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Life According to Joanna: Love and the Lockdown

It’s safe to say as the world begins to creak back to normality and we start emerging from our caves, we’re all reflecting on what this year has meant for us. The question of love has been a huge narrative for us all, be it the relationship we have ourselves, spouse, f**k buddy or pals it has been both brutal and beautiful. 

Lockdown really has been a game of two halves. As Dickens wrote; “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times” and nothing can be truer when it comes to love. I’ve witnessed the sudden demise of some strongest unions. Relationships we thought were healthy from the outside but, have surprisingly imploded. I have also seen stories of unadulterated love. The spectrum couldn’t be any broader, but both have something in common; life is too short to be wasting anymore time.

When all this started I was still in the so-called honeymoon period (although I loathe that term) with my partner. We were a couple who’d spend a healthy amount of time apart but were suddenly cohabiting together. The fear of travelling two hundred miles back to my house with vulnerable people was totally out of the question. Like everyone out there, we had to adapt. Adapt to new ways of working and sharing space. For all of us our one daily walk became respite from our desks, but more importantly the partners, housemates or parents we were cohabiting with. 

Up to this point our relationship was all nights out, weekends away, work trips, singing wildly at the top of our voices to power ballads and this, overnight, was gone. Who really is this person I have grown to love? I found myself going inward because really, who were we without the fun times, the dancefloors and the endless pints of Guinness on a Saturday afternoon?

Love Birds
Argue

It threw us into another realm, one I was deeply afraid of going into after a divorce. I didn’t want the fun to stop, I didn’t want the hum drum to enter and the lust to disappear, which, I appreciate is living in a bit of a fairy tale, but I so wanted to keep that dream alive. But for many, the Cinderella story did end. We’ve had no distractions to hide behind. We’ve just had to ‘be’ and in endless pairs of f**king joggers too. Stripping back, the cracks that daily life seems to paste over became cavernous holes. Wide, bleak and no route to cross. It’s sped up the inevitable break-up process for many people around me. 

They say that relationships tend to end around Christmas when we are stuck with our partners for prolonged periods under pressure, well we’ve just had a yearlong festive stretch, one without beige buffets, Phil Spector on repeat and separations are now through the roof. The British law firm Stewarts logged a 122% increase in enquiries between July and October, compared with the same period in 2019. We are not designed to be with one person all of the time and it appears that the monotony has proven too much for some.

But then there are the incredible stories of trailblazing love. Now, we all heard the myths in the first lockdown, we all had a friend of a friend who met someone online and shacked up with them in an instant, but as the year progressed these so called urban legends became our mates, work colleagues, or a member of our family. Under lockdown rules we were all encouraged to ‘bubble up’ and with loneliness and boredom kicking in, many new daters decided to do so for some company and sex. With this, everything was simplified and intensified and a relationship that usually would have taken months to grow due to busy schedules took just a fraction of the time to blossom. You are seeing someone at their rawest with nothing in the way to distract you. I know people who have met, moved in AND had a baby all in the last 14 months. Call it madness, call it love. Whatever it is, I am here for it.

And then, arguably and most importantly, the relationship with ourselves. It’s been such a ride this ‘ronacoaster. It’s made us all reflect and forced us to look at who we are and what we want out of life. We were all too busy before; everyone I knew was in danger of serious burn out and many, like myself, welcomed the slower pace. Losing a year has made us all think extremely hard about what we want. It’s been a time to really pinpoint what makes us happy, what makes us tick. It’s been bleak for some, especially those who get their energy from being around others. The laugh they get in the pub acting as the validation from friends and or colleagues or the simple smile exchanged with a stranger. These are small things, but when you add them up they all contribute to a person feeling seen and appreciated. Some of us have gone tits deep into a new regime, looking and feeling better than ever. Others have allowed social media to supercharge their anxieties setting unrealistic expectations on what to achieve whilst the majority of us are currently purchasing clothes in a bigger size then what we were twelve months ago. 

Holding Hands
Love

Personally, I’ve had to dig deep, and I mean really deep. There have been times where I’ve gone from extreme happiness to existential crises within days. I questioned everything from my job, relationship, home, life choices. My relationship with myself and my partner has been pushed to the very limits but ultimately, it’s all come down to communication. I’ve had to have uncomfortable conversations, conversations that in a ‘normal’ world probably wouldn’t have come up as quick, if at all. Lockdown took my relationship into a place I was afraid of going however, I’m so grateful it did, it’s made us and ultimately myself stronger. Time will tell if we have all weathered this storm but be it with ourselves or the people around us; love has never been so important.

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