I’m not doing twelve days of Christmas because I only thought of this just now.
These posts are going to get progressively better with a very exciting announcement on Christmas Day, but today I wanted to tell everyone something that almost no one knows about me.
I spent Christmas of 2015 by myself.
2016 has certainly been an…interesting year…to say the least. However, my problems right now are on more of a global scale. They’re things I’m worried about and that could directly affect me, but I am so very fortunate that personally at this very moment I’m probably the happiest I’ve ever been in my adult life.
This wasn’t the case one year ago.
On the 23rd of December 2015 a combination of circumstances and bad choices culminated in me hopping on a last minute flight to London from where I was on holiday, where I was thankfully able to stay at a friend’s flat who was visiting her family abroad. I woke up on the 24th of December without a plan, a job, or a flat of my own. For reasons not worth rehashing, I wasn’t on the best of terms with my immediate family and even if I had wanted to join them it was financially and logistically impossible to do so last minute. My best friend from childhood had dumped me two months earlier, so I couldn’t even call her family, and in general things were in a pretty shit state in just about every other aspect of my life. I wouldn’t call it rock bottom, per se, but if ever there was a time to feel bad for myself, it was then.
That morning I looked at my friend’s shelf of various liquors from around the world and a wine rack full of champagne and thought that I could, as she suggested, drink my way through all of it. Or, I could, y’know, not completely disregard every voice in my head shouting that adding depressants to this situation would absolutely not help. For perhaps the first time in my life, I didn’t drink on Christmas Eve. In fact I did just about the most opposite thing of getting steaming drunk I could do and looked up charities that needed volunteers that day. I found a Crisis for Christmas centre near me that was specifically for people with an alcohol dependency and went there to volunteer instead of drinking my weight in Tesco Cava.
I would honestly count that decision as the moment things started to very slowly change for the better. And I mean very slowly, but sometimes shit takes a year to sort itself out.
ANYWAY. Christmas. Crisis. Alcoholics. Me.
The centre decided that I looked like I deserved to stand outside for two hours right when I got there, because karma, and I was stood in the freezing London cold welcoming vans of people into the centre. Whilst stood outside I met a woman who looked about 18 but was actually in her mid-thirties and a very successful investment banker who had been doing this every Christmas for years. You know when you meet someone and immediately it’s like
That was us. You’re meant to rotate around the different jobs at the centre with different volunteers, but her and I managed to be put on the next shift together, where we sat in a hallway talking for two hours straight about anything and everything. The centre just kept putting us on the same shifts because as it turned out, despite us looking nothing alike, one of the managers thought we were sisters, and then another manager thought we were dating, and basically everyone made up a different story about us that was anything except the reality that we’d just met and happened to get on really well. We didn’t correct anyone because we thought it was funny, and also that way no one tried to separate us.
I had initially only signed up to volunteer on the 24th, because they were booked for volunteers on the next day, but since the organisers felt bad about separating me from my new BFF/sister/lover on Christmas they were like, “Sure! Tomorrow you come with.” So I did. And I brought three bags of clothes from a pile of stuff my friend had in her flat for the local charity shop and miscellaneous items from my overflowing suitcase.
I genuinely had one of the best Christmases I’d ever had.
I became Facebook friends with the girl I met and if I was in London right now I would be volunteering again tomorrow. That’s how much that experience changed me. I don’t want to be like, “Wow looking at people who REALLY have it bad put things in perspective,” because that wasn’t the case. Someone having it worse than you doesn’t negate the shit you’ve got going on in your life, and on Boxing Day I still woke up alone and estranged from the people you’re probably meant to be with during the holidays. I got exactly zero gifts because of my last minute Christmas plans which meant that whatever anyone sent me got lost in the post somewhere on continental Europe. The gifts I sent home broke en route, and I didn’t even care. I just wanted to bid 2015 fucking adieu.
For New Years I went to stay with one of my best friends who already had plans, but I was happy to stay in her flat and watch the countdown on telly by myself. That might sound like the most saddo New Years ever, but it’s just a day, and I genuinely like to be alone. As an introvert who loves people but feels physically drained after prolonged human contact, the holidays can be very exhausting for me, and after a couple of months of constant human interaction immediately prior to my Christmas For One™ I was happy to chill and recharge my batteries.
