“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!!!)

OOOPS I DID AGAIN, ANOTHER PHOTOSHOOT!

Last week I had a moment of craziness, one of those “fuck it, I’m so doing it” and I ended up at Dollhouse Photography studio in Birmingham for my third (THIRD!!!!) photoshoot.

What can I say? I love that place way too much, and if I could, I’d be there every day, even just to see what amazing things those ladies can do to all their clients. That place is like a beautiful, empowering dream: you get there looking plain and normal, wearing your comfy clothes (I always go there in something that’s just one tiny step from being my pyjama), and after couple of hours you become one smoking hot and super jaw-dropping babe, wearing the most luxurious lingerie and accessories, ready to pose like a professional model (because yes, they guide you into posing like one even if your only shoot experience is the pictures with your family and friends – told you they are amazing!!!).

The first time I went there, I took it as a challenge on myself: I was at the beginning of my journey, my therapy sessions started having breakthroughs in the way my brain was (badly) wired, I was more committed to my gym workouts (rather than just hanging around the gym pretending to do stuff) and I wanted to prove to myself that I was up to get out of my comfort, ugly zone and into a world I never even dared to dream. I will never forget the total panic I had when walking through the studio’s door: all I was thinking was “I’m so fucked – this is such a big mistake”. I wanted to run away. The “ugly, zero self-esteem” me wanted badly to hide. BADLY. I told myself “there you go, stupid idiot, you’ll see now how you’ll end up feeling even uglier and more stupid than before you walked through that door”.

Well, it didn’t take long before I discovered how massively wrong I was, and yes, I felt stupid as well: not for the reason I was predicting though, but because I was so so so so so so so succumbing to all my fears and negativity in thinking the way I was thinking.
Amie, the amazing PA (who I love dearly, not only because we share the same job, but also because she is the kindest, sweetest, most caring person ever), gave me the warmest welcome and made me feel sooooo at ease, like I was amongst friends I have always known. She made me feel extra welcome, so much than when she asked me why I decided to have this shoot, I didn’t shy away from telling her the truth: I came out of a very bad breakup, my life has been in tatters, I always thought I was ugly, I had zero self-esteem and yes, I have been suicidal too; this was a challenge for me to see the woman I was working hard to get out in the world, and I was there because I felt they were the only ones capable to make me see her for real. The makeup artist, Nav, listened carefully to what I had to say, and once we settled on what looks and poses we were going to do, she made me steer clear from the mirror till she finished her magic: she decided I needed a “shock” wake-up call there and then, rather than seeing each step of my transformation. Hand on heart, I can tell you, when I finally saw myself, I almost had a heart attack: it was me, it was me the woman I saw staring back at the mirror, only I was looking like a million-dollar Vegas babe. I just couldn’t believe my eyes.

Me trying outfits, feeling AbFab!

You see, I was scared I’d be looking like “fake”, you know, that kind of look where you say “yeah but that’s not me”. No, no, no. That was really me. That was “Yes, of course I’m smoking hot thanks to a very talented makeup artist, but if I wanted to, I could be like that every day with some efforts on my part”. Amie then came round with the most amazing lingerie sets, and wow…. All my worries, stupid self-doubts, low self-esteem, any issue I had just disappeared: I was feeling great in my skin and I was having such good fun. I felt the most gorgeous creature on Earth. Me. It was so unreal. I never felt like that, not even remotely, it was an amazing first and I was so happy it was happening whilst surrounded by such a supportive group of women. Shooting has been amazing, though I must say, holding a pose is not as easy as you can think!
I remember being in what I thought was a very awkward pose, and my body language (not to mention my face) must have screamed “da fuck am I doing” because Monica, the photographer, stopped everything and she showed me the way I looked through her camera’s screen: my jaw dropped. I could not believe that, with no editing or else, I looked that stunning, and that the pose I was desperately trying to hold whilst feeling dumb was making perfectly sense – I just couldn’t know because I’m no model and I don’t “see” what the photographer sees. Needless to say, from that moment onwards, I trusted her and didn’t question anything she was saying. When I left that day, I felt on top of the world, so much that I immediately booked another shoot! Before I left the studio, Monica said to me “now that “the magic” is over, and you go home, hold on to these feeling, because yes, the makeup will be washed away and the clothes can change, but the million dollar woman was you and will still be you, so don’t forget that”. It was something “small”, but it truly changed my life: during the struggles I faced between then and now, I always held on to the million dollar babe feeling, to that confident, fierce, beautiful woman, because that was the “me” I want to be every day from that moment onwards, not the ugly old sad me.

