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

SURGERY PARTY INVITATION

The dreaded letter I was waiting for has finally arrived – my hospital admission confirmation is currently in my hands, together with few forms that I have to fill and send back to finalise the whole thing. Even if the envelope was plain and anonymous, I recognised it as soon as I saw it. I must admit, I opened it with a very heavy heart: I knew that, the moment I had that paperwork in my hands, the whole thing would have been immediately more “real” than before.

The wonderful Spire Harpenden Hospital, my home for the surgery day

Now, not only I have a date, but also an admission time which, by the way, it’s 7:15am, like… seriously? Do I need the pain of waking up at 5am on top of the pain of going through this? Jeez…. And then, no eating from 2am (fine, I’ll be sleeping anyway, I hope) and no drinking from 6am. I can already see myself awake at an ungodly hour in the night, hugging my coffee machine, unable to go back to sleep, sipping espresso whilst trying not to run to the airport and hide in some remote island in the middle of the ocean.

I am honest here, I feel slightly less brave than when I shouted “BOOK ME IN!” on my surgeon’s face few weeks ago.
Ok, to be truly, truly honest, I’m crapping myself with fear as we speak. I still am 100% wanting to do it. I don’t have a choce anyway: I have to do it, don’t get me wrong, my shoulder is bad, my movements are substantially impaired on a normal basis, let alone when that frigging bursitis decides to be even angrier than average; at my company’s party I have barely been able to get dressed, and after dancing like crazy, the next day I woke up in a world of pain. The pain wakes me up in the middle of the night, multiple times, and there is so much paracetamol I can take. I need that shit out of me to go back to lead a normal life, no questions about it. However, having said that, I am quite…. Anxious? About the whole thing. Yes, I’ll be in amazing hands; yes, I’ll be spoiled rotten; yes, I’ll have all the support, mental and physical, that I’ll need; I know my surgeon and his team will be on my side when I’ll freak out. But… but yeah, it is not exactly going to be a spa retreat, right?

Filling the admission paperwork triggered a variety of weird feelings.
Have I got a next of kin? Yes, my son, but he’ll hardly be answering the phone, chatting to a hospital about his mum… so I suppose the answer is nope.
An emergency contact? Ehm…. Nope.
Any adult or carer that will help me when I come home? Aaaand again no.
Have I got any phobias or fears I would like to discuss? Dude, I need more than a little text box here….
Anyone that will sleep in my house the night I’ll come back to ensure I’m safe? Aaaaand no, no and no. No. I will be alone before, during and afterwards. Just like last time. There is nothing I can do to change this situation, so I’m not even moaning or crying and pulling my hair. Plus, the last thing I want is someone wandering the house, annoying the shit out of me: I’m kind of looking forward to a week of me time, ass glued to my bed, having a threesome with SkySports and BT Sports (and, sometimes, Eleven Sports when AC Milan is playing), doing absolutely nothing but chilling. I plan to stock my freezer with ice cream and I’ll do everything I can to make the most out of this forced staycation.

Having said that, let me shout it loud and clear: what a pain in the ass this thing is. What a frigging pain! Seriously, what the hell.

Yes, at the moment my brain is taken over by the child in me, who is having quite a good moan about the whole thing. You know what? it’s fine. I don’t want to bottle up these feelings. Writing them down is making me feel better already. Suppressing feelings is very similar to when you need to go on holiday and you overfill your suitcase: you sit on top of it, you push as much as you can till you close it, and just when you think “yes, I did it” BAM! The suitcase explodes, and your shit is all over the place (if you are wondering: been there, done that). There is really no point of ignoring or trying to push these feelings as far as I can away from me. The more effort I put in trying to get rid of them, the more importance I allow them to have, so I just stand back, observe them, acknowledge their existence and then, once the storm has settled and the tantrum is over, the adult will take over again.

Schumy in all his glory, currently chilling on my pillow

I am very anxious (ok, scared as fuck) about the anaesthesia, in particular. The thought that I’ll be put to sleep fills me with horror.
And yes, I don’t want to do this alone. I would LOVE to be rolled back in my room and find a friendly face there, waiting for me. Or some flowers. Ora little card. Since I know there will be no one, I plan to go there with my Ferrari teddy bear Schumy (I suppose I don’t need to explain his name, right?) to pretend I have company. Djeezus, I sound like I’m a desperate nutcase here.