I won’t lie, things weren’t great in the first quarter of 2016. I basically decided that what I really wanted to do was be a writer, wrote a couple things for Buzzfeed that went viral and, immediately prior to submitting an application for Buzzfeed’s editorial fellowship, had everything I’d ever written for them, which was also part of my application, deleted from the website because I said something that got Simon Cowell all butt-hurt.
Then Lad Boy got engaged which I was ecstatic about because he’s been planning this engagement for awhile and I had been hearing about his ring-making process for months and she said yes! Unfortunately, I was unaware that a party she invited me to was their surprise engagement party and brought a posse of friends, which did not go over well with the bride to be at all and she let me know a lot of thoughts she’d been holding in for the last few years. It was a bit too close to the end of my relationship with my childhood BFF to confidently say that I was sure the same wouldn’t happen with LB based on this tension, and so she yelled, I cried, and he mediated. In the end, the theme of this post, which is that time truly does heal everything, proved to be true. So much so that I just got off the phone with him where we discussed accommodation possibilities for a wedding I wasn’t even sure I’d be invited to ten months ago.
Then things got a bit better, I moved into a lovely huge house and was livin la vida loca and had started writing (and selling) two books and then had someone offer to sponsor me actually starting a company with the initial capital I needed, and then as you may or may not know based on how avidly you read this blog, it turned out this was just someone trying to essentially kidnap me. So THAT happened.
Afterwards it was a bit similar to what happened last Christmas Eve in that instead of just retreating into myself and trying to solve all my problems alone I just told everyone what happened and the overwhelming response was so incredible. That was the second turning point in my series of unfortunate events that was my life circa October 2014-March 2016.
For my birthday I went back to London to stay with a friend, who due to me not telling her I was going to be there, was out of town on that particular day. Having had a perfectly happy Christmas and New Years alone I thought that maybe I’d make it a trend and just spend these days enjoying my favourite person in the world, aka ME. However, my friends had other plans.
Even though she wasn’t around, my friend I was staying with decorated her entire flat with birthday decorations and bought me a cupcake and a lovely journal and tote bag that says “book nerd” and it was lovely. Then, good ol’ Briony from way back when I was blogging in uni took me to brunch and then she went to her Adult Job™ in Journalism for a few hours and I went down to the west end, didn’t get a ticket to see Book of Mormon as I’d hoped to, but instead went across the street to The Comedy Store and saw the most hilarious fucking show I’ve ever seen there. Then Briony met up with me and we drank lots of champagne and did a dog puzzle.
From there things just kept getting steadily more normal and less dramatic. Another friend wrote me off in January and told me that, “It’s always something with you,” in regards to the unwanted drama that trailed me like a shadow for quite some time. I personally do not care for people that create drama out of nothing, I spend my life actively avoiding making a big deal out things that are distinctively unimportant like traffic, the weather, etc… and yet the universe was like, “Not this year, hoe. Be prepared to be humbled by some drama.”
In October I was invited to visit my aunt and uncle in California and thought, “Yeah, London’s getting a bit cold, so y-literally-olo” and hopped on a plane to Los Angeles.
I don’t know if I have Seasonal Affective Disorder or what, but being in the sun all the time has made me the happiest I’ve been ever. I also love my aunt and uncle and missed them very much, along with the rest of my immediately family, so spending quality time with them has been amazing. Getting to know people who were The Adults™ in your young life as an adult is a very interesting, sometimes confusing, but often rewarding experience. It’s an interesting shift to go from The Child™ to someone’s friend and I’m really grateful I’ve gotten to do that with my parents and my aunt and uncle.
SO. I was meant to go back to London two days ago for Christmas but a few weeks ago it was like
And I was like
And now my friend who I spent last New Years with in London is coming to see me, as are my parents. Because ain’t nobody got time for cold-ass London in December.
The point is, as annoying as it can be to hear people on this end of these stories be like, “What a difference a year can make!”…literally what a difference a year can make. I was takin “don’t kill yourself” pills in 2015 and now I’m publishing three books and genuinely an entirely different, much happier, and generally more excited person than I was a year ago. And without being hyperbolic, that is very much due to the support of everyone who reads this blog, who emails me, who tweets me, who messages me on Tumblr, and especially people who send me photos of dogs. I just wanna
all of you.
