The end of a good day (E-mail to a CODA fellow)

Dear friend,

Today was my first day alone with the kids and my in laws who are visiting us, whilst my husband had to work all day.

I had a very good day, despite my deepest fears shared with you last week.

I believe everyone had a great time actually, one of those days when you feel that some people’s happiness is not at the expense of others (often mine, as for when I remained silently in hurt and deep pain during my birthday weekend in Bath for everyone else to enjoy their time, you know about that too).

My needs were met: I went to an amazing new Aeriel Yoga class at lunch time on my own for 1 hour and I also took the whole family to Horniman museum and gardens in the afternoon, a place that my husband, the kids and I really enjoy during our spare time.

I also think I met other people’s needs with little compromises, for instance when I invited my young sister in law to stay at mine for dinner with her boyfriend as I had sensed they did not really want to leave us after the afternoon together. I had 6 portions of chicken for my 2 kids, my 2 in laws and the young couple and I cooked myself instead one of my favourite dishes, fried eggs with toasted bread.

Everything that I have done, I have done it wholeheartedly for myself and others and because I wanted to. I have not forced myself nor anyone forced me to do it. I also did not do it to gain more love, more esteem, more gratitude, to be right, to show with superiority how one should host, to expect anything in return when I will be the guest of my in laws or when I will need babysitting from my sister in law.

Despite today went well, I have no expectations of tomorrow to be that good neither, nor for the rest of the holidays: I take the present as a gift and I feel lucky enough that my needs were met today and, as it seemed, everyone else’s needs too.

Tonight I feel so emotional to realise how much I have grown, how strong and mature I behaved and sad at the same time that my husband was not there to live this day with us, after the argument we had with his parents trying to put a boundary they did not appreciate (about their visit here and the fact that they increased from 5 to 9 nights at our flat without asking us if it was OK).

Before I go to sleep early to end my lovely long day, my thoughts goes to you my friend, as I truly think a lot of what happened today was a result of the chat we had last Saturday morning in my out reach call, and could not have really happened especially without your questions ‘What do you want from this time together? How can you turn this weekend alone with them into a win-win situation?’, the rephrasing ‘It’s probably not true that you don’t count anything for your in laws, could it be that you tell yourself instead you don’t count much for your in laws’ and your advice ‘to drag myself back at the centre of the picture’.

I am so grateful for your friendship my CODA fellow, and the kind wisdom you showed me on both occasions lately when I phoned you in great despair. I hope you will have as a peaceful and inspiring Sunday as my day was today,

good night for now,

Trilingual

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Last letter to the elders

Tonight, whilst walking in the streets of Salamanca, discovering this beautiful Spanish town for the first time, beginning this way our summer holidays whilst we are headed to Portugal, I receive an unexpected phone call on my mobile.

The number is saved on my phone list as Mr and Mrs Blueman. I have just sent them recent pictures of the kids before leaving London, as I do twice a year to keep them posted since they don’t use internet (they are both over 80), so I assume they are calling to thank me and congratulate us on how our children have beautifully grown once again since our last letter.

When I pick up it is in fact Mrs Blueman who has just received my envelope and comments on the snaps I sent them with joy and enthusiasm as usual. Unfortunately she has no good news for me: she is the only one on the phone as Mr Blueman passed away a few months ago. He was very ill so I knew I could get this phone call at any point in the last couple of years, yet my heart is filled with sadness.

Who was Mr Blueman to me?

Many years before I could even imagine to move to the UK, John Blueman was the English man who bought in 1998 from my French grandfather Roz Al Len, my dearest grandparents country house that my grandfather had commissioned in the sixties on a land he had purchased next to the sea, and where all my best summer holidays of my childhood memories lies.

I was devastated when my grandparents, who felt too old to continue looking after this big countryside residence properly, decided to put ‘her’ on the market. Every time I travelled to Brittany since I was parted from ‘her’, my parents first and then myself (when I got my licence) would drive in the area and would stop on the opposite side of the road to look at it from outside ‘her’ gate, to see if ‘she’ was loved and well kept as we would have, with a pinch of jealousy that it was not our family’s anymore.

Crazy as I am, after living a few years in London and gaining confidence in the language and the British culture, I found the courage to write a letter to ‘her’ new owner of whom I knew the last name, I obviously knew his address in France and I was starting to understand the culture so it made me feel a bit closer to him.

I sent him a collection of photocopied picture of the house through my childhood years, starting from a picture of my mother in the garden being pregnant with me. I explained how much the house they were now living in had meant to me. And I asked to forgive me if I had bother them, but if they could let me know the day they would sell it, I might be interested in buying it back.

I could not be more surprised of their reaction. A few days later I received a letter back from Mr Blueman sending pictures of Roz Al Len in the past decade, how it had changed under their care, what plants and parts of the garden they had improved or needed to alter and how they had modernised and furnished it internally.

They were very happy I wrote to them that letter as they loved Roz Al Len as much as I did. I found out from them only then that some other cousins of mine had got in contact with them in the past in quite rude ways by stopping by and demanding to visit the property with dramatic tears in their eyes. But my approach had been completely different and a new friendship stroke up from that fearless letter I decided to send them in 2010.

