petite anglaise

January 27, 2006


Filed under: misc — petiteanglaiseparis @ 8:11 pm

Last weekend, I felt so blissfully happy that I said so, out loud, at least three times. In the space of one hour. There I was, in England with my Lover, both childless, shopping in (ahem) Primark and looking forward to a hearty pub lunch. My figurative cup was brimming over.

I should have known, from experience, that when I scale such a dizzy, euphoric peak, there is often a corresponding trough lurking just around the corner, for me to fall into. A trough, or perhaps a canyon. Sure enough, as the weekend drew to a close, a despondent mood crept stealthily over me. What I initially mistook for that Sunday evening, school-tomorrow-but-haven’t-done-my-homework feeling, coupled with vague apprehension about the late flight home and the likely effect it would have on my Tadpole – worn out from an energetic weekend with the grandparents – was actually the onset of something more sinister.

From the moment I opened my eyes on Monday morning, the world seemed utterly bleak. Where once there had been glorious technicolour, a warm, fuzzy glow of light-heartedness and optimism, now everything was shaded grey or black, my gaiety had drained away, giving way to mild paranoia, crippling exhaustion and relentless negativity. Black thoughts whirled inside my head, and an extreme effort of will was required to do the simplest things.

Lover, in England still, seemed remote, inaccessible. July, and all the plans I had spent the weekend going over, gleefully, seemed to slip from my grasp and recede far, far away. I could find not one thing to look forward to, to feel good about. Tadpole was being unpredictable, in turn an angel, then a demon, her demonic behaviour culminating with a “go away mummy!” and a slammed door when I arrived at the childminder’s house last night. It was all I could do not to curl up in a ball outside the door and sob.

And in my irrational, destructive state of mind, even though I knew full well that he was the one who could help me the most, I pushed Lover away. Held petty things against him. Twisted his words. Tested his limits. And, when, sensibly, he took a step back, waiting for the storm to pass, I hated him for leaving me alone. Willed the silent phone to ring.

My rational self looked on, knowing all along that this was madness, stupidity; it would pass, given a few days. It was no match for this other me though, who preferred to wallow in self-pity and pick at my insecurities, like a small child who can’t leave a scab alone.

Today, finally, I feel like I have found firm, level ground to walk on, and the world is slowly, cautiously becoming suffused with colour again. Please, oh please let it last.

Somebody stop the rollercoaster, I want to get off.


  1. Hi Petite,
    I am glad you are feeling better. I think what you describe is a problem for all of us at sometime or another. Our lives go through ebbs and flows – sometimes we’re happy and then the happiness is absolutely diluted from our memories as we plunge into something completely dark, and often (although this may not be the case for you), irrational.

    In some ways when this has happened to me, I wonder “should I have said I was happy out loud? Is that what is going on here? Someone heard me say I’m happy and then “they” snatched it away for gloating about my happiness?”.

    All I can say is………enjoy the ups and try to forget about the downs………because the ups are what keeps us going. I hope the downs for you are few and far between :)

    Comment by Kasey — January 27, 2006 @ 8:49 pm

  2. Possibly a severe case of S.A.D. compounded your own underlying anxieties?…. but so glad you are coming through it. How’s the weather in Paris? Good enough for you to take Tadpole for a stroll round that lake in the Bois de Bologne tomorrow? I bet the ducks are starving! Winter sunshine & exercise can be a really good way to chase off those winter blues ………especially if the rich sugar daddy isn’t on hand to whisk you both down to Cannes for the weekend in his private jet!

    Comment by fella — January 27, 2006 @ 9:32 pm

  3. If I should have but one breath remaining
    I would not waste it on sorry
    What point then in my explaining
    The true purpose of all my folly

    And why bother critics, their remonstrations
    Make peace with god, and feign belief
    Better save my last exhalation
    To give a sigh of bless’d relief.

    Comment by roystona — January 27, 2006 @ 9:53 pm

  4. from one of us girls to another…

    I know exactly how you feel, I’m 33 (how did that happen?), mother of a 3 year old, not-yet-married to the frenchman and living in Paris for 16 years…sometimes I read you and feel like I could have written the post myself.

