THE LOVE

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I was going to end my celebration of love on a list of things I currently adore: from the new season of Girls and fish pie to fat coke and spring sunshine.

But how could I celebrate the most powerful of all the emotions for four weeks running without even mentioning the big fat love of my own life, instead opting for a list of vacuous things I sort of like at the moment? You might find the following post gushing or boastful, but I just think it’s fitting. Because, although I find it cathartic to reminisce, and you probably find it more entertaining reading about my tragic mishaps and bad choices of the past, I think it’s important to also be grateful (and honest) about what really ticks my tock (snacks aside) in the here and now.

So here goes.

I currently share a bed with a man whom I – in equal parts – love dearly but also wish to strangle at almost every hour of the day. He is horrendous at making plans, one of the worst communicators and spends far too much time on Buzzfeed and/or BBC News, whilst I grapple for a comforting spoon or a much needed boob grope. Vegetables are exempt from his diet. He eats a little too loudly when it’s just the two of us. If it’s yellow, he let’s it mellow. He has a terrible – and really quite bizarre – phobia of pregnant women falling over. And we disagree on pretty much every political opinion a person can have.

But he is also kind. Loving. And overwhelmingly gentle for a man of his stature. He loves my freckles. He runs me baths. And he surprises me every single day. He is the sort of guy who springs a (very romantic) Valentine’s surprise on you and accepts that you choose (the not so romantic) Meat Mission as your dinner selection at the end of it. He sleeps in a single bed with you and bares the stiff neck the next day. He understands the importance of a perfectly-timed poached egg. He showers as much as you and knows a good coffee when he tastes one. He is the sort of guy who buys you a powder blue bike (basket included) for your first birthday together (2 months in). He is the type of person you meet in New York a month later while he’s away for business, just because. And he’s the sort of guy who surprises you with a trip to Norway for Christmas, so that you can pretend to be Anna from Frozen for a few days in the snow. He puts up with your singing, adoration (obsession) with Jemima Kirke and your complete inability to deal with a hangover. In fact, he puts up with you. Full stop.

So, right now, for as long as it takes you to read this post, I would like to celebrate the love I have with him. And then, I promise, I’ll get right back to humour, sarcasm and laughing in the face of anyone who takes life (and themselves) a little bit too seriously.

Love can appear out of the most unexpected of scenarios or places. In my case, it was via an app. In your case, it might be through work, via a friend of a friend, or at a very messy house party. But I’m happy to have discovered – after a month of people sharing their experiences of the heart – that, in whichever way love falls into our arms, we are all pretty damn grateful for it. Be it the good times that we can cherish, the heart break that has taught us a valuable lesson or the decisions that we have been forced to consider that only make us stronger. And that’s exactly the way it should be.

So, even if you have to pick pieces of chewed up food out of his bushy beard, share your hair bands with him or suffer from being spooned to the point of suffocation, just let love in. Because the real thing – when you eventually find it – probably (definitely) won’t look the way you think it should. And it will absolutely be better than you ever could have imagined.

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Thank you for reading and celebrating with me this month. And thanks to all those who bore their souls to me and allowed me to share their experiences with my readers.

Keep cuddling, keep smiling and keep being honest with those who have nabbed a piece of your heart, because one day it might be a little too late to let them know just how much they mean to you.

OUR LIPS AREN’T SEALED

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Love is one of those things that has the ability to knock you sideways, whilst also being able to seep in silently like a good scent. It can appear as if from out of nowhere, but it can also grow for years before you realise you’ve even been struck by it. Sometimes, you don’t even know you’ve had it until it’s gone. But that’s the thing with love, you never know what form it’s going to take, how to prepare for it or in what way it’s going to shape you. But it does shape you, in one way or another. Every. Single. Time.

And I think that’s something worth talking about.

So, seeing as Valentine’s Day is pretty much on our doorstep, I thought now would be a good time to do just that. Yes, it’s a ‘Hallmark holiday’ and a cheap excuse for retailers to up the price of prosecco and long stemmed roses, but it’s also a chance to celebrate love in a few of its many guises.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be adding a pair of lips or two to this post, just below where you’re reading now. Behind each set, you’ll find a tale about a type of love that somebody has experienced (for better or for worse). These stories have been told by people I know, people I don’t know, people I’ve met and some that I haven’t. And then, of course, some by me. From the dangerous and forbidden to lost and lesbian love, I have it covered. But please, if you feel compelled to write one of your own, send it over. I’ll be posting throughout the month, so there’s still plenty of time to spill the beans.

