Goodbye my Lover

As I was writing this post in my mind today, I kept singing this tacky James Blunt song. You would have mocked me for it, I bet. Even though I clearly remember eight years ago when you were begging me to become just that, like a child asking for a new toy. So, I gave in and that is what we were. I had nothing to lose and everything to gain.  In our little world of nicknames, hide and seeks, we both found some excitement that our lives had been missing. Of course, as all lovers do, we parted ways sooner than later. Thankfully, it was for the best and we were eventually mature enough to keep it civil right up to a few months ago when you told me bluntly that you were dying.

Ever since I found out about your passing more than a week ago, I have been unable to get you out of my head. Ironically, it is like everything that happened almost a decade ago came back to life. I am not sure why, but I am almost certain that the solution for me is to get it all out. These thoughts have no real basis, they do not belong in my life anymore and have probably grown a bit fake with time and the person that I was with you – although awesome, I must admit – is no longer who I am. But damn, I really do miss her sometimes.

So, in true masochist form I revisited your life in digital form where you are somehow still alive. Then I revisited our history in black and white – all the chats spanning several years. From the hormonal infatuations, explicit desires, friendly date schedules, birthday wishes, thoughts of forgiveness. Photos of my daughter, news of my life as a mom, your wedding and my last wish of recovery. Alas, no miracle occurred. And now you are gone. And I feel the loss of your wife, of your family and of your friends who are now truly poorer for no longer having you in their lives.

Here we are parting again in our private little way. This time I am writing about it publicly because you are not here to stop me. See, we can laugh about it right? Well, you did write me that you missed reading my blogs. Therefore, I guess this one is for you – out there somewhere. And it is also for Klemen who watches me cry every few days and comforts me the best way that he knows. It is incredibly great and patient of him and I am forever grateful to be able to be selfishly myself. See, in the end we all found that one person who would love us most.

As for you, dear reader, do not feel sorry for me. I was never really his and he was never really mine … but for a while there we were ourselves together and it was awesome.

Rest in peace Pij Zlatoust, we will all swim in your sea from now on.

”Milica”

Fight or Flight

dThis is an especially difficult post to write. It is hard to write because it is raw and I don’t plan to hold back. What encouraged me to do it is all the strong women that I have seen coming forward with personal confessions. It was those people who dare to talk about what is socially still a big taboo. It is not easy to come out and say: I am depressed.

Sure, people throw these words around like confetti not knowing what it really means. I know it all too very well.

For me it started showing on our family trip to Thailand. It was supposed to be a wonderful time off, but I had been very worried prior to that. I had made up all sorts of scary scenarios which made the countdown to the day of departure a living hell. I had headaches for months before that, I cried, I panicked… and I ended up going for the sake of us all. To prove to myself an others that traveling with a two-year old is a piece of cake. And it could have been if I could have let go.

But I worry constantly. And I take it onto myself to solve everyone’s problem. This was especially hard when my family lost a member more than a year ago: my brother. Let me be clear, my brother thankfully did not pass away. He did, however, decide to cut us all out of his life: starting with me, my parents, his wife and finally his children. I had adored my big brother and today I don’t even know where he lives. I did try to get in touch, I tried desperately in every way I saw possible. Maybe I tried too much and it ended up with all of us on his blacklist. I don’t know what drove my brother to do this, he never said. And of course, I blamed myself. And I fought, I fought so hard to make it all right again. And I failed.

Everyone kept telling me that I should stop worrying, that I was hurting myself. I chose not to listen, I took a pill for my headache, a pill for my stomach ache, a pill for my insomnia and I kept going. Throwing all the problems somewhere in the back of my head and ignoring them. I did need to be a good daughter, a good partner and a good mom after all.

And then it happened, but not in the way that one could have anticipated. In Thailand, my arms started hurting. Lifting a spoon was like lifting a ton of bricks. And I ignored it. Then I started getting really tired. And I blamed it on the jet lag. And then, I couldn’t blame it on anything else and I started to panic. I really started to panic and to Google my symptoms obsessively. It was all very bad. I was basically dying. This inevitably lead me to see doctors, lots of them. And they all said the same thing: you are healthy. How could I believe them? I felt so badly, so down, so achy … there surely must me something very wrong. Maybe they are just not good enough doctors, maybe it is too early in my ‘disease’ to tell.. maybe, maybe maybe. When I last saw my doctor I broke down crying begging her to give me a diagnosis and some medicine that would fix me. And that’s when she pointed out the obvious: I was anxious and depressed. I have that written down as a diagnosis on many doctor’s reports.

