letters to younger me: everything i wish i knew about… grief

when you think about grief you think about death. well it’s where your mind goes generally. but there are so many more forms of grief that you will experience over the course of a lifetime. they won’t all hit the same, or take the same about of time to recover from, but they are all grief, they all hurt and will leave you feeling crippled.

the best piece of advice, well not advice but the biggest lesson learnt is probably that no one will tell you there is a limit they put on how long you can grieve. after a period of time be it a week, month, or year/s , all of a sudden everyone decides you should be ‘over it’ or ‘move on’.

the thing is, with any type of loss, you never really ‘get over it’. you simply learn to move forward, because you have to.

you learn, you will learn, to put your hurt and pain in a box, in the corner of your mind and heart. you’ll pull on it sometimes when you want to, or need to, remember what it is to feel on that level or that you deserve to be hurt again.

something to remember is this: we might lose people but we will never lose what they gave us. the memories. the love. the laughter. the lessons. this goes for every type of grief – including death and break-ups. the guy who told you you deserve the world – that he wanted to give it to you but couldn’t – he reminded you of what you deserve and that there are good guys out there. i know you still miss him – maybe you always will – but he reminded you of your worth. that can’t be a bad thing.

the thing with loss and grief is that it’s never going to be okay. it’s never going to be okay. it’s always going to hurt. your heart will always be broken but it just gets less debilitating. the cracks will heal but you’ll always feel the break. you’ll just learn to live with it. you learn to get out of bed, you can eat again but it’s always going to hurt.

somedays the heaviness will be unbearable. other days, you’ll remember little things about them that make you smile. like whenever you see a rainbow, you’ll think about grandad. it will be bittersweet; the happy memory of them tinged with sadness.

in the early days you’ll see them everywhere, hear them in every song on the radio. over time this will get easier but you’ll never be fully prepared for those moments where the grief hits you out of nowhere. when you think you see them in line at the supermarket just to realise that it is impossible or improbable. when the radio starts playing a song that reminds you of them the most, or that has a lot of memories attached to it. you’ll feel like the grief has hit you fresh all over again. the ground will feel like it’s opening up. it’s not. you’ll be okay. you made it through the first hour, first day and week. you’ll make it through this. if you need to run out the supermarket, that’s okay. if you need to excuse yourself and go to the toilet to cry, that’s okay too. crying yourself to sleep again is okay.

we all deal with grief in different ways; we all process it differently. we all have different timelines. when it really seems too tough just tell yourself ‘if you can get through the next 10 seconds, you can get through anything’. be kind to yourself through it. try not to isolate yourself too much; being around people can help. i say ‘can’ because some people are not going to be productive whilst you grieve and heal, whilst you get to a point where you can function day-to-day.

grief teaches you a lot about people. about yourself and those around you. your strength will surprise you. remember, as mr sheeran sings, ‘a heart that’s broke is a heart that’s been loved’ – and that ain’t a bad thing at all.

xoxo M

a letter to younger me – everything i wish i knew about…

life.

life is a funny thing, isn’t it. it’s frustrating, yet exhilarating. it’s simple, yet complex. it can’t really be planned but somehow also requires a plan. in a word: it’s complicated.

there are a million different cliches when it comes to talking about life. too many to write here. everyone has their own that, at some point, they repeat to their friends, family (and social media followers). one thing that we can say is true is “the only certainty in life is death”. everything in between when we are born and when we die… none of it is certain. (i feel this is taking a slightly depressive turn but bear with me, i’ll pick it back up).

life is brilliant in so many ways, there will be days where you feel light as a feather. there will be moments when you’ll sit with your best friend, watching your nephews play and think ‘life is great, how did i get so lucky?”. you’ll see friends marry the loves of their lives. you’ll have moments in your career, something you have always put 110% into (yes, you’re work pissed, the sooner you embrace that, the better), that you can’t quite believe happen – turnarounds in stores -that everyone had written off – and teams that you influenced and led. moments when you finally make a breakthrough with a child when teaching them and think YES they got it, finally and know that it was your teaching skills that got them there. there will be moments when you’re in love, or heading that way, where you feel so happy your heart could burst. a word of warning though – don’t be too smug. you know what comes next.

heartbreak. disappointment. confusion. you can’t always get what you want, you can plan for everything but then life will throw you a curveball, call your bluff and kick you in the gut. leaving you writhing around on the floor trying to catch your breath. it ain’t always gonna be pretty.

the disappointments will leave you aching for a time before, a time before life made you sore. before you had your heart broken by men who you thought could be the love of your life (spoiler alert: they’re not). before you were let down by friends. before you lost those you love. you’ll ache for a time before the disappointments. a time when life felt simple.

