not sure if “meet the real me” is what is right for what I’m about to write. Aaaand now I can’t get rid of that song playing in my head! (It is one of my absolute favourites, for the record).

I’m in a weird phase as we speak. It is exciting, it is new, it is great, it feels great, but at the same time, it is slightly bittersweet and a tiny bit… upsetting?

Let’s see if I can explain…. I am trying to make sense to any of this and it took a good hour with the psychotherapist to come to some sort of explanation, be kind with me, this is harder than what it seems!

Before I start writing anything about it, let me give you an idea of where I am now in my journey: I’m sure it will make things easier for everyone, myself included!
All the work I’m doing on myself is starting to pay off big time. I’m beginning to see and feel tangible, wonderful improvements on my mental health, my self-esteem, my confidence, the way I portray myself with others but also with myself too etc…

Recently, I’ve been feeling this wonderful excitement that I can’t seem not only to justify, but also to contain. I feel like I’m reborn and I have to re-learn everything from scratch or so.
I’m approaching things in a new way, with a new mentality.
I’m experimenting with myself. I’m trying new things, or old things but experiencing them in a different way. My stream of thoughts is dramatically improved: I’m more positive, more rational, with a greater awareness of who I am and what is the message I’m trying to convey with my words and my body. I reflect more on stuff. I think before I react. I am learning to cope with my anxiety, talking myself out of it rather than just be defensive and succumb to its horrible effects. I don’t let things go by without asking myself “why am I doing this? Why is that I’m feeling this way? Why this upsets me? How can I re-phrase this in a positive way? What is the lesson I can learn from this?” etc.
I must admit, at time is very tiring, but at the moment I wouldn’t have it any other way. I feel more relaxed, even though I’m constantly analysing myself. As I write, I’m on a train, and I had quite the “anxiety inducing” morning. It required a mammoth effort to shut the fuck of my chain of anxiety driven thoughts and focus on what I had to do.

My confidence is on a record high. My self-esteem? I can’t believe how good I feel about myself. I’m in such a state of grace that all the negativity can’t seem to affect me the way it used to affect me and make me miserable as fuck, feeling defeated, a failure, the shittiest shit of the world.
More so, it seems like any attempt at dragging me down and making me feel like dirt is met by me with a “whatever, I can’t give a single, remote fuck no matter how hard I try… and I’m not even entertaining the idea of trying, by the way” attitude. It is awesome, and the less fucks I give, the better it gets.

I’m loving this new and improved Silvia. I really do. I see this beautiful path in front of me and I’m taking my time to walk on it, savouring every single step. I don’t want to rush it.
I don’t want change to happen like a sudden miracle: I am enjoying too much the little steps, the small but incredible victories against my old self, the tiny bits and pieces that seem to fall into place every time I take a moment to analyse my surroundings and myself in it. I know it is not an easy, smooth ride, but even bumps along the way are not perceived as “dramas that will traumatise me forever”, but they are just put into perspective, dealt with and put behind my back: it happens, it is fine, I’ll do better next time.

I have also this… it’s such a weird feeling: I can’t stop thinking, feeling, being convinced deep down to the core that something amazing is about to happen in my life. I have this crazy but absolute certainty that I will soon experience something incredible, that will not only make up for all these years of suffering, but also give me a massive boost into keep pursuing my best possible self. I spoke to my therapist about it and the way I described it to her is “I feel like a child who knows that soon is going to be Christmas – it will happen, it’s just a matter of letting days go by; in the meantime she is thinking of all the amazing presents she will get and oh my gosh she is so happy that she is restless”.
I don’t know if I will truly get this amazing thing, but I want to believe I will, and I have faith the universe has listened to what I am asking, has witnesses that I’m not fooling around, that this time I meant it when I said “I’m going to change!” and therefore is cooking up something truly awesome for me. Having said that, everything already looks like a present for me, and I want this feeling to last for as long as I possibly can.

At the same time, a tiny bit of me is… lost? Like… this tiny part of me sees all these changes happening, is experiencing all these new things, there is a mammoth amount of new data and information that my brain requires to process in a new, positive way… and this part of me is in a maze, trying to find a way out, trying to come to terms with the new me and the death of the old me.

I’ll try to expand on the topic, bear with me because I’m also trying to explain this to myself!

I give you an example: I recently saw my ex. We spent the night together. Few weeks ago, I would have been extremely happy and looking forward for having a chance to be back in his arms, to spend time with him and maybe, just maybe, you know, hopefully, his feelings for me…
Well….
Don’t get me wrong, we kind of had an ok night, and we did have some nice moments, but… my feelings were not there. My mind was not there. The more time we spent together, the more I felt “….is it really this what I want for me?”. In the morning, I stared at him whilst he was sleeping, something that I used to love to do. I adored waking up next to him. I used to cuddle him, kiss him, grab his arms and wrap myself in them, listen to the sound of his breathing and just enjoy his warmth, his presence.
That morning all I could do was just… stare at him., in the same way as I would have stared at any other object that was there, but that I don’t really give a fuck about it.
I tried to grab his hand, and yes, it was nice, but…. Just like any other hand would have felt.
Don’t get me wrong, I was absolutely fucking thrilled, happy to the moon and back that I could feel that distance, that “I think you killed all the love I had for you and it feels awesome”, but this tiny bit of me felt so… lost? Unable to understand the situation?
This little part of me kept asking “where are your feelings? I swear they were here not long ago, I fucking left them there, I kid you not, I felt them! Where are they? What happened? Did you put them in the bin? Did you hide them from me? What the hell…..”.

Another example? My recent interactions with my mum. I love her, I love to bits, but she can piss me off like very few people in the world can. She can make me go from Buddhist monk to hysterical, emotional wreck in the space of a second. Yet, in our latest exchanges, I’ve not behaved as per my usual, defensive self: I let her yell, or be her usual bitching and moaning. I didn’t allow her to drag me to the level of the child who is at the receiving end of a rant. I stopped her “emotional blackmailing” before she dared to try and do it, and in a calm (but firm) way I told her what my point of view was, and why I was sticking to it no matter what. Again, I felt SO proud of myself. The way I successfully handled it, avoiding a total meltdown and a yelling challenge amongst us, made me feel on top of the world. I am confident, I know I’m right and I don’t need to defend myself: it is how I say it is. However, this tiny bit of me felt a bit… unease? Like “I was expecting shouting and tears and…. nothing happened? What was that? Who are you Silvia? What the fuck are you doing?”.

I think that this is part of my “transition” into this new person. A lot has changed, and I can see it clearly, but some stuff is still present because hey, I’ve been the old me for a very long time, you can’t just get rid of years and years of feelings, behaviours, attitude etc. just like that right? The new me is up and running, but the old me is still looming around, trying to find her dimension, to see whether there is still space for her inside me, and if so, where is it and what can she do to regain some of her power. This is also the part of me that makes me feel scared (and anxious) that all the good work will lead into nothing, that it is all so stupid and embarrassing, that at some point I will go back to my old ways anyway so I should surrender now in order for me to face a smaller, unavoidable disappointment. Oh, I so wish I could shut this part of me down for good!

AAAAH it makes me so upset feeling this way!

Anyway, I’m trying to manage the situation as best as I can and to not worry too much about it. I’m sure that, in time, I will be better. I saw hell, I lived in it for years and years alone and able to count only on myself. Now I have a team of people supporting and taking care of me, a bit like some self-esteem and mental health superheroes: let’s wait for those Christmas presents, shall we?

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A very happy me. Few months ago, you would have never EVER seen me smiling for the camera. NEVER.