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In the life of each of us, we quite often find ourselves in a particular and difficult situation of having to separate. We have to get away from friends, finish love stories, separate from school when we have finally finished our journey, move, leave our country of origin.

Each of these situations presents us with a challenge: to change ourselves to move away from something old and hope for something new in order to create a different future.

This step is very difficult for every human being.

As a therapist, I often find myself in front of parents who want to separate, people who regret the end of important relationships or young people who are afraid of failing in moments of change.

The questions they ask me are many: how can I avoid making my child suffer in the separation from my wife? How can I go on if I feel I’ve lost a great love? Why do I feel guilty about leaving someone behind even though I know it made me suffer?

The answers are not the same for everyone, but if we go a little deeper, we find most people share a thought: I’m terrified of losing something important. Generally, this thought is directed towards the person or situation from which you separated: I am afraid of losing the girl I loved, I am afraid of losing the friends with whom I have spent so much time and shared so many things, I am afraid being uneasy at university or work. Nobody ever thinks that rather they are afraid of losing something of themselves. Not the situations or people, they left behind, but their feelings, memories, and history.

But why do separations appear so dangerous to us that we are afraid of not being able to cope?

Because there is a pathological mental dynamic that unfortunately in some moments makes us run the risk of losing something fundamental: part of our identity. Human beings have the ability to make the image of what makes us suffer from our mind disappear. We anesthetize ourselves so to speak. Yet, by doing this, we eliminate a part of us that was important.

It is funny to think that, if instead we resist pain and live it, at some point something akin to magic happens: we find ourselves changed, happy with our transformation, uncertain about the future, but at the same time more sure of ourselves. What happened? What happened was we managed not to make the other disappear (the girl, the husband, the friend) but we made our old way of being disappear. We have not lost anything, but we have become different.

Now, however, it is necessary to add that there is an even more difficult and greater separation than those we have listed so far: when something happens that forces many people (or even all of them) to leave the past behind. This is what is happening to us. A pandemic has forced us and forces us day by day to become different, to rethink our old way of life, to miss the hugs of friends and at the same time to criticize the madness of a blind exploitation of the resources of this planet. It forces us to look for new ways of being together without closing ourselves off and also new ways of being alone without feeling abandoned.

The path towards our transformation is still long, but almost never in history has it happened that every people has had to separate from their past at the same time as all the other peoples of the world. It is a complicated but fascinating process. Will we be able to meet this challenge?

Gioia Piazzi 

Thanks to Ray Williams for the translation of this article.


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