Guest Kween: FRIDA PAYNE “Autism, My Son And Me.”

Guest Kween: FRIDA PAYNE “Autism, My Son And Me.”

For as long as I can remember I wanted to be a mother. Growing up in an Italian family we were always surrounded by our younger cousins. I couldn’t wait until I had my own.

I met my darling husband at 31. I got married at 33 and I was knocked up 6 months later.

It was a long 9 months and the birth, it didn’t go to plan. Antonio was one week late and I ended up having an emergency C section. We named him after our Dads: Antonio Ross Payne and from that day on in December, our lives changed forever.

Motherhood was not what I expected it to be. Antonio did not sleep for the first two months and when I say he didn’t sleep, I mean he’d be down for a max of 40 minutes a day. We tried everything; rocking him, driving him around, he just would not settle. Antonio didn’t breast feed well either. I stuck it out for two months and then put him on the bottle (side note: my second child breast-fed for 18 months with no issues).

The first few months were like a blur. I did not have that maternal feeling and I was questioning everything. I’m usually a confident person but when it came to this, I was shit. It was like I was an ‘amazing parent’ before I actually had kids! I did everything I said I wouldn’t do. And I hate to admit it but I felt like I didn’t love him.

This makes me cry when I think about it now. How could I not love this child? Deep down I knew I loved him but something was missing. That loved up motherly feeling that everyone talks about wasn’t there. This should have been easy for me and I just wasn’t getting it. (Side note two: when you have a baby take all the help you can get. Don’t be a hero! People do want to help).

When Antonio was six months old we decided to try for another baby.  I mean seriously, what the fuck were we thinking? Lol! But things had settled down heaps, Tonio was in a great routine (after a lot of hard work) and generally he was a happy baby.  We got pregnant on the second try and nine months later our little Kiki (Chiara Lucia Payne) was born. Making it 15 months between the two of them. Chiara was the total opposite to Antonio, she slept well, fed well, and things were generally going great!

At this time my husband Marcus started working FIFO (fly-in fly-out in the mines). His roster changed a few times but mostly he would be away for 28 days then back for seven. At this point, we had a two-year-old and an 11-month-old, so off he went. At the time, it felt like 99.9% of things were okay, but when I think back on it now, I honestly don’t know how I did it. Silver lining: yes, it did enable me to stay home with the kids without working but it was even harder on Marcus as he missed out on a lot of the kids growing up (he missed every one of Kiki’s Birthdays until she was five). To survive, I spent most weekends at my Mum and Dad’s house. My sister also lived around the corner, so the kids were able to spend heaps of time with their Nonno, Nonna and their cousins.

Generally Antonio was a happy toddler, he didn’t really speak that much and was always fussy with his food. He would pick one thing to eat and pretty much refuse anything else for the next few months. He wouldn’t eat vegetables without adding something sweet to it. When he turned one he just refused to eat anything. Nothing!! He would have major tantrums in shopping centers and it got to a stage where I would just not take him out. He would flap his hands and walk on his tippy toes, sometimes even on pointe, like a ballet dancer. He was always moving.

Around the age of two he started to write letters. Totally self-taught. I remember my sister (who is a special needs teacher) saying to me “You do realize that it is not normal for him to do this at his age”; it was like he had a photographic memory.

I guess I always had a gut feeling something was off, so I went to my GP.  He advised me to wait because of Antonio’s age and explained that things may settle down. I must say they did. He started talking more but he also started to bang his head against doors and walls. It wouldn’t hurt him, he just wanted to do it.

Just before Antonio started kindergarten at the age of three, he was writing big words like ‘elephant’ and ‘iguana’. He could read books. But the meltdowns were also more frequent and I knew we had to investigate it further. An angel came into our lives in the form of his kindy teacher. I explained to her what was happening and with her help, Antonio was referred to the school Occupational Therapist.  The OT (another beautiful lady) did some tests on him and wrote us a letter to take to a developmental pediatrician. Cue another trip to the GP to get the referral to the pediatrician. You would think getting an appointment would be easy right? The waiting lists were six to nine months long. Luckily for us the pediatrician (another angel in our lives) had a cancellation and we finally had an appointment.

