2021: A Year of Lessons and Changes

TW: Sexual Assault

I don’t know how many times I have written, “if you would have told me I would be here x (amount of time ago), I would have never believed you.” There is no other way that I can think about starting this post, because a year ago, I never actually believed that I would be living in Italy. To be honest, I thought that I would be back at the Sorbonne by this time, finishing my second year of masters, and figuring out more precisely my life. Did I see myself writing more? Yes, and I am doing that since I moved to Italy (just not posting them anywhere – I have other projects that I am working on). I had little goals in my mind, like working out more and strengthening my body so I could one day feel completely comfortable again in it. I wanted to work on my photography. I wanted to feel like I was no longer just surviving, but living again. I truly thought that all of this, I would be doing in Paris, the one place that truly felt was home after a childhood of consistant moving. After coming out with my story on my sexual assault, I would often say that I didn’t want to leave Paris. I had continuous opportunities after my assault throughout the years to leave the city of lights, but again and again chose to stay, because I didn’t want to run away.

One of my favorite photos taken in 2021

When I came to Paris, my mom said ‘I hope you’re not running away form yourself…’, and at that time, I told her that I was running towards myself… when I had the opportunity to run, it felt like the wrong decision. Leaving Paris felt like the wrong decision, and I didn’t want Paris to become the city where something horrible happened to me. I wanted Paris to be the city where it showed me how strong I can be.”

Said on interview with My Paris Podcast

I truly believe that Paris did show me how strong I can be. I highly appreciate and am grateful for the people that I met, and still have love for one of the most beautiful cities in the world, even though it literally sent me to hell and back. I still have half of my heart in Paris, which is oftentimes more difficult to manage than many people know. I now have the other half in Italy and can’t stop seeing how things are starting so much easier and better here. Maybe it’s the energy that I am putting out into the world, maybe it’s the people that I am meeting, and maybe it’s a mix of the two. But the honeymoon in Italy is now officially over, and I am now highly struggling to figure out how I want to do what I want to do with my life. An epiphany I finally had thanks to my move to Italy. Yet, that epiphany comes along with many more fears and questions. When will I finish school? When will I finally be in a stable situation? Why these questions? Because I realized that what I really wanted to do with my life is help people. I want to go back to school and study law and human rights. I want to help people who have had to endure hardships and change the systems that are in place that have very little thought in place for victims. Is that a huge dream? It is. Do I know how I am going to achieve it? I am slowly starting to see the light that is leading the way.

I am also struggling with my home, and the concept of the word. I have so many loved ones around the world now, and no longer have a nucleus. It’s scary, sitting here trying to figure out where I now want to build my life. There is also so much anger that I am dealing with.

Forgive, sounds good. Forget, I’m not sure I could. They say time heals everything but I’m still waiting.

Not Ready to Make Nice, The Dixie Chicks

There has always been a reasoning for my candidness on the internet about my struggles. I truly believe when survivors come out with their stories, we are helping others who feel silenced have the strength to come out with their stories (no matter what coming out and speaking up to them means).

It’s been difficult to deal with my anger since I moved to Italy. Italy should be this whole new chapter in my life, of love and learning new things. Oftentimes I find myself wondering what my life would be if I had never been sexually assaulted. I find myself wondering what my life would have been like if I would have never been in certain situations and certain relationships. I struggle to accept that I have survived things that are still difficult for me to speak about candidly, and without judgement. I know that they were not my fault. I know that they were a power play. I wonder, if these events would have never happened in my life, would I still be living in Paris? Would I still want to become a lawyer and help others, or would I still be on my path that I wanted so badly to take to be a journalist? It’s difficult to explain that the past life choices I have made, like putting my health and happiness first, come from a place that have always been within me. I always loved Italy. I always wanted to learn Italian. I always talked about spending a summer here as an au pair to learn the language. I just never thought that I would utterly uproot my entire life to this country, because I thought that France would be that place I would always go back to. It was my center. Now, it’s no longer that place for me, and I feel it. When I recently went back, I adored my time and seeing my friends, but something had changed. Not the city, but me. There’s a new person that is growing, and I have to let that person take the jump and fly.

Random change since I moved to Italy: my hair is now naturally curly… still learning how to take care of this new texture.

2021 is also a year in which I leaped in new relationships and friendships. Something important and fundamental that I learned this year was that I will not prove myself to anyone nor beg for their love and acceptance. I did that, for so many years. I suffered in silence and put other people’s happiness first. Now, it’s time for me. My happiness will and forevermore come first. My mental health and this peace that I am beginning to feel in my life will be something I protect.

I know this post may seem counterintuitive. How can she be angry and yet at peace? It is something that I as well ponder, but I have come to accept is part of my healing. I am angry, but I think it will be something that I struggle with for the rest of my life. I am also at peace and accepting the new life that is being constructed, the one that I am building for myself.

Thank you 2021. Cheers to a year of lessons and changes.

Baci, Bisous, Besos, XOXO

You can follow more of Veronica

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/veronicalavil

Instagram: @veronicalavil

One thought on “2021: A Year of Lessons and Changes

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s