petite anglaise

March 9, 2006

confetti

Filed under: navel gazing, parting ways — petiteanglaise @ 4:12 pm

I was tempted to name my last post “epitaph”. A part of me had been brutally severed. My hopes, my dreams now lay smouldering on a pyre. It seemed fitting.

When I typed those brave-faced words, they were an expression of how I wanted to feel, a few days or weeks or months from now. Something to aspire to. Then, somehow, after hitting the “publish” key, I realised I was genuinely beginning to feel that way.

Taking a step back, looking critically at the last few months, I see that much of my time was spent waiting, feeling despondent about being apart, dealing with the guilt of Tadpole’s impending separation from her father, smothering my doubts with a pillow. Negative feelings which crushed my spirits with all their ominous weight, preventing me from enjoying the here and now.

Now I find myself appallingly fragile, but intact, and somehow lighter. I no longer have to do battle with those demons any more; the weight has lifted. Only now do I see, with startling clarity, how impossible it was to continue following that ghost of a dream.

All the same, much of the past few days remains a blur. As I go about my daily business, my mind is elsewhere, playing my favourite memories in a continuous loop, until I’m ready to lay them to rest. On the surface, I laugh and joke, say positive, brave things, make plans for Tadpole and me. I’m going to buy a little flat, I say. On a whim, I’m going to the South of France for a few days, a holiday of sorts. People are rather surprised at how much better I seem, already. An indecently rapid recovery?

But I can barely bring myself to eat. I go to bed only when I’m thoroughly exhausted, so that I cannot lie awake craving his warmth. His touch. All day long there is a fluttering inside my chest, a constant edge of panic I cannot shake off, but which no-one sees.

This morning, in the crowded métro, a couple caught my attention. I saw their embrace out of the corner of my eye, and something inside me twisted, pulled. I couldn’t tear my masochistic eyes away from the woman, the way she looked at her companion, with hunger. I know I looked at him that way too, once. Sometimes, all I wanted was to crawl inside his skin.

Then, when I reached my destination, I saw another woman, elderly, confused. She stood by a rubbish bin, manically tearing up a piece of paper into smaller and smaller pieces, scattering them on the station floor like ragged confetti. Every few seconds she repeated the same two words, in an identical strangled voice, as if a needle were jumping on a record and playing the same disembodied phrase over and over.

“C’était magique.”

It was. It truly was, for a while. But I refuse to believe that it was my one and only shot at magical. Soon, I will renounce living in the past tense, move on.

Soon.

85 Comments

  1. Petite,
    I have only just discovered your blog (where on earth have I been??) and as a petite anglaise also living in Paris, I have been stunned by the similarities in your life and my own. Not the joys of tadpole-ing but certainly the experiences in the métro and in my own mind – just like you I play experiences over and over in my head. Just like you I stare at couples and old women, thinking will it be me?
    Thank you so much for sharing your experiences, I have recently used many office hours catching up on the last year and a half of your life and still have a lot to look forward to.
    Keep up your courage and your posting!

    Comment by Louise — March 9, 2006 @ 4:26 pm

  2. Hi sweets. Right now you feel very raw, but there’ll come a bright day when you revise it all, and you’ll bin it yourself. You know how we move on, how that’s true. x
    At least you’re not having to flush out a —— hacker! :-)

    Comment by fjl — March 9, 2006 @ 4:48 pm

  3. When I read your well written posts about the twists and turns of your life; it seems to me that your blog holds you true to who you are.
    For your destination; I think the following words in this quote may be appropriate:
    The Moving Finger writes;
    and, having writ, Moves on:
    nor all your Piety nor Wit
    Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
    Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.
    — Omar Khayyam

    Comment by LukePDQ — March 9, 2006 @ 4:50 pm

  4. I was wondering if we would have some news from you today…so happy you had the strengh, the willingness and the heart to write. You have been in many people’s thoughts these last days. I’m one of those people. Soit forte!!

    Comment by Eau — March 9, 2006 @ 5:21 pm

  5. Been reading recently with a mixture of anguish and voyeuristic astonishment. So raw.

    Be true to yourself and magic will return to visit you soon enough.

    Comment by Gordon — March 9, 2006 @ 5:32 pm

  6. Am currently in the ‘recovery’ phase myself and on a whim I booked a long weekend in New York with friend. Now I have something to look forward to, specifically something that I wouldn’t have done if I was still with him. A break in the south will do you the world of good, change of scenery and sunlight – both good healers. Stay strong!

