I’LL BE THERE FOR YOU

Admit it, as soon as you read the title of this entry you started singing Friend’s song (I know, because I did the same and now I can’t stop it playing in my head. AAAHHHH!!!). Here is the link in case you feel the need to blast it out loud!

I have a very big issue with trust and relying on other people, developed in years and years of having to fend for myself, of being surrounded by irresponsible, unreliable, childish people, of being extremely disappointed at the answer of a simple “could you please do that for me?” and, generally, because I have always portrayed myself as the strong, can-do-everything-anytime woman who mothers everyone around her because “if I don’t do it then nobody will or they’ll fuck it up, so I might as well put up with this shit now”.

If there is one thing I’m extremely grateful to my parents is the way they drilled in my mind the importance of being independent, strong, fierce and ready to face anything in life. It took me years to discover that, like any other medal, even this one has two faces, and even if one is very positive, the opposite…. Not so much. My mother always said to me “whatever happens in your life, good or bad, make sure you can always walk with your legs only, should you need to: this is the essence of freedom. If you know that you can count on yourself (especially financially), you don’t have to worry about relationships ending, work not being there, illness striking etc”.
“Hope for the best but prepare for the worst” the famous quote says, and this has been my attitude in life so far. I worked my ass off to always be in a position where, whatever happened to me, I was able to handle it, whether it was an extra bill I wasn’t expecting, a problem suddenly exploding on my face, any issue whatsoever, you name it. I think that this is why, ultimately, I ended up being in relationships with reckless and irresponsible people, because not only I was trained to sort my life, I was also convinced I could handle their shit without breaking a sweat. Also, I was totally fascinated on how they managed to survive, living day by day if not hour by hour, without a care in the world whilst I was frantically thinking of ways to cope with life.

And here is the opposite side of the medal for you… and I soon discovered how nasty it is by marrying the Chief Reckless and Irresponsible Officer of the world.

I can tell you, hand on heart, that I rarely have been more frustrated than having to fuck my credit score up by getting extra cash from those short-term loan sharks to pay for mortgage and food, all because my ex-husband was a “misunderstood talent”, or “this job is not for me”, or “they are all cowboys and don’t get fine dining” in yet another restaurant, meaning that he was yet again jobless and with no income, our household was again one salary down and we were big time fucked up. I ended up maxing out credit card after credit card, I lived payday by payday, spending endless sleepless night thinking “ok what bill can I delay this month? What service can be suspended without being too much of a hassle? What credit can I put my hands on to drag my family till the next salary” and I’m telling you, fighting post-natal depression plus being in a permanent state of anxiety was not a piece of cake. In all of this, he has been totally, delightfully at peace because to him, a life of constant struggles was not an issue and, anyway, he knew I’d fix it eventually, so why worrying?
I sat down with him so, so many times telling him “for fuck sake, you are on the brink of being forty years old, you are not a teenager, you have a family, you need to be responsible, you need to get yourself in a position where, should anything happen to me (and I was suicidal when I said those words, mind you), you’d be able to provide for you and our son! You cannot rely on me, what if a car hits me and I cannot work for months because I’m bedridden in an hospital room?” and so on. The answer? “yeah, you are right, but it’s not me, it’s them, they don’t understand me, I’m doing my best, but, but, but…”. And just as he predicted, there I was, fighting to live another day, counting pennies in my pocket and praying to survive another month with food on the table and a roof above our heads, eventually managing to putting a patch on yet another issue, giving him freedom to fuck it up again and again until, eventually, I left him and he almost ended up in jail (and, as far as I’m aware, his problems are all still there and counting).

After all of this, I became wiser and savvier, right? Do you think, after my marriage finally broke up for good, that I have learned my lesson? Of course not.
So there I was, bailing out people from their issues just because I hoped that, by doing so, they’d love me and fill the void I had inside, and maybe, just maybe, return the favour once. Yeah right, if I had to get back all the money I’m owed, I’d could easily repay one of my credit cards and cut it for good. What a dumb ass I have been.

Eventually, I toughened up, and especially after being dumped and, consequently, starting therapy, if anything I became extra super duper closed up in my own world: there was me, my son and no one else. No fucks given, no taking care of anyone else’s shit, your issues are not my issues, go beg someone else, goodbye, good luck, fuck off. Just like any other day in my life, it was me against the world, fighting all these wars alone, scarred but undefeated: all these experiences taught me once again that, unless I was by myself for myself, I would only end up in more mess than what I already was in. There was no trust, no ability to rely on anyone but myself.

