Dear Lauren from A Year Ago,
Hello mate! It’s me, from the future. How far in the future, I hear you cry? Well, just a year to be honest babe, it’s quite underwhelming actually. What's that? Do we have to do this lockdown thing for much longer? It's been a long 2 weeks has it? Maybe it's best you just let me do the talking for now, eh. I think you need to hear what I have to say, even though I know how stubborn you are because, well because I’m you, I hope you listen cause I know what I’m talking about here.
Your little life is about to flip upside down, and not in a cool Fresh Prince of Bel Air with a theme tune way, more blind panic I’m in an Escape Room and can’t find the clues to get out, nothing makes sense and I have no sweet fucking idea what to do next kind of way. If there was a theme tune, it would just be someone screaming into the abyss and maybe a languished 'for FUCKS saaaaake' to mix it up.
So what can I tell you? What can I tell Lauren a year ago on April 1st 2020 that might help her get through this year. Yes I said year. Let's just move on quickly from that one.
1. It’s not your fault. There’s nothing you could have done to change this and you must try take even the smallest bit of solace that this is quite frankly, like the ball in every Year 9 PE session, out of your hands. You didn’t lose all your work by being bad at your job, you lost it cause like many others, you happened to be alive during an actual global pandemic. It sucks and it’s shitty and it’s scary but you cannot blame yourself for once in your anxious life. You did nothing wrong. Anxiety breeds on uncertainty, so if you allow yourself to fret and stress and pour over everything wondering how you could have changed it, you’ll just eat yourself alive. So fucking stop it. I repeat, it’s not your fault and I want you to find a bit comfort in that.
2. Go at your own pace. It will be so easy to compare yourself, your productivity, your creativity or your lack of those things to others. This is new ground for everybody Lauren, so make your own path through it rather than try stomp through somebody else's.
3. Do what you love. Not to sound all Marie Kondo, but when you can, try focus on doing the things that give you joy, cause that’s whats gonna make you happy, and your happiness is the most important thing. Not even just during a pandemic, in general. Treat yourself, you’re the best bitch. What you’re gonna learn as the year goes on is what matters the most to you and whats important to you. You've put too much focus in the past on doing things for other people, it's time to remember you're the main character in this ridiculous story that is your life, so put her god damn first. You love making people laugh, so focus on doing that in whatever way you can. You wanna make people smile but also don’t ever let that quest to cheer people up come at the expense of your OWN smile. Switch yourself off and on, which isn’t a wanking euphemism to clarify.
4. Don’t feel ashamed of your emotions. A lot has changed for you pal. Virtually everything. You know those puzzles where there’s two images side by side and you have to spot the difference? Well if we did that with your life now, and your life a year ago, you’d go ‘this puzzle is ridiculous these are two entirely different pictures what is the point of this game?’ But I’d like you to know in a years time, that picture will be very different again. You rate yourself too highly not to pick yourself up and smash on through. There’ll be a point in the very near future, in the early days of trying to deal with all this, where you’re crying on your living room floor after losing your job, your income, your independence and who you thought was the love of your life (spoiler alert, you are so much better without even though if I tell you that now it will make you seethe to the point you’ll swing for me and if you kill future me that’s gonna be bad) and you’ll sob 'I just feel like I’ve lost everything', while your dad will very awkwardly declare well I guess this IS rock bottom for you. Which kind of makes you cry harder, but you know what, if it is mate, accept it. Accept this is horrible, do not deny how you are feeling, don’t guilt yourself by comparing your situation as ‘not as bad’ to other people going through their own hardships cause your ship is pretty shite as well. It’s like one of those battered pedalos in a park pond that’s got a hole in it, its rapidly sinking, a child is screaming in the background and everything around you smells of shit. You’re allowed to wallow for a bit, but don’t wallow in it too much cause you are far too fucking brilliant to let yourself sink. A wise man once said when you hit the bottom, the only way is up, and yes the cultured reading this may know that wise man was actually the cartoon koala from the children's animated movie Sing about animals in essentially the X Factor.
1 guess that leads me on to my final thing I’d like to say to you.
5, Hold your head up fucking high. This is in relation to everything, really, but in particular the whole getting dumped over the phone on April Fools Day during a pandemic thing as I know right now, exactly a year ago, this is what will be bothering you the most. I think we can agree it’s a colossal headfuck and a very special, very painful kind of heartbreak and mental torment. You feel embarrassed and hurt and angry and worried and sick and hot. But you know mate, one of the things you’ll realise over the year is you’re a really good person, a bloody loving soul and the world needs more kindness. You want to put as much love back out there as you can, so don’t hate him for it. You thought the world of him for a long time, and even though the way he’s made you feel right now is crushing – you know you want him to be happy. It is going to break your heart as you accept that he doesn’t think you are that person, but you know what YOU also deserve amazing things. You will begin to realise, you deserved more than what you were being given, you will remember your worth. I trust those things will come to you, you’re just gonna have to wait. I know at times you’re gonna feel impossibly sad, and I’m sorry about that and of course, again, it will sporadically feel like you’re in in an Escape Room and can’t find the clues to get out, nothing makes sense and I have no god damn for the love of sweet fucking idea what to do next.
I suppose now is a good time as well to focus on the break up a bit more directly and stress that I’m sorry. I know your heart is broken right now in a way you’ve never felt before. Also, I hope you get this letter after he’s broken up with you and not before otherwise … oops … surprise?