She told us she thought there was reason for him to be tested for Autism. I was not sad, nor unhappy, I just wanted to help my child quickly and get it done.  This was just something we needed to deal with.

A speech pathologist and a psychiatrist came to our house (Marcus was home) and they started doing the tests.  I held it together for a little bit but then I just broke down. I knew what the answer was going to be but the reality of seeing him with these two women really broke my heart. He was happy and fine. Mummy and Daddy were not.

Nine months later we had our diagnosis. Antonio had Autism. So what’s next?

Well, there isn’t a ‘person’ that you can go to get ‘all’ the answers. Nope, a magician does not come riding in on unicorn and tell you everything that needs to be done. You have to research OTs, speech pathologists, psychiatrists, etc. You need to research what’s going to be the best form of therapy to get him through a day, to get him through his life. Forms needed to be filled out, there was funding to get. So many factors all wrapped up in this one word “Autism”.

The first two years of school were a learning curve. Yes, kindergarden was hard but we got through it. Antonio had two brilliant teachers and an amazing Educational Assistant. He was having therapy weekly and he was making progress. He even tried a strawberry (that was the one and only time, but he tried it). Antonio had an IQ test to see how exactly smart he was. He was doing fantastic.

Then BAM! There was full-time school: new rules. I was so used to everyone listening to me and working as a team with people around him and all of a sudden no one was paying attention.

“He has to do this, he has to do that. He has to eat his lunch.”

“Antonio doesn’t eat. He will eat when he gets home.”

“He has to eat!”

“He won’t eat, do you understand?  Do you realize his brain does not work like ours?”

“Antonio is hitting, he is aggressive.”

“Hitting? Who is this kid?  He has never hit me in his life!”

“We need to tell the other kids he has Autism.”

“Why? We aren’t ready to have that discussion yet.”

I literally felt like I was the one now hitting my head against a brick wall.

In the middle of last year my Dad suddenly passed away from a heart attack. It turned our world upside down. Antonio did not cope. On the day of the funeral, it finally hit him. As we were walking in to church Antonio was saying to me. “Where is Bello (a name he called my Dad) ? Why did Bello die?” The reality had set in. His words were so literal. He asked me “Can we build another Bello?”.

He still will not listen to any Elvis songs (my Dad was a massive fan). My kids would see me crying every day which in turn would make them cry. “Mummy please don’t cry, please don’t cry. I don’t want you to cry anymore.” The loss of my Dad left a massive void in not only my life but my husband’s too. He was dealing with his grief and I was dealing with mine.

So in the middle of all this grief, Marcus and I had to decide if we were going to change schools. Countless meetings had not changed anything. Do I leave this school where he has amazing friends who knew his quirks, who loved him? Do I move my daughter who loves this school? Chiara, who had had been to every therapy session with him, who stood up for him when he needed help? My blue-eyed gorgeous angel Kiki, could I do this to her too?

While debating the issue, I would drop Antonio off at school with nerves in my stomach. What was this day going to bring? To cut a very long story short I started interviewing schools. I spoke to a lovely lady who said all the right things. “Nothing you are telling me about your son is anything we haven’t dealt with before.” YES! I had finally found the right one. I cried and thanked her. (Side note three: I’ve lost count of the amount of crying I have done in front of strangers).

After a lot of soul searching, we decided to change schools. Marcus was back from FIFO as things were getting too much for me to deal with on my own.

The first few weeks were bumpy but I am so happy to say we made the right move.  I knew going to a new school was not going to magically fix everything but having people around him who understood why he does what he does is making life a lot easier for all of us. He loves it there and so does Chiara. He has had the best four weeks at school – better than the whole of last year. Kids are so resilient! I also started working again this year which added another level of stress but it has all worked out amazing. To be honest I think my dad has been pulling some strings up there.

The one major thing I have learnt out of all of this is you find out who your real friends are. The people you think will be there, really aren’t. To the point where I told a ‘friend’ I would fucking kill her if she spoke negatively about my son and his Autism again. A bit dramatic I know (and as if I would) but I’m also lucky to be a part of a big supportive family and an amazing network of friends.