For the record, this applies (and still does, to a certain extent) at work as well: if I start a list of all the shit I decided to deal with because I couldn’t trust anyone to do it by themselves, with a “I rather work 73485728 hours a day and do it correctly once, than having to then put up with the aftermath of a mess caused by incompetent people” mindset, oh boy, I would be able to fill the biggest encyclopaedia of the world and more. If it wasn’t for my dear friend and colleague Marge, who I know she has my back just as much as I have hers, I’d still be doing meaningless stuff to this day, end up pissed off big time, then frustrated, then miserable because “I have so much to do and I’m underappreciated”. This is one of the first thing I managed to get rid of, because now I’m so “I don’t really care if you fuck it up, it’s your problem not mine” that I managed to finally keep the bullshit away from me: I don’t care if your corporate card gets blocked, it’s not my responsibility if you can’t dial a phone number on a phone, I’m not your event planner so you can go to the pub by yourself, I’m no Michelin restaurant guide so you can book a restaurant by yourself and so on. Leave me out of it, thank you.

Things have changed in my personal life quite dramatically when my boyfriend came back in my life, moths ago, as a brand-new person, and being a brand-new person myself as well, we started to get to know each other again and, once we re-discovered how strong we are together (this time, in a positive way), we started to lay down the foundation of our relationship step by step. Amongst the things I’m having to learn now there’s trusting him to not only be there for me, but to also take care of me and my son. I’m still coming to terms with the fact that I don’t have to fight anymore, that there are no enemies of my physical, mental or financial wellbeing out there, just few clouds passing by, annoying me a bit; we are walking together in this journey, side by side, strolling through this journey of life. I have never experienced such thing (aside from Marge and few other people in my life). Old me and new me are having a war of words against each other, with the old me trying to take me back to perceive the world as a threat, and the new me thinking how it’s so blissful to be able to shut down the noise of “did you think about that? What about that issue? How about that bill? How can you pay this or that? The nanny? The school? The house? Etc…” because I know, deep inside, that I can rely on him whenever I can’t do it by myself; it feels like my brain can, at times, be on a little vacation, stretch a bit and relax.

This week it’s going to be a challenging one and my boss already came round, asking me to be a good girl and not bite the head off anyone… I couldn’t promise him that, but whatever will happens, I know now there is help at hand.  

I’M GONNA PARTY LIKE IT’S MY BIRTHDAY

Dear all, I successfully celebrated my birthday after years and years of refusal, hate, depression, sadness, negative feelings and it feels GREAT. It feels such an achievement, I’m so thrilled, happy, grateful, you name it. I’m going to party all week long and you can’t imagine how being able to finally celebrate myself without reserves makes me feel happy.

Birthdays have always been a very sensitive topic for me. I started not liking celebrating my birthdays since I was very young, and every year it felt more like a chore than a lovely gathering with cakes and friends. I know why I had these feelings: most of the time it felt like my party had to please relatives and other people rather than me, from the cake to the location to any activity involved. I hated being at the centre of attention anyway, imagine that plus being somewhere I didn’t like, doing stuff I didn’t care about doing together with people I was not interested in being with anyway.
Over the years these feelings have only been exacerbated: the more my mental health declined, the lesser I wanted to attend any party whatsoever, let alone mine, and the more my self-esteem became practically non-existent, the more I found the idea of “celebrating myself” alien to me; who wants to celebrate someone you hate? No one, especially if that someone is, in fact, you.

Every single year my negativity, in addition to my depression, made me behave in a truly awful way in the months leading to my birthday. No, actually, let’s be honest: I was a horrible mess.
I started annoying the shit out of everyone at the first signs of Christmas celebrations around October, and I kept being a moaning, negative, sulking brat till after my birthday. I pestered everyone with my constant “I don’t want presents! I don’t want a party! I don’t want to celebrate anything! There is nothing to celebrate anyway! I hate this, people would only do it because they feel compelled and not because they truly want to do it, and anyway I don’t want it” and on and on and on.

I’m annoying myself just at typing this.

