3: When I was 22

I have the feeling that I should tell you straight away what happen when I was 22, I already mentioned it twice since I started this blog. I have the feeling that if I don’t do it now, my blog could become another version of “how I meet your mother”. So, I don’t want you to wait months and years before discovering what happen when I was 22.

When I was 22, my heart was crushed. In thousands of pieces. I had so much pain that I felt like I was going to die. I am not even exaggerated. At that time, I felt like my heart was not going to handle the pain.

It is about a person, you are right, but it is not about a boyfriend. It is about a friend, a best friend, C. We were friends for 17 years. She was like my sister.

C was my best friends since nursery school. Till we joined secondary school it was just me and her. In secondary school we became a trio, Valeria joined our special group. We were inseparable. There was not Silvia if there wasn’t C and Valeria.

Now, I am grateful enough that, despite the distance, with Valeria we are still best friends. I feel blessed to be her maid of honour (Vale, ti voglio bene!).

But with C. things ended in a very different way.

C had lots of personal issues; but you know, we all have problems! She had a strong, arrogant, dominant character. Most of the time she knew what she wanted, and she would have done anything she could to achieve it. This is something that I admired about her. Perhaps, when I was next to her I felt strong myself. We did influence each other a lot.

But the more we were growing up, the more our lives were taking different ways. We used to argue a lot. But, of course, we overcame those arguments because friends are friends, right? Friends are in the good and in the bad. If you love someone, you find a way to compromise and I loved her so much, I loved her like a sister.

Now, of course I am giving you a summery of our friendship and how it ended. It might sounds all very negative, but of course in 17 years friendship we had lots of good moments too. Around her I felt strong, secure, accepted, powerful. Perhaps, if today I am such a determinate and resilient person it could also be thanks to her.

But let’s go back to the story now. So, our friendship arrived to a point when we would argue constantly – like an old couple heading towards a divorce. I strongly stand up for my values and she strongly stand up for hers. Alongside that, C had the tendency of hurting people when she was feeling hurt. If something bad happened to her she would hurt someone else. Yes, you read it right. She would feel better because in that way she was not the only one suffering.

I cannot forget that day when she had an argument with her boyfriend and, consequentially, she was very horrible to me. It happened many times in our friendship, but in a way or another we always overcame difficulties.

I know what you are thinking, I am a stupid! Perhaps I am, perhaps you are right. But let’s shape it in a positive way – you know, just cause this blog is about self-esteem lol – let’s say I am a loyal, caring and committed friend.

But you will happy to know that this day I said, “no more”. I remember telling her “Look at this face.. this is the last time you will see it!”. And I meant it. And of course, it wasn’t.

This happened just before I moved to Glasgow. After few months, C came all the way to apologies. At first, I thought she did it for me; but of course, at the end of this experience, it turned out that she did it for herself.

She was so sorry about how she treated me, she was going to change, for real this time. She really valued our friendship. Perhaps, it could have been so great for us to be reunited. That’s what she said. She always wanted to move abroad and, since I was in the UK, she took the opportunity to move abroad too.

C lived in Glasgow for one year. It was a very long year between ups and downs. Few people asked me “How can you be her friend? Your soul is so colourful, her soul is so dark”.. Can I please use the loyal card again?

Anyhow, after one year, C decided to go back to Italy. She was missing her boyfriend and her family.

We had her leaving party. We got massively drunk. Yep, there was a loooot of alcohol involved so I am pretty sure you know that this part of the story doesn’t end too well. At some point during that night I was about to go to the toilet. Before going, I noticed few flits between her and the guy I liked. I remember approaching her “I am going to the toilet, please do not kiss him” like if a friend needs to tell you this!

Guess what? Yes, you are right. I came out of the toilet and they were kissing. It was like a slow sword piercing my heart.

I could not stop crying, I thought I was going to die for how many tears I have shed.

I did not care much about the guy, it was not about him. It was about her. That night, when I saw them kissing, this scenario came to my mind: my wedding day, C being one of my bridesmaids, and then her fucking my future husband right the minute before I was getting married. The sad part is, that it could have really happened.

That was my last wake-up call.

The trust was broken. Like a crystal glass, smashed in thousands of pieces. I would never thought she could have betrayed me in this way. She had lots of bad qualities, but I would have never thought she was capable of doing something similar to me, to her sister.

I never felt so hurt in my entirely life. And it was the best thing it could have ever happened to me.

That day, a new Silvia was born.

Note: To C, I want to tell you that I forgive you. I want to tell you thank you. By betraying me, you gave me my best chances. I will never forget, but I forgive you. I hope you found your inner peace, I hope you found faith in life.

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2: Why now

I have been struggling with my old way of thinking for almost a year now. Likely it isn’t as bad as in the past.

So why this blog now?

There are few different reasons why I decided to start this blog now. The main reason is because I believe we need to be the change we want to see in the world.

For one of my jobs I designed, and now deliver, self-care workshops in highs-schools. In 6 weeks, I aim to invite young people to start their own self-discovering journey. I encourage them to learn from their own feelings, to accept them and to understand that they do not have to act based on how they feel. I invite them to measure words, because words are like swords, they can leave big scars. I invite them to use self-motivating sentences because that’s the first starting point to change our lives. We cannot expect to be successful if in our heads we keep telling ourselves “you are not good enough” or “you are a failure, you never going to achieve it”. We can only achieve success if, first of all, we look after ourselves.

Now probably I do not need to tell you how contradictory that sounds some days when I am in my low moment. But you know, we are humans.

A week ago, I started delivering workshops in a new school with a new group. One of the attendees reminded me of me, of my teenager Silvia. My colleague and I were giving chocolate away; she was the only one who accepted a kit-kat. Nothing wrong with that, but the expression she made really touched my heart. I could tell she was thinking “of course, I am the only greedy chocolate person”. I felt sad, it felt familiar.