I thought it was quite apt that World Autism Awareness Day fell on my Dad’s birthday this year. My Dad was always open to finding out more. He came to a few of Antonio’s appointments and really tried to understand how to help him.

Everyone out there be aware. If you see a little boy or girl having a tantrum, it could be part of a bigger problem. For example, one day we were out and Antonio could find every letter of the alphabet in this shop but couldn’t get to the Z. He had a full blown meltdown in the middle of the supermarket. There was nothing I could do but reassure him that we would find the Z somewhere. We ended up getting a piece of paper and writing it all down. In situations like this, please don’t stand and stare, there is nothing worse. He cannot help his behavior.

To any parents on an Autism journey, keep fighting and be an advocate for your child. You are the only one that can, you are their voice!

The one thing I do know is with our love and support and the right people behind him, Antonio will be fine. He is one of kind. Just like my Dad. He also loves to sing and perform (like his Mumma). He is obsessed with words and letters. He is so fucking smart.

We never question anything Antonio says. He can’t lie (unlike his sister hahaha). He is going to do something great one day, I know it, and if anyone crosses him Chiara will kick their ass.

Motherhood may not have been what I thought it would be but it has taught me so much. I would die for those two little fuckers. I love them so much my heart hurts.

Frida Payne is a fun, loving Mum-of-two from Perth, Western Australia who lights up any room she walks into. She’s a one-eyed West Coast Eagles supporter, a mad Elvis fan, a vintage Barbie collector and a karaoke enthusiast. What’s not to like?

@fridapayne

Kween Krush: TONI PHILLIPS “(Lost) It Girl!”

Kween Krush: TONI PHILLIPS “(Lost) It Girl!”

Kween Krush alert!! This is where we celebrate everyday women for being complete badass Wonder Women.

Toni, we have a crush on you and it’s not just because you’re one of London’s It Girls or a dreamy DJ with legs for days, it’s mostly how you completely own your ‘sexy’. From your effortless style, cool AF demeanor and hip social life, we’re just utterly obsessed with how you run your shit! We’re equally impressed with how you’re also always up for a laugh and ain’t afraid to tell it how it is!

Yep! You seem to give zero fucks when it comes to what you wear, showing off your body and embracing your sex appeal. Do you recommend more women ooze this confidence?

Well yeah, why on earth not? I do of course have days where I hide under baggy clothes, but I also have days where I’m like: “Hey, you know what? Here’s my stomach everyone.”

I went to Wireless Festival in basically my underwear because I was still hungover from the day before and really didn’t care. I’m not saying that people need to get hungover in order to walk about in lace in public, but I guess I’m just trying to say that confidence is really a state of mind, or the state of your mind. And who controls that? Well, it’s you! So as long as you’re happy in yourself and not harming anyone else, I think you earn the right to do as you please.

Is wearing your ‘sass on your sleeve’ something that came naturally to you? Or did you have to hustle for it?

I think I’ve always had that, although some might describe it as ‘not thinking before I speak’. From a young age, I’ve wanted to make people laugh because I believed that was the best way to win someone over. I’ve always spent more time working on my personality than on how I look.

You always seem to be out and about and living your best life! Is your motto ‘work hard, play harder’?

Erm, well that’s all really just an illusion. Nothing on social media is reality, but I think everyone knows that. I stay in a lot and have gym days. I’ll go to classes, head home and do nothing, but I guess from a social media perspective it would look like I’m out a lot because I just choose to show the fun stuff I do, not me at home stress-eating quinoa straight out of the bag. I suppose I do go out more than most, but I’m lucky because of what I do. My job gives me the chance to get invited to cool events and stuff. I love live music, but I also love going to the local pub with some of my best friends just as much.

What does ‘sexy’ mean to you and what do you find most sexy about women and men?

