HELLO BLOG MY DEAR OLD FRIEND

It’s been ages since I last wrote on this blog. It feels like coming back to an “old friend of mine” who I haven’t seen in a while. I am not even sure why I left this blog behind, abandoned in a corner of my mind. I have been very busy recently, with so many things happening in my life, and anything that felt not essential has been dumped behind in a “maybe another time” drawer of my brain: it seems my blog slipped into this drawer too. I profusely apologise for this.

I must admit, the less I wrote, the lazier I got, and I was quite happy at leaving things as they were, even though the “not finding anything good to write about” got me a bit annoyed at times. Then the other day I saw Britney Spears latest Insta: her message looked very inspiring and positive at first, and I have been really happy to hear from her after a long time (her dad is currently very sick).

It felt quite the shock when I then read on the newspaper that she checked in into a mental health facility as she wasn’t coping well with what was happening in her life. Of course, I’m so sad that her mental health dropped (again), but I’m so happy that she didn’t let this drag her down and that she actively sought help before things spiralled out of control. It is such a powerful example: if you are not coping, there is no shame in admitting it and in allowing yourself to be cared by expert hands. You know me, I have a very soft spot for her. She has been my guide during my darkest days and an inspirational figure of “you can be still successful and live your dreams despite your wonky mental health”.

Sometimes I hear people saying stupid stuff like “how can so and so be “depressed” (said with quite the sarcastic and nasty tone) when they are rich / beautiful / successful / they got it all?”. Well, my friends, the reason is simple: aside from those who jumps on the “I’m depressed” bandwagon because it’s trendy and they feel they can fill their attention needs with some good old pity with it, anyone can be affected by this illness (cue is in the word: illness). You could have all the conditions to be the happiest person on planet earth and still not be able to be truly happy if your mental health is not ok for whatever reason. This is something I always held against my mum, for example: I spent so many years resenting her for being the way she was, wondering why she just couldn’t be fucking happy and serene. Only when I ended up experiencing the same, being eaten alive by panic attacks and anxiety, thinking of the worst things during my post-natal depression, that I got loud and clear why you can’t just “snap out of it” and “be normal”. You want to, but you can’t. Yes, in fair honesty, there is a part of you that actually enjoys the drama and marinating in your own self-pity, but the main part of you feel like a spectator of a shitshow that cannot be controlled: you see all the beautiful things from your window of despair, longing to be able to get out and enjoy them, but unable to move or do anything about it because your brain simply doesn’t work properly.

Speaking of mental health, I will soon approach my psychotherapy anniversary. If I think of the person I was last year, compared to now… wow. The difference. Last year this time my life was a full-blown drama of epic proportions, I was sad, my self-esteem next to zero, my confidence was non-existent, everything was just negative and upsetting. I was surrounded by very negative people, I was living in a negative environment and, ultimately, I was a negative person myself as well. I can’t believe how completely different my life is now. The journey is still long, I still have issues to work on (my panic attacks are not completely over and forgotten, for example), but I’m confident that, with the help of my therapist, things will keep going better and better.

And I promise my next blog entry won’t be in 3 months’ time!

THE ONLY WAY IS UP BABY

You can see I istill have “the shoulders” and some abs, but the rest? bye bye……

I promised I’d do it, I feel ready for it, so here we go: this is me, right now, no shame or hiding, two months and something without stepping foot into the gym and one big surgery procedure to my shoulder later. There is no sugar-coating the truth: I lost all my body definition, all the muscles I had are practically gone, some of the weight I worked hard to gain is gone too, I’m very far away from the body I would love to achieve and yes, even though I know that everything is just dormant, ready to snap up back again as soon as I put some work in it,  I feel like a jelly who has never set foot in a gym since the day she was born. I know, I’m so dramatic at times!

Having said that, I’m ok with it. I really am. If this happened to me a year ago, I would have been on the brink of depression and I would have hated myself even more for “putting the effort and then look at you, you failed again, what’s the point of even trying if you are not capable of continuing, you stupid idiot”. I would have massively regretted the journey at the gym, treating myself like a deluded fool for even starting it in the first place, all because I didn’t manage to achieve (as usual, I would have specified) what I set myself to achieve so fuck this shit, let me go back at hiding under the covers to hide, let me get those black baggy hoodies and trousers so that nobody sees me ever again. I’m so glad that the music in my head is very, very different right now!
Yes, I don’t look exactly like I want to look. Yes, I am not exactly a mega fan of my body right now. Of course, if instead of Christmas, New Year’s Eve and surgery I had other two months of training, right now I’d be very fit and happy, but you know what? It’s ok. I am really not (too) upset.

I have learned during these months of therapy and hard work on myself, physically and mentally, that it’s ok to not be ok, and that I have always two ways to see things happening in my life: a negative one, and a positive one. Now, if I were the old me, I’d see this situation I am in now as I explained above. The new me, right now, prefers to think “ok, it happened, it’s a bit upsetting, BUT: I had a massive thing happening (surgery), that I had to have it, because if I didn’t, my body would have stopped me anyway down the line, probably with a ruptured tendon, and the dream about deadlifting and shit? Oh, forget about that. I’d be in constant pain all my life and maybe, maybe, I would not be able to hit the gym period. Yes, it is a stop, but it’s only a pause on a bigger, more fulfilling journey”. It’s just that. There is no hating myself, no holding a grudge, no banging my head on a wall in total despair. I’m on a pause to recover and be better, and just like any pause, once you press “play” again, everything will go back to normal, even if in my “gym-body” situation it’s like I press “rewind” a bit and now I have to re-live the beginning of my journey to progress further.