You know what I was thinking? Maybe I should order myself some nice flowers – not a box of chocolate though, I am a pain in the ass when it comes to chocolate – and maybe some other little treats for when I will be back home, in the comfort of my bed. Last time I bought myself a very cuddly blanket, but for this time, I may opt for an ultra-soft pyjama. I have at least two weeks of pyjama catwalks, I might as well make the most of it right? Yes, I know I have the Dollhouse photoshoot to look forward to, but in the immediate “I’m in pain, I hate the world, I feel so lonely and sad and miserable and I can barely scratch my arse” panic, I will have something that will cheer me up a bit. Sounds a bit pathetic, I know, but do I give a fuck? No, not really.

So, any recommendations for a post-surgery treat? 😉

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!

JUST A SPOONFUL OF SUGAR HELPS THE MEDICINE GO DOWN

Oh, dear Mary Poppins, I wish it was that simple for me!

Ok, I guess it’s time to talk about it, because the clock is ticking, and it will soon be the time where I won’t be able to run away from this massive issue I have. I have been working hard to avoid facing it, because it causes me a lot of mental pain; however, thanks to the incoming surgery procedure, dodging this bullet again won’t be an option… so I better do everything in my power to get ready before the storm will hit me in all its fury.

Unfortunately for me, I have been living with quite a nasty phobia. It is a massive one, a “wonderful” gift from post-natal depression: I am totally, absolutely, completely, and undeniably terrified of taking medicines other than the odd paracetamol. The thought of having to do it triggers quite a severe anxiety attack, the act of taking one… well, it’s a full-force panic attack with its horrible aftermath. Not a pleasant experience, believe me. At times, even vitamins and supplements can trigger an anxiety attack. Even cosmetic treatments!!! My gosh the day I had a fake tan… sheer terror (by the way, I’m having another one because I’m brave). Unlike my love for mushrooms, that disappeared during those three years of mental hell only to come back as nothing ever happened once I made it to the other side, this phobia overstayed it’s welcome and I’m still battling it to this day. When people joke about phobias and the impact they have on people, I become quite angry: you don’t know how frightening it is living with one till it happens to you, and even if for you it is stupid or inconceavable, for that person is a trauma, so be kind – nobody wants to have to deal with it!

The thing is, this medicines phobia it’s not something that is easy to challenge in a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy style (which I hate with all my heart, by the way), like I did with most food (at my worst, during my post-natal depression, I survived only on plain rice and plain pasta): I can’t just pop pills randomly to get used to them and don’t be scared of them anymore. Besides, even if I were crazy enough to do it, what medicines would I pick? I’m scared of all of them and there is a plethora available over the counter alone. What should I try? And why, since I’m perfectly healthy? My liver appreciates me treating him nicely and keeping him on a (almost) permanent state of relax. I rarely take medicines anyway, unless I’m really, really sick, so even when I could have the chance to challenge myself, I just don’t feel the need to.
I thought I had to face my phobia when I had my elbow surgery two years ago, but once the anaesthesia wore off, I found I had no pain at all, or nothing that a tiny bit of paracetamol would not solve, so I dodged that bullet at that time. However, it seems now that my next surgery won’t be a walk in the park as the previous one: my lovely surgeon wrote, on the pre-admission letter, that I am to expect considerable pain till two (but likely four) weeks post-op, and that pain will be considerably higher than what I experienced with my elbow. Yep, the odd paracetamol would simply not be enough… and my phobia is already waiving hello in the back of my head, feeling like an annoying acquaintance that you rather walk the long way round than crossing his path and having to wave hello back.

I always have been very blasé about my health and medicines. Not that I ever took a lot of them, but I guess it was the same as for any normal person: if your doctor says you need it, you take it, if there is anything over the counter that would solve your issue, you just buy it, take it and end of the story. My mum, her sisters and my grandma had a very… let’s say interesting relationship with medicines: for them, it was like exchanging shoes or clothes!
“Did you try this? Oh my gosh best painkiller ever”
“Really? Because I was using this other one and I can assure you this is so worth the money, you should totally try it!”
My dad, every time he saw them chatting away like that, he used to raise his hands and say “the drug dealers are in a meeting”. One of my mum’s sister used to be a nurse, and I will never forget that time I had food poisoning with egg pasta: she gave me a massive shot of Brufen that basically knocked me out for the whole night.
I took all the medicines I have been prescribed without a single problem, including a round or two of antibiotics. Before I got pregnant, I re-took my MMR vaccine, and all was going fine in my own little world.

