petite anglaise

June 28, 2005

advice

Filed under: navel gazing — bipolarinparis @ 11:27 am

Over the past month my inbox has been groaning under a torrent of messages, from the caring and supportive to the damning and judgemental, with every shade in between. The comments box is only the tip of the iceberg. I have read more well-intentioned advice than I know what to do with.

Everybody sees a situation like mine in a different light, depending on what life has thrown at them; what kind of baggage they have picked up on the way. Sometimes the subject makes people distinctly uncomfortable: one friend I confided in seemed to find it impossible to talk about the breakdown of my relationship with Mr Frog without casting a slightly anxious eye over his own situation, almost squirming in his seat.

When people give me an insight into their own, similar, experiences, I have to tell myself to bear in mind that what worked for someone else, while it often makes interesting reading, can never be wholly relevant to what is happening in my life. Every situation is unique.

I’m not complaining. After all, when someone takes the time to type a long email to a person they have never met, it shows that they care enough to volunteer a point of view, write some kind words, or share their own, sometimes painful, experiences. I am very grateful for this, but endeavour all the same to take whatever is offered with a pinch of salt.

There are those who believe I should have “worked harder” to save my relationship with Mr Frog. Those who caution me against throwing myself headlong into a new relationship so soon, and advocate some time alone first, to adjust to the new status quo. To help Tadpole adjust. Those who are pessimistic, predicting that once the first flush of infatuation wears off, I will realise that I have made a terrible mistake. Those who advise me to keep Tadpole separate from the new adventure I am embarking on, for months, or even years. Those who feel the need to admonish me for having even contemplated leaving Tadpole’s father in the first place to selfishly pursue my own happiness. How dare I put myself first? What kind of a mother am I?

I reserve the right to put my hands over my ears like a child and chant loudly so that I can’t hear any of these words. I reserve the right to listen to my heart, and follow its lead, wherever it may take me.

Am I being selfish? Self-centred? Probably. I feel sure that I am doing what is best for everyone involved, but then I would, wouldn’t I? I wonder whether anyone can ever really be objective about their own motivations? Don’t we all feel tempted to tweak reality to fit in with our long term goals? To persuade ourselves that what we are doing is ultimately for the best?

All I know is this: I love, and I am loved. More deeply, on more levels, than I ever believed possible. I don’t really subscribe to notions like fate, or divine intervention, but I do marvel every day at the fact that I ever crossed paths with this person. I’ve found something, someone I didn’t even know I was waiting for, until now. I want to surrender myself to this feeling, to him, completely.

So don’t ask me to wait. Or take a break, and revisit this a few months down the line. It’s simply not an option for me. For us. I’m no fool, and I will force myself to tread carefully for the sake of my daughter’s well being. She is, and always will be, at the centre of my universe. Mr Frog will remain an important figure in my life too, both for Tadpole’s sake, and because I value him as a friend. But while I’m waiting, impatiently, for the next phase of my life to begin, taking small, measured steps towards it, I reserve the right to hug myself gleefully every time I think of the gorgeous things that my future holds. To laugh to myself in the metro. To smile at my monitor when I receive mail.

No dark cloud can leave a shadow on this.

44 Comments

  1. You are so right….don’ t let anyone tell you not to think of yourself… I am in my 9th year of spending most of my time thinking of my kids or being with them when I’m not at work, and I can honestly and clearly say I wish I could do otherwise (for lots of reasons I cannot). My entire life seems to revolve around them, and it absolutely should not. A happy mom is a thousand times better than a pitifully pious one, doing what society expects of her. Go for it…

    by the way, what happened to your friends’ kittens???? !!

    Comment by magillicuddy — June 28, 2005 @ 11:53 am

  2. ah, the baby cats, they all found homes

    Comment by petite — June 28, 2005 @ 11:55 am

  3. Noone can live life for you, noone can understand what you’re feeling as well as you can. Those who are important and who truly care will see how happy you are and be satisfied with that. Those who pass judgement or predict doom, well, they can go (insert something painful here)…

    Comment by JAG — June 28, 2005 @ 12:18 pm

  4. Of course no one can fault anyone for desiring happiness, and we each know the best way to our own. However, we do not exist in a vacuum. By your own admission, you began seriously considering this other man while still with Mr Frog, without telling Mr Frog, and fully knowing where it could go with the other man. You waited until the potential with the new man was as certain as possible before finally being honest with Mr Frog. That is what I find worth criticizing. If your relationship was so bad with Mr Frog that you were willing to leave him, why didn’t you do it on your own? Why not respect his feelings enough to do that, rather than betray his trust? Why did you wait until you could conveniently step into a new relationship (yes, it is a beginning, but it’s already a firm one) before breaking it off? These are rhetorical questions for the most part.