It’s subjective, like everything is… I’m a big fan of personality though: I’m aware that’s what really counts. I find charisma much sexier than a posed picture or a risqué outfit. Sure, I find the Playboy Instagram account sexy; those girls are so hot, however, if they were fully clothed in tracksuits but were making me laugh that would be equally – if not more – sexy to me. Same with guys.

What’s your view on the theory that women are just as sexually charged as men but have to hide it?

I’ve never heard that before. Is that actually a thing? I don’t think girls have to hide it. I certainly don’t hide it. I probably do the opposite of hiding it, I overshare everything. I will happily tell a sex story and leave nothing to the imagination. Who wants prudes in 2018?

What’s your opinion on the dating game? Are we out of our element now with hooking-up being too accessible thanks to dating apps like Tinder and Bumble?

It’s weird. I mean, it was. Now it’s normal. There’s nothing wrong with it and it’s not anything to be ashamed of, but it’s strange how so many people are meeting on apps. I’ve met all the guys I’ve been seeing over the last few years in person, so I feel like the odd one out. When any of my friends are stressing about having to resort to the apps I just explain how it’s a different world now – it’s a different generation. I have no qualms about sliding into the DMs on Insta. I’ve spoken to some hot guys that way! I used Tinder once years ago, but it was really more like playing a game to me. Never met anyone from it. I do hear some really nice Tinder stories though, as well as some which are hilarious, and some which are frankly terrifying. So really, it’s whatever works for you!

Do you think it still takes courage to be sexually liberated these days? Or is that old news?

I think in the fifties it was courageous to be sexually liberated, but not so much now. Perhaps there are boring sections of the Twitter community that might take time out of their lives to offer their unwanted disapproval. Such as these so-called ‘feminists’ who have single handedly made traditional feminism something that nobody really wants to be associated with by picking on girls who choose to make a career from their sexual liberation. But those kinds of people are of little interest to me. I think anything goes now.

Ten years ago, Jodie Marsh went out wearing a belt over her tits and a t-shirt with the names of all her conquests on. So when you’ve grown up seeing that kind of thing splashed all over the news, you’re probably only going to go one way. I mean, it’s not necessarily gonna encourage you to do the same; my friends and I certainly didn’t start walking around like that, but if that is the more extreme end of the scale, it means you can do something which you consider sexually liberating and it wouldn’t even register. If that makes sense? Basically, if in doubt whip ‘em out! You know you want to.

Do the the terms ‘one-night-stand’ and ‘multiple-sex-partners’ empower you or annoy you?

If they didn’t apply to me then yes, they’d annoy me massively. I’m just kidding, of course – but not really. If I was reading an article and a female was described as having ‘multiple sexual partners’ I’d just think good on you girl. I choose to let people live, so long as it’s safe and not hurting anyone. And there ain’t nothing wrong with a one-night-stand. What if you didn’t set out for it to be? Maybe you would have seen them again but it didn’t happen? Maybe you just woke up the morning after the night before sober and you didn’t connect? Not really a big deal is it? It’s just a term to me.

Have you ever been slut-shamed for acting exactly the way men do?

Not to my face. I don’t think so, but to be honest I’d have owned it first anyway. If someone were to attempt to shame me, it would be very likely that I’d have already acknowledged it in a more interesting and louder way than they could. So it’s hard to see why anyone would bother trying.

You’re a presenter on Capital XTRA, a voice-over artist and a DJ in an industry that’s hard to get noticed and survive in. Mind sharing some of your secrets to success?

Well firstly, I’ve been doing it for a long time since I was very young, so I think that definitely helps. When I was about 21 I was on a huge radio station and doing all the big music shows on TV. Sadly, it went to my head a bit to be honest. I thought I was the shit, and I can confirm that if you walk around thinking you’re the shit, that’s just not going to work out well for you. As a presenter, likeability and relatability are both kind of important. Perhaps I wasn’t mature enough to be graceful and appreciative of the opportunities I had been given, and my boss at the time didn’t really tolerate egos like that; it wasn’t the radio station for that kind of attitude. I realised very quickly that acting like that may work for a while, but not for long. These days I always witness in others the mistaken notion of self-importance I once adopted, and it predictably leads to their downfall. They’re here today, gone tomorrow.