Unfortunately, towards the end of my pregnancy, I had an allergic reaction to the hair dye I was using to cover my very dark roots (I was a proud bottle blonde), and something cracked in my brain: I was suddenly scared of any chemical thing. I coped kind of ok till I had to be induced, and I had a panic attack straight away: from that moment onwards, I descended into a spiral of pure terror at the thought of taking any medicine whatsoever.

It has been 6 years and counting now that my phobia gives me a panic attack hey pronto as soon as I’m required to take any medicines. This is also the reason why I am deeply ashamed to admit that I skipped, for the fifth year running, the flu jab: I rather take the risk of having the flu rather than having to face the guaranteed panic attacks I’d have before, during and afterwards (but, before you yell at me, my son has been vaccinated). The only medicines I do not have an issue with are paracetamol and Gaviscon (a heartburn medicine); however, overcoming this fear has not been easy: it took me few panic attacks and ultimately a very kind nurse on the phone who stayed on the line when I took them, and talked me out of the raging storm in my head. To this day, I’m eternally grateful to her and she is proof that a bit of care and kindness do change people’s lives: it certainly changed mine for the very better.

I know, for normal people, this phobia is quite stupid, but believe me, I can feel the anxiety building up as I write about it; I can already picture myself in pain, with a box of ibuprofen in my hand, petrified at the thought of either keep being in physical pain or to dare and alleviate it at the cost of causing myself mental pain. It’ a horrible, vicious cycle, I know.

To be honest, I am a bit fucking done with this phobia. It doesn’t mean that I wish I could walk into a pharmacy and swallow every medicine I could lay my hands on without an issue, but I just want to be able to take what I get prescribed without spending hours (or days, or months) of my life completely terrified. I told my therapist that, in a weird and masochistic way, I’m ready for the challenge: like a wrestling match, it is about time I get in the ring and start punching my way to victory, rather than just seeing my phobia holding the championship belt and yelling abuse at me to scare me away from even daring to get near it.

Will I be able to win this one? Any suggestion is more than welcome!

RUNNING OUT OF FU@%S IS MY CARDIO

Another week has gone, I haven’t been writing, I have been extra, extra busy at work and at home… aaaahhh!! I’m doing great though. Actually, I never felt this good. I dare to say it, I’m even happy at the way things are progressing. Unfortunately, though, being busy means little to zero time for the blog, and on top of that I have been in an out of the hospital a bit because of my shoulder. In this chaotic times there has been some stuff boiling up at work that made me think of how I changed, thanks to therapy and my own self-improvement. I basically went from “caring too much” to “caring ZERO”.

I think I said it already so many times that I used to be a rescuer. I thought that all I had to do in order to be loved an appreciated was to focus and spend all my energies, money and time on others. There was never a “me” moment, because if that chance happened, I would have used it to please someone else but myself. Imagine: 24/7, every single day of your life, working your ass off for others and feeling grateful for the opportunity of doing so.

Learning to curb this behaviour and attitude towards others has been a real struggle. You’d think “oh, I’ll just stop right now, cold turkey”, but when you are trying to terminate a behaviour that has been present throughout all your life, and that you most often trigger automatically because that is how you have always done, quitting it is as hard as quitting smoking or any other bad habit, with withdrawal symptoms in the form of pure guilt and fear: guilt of “not being as useful” and fear of “now nobody will ever love me because they will learn to not need me therefore I won’t have a purpose in their lives”.

I am facepalming myself as I write this tripe.

1335298036781_3013300I am doing so much better now, I have learned to say no (even though at times it feels like a violence against myself), to manage my guilt and to be less dependent on my need of being needed at all times, but the other face of this behavioural coin is that now…. I kind of not care that much. Actually, I don’t care anymore at all. Worse: I feel guilty of not feeling guilty about not giving a single fuck. My friend Marge always laughs when I say “my fucks bucket has now an extremely limited capacity and this thing is not worth any of those precious fucks that I could give”. Unfortunately (or, maybe, not unfortunately) it is what I feel at the moment. What do you expect anyway? When you’ve been used and abused for years, and you are done investing feelings and your emotional wellbeing only to be treated like scum, you raise your walls and make sure they won’t come down that easily.