Now, imagine this negative mantra over and over again to whoever dared to listen to it.

I have even been very annoyed at those who gave me presents anyway despite my constant moaning because, listen to this contort brain process, they spoiled my dream of spending a sad Christmas or birthday with no presents and no attention received whatsoever.
I was sad because I couldn’t be sad.
I know it feels the most stupid thing ever, quite the drama queen teenager emo shit, but believe me, I was in such a dark place that nothing made sense anyway to me. Whatever I was going through, it was so bottled up inside me that probably I was looking for these chances to release some of it this way. I was so… in a world of “everything is bad” and “everything is negative” that nothing looked for what it was. I know I sounded totally unreasonable, and that I behaved in a way that “normal” people would have deemed ungrateful, horrible etc. but to me it was the world that was unable to understand me, that was behaving disrespectfully and forcefully violating my wishes of doom and gloom, so much I was hooked up in my brain jail.
On top of that, I married someone who has narcissist traits, and who doesn’t cope well with not being at the full centre of attention, so in addition to my personal frustrations etc. I had someone who, subconsciously or intentionally, managed to ruin every single occasion where I was the celebrated person. Needless to say, if I even dared to think of a “maybe I should have a party this year”, that thought got immediately ripped off my mind with a ton of negativity and the additional “he’ll ruin it anyway”.

I must admit, my old self started to play few games here and there for my birthday this year as well. I was not too comfortable at the thought of celebrating, even though I arranged a pin up birthday party with the ladies at Dollhouse Photography. It still felt a bit weird. I told my boyfriend that celebrating myself it’s something that I’m progressively learning to do, and that I’m not used to be spoiled, loved and taken care of: I’m the one who does those things and I’m never at the receiving end! I had various sessions with my therapist about it and, ultimately, I told myself “actually, Silvia, with all the things you did, with all the issues you overcame, it’s like you are a re-born person, so we might as well start a new tradition and celebrate yourself!”.

the way I hoped my cake looked like… nope… it didn’t happen

I bought more than a hundred purple balloons, I bought myself a purple dress, I let my colleagues, friends and boyfriend spoil me as much as they liked without a single objection to it and I forced myself to keep a happy, positive attitude about the hole thing. The result? I had the time of my life. I felt so loved like I’ve never been before. I savoured every single moment, and even when my cake turned out of the oven looking anything but purple (the food colouring I used was absolutely shit, and instead of a vibrant purple cake I ended up with a grey-ish mess…!), I just laughed about it.

I feel so happy and at peace with myself in a way that I have never experienced. I know it may sound quite odd, but when you spend a lifetime hating yourself and then you go into a journey to rip this negativity out of your brain and turn it into positivity, being able to be comfortable with who you are feels extra special, because it was such a struggle to achieve it. I feel the beauty of accepting myself for the beautiful person I am, without having to always dragging me down for no apparent reason. It is a very nice place to be. I feel like I’m living a brand new life – I am, indeed, living a brand new life, with a brand new set of eyes to see myself and the world I live in differently. I appreciate even all the negative things I experienced, because now I know exactly what I don’t want to go back to and what I rather keep experiencing.

Having said that, you know what are the few things that I don’t like?
Well, first of all, my house looks like the aftermath of a purple balloon apocalypse. Oh, and my son went crazy raging madman when he ripped the poor pinata my boyfriend bought, so on top of the balloons I have pieces of that poor thing everywhere. Aaaand…. Oh my, I’m so tired, I can barely keep my eyes open! I’m getting old, no doubt about it!

I now have two more parties to go, and hopefully a weekend of pure, total, blissful sleep in my pyjama. And this, my friend, is the tale of how I went from “no more parties ever – I hate myself” to “no more parties for a while, I’m frigging knackered and I need my beauty sleep”. It’s the best feeling ever!!

WEAK AND PROUD

And then, suddenly, it finally happened: the crisis moment where I couldn’t stop crying my eyes out and feeling dreadful. Oh yes, there is no denying that. The big low, counteracting the massive (medicine-induced) high hit me like a truck on full speed, and there was nothing to do but just release all the emotions I was feeling.