Another very important factor that changed my mindset is that I learned to love and be more caring towards myself. It’s so weird how I’ve always been able to do so for everyone, but never for myself. I could have never had a down moment, I have never allowed myself to be sick, to be tired, to be unwell, and to “cuddle” myself to feel better. No: I was a failure, I was stupid, I was weak, I was useless, I was proving to the world I was fighting against that I was not worthy, that I couldn’t make it etc… Even when I had my post-natal depression hell, and I was suicidal, I didn’t think “I need caring, I need help, it’s a medical condition and I must help myself rather that fight against myself”. There was no empathy or anything. I’m so glad things changed in a very positive way for me, because now I’m here, staring at myself in the mirror thinking “oh well, next challenge is now officially on, let’s see what I can do now…. And what I will be able to do once my shoulder heals!”.

You know how much energy you waste when you hate yourself? Uuuuh, let me tell you, an awful lot. And you know what you gain out of that? Nothing. Actually, you only lose. You lose self-esteem, you lose self-respect, you lose confidence, you lose yourself. Yeah, ok, you (just like me) may not be the exact replica of Charlize Theron or Jason Momoa, but who cares? It’s what you have inside you that will beautify the way you look outside. Ohhhh, let me tell you this, because this has been the bane of my life for years and years.

This is so true and yes, I was ugly to the bone too for a long while

You know that horrible, negative way of seeing the world and relationships like “I can’t believe that those ugly people there have beautiful relationships and me, meeeeeee (!!!!!) I am all alone, and nobody wants me (insert sad, grumpy face, and attitude like “I don’t get why the universe hates me so much”)”. I raise my hand in shame and include myself in the people who had that thought (more than once), and who have voiced it out loud too, only with the slight difference that I was sure I belonged with the “ugly people” and therefore why this miracle of “being loved” never happened to me? Boo-ooooh. You know why that “miracle” never happened? Because first, it is not a miracle and second, because I may have been average-looking on the outside, but I was such a negative, ugly person on the inside that, of course (duh!) I was not attracting positivity! Of course the “ugly people” were not at the receiving end of miracles, they were just smart, funny, loving, caring, beautiful people, no matter how they looked or I chose to look at them (with infinite jealousy), and they were shining so much of their positivity that they attracted exactly positive things and nothing less. It took me more years that

I’m happy to admit in realising this simple concept, and only after I experienced it myself I was able to see how truly important it is to focus first on what’s going on inside you, and then act on the outside, rather than doing the other way round. Because of this, I’m not too bothered about my body being a bit off at the moment, and being at the stage where I have to start again my quest on being “the Italian version of JLo”. I’m still the beautiful person I was two or three months ago, and with this positive, strong attitude, I’m sure I will quickly bring my body back to what I left it when I had to stop, and take it even further to achieve more and more. Negativity must not have a place in my life, I don’t want it to drag me down and cloud my head any longer. Besides, I LOVE a good challenge, I love when I test myself and I beat all my odds so…. Dear body, bring it on!!!

SHOW ME THE MEANING OF BEING LONELY

I had to quote the Backstreet Boys, I really had to! Ok back to more serious stuff now.

As far as I can remember, I have always been quite the lonely person. Loneliness has been my faithful and inseparable partner since I was born, and it moulded my life and my perspective of the world since then.
I grew up an only child, and since my parents relocated from their respective hometowns to Milan, on top of not having any siblings I also didn’t have any close relative nearby, so I spent endless days by myself playing with my toys and my imaginary friends.
Oh, I had plenty of imaginary friends.
I used to dream about this crazy, amazing, wealthy life, with all these famous people on my side, being important and desired.

me by myself as a kid

Growing up, things didn’t really change much. I was the weirdo girl, the tomboy, I didn’t really fit with girls because I despised everything they liked, and I didn’t fit with boys because well, I was not one of them since I was a girl. It didn’t really bother me, though: I was used to be alone most of the time, I had plenty of things going on in my head to truly care about what was going on outside it anyway. I remember those poor attempts some school assholes had at bullying me: they quickly realised that I was not giving a remote fuck about being called ugly (because I was convinced I was ugly anyway, and it was ok with me), tomboy (because I wore that badge proudly), or weirdo, stupid… and when the metal t-shirts started to be more than just a one-off in my wardrobe, I was even less bothered than before – I was part of something exclusive that only myself and those like me could understand, and whoever was not in this “club” was automatically someone I was not remotely interested to get to know and listen to.

Reflecting on my past, I can tell you right now how, despite my strong and “no fucks given” attitude, I craved my very own gang of friends; I so wanted a best friend to share my secrets with, a local group of trusted peers to go and get an ice cream with, spending summer afternoons together. Later in my twenties, I longed for a crazy, inner circle of women like me, pretty much like the Sex and The City quartet: you know, drinks and food catch-ups in cool places, free to talk about anything without being judged or considered an hysterical freak of nature. But, despite my desires, at the end of the day I kept being with myself, by myself, and to be perfectly honest I never exactly did anything or put any effort to tackle the status quo and get these friendships in my life. In my head, the constant mantra was “it is what it is” and “there is nothing I can do about it”. Besides, I just had to turn my computer on to talk with “my friends”, since most of what I regarded as such were people I met in various websites and forums; to a certain extent, nothing has changed: most of my friends are still those same old friends I met “on the web”, and since I live in another country, technology is the only way to have a constant contact with them.