I reached the limit of my self-imposed martyrdom a while ago and I’m so, so fed up. Now I don’t have time or care for (almost) anyone but me. I don’t chase, I don’t beg, I don’t ask. I don’t force my help down other people’s throat, I don’t do my all to be there for everyone at any time of the day or night, I don’t put myself down to make someone else feel better. The new rules are: if I don’t care, then I won’t force myself to pretend I do to please someone else, and I will act and only go the extra mile if I want to do it because I’m happy anyway, whether it is appreciated or not.

Another thing that I stopped doing is pandering to other people’s needs just because I don’t want to hurt / upset them and, most importantly, because I fear I will lose them should I dare to say things how they are. That has been outrageously difficult to implement, but once I ran out of fucks to give to everyone randomly, being able to just express my true feelings proved to be such a relief. To be clear, I’m not saying I’m offending people or being a bitch for the sake of it; simply, if I feel like something does not sit well with me, I won’t be putting up with it for the sake of “not rocking the boat”. Examples? I had a very long and deep chat with someone close to my heart that yes, as much as enjoy this person being in my life and all the things that are happening, if I’m just nothing but a cheap entertainment then I am not interested in investing my time, energies, and feelings. This is a deal-breaker and I’m ready to walk away should this be the case. It felt incredibly hard to “lay down the law”, but you know what? In this new chapter I only want people who want to be here because they love me, anyone else can go waste someone else’s time. Zero fucks given. I have no time, nor interest for those permanently offended, for the narcissists, for the soul-drainers, for anyone who’s only a taker and never a giver. I gave them my whole life, I got only negativity and pain in return, I think it’s about to time I move on.

You don’t approve what I do? I ran out of fucks, sorry.9c312a5ef7b685543862e1c9b9cc56ef0672819f8bf650e2fa4c307e6e115d17
You don’t like my opinion on the matter? See above.
You don’t like that I refuse to put up with your shit? Aaand again, see above.

I had a very interesting talk about this aspect with my therapist, because my surgeon made the dreaded call (7th of January… how to start my new year in style) and I was chatting about how this time, compared to when I had my elbow surgery, I’m actually pretty chilled and looking forward to it. I ran out of fucks to give about what anyone would think about the call I made, what impact has on me, my son, my life, whatever…. You should have seen me when the surgeon said “ok, so, your choice: you either put up with the pain for life or we do surgery but expect to be in pain and recovery is going to be long” and I yelled back at him “NO WAY I’M PUTTING UP WITH THIS BOOK ME IN!!!!”. Put up with what? You crazy man? Hell no! Anyway, I was telling my therapist how happy I was that, one way or another, I would have solved my problem and that I was looking forward to some blissful time at home, high as a kite post-op, to just be with myself. She asked “would you need help though? Have you thought about asking someone to help you? I suppose you won’t be able to move, or cook, or lift stuff…”. Suddenly, I felt extremely uncomfortable: what? someone around the house to help me? No no no no no no.

She started digging into my refusal of getting help… till the point when it came clear why I am so against that: I see help as the old me would, as a “put up a smile, pretend it’s ok, entertain who is pretending to help till you finally go back being alone”. We discussed in depth at why I see it that way, and why I just don’t accept honest, heartfelt help from those who really want to give it. Why my “ran out of fucks” attitude crumbles when faced with me being in need? Why do I feel the need to hide my true feelings, and why I can’t just let the helpers in and, instead of “entertaining them”, I just lower my guard, let them take care of me and just be the person who had surgery and needs resting? We both agreed that this surgery will be a pivotal moment in this journey: it will be a personal test for me to see how much progress I made, I will have to face few phobias (like taking medicines to cope with the pain) and to see if I indeed have “run out of fucks” about rescuing others when all I have to do is recovering. Guess what? I already made the (I must admit, painful) effort to ask for help on the day of the surgery. Oh boy, uttering those “would you please sleep with me the night I come home? I need help, and this would mean a lot to me” words took me a massive amount of stress and anxiety… and I’m trying hard not to regret saying them!!!!!

See? progress!!!!