I have a confession to make: since I was feeling absolutely great, I didn’t exactly spend my days recovering, taking things slowly, resting and just “go with the flow”. No no no.I have been out and about, I’ve been working (yes…), I have been doing basically everything I was not exactly supposed to even entertain the idea of doing. I was feeling great, so why stopping?

damn he is right

Well, I tell you why, because once all the medicines wore off, and all the “high” from the morphine etc left my poor body, I felt like dying. My brain and body clearly told me under no circumstances to attempt doing anything at all or face their wrath. I kept pushing myself, thinking “naaaa, it’s just momentarily, I’ll be fine” and guess what? Of course, I ended up not being fine. Actually, I ended up crying my eyes out, feeling dreadful, mentally and physically. I could barely speak (I’m bilingual, and I struggled with both Italian and English!), barely move, I felt like thinking and moving in slow motion compared to the rest of the world. I couldn’t do it. My boyfriend was trying to talk to me about work and important stuff, I could barely look at him and hearing his words, but not “listening” and understanding a single thing he was saying. I had to ultimately stop everything and confess I was too weak.

THE TRAGEDY

I said it millions of times how much I HATE to expose my weaknesses: over years of depression, suicidal thoughts etc, I hid all my troubles under a mask and pretended everything was ok with the rest of the world, because I was surrounded by people who, for whatever reason, could not handle by any stretch of imagination what was truly happening with me. It made their life easier and my life easier too: no explanations to be given, no dramas, no listening to stupid advices (“maybe you should get a walk and have some fresh air” because of course, depression can be cured with air and trips to the park, right?), no bullshit, just (fake, in my case) quietness all around.
I didn’t want this to happen this time. I didn’t want to hide again, pretend all was ok and sulk in a corner full of negative thoughts, so I did the most obvious thing to do: I told my boyfriend “I am too weak, I really need a break. I need to stop thinking and doing, I need to just rest”. It was so hard to admit it and ear my voice saying those words, but at the same, it was also the most liberating thing ever. I started crying in his arms, feeling like I just had a massive weight lifted from my shoulders. I couldn’t stop! And you know what the best part of this was? Instead of all the past reactions I had from various people from my past, I had a big hug, a kiss, and cuddles. Everything I needed. No questions, no talk back, no lessons, no explanations. Bliss!

It took me years, but I finally managed to understand this very simple concept: there is nothing wrong to be weak. Nothing. Zero. Nada. It is absolutely ok. Of course, having zero self-esteem, I thought that if I showed to the world my weaknesses, I would have been outcasted even more and “unloved” because I couldn’t handle everyone’s shit as per my usual self. Now that my self-esteem and self-care is high, well, I don’t care if people sees me not at my best. For fuck sake, I just had a very complicated and problematic surgery procedure, my body is all focussed on healing and recovering from this major trauma, if someone has a problem with this they are more than happy to do one and fuck off. Weakness is actually part of the healing process, it is a sign from the body that needs you to just do as little as possible so all the energies etc can be used solely to fix what has been “broken”, and believe me, my shoulder has seen better days than these.

So yes, I am weak. Big time weak. I’m so weak I feel I can barely function above survival level at times. My brain is less foggy, yes, but still, I can’t really focus too much or dig deep into work matters because, when I do, the rest of my body shuts down to cope. To give you an (hilarious) idea of it, I have noticed that if I experience very strong emotions (be them anger, frustration, happiness…) I become so, so, so desperately tired that I can barely keep my eyes open. One evening my boyfriend and I were discussing stuff, and something upsetting from the past resurfaced which made me very annoyed and angry: well, as soon as these feelings took hold of me, I had to lie in bed unable to move, like I just got paralysed in order to process what was happening. Such a weird thing!

I owe my body respect and care. I beat it, disrespected it, hurt it and being careless with it for way too long. I don’t want to allow myself to slip back to the old ways, those days are long gone. Besides, should I be silly and disregard my body’s signals and all the medical adviced I got, I’ll fuck my shoulder up again and… put it this way, I am in no mood to piss my orthopaedic off or visit a surgery theathre anytime soon!

So, more resting and relaxing, no more superhero silliness!

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!!!

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!!!!