Moving to the UK didn’t change things much, and it didn’t help that I desperately glued myself to the only person who seemed to have an interest in me (which then became my now ex-husband). Subconsciously, I created the same “family” of lonely people for my son: both myself and my ex-husband relocated here, my son is an only child (with not great chances of having a sibling, not from me anyway) and we have no relatives whatsoever in this country. By the way, it is not a good idea to try and overcome your loneliness by being with someone just because they seem to give you the attention you need. I learned it the hard way by marrying the most unsuitable person, and I only realised that when the damage happened already. The end result was a broken, fragile, tired woman, survival of suicidal thoughts and post-natal depression, desperately lonely, in a constant fight with the world and herself.

Oh, I had plenty of therapy sessions to discuss how my loneliness has affected my behaviour in ways that, sometimes, I never even realise. It is the reason why I became a rescuer, the one who helps everyone, and lends money to everyone, and takes care of everyone, and it’s the mother of everyone because “if they need me they’ll keep me”; it was the reason why I picked the wrong relationships (“at least he seems to want me”), it has been the poor excuse I gave myself to avoid getting out of my comfort zone and try something different (“what’s the point, I’ll be lonely anyway”) and the poison that ultimately made me land arse flat on the ground, at my lowest of the low points in life. And I hated myself. Desperately. And being lonely exacerbated this hate, because being all by myself meant being alone with the person I hated the most in the world, something I was ready to do anything in order to avoid it. I was not good enough to have friends because, reality in my head was that I was not good as a person in the first place. I was too focussed on the exterior consequences of what was going on inside me, thinking “I am ugly, I’m stupid, I’m not worth love, I’m useless…” rather than have a deep look at my life and go “hold on a second, maybe I should start looking at what’s in my heart (and head) rather than out and about”.

Where do you start getting out of this loop? Hand on heart, it was not an easy ride. Admitting to myself that I needed people to fill my own void, in the hope that their presence and their “fake” love (because, of course, they wanted me just for the things I’d give them, not for the person I was) would make things better, was not an easy thing to do… and yet, it set me free. I had to learn the hard way to love myself, to appreciate who I am, to build the person I always wanted to be from scratch. When I finally got to the stage where I felt not only enough, but a beautiful world by myself, I discovered that I was not lonely anymore: I had myself, and that was not something I wanted to run away from, but the exact opposite: I wanted to get to know myself, talk to myself, discover what I like, what I don’t like, what clothes look good on me, what things are ok with me and what other things are a no-go. Guess what? Once I feel in love with this new person I am, I discovered a world of friends, real friends, who loved me just as much as myself. Being “lonely” is now a space I create for myself when I need to just be with me, myself and I: call it if you like “a date with myself”.

The only things I’m truly missing, right now, is having a proper family here. This thought came to light lately after spending few evenings with my boyfriend’s family: witnessing the love, affection and a proper family interaction made me think of how I really do miss being cuddled and cared for: you know, the coming back home with food, the little gestures and thoughts, the sitting for a cup of tea and a chat, the “I’m coming for dinner!”…

Susanbano in all its glory

I have been extremely touched and honoured when my boyfriend’s mum gifted me with a beautiful plant she brought from Iran: oh, that was such a truly special gift, and yes, it gave me a bit of “family love” too (I called it Susanbano in honour of my boyfriend’s mother and grandmother). Unfortunately, I cannot relocate my family here, or change this situation anytime soon, but one thing is for sure: I will do my best to create a family for me (and my son) that’s vibrant, caring and loving!

“HELP ME” SEEMS TO BE THE EASIEST WORD

I didn’t expect to be able to say it so soon after my surgery, but I’m feeling and doing great. It’s only day five post-op but it feels like day twenty. The pain is next to zero, I weaned myself out of paracetamol, my range of movements is progressively improving, my brain is less foggy and I’m mentally doing just fine. Yes, I tend to get tired quickly, I feel like I’m running on battery saving mode, but to be honest, after what happened on Monday, it is fair to say I better thank my lucky stars that this is the only “annoying” thing I’m experiencing.

I told my therapist “this surgery will be a very good challenge for me to see at what stage I am with my mental work, what things I still have to work on and what progresses I made” and I was so, so right. I can’t help but keep referring to what happened with my previous surgery two years ago, because at that point in time I was in a very dark place mentally: I wasn’t suicidal anymore, grant you that, but still, I was a very damaged, depressed, self-hating woman with now an elbow sliced up and so much frustration that I could have exploded there and then. I was alone at the hospital, alone before the procedure, alone afterwards, alone during my endless recovery, I was negative, I was not making the progresses I wanted, I kept doing stuff I was not supposed to do with the passive-aggressive mindset of “See? I’m doing this shit even though I’m supposed to be in bed recovering” in the hope that, I don’t know, someone thinking “aww…..poor Silvia” would have helped me: of course, I would have never “lowered” myself to directly ask for help, and even in the remote chance I’d receive some, I would have never allowed the helper to do anything because “I am doing JUST FINE!”. I know, I know, what an absolutely stupid way of thinking. I worked during my medical leave with that same mentality and when I went back to work I felt like I was punished further for something that was not my fault. Oh, and should I mention that I ignored anything my then physiotherapist said to me? No wonder why recovering felt like a total burden instead of a chance to be physically better.