    I am also on the cusp of a new life and share the roller coaster emotions with you, sometimes it’s all so exciting and sometimes panic sets in…

    all that to say, you are not alone…

    Comment by croque madame — January 27, 2006 @ 10:10 pm

  5. I’m profoundly moved and not for the first time.
    Sorry for your moodswings, (bet there”s a simple explanation – it’s that time of the month and loverboy surely understands but nardac would hit me if she could) but one thing is sure-this is m-a-g-n-i-f-i-c-e-n-t writing.

    Comment by parkin pig — January 27, 2006 @ 11:00 pm

  6. FFS

    Comment by stressqueen — January 28, 2006 @ 1:10 am

  7. As usual, I can empathize. Whatever the cause, I have no doubt that it was just a passing phase.

    Comment by H. (aka. NC_State_gal) — January 28, 2006 @ 2:35 am

  8. Life is very rarely a world of extremes. Unless you’re living in Palestine or some other political hotspot.

    It’s usually just one’s peception. Time to book a friendly Parisian counsellor for a chat or a Reiki session. Or maybe get your hormone levels checked. :)

    Comment by Dr Analyst — January 28, 2006 @ 4:07 am

  9. PS You need a good editor, honey. Your second sentence needs a verb.

    Comment by Dr Analyst — January 28, 2006 @ 4:11 am

  10. Sorry to hear about how you felt. This stuff hits me for no reason too – as indeed, it does most of human kind. I was just popping back to your site to see how you’d got on from meeting your loverr’s friends and seem to have either missed a post or there’s a reason why. How did you get on? Is that why you got hit by the blues all of a sudden?

    Comment by sean — January 28, 2006 @ 6:18 am

  11. Re: your second sentence needs a verb – it’s all about poetic licence.


    Comment by toggles — January 28, 2006 @ 10:38 am

  12. I read your blog for several months, it’s really good. Why don’t you become a writer?


    Comment by Patricia — January 28, 2006 @ 10:41 am

  13. er, I happen to like sentences without verbs. A lot.

    Sean, sorry, I often don’t do continuity very well, but I did say in my comments that it had been lovely. I was on a high because I had been looking forward to it for a while, and it lived up to my expectations. Which made coming back to Paris harder…

    Comment by petite — January 28, 2006 @ 12:51 pm

  14. I think most people experience these extremes of moods, some more intensely, some more ‘rapid cycling’ than others. Generally though, you feel one as strongly as the other and personally, I’d rather feel the lows more intensely in order to be able to really buzz on the highs than go through life just somewhere in between. Not so easy to think this way when you’re feeling bad, but you know deep down that it’s just temporary, you can rationalise it where some people can’t (which is a whole other thing.) And, hey, it’s the weekend, yippee!

    Comment by chin up — January 28, 2006 @ 3:30 pm

  15. Ah yes, I recognise the irrational, sometimes self destructive, self doubting, feminine roller coaster lifestyle – I see it every day in the three females that share my life (well one supposedly grown-up one and two apprentices, 17 and 13).

    Forgive me for being the self-righteous male, but I’m sitting here all self -righteous today, here is what happened earlier …

    10am, daughter #2 explains todays cinema arrangements to wife, wife objects to her choice of cinema companions, argument ensues, I stay well clear.

    11am, daughter #1 explains her need to borrow money for hair extensions, wife sends her to me, I request reason for more hair extensions when money was spent on them ten days ago, she explains that they’ve fallen out, I question the sanity in buying more if they onyl last ten days, strop ensues and she goes back upstairs to complain to mother that I am too tight.

    11.10am, wife appears to explain once again the need for hair extensions, I bring the question of the nail work that all three of them had done 7 days ago, then point to distinct lack of nails anymore, I ask quite reasonable question, how much does one budget each week for all this artificial bodywork.