I’M STILL “JENNY FROM THE BLOCK”

After surviving a very miserable week, last week I decided to do my best to snap out of that dark cloud and put myself back on track: clean eating, no cheating, the whole lot. I had a very gruelling gym session on Tuesday, the first proper bodybuilding class, it went down like a treat: I felt super strong and on top of the world, but boy oh boy, my legs hurt for three days solid. Work has been a madhouse, emails fired at me left, right and centre, I barely ate or slept to keep up with the drama, and it ended up on Friday night answering emails from A&E where I had to take my son because he went from “mummy I’m feeling great” to “40C temperature, rash on his face and shivering” in the space of an hour. The joy! I had amazing plans for the weekend: attending a very special wedding in my hometown, finally visiting my parents’ new place, stuffing myself with Italian food…. It ended up cleaning vomit for 2 days non-stop. Yet, despite being very upset at ending up being stuck at home, I feel good, like I carved a little happy corner in my mind and I’m wrapped in a warm duvet inside it.

You know what? I think the gym, and my amazing personal trainer Farrah, have been the best thing ever happened to me since going to psychotherapy. I had to break down, mentally and physically, to the point where I became just a clean, white piece of paper, before I could re-write who I want to be in this new chapter. Believe me, my old gym-hating self put up a massive fight, MASSIVE, in order to stop making me change. I have been on the verge to give up so many times. I am so grateful I never did – thank goodness for my resilience!

People have started to properly notice my change. What at the beginning seemed like a temporary gimmick, now it is a rather established “norm” and I’ve left few people a bit unsettled. The main moans I got are that I may be showing off a bit too much, and that I’m not “the metalhead I used to be”. Yes, I am not scared of showing off myself and my hard work (after all, as my Personal Trainer says, we are not putting the hard work in just to go back at hiding, right?). Yes, I may not be all black, metal band t-shirts and leather as I used to. Yes, I may be “in your face”, I don’t do hiding or holding back anymore, but I’m still me. You know, the tomboy woman who swears like a sailor when Formula 1 is on, who would rather roll in the mud than do shopping, who prefers going to the stadium than a club, who likes to be “one with the boys” and all that.

Jenny-From-The-Block-Video-jennifer-lopez-26797479-600-400
Don’t be fooled by the rocks that I’ve got, I’m still – I’m still Jenny from the Block

However, like a snake, I’m changing my skin, embracing my entire self, not just few bits and pieces because I struggle with the rest, and instead of basking in my own self-inflicted misery at my numerous flaws and issues, I am learning to enhance and celebrate my strengths and either embrace my issues or work hard to get rid of them. Not wearing my Slayer t-shirt anymore doesn’t automatically mean “I betrayed the metal oath”: I have a nice body and I rather squeeze in a bodycon, colourful dress now, but you bet your ass I’ll still be raising hell next week when I’ll be at Slayer’s gig with my friends. Again, I just changed my skin and I’m working hard on being the best person I’ve always wanted to be, but at the core “I’m still Jenny from the block”.

I’ve heard it multiple times lately: “wouldn’t it be better at being more like this – more like that – less exposed / like you were once”; then again, when I was exactly those things, I should have been something different anyway, and I was negative, and I should have been more other stuff. I’m breaking out of all the labels that I have put on myself, or that people put on me without me even asking, and this is very destabilising for some. Hey, I used to be a total rescuer and a people-pleaser: whatever made people happy, I’d do or be. No question asked. It didn’t go down well, did it? It backfired spectacularly, actually. I ended up just as lonely as I was, with all my unresolved issues still there and with the additional “I have been such a dumb idiot” feeling making everything worse.

Lesson learned here: do what you think it’s best for you. Listen to your inner voice. Stay true to yourself. By all means, improve, experiment, test, try, fail, re-try, give it a go, challenge yourself, but do it in your own terms. You know what is right for you, and if you feel that something is too much / too little, well, if it is right for you then so be it. The truth is, you will not be liked by anyone anyway, not matter how much you try, and anyone will have an opinion about who you are, what you do etc, but you are the only one living your life. My ex-boyfriend always used to say “when someone points the finger at you, he is pointing one at you but three back at himself”: I never ever listened to him (and he loved upsetting me by calling me every name under the sun to teach me a lesson on “listening to your inner voice only”, and thank you so much I finally learned it!) till only recently and it has been a life-changing moment.