Oh, the day Chrissy (who founded Dollhouse and who’s the outstanding, incredibly talented photographer and picture editing queen) sent me the pictures… I cried. I cried for what it felt like an eternity. I was so, so happy. No, I was more than happy. I was over the moon. Not only the pictures were simply outstanding, but Chrissy and her fantastic team managed to portrait exactly what I needed to see: a mega pink and feminine babe on one side, and a super cool fierce queen on the other. They heard my most secret, hidden-in-my-head dreams and turned them into spectacular pictures. To this day, I look at them in total awe.

one of the pictures I’m most proud of!
Me before Jennifer did her magic….

The second photoshoot… that was something else entirely.
To begin with, I was way more relaxed: I knew what was about to happen, so I was not overwhelmed by the whole thing. I knew the team already (and became friend with Amie in the meantime) so I was more in the mindset of “going to see my friends and have a jolly got time” rather than “I’m going for a photoshoot”. And then… to be really, really honest… I killed myself at the gym every day for a month: my confidence lever was pretty high, I couldn’t wait to show how different I looked since the first shoot. Oh my, we had so much fun. I think I never laughed so much in my life. My body felt just ace. My mind, after all the therapy, was on a totally different planet. This time, I didn’t do it for a challenge: I did it as a celebration.

…and after Jennifer’s amazing makeup session!

A celebration of who I am, of all the things I’ve done, of the war I so hardly fought to be happy and healthy. Jennifer, the super amazing makeup artist, created three killer looks for me, each one fiercer and sexier than the previous one. Monica came up with some awesome and very daring poses whilst Amie made me wear the raciest lingerie sets she found in the magical Dollhouse wardrobe to turn me into three different goddesses. I haven’t seen the results yet, but I can tell you, it’s going to be a blast!!

with Jennifer few moments before the shoot happened – I love her so much!!!!

Last week? Well, that was a decision I took on the spot. Chrissy released a special Christmas promotion, I took it without even thinking too much about it and bam! Here I was again at Dollhouse! I don’t want to say anything about this shoot because… aaahhh it’s too exciting. Potentially, the best so far. All I can say is that, again, Jessica, Monica, Amie and Chrissy blew my mind, and I had the best day ever.

I know, I sound way over excited about this place and the team who runs it, but you know what? I have never met such a group of sweet, caring, kind and talented ladies. It’s so special what they do. It’s way, way more than just “taking a very fancy picture”. It’s even more than “I get to be a model for an hour or two”. I told them more than once that these shoots should be prescribed as a special anti-depressant and self-esteem therapy. Forget the clothes, the makeup, the editing: at the core of what they do, is empowering every woman, no matter how they look, their age, their past, their imperfections, their issues. There is no way you can feel anything but the most special human being living and breathing on this planet when you are in their caring hands. To me, what they did was like a very special therapy session in self-love and self-appreciation. Every time I am tired, and I feel a bit low, I just have to think of what happened to make me smile again. I just need a glimpse at one of my pictures to remember those awesome feelings, and suddenly my day goes to “meh…” to “no, come on, cheer up dude!!”. I think I’ve annoyed the shit out of everyone I know in telling them to go and have one shoot done. It changes you forever, in the most positive, incredibly magic way. You cannot possibly see yourself in the same way afterwards.
Besides, it also helps you understand A LOT of what you see in the media etc. I never look at pictures in the media with the same eyes, now that I know what it takes to make them that way: yes, everyone tells you that “it’s all photoshop, perfect lights and makeup” but until you are there, living it and see it with your eyes, you never really “understand” it.

