• Ellen Pope

The Songs I Just Didn't Write

A bit of a self-indulgent title, but this is a bit of a self-indulgent post, so hey, fuck it.

Those that have followed me recently on social will realise that after a pretty fucked up time in my life, I decided to stuff way too much shit in a case and fuck off on holiday on my own. Which, all in all, sounded like a very empowering thing to do until I was lying in my hotel the night before I flew, basically wanting to start to cry and not to finish.

This holiday was going to be significant in so many ways. I had decided that before I left. I even wrote it all down on a piece of paper titled "Shit to sort out in Menorca."

This was the place I was going to get all of my anger out. I was going to build my business in the sunshine and write. Write about it all. Lay it all on the line. Piss some people off. Open my soul to the world. I was also going to send loads of work emails and pitch loads of ideas. I am the Phoenix, I was going to be rising. This bullet list also had shit like "email accountant and sort out life insurance". FFS.

And then I arrived on the sunny island, and something changed. For one, it is just fucking beautiful (and this is not a fluff piece for the Menorca tourist board), number two, I had conquered one of my biggest fears in flying - and I had done it all by myself.

That first evening, I braved dining alone in the hotel, walked along the beach and found my bearings; bought way too many snacks and found my coffee from home in my suitcase. After spending most of 2019 (and the arse end of 2018) doubting my every move, and being truly "unloved", climbing into a huge bed and having a brew was the beginning of a feeling of self-acceptance (and yeah, I know that sounds odd even as I type this). I felt happier.

And this is where it all went a bit shaky. When it comes to happiness, I carry a massive sense of guilt. It is an emotion I feel uncomfortable with and one I seek to destroy as soon as it appears. So I did the one thing I shouldn't have done that night and reached out to someone who I knew full well would make me unhappy in this situation. And I went to be in floods of tears. Not precisely how Day 1 should have gone, and a bullet point that wasn't on my list.

What followed the next morning was inevitable: The Mother-Daughter chat. And the pivot for this entire trip, because after explaining what I had done, and being genuinely bollocked for my actions, she muttered the following;

"Ellen, it is like you never want to be happy. We protect you to heal, we clean your wounds, then you stuff your hands back in the bags of knives and emotionally cut yourself all over again. It is like you only function in that pain".


But she was right.

I do feel more comfortable in that place of pain than I ever have trying to be happy. I think to be happy means self-acceptance, and being a teeeeeeny bit selfish. Both things I was not exactly great at.

I'd realised I do go one step forward and three back.

I sat on the balcony and reopened my scrappy piece of paper, where I had worked on titles for writing pieces. This was going to my version of Adele 21. I was going to sit on this holiday and bare my soul with pieces about bullying, how lies ruin lives, a very open and raw piece on my battle with burnout before Christmas which basically left me unable to make a sandwich, toxic men, and my cherry on the cake "An Open Letter To All The Men Who I Loved, Lost, And Fucked Me Off". I was hoping this piece would not only get me signed by Penguin Publications, get a huge movie deal and mean I spent my summers in the Bahamas, but also would give me closure.

But Mum was right. I wasn't looking for closure with any of those pieces. I was looking to open up wounds again.

So I scrunched the piece of paper up - and I threw it in the sea.

I closed my laptop, and I set myself different challenges. Ellen challenges.

I opened my notebook, and I wrote a new page "Shit To Do To Get Your Fucking Sparkle Back". Bullet point one - nap.

Other bullet points included.

  • You are a size 16, you have cellulite, stretch marks, veins on your legs and teeny tits. Just get over it.

  • Swim in that ruddy sea

  • Go topless, might as well, you have fuck all to lose.

  • Wear appropriate shoes and get lost

  • Go have lunch on your own

  • Take yourself out for a date, spray too much perfume and put on the little pants you brought with you for no reason.

  • Drink gin in the afternoon

  • Talk to strangers

  • Talk to nobody

  • Empower yourself and show the world you are not scared.

There were others, but you get where I was going with it.

And so, basically, apart from also napping too much and becoming obsessed with Women's World Cup Football, I have worked my way through the list of things and tried to give ZERO fucks while doing so.

And it has been liberating and has made me realise that I was looking to write Adele's 21, but really I should have written Adele's 25. So, I am not going to write anything about what happened. It all happened, and that was that. I don't really want even to give some people the platform, and I don't want to hurt myself again.

Because, really, what has happened up to this point can't be changed. I can't go back and fix any of it, and I can no longer take it with me. I can't feel guilty for things I didn't do. I can't be belittled for not fitting in. I don't need to answer to anyone, I own my own business. My ventures are my own, not yours.

A decent handful of men are sitting somewhere, knowing that they lost something special, for a variety of different reasons. And that special was me.

But that is ok because by losing her, you gave her back to me. And me and her, we're going to be ok together for the next chapter. Because she has my back.


Miss Pope is part of the Ellen Pope Communications Brand

Ellen Pope is a freelance copywriter, marketing consultant and food magazine editor

You can contact Ellen on ellen@ell

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