One of the most significant periods of my life was when I was 22 and moved to the beautiful port city of Genoa, Italy, to be an au pair. It was the best time of my life during the worst time of my life. Here’s the story, I’ll tell you the story.
The Year of Heartbreak
It was early 2008 and my life was falling apart around me.
I just turned 22, I had been in a relationship with my boyfriend (today known as The Husband) for around three years, and I had just become estranged from my father.
I’m not sure I’m ready to talk about the estrangement from my father in full detail. Although we don’t agree on the version of events, my father and are now on wonderful terms, helped along by the fact that I have two daughters we all absolutely adore.
But in 2008, the story was different. After years of frustration, years of anger and pain, all stemming from losing everything we had and rebuilding our lives, one fateful night, I made the decision that enough was enough and once the police were involved, that was it. The straw finally broke the camel’s back and I made the decision that I can no longer live the way I was living. So I cut my father out of my life.
In the same breath, I had been with my boyfriend for three years and he was my everything. I mean, everything.
I had so completely immersed myself in his life, his friends, his family, that I didn’t notice I was drowning.
I lost myself. With everything that was happening, I was following blindly.
I wanted to travel, I wanted to see the world. And we spoke about traveling, him and I together, but he had other plans. His life was smooth sailing, moving overseas wasn’t on his bucket list just yet.
Here was my predicament. Cutting my dad out of my life was the hardest thing I’d ever done. And it didn’t just impact on me, my mother was involved too and she did Not. Stop. Crying. That’s all she did in those days. Our whole life just turned upside down and I had to be strong. I had to keep it together. I had to keep smiling for her. And crying when she needed me to. But while I held that front up, the anger, the pain inside me was growing and growing.
The Boyfriend was supportive, but he didn’t know what to do. He had a wonderful life, stable family, awesome friends. He never dealt with Yugoslavs warring like this. So his way of supporting me was by distracting me.
But what I needed was to leave. I needed to get away. I needed to run away. So run away I did.
DING! I got an idea. I’m going to be an au pair. That ticked so many boxes, it’s out of control. I get to move overseas to the one place I’ve loved forever, Italy. I get accommodation, pocket money; I would just have to look after a kid or two, and I’m good!
I start looking into it, find myself an amazing family in Genoa, Italy, with three kids. I start talking with the mother and have a date set to move there.
I tell the Boyfriend around six months in advance that I’m going and we decide to break up when I leave. I was buying a one way ticket and I didn’t know when I’d be back. My plan was to be in Genoa for 12 months and then travel Europe after that. I wanted to go to Serbia and Bosnia to see my family as well and spend some time with them. I wanted to go to Spain, France, Germany. So it wasn’t fair to expect a long distance relationship to survive.
And I leave
And so the time has come. I have the ticket, I have the going away party. I have the most heartbreaking good-bye with the love of my life.
But I had to go. I couldn’t stay. I couldn’t spend one more minute watching my mother cry, waiting for my turn to travel the world, wondering when I would get lucky.
I had to make my own luck, so I sucked up the courage and got on the plane.
And so begins the most life-changing period of my life… but that’s for Part 2.
Thanks for joining me, make sure you tune in for the next part of this sad, sad story. It ends well, I promise!