This meme cracked me up big time

You cannot begin to imagine how grateful and happy I am that I had all that psychotherapy under my belt before this surgery. I am on a whole different planet this time round. I surrounded myself with love, affection and positivity, there is not a moment I am alone facing any difficulties by myself and, most importantly, I am allowing myself to be cared for, something that has never happened before; I’m trusting others to do the right thing for me, I’m not only letting them help me when they volunteer, but I also ask for help when I’m stuck. A year ago, all of this would have never, ever be even remotely possible, because I was the rescuer who helps others in order for them to love me, and who never, ever, EVER shows how weak she truly is, so she puts up with any shit with a fake smile on her face (and moaning up a storm). Now, not only I have accepted the fact that I can be helped, and it is just normal, but I went a step further: I let an extremely vulnerable and embarrassed me be lovingly bathed by my boyfriend after he took me home from hospital.

As I said in my previous entry, I fainted on the anaesthetist. Well, the truth is that during my first anaesthetic procedure (I had to have the nerve on my right shoulder blocked and my arm numbed before being put to sleep) I felt incredibly sick. Gosh, I thought I was about to vomit my stomach up. I was sitting on the bed, with a mega needle stuck in my shoulder, and the last thing I remember is my anaesthetist rushing up saying “don’t worry, is fine, now we’ll lay you down” whilst I moaned “gosh I want to vomit….”. When I opened my eyes, I was in the recovering room with a lovely nurse taking care of me. I felt great (good old morphine!) and, to be pretty honest with you, at that stage I didn’t give a remote fuck of what happened in between the moment I closed my eyes and the moment I re-opened them.

I discovered, later in the day, that they saw in the monitors that I was not doing great (hence why they swiftly made me lay down) and that I was about to pass out big time. Apparently, when that happened, I hardly bit my lip as well (funnily enough, it is still more painful than my shoulder!). The anaesthetist had to bring me back, stabilise me then put me to sleep again. In addition, my surgery lasted a bit longer than expected: once my surgeon got his needles inside, he discovered that my shoulder was actually waaaaay worse than expected, so yes, it didn’t go all roses and fairy tales as I hoped. Yet, despite all the scary things and issues, I looked at the physiotherapist telling me all this tale thinking “who cares! Am I fixed though? YEAH!”. Two years ago? I would have probably have freaked out and felt paralysed by fear.

When they rolled me back in my room, I looked myself in my phone’s camera and I realised that I looked like a vision from hell: my face (and lip!) was swollen and sticky, my hair was messy, I had my arm in a sling (what the fuck?), I smelled of sweat, medicines and… well.. pee. Soon enough I realised I was sitting in an absorbing pad, and by the, ehm, wet feeling on my poor bum, I think I may have had a moment or two of incontinence during my ordeal.
Guess who was the first person who saw me like that? Yes, the last person on earth I wanted to ever see me in those conditions: my boyfriend. Thankfully I was still too high on morphine to cry and feel so embarrassed to call the nurse and beg her to put me to sleep for good.
It felt so good (and funny) to see that he saw past my frightful state to only see the usual me in front of him. He cracked me up with few jokes, helped me getting dressed and took me back home like I was just “normal me”, and not a smelly zombie from a horror movie, and this caring, loving attitude is what made me confident and trusting enough to let him help me to wash myself.

I know, it sounds very stupid and basic, but I’m telling you, when you feel so vulnerable, sick, tired, unable to move properly, embarrassed etc one of the last things you’d like to do is to strip naked in a bath and let someone wash you, especially if, like me, you have a life history of being plagued by self-hate, zero self-esteem and a billion body-confidence issues. To me, it was a great big deal. I remember talking about it with my psychotherapist and how uneasy the thought of “having to surrender to someone else and be helped – including being bathed and fed” made me squirm and feel unease, at best of times. Yet, there I was, in all my extremely vulnerable glory, in the hands of my hilarious and caring boyfriend, who not only gently washed me head to toes with a warm wet towel, combed my hair, dressed me up in a clean pyjama and made me feel (and look) like my normal self again, but that also made me laugh till tears and feel just fine about whatever was happening, breaking my mental barrier of “this is so wrong, you are never supposed to see me like this, ever!!!”. What a weird thing to think: in reverse, I’d be doing exactly what my boyfriend did to me, without even blinking an eye, so why should I feel that being at the receiving end of some love and care in a difficult time is something that it’s not ok? You know when they say “in sickness or health”? Well, now I got the hang of what it really means and letting him help me without reserves not only allowed him to prove what a tremendous, incredible man he is, but also brought us to another, better relationship level, I feel.
I would have never been able to see that before since I would have never allowed anyone to “be my hero” even if I wanted to: I would have rather spent my time smelling fowl, being miserable and nagging all the time at anyone who dared to listen to me.

Ok, ok, I have to admit, I had my rebellious moment when I took advantage of one of his lazy mornings and I cleaned the kitchen top to bottom, but then, once the “I’m a warrior yeah look at this” moment finished, I had a laugh and went back at taking this recovery time as easy as possible. There is nothing I have to prove, to anyone. It’s fine if I’m not ok for a while, it is exactly as expected, so just chill dude, ok?
My next steps now are resuming psychotherapy on Monday (believe me, I cannot wait to sit on my therapist’ sofa to tell her all about what happened so far) and starting my shoulder rehabilitation on Tuesday. I can’t wait to be in a condition where I can hit the gym again!