    And if people are going to ask what baggage I bring, even though I dislike falling for the ad hominem fallacy (attacking the messengers rather than the message on its own merits), I broke off a six-year relationship with my own Mr Frog, alone. Without a new relationship – or even the shadow of a potential one – to fall back on. It’s been several months, I am still alone, and happier than I ever have been before; I got my life back. And I respected the trust and feelings of my ex in doing so.

    Comment by oaklie — June 28, 2005 @ 12:37 pm

  5. I could have written today’s posting myself, I really could. Good for you, is all I can say.

    I’ve also discovered a similar sort of happiness in the past few years, later in life than you but with a similar mix of enormous happiness and an awareness that I still have responsibilities and friendships in my ‘old world’ that I intend to respect.

    I can’t quite see why people feel a need to urge caution upon you, unless they’re relatives or close friends. We who know you simply through your writing should surely be uncritical?

    Comment by David H — June 28, 2005 @ 12:43 pm

  6. Very well spoken, Petite. Yes, very much loved & not just by Mr Mewman. As you say, there are different levels & various forms, and many who love your company. Fortunately, also, lots of us are content with this and happy to respond without feeling compelled to advise your next steps. Its your journey…… just glad to be able to share a bit of it with you! Life is very short.

    Comment by fella — June 28, 2005 @ 12:46 pm

  7. Oaklie – I don’t think I was consciously waiting for someone else to come along in order to make my decision about leaving, but as I say, can one ever really see these things objectively?

    The timing was what it was and yes, of course, it has undeniably made it easier for me, and harder for Mr Frog. I don’t honestly know when/whether I would have found the strength to go it alone without something giving me a push in the right direction. I’ll never know now.

    Again, our situations may seem similar on the surface, but I know nothing about what compelled you to leave, whether you were married, whether you had children, or what you would have done had you met someone very special at a crucial time. It’s easy to criticise in theory…

    And as for respect and betrayal of trust: my conscience is clear. But we all have our own set of values, don’t we?

    Comment by petite — June 28, 2005 @ 12:59 pm

  8. Thank you for being as honest with your readers as you were with Mr Frog, regardless of the consequences.

    Comment by sammy — June 28, 2005 @ 1:00 pm

  9. Well that told us. :)

    No seriously. I’m in a relationship with a guy from a completely different culture who lives on the other side of the world and I get very gloomy predictions off people. I tell myself that they say it because they’re too unimaginative or narrow minded to put themselves in my situation and that they think what is true for them is true for me.

    When you talked about your break up everyone filtered it through their own lives. I wondered how you felt about having turned into a blog soap opera and whether it would put you off blogging but I can see that it hasn’t.

    Comment by Bathsheba — June 28, 2005 @ 1:21 pm

  10. Been reading your blog for a while now – been a silent observer all along.. very well written, enjoy reading it. You mention chanting in your post, what do you chant ? Are you a part of any group ?

    Comment by Levis — June 28, 2005 @ 1:24 pm

  11. well, my advice to you is…

    just kidding. the only thing I have to say and I think I’ve said it to you before is that life is very short and can be even shorter than that. you know the rest. kisses from mozzie hell.

    ;)

    Comment by vit — June 28, 2005 @ 2:03 pm

  12. well said.
    it’s a cliché, but life is not a dress rehearsal. You have to live it. Every day.

    Comment by trine — June 28, 2005 @ 2:40 pm

  13. Yes I, too, can empathise but won’t bore everyone with the details.
    You wrote a lot of honest, down to earth commonsense despite being on a cloud so I reckon you’ll do the right thing for Tadpole and yourself. What else matters? – except the New Man -of course!!!

    Comment by Sandy Bootman — June 28, 2005 @ 2:58 pm

  14. Go for it, Petite. I did, and I will never regret it, either.

    Comment by Bad Hippie — June 28, 2005 @ 3:04 pm

  15. I don’t see why there would be any need for you to wait, or take a break. If you weren’t doing this in ‘small, measured steps’ I’d be worrying – but you are. There is time in your life for Petite alone, for Petite and Tadpole, for Mr Frog – and for Petite with Mr Newman. I admire your ability to strike such a sensible balance between the urge to rush into the future and the need to manage competing demands in the present. And I’m glad that he is there to bring you so much joy.

    Comment by Zinnia Cyclamen — June 28, 2005 @ 3:19 pm

  16. You are an amazingly well-adjusted woman.

    And I’m not even going to add the “for someone who just broke off an important relationship” part. Because today’s post shows that that doesn’t even matter.

    I admire you.

    Comment by sarah — June 28, 2005 @ 3:27 pm

  17. Those who condemn you only seem to see the world in black and white.

    You will not bring up a happy child if you are unhappy yourself. You are a human being, not a baby making machine.