The secret to success? Be nice to people, it’s not hard to do. And concentrate on the actual job – the one that pays your bills, not all the other fake shit around it. Having said that, I would guess about 90% of the people I know have all purchased fake followers on social media, and it’s seemingly kinda worked for them. Turns out people are believing the hype, but the trouble is you need to have the talent to back it up.

I didn’t have social media when I was starting out, I was simply hired for being good at what I do, and I guess that’s how I survived. My advice: don’t buy fake bits of attention, because it means nothing. And don’t be a dick. It sounds easy, but you’d be surprised.

You’re the creator of the blog LostItGirl, what message are you trying to convey here and who the hell is ‘LostItGirl’?

LostItGirl was originally my alter-ego I suppose, but since it gained in popularity it’s something that I have taken a back seat with and have left to the professionals. I still have an involvement, but it’s now in the hands of people far more interesting and clever at the internet than I.

I started the blog because I found a lot of radio presenters had blogs and honestly, they were all so boring. Just boring stories about boring stuff and I could’t get past a sentence without wanting to cry at how dull and narcissistic it all was. So I created a character who has that bit of crazy in her that we all have, and I tried to centre it around offering a bit of tongue-in-cheek advice based on my own experiences.

Some of the stories are true, some are made up, but everything is exaggerated. It can’t be taken seriously and it’s certainly not for everyone. But I will say some of the people behind it now are guys, so legitimately some of the advice is great on there because you get both a female and male perspective.

Any dating deal breakers or dating disasters you want to confess to? 

Millions. You’d have to read my blog for that. We simply don’t have the space here.

What women are you krushing on at the moment and why?

I love Bella and Gigi, which is a cliché I know. But I like their style. I’ve always held Victoria Beckham in high esteem. She’s chic, funny and she understands the power of being dignified in silence when faced with people who want to trash her and her private life. There’s so much dignity and grace in saying nothing. The world is full of angry little people who love to talk and threaten, but who just end up embarrassing themselves. I also like Kylie Jenner. I think she’s hilarious, but I don’t think she means to be. She’s an accidental genius. I’ve got a lot of time for her.

What tunes should we be listening to right now?

I’m liking Cardi B. Aside from that, it’s best you just listen to Capital XTRA between 1-4pm (that’s when I’m on in case that was unclear).

Any tips on how to ‘rock what you’ve got’ and love yourself (even on your darkness days?)

Everyone needs to stop caring so much about what people they’ve never met think about them because it’s really not that deep. A good tip I think for 2018 would be that if you are having a day when you feel ugly, maybe just don’t post a social media that day. I love a day off socials.

Be yourself, understand that people are and always have been mean, and it’s usually because they are in love with you but can’t admit it. There’s also a lot of jealousy which manifests itself in such a way that those who are will do their best to deny this to themselves by telling you that you’re a piece of shit. It’s whatever. Just do you, and those that are worthwhile knowing will naturally gravitate towards you. Also, hang out with more animals. Animals are cool, humans are generally not very cool at all.

Carmela and Toni used to work together at the same radio station in London. Initially Carmela was too shy to introduce herself to Toni because she thought Toni was the f**king tits and was not at all in her realm of awesomeness. Thank god Carmela finally mustered up the courage to say hi because it’s been love and lols ever since.

For your daily dose of cheek and chic follow Toni on Twitter here!

Kween Krush: NATASHA NDLOVU “The Power To Influence.”

Kween Krush: NATASHA NDLOVU “The Power To Influence.”

Kween Krush alert!! This is where we celebrate everyday women for being complete badass Wonder Women.

Natasha, we have a crush on you because you’re completely slayin’ the game. To quote Drake ‘You started from the bottom now you’re here’. You went from model to blogger to YouTuber to influencer and now the world is at your fingertips.

What’s the hardest thing about running your own empire Bisous Natasha?

Lol, thanks. Now I just need to start making Drake money! 🙂 The most difficult thing about running my empire – as small as it is – would be time management. I currently do not have an assistant and work with people on a temporary basis, so I have to make the most of each day and not procrastinate.