I CAUGHT THE KONMARI FEVER

Yesterday I was snuggling in bed after some incredibly sweet, special days spent with some very special people; a lot of beautiful things have happened in the last few days, I was in a happy-dreamy state of mind whilst looking at random stuff on my phone, when I stumbled upon the review of Netflix new series “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo”. I’m not even sure why my brain decided it was interesting enough to make me click on the article, but after reading it, I thought “maybe I should give this series a go, just few minutes, see what all this fuss about this Japanese woman is about”.

I am honest, I have never read Marie Kondo’s books and all I knew about her was that she was a sort of “tidy-guru”, so I started watching the first episode full of stupid prejudices, expecting to see one of those shows that you know for a fact it is a stupid set up, one of those “why am I wasting my time watching this crap anyway?”, a very hipster-ish, patronising, annoying as hell thing where a Japanese know-it-all woman would impose her crazily impossible rules on how to keep homes tidy.

Only it was not as my prejudices predicted.
I got totally mesmerised and drawn into it after few minutes. I just couldn’t believe my eyes! Marie presents herself in such a positive, delicate, warm way, it is impossible not to be captivated by her and to not listen to all her tips and advices. At the end of episode one, I felt the urge to get up and apply her KonMari method straight away to my house. Yes, months ago I already had to throw away lot of old clothes because they don’t fit anymore, but still, I knew in my heart I was holding on to stuff I would never, ever wear anyway, and oh my gosh, I could have so done with decluttering my whole house entirely. I zoomed out of my bed, I stormed into my living room and I started to look around: all I could see around me was clutter, clutter, clutter and some more clutter.
If I could have burned down the house, there and then, to get rid of it, I would have done it in a heartbeat. I was desperate to break free from all of it.

my mountain

Following Marie’s lessons, I decided to tackle my house by categories rather than room, and as per her advice, I started by sorting all my clothing. Energised and ready, I piled all, and I mean ALL, my clothes on the sofa. Old and new, lingerie, socks, coats, everything went there. It was quite frightening the amount of “clothes-clutter” I had.
Marie’s advice to deal with clothes is to not focus on the things that needs throwing away, but on those you want to keep: these items must give you a “spark of joy”, as she calls it. Well…. I looked at my clothes’ mountain and, to be honest, very few things sparked joy to me. It didn’t take long before I realised that the pile of the things I was getting rid of was noticeably bigger than the tiny pile of the things I truly wanted to keep.

a very empty wardrobe…

At the end, I saved only my newest gym sets and few other bits purchased recently. My wardrobe is so empty right now, and yet when I look at it, it feels so full of happiness: I only see the things that truly sparks me joy and I promised myself that, from now on, I’ll buy only few things but valuable and with the “joy” factor in it.

Next category on Marie’s list is books.
If clothes went down like a breeze, books… not so much. I don’t necessarily like to depart with books in general, but some of those were only good for gathering dust and I knew in my heart they had to go. To be honest, once I started getting rid of the easiest one to chuck away, like my university guides, the task seemed less daunting. Surprisingly, I even managed to let go of some cooking books I never opened once, and that I was keeping for no reason at all.

“what I want you to ask yourself is if it’s something you really want to take into your future”

Marie Kondo

You know what I realised whilst I was doing this? I have been treating my house like a “space I have to be in”, not a “home”. Since I kicked my ex-husband out, I took some steps to re-own the place and make it “mine”, but I realise now I only went so far in the process. Yes, I painted walls purple, yes I bought a new coffee machine and few other bits and pieces, but I never went “all in” to transform it in a way that resonates with who I am. I have kept so much crap in case “my ex-husband gets offended or moans or maybe he thinks…”, tons of clutter infested my shelves because “I don’t know what to do with it so I might as well leave it as it is”, all of the “I’ll keep it just in case “ left forgotten waiting for the moment I’d use them that never arrived and, I am embarrassed at admitting this, but I also had shit hoarded in cupboards because “omg what if there is a spider or a bug…let’s never open this EVER”. I know. The shame.

I must admit, I skipped Marie’s third category, paper, because all my paperwork is self-contained in one cupboard and I don’t feel the urge to purge it right now, so I focussed on what she calls “Komono”, as known as category four: kitchen, bathroom, and all miscellaneous. After emptying the cabinet have under the stairs (one of those “omg I’ll never open it in case a monster will eat me alive”), I stormed in the kitchen like a fury. I emptied all my cupboards, I cleaned them, and I threw away almost everything that was stored inside. It felt amazing. It was also a great chance to assess my relationship with this room. You see, I adore baking. I love just taking half a day (if not a whole day) to create some “oven magic”. For me, baking is so relaxing, a kind of mindfulness exercise where I don’t have to think, it’s one step after the other, and at the end of the whole process, I get to eat a cake! I love purchasing kitchen utensils, pans, pots and tins, but I brutally stopped when I soon realised that the care and love I had for these items was not met by my ex-husband, who didn’t really give a shit about them and therefore ended up ruining every single item I had, including pans, kitchen appliances etc.
It pissed me off beyond belief.
Don’t ask me why, but this mentality of “why should I bother buying it, he’ll ruin it anyway” has kind of stuck with me two years later, and so far I kept using the same old shitty pans and old utensils I had. Well, when I saw that stuff, sad looking on my kitchen counter, I almost started sobbing: that is not me. In a fit of rage, I binned everything. EVERYTHING. I then made a list of all the things I absolutely need as soon as possible, all the things I would love to purchase, and I had a very relaxing evening shopping online for my lovely new, shiny, and so damn purple kitchen stuff. I even purchased a brand-new set of pan and pots! I still have a lot of things to do (the bathroom awaits…!), I feel so great. I feel like finally this place and I are on the same page: rooms are starting to shape up, everything feels so different, clear, positive, and so do I. it is so, so exciting. I’m thrilled at the thought of finishing this task, have my surgery and finally “coming back home”. To my home. To my kingdom. To my special, cherished place. I don’t care if I have plenty more days of dealing with bin bags and cleaning non-stop, I can picture the end of this mammoth task and let me tell you, it is going to be amazing!