    11.11am, I retire from the fray to lick my wounds having been roundly set upon by the three females who explain the large beauty treatment budgets as “we are girls, you can’t understand”

    11.15am, daughter #1 asks again for hair extension money, I almost give her it when I ask very quietly how much she needs, she retorts with “don’t bloody bother then” and storms out of room, I resist smug smile but replt to myself, “OK, I won’t bother then”

    11.20am, wife who was going shopping for a new top for our Tapas evening tonight stomps out of room telling me not to bother, I decide not to bother as I don’t know what she is talking about.

    Its now 3.15pm, Daughter #2 is at cinema with the banned friends and is stopping out until 7pm in direct contravention of wifes ruling, Daughter #1 is in town without any of my money and no doubt trying to fund hair extensions from boyfriends account, Wife has just left the house presumably to seek out new top for tonight without my assistance, I am happily scanning TV channels with not a care in the world.

    As Tadpole grows older you will remember the wisdom in these words and her slamming the childminders door in your face will be nought in comparison to the tears and tantrums of hair extensions, nails, spray tans and teenage life in general ;)

    Comment by Gary — January 28, 2006 @ 4:45 pm

  16. The non-verb sentence certainly spoilt it for me.

    Comment by JonnyB — January 28, 2006 @ 4:58 pm

  17. I just love Gary’s comment. Somebody help him…that must be tough for him alone with three women…

    Comment by Miss Pink — January 28, 2006 @ 6:24 pm

  18. er…I don’t wish to dwell on the gramatical content of your blog, and completely miss the seroiusness of the message, but isn’t ‘shopping’ a verb? and what about ‘looking’

    I think that they are…..or have I got the wrong second sentence?.

    Comment by roystona — January 28, 2006 @ 9:14 pm

  19. I think the dear Dr took issue with the one which goes:

    “In the space of one hour.”

    Comment by petite — January 28, 2006 @ 9:19 pm

  20. ah yes, I missed that one; my eyes arn’t what they used to be you know………….no,they used to be my ears! (thank you to The Goons for that timeless joke).

    Anyway, I thought the sentence rather Joyce-esque, and it certainly conveyed to me the gravity of the situation. And anyway, is the Dr not familiar with the poem of that name?:

    In the space of one hour.

    There is none so small as the withered berry,
    the sicklied suckling O’er.
    Bereft now, that severed cherry,
    The ficklied fuckling hoar.

    I, for one, assumed it was a reference to this.

    Comment by roystona — January 29, 2006 @ 1:31 am

  21. I read somewhere that hormonal mood swings become more intense in your thirties. Check that you’re eating enough fruit and vegetables, cut down on the processed and the caffeine. Do some exercise. Then you’ll feel better.

    Comment by Past tense — January 29, 2006 @ 3:47 am

  22. Chocolates, DVD’s of whatever you fancy, fave drink and phone of the hook.
    Tomorrow is another day.

    Good luck.

    Comment by Laura — January 29, 2006 @ 6:55 pm

  23. Thanks, Petite, for another great post. I enjoy your writing style. A lot. (As you put it best.) Don’t listen to the verb/grammar Nazis, you are a terrific writer with a great voice and I always enjoy your blog

    Comment by Sam — January 29, 2006 @ 8:03 pm

  24. Life is cyclic on a myriad of scales. You cannot ever get off the rollercoaster, but you can make it slow down, or close your eyes, or ignore the motion.

    If you’re lucky, you can get the timing on when to put all your senses into enjoying the rush. Most people’s timing gets knocked out sometimes.

    Without the lows, there can be no highs.


    Comment by fruey (Let's Have It) — January 29, 2006 @ 8:55 pm

  25. Yes, “In the space of one hour” was the one….

    I have nothing against modernist writing…Joyce (at a push), Proust (far better), Borges, Mallarmé….even TS Eliot. Post-Modern even better, Cixous especially…

    But it usually emerges as a style, not a one off typo. Maybe you are straining for the lost Mother… Grammer isn’t Nazi, (a horrible over-simplification from that reader…) it’s simply the rule of the Father. (NB the capital F for father)

    As you seem to be having trouble with Mr Frog, I am simply offering my professional advice… or at least as much as you can get without paying… ;)


    Comment by Dr Analyst — January 29, 2006 @ 11:11 pm

  26. Methinks the good doctor ‘Analyst’ is a professional wind-up artist. Mind you, as Dr Shipman’s patients might well testify (if only they could?)not all doctors do much good for their patients! Perhaps all doctors, especially the literary variety,should be paid only what they are really worth. I have a few peanuts around somewhere.