What do you identify most with? Being a blogger, influencer, model or business woman?

For now, I would say an influencer. I used to model but now I do this full time; my goal is to make it into a successful business and be a business woman.

Have you found you’ve had to fight to be seen or heard as a woman in your industry?

My industry is dominated by women, which is a good thing but I still have to fight to be seen, to be paid fairly etc.

What are some of the biggest challenges? Is it as competitive as it seems?

Some of the biggest challenges start with securing a project over someone else, so it does make the industry competitive. There are many friendly and helpful women in the industry but there are always a few who are in it for themselves.

What’s a day-in-the-life of Natasha Ndlovu?

It varies. Some times it involves me in my pyjamas on the computer all day doing admin but some days I go out to several meetings with potential clients for work. Once in a while I am shooting several street style looks or travelling with a brand when there is an upcoming product launch.

Your Instagram account natashandlovu has close to 100 thousand followers! What’s the secret? Is it more hustle than luck or timing?

I have been on Instagram for a while now and many brands and accounts repost my photos. Nowadays, with the algothrithm change, you have to be consistent with posting and keeping followers aware of the content you produce.

How did you come to live in London? Have you found it difficult at times?

I moved here initially because I was scouted for modelling. I then did some interning at art galleries in between before falling into fashion and blogging. It has been a tough journey, especially when family and close friends live abroad, but it has its amazing moments.

You’re away from your Mum and family who live in South Africa. Do you miss them? What’s it been like to build a trusty support network here?

I do miss my family and only see them once a year. The distance and cost of travelling halfway across the world makes it difficult to see them often. It also therefore makes it important for me to build friendships with people I can trust, not just hang out with on weekends.

Do you have any insecurities or anxiety when it comes to being in the public eye?

I am a quiet person when I am at public events where I don’t know anyone so I avoid going alone haha.

What’s more important to you, being recognized as a brand or a role model?

At the moment, honestly, as a brand because I am trying to be a reliable source of content and information but I have always wanted to help other women with the knowledge and experience I have working in fashion.

What is the one thing people don’t know about you?

Oooh, that’s a secret. Ha! To be honest, I am not that mysterious.

What can we expect from you in the future?

I would like to do a beauty collaboration, so I am focusing on beauty content a lot.

Who do you look to for inspo? Would it surprise us?

I look at 90s fashion for inspiration these days. The Calvin Klein – Cindy Crawford era.

Any advice for women/men following in your footsteps? What does it take to be the ultimate #BossKween just like you?

I say keep creating content, work hard, give yourself a little break (Netflix) but keep the momentum going. It’s so easy to look at someone on Instagram and feel like you will never be as successful as them but just focus on your work / content and you will have a breakthrough.

Natasha was Carmela’s first London flatmate. They lived together in a charming little place in Notting Hill, in a street behind Portobello Road. Most of their time was spent watching Netflix, drinking rosé while discussing boys and going for brunch at their fave spot ‘Mike’s’. Carmela will always cherish those days.

Need more Ndlovu? Of course you do!

Subscribe to Natasha’s YouTube channel and for all things #fashun follow her on Facebook.

Guest Kween: LAETITIA ELFASSY “First Time Mum, Married And Divorced In Two Years!”

Guest Kween: LAETITIA ELFASSY “First Time Mum, Married And Divorced In Two Years!”

If you told me 5 years ago that today I’d be a single Mum in France and going through a divorce, I would have said “Yeah right!”.

3 years ago, I moved back to France from Australia after living and working there in media. While I was there all I cared about were my friends, having a drink, planning for my next holiday and pretty much LIVING THE LIFE!

Having already spent thirteen years down under I made the decision that it would be best to move back to France and be close to my family. I had to do things differently in order to get a different outcome. I was petrified of the unknown and what was going to happen next but I was certain about one thing: I had to take charge.

So at the end of the Summer of 2014, I quit my very well-paid job in radio, gave notice to my apartment in Bondi Beach and packed all my belongings into storage.