16fbabd310762143e12c9418dcfa844aHow many people objected my daring photoshoot? A lot. What do I think of it? Best day of my life (that I will replicate in a week). What opinion matters? Mine. How many people are telling me (my mum included) that I am training to hard, too much, that I will become a manly muscle monster etc? Do I care? Not one single bit, especially when I look at myself in the mirror and I see the potential starting to show off, which makes me want to train even harder. My friendships, my relationships, who I keep in or out of my life, I do what I feel good doing, and if I’m disappointing people on the way, well, tough luck for them. Whoever truly appreciates me and my efforts will love me even more and stay because they want to, not because I’m going above and beyond the call of duty to make them stay. Whoever feels the new me doesn’t meet their standards, well… I wish them well, but our journey together ends now.

I WANT IT ALL AND I WANT IT NOW

(Queen fan till death!)

Do you want to change?
Do you want to see change happening in your life?
Do you want to quit your bad habit, whichever it is?
Do you want to improve your life, whatever that means to you?
You lucky person, you ended up in the right place, because in this blog entry I am going to tell you the most ground-breaking piece of information ever existed amongst us fellow human beings that will change your life forever, I promise. I will save you tons of money on self-help books, endless hours on YouTube watching motivational speakers, TED talks, life gurus and coaches, you name it, because I’ve done the homework for you mate. Aren’t I so kind?

One of the most annoying things I have heard so far, when people asks me about my ongoing journey, is the following “oh, I wish I had your determination to change, but”. Generally, I just shrug my shoulders and smile, but inside I know I’m dying to answer “oh, well, what do you expect me to do, extract determination like a serum from my body and inject it into you?”. I wish it would be possible, I’d be millionaire in the space of couple of weeks, but it’s not. However, I am about to reveal the unspoken secret that will leave me just as cashflow strapped as I am, but that hopefully will spare me hearing that sentence ever again.

Brace yourself.

You know what the real, simple, dead stupid secret to “making change happen” is? WANTING IT.
That’s it. You are one decision away from the change you want to make happening. One single decision, which sounds along the line of “I WANT IT”. No ifs, no buts, no maybes, not wishes.

I want it. Full stop.

There is you on one side, your goal on the other, and the only thing you have to do to get to your goal closer is wanting to reach it. Sounds to simple? I thought that too. Especially when I was with my arse on the floor crying in total misery because I got dumped, my life was shit, I looked like shit, my mental health was shit, my finances where shit (thank you boiler for making it even worse), my au pair left me fending for myself, it was fucking nightmare everywhere I looked. This is where I took the most important decision of my life: wanting to change. Enough of living a life I hate: it’s 2018, there are options out there, I was born in the lucky side of the world where I can access these information, the help, the knowledge etc. just by clicking on a search engine, there are endless possibilities to make my life better: enough crying, let’s start working, because I don’t want to be the person that a dumb asshole can shatter in a moment by dumping her; I don’t want to be the person struggling to cope with her mind; I don’t want to be the person who looks herself in the mirror thinking “my body is just shit”.

Ok, I have to admit, there is a catch. Ah-ha, you’d think, here is the “small print” part of this. Yes, there is. See, there is “wanting” and “wanting”. You may want something, you may dreaming about, I don’t know, Jennifer Lopez body like me, or quitting smoking (been there, done that), quitting bad habits (yep, got that one too), stop stalking and texting your ex (…cough cough…), having a more balanced mental health (thumbs up), getting a degree, changing your career, the list is endless. It’s all fine. The only obstacle between you and your goal is that nasty “BUT” in your head that stops you from acting. You have to want your object of desire so badly that you are ready to do anything it takes to get it, like your life depends on it. This is the only catch.

If you are not 100% fully committed, it won’t happen. You won’t be able to put up with the struggles that you’ll find along the line. You can tell yourself “Tomorrow I’m going to stop smoking / start dieting / going to the gym….” And you’ll see that that tomorrow never comes. Or maybe it will, but the next day you will be back at square one. You can tell yourself all the lies you want to hear, you can come up with a myriad of excuses to keep your ass solid on your comfy couch, you can pretend to have all impairments existing in the world, fine by me, I’ve been there and done that for all my life so far, but: don’t cry when things will not happen, when the scale will not show any weight loss, when you’ll still be puffing that cigarette, when your liver will burn at the sight of any degree celebration, or when you still haven’t saved a penny for your desired boob job (ehm ehm….), or when you’ll cry in bed staring at your ex-boyfriend new collection of whor…ehm…..