    Comment by kingston girl — March 9, 2006 @ 5:55 pm

  7. I would like to thank Luke for sharing my favorite passage from the Rubaiyat, and truly the most inspiration words I ever stumbled across. I found them years ago, and they have become a mantra of sorts. Sometimes, when all else fails, I recite them to myself and I find as much peace as is possible in the moment.

    Comment by 21st Century Woman — March 9, 2006 @ 6:04 pm

  8. I was never sure how I felt about losing the love of my life all those years ago until I read your words. Now it all makes sense. You put into words exactly what I felt.
    Thanks for that.

    Comment by Mike Da Hat — March 9, 2006 @ 6:16 pm

  9. There is something strangely liberating when you finally acknowledge something to yourself, something that was probably there all along but you didn’t want to see it. That sense of “lightness” is what happens when you set the truth free, so it can set YOU free. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt or that it won’t hurt for a long time. But being in that place of seeing things as they really are, instead of how you wanted them to be… that’s what will get you through this, with flying colors. Thanks for sharing your journey with us.

    Comment by The Bold Soul — March 9, 2006 @ 6:55 pm

  10. As I read your words today I wonder if I’m feeling the same for my own delicately balanced relationship. I almost cried as I read but I felt “light” as you called it. Thanks for writing this today.
    I hope you take that trip and give yourself a little love.

    Comment by Chantel — March 9, 2006 @ 7:26 pm

  11. Heal well. May your words sustain you where his heart does so no longer.

    Comment by azure_erin — March 9, 2006 @ 7:46 pm

  12. Acting brave is being brave and will help you to heal. But do eat (lovely self-indulgent things): low blood sugar makes that fluttery, hollow, edge-of-panic feeling worse.

    Amicalement.

    Comment by Passante — March 9, 2006 @ 7:59 pm

  13. I say………wallow as long as you like – I know I do – I have!

    Seriously Petite, I admire your courage and your inner strength.

    :)

    Comment by Kasey — March 9, 2006 @ 9:14 pm

  14. Chin up Petite. Whatever your problems, you will overcome them.

    Comment by D — March 9, 2006 @ 9:40 pm

  15. Yes yes Petite … a holiday. All by yourself. Here’s to your courage (false or true) and onto the next phase of your recovery!

    Comment by Kerry — March 9, 2006 @ 9:43 pm

  16. So sorry it worked out the way it did, Petite. I only got the news today when I visited your page after a few days’ absence. This is my first post, though I’ve been reading for a while.
    Many people have identified with what you’re feeling now, as do I, having left a long-term relationship for a short one that went nowhere. What I then did was bounce from one rebound relationship to another for years. I’m sure you’ll have the wisdom not to do that.

    Your courage and realism are striking. Hope you won’t force the pace of recovery. You’ve just seen your dreams shatter, and it hurts. Cosset yourself a little, and don’t expect any miracles. You’ll be fine; you know you will, but it may take a while, and it is OK to contemplate your own pain for a while and take stock of everything that has happened. In the end that may make it easier to move on.

    Thinking of you.

    Comment by Claire — March 9, 2006 @ 9:52 pm

  17. You write marvelously well about sadness. I hope you will very soon use your talent to write about new beginnings and “magie”.

    Comment by Marie-Hélène — March 9, 2006 @ 10:20 pm

  18. It may be counterintuitive, but you might try leaning into your pain. This is something suggested by Tara Brach in her excellent book “Radical Acceptance.” Leaning into pain is not wallowing. It is acknowledging it and allowing it to run a sort of natural course rather than trying to chase it away. I have found it immensely helpful! (Not that I, or probably any of your readers, think you won’t mend faster than you think…)

    Comment by Laurie — March 9, 2006 @ 10:52 pm

  19. Delurking to say that I’m sorry for what has happened to you and Lover. I started reading your blog (right from the beginning) in January. It was just like reading a novel (sort of, if you can call scrolling up a screen reading a book.) Your latest posts are such a sad shock, but I think the way you observe yourself and the world around you, then write it down, will help you recover.

    That and a mini-break somewhere warm and sunny. I’m all for sun therapy!