    Standing by for red pen corrections and marks out of 10 re errant parts of speech and punctuation….including the missing verb!

    Comment by fella — January 30, 2006 @ 12:20 am

  27. Yoga, seriously. An hour 3 times a week just for you. more if possible. Yoga has a fantastic way of making your mind level and flex as well as your body. What you describe is essentially my life in Manhattan all the time, and yoga is my only way of not going totally insane.

    Comment by mimi — January 30, 2006 @ 5:31 am

  28. It’s “grammar”, Dr Analyst, not “grammer”. Isn’t spelling the “rule of the Father” too?

    Comment by old school friend — January 30, 2006 @ 8:34 am

  29. Right, well, don’t mind me people. I’ll just quietly get back on my rollercoaster while you carry on the great grammar debate…

    … how about the sentence without a verb in the second paragraph for example? That should keep you busy for a while!

    Comment by petite — January 30, 2006 @ 9:42 am

  30. You face some large upheavals, decisions, responsibilities, not just for you but also (more importantly, for Tadpole)

    Change is always disorientating and frightening

    Question is, what’s the alternative?
    Where do you want to be this time next year?

    and anyway, if things don’t work out you aren’t going to be chained to The Lover for all eternity, are you?

    there are trains back from Brittany?

    As for the roller-coaster, I empathise, and suggest:
    More rest
    Walking in the park
    A good old belly-laugh once a day (minimum, more often if possible but not continuously lest you are called demented and carted away)
    Play… play at something you love and do it with a passion…

    (er, I can’t see what’s wrong with sentence #2)

    Comment by Julia — January 30, 2006 @ 12:40 pm

  31. Read “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” – you have plunged to the bottom of your well! Its perfectly natural and it happens to all women (worse in times of turmoil I find)

    Comment by Di — January 30, 2006 @ 2:31 pm

  32. I see no error here either…..have you never heard my poem entitled “A trough, or perhaps a canyon”?

    I wont bore you with it just now.

    It’s your style, you can do what you want with it;communication is the key. For me, it’s the eccessive use of comma’s, and the love of the semi-colon of course(although I despise the full colon, its widely unimaginative, and altogether evil cousin).

    I find the study of higher mathematics works well to quell the undesirable effects of me bio-rhythms. But that’s probably just me!

    …and don’t you just love all the psuedo-psycho-expert advice that people, so generously, are throwing at you;it must be great to have so many friends in the world. You are truly a very lucky person, and this must be, at the very least, a poignant and altogether magnificent reflection your beauty as an individual.

    Comment by roystona — January 30, 2006 @ 4:23 pm

  33. i am not good at advising people what to do since i still learn alot about life and relationship myself. howeverr, i do hope the best for you….

    Comment by 'ka — January 30, 2006 @ 7:39 pm

  34. “Check that you’re eating enough fruit and vegetables, cut down on the processed and the caffeine. Do some exercise. Then you’ll feel better.”

    Pah, pah and more pah. That ain’t working for me.

    As for the verbless sentence… a typo? What? Are you completely obtuse? Fwiw I wrote a whole book full of verbless sentences, sentences beginning with “And,” the whole gamut. And it was still published. And there were no spelling mistakes.

    P.S. “What?” is also a verbless sentence. And I like it. This one, too.

    Comment by Clare — January 30, 2006 @ 8:49 pm

  35. roystona: Barf!

    me: Roll with it.

    Comment by nardac — January 31, 2006 @ 2:55 am

  36. Petite, what a good idea to post about your low. I’m sure that some of the pedants who read and comment on your blog have given you a much needed laugh. They did it for me, anyway. Talk about missing the point!