Anyway, for the record, guess what is my after-surgery prize? That’s right: a fourth shoot! This time it will be a Pinup birthday celebration and I’m telling you, it doesn’t matter how hard and painful my recovery will be, I’ll do everything in my power to be ready to pose and celebrate my birthday (something I NEVER do, and maybe I’ll write about why in another entry) with my dearest amazing ladies. Chrissy, Amie, Monica, Jennifer, brace yourselves, cause hammer time is coming soon!!!

WRITE THAT FUNKY ENTRY TOMBOY

When I started this blog in July, I was in deep, deep shit.
My life was a negative, disastrous mess, everywhere I looked I could only see problems after problems: my heart was badly broken, my very much loved “we’ll be together for years” babysitter dumped me out of the blue “to pursue new adventures in Wales”, work was under a massive crisis (one of those “we are all going to be fired and this company will implode soon afterwards”), I was in the eye of the storm and I literally did not know what to do with my life. I had more than one moment where I even regretted the fact that I didn’t kill myself during my post-natal depression: I would have so spared myself another round of “all is bad, and everything hurts”.

I was lost, marinating in my own sorrow and misery. I was like a tiny boat in the middle of a very angry ocean, beaten and shaken by massive waves, trying not to break for good under the latest, horrendous storm I was facing. Writing came as a sort of lifeline: the fact that I had a way to get all the pain clouding my head out, in the light, and that I could make sense of it all by way of seeing it, black on white, on a word file, became a very helpful personal therapy session.

Over the months, with therapy, the gym, the good work I put in and yes, with writing, I managed to not only survived that storm in one piece, but I also discovered that I am better, new-and-improved self. More so, I discovered that writing was not just “a therapeutic moment”, but a medium that comes incredibly natural to me, a way to express myself that I absolutely love and yes, I dare to say it, a talent that I can be very proud of. The more my confidence grew, the more I started to be (very) outspoken about the fact that I am good “at this shit” and that I would love to do it more and more. Heck, I would write all day, every day if left to it. I would love, LOVE to be paid to write. Anything! You name it!

I was already “famous” at work for writing what my friend Marge and I called “anger management emails”: basically, all those communications where you need to complain, and you would really, really, REALLY like to just send a massive “FUCK YOU!” (and potentially another billion of insults too) but instead of doing that, I write my “fuck off” in a way that gets my point of view across firmly but very, very politely. I even managed to succeed at managing a complaint email chain for a friend of Marge, pretending I was her friend’s customer service manager. Writing essary during my Law degree helped me develop my writing skills, the importance of words, their meaning, the attention and carefulness at “what you want to say” and, most important “how you want to say it” to exactly convey you message without any doubds or misunderstanding. I do it with my ex all the time: whenever he writes and asks me “does this (instert sentence) work?” I begin a lenghty “why did you use this word? what would you like to say? Did you mean this or that? How about you use this one instead? What is this all about? This means another thing if you say it this way” etc….

Well, least did I expect that I became so confident, so passionate about writing that I began to proactively find chances to show how good I am, not just sit there and wat for someone to yell “Silviaaaaa could you please write this email / letter / statement / complaint?”.

A big, special chance waved its hands at me a week or so ago: every year, our company’s President sends to the employees his “end of the year” message. It’s generally drafted by the Head of Communications before it lands on his desk for his additions and approval. Well, the clock was ticking, nobody was really doing anything about this message, even if Marge and I have been pretty vocal in requesting it way back beginning of November (we have to stick it into lovely Christmas cards, and since we have a lot of employees, we are talking about quite a lot of Christmas cards that needs to be ready….). I got fed up of waiting for a miracle to happen, so I said to her “you know what, I am going to write it this year”. Stuck on a train on my way home, I opened my laptop and started to furiously type it. I was so excited that words just magically appeared on my screen: I swear, I was so in the zone that there was zero delay between the“thinking of what to say” to the “writing it down”. By the end of the day I had the message done, proofread and ready to go. Before I could regret it, Marge made sure it landed on the President’s inbox for his consideration. I admit it, I had to run to my manager’s office trying not to look hysterical (not more than my usual standards at least) to calm down and get some encouraging words.