I couldn’t say it was a shock as I was slowly drying out. Unable to eat, unable to think of anything else than my aching body, not being able to look forward to anything, not being comfortable around other people… It was a giveaway. However, I am sure that if you would have met me at the time, I would have greeted you with a smile. That’s the thing with depression, it is an internal disease. It doesn’t necessarily show. It’s a prison that we live in and to the eyes of a relative stranger, it can still look great from the outside. It’s a true physical pain that seems so strong you can’t believe it’s not coming from the body.

The worst part about it? Nobody can help me. Only I can help myself. Blessing and a curse? It sure is. I try not to hide it, I talk about it with people who ask. That is the only way to get better. It makes no sense in faking it.

Somewhere along the line I sadly chose to forget who I was. What made me me. Instead, I took on the role of a mother, of a wife and of a devoted daughter. And then, when I was alone, I did not know what to do. It’s a big change from the cheeky girl that I was. Correction, that I still am. Somewhere.

I have been home for two weeks now. Slowly gaining my appetite and along with it – my strength. I go to therapy, I go to massages, I do breathing exercises, stretching  and I go on walks. When I walk around the woods all by myself, I come across many people doing the same. And I wonder, are we in the same situation? Are we all walking around trying to remember?

Thankfully I have a partner who understands and who enables me to find myself again. Who took on chores that I am temporarily not able to do. I am so grateful. I am grateful for our wonderful daughter who cheers me up, even though she also managed to drain me out.

I am grateful to be alive and to know that I am a fighter. I look for ways to get better, but the hardest thing is to know that it will take time. It is hard to face the fact that I am the one creating this pain – but that is why I am the only one who can take it away.

It is hard to admit that I am flawed. That I am weak. That even though it looks great on the outside, it doesn’t mean that that is the way it is our should be.

It happens. And it will get better. And that’s a promise.

Majda’s sewing kit

My bestest friend Katarina had a mom. Like we all have had moms – or are lucky enough to still have them. Katarina’s mom was called Majda and she sadly died of cancer in her early forties. She was a doctor and a warrior. She battled this fierce disease for a decade, just long enough to see her daughter become a woman. And I am absolutely positive that she would have admired her daughter … and would have been proud of her.

Over the few years I have known Katarina, I have learned a few things about her mom. She was exigent and determined. She was sweet and caring. Someone told me she was the nicest woman he had ever met … and for a long time, she was the love of someone’s life. But then life takes a different turn and great people don’t get to stay with their loved ones forever.

The idea of dying was something that I ran away from as fast as I could. It was – most fortunately – something that I didn’t need to confront in my young life. For a long time I even did not like discussing it, as if it was a disease that I was afraid to catch. One does not talk about death or one will provoke it. At least that is what I thought.

Then I became friends with this girl who had lived through losing her mom at a very delicate age. And she was left alone with a grieving father whose life had been shattered. Katarina talks about her mother with complete honesty. And I ask questions. I want to know how it felt, how it happened and what is to be done when it happens. I wanted the brutal honesty, the honesty that often made me cry and actively feel the loss. Because even if the years pass and the pain fades, the loss is still here.

Story after story,  I am starting to feel like I know Majda as well – or better said – I feel that I am getting to know her little by little. I have met her parents, Katarina’s grandma and grandpa, I have worn her cardigan and read her gardening books. And now that I am a mother, I decided that I want to sew. So, Katarina gave me her mom’s old sewing kit. And when I examine every little item in the box, I feel like a historian getting to know this woman who I will sadly never get to really meet. And I can’t help but wonder – who was Katarina’s mom?

Here is what I found out.

Majda liked sewing. She also liked to keep her clothes nice. If a button fell of of her shirt, she would sew it right back on. She had this little thing that protects your finger while using a needle. She had neat little scissors for cutting the thread – and a white pencil for drawing on fabric. She had tons of different colour threads and elastic bands of different widths. Basically, she had everything that you need to have. Majda was like that, a perfectionist.

original sewing kit

Majda loved her garden. She had all the utensils one might need. And she had books about gardening because she wanted to educate herself on what she was doing. Today she would have probably watched gardening shows or looked for meaningful clips on Youtube. Although I also flipped through these same books, a love for growing plants did not settle in my heart. I did love to harvest the vegetables though. On the other hand, I did not like all the work that this took. Majda loved the work too – because she knew that it takes hard work to achieve something. To achieve anything.

Majda wore about my size, but she was way shorter. She picked her clothes so that they were practical and good-looking at the same time. I have her woollen grey cardigan that I imagine her wearing at work. She put it on when it got cold in the office. I wear it for the same reason.

Majda had a daughter … just as I do. The love you feel for your child is out of this world and I can’t begin to imagine how it must have felt for her all those years when she knew that she will eventually not be strong enough to fight. To be there for the broken hearts, the moments of success … for the grandchildren.