You think you’ve dealt with heartbreak before, and I don’t want to undermine those past break ups, but the best way I can describe what you’re about to go through is – you know when you get to the last level of a video game, and it’s hard but you beat it because you’re a champ? Well all your past heartbreaks have taken the form of that final level. This time, your heartbreak is like that sneaky extra bonus level you didn’t know you’d be facing. You weren’t prepared, you’ve lost control, everything is ON FIRE and you think you might be about to have a breakdown. You’re gonna feel like this is a level you’re not equipped to beat, but this is absolutely not Game Over. It’s just gonna take a while to figure out the best mode of survival. Mainly because you're now going to have to muddle through a clusterfuck of emotions while a lot of other things are going wrong, you've lost all your work, we all live indoor like mole people and you can't even get a Happy Meal because Mcdonalds is shut - the world is a cruel little bitch right now.
These next few weeks are gonna be hard and I am not going to lie to you. I know you don’t like being lied to, and still hold a grudge against your own mother for all the times as a child she said you were going on a fun day out but would instead trick you and take you to the dentist because she knew you’d be unbearable if you knew you were going to the dentist all along.
For a few weeks, you’re going to cry. A lot. You’re going to cry so much it physically hurts. You will feel so sad you cannot eat any Easter eggs and this is when you will know things are truly bad. Remember when you watched Up for the first time with a hangover and the opening sequence made you proper sob? Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but you’re going to cry even more than that. It’s a cry you didn’t even think you were capable of doing to be honest, I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say it’s an Oscar worthy crying performance. You need to let it out though mate, so cry away. Please do not feel guilty or embarrassed for crying, because you have every right to be upset. You will lie in your bed and worry that your eyes now purely function as broken taps that don't stop leaking. A thought will cross your mind that maybe you can get a new career in one of those Museum Of Curiosities as ‘The Red Faced Girl Who Won’t Stop Crying Yes It Is Annoying Isn’t It But To Be Honest She Just Turned Up To The Museum One Day And Sat In One Of The Installations And We Don’t Know How To Ask Her To Leave.’ There’ll come a point, after a week or so, where you’re crying less and I promise you by the end of that first month you’ve stopped crying almost entirely. You’ll still have the odd little cry over daft things that catch you off guard, but to be honest that’s pretty much how you function normally anyway isn’t it? Going through a break up is like making a cake, you can’t make a cake without breaking a few eggs and you can’t heal from this break up without crying a few tears. What I’m saying is the break up process is a cake and the tears are the eggs so you need the tears or your cake won’t be right?? Unless, of course you are making an eggless cake but can we just pretend they don’t exist for the sake of this convoluted metaphor. Lauren, please stop picking holes in my analogies I am TRYING TO MAKE YOU FEEL BETTER.
Good news, sooner than you'd think you will feel a bit less impossibly sad. Bad news, the sadness has been replaced by AN ABSOLUTE BINFIRE OF BURNING RAGE. It will take time for the flames to die down, but in time you will realise you are too damn good to let anyone make you feel anything less than SPECTACULAR, and you deserve so much better. Never mind cutting off the oxygen supply - sass is the true element needed to extinguish firey rage and replace it with Big Dick Energy.
Also, mate a couple of people are gonna send you presents in the post. BREAK UP PRESENTS ARE SO GOOD CAUSE YOU DID ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DESERVE THEM YET YOU SOMEHOW GOT A GIFT OUT OF IT?? Most people have to birth a human or lose a family member to get a treat in the post, you didn’t have to do anything other than have your heart shattered into a million tiny little pieces!! Hoooray, surprise face masks!
I know there’s very little I can even say to the sobbing mess (sorry, no offence) that you are right now, but I hope you find a bit of peace in the fact I’ve written this, as it clearly shows you that at some point, you are gonna get out of bed, put on pants and start functioning like an Actual Human again.
So Lauren - eventually, you will realise the biggest part of what’s making you cry, and making you feel like the walls are crushing in around you like some kind of Saw trap, isn’t just the hurt at the breakup, or the upset over the loss of your career, it’s the sheer panic and fear of having to rebuild your life. All I’m gonna say, is that will still be scary as the months tick on, but there’s gonna be more fire in your belly. Some of that fire is probably the aforementioned rage, to be fair.
Your wee world as you know it Lauren, the world you built and loved has fallen apart, but that doesn’t mean you have to fall with it. So life your fucking head up, push your shoulders back pop your titties out cause you’re Lauren Fucking Pattison You’re funny and fierce and kind and you make a really good paella and you want to take on the world. You want to achieve and earn the things that you never thought a working class girl from Newcastle could. Everything is just out of your reach, it always is for people like you, but when has that stopped you working out how to climb that bit higher and knock those things closer to your grasp? So put one glittery doc marten’d foot in front of another, be proud of not just who you are, but who you're becoming and take each day as it comes. You’ll trip plenty cause you’re clumsy as fuck and the roads a bumpy one, blame the government or something, are they in charge of the roads or is that a local council thing – it doesn’t matter does it?
But really what you’ve got to remember is while what you’ve lost is out of your control, what you have to gain after all this is settled is entirely up to you, so you go and get it babe.
Love you pal,
Lauren, One Year On
P.S. Please have a fucking shower, I appreciate you’re very sad and hurt and broken hearted and you’re allowed a while to wallow and not look your best self but you do neglect basic hygiene for arguably too long. I am saying this from a place of love, you smelly little goblin.
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