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I once feared to live with a boy but lockdown has made me alarmingly co-dependent

Natasha Pszaenicki

consider myself to be a strong (apart from when hungry), independent woman. Happily single for most of my twenties, I became accustomed to making my own life decisions with no thought of anyone else: from money (savings, sorry what’s that now?) to where I lived (near pals and a pub, obvs) and what I ate (exactly how many is too many Deliveroos per week?). 

When the time came to finally “live with a boy” (a pretty niche joke for Friends fans, that one) — that boy being my boyfriend and now husband — it was a big adjustment. To others it could look like I still haven’t got my head around cohabitation all that well: my husband and I have separate bedrooms for starters but that’s a snoring (his) issue. In fact, I would have gone for adjoining houses à la Tim Burton and Helena Bonham Carter if I’d been fabulously rich and had it my way.  

I have always prided myself on living by the mantra of Nicole Scherzinger and her gyrating Pussycat Dolls; “I don’t need a man to make me happy”,  they hollered. “Hell yeah,” I’d whoop, dancing round my flat, blissfully alone (ok… with a glass of wine). Except,  something’s happened and I blame lockdown. You see, I’ve become alarmingly co-dependent.  

My Spanish husband headed back to his motherland (before Tier 4 restrictions… don’t you be coming for me, Twitter bullies) for the first time in a year to spend Christmas with his family. I was looking forward to the alone time  but the day he left I had an anxiety attack. It happened as I was about to pop to the shops to stock up on essentials (Doritos). I had a huge panic and had to psyche myself up to leave my flat, navigate the busy Brixton streets and do my food shop. I kept my keys in my hand the entire time — I was terrified I’d lock myself out and have no choice but to traipse up and down Electric Avenue forevermore. Safely back home, I thought I’d order myself a takeaway as a reward but the thought of answering the door to a stranger on my own caused a mini meltdown too. Alas, I was forced to cook.  

I’m on board with one of the wellness trends this January:  

a mindful drinks trolley

Then I realised: over the past year I haven’t made a single decision without him. During the pandemic we’ve done everything together: meal plans, food shopping, lunch breaks, evening strolls, workouts, TV watching and cleaning have all been done à deux. He’s become my world — not in a gross, cheesy way but because he’s literally the only person I can see. This latest lockdown will do nothing for my needy streak, but I can’t complain, I still thrust drunkenly around the flat to feminist pop anthems, but now I have a dance partner to reach the high notes.

Each January, wellness trend reports do the rounds. Filled with goop-tastic nonsense proclaiming that mindfully stuffing kale into our vaginas and consciously breathing through our eyeballs will be life-changing. This year though there’s a wellness trend that I’m on board with: a mindful drinks trolley. I’m sure I’m not the only one whose 5pm quarantini turned into a 4pm bottle of wine last year and, for 2021, a clocking-off liquid treat is still de rigueur. But, with a record 6.5 million people attempting Dry January, it’s clear we want our collective imbibing to change. Enter the mindful drinks trolley atop which sits a non-alcoholic dark & spicy spirit that can easily pass as rum or a CBD distilled booze-free gin. The trend isn’t about abstaining either, 4% ABV hard seltzers are essentially alcoholic flavoured water. Fewer calories, fewer hangovers. Bottoms up!