Sometimes life just isn’t fair. But we are still here so let’s be grateful for it, m’kay? That is just the best way to honour it.

And I will get back to sewing. Because I like to sew too. Thank you Majda for your kit, it’s awesome.

 

My Father

How much do you love me, I asked.
More than anyone else, he answered.

I was satisfied with that answer. And even though you know that somebody loves you, it’s nice to hear it often. If I don’t hear it when I need to – I ask.

The game of ‘how much’ and ‘who do you love more’ is a thing that I learned from my father. Even though it was meant primarily as a joke, I often had to answer the question of who I love more. My answers were of course always diplomatic (I am obviously my father’s daughter), but I did adore my father. He was often away, paving his career that would lead him to his dream, and I was always left with a sense of adoration for a man who was handsome, smart, witty … And I was the one who got to have him as a dad!

My father is the kind of person who doesn’t wear his heart on his sleeve and emits a sort of rigidity that has scared the hell out of many of my friends when I was growing up. Especially boys. Hm, perhaps that was the goal? But despite of all that, he is one of the gentlest people that I know. Someone really emotional – even though emotions can also turn real sour, real fast.

mala zala

My father is not the kind of person you talk to about your feelings, he is a man after all. But I always know that I can count on him. One of my favorite memories of us dates back 15 years. At that time I was a happy teenager living in a cozy protective bubble, but was often bothered by a sort of uneasiness that I couldn’t quite explain. A sort of longing that had no subject. I never talked to him about it, but whenever I wanted to I asked him to take me out for a drive. I sat in the right hand back seat and listened to music, sometimes for a few hours while he drove us around Copenhagen – through little cobble paved streets, by the sea, pass the lakes and so forth. Not a word was said, except for the ‘let’s go home’ at the end. Nothing actually needed to be said, it was enough to just be. When I moved to Ljubljana soon thereafter, those were perhaps the moments that I missed most. To this day, I love to think back on those hours and feel thankful for them.

Of course, as most fathers and daughters, we also have disagreements … Mostly because I grew up to be just as stubborn as he is. I am lucky enough to have formed my own opinions and ideas, to have grown up into a person that I am really beginning to admire and be proud of. I think I got that from him as well.

But of all things, I am most proud of his achievements and of his relentless courage to reach for his dream. He is the proof that dedication can get you what you really want. However, I also know that that takes a lot of sacrifice and even more sacrifice. He chose a path that I am probably not going to follow, but I respect it and try to encourage him to stay on track.

One of the best and worst parts of growing up is realising that your parents are just people too. They are not superheroes, they are real. Just like us. The most devastating thing here is that your illusions are broken – but the best reward is when you find out that you can be there for them too because you are strong and because you love them. For me knowing that I can help my parents when they are in need is perhaps one of the most encouraging and strengthening processes of my life. It is how I learn to be a good parent in return. Hopefully.

 

 

Our House

kotlje

When they were roughly my age, my parents saved just about enough money to buy a new Lada Samara car. Then someone told them they were selling some land where they could build a house. So, they bought the land – having absolutely no clue about construction. It took them a long time. A really, really long time. And then, sometime in 1998, we moved in. It was summer and we had just returned home from living abroad for four years. The place was empty so we slept on some provisional beds placed in the soon-to-be kitchen. We washed dishes in the bathroom and lived so for a few months. It was awesome.

Today, our house is a place of memories. My old room is full of mementos that help me to cling on to moments whose proof of former life lives only there. Old clothes that still fit me, but my life from that time doesn’t. CD’s notes passed during class, journals, teddy bears, candid snapshots stuck to the walls… You name it.

However, most recently, it has become the home of our family’s precious memories. The place where we had our annual picnics, the place where we were last happy. And together. Things will never be the same again and I guess that is how life goes. No family is perfect and we can never expect it to be. And sometimes the people that hurt you the most are your brothers or sisters – the ones who should love you unconditionally.

 

 

We Are Parents

It was near the end of April of last year that he looked at me beneath the full moon, on our evening walk over the bridge, and said ‘this is perhaps the last April that we spend just the two of us.’ I told him that what he said was beautiful, unaware of the fact that there were already three of us on that bridge that night. I think about that walk often, think of where it brought us – I think of where we are going.

WeAreParentsBeing a parent is a love story. You begin to love your child in a way you thought impossible. It started slowly for me … and not at the very beginning. But I felt the love growing – just as I had felt her grow inside of me. Ironically, it started with worries – worries for her well-being. Emotions awakening – and then eventually, a mere touch of her cheek next to mine makes me truly happy.