“Tidying not only changes your home life but it also allows you to create a space that suits your ideal self”

Marie Kondo
my copy!

For the record, I purchased Marie’s book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying”. Needless to say, I am devouring it!

HERE’S TO NEW BEGINNINGS

For the first time ever, I’m really excited and looking forward to the new year that is about to start in few hours. It is an amazing feeling. I generally dreaded New Year’s Eve, and even more so everyone asking “what are your plans for the night?”. Well, my plans have always been feeling miserable, ensuring I saw the back of the previous, awful year and dreading the thought of starting another, equally (if not worse) horrible one. I used to go crazy trying to fit as many superstitions “bringer of good lucks” things or actions as possible, and then I would have spent my time being resentful and negative. I had a look at my Facebook entries for the previous years: djeeezuz the drama!

Not this time.

I’m very excited for tonight. I wrote down my menu, I planned my grocery shopping, I’ll wear my nice dress, my very sexy lingerie, and instead of being a miserable sod, I’ll use this night to thank 2018 profusely for all the things that happened, and welcome 2019 with open arms for all the things it will bring. There will be no stupid superstitions, only nice food, good laughter with my son, good Italian bubbly wine and positivity all around.

I would have never dreamed, six months ago, that I’d be this mentally at peace by now. Heck, I would have never dreamed I’d be seeing the end of this year, quite frankly. I’m grateful for all that happened, even though when it did, I felt like I was about to drown for good and I couldn’t see the point of keep fighting. I couldn’t see that I was fighting a lost cause, and that it was a useless, tiring exercise that was only bringing more frustrations in, rather than any good. I had to go through one final round of hell before I could begin to see the light of a new day.

Something my Law degree has taught me is that it is important to factually assess any situation, before trying to find solutions, so I want to take this moment before I’ll head to the kitchen and start cooking a shitload of food to think back at this year to get ready for what is to come. A kind of “last day of the year recap”, sort of speak. Brace yourself, it’s going to be a bit long!

This year I reached my personal breaking point.
Funny thing is, I’m so happy and grateful it happened, and that it was such a dramatic, “no going back” thing, otherwise, nothing would have ever changed for me.
I can see it clearly now that time has passed, that the emotional storm is over and I’m more detached to the events, how lucky I have been to ended up hitting my lowest of the low in such a hard and dramatic way.
I have been adding up misery on top of frustrations on top of mental issues for years and years; I have been bottling up my issues, taking on board problems after problems, mostly not even belonging or generated by myself. I have been keeping my mouth shut too many times “for the greater good”, I have been forcing myself to suppress my anger and my feelings to not look mean and hurt people (when they actually deserved a proper “FUCK OFF” shouted in their stupid faces), I have been draging my sorry self like a heavy corpse day after day after day, without even thinking “hold on a second, why am I doing this?”, I have been gladly suffering fools and enduring abuse left right and centre because I thought that was what my life was supposed to be and, since it could have been even worse, I should have better not moan and put up with it.

This massive baggage of negativity, resentment and frustration was what I carried with me in 2018. I started the year with my best friend, which seemed the perfect way to have a great new beginning, but my spirit was definitely not the most positive one. I desperately wanted to raise the middle finger at the year before, and welcome 2018 in the exact same way.
Well, I should have seen the writings on the wall straight away, because on the 2nd of January my then au pair, a Spanish girl my son and I loved dearly, texted me saying that she was not coming back as promised, goodbye and good luck. I had a feeling this was about to happen, since she took all her belongings from her bedroom before going home leaving only the gifts I gave her behind, but still, when reality hit me, it hurt like hell. In a mega rush, during festive times and with the re-opening of school fast approaching, I had to fish another one asap.
I felt luck was on my side when I found a new one quickly, another Spanish one from the same city as my previous one, and we seemed to be a perfect match: this time it was a guy, loving sports and studying to become a teacher. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long to discover he was so not what it seemed: he was totally uncapable of looking after my son, he raided my cupboards without a care in the world, left my house a complete, dirty mess every day and felt entitled to do as he pleased because “he was a teacher and he knew things”. After a month, I sent him packing back to Spain.