I told myself that, whatever happened, I would have been happy anyway: I had the guts to do such thing, which it is something that I would have never, ever, over my dead body done just six month ago, let alone before that; I actually did it, which again, it is something remarkable, and then I send it to the receiver (and what a receiver!!!) for review: zero self-esteem me would have rather jump out of the window than putting her message under the president’s nose and being like “I did this myself mate, check this out!”. I was happy, I was proud of myself, I was ready to settle with these very nice feelings….

…till the feedback from the president arrived.

And he said he really liked it.

He added his bits and he forwarded it straight to the Head of Communications for her final approval. At this point, I became extremely excited. Still, I tried to keep it calm and not dream too much: you know, in the corporate world, you can be amazing at writing and everyone may like what you say, but there are ways to say things, there are things you can address and things that you can’t, plus a lot of other bits and pieces and basically yes, I was braced for a “WHO WROTE THIS SHIT? OMG THIS IS ATROCIOUS!” moment. I would have been fine anyway, since I’m not a Communication Manager and I just wrote what I, as an employee, I would have loved to hear.

I’m here, trying not to scream my house down, because not only the president liked it as I said, but the Head ofCommunications liked it so much that my message won’t be used just for my London team, but for my department as a whole (and we are based all over the world). I am beyond happy. I am… wow, words are failing me right now, I don’t even know how to describe these feelings I have inside. It is such an honour,such an achievement: me, depressed, mental unit crazy me, the one with no self-esteem, the one who hated herself, who thought she was shit, dumb, stupid, you name, me, I managed to do something so special and I’m so thrilled about it. I’m dying to print my message out, stick it on those Christmas cards and just send it out for all my colleagues to read.

Needless to say, I’m now on fire: I am writing anything that comes my way. I managed to write a vision and mission statement for a friend’s company, a supporting statement for a job application for another friend, whoever needs anything I’m like “YEAH I’LL WRITE THAT GIVE IT TO MEEEEEE” (I know I look like I’m a crazy, writing maniac, and maybe I am, but I’m loving it). I’m not sure what this writing stuff will bring, but whatever that will be, I’m sure it will be amazing.

(I should also probably start to charge for my writing services too!!!)

THIS DAY WE FIGHT

I rolled my eyes at an incoming panic attack.

I know, it sounds weird, but this is exactly what happened, and it happen so quickly and automatically that I felt more concerned about my reaction than of the panic attack about to strike.

Bit of a background: this Thursday I’ll be at my Company’s Christmas party, and this year I decided that, to celebrate all the good work I have done on myself, I am going to look spectacular. No more saddo clothes, no more blending with the furniture, nope. I will wear a very sparkling sequin bodycon dress, I’ll have hair, makeup, fake tan, mani & pedi professionally done, everything will be spot on. Yes sir, tomboy me will become smoking hot barbie.
So yesterday I was sitting in bed, catching up with the Premier League’s results, when I though “you know what? I’m going to pamper myself up a bit”: I decided to treat myself with a face masque. Simple as that.
Of course, as soon as I started applying it BAM! I could feel a panic attack creeping up, with all the fake weird sensations and the general “I’m on a high alert for danger, I just need to find the perfect trigger….”.
Now, the old me would have quickly washed her face, felt totally stupid for doing something that comes with a complimentary panic attack and then spend the whole night sulking and feeling like crap (“I’m stupid, I’m so dumb, why did I do this, the list goes on).
The new me? Well, the new me is fucking fed up, to put it mildly. I had a massive eye-rolling moment, I rolled my eyes so much that I saw the inside of my brain, and the first few thoughts were, amongst other inappropriate things that I better not write here, something along the lines of “how predictable….Jeeeez the fucks I don’t give about you, stupid brain, right now”. Yes, the panic attack was still trying to lure me in, but I soldiered on for twenty ( T W E N T Y) minutes as per masque instructions and sorry you little shit, there are no panic attacks in between this woman and achieving a pre-party glowing skin.