‘everything happens for a reason’ that’s a firm favourite. you’ll hear that a lot when you’re feeling shit, or trying to justify a disappointment. the worst thing, or maybe it’s the best, is that it does seem to be true. hindsight is 20:20 vision. it doesn’t help the stuff hurt any less in the moment but it is good to know and can be helpful to keep in mind whilst you heal.

no one makes it through life unscathed; without scars and heartbreak. all the paths in life you take in life, you gotta make sure some of them are dirt (whether you know it at the time or not). it’s where you figure out who you are and what you want from this life. it’s the curveballs that make life interesting and show us what we are made of. if we’re lucky, there’s a blessing waiting for us at the end of that dirt road.

the one other thing that i know to be true, that i have learnt about life is that, in three little words, it goes on. regardless of the hurt and heartache. life. goes. on. you will survive. you will get through 100% of your worst days. if you can find one small glimmer of hope on those bad days, you will survive.

it won’t always be easy, it will be hard. really fucking hard but, you’ll do it. best of all, best of ALL – it will be worth it. the good days will remind you why you fight. why you’re pleased to be alive and why you’re glad you continued and why you’re glad that life does, in fact, go on.

life is lived and created in the messy parts, it doesn’t always make sense but maybe there is something oddly beautiful about the confusion. maybe if you lean into it, it won’t seem so scary. or maybe i’m talking out my arse, who knows?

maybe one day it won’t all seem confusing, maybe one day it will all make sense. maybe one day, one day, we’ll understand the point of it all. until then, buckle up buttercup because life isn’t going to wait for you. try to enjoy the ride and bring tissues – you’re going to cry a lot!

xoxo M

•dear my little sophia•

oh my little Sophia. happy, happy birthday to you. i cant gift you nice things in person and we can’t get tipsy and dance on the high street but i can write you your letter to let you know how important and special you are to me. so here we go.

Dear Sophie, (or Sophia as i have called you since forever ago)

please forgive me for taking so long to write this letter to you. you really should have been one of the first but for some reason i couldn’t write it. each time i sat down to write to you i couldn’t find the words. charge that to my head and not my heart.

i still remember the first time we met… this shy teenager turning up to a group interview at mothercare (rip). denise was adamant on hiring you… i thought you were too quiet… she told me to remember how shy i had been at the beginning and how I had blossomed… so we hired you and i’m really bloody glad we did!

(disclaimer: she definitely didn’t say i blossomed, i’m sure it was more along the lines of ‘now you don’t shut up’ … oops)

it’s been about 8 years since we met and i honestly say that my life is infinitely better for the Sophie shaped addition to my life. i don’t’ remember when we went from boss/employee to pals; it kinda feels like we’ve always been like this. i can not imagine my life without you now. who would have thought that little one would become so very important to me? you are the little sister i never had and i wouldn’t have it any other way.

you (and leanne, hi leanna, yes, i love you too) are one of my favourite people in the world and i’m not sure i tell you enough. your friendship is unconditional; you just let me be the weirdo i am deep down and you never make me feel ‘less than’ for any of my flaws – you do of course take the piss out of them at the appropriate time which is all part of the privilege of being a best friend.

you have been by my side through the biggest transitions and heartbreaks in my life and given me some of the best advice. if there is ever a dilemma, i always come to you because you give me advice that always hits home. you always give me food for thought; you’re supportive but you’re also not afraid to tell me if i’m being a bit of a dick. we ALL need people like that in our lives! i hope that i have been able to provide that to you too. in the times you didn’t know what to say you told me just that but didn’t ignore the pain i was feeling. you just let it sit with us like an unwanted dinner guest until i’d had enough of it and got the strength to finally tell it to fuck off. that’s not an easy thing to do or deal with, so thank you.

one of the things i admire the most about you is your bravery. yes, you my little cherub are brave. you feel the fear but you do it anyway. i so wish i possessed that trait. your life is going to be so much better because of this; know that i will always be on the sidelines cheering you on. oh the places you’re going to go! i cant wait.

now i have started this letter i’m kind of finding it hard to stop writing but i will because it’s now verging on an eassy but I just have to say 2 more things i love about our friendship.