I was angry. I was incredibly angry. Forget the guy, I wasn’t necessarily angry at him, I was angry because it was my ex-husband’s fault I ended up having to have strangers in my house to take care for my son, because he has been so stupid beyond any human comprehension that he ended up breaking the law and get social services in my life, and yes, I was still pissed off at having social services breathing on my neck, making me paranoid at my every move in case they’d use it against me to take my son away because I married a useless dumbass. I was angry at my life, because I kept having problems after problems, and when something good happened, it felt like a tiny moment where I could get my head momentarily above water, breathe, then drown again in my misery.
The next au pair arrived a bit like Mary Poppins. I not only desperately wanted to love her, but I just as equally desperately wanted her to love me and my son. She seemed amazing in every way. I couldn’t believe my luck. I felt she had the magic power to solve my issues all at once. When the-guy-I-was-kind-of-seeing moved in with me as well, I thought I hit the jackpot big time: I had the perfect au pair, and the guy I was madly in love with who finally decided to take things seriously with me.

Yey.

Well… not exactly, no. The perfect au pair became quite less perfect. She had issues of her own, she was a restless soul who just couldn’t settle for more than few months in a row, so when a new adventure came in and my ex-husband kept not paying her on time (did I already mention how useless and unreliable he is?), out of the blue she told me she was leaving by the end of the week. Actually, she told my boyfriend first, and he broke the news to me before she did. I felt I was in a nightmare again. I was truly broken-hearted. I thought “we were in for the long run”, and I just couldn’t bear the thought of welcoming another person in my life again. Not in mine, and even less so in my son’s. To rub more salt to my very open wounds, we had terrible news at work: we officially entered restructuring mode, everyone went to work not knowing whether there’d be an office to go to the next day, the mood was truly awful, and I panicked at the thought of losing my precious job. The only thing that seemed to bring me happiness was love, but that was not meant to last either: problems started creeping up, I was too negative, too needy, too desperate to hold on to him because he was “my everything”, and he was just too in need to run away, too poisoned by his friend wanting to break us up, too negative in his own way, it was just too much and the situation, eventually, exploded like a nuclear bomb, bringing devastation and destroying everything.

I hated everything. My ex boyfriend for dumping me, betraying all the promises he made, ripping apart our dreams and happy life together; my ex husband, the root of all evils, for basically screwing up my life big time from the moment I married him and who kept screwing me up even when I got rid of him; all my au pairs for abandoning me even though I gave them all and some more; myself, for being in such a mental state that I couldn’t just fight another day.

I remember the day my then-ex boyfriend finally took his things and I saw the back of him. I felt like an extremely injured survivor of an apocalyptic scenario. I was hurt, my heart was bleeding, everything around me was destroyed, my body had enough, my mind had enough, and I finally broke down for good. That was the end of the person I was. There was no going back. There was no “I’ll keep dragging myself through another storm”, there was no “I’ll fight some more”. That was it.
The end.

Or so I thought.
Like a phoenix rising from her ashes, the end of “the old me” brought the birth of the new me.
Since I lost everything, including myself, I had nothing else to lose. My negative, miserable, depressed ways were no more, they died with my old self, and since they belonged to the past, I decided to give a go at doing the exact opposite: as hard as it was, in a time where I was supposed to feel desperate and sad beyond belief, I forced myself to smile.
I forced myself to appreciate me.
I forced myself to meditate on positive things, to let go of the hate and the negativity to welcome the exact opposite. I read millions of self-help books and actively put all the positive advices into practice, till I reached to point I was strong enough to get rid of my stupid “I’m a superwoman who does everything alone” attitude and I did the bravest, craziest, “I will never ever do that” thing that I dumbly dreaded to do till that point: I asked for help. Psychotherapy help. From that moment onwards, my life changed in ways I would have never, ever expected or dreamed.

I became confident.
I learned to love myself.
I went to the gym and worked hard to improve my body.
I developed a positive attitude.
I worked (and I’m still working) on my issues, no holds barred, embracing my flaws for what they are.
Most importantly, I learned to be kind to myself.
I learned to love and be loved, to appreciate and be appreciated, to stand my ground firmly when I’m right and to apologise and learn when I’m not.
The positive people in my life stayed, the negative ones either left or I made them leave.
The more progresses I made, the more positivity I received, and the more positivity I received, the further I progressed in my journey. There is still a lot of work to do, don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe for a second that “I’m done”, but yeah, it feels like I’m in a cosy mental place that can only get better if I can keep working hard. My work caught up and got back at being the usual, crazy environment as ever, I hired a fantastic baby sitter, an amazing Personal Trainer, I got to do some wonderful photoshoots and everything is heading in the right direction.

So, 2019. I cannot wait.
I don’t want any bullshit resolutions because, let’s be honest, nobody sticks with them ever including myself (I know, I’m that bad). What I want to do in the new year that is about to start is very simple: I want to keep working hard, physically and mentally. I want to face my surgery and any challenges that will come my way with a positive spirit, I want to bring with me all the lessons learned this year and use them to develop myself even more.
That’s it!

To all of you who have read my blog and supported me so far, I wish you all the best for this new year coming: may you accomplish all your goals, may your lives be filled with peace and serenity, and I hope we’ll keep walking together in this incredible journey of life for many years to come.

All the best!

Silvia

GOODBYE PAST CHRISTMASES

As I write, I just came back from my parents’ house in a little town near Verona, Italy, after celebrating Christmas with my family. My parents moved there this summer, leaving Milan’s little flat behind to enjoy the house my dad has inherited from his aunts. This place is where my dad grew up as a child, and where I was forced to spend the most of my school holidays. Gosh, I hated this place. Even more, I hated celebrating Christmas here.