Although we might not like to admit it, we have all had our fair share of both heart-make and heart-break and I think it’s time we spoke honestly about these experiences in order to both celebrate and laugh in the face of love.

Come inside, our lips are far from sealed.

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THE DUMPING GROUND

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Being loved by someone is the greatest feeling in the world.

Until they stop loving you.

And then you turn into a fire-breathing, flesh-eating monster with zero comprehension of what is acceptable behaviour under the given circumstances and what is not.

You’ll text him even when you’ve told your friends you won’t. You’ll call him even when every bone in your body is telling you not to. You’ll stalk his Facebook/Instagram/Insert Social Media Platform Of Choice Here, even when you know you’ll feel awful afterwards. You’ll make out like you have a ton of dates lined up on your Twitter when all you have is the prospect of a Sunday night Tinder session and some leftover pizza. You’ll screen shot quotes from Instagram. A lot. And if you’re feeling really fruity, you’ll send them to him. You’ll befriend his friends in a bid to make him realise what he’s missing out on, only for it to backfire when you catch wind of a conversation about his new flame. And last, but by no means least, you’ll have sub-standard sex with him in secret and shrug it off as nothing less than liberating, staking claim to being in control when really all it did was make you want to eat a double cheese burger and die.

The truth is, the months that follow a break up are more turbulent than a Ryan Air flight to Amsterdam, so why do we only talk freely about our most amicable breakups and bypass those that make us feel like our hearts are going to fall out of our vaginas? We always focus on the standard splits that lead you to rebound with Tony from work in the bathroom of a house party in Finchley when really we should be discussing the break ups that turn you into a complete head case and make you cry so hard that you look as though you’ve gone ten rounds against George Groves.

But we don’t. Instead, when our friends seek us out for advice after being dumped, we behave like the stuff that the pages of Cosmo are made of. 

You know the drill. You quickly fall into autopilot, rallying the troops and heading round to her place, armed with sweet treats, your brother’s Netflix password and a whole load of not particularly useful advice. We regurgitate clichés about time being a healer and how going cold turkey is the best thing for it, completely forgetting what it’s actually like to be in her position. Instead of doing this, we should be preparing her for the hell that is to come, because you know that no matter how many M&Ms you feed her, or however many episodes of OITNB she watches, she is, no doubt, headed down the brutal – and pretty unavoidable – path of getting over someone. And that path ain’t lined with roses, let me tell you. It’s paved with hobgoblins and sharp objects.

Basically, she’s about to behave like a dick and listen to not one jot of your advice. She’s going to do shameful things she’ll never want to talk about ever again and she will tell you she’s okay when actually she spends every night crying on the phone to her mum and looking at zodiac love matches online. But far from persuading her to do otherwise, just try to assure her that we’ve all been there. Because we have, even though we rarely admit to it. And it’s the only exit route to freedom, I’m afraid.

I guess what I am trying to say is that if you are currently in the throes of a break up and all the books and magazines are telling you that you should ‘Slap on a new lipstick!’ ‘Mingle!’ and ‘Go get ’em tiger!’ when all you want to do is call him fifty times and scream into a pillow for ten days, I’m telling you to do just that. Basically, you’re about to get weird. But instead of shying away from it, feed the madness because, dear friend, you are not ready for the world until you’ve got this exhausting phase (that people rarely talk about) out of your system. I think that by constantly pretending that breaks ups can be cured with sugar and a quick shag, we really underestimate how bad they can be, when in fact, it’s not going to be easy, nor is it going to be brief. 

By acting like a complete lunatic in the weeks that follow a split, I guarantee you will find the path back to normality. Eventually. And although it might not feel like it right now, there will come a time where you will hold your hands up to your, quite frankly, off the chart behaviour, clink glasses and laugh at the bad times with friends. But until then, be miserable, be sad, be weird and make mistakes. It’s called grief.

Break ups suck, basically. But they’re supposed to, especially when the love is real. You’ll be just fine.

Give it time.