  1. that no matter how much time has passed we just pick straight up where we left off’ there is no hard feelings that it’s been 75 days since our last catch up. it just it what it is.
  2. how much we laugh. normally we’re embarrassing Leanne – remember Disney. HAH.

you are a ball of loveliness and you’ve got me forever.

i love you, squirt

xoxo M

 

 

• Mrs Howman •

Alright loser,

this letter was meant to be for your birthday but i’m just proper shit. So now it’s just for a random January day 😂

not sure if you’ve seen me writing these letters to people. go to letter one to find out why… I’ll wait…

back with me? ok, fantastic.

so.

what is there to say about you, Mrs Howman? as our fave Julie Andrews would say “start at the very beginning, a very good place to start…”

to be fair i don’t have the most memories of us growing up… the main ones are from the legendary xmas eve church visits – still buzzing i got to put Jesus in the manager one year.

the older we’ve got, the closer we’ve got and i’m really very pleased that it’s turned out that way. we’re both the youngest of our siblings and to be honest, the best ones. our parents knew they’d never get better hence why they stopped when they did.

in all seriousness though, what a woman.

these last few years have been so, so tough for you but yet, here you are. living and shit. i know there have been days when the pain has been unbearable. you have quite literally survived the worse thing in the world to happen to any parent and you still made it out the other side. you deserve only happiness now.

amongst your own pain you’ve still provided me with a shoulder to lean on and a couple of ears to vent to. it’s funny because i’ve never been particularly great at chatting face fo face about the bad stuff but i know with you there’s no judgement, so it becomes easier. you see behind the “yes, all good” facade that i’ve put on at family gatherings and always sought me out after to say “alright bitch, what’s really going on”. it’s important to have someone like that within your family. so thanks for being mine.

my wish for you now and forever is that you are kind to yourself and that you recognise how incredible you are. you are so much stronger than you have ever given yourself credit for. i also hope you remember you’re allowed to feel what you feel. even if others don’t understand.

the world is so much better with you in it.

you shhhllaaaagg

love you!

xoxo M

dear the 10s…

with 2020 less than a week away i find myself doing that thing that we all do… looking back on what has been and looking forward to the future and where we hope to go. with that in mind…

dear the 10s,

there is so much i want to say about the last decade and the ride i’ve been on but there are simply not enough words. or maybe there are actually too many.

i can confidently say i am a totally different person going into 2020 than i was going in to the year 2010 (and thank fuck for that)

there are some lessons that i learnt along the way (in sometimes the harshest ways) that i want to share for anyone that may wish to hear them…

🌸if people want you in their life, they will make time. they will make an effort. you can waste so much time chasing people and wanting people who don’t want you. 

🌼how people behave is a reflection of how they feel about themselves, truly. even when it’s hard to believe sometimes.

🌸not everyone will like you. and that’s ok. it’s not your job to convince them you’re a good person and worth their time. let them miss out. 

🌼there is such a thing as being too kind. too gracious. too understanding. don’t be a mug. 

🌸life can’t be planned, as much as you would like to think it can be, it can’t. there will always be something that happens that you can’t plan. you can’t control what happens to you but you can control how you react to it 

🌼it should be a legal requirement for everyone to go to therapy 

🌸having emotions is ok. you’re allowed to feel how you feel. even if people don’t understand it, you’re not wrong for feeling how you do 

🌼stop trying to make yourself smaller so you don’t intimidate people or scare them off. the right ones will stay 

🌸people will generally be disappointing. they can’t always show up for you. it doesn’t mean they don’t care. even if you think it does 

🌼 when your head becomes too loud, get out. break the cycle. write. sing. dance. run. they will all help (if you’re feeling really brave you can tell someone else)  

🌸social media ; fun, but super fake 

🌼everyone has their shit going on, so try not to be too much of an asshole

🌸life can be messy but still worth living. mistakes are essential to learn and grow but a mistake can only happen once. twice makes it is a choice.

🌼 if you love someone, let them know. you can never regret putting a little more love out in the universe

🌸 there are good people out there, try to trust in them. 