This has been a condensed version of all the crap things that happened to me because I really think it’s important to not just show the side of yourself that you want the world to see on social media. Bad things have happened to me, I’ve done things that I’m not totally proud of, but I haven’t repeated any mistakes and that’s really all I can aspire to as someone who’s been like Kylie Jenner and just realising things all year.
If I could send a memo to 2017 though, it’s that I’ve realised ENOUGH. Give a hoe a break. I need to process and deal with these revelations. Regardless of what’s going to happen, I can honestly say that thanks to the love of you all and of my wonderful family and endlessly tolerant friends who’ve made it through the last two years with me, that I am so excited for the next year as opposed to my general passivity and dgaf attitude this time last year.
Finally…to end the only deep part of this three days of Christmas…(I promise the next two days are Spotify playlists and drinking games)…I want to thank:
1. My aunt: for avidly reading everything I write and telling me specific examples of what she likes and trying to constantly convince me that I put feelings everyone has into words she would’ve never thought of and generally making me feel really good about myself. And for playing Monopoly Deal with me every evening.
2. LB: for putting up with me at my worst and making me want to be my best so I don’t embarrass him at his wedding. Everything I’ve done this year to make writing my full-time job was his idea in 2011, but I was too immature and distracted to do it. What he did was a bit like planting bamboo, the roots grow for a long time and then all of a sudden after ages the bamboo shoots up and keeps growing. This website wouldn’t exist without what he did and the fact that he never made me feel embarrassed about having a sex blog is entirely why I kept writing.
3. Chuck: Do you ever meet someone who’s living your life just slightly ahead of you time-wise? Well, that’s a girl named Chuck who I met this year and who has shouted “live your truth!” at me more times than I can count. She passes on the wisdom of how to deal with things to come and is one of few people who have made me feel like I’m not taking crazy pills all the time. You guys have been reading this blog or tumblr or twitter surely and know that my mind is as organised as an ADHD-raddled puppy who just drank a litre of Coca-Cola at best, and to find someone who is actually, eerily, and definitely me in an alternate universe, is both terrifying and wonderful. Only terrifying because of the crazy parallel shit that happens to us on a daily basis. Por ejemplo, amongst the MANY identical things about us (ethnicity, university we went to, how we grew up, favourite song, Myers-Briggs personality types…it literally goes on and on…) the most INSANE of parallel universe shit happened yesterday when she sent me a photo of her mother’s table:
And I screamed because my mum has the EXACT same weird-ass Peter Pan Demon Fairy Sprite™ ornament. Here is a photo of it I procured from social media from two years ago:
This shit happens to us every. God. Damn. DAY. To the point where it’s usually like ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ but now that we’re realising that our mothers are AUs of each other it’s like, “This is beyond us.”
ANYWAY. Any and all artwork you’re going to see associated with my upcoming projects is done by Her Brilliance™ and I am not only thankful for her most excellent friendship but also for her fantastic and amazing art which is often a result of me saying something really random and her being able to perfectly illustrate my craziness into illustrations. So, yeah. I love my friend Chuck.
My originally personality dopplegänger I met in this year of realising things was Melly, who is the real life embodiment of Viola Davis in The Help because she tells me 1,000,000 times a day
And makes me feel like way less of a crazy person when I say things like, “I’m gonna write three books at once!” She’s just like, “HOORAY you are BRAVE!”
5. Stuart: I’ve been collecting personality dopplegängers all year and Big Stu is me as a man living in Manchester. (Living IN Manchester, not from Manchester, mind you. Not that there’s anything wrong with being from Manchester at all, but I need everyone to have an accurate picture here.) If Stuart was going to sing a song to me during karaoke it would be, “I Believe In You” by Kylie Minogue. I am eternally grateful for his friendship and I hope he knows that his Christmas card is going to be late because of who I am as a person.
5. My Mother: Thanks for life! Also, things weren’t great last year, as I mentioned, and the amount of introspection and attempts to understand where I’m coming from whilst I was living my year in solitude was the most pleasantly unexpected thing to happen to me. Not that I don’t think my mum doesn’t want to understand me, just that I think I’m a particularly difficult person to understand and instead of ever trying to change me my mum has just tried to help me.
TOMORROW…I shall be sharing an epic Christmas playlist for your family gathering needs.
Love you all madly xx