Being a parent is a love story. Your partner then really becomes a partner. Someone you talk to when you are happy, someone you discuss with when you are worried. He is your accomplice, he is in all of this with you. He is a new man; he is a man in love. The warmth I feel when I see him holding her, playing with her and even just looking at her comes next to nothing. I see him as I never did before – and it is him and me that have created this lovely new creature. This little being who can become anything if we can be a good team. And I love that hope that lies in us.

Lastly, being a parent is a love story. You learn to love yourself – the new you. The person with responsibilities not only for taking care of your child, but also of being a good role model. I am not the same woman I was before, I am more than that. I am many women and together we stand strong. There is now little room for fear and weakness, I learn each day to overcome them and become someone my daughter will be proud of. There is now more than just me, more than just us.

There are days when I wake up or even if I just look at her that I still think with amazement:  yes – we are happy, we are proud, we are tired, we are petrified, we are in love, we are determined … We are parents.

Crazy.

 

Yes we can!

Yes we canToday at 6 AM, after a month of taking care of me, making sure I eat right and drink while I breastfeed … my mother flew back to her home over the Atlantic ocean. During this past month she had been away for a few days in a row, but I always knew she will be back soon – now, I will see her in July. Although sometimes annoying, I will miss having some grown up company at home – especially someone who can’t get offended if my hormones turn me into a demanding beast.

When she was at the door she hugged me and said ‘come here you mommy’ and that is when it hit me – I am a mom! My mom telling me that I am a mom obviously did the trick. The baby started crying so I had to go do my duty. As I heard the door shut, with the baby in my arms  I suddenly felt so alone – so out of this world. So I sat there looking at my little girl like I saw her for the first time. Feeling my angst she started crying her lungs out and I kept looking at her like someone needed to tell me what to do. Then I pulled myself together for her sake and for mine, we both fell asleep. When I woke up, I walked into our kitchen and wrote down a catchy phrase that has been resonating in my head for a few days now: Yes we can! Quite a few times my life had faced me with difficult situations that I thought I couldn’t get through. But I did and all these moments serve as a great reference when I am once again faced with the feeling that I won’t be able to handle things.

So, on my path to realising that I am now a grown up woman who has a family of her own, I will share with you some of the beautiful things that come with becoming a new parent. Well, a new mom.

1. If you are a mother you will know that once you bring a baby into this world, you enter the club of mothers. This group manifests itself as a special feeling of empathy that you feel for every other mother you know. You can now share advice, talk about things that you never thought about before and most importantly – if you are lucky – you get a group of wise women who you are free to call at any time of the day if you feel confused, happy or if you feel like giving it all up and joining the circus. Even more importantly, you feel like you can be one of those people too. You are ready to share all your newly acquired wisdom and you offer your help to others, you feel the need to let your MBFFS’s (mommy best friends forever) know that you are there for them as well. It is a beautiful feeling of symbiosis.

2. Your body makes you to incredible things. Sure, you have a floppy belly, stretch marks and a behind that would make J-Lo jealous (well, not really) but you have also gained some incredible strength. I remember being at the hospital for the third day and thinking that I couldn’t possibly get up once again to hold Eliza and soothe her the best way that I can. I was so tired that I couldn’t even talk or hum anymore – but I managed to get up at least half a dozen more times. And I thought…so this is motherhood. Even when you think you can’t possibly do any more – you do. And you keep on doing it. Every morning, no matter how rough the night was and how tired I am, I am there to greet my toothless little sucker with a smile and a happy voice. That is just what mothers do. No matter what life brings you, you are a mother for life. And even after 31 years I could still see the pride in my moms eyes because she felt that I needed her and that she was able to be there for me.
On top of it all, I am still amazed that I can feed my baby and feel an incredible sense of pride when I realise that I have the nutrition that my baby needs always on me.

3. Your partner also becomes the father of your child. At some point you realise that you and your man have managed to create a whole new person that connects you for life. Out of thin air (and out of a sperm cell and an egg) a new life was born. A little being that has your mouth and his eyes. Someone you can both poke fun at and not be offensive. Someone that shows you a different side of your loved one. A little person that has the best parents in the world.

4. You discover online shopping. Let’s face it, these things can happen. Because I am not really able to go out and spend time in a mall I spend hours (especially at night when I fail to fall back asleep) looking at waterproof parka’s that I will wear in April while strolling in the park with my baby. I now have two apps on my phone which allow me to order stuff with just one click. I must warn you that this is extremely dangerous behaviour that needs to be monitored by a rational adult.

5. You eventually overeat on doughnuts and now the mere thought of them makes you slightly nauseous. You do, however, discover some new craving. In my case it’s muffins from a bakery around the corner. The other day I gave them such praises for them that I got a free one. Yay for me! Yay for muffins!

I would like to dedicate this post to my mom who is the best mom I could ever hope for. She went through all of this with my brother and I. Also, she was the one who discovered the yummy muffins.