🌼 if you can survive the next 10 seconds, you can survive anything

nothing particularly new or noteworthy there but things we all definitely need to be reminded of on occasion.

to my friends that came into this decade with me and have stuck around this whole time… rach, mark, jade, dalby, den, byng, amy, 504 galdem. bloody hell… ten years! we’ve had fun! thank you. for all the memories. i’ve had some of the best times of my life with you guys this last year and decade. i can’t wait to see what the next 10 bring 💓

the 10’s will be forever known as the decade the three loves of my life entered the world. 2011, 2015, 2017. they make life worth living. if i never get my own kids, these guys are the next best thing. and now i’m thinking about them i just want to squeeze them. oooh.

we lost some of the greatest this decade too and even now i find it hard to comprehend that they’re not here 🌈🐯🐘 ☘️ we have remembered them in the best ways and will continue to do so in the 20’s because, as we all know, the ones we love never truly leave us.

i’m going into 2020 trying to be grateful for the confusion that this last month or so has brought. i’ve honestly been so sad at my core these last few weeks. even if people haven’t seen it. on more than one occasion i have cried myself to sleep. not ideal really. god bless byng and amy for putting up with my teary voice notes; i promise you won’t always have to put up with them.

the me at the beginning of this decade would never have pictured me ending the it where i am. id honestly be most disappointed in myself. i definitely thought i’d have it all figured out by now… maybe that’s the biggest lesson of all… none of us have a clue what we’re doing and just making it up as we go…

i don’t have a clue what the next ten years are going to bring… it’s scary and exciting all at the same time. i guess that’s life. i know for certain – possibly for the first time ever – what i want though. and that makes taking the first step a little easier.

wishing you all nothing but goodness for 2020 and beyond

M xo

• Dorentina •

Day 11.

Hello.

Dorentina, Queen Dora … it’s your turn for a letter.

I mean, I said a lot of nice things about you in your card but I also figured that if I didn’t write you a letter then you’d probably cut me so here it is (I’m joking… kind of)

I have worked with many people over the years and I can truly say, you’re one of a kind.

Take that as you wish 😉

Can you believe it’s been 4 weeks since I saw your face? FOUR WEEKS. Honestly… time is flying.

The thing I miss about our old work is the people… I laughed at someone / something every day. Every single day when I worked with you. I miss that. I also miss the M&S apple crumble and custard dates we used to have. I haven’t had one since I left because I feel like if I do, I’m cheating on you 😂

Anyway, to keep it short and sweet. I think you’re bloody fantastic. And pretty, let’s not forget pretty. Considering you thought I was rude when you first met me, I don’t think this turned out too badly, do you?

Thanks for being my wing woman when we worked together, and gracing me with that Big Dick energy. Knowing I had someone that had my back in that place was so reassuring. I hope you know I always had yours too.

I hope if you learnt one thing from working with me it was to trust yourself more, you’re a good manager – dedicated, loyal, you get the job done and encourage others to come along with you (unless it was Ben, he didn’t have a choice, he had to come whether he wanted to or not 😂) Always happy to let the team have their fun so long as the job got done – I know I don’t have to tell you how important that is.

You special – and I mean that in a nice way, not a sarcastic way (for once)

Can’t wait to see what the future holds for you because I know it will be exciting and a great story to listen to. Let’s hang out soon.

Missing you and your big dick energy, errrryday.

Xoxo Mik

• Mummy Cheese •

Mummy Cheese.

You’re my day 10.

1. I miss you

2. I love you

3. I miss you

Please come back to me.

One of the BEST things to come out of my time at Mothercare. Swear down. I miss calling you after conference calls on a Tuesday to have a chat and occasionally advise you on what to do when a pigeon gets stuck in the shop (RIP Clive).

I got the good vibes from you the first time I met you. Region 9 (I think) meeting in Maidstone. You were the new kid and you walked in with your backpack and I was like “she’s my people, she likes backpacks!!” (honestly, I know, I’m weird)

Since then you’ve just gone up even further in my estimations.

You’re such a support to me, you help me cut through all the noise and remind me to pick the weeds from my garden (so to speak). You say the things I need to hear, even when I’m not really ready to hear or accept them. You just keep saying it until it sinks in and I go ‘you were right’ and you smile and say ‘I know’.

I know that you always have my back. Please know I always have yours.

We have the same (excellent) taste in music and I always looked forward to the conferences/ xmas parties / leaving do’s because I knew we would be on the same team asking the DJ for a bit of Dizzee or old garage chooons.

You love of a good pun is the cherry on top of the cake.

You are beautiful, inside and out, and can rock that Pixie cut in a way that no one else can. You have no idea how jealous that makes me.

I love how much you love your new job.