    You and Mr. Frog have moved on to the next phase of your relationship – that’s life.

    Comment by stressqueen — June 28, 2005 @ 3:41 pm

  18. Superb, uplifting. The quality of your writing just seems to get better and better. The joy you express goes to show that great art doesn’t have to come from miserable circumstances.

    Comment by Parkin Pig in shorts — June 28, 2005 @ 3:44 pm

  19. Always the best way to proceed is to listen to each and every piece of advice you are given, and then make up your own mind. Which seems to be exactly what you have done. I said this before but I think it bears repeating, tadpole will be better off with two happy parents that live apart than two miserable ones that live together. The best thing you can do for your daughter is to make sure your own life is as happy and balanced as possible, and to pray that Mr Frog will soon find the same.

    Comment by Alan — June 28, 2005 @ 3:49 pm

  20. Bravo… and ditto to Parkin Pig.

    Comment by the insider — June 28, 2005 @ 3:54 pm

  21. I’ve still not heard anything about my offer that everyone come and live with me in order that I may fully live the petite-opera experience. I extend that offer now to include all those who currently reside in Rennes (I’ve got plenty of room) Answers on a postcard please…

    Comment by Mavis — June 28, 2005 @ 4:30 pm

  22. to follow your heart, ma chere, is NEVER wrong. Sometimes not so easy but once you do it, you see there is no other way to live an authentic life. I came across a quote today by Annie Dillard that you might like: How we spend each day is how we spend our life. I think you spend yours very well.
    and thanks for standing up for the positive, btw.
    hugs,
    caroline

    Comment by caroline — June 28, 2005 @ 4:31 pm

  23. I think to leave anyone you’ve been with for 8 years requires a certain courage, regardless of what could be there for you. Well done for daring petite and not settling for something which was comfortable but not enough. After all life is what takes place while we are busy making other plans…

    Comment by May — June 28, 2005 @ 5:16 pm

  24. Sounds to me like you’re doing just fine. Nothing you’ve ever written seems to have been done without consideration for others but at the end ofthe day you must always be true to yourself. I’m glad you’re happy and that your future is looking so bright.

    Comment by sp999 — June 28, 2005 @ 5:19 pm

  25. You’re in love, you are well-adjusted enough to take your fans’ advice with a grain of salt AND you went to a blogger’s picnic? I think perhaps you should be the one doling out the unsolicited advice :)

    I’ll send you a list of my problems shortly…

    Comment by brando — June 28, 2005 @ 6:27 pm

  26. Aah, you ARE in love. I’ve reserved comment until now because I was waiting for this post, which I knew would come, from you. Bravo, Petite.

    Comment by MJ — June 28, 2005 @ 6:50 pm

  27. I dunno…being happy and all that…smiling…being courteous to your ex, caring of your child, and loving while being loved…those are all very disturbing behaviors! BUT having all of that and going to the picnic too, that is downright reprehensible!

    Comment by Bob — June 28, 2005 @ 7:31 pm

  28. I must admit, I agree with oaklie on many points, but I am not about to give you advice; we all live our lives and do what we do at any given time. As the old saying goes ‘you live, you learn’…

    But, perhaps, although you do not want the advice at all times, you do encourage – or rather leave yourself open to it – by holding up your private life for scrutiny on a blog? The public domain and all that s**t. I mean, Posh Spice can’t complain about someone taking her photo when she doesn’t want them to, can she?

    Comment by Riotstar — June 28, 2005 @ 8:09 pm

  29. Hell no!Don’t wait and don’t hesitate one half of a second,love,be loved,fall in love and stay in love with your lover.Live it up ’cause life is short and nobody deserve the bad.You deserve the best,both you.
    Cheers.

    Comment by GPV — June 28, 2005 @ 10:17 pm

  30. I have come to the conclusion that peopl who start sentences with the phrase “what you need to do is” are tools :)

    Comment by Ben — June 29, 2005 @ 12:39 am

  31. Are you going to move in with him? The distance must be excruciating!!! But you love Paris don’t you (when it’s not stinky hot) ?

    Comment by Maurine au bout du monde — June 29, 2005 @ 1:33 am

  32. Greetings from Australia. I have just discovered your blog and have had a lovely half hour racing through bits and pieces to get an idea of your story. Let me just say that I have really enjoyed the posts and also many of the very entertaining commenters.

    I hereby announce that I shall be a regular reader. I hereby announce that I will give no advice or make any judgements. If you want to hear my silly story you may have to make a visit to Feminoz but otherwise I won’t bore you with me, me, me in relation to what happens in your life. (That’s what other blogs are for..heh)

    I’d love to live in Paris. I’d love to visit Paris. I am a committed francophile, driving my family/ friends batty with my obsessive fasciantion with all things French.