I was born and bred in Milan, one of the biggest, most modern, and cosmopolitan cities in Italy. I was used to go everywhere I wanted by taking the subway, I had plenty of places to visits anytime I fancied (museums, shops, parks, cafes, restaurants, you name it), I had my bedroom and my stuff, and all was ok.

The creepy church in all its glory

Then, every now and then, the dreaded holidays would arrive, and my dad would pack our shit in the car to go to this place for few days: it felt like being ripped from the normal world and threw into the middle ages. This place was (and still is) in a tiny, tiny town, in the middle of bloody nowhere. The only places at a walking distance were the church and the newsagent. The end.
For everything else, you’d have to ride your bike, but even so, you wouldn’t have been able to reach the first proper town, so it would have been a pointless exercise in killing your legs. If you wanted to see a bit of “civilisation”, as I used to call it, you had to beg your parents for a car ride, but of course, my dad wanted to relax and do next to nothing, or at best go fishing with his friends, so unless I joined the party with my fishing rod at 5am, I was doomed to get bored to death.

Francesca and I too many years ago

On top of that, my dad’s aunts used to live here: two unmarried old ladies with two very different temperaments, who could have been fun but also hell at the same time. You always had to walk on eggshells with them, as you’d never know whether you’d get yelled at and grounded or kept being totally ignored for ages. I was forced to sleep in the same bedroom with one of them, who snored like an extremely loud tractor, and since I used to suffer from nocturnal panic attacks, it meant not sleeping at all every single night. I feel sick just thinking about it. The only thing I liked about this place was my friend Francesca. She is couple of years younger than me and we bonded immediately. We spent every second I had to be in this place being glued together. She was the only reason I survived those horrendous holidays. This place was her hometown, so she knew the (very few) interesting things to visit or do, we would spend endless hours riding our bikes and avoiding both our families at all costs.

Christmas were awful here, and I resented my parents a lot for forcing me to endure this painful thing every year. The place was as dead as a desert. Cold as fuck, foggy, damp… awful. My aunts would dictate what everyone was allowed to do, which was basically nothing at all aside from watching tv in the only room with the fireplace. We were forced to attend Mass at midnight (which, if anything, reinforced my ferocious atheism), then on Christmas day we had to watch the Pope on tv and get his blessings…. Like I could have cared.
Every single time there was a fight between someone in the family, making Christmas time even worse than what it was. I was so, so jealous of all my friends, staying in Milan or going somewhere fun during this time. The only “fun” thing was, on Boxing Day, going to the cinema with Francesca to see whatever movie they had on during that time. At least, couple of hours of quiet and peace away from that shithole.

It took ages, ages to convince my dad not to bring us here for Christmas, and as soon as I was old enough to say “fuck that I’m not coming”, I refused to endure the pain any longer and stayed home alone. Last time I came to this place was around 12 years ago, and believe me, I didn’t miss it one single bit. It actually felt like the best thing ever, and I was sure I would have seen the back of it for fucking good. To give you an idea on how much I hated that place and everything related to it, I refused for years to say “I’m half Sardinian and half Veronese”, I refused to speak in Veronese dialect and to admit I could even do such thing (even though I’ve always been very fluent), I refused to associate myself with anything to do with that region of Italy like if if in doing so, I’d get the plague, and I simply blocked that place out of my life.

a happy me with the purple wall

I’ll be very honest, even though it is now my parents’ house, and even though things are different, I still did everything in my power to avoid putting my ass on a plane and go there. I managed to dodge the bullet this summer, and my son being sick avoided a trip at the last minute this October. I almost managed to skip Christmas as well, but my dad got (extremely) upset: he had a lovely surprise for me (he painted my bedroom with a beautiful purple paint!) and he couldn’t understand why I was being so difficult and reluctant. I booked my tickets with quite the heavy heart, and I felt like 10 years old me facing another horrible holiday again. It took a massive mental shift to decide to see this occasion as a way to put “the ghost of the past” to bed for good and to start something positive. I forced myself to see it as another chance to close a painfully negative chapter of my past, and to begin a new and happier one. Still, I had a moment of “fuck no, look where I came back to” when I saw the house from the distance, but… you know what? I’ve kind of appreciated this place

Ok, I can’t just get out, take the subway and have a stroll in my beautiful, ultra-fashion and drop dead gorgeous Milan’s city centre, and yes, I miss all my favourite shops, cafes and eateries, but… there is a sort of quiet and relaxed atmosphere here that I really love. If I could get my driving licence back, I’d even be able to drive around and visit places that I couldn’t visit in the past. My parents have some very crazy, rowdy, and hysterically funny friends, the atmosphere was fun and relaxed, it was very good fun.

The ritual!

My dad took me to have our ritual “coffee & patisserie cake” in one of the loveliest patisseries in town, we had a beautiful walk in Verona (shame for the icing cold and the fucking nasty fog….) and, much to my mum’s dismay who wanted to go shopping, I spent most of the times browsing food in grocery stores, drooling at all the wonderful Italian delicacies. I hate my weight in cheese, I laughed my ass off and I felt very good. I’m actually looking forward to go back. Strolling in the streets of Verona, I made peace with this place and with my origins, and by the end of my holidays I was back at being a proper crazy and proud Veronese.

The stunning Arena of Verona

Icing on the cake of this holiday time? Francesca and I, having some Aperol Spritz whilst our sons were playing and having an amazing good time. It felt so… beautiful, and weird: we officially passed the baton to the next generation! (Now I feel so OLD!!!)