You have to want it that badly. Once you do finally want it, like you never wanted anything before, like whatever life throws at you it’s “fuck you life, I’m unstoppable”, like you go full speed ahead no matter what, guess what? change will happen. Guaranteed, 100%, would bet my house on it.

I have been the queen of half-arsed efforts all my life. It was sooooo easy to barely try, fail, moan, blame how life is so unfair, tell myself I was too stupid to achieve stuff etc. All around me people were busy doing and improving, getting nice jobs, doing this and that, and all I was able to do was sitting at the window, jealous as fuck, wishing a fairy godmother would come round, do some magic and ta-dah! Life sorted. I’m sorry to break this news to you (and myself, every time I wake up hoping to be reborn in JLo and instead finding I’m still myself), but it doesn’t work like that. All successful people, the real successful people, they are who they are because they worked hard. Yes, even the Kardashian: do you think it’s that easy being filmed 24/7, keeping the looks, the money, the “K-Empire” just by sitting on your arse? You wished! As much as they all make me cringe and vomit, you can’t deny that it takes work to keep staying in the limelight, plotting the next big scandal, arranging the next paparazzi shot and earning money.

You won’t become a musician just because you have a bit of talent if you don’t put the hard work in. You won’t win an Olympic game if you don’t train every single day as hard as you can. You won’t lose weight if you are not prepared to follow a proper diet, tailored to you by a proper medical expert dietician, and throw some exercise in the mix (and maybe some psychological support, because let’s face it, it’s not easy at all). Every time a “but” comes in your mind, this is where the temptation to fuck it all up and be back at not changing comes: this is when you can either choose to overcome that “but” in your head, or to succumb to it. I always chose to succumb up till June this year, where I was so low, so beaten up, sad, shit, disaster all around that I decided it was time to be the phoenix who rises from her ashes, rather than just be ashes.

I read somewhere on Facebook a woman claiming, “I’m sick and tired of hearing people saying “you have to want to change, like you could snap out of mental illnesses or else just because you want to”. Part of me agrees with the sentiment, naturally: of course, you can’t just tell yourself “I want to not be depressed” and boom! You are dancing in the streets celebrating your newly-found glorious mental health. Of course I am not talking about serious illnesses which require medical expertise and treatments (if only people could beat cancer just by wanting it, wouldn’t that be great?). Of course, I ain’t that dumb to think “the power of the mind conquers it all”. And yet again, I also don’t agree with what that woman said. The fact that your situation is difficult doesn’t mean that your only option is to just be passive to whatever is happening to you. You can help yourself to improve your situation, whatever that may be, if you really, really want to, and there are amazing examples out there (Katie Piper anyone? I mean, if she is not inspirational, who else can it be! Nobel prize winner Malala Yousafzai? Shot in the head, left for dead, now studying at Oxford?). Of course it is not easy, but you face struggles with a different mindset when you really, really want something, rather than when you decide you are defeated even before you begin.

Mel Robbins, a very amazing motivational speaker, yesterday put a post on Instagram saying “It’s not that you can’t, it’s just that you don’t”, suggesting that you should give a go and swap your “I can’t” with “ I don’t” every time you face something – and see how it sting. Her point (which I fully agree with) is “Taking action is a choice… and so is telling yourself you can’t”. So yes, if you are currently reading this thinking “just bullshit, I wish I could… but”, try to overcome that “but” and see what happens.

You won’t be disappointed.

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I believe in you. And today, I want to remind you— that you CAN do this. You can lose the weight. You can build that business. You can finish school. You can survive this breakup. You can save enough money for that bucket list trip. You can fall in love again. You can do whatever you are willing to work for. And here's the deal, I know you "know" what I'm saying is as true as a compass pointing north. So today, try this little trick to make yourself "do" it. – Today, when you start saying “I can’t” swap in “I don’t” and see how that feels when you admit the truth to your self. I'll tell you how it feels— it stings. Taking action is a choice… and so is telling yourself you can't. I'm betting that if you say "don't" it will be a slap of reality. And, that sting you feel might snap out of the "can't" excuse and jolt you forward into action. Today, call yourself out – me know if you’re going to take this challenge and comment #ICAN

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