I woke at 3am last night, could not get back to sleep. Thought my throat was itchy. No nice thoughts to comfort myself with. But I did think this: do I catastrophise? Do I get things out of proportion?
And so I started to think of times when I churned and worried all night, and what the eventual outcome was*.
- I once wrote a piece about a famous Hollywood actress, mentioning her facelift. After it had gone to press, I worried all night that she hadn’t had a facelift after all and that she would sue me. She didn’t.
- The night before an interview announcing my appointment as editor of Marie Claire was due to be published in a national newspaper, I tossed and turned, convinced they had dug up my birth certificate and were about to print my real age. They hadn’t and they didn’t.
- After mentioning a female MP’s miscarriages in an interview I had published in the evening newspaper I was working on, she called and started screaming at me and threatening me. Nothing happened.
- When I was features editor of a daily paper, we all used to sit beneath screens showing rolling news programmes. One in the US came up with a photo of Ashton Kutcher, whom we had just interviewed, and then a shot of the feature I had run in my newspaper. He objected to the headline and quote. I remember my managing editor coming over to my desk: ‘This could cost us millions,’ he said to me. It didn’t.
- I was travelling in a taxi from a firm that was on the company account, on my way to another work assignment. The driver looked at me. ‘I had your boss in my car the other day,’ he said. ‘She was talking about you. I’d watch your back if I were you.’ Oh Jesus, I thought. I have a million-pound mortgage! I’m still there. The boss has long gone.
- My worst ever night was the one before a meeting at HMRC HQ, somewhere near the south coast (my insolvency lawyer, already costing me thousands, actually charged me for his train fare). Nic had booked me into a hotel nearby and had paid for a massage in my room. But the massage didn’t help. The therapist actually said, ‘Your muscles think they are bones.’ I was terrified. I thought my life was going to end and they would seize everything. They had a pile of old YOU columns on their desk and fashion reports as ‘evidence’ of my spending, unable to comprehend that foreign travel and spa visits were part of my job. They produced a photo of me in a Vera Wang dress. ‘How much was this?’ asked the woman. ‘It was borrowed! It went back!’
But I survived. In fact, I should have stood up for myself, not simply rolled over. Anyway, I have been catastrophising about David. The reason I sent the light and friendly text last week was that I was worried about his state of mind. He is jilted, self-isolating. I wondered what he might do, given he loves me so desperately. And so when he replied that he was alive, I sent this, in case he hadn’t already read about it in my column:
‘I am trying to get your money back for the engagement ring. The jeweller is now closed, obviously, but I will persevere when they open again.’
I waited. I was fully expecting, ‘No, keep it. I want you to have it as a reminder of our love.’ Or, ‘Please, please reconsider. I love you. I will change. I am already in my garden pulling up weeds and dealing with the pile of unopened letters.’
But no. Do you know what he replied? Do you want to guess? We could run a competition.
I will put you out of your misery. It read:
‘Ouch. OK, thank you.’
Ouch! Ouch? And, OK, thank you?? I honestly think men are mad. But, you see? Things are never as bad as they seem…
*Sorry it’s a list