As part of one of my self-care workshops I deliver a presentation about myself. I talk about how I changed my life when I was 22 and on how I changed it by defining myself out of love and hope rather than hate and self-blame. With this group I have not done my presentation yet. I have three weeks before it and I want to be ready, fully ready, for that day. I do not want to lie or pretend. I do not want to do my presentation while I am thinking about overeating after the workshop. I want to give the best presentation I could ever do – like a wee inspirational Ted Talk. And I want to do it from a point of view of self-love.

I will also tell them that life is a continuous struggle. In few moments in life we feel like we have our shit figured out, while most of the time we spend time to put our shit together or to complain about the fact that we don’t have our shit sorted. However, what we should never give up is our strength and our hope. Who knows, I will might tell them about my experience, today, to make them understand that life is full of ups and downs and the best gift we can give to ourselves it is not chocolate, or a new dress or a new game, but it is to stand up and not giving up to love ourselves (saying that, of course sometimes a wee bounty helps!).

Perhaps I will avoid the “S” word in school.

In the last year I kept on asking myself “How 22 years old Silvia figure out to self-love herself and why 28 years old Silvia forgot how to do that?”. It is so easy to forget how to self-love, eh? Paradoxically we don’t forget and we don’t need any reminder to love our dogs, our friends, our parents or partners but we do forget to love ourselves.

I decided to create my own blog now, because I feel like it is the right moment in my life to re-learn how to stop value myself for my weight, but value myself what I have to give. Pretty much, as I mentioned in my first post, the reason why I created this blog is selfish. I hope that by sharing my story I will remember how I managed to self-love myself when I was 22.

My name is Silvia

And I am an over eater, not too anonymous.

I have a name, a face, a story and a personality.

Few people around me know about my emotional eating. Some people may have no idea.

My relationship with food has always been very complicated. Perhaps it has been the most difficult relationship I ever had in my life. It started when I was 8 years old.

Due a medical condition, I had to use lots of cortisone. As you might be aware, cortisone can cause a big increase on weights. To prevent an excessive gain of weights, my parents put me on a diet – I was already a bit ‘full’. As a result, from the age of 8 I started to develop a complicated relationship with food and my body. Since I was not allowed to eat the “unhealthy food”, I would secretly eat everything I could when I had the chance – and, of course, I would hide the tracks afterwards. When my parents were not home, I would stuff myself with food to compensate my deprivation. I still remember the “treasure hunt” in my house, looking for my precious treasure: chocolate. Or when I was in friends’ house, or outside and I had few spare coins with me, I had no doubt on what to buy: sugar. Any size, shape, taste. Everything was good enough.

It could be easy to blame my parents for my eating disorder, but I know they love me  and I know that they put me on a diet for my health, to give me my best chances. They did it in good faith – so thank you Mum, thank you Dad!

Who knows, perhaps if it wasn’t for my first diet at the age of 8 I was not going to be here, to write about my eating disorder. Perhaps, if it wasn’t for this eating disorder I won’t be who I am today.

Now, of course in good days I like to see my “being powerless in front of food” as a learning opportunity. But in other days I see it in a very different way. I would just blame myself, asking myself ‘what’s wrong with me’ alimenting a negative state of mind.

You know, it is pretty easy to blame ourselves for ‘not being good enough’.  Then it becomes a spiral of shame. Food is an addiction and as every addiction it follows the ‘5 point of addiction’ : shame, look for quick fix, fulfillment, guilt and back to shame. Pretty much it works this way

1 I feel very unhappy about something. I feel I was not good enough in that situation or it is my own fault if it happened to me because I am not good enough.

2 I am so overwhelmed. I feel like I either need to relax or either need to punish myself because I am not good enough. I need to find that minutes of peace, relief.

3 Biscuits are always there for me. They help me to relax. They accept me the way I am. They give me peace, they do not judge me. The melted chocolate on my mouth makes me feel like in heaven.

4 Why did I just finished a full pack of digestive biscuits and a big back of crisps? Why did I just lost control over food? Why am I not even able to control what I eat? If I can’t control the way I eat, how can I control my life?

5 Shame. Shame on me, I am not good enough.

And here we go again.

That’s me, for most of my life. You probably didn’t see this happening, you probably had not idea, but that’s ok. To be honest, I am not looking for anyone pity, I used to pity myself a lot but pity has no more room in my life. We all have a story, we all have issues – shit happen all the time, we all have a lack of self-esteem or a wee addiction, whatever is food, tv, social media, alcohol, games or shopping. We are all humans and, as human beings, we are all struggling in a way or another.

Now, teen Silvia is a very different person from adult Silvia. I worked a lot on my self-esteem, I worked a lot on my dreams. Present Silvia is definitely a much more positive and loving person than she used to be. I worked on myself hard, built myself out of love rather than hate. When I was 22 years old I decided to change my life, my destiny. I decided to define myself for how good I was inside rather than how much I weighted – although if goodness was measured in weights I was definitely winning!!

Why about this blog?

It is mainly a selfish reason. First of all I want to admit I have a problem. Lately I have been struggling with my old way of thinking, like almost everyday I have been finishing a pack of biscuits. I am worried I am going to get stock into it again and I do not want for this to happen. I want to learn again how to see my addiction as a learning opportunity, a way to see things in a different prospective, to question and challenge myself in a more positive way, in a more compassionate way.

Also, lately I have been speaking about my problem with few  people and I realized that it is a more common issue than I thought it was – other people are just better at hiding it. As a result, it is an invitation to start this self-discovering journey together.

From today, i want to stop being ashamed about my eating disorder. I want to be curious  and learn from it. As we say in Italy: “not everything comes to harm” and that’s the attitude I want to adapt.