Columnists / Rachel Hawkins

‘Getting through this last year has been a struggle’

By rachel hawkins, Sunday Mar 8, 2020

It’s International Women’s Day today. Don’t worry, boys – you get your day too. November, I think it is.

In fact, I wrote something for that too. Here it is. I’m all about equality if nothing else.

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On this illustrious day where we celebrate all things female, I want to give thanks to some very special women in my life. Women who have been my much-needed support network over the last year or so.

Well, to be honest, I’ve been lucky enough to know them for 18 years. However, it’s the last 12 months where I feel our friendship has gone up a notch. We’ve become family.

Historically, I’ve hated WhatsApp groups. The incessant notifications and the endless scrolling you have to do to catch up isn’t something I’ve previously enjoyed. However, I couldn’t be without my girls’ WhatsApp group now.

It’s a hive of hilarity, support, memes, inspirational quotes, moaning, ranting, emotional outbursts, gossip. You name it. It’s in there.

Then we have my kitchen. Another hive of the aforementioned.

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Read more: My Bristol Favourites: Rachel Hawkins

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I called time on my long-term relationship a year ago – March 29 to be precise. When we were supposed to leave the EU (the first time around), I exited my own union. Brexit became Rexit. I need to stop dining out on that shit joke, don’t I? Sorry.

Anyway, when I split up with my ex a year ago, I never expected I’d be embarking on a journey with two of my best friends going through the exact same thing.

While, obviously, it’s sad we’ve all found ourselves in this position, I consider myself lucky in a way. Lucky to be going through an uncertain and difficult time with them by my side, knowing we can all be that support and strength to one another.

They get it. They understand the weird feelings. Because they feel them too. They recognise the anxiety. Because they get anxious too. They know all about those ‘down days’. Because they get them too.

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Read more: Rachel Hawkins: ‘Be kind to yourself, because you’ve only got one you’

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Coming out of a long-term relationship – especially at this stage of my life, where I have a child and a house to sell – is a really strange thing to experience. It brings with it so many feelings, so many worrying thoughts and fears.

One day you can feel absolutely fine, the next you’ll feel the total opposite. Getting through those days is a struggle. But having people around you who know what that feels like means it’s less of an isolating experience.

There’s been tears. Usually on a Sunday morning when we’re a bit hungover and feeling jaded. Then there’s been the laughter – that usually results in more tears.

I’ll never forget the time where I was getting ready to go out. I hated everything that night. My hair was shit. My clothes were shit. It was lashing down with rain. Everything was going wrong.

So, I texted my best friend and explained I was in a bad place and wasn’t coming out. Next thing I know she’s at my door, bottle of wine in hand. A few glasses of the white stuff later and we’re the only ones on the dancefloor.

Then there was the time I isolated myself from everyone. Sometimes I just withdraw from life. There goes that doorbell on Monday evening. My other dear friend has turned up with a ‘care package’. A gift bag full of magazines, flowers, wine and chocolates. Such a kind and thoughtful gesture.

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Read more: Rachel Hawkins: ‘My unwavering fit to burst pride for Bristol, our incredible city’

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I’ve got some great male friends in my life. They provide me with amazing support, laughter, and advice. Not forgetting an exorbitant amount of piss taking. And believe me I couldn’t be without them either. Even if sometimes the piss taking goes too far.

But my girlfriends. They just get it. They get me.

As hard as this year has undoubtedly been, I know without them and our shared experiences, our candid conversations and our support for one another, it could’ve been a damn sight harder.

I’m so excited to see what lies ahead for us on this new ‘journey’ together. We’ve agreed there needs to be a book based on everything that’s happened over the last year. It’ll be full of quotes, experiences and stories.

I think it’ll have to be anonymous though. I might be well into my thirties, but I’m still absolutely petrified of another woman in my life. My mother.

Main photo: Rachel Hawkins

Bristol24/7 columnist Rachel Hawkins lives in Kingswood and recently made the pages of the Daily Mail after sharing a keyboard shortcut on Twitter. Follow her at @ourrachblogs

Read more: ‘Life doesn’t come with a manual, sometimes I wish it did’

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