    Just ask the man who I am trying to leave – Coco Chanel perfume is a very expensive habit. Over here anyways.

    Good luck with everything in your new life. What a roller coaster to be on! Have fun with it! Don’t listen to the nay-sayers….hang on, that was a little like advice wasn’t it? I’ll stop that, right now.

    Bella Ozfemme

    Comment by Bella Ozfemme — June 29, 2005 @ 2:59 am

  33. It’s funny, because in a book, when people cheat for love, you root for them. In real life, when people you know do the cheating, people are a lot more judgemental.

    Don’t get me wrong… I’m happy you’re in love. I just wish you’d done it for sex.

    Comment by nardac — June 29, 2005 @ 6:15 am

  34. have you ever heard the song Les divorcés by Michel Delpech? http://membres.lycos.fr/baltaro/delpech.htm

    Comment by marion — June 29, 2005 @ 9:00 am

  35. GO YOU. You definitely have your head & your heart in the right place – to hell with what anyone else thinks…this is YOUR life.

    Comment by Valkyrie — June 29, 2005 @ 9:04 am

  36. stressqueen wrote: “Those who condemn you only seem to see the world in black and white.”

    While I am happy for petite, and admittedly in no small part because of the personal relevance of her choices, I sometimes feel pangs of fear that I think are reflected in people’s naysaying. The flipside of the excitement and sheer joy of being the one in love is the anguish and pain of the one being left. And I think sometimes of how dreadful it would be if I was the one being told, “hon, I’ve found someone else, and I knew YOU would understand.” Encouraging couples to stick together through thick and thin does promote stability, a societal safety net even if it smothers out individual gratification.

    There’s no black and white, only shimmering and murky shades of grey.

    Comment by jin-ah — June 29, 2005 @ 9:22 am

  37. Smiling right along with you, petite, and so glad you’ve done what’s right for YOU. True love is a wonderful thing snd sometimes we find it in the strangest places. Ask me how I know.

    Comment by christina — June 29, 2005 @ 12:50 pm

  38. Delurking, to say that I will not give advice either… I am enjoying your writing, and the snapshots of Paris and your life. Just wondering if you would have been as open with the new developments in your life if your new love had not been related to blogging. Or could he not NOT have been?

    Comment by seldom — June 29, 2005 @ 2:06 pm

  39. Well – I am an English man who lives in France who has recently been left by his wife.. I am now very happily in love with another girl, but I have some advice that helped me and may help your Mr Frog.. Please pass it on if you can.. It helped me through the bad times..

    1) Take it one day at a time – don’t expect anything, and don’t try to think too far ahead

    2) Stay calm – don’t be abrasive
    3) Keep off the booze – obviously related to rule 2

    4) Realise you cannot change the past – and even if you had done things differently the outcome might have been the same

    5) Look after yourself first – the children will be ok, and they definitely will not be ok if you aren’t..

    I also think it is important to cry about it – if he doesn’t do that now he probably will later, at a time when a new girlfriend might not understand.

    I have three children with my ex-wife, and now live very close by, and hope all will work out for her as well as for me. She was having an affair and I definitely felt betrayed and hurt – but these things do happen, and many people go through many worse things and survive..

    Be strong Mr Frog.. This is a new beginning, not an end..

    And good luck to you too Petite, but look after his kid and treat him fairly..

    Comment by Nicholas — June 29, 2005 @ 3:20 pm

  40. My advice to you is don’t listen to other people’s advice!

    Comment by Greg — June 29, 2005 @ 6:05 pm

  41. Well, advice is probably precisely the reason I haven’t commented for ages. Not a big advice-giver – what do I know about anything???

    Anyway, I have been reading and thinking about you and hoping that everything is going well and am glad that it seems to be so far…

    Comment by kjr — June 29, 2005 @ 10:55 pm

  42. Well put, Petite…for all those tools out there going on about ‘not judging’ note that it is not on PA’s wishlist – a sign of her superior intelligence relative to many comment leavers.
    It’s like the OC, you raise lots of important issues in a fun way, and you have made us care about all the characters. Obviously most readers will be intent on doing a lot of yes, judging on the unfolding story and deciding which character they like most etc. What on earth would a story be without it?

    Comment by dan — June 30, 2005 @ 3:59 am

  43. Really moving post. You are right to take ownership of what heppens to you. Good luck with your new relationship.

    Comment by Anne — June 30, 2005 @ 12:10 pm

  44. Don’t want to give you advice or anything that could be considered as advice …it’s just that one has built up an idea of you and mr frog in domestic bliss and all of a sudden there’s CB guy, who is probably really great, but one feels a certain attachment to familiar faces..or rather names..which may account for all the advice..or is that too obvious?

    Comment by Rivka — July 1, 2005 @ 5:15 am


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