    Anyway, you’ll know what to do next time you’re having a dark day- just post “I’m Feeling Down” and then sit back and snigger while they discuss the meaning, nay, the necessity of capital letters in the middle of a sentence, and whether or not you have the right to toy with the English language with such abandon.

    Keep your chin up, girl. These moments always pass. And well done to Lover for reacting the way he did.

    Comment by suziboo — January 31, 2006 @ 9:20 am

  37. Hi Petite!

    Perhaps it is something in the stars (or the water) this week, as I’ve been feeling much the same way. Do know, that you are not alone, and not strange for feeling this way. Life can be hard, and sometimes it just takes its toll on you. My two cents would be to take time for yourself, do yoga (works wonders for me) and my personal motto for times like these are “fake it ’till you make it” –even if you have to “fake” happy for awhile, it will eventually come back to you. Hang in there :)

    Comment by Just Dazzle — January 31, 2006 @ 12:52 pm

  38. did Lover liked this post ? :D

    Comment by schuey — January 31, 2006 @ 5:01 pm

  39. Regarding one of the above comments about SAD, I dunno.. Both my wife and I have struggled with SAD since moving from sunny NC to rainy and grey Brittany, but it doesn’t manifest in rollercoaster fashion for us. Actually, some rollercoaster would be nice – our experience with SAD is that it’s more like a very long, very ongoing slothfulness…. the blahs taken to the max. We don’t sit and curse ourselves so much as just not feel like doing much. Also, isn’t SAD supposed to primarily be a problem for people moving from high-light climes to low-light climes? I’d think that moving from the UK to France would reduce SAD rather than encourage it, but then again I’ve never been there and simply have to go on my mental stereotype image of the island where it always seems to be raining….

    Comment by Trever T — January 31, 2006 @ 6:34 pm

  40. RE: Your second sentence needs a verb.

    Read a few books, you rule-bound naysayers. Get over what your elementary school teachers told you.* Good writers break the so-called rules for stylistic effect, many reasons. Read the stunning first three paragraphs of “Bleak House”. Not one full independent clause to be found (oops, that wasn’t a full independent clause either). You think Dickens would have achieved the same thing if he’d used verbs instead of verbals?

    * And you can begin sentences with coordinating conjunctions too, whatever Mrs. Kindergarten said.


    Comment by Judith Greig — January 31, 2006 @ 7:08 pm

  41. Trever T

    re: ………..Your ‘mental image of the island where it always sems to be raining’,……
    not a bit of a it dear chap. Take a look at today’s press reports of our worst drought for 20/30 years; water rationing is round the corner; the brolly remains furled up & decaying from non-use in the coat stand. Better still, come & take a vacation in good old blighty while the skies remain blissfully free of cloud. No wonder Petite may have a touch of S. A. D., missing out on our, so far, balmy winter while toing an froing form murky old Paris to Sheffield & Rennes!

    Oh! and apologies to the dear Dr Doom for the inelegant syntax and grammatical faux pas…. I would have included more but there may be sufficent here for her vexation!

    Comment by fella — January 31, 2006 @ 10:02 pm

  42. Petite,

    I’ve been there many a time. What is there to say… other than the obvious: without lows like these, we wouldn’t feel so good on the highs. Without the rollercoaster, life wouldn’t be nearly as interesting.

    But the lows really do suck.

    On another note, though I was aware of your talent as a writer, I’m also impressed by your capability of describing what you’re feeling. That’s a great gift–thanks for sharing it.

    Comment by cheboluda — January 31, 2006 @ 11:16 pm

  43. Petite,
    I’m sorry that I can’t impart any advice about the rollercoaster, but I would instead like to thank you for delivering the goods once again. You’re a fantastic writer!

    Comment by Neptune, God of the Seas — February 1, 2006 @ 6:46 pm

  44. It happens sometimes with me too. Its good to read the comments and different opinions of all.

    Comment by christ — February 2, 2006 @ 9:06 am

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