Since then we started writing each other twice a year, at Christmas and at the beginning of the summer for the kids’ birthdays. Lately I felt life was so busy that I was usually just posting pictures with only a couple of words included with them. Below is probably the last proper old style hand written letter that John Blueman have read from me, could he rest in peace.

Dear Sarah and John,
Thank you for your lovely Christmas card, we received it just in time to know at which address (in France or the U.K.) to post our pictures this year!

We hope this finds you at best as you can be. So many things happened since our last letter…
Our son has started primary school and our daughter, always so active, is already riding child scooters despite being only 18 months old!

We spent a few days in Brittany this summer, at my mother’s flat: both my parents were there and thoroughly enjoined the kids company as you can imagine. When we drove passed Roz Al Len we noticed it was in not too bad conditions, have you had a chance to be back there since, despite the illness?

Unfortunately my beloved aunt passed away the day we were returning to the UK when we were boarding the ferry at St Malo, as if she wanted to make sure we would enjoy our time before leaving us and don’t let us feel sorrow for her whilst we were all together…

It is a very sad Xmas as every year I would post her the same pictures I was posting to you but this time there will be only one letter leaving from London…

On another note G and I went to New York for the first time in October, whilst G’s brother and sister in law looked after the kids, we enclose a picture of us there to show it was an amazing holiday!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from our quartet with love

Remembrance day

You are in every single tear, in every single breath of mine, you are the wind in my hair, the rain on my face, a leaf on a stream, a butterfly on a flower…

You will have never known newspapers headlines with pictures of Syrian kids' little bodies on a beach, the Bataclan massacre, Brexit and Trump USA president, gay people mass murdered in Orlando or tortured in Cecenia…

I hold the phone where your number is still saved, from which I won't be able to call you anymore; my mother sits in the evenings at the same caffe where you won't join her anymore.

Are you really gone forever? Or are you just hiding in a Tibetan monastery meditating and contemplating nature's beauty, far away from the pettiness of the human beings that you despised so much?

Wherever you are, we terribly miss you and we hope you may rest in peace

The traveling bug (a political status)

When did I contracted this unusual disease, I am not quite sure…

Born in the north of Italy by a Sicilian father and a French mother, my first long trip was in my mother’s womb. In the summer of 1982 (like they had done the previous years when I was not even in their thoughts), they travelled in a small Fiat 500 from Veneto region up to Brittany, my mother’s home place, scared of nothing and no one. Since then they would drive at least 1600 km every summer to spend the holidays with my mum’s family in France, whilst they lived the whole year in Italy. Since my father’s family is from the very south of Italy instead, it was at Christmas time (every other year or so) that we would take a night train to cross the whole peninsula and then the boat to arrive on my father’s land to celebrate the new year.

When I was about 2 or 3 years old, they moved down to Tuscany were I grew up for the rest of my childhood. It is quite renown that most young Italians of my generation live with their parents until the age of 30 (and more). So if you consider that I instead moved to the UK (where I knew absolutely no one) the day after my 23rd birthday, holding my life in my hands and impatient to turn the pages of this amazing adventure book that I still consider my existence even up to nowadays, everything makes perfect sense: more traveling, a wider choice of languages for my kids, an extended internationalization for the new family I was building up in this country with my partner in traveling.

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When Mother’s Day becomes more of a personal turmoil that makes you grow out of difficulty

E ancora una volta il mio feed di Facebook si intasa di status relativi alla festa della mamma, leggo di come le mie coetanee trentenni apprezzino il sostegno e la comprensione delle loro madri, di come non saprebbero fare a meno di loro…

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When terrorists obtain the opposite of their cause, the spreading of love

We are brainwashed about horror every day on TV, social media, newspapers. A bomb killing hundreds of civilians does not make any more effect on us, chemical weapons used on kids don’t mean anything to our lives, we don’t interrupt our routine if gay people are tortured and killed in mass not far from our borders. Even when we get the odd terrorist attack on our lands, we have plenty of sharing to do on Facebook about our indignation or the immense sadness that is a young child being killed at a concert, but the ugly truth is that deep down we don’t really care about that either…

It is only when we know of the details, it’s when we realize we knew one of the victims very well, someone who lead the same existence as we do to the point it could have been us instead of them in those tragic circumstances, that we finally get properly the proportion of the facts we are hearing. The real terror, the nightmares, the incommensurate sense of each and everyone life’s meaning suddenly kicks into our flash, not only within our cold logical thinking as it’s been doing until now. At least that’s what happened to me in the last 24 hours.

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Job description: essential for this role not to feel any negative emotion whatsoever (Don’t be human)

I have been wanting to write a post on my blog about the company I work for in a long time. However I am not sure what I want to say or from where to start. My employer and I have a very complicated relationship.

 

It started wonderfully well: I was enthusiastic and gave my best since the start; they were very happy to have hired me and already gave me a promotion with a small increase of salary only 3 months after I joined. In the first year I worked there, I was full of hopes so I remained understanding at first with all the unkept promises of a manager position for me soon available and with the full exploitation of my abilities and my dedication to work towards a goal which (I always suspected deep down) was never really there to be reached.

 

Little by little I started realising (probably like every big company) how much they were systematically misleading their employees, not only me, to get them to work hard, even when they knew they could not keep their word. How many deluded people were leaving for disappointment and how high was the turn over in the admin team as very little scope for career progression was available, even to the best members of staff.

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