In June, I flew to France and spent 3 months there living at my Dad’s. I realized soon enough that I definitely had to move back permanently and start a new life there close to my loved ones.

So I flew back to Australia in September to sell my car and all my belongings. It was hard to say goodbye to all my friends, mostly my best friends that I shared all my favorite memories with from my twenties and thirties but here I was now forty and needing to start something new. I was frightened of what was to come but at the same time excited and ready.

I still remember that first day arriving back home in France with my suitcase, it was cold and raining, a typical winter’s day. “Fuck! What was I thinking?!”.

Regardless, I was motivated and I knew I would be able to start over. I immediately started to send out my resume and look for apartments in the city. By January 2015, I had moved into my new flat and things started to get easier. I decided to check out Tinder to see what kind of men there were around here.

I quickly began to make a few connections, and with this one guy in particular, let’s call him Samuel! 😉 He was kind and persistent. I waited 2 months and turned him down 3 times before agreeing to our first date on the 25th of February 2015.

When we met, it was love (or lust) at first sight. We had dinner and drank all night, and from that point on we started seeing each other every day. He was very romantic, wrote me little notes, sent me flowers, took me to London, Paris, Spain. He spoiled me with gifts and told me everyday I was the most beautiful girl in the world. He was extremely nice to my family and we had a lot of common interests. The romance was there, I was hooked!

On the 31st of July 2015, he proposed with an amazing diamond ring and by August I was pregnant with our child! I was very lucky to fall pregnant quickly, being forty years old. We were happy and were looking forward to the future.

We quickly moved in together and started planning our wedding (well now that I look back, I planned our wedding, hahaha!).

In March 2016, we bought a 3 bedroom apartment, in April I gave birth to our son, whom I named Sydney after the beautiful Australian city I lived in and in August, we said “I do”.

Everything happened so fast, I didn’t have time to realize what was going on. That’s when things started to change.

After the wedding, our lives slowed down and I had huge postpartum depression. This shit is real and those hormones hit you hard (even harder when you’re forty I reckon). I adored my son more than anything but couldn’t fight the sadness and stress of the sleepless nights and the scare of anything happening to him. Yep, depression is real!

Instead of supporting me and helping me through this phase, my husband was blaming me for being depressed and scared all the time. I decided to ignore his attitude and keep moving forward. I started a new job and focused on my son’s happiness and wellbeing.

My husband was working too and we lived together like this for a few months but we soon became strangers to each other; that’s when we started sleeping in separate beds and the communication was non-existent. We only discussed matters about our son and his needs. Within a few months after getting married, we were like roommates. We stopped going out on dates but mostly stopped making plans for the future. It was dull, boring and suffocating.

A week before our first wedding anniversary, my sister had a terrible accident and was in intensive care for 2 months and that’s when things really started to go downhill. My husband was not supportive and couldn’t care less about what I was going through. We decided it was best to go our separate ways. Making that decision was a hard pill to swallow for me but seemed easy for him as he was married twice before (should have listened to my gut more and noticed the red flags, but hey).

I’m now going through a divorce but thankfully I am able to keep full custody of our son. My only goal in life now is to ensure I provide the best life for my little man (who’s now 2 years old). Its not easy, I miss Australia and my friends every day. Raising a 2 year old can be challenging at times, but I wouldn’t change my situation for the world. Even though my ex was not the right person for me, he gave me the most precious gift in the world: my son – and for that I am forever grateful.

Lessons learned:

• Don’t do online dating

• Take time to know someone before you commit

• Be independent no matter what

• Be positive and keep moving forward

• YOU’RE NOT STUCK; you’re just committed to certain patterns of behavior because they helped you in the past. Now those patterns have become more harmful than helpful. The reason why you can’t move forward is because you keep applying an old formula to a new level in your life. CHANGE THE FORMULA to get different results!

Laetitia is a senior sales executive in media. Being a single mum, she is also currently enrolling in real estate courses to be able to work from home and look after her little boy. She lives in the south of France and enjoys a nice work-life balance surrounded by her family and beautiful beaches.

@laetitiaelfassy