I love that they are recognising your greatness. You deserve it. I feel like you’ve found your place there and it’s so amazing to hear about and see.

My only issue is that it means we aren’t working together. Please can we work together again?! Some day in the future? Purleeeeaseeee.

Love you, Rachel.

Thanks for being my pal.

xoxo M

• J- Ro •

Day 9 (I think)

JRo.

If anyone ever needs proof that opposites attract then they need look no further than us.

Honestly.

Even your Ma has commented on how different we are.

Our friendship just works though, and I’m so glad it does. I think we balance each other out.

You’re one of my most low maintenance friendships. We go months and months without any contact and then when we do chat, it’s like old times. Nothing’s changed.

I know that I can be hard work, and I know that I’m not always the easiest person for you to be friends with – sometimes our differences are glaringly obvious and that can cause some friction. I know, without you saying anything, that there have been times when you don’t know if you’re coming or going with me and for that I apologise. I want you to know that I’m glad you have stuck around though.

My first and original travel buddy – we’ve had some adventures! I love how keen you are to see the world and how educated on EVERYTHING you are. You are, without a doubt, my smartest friend.

Our adventures have taken us all over Europe and the US. The most glamorous moment of my life is still brushing my teeth in Walmart when we were RVing!! I’m so glad I got to do that with you by my side.

You have the kindest heart of anyone I know – you are my moral compass at times. Not a bad word to say about anyone (except maybe Trump), you lead with love and compassion.

Like me, you just want world peace.

I’m so glad I met you. I’m so glad I get to call you my friend.

I can’t wait to see you in May, give you a big ‘ole hug and make some more memories.

All the love, JRo. All the love

xoxo M

• Steph •

Stephanie Hall.

You Goddess.

When I try and describe my friends it’s always a hard thing to do because there are always so deliciously complex that to only use one word / one phrase would do them an injustice.

You are no different.

The best way I can describe you is this though – you’re the inner voice everyone should have.

You know how fuck boys always have a habit of coming back just as you’ve moved on? Well you always seem to have a habit of checking in just when I am about done with life and all it’s shit. How do you knoooow??? LITERALLY.

I still remember the first time I met you, just a couple of small town girls, living in a small town world (Big up Guildford). You and Gemma both got the job at Mothercare and told Diane that you didn’t know each other… then spent your first shift walking around the floor together. I remember saying to Huma “they’re obviously mates”. Didn’t hide it well, hun 😂

Then there was the jumper out the back (that was pretty traumatic) but you were just as nosy and me about it and I knew then you were just like me.

You were always down for a laugh and weren’t scared of making a fool of yourself for it and I LOVE THAT ABOUT YOU. This probably sounds rude but I’m gonna say it anyway – you wouldn’t expect someone so hot to be so funny. You’re bloody hilarious.

We’ve come along way from cleaning porches on a Sunday and being sung to by the homeless folk of Guildford (he was right, you are beautiful) and I’m so glad I’ve got to stand by the sidelines and watch you blossom into a kind hearted, successful, beautiful woman.

Instagram has such a filter on it and I know behind the happy grins and ‘carefree’ life on those squares there is a lot of hard work and effort that allows you to enjoy the best of what life has to offer. You deserve all of it and so much more.

You are such a force and I’m so glad I get to feel that in my world (sounded less dodgy in my head lol)

Keep on being you, because you are just wonderful.

I love you.

M xoxo

• Byng •

Day 7.

My Byngalyng.

I adore you.

That’s all.

No, I’m just messing with you, but I do. I really do.

You are, most probably, the funniest person I know and you have definitely taught me how important it is to be able to laugh at yourself and how much more fun life is when you laugh your way through it. Any afternoon spent with you is an ab workout. Everyone needs a friend like Byng!! (They can’t actually have you though because you’re mine and I don’t like to share too much)

One of the most genuine, kind hearted people I know. I’m so glad you’re my friend. So supportive and so easy to get along with. I do not know anyone that has a bad word to say about you. We all know I’m a bit like marmite – people either love me or hate me, but you, you’re like chocolate. EVERYONE LOVES YOU.

Always up for an adventure, be it to Norfolk or LA. Some of my favourite memories over the last decade are with you and because of you.

Shout out to that time walking down Venice Beach –

“You in the black! The sun is not your friend”

What a dick.

Thanks for sticking around.

I can’t wait to see what the next 10 years look like.

Love you, peanut cup

M xoxo