As the coronavirus pandemic continues to run rife in the UK, we’re back in lockdown again. We’ve all been instructed to follow the same rules (more or less) - but how that actually looks from person-to-person is surprisingly unique. With so many different living, working, and personal situations at play, each week Cosmopolitan invites a different reader to share a glimpse into their life over a 24-hour period….
Girl on the Net is a 36-year-old sex blogger who broke up with her partner of nine years in the summer. During the first lockdown back in March 2020, they were having brilliant sex and loving spending time together. But after [brief reason they split] he moved out of the flat they owned together. Now, they're preparing to sell it - which involves clearing out a lot of stuff, an emotional task she refers to as an "ongoing project" - and she is experiencing being single for the first time in nearly a decade. While she sometimes feels lonely, she's also an optimist. Her days are spent making the most of her newfound alone time and doing what she can to keep her mental health in a good place.
8.30am: I wake up, shower, have coffee and breakfast, and get dressed. I'm always dressed. I think it might be a bit weird that I don't really like pyjamas or dressing gowns. But that's the way I've always been. Having been freelance for about six years, I was working from home full time anyway, before the pandemic.
9am: I do my best work in the morning and hardly ever work in the afternoon, so I settle down at my desk and get started. As a sex blogger, my mornings are usually busy with writing or recording audio porn.
12pm: Three hours and a blog post about being 'f*ckdrunk' later, I stop work. I always go out at lunchtime, for some kind of exercise. I'm really lucky to live near a couple of lovely green spaces. Today, I go for a bike ride. I prefer to cycle in the day since the breakup, because if I go for a ride and come home at night, the shock of seeing no lights on in the house still gets me. On the plus side, being single means I feel like I have more time in my day to spend by myself, and I can go out for longer.
1pm: After a quick lunch, I'm back at my desk with the hopes of getting another hour or two of decent work in before the inevitable afternoon slump. I knock out admin and reply to emails for an hour.
2.15pm: I decide to ignore my remaining work and have a wank. My wanking has always been quite up and down. I tend to go through phases anyway... one week I'll be doing it loads. And then the next, I just kind of forget it exists. There's definitely a correlation between that and my mental health. If I'm feeling happy, I'm wanking more. And today, I'm feeling happy.
4pm: Well, I've officially given up on work for the day. A month or two after the breakup, something snapped in my back and the doctor said working on my core would help. So I bought a hula hoop and began teaching myself. Now, it's genuinely one of my favourite things to do. I spend 20 minutes hula hooping in front of my mirror in my pants.
I have quite a lot of anxiety about showing my body to new people. I didn't want to get back into the dating scene with all of these body hang ups. That's why I always do exercise in front of a mirror - just to try and get myself used to seeing my body more. Today's session makes me realise I genuinely am really enjoying my body at the moment. I wonder if this is because I'm using it more.
4.30pm: Another great thing about being single and living alone is that there's no argument over what music to put on. And I've been listening to lots of my music lately. And it's especially good knowing there's no one to be embarrassed in front of... because all I'm listening to this week is the Grease soundtrack. I give it yet another listen.
6pm: When my ex and I were still together, we were in a routine where every night we'd sit, watch TV and eat snacks. After the breakup, I realised I'm actually not that into telly. So instead of watching something every night, I signed up to learn Sign Language through the British Sign Language Institute. It was something I’ve wanted to do for a really long time because it feels like a method of self improvement, but it doesn't involve writing (which I do every day for work).
I print out the fingerspelling alphabet and stick it up next to the mirror in my kitchen. After pouring myself a glass of wine, I play some more music (not Grease, for once) and spell out some of the words in the songs. Obviously the pandemic is a really horrible and traumatic event, and I wouldn't ever wish this on any of us. But I feel there are gifts in there too, that I want to make the most of. Learning more and learning about myself are two of them.
7.45pm: As my ex and I are in the process of selling the flat, I haven't got much to spend on food right now. Since he moved out, I have been making very cheap, budget meals and essentially trying to gamify having no money. The game being, How many meals I can get out of 20 quid? With a really judicious shop in Iceland, I can get about two weeks' worth of breakfasts, lunches and dinners. I'll do a big batch cook of chilli or lentil ragu, and freeze it.
Tonight, like most evenings, I select at random a container from my freezer and defrost it. "Oh, this looks like chilli. I should make some rice," I say to myself.
8.15pm: I sit down with my dinner in front of the TV because that's the habit I got into with my ex. I get bored in the time it takes me to finish my tea, and switch the telly off before washing up.
8.30pm: In the evenings I have gotten very used to this new bad thing I do... put tunes or a podcast on in my kitchen, and listen while I smoke at the back door. It’s not great. And tonight I'm getting through a lot of cigarettes...
8.45pm: I text around to see if anyone's up for a quick phone catch up. I've been trying to do this most days as it's nice to touch base with other people who are also on their own. I speak to one of my friends who I miss desperately and who I haven't seen for ages. We're on the call for two hours.
11pm: Full disclosure: I do have a support bubble. I’m currently bubbling with a guy I met on a dating site. I did that thing where I was like, "F*ck, we're definitely going to have a winter lockdown. I need to find someone to bang." And after some very efficient and swift fishing on a dating site, I managed to find someone and lock it in before November. This guy is very nice and very fun. I've been popping around so we can bang every now and then. I plan what kind of shag I want to tease out of him when I see him in a couple of days, before getting distracted and thinking about my ex.
Reflecting on the breakup, which is something I do most days, I realise I’m more relaxed than ever. There's just something about not having someone else in the house. You don't have to be aware of another person's needs and there is none of the emotional labour of being in a relationship. Which is quite nice. But I do spend a lot of time thinking about him, even now.
Although I liked him a lot, I know it was the right thing for us to split up. Knowing that doesn't make me miss him any less, though. I'd usually aim to be asleep by 12, but when I actually get to sleep these days is a real crapshoot. Sometimes I go to sleep immediately. But tonight, I lie awake thinking about him until 4am.
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