Eyes rolling.

I’m bored of you, stupid brain thinking weird stuff, misinterpreting shit and giving me panic attacks! I’m BORED.
B O R E D.
Enough already! I am done with it.
At the end of those twenty, eternal minutes, I proudly sat firmly on my bed, with my face looking like a very angry red tomato (it was a bit of a peeling, a bit of god knows what, a “facelift in a jar”, I’ll look normal soon… I hope) not giving a single, infinitesimal fuck.

I had a horrible nightmare last night: I dreamt of my surgery and it was all incredible distressing and scary. My brain re-interpreted the moment before I got put to sleep by the anaesthetist back two years ago and I could feel the fright of my life. Worst was, I knew it was a dream, but still, I couldn’t just manage to keep it under control. Yet, instead of waking up crying and projecting negative thoughts to my incoming surgery, I yelled (in my mind, because I care for my neighbours) “FUCK NO” and cut the crap there and then. No way I’m going to live till the 7th of January in distress because I’m scared. Yes, I will be scared, of course I will. I’m not exactly about to pop a bottle of Prosecco and celebrate Formula 1 podium style at the thought of being put to sleep, but at the same time, I won’t let all of this useless and counterproductive anxiety rule my life. This shit ends now.

I feel like a revolution has started inside me. It is something that has slowly crept up over time, with therapy, with my confidence growing, with my work at the gym… It’s… it’s like the tests and achievements so far have paved the way for something bigger, something that I haven’t consciously noticed till now. Like the little drops of water that over time erode a rock, the same has happened to my brain: something has eroded my brain slowly but steadily, to the point where I now feel not only that I am not bloody scared of facing this war, but also that there is a big chance I can win it.

For example, in order to start testing how much I can push it, I switched Iron supplements today: no more taking the “safe option”, which by the way, it gave me a panic attack the first time I took it. As I write, I just took it for the first time and needless to say, I have a panic attack waiting for me to let him in. I can feel my brain trying to find a way to trigger hell; my senses are on a hype, trying to find a reason, a slight weird feeling, a little glitch in the system to make me go in full panic mode. I refuse to let it happen.
Fuck off already.
I’m sitting here, eating my (very sad, I must admit) lunch, writing this entry and working really hard to keep my precious fucks to myself and not give a single one to what my body is trying to tell me, because these feelings that I think I’m feeling are NOT REAL. They are not, and I should stop pandering to them, just as I don’t pander to my son when he puts up a tantrum display in shops.

I know, I sound totally lunatic and ready to check in to mental unit, but… listen, I always saw myself as a victim of my mind; I always thought there is nothing I could do to make me be better; I always surrendered without even trying to fight back and I don’t think that’s the right way to do it, not for me anymore at least. For the record, even if I’m all here bold and courageous, I’m not having exactly an easy time, and I bet all you want that once this storm settles I will feel absolutely drained. If you know what a panic attack is, and if you ever attempted to fight it, you know how tiring and exhausting it is. However, I want to think it as a mental gym: the first time I went to the gym, the next day I begged to die as everything hurt and I could barely breathe; now I could squat till my arse is on fire and I’m happy when I feel that burning sensation – it means my muscles are growing and I’m doing something right. Well, dear brain, now you and I are going to squat the shit out of these panic attacks, and yes, today I will feel like my head is about to explode, but soon, with good training, I’ll get you nice and muscly and strong enough to cut the crap before it even starts. You just watch me making it happen!