    Comment by dongurigal — March 9, 2006 @ 11:15 pm

  20. “a fluttering inside my chest, a constant edge of panic I cannot shake off”. Exactly what I felt not so long ago, though I could not put it into words – even in French. I am stunned, and impressed.
    I wholeheartedly agree with what Claire writes, particularly with Tadpole around.
    Bon courage!

    Comment by Forestine — March 9, 2006 @ 11:19 pm

  21. I’m sure that you will feel better after your trip to the South, especially if there is less rain than there is here in Paris. By the way, when I am too upset to eat, I consume those nutritional drinks…not as delcious as a chocolat chaud, but healthier.

    Comment by Also lving in Paris — March 9, 2006 @ 11:20 pm

  22. I am an old man, so I can tell you this:
    The memories stay, but they are good memories – all of them. Every day is a good day, some are better than others.

    Comment by iowaslovak — March 10, 2006 @ 12:04 am

  23. Petite, at the station République, on the line 9 platform, direction Pont de Sèvres, there’s an advertisement made for you. I don’t think it will help or soothe, but it does look like it was inspired by you in some way :)
    All the best

    Comment by Marie — March 10, 2006 @ 12:09 am

  24. Petite,
    Given that I am experiencing the same type of things, reading your words tonight really helped me. I wish so much that I would be able to feel as courageous as you. Thanks for being as you are.

    Comment by Far and Beyond — March 10, 2006 @ 1:11 am

  25. Good girl. Stay strong and stay as unfocused as is necessary until you feel you can be in the here and now again. Courage, kid.

    Comment by Lin — March 10, 2006 @ 1:21 am

  26. lovers come and lovers go.
    the magic is inside of you, Petite. the challenge of this life is to realize that.

    with best wishes to you.

    Comment by isabel — March 10, 2006 @ 4:01 am

  27. I’m delurking too. I’m happy for you – for what you had for awhile. When I was young I had lovers and each parting was a disaster. Then, one of them turned into a thirty year love affair yet I would never have picked him out of a group as my one and only. It just happened. It’ll happen to you too because of who you are. I’m with the “old man” who posted – the good memories are worth the risk.

    Comment by suzi — March 10, 2006 @ 5:01 am

  28. Yes, lean into your sorrow. Allow yourself to wallow slightly for a little while. If you avoid feeling it, it will only take longer to work through. Or that’s how it works for me. Then I give myself a mental shake and get on with life. You sound like you’re doing fine, though.

    Your “adrift” post left me in tears and I don’t cry very easily or often. You are a wonderful writer.

    Feel better soon.

    Comment by Dawn — March 10, 2006 @ 5:08 am

  29. This is an absolutely beautiful post, petite. Bon chance avec ta vie extraordinaire!

    Comment by Nate — March 10, 2006 @ 6:19 am

  30. one step at a time and soon there is light at the end of the tunel.

    Comment by Tongue in Cheek — March 10, 2006 @ 8:30 am

  31. I don’t live in France, but I think you should try e-Harmony.com. I’ve been trying it a bit after my recent divorce. You wind up meeting people that meet your personality type. They claim that people who meet 20 out of 29 areas of compatibility get matched to you. You might want to try it, versus hooking up with people who post to your blog who think they might be compatible. Certainly there are many of us, myself included, who think that we could make you happy, but frankly, most of probably couldn’t….

    Comment by Neepster — March 10, 2006 @ 8:43 am

  32. but when you actually have that, you’ll realise how much better it is than anything you had in the past….and thats when you’ll feel really good….

    Comment by piu piu — March 10, 2006 @ 9:24 am

  33. You are so brave in so many ways. The way you feel so fully. The way you fight with the English language until it submits and does what you want it to do. And the way you refuse to settle for second-best in anything, or at least not for long. Your optimism is inspirational.

    Comment by Zinnia Cyclamen — March 10, 2006 @ 11:18 am

  34. People always say “there’ll be others”, when all you want is the one you lost…

    Comment by katie — March 10, 2006 @ 12:21 pm

  35. Vous ecrivez tres, tres bien et je suis content d’avoir trouver votre blog. Moi aussi j’ai vecu a Paris, et je connais un petit anglais qui l’a fait lui-meme, et qui avait une petite frog.

    Assez. Ce que je voulais dire – ce que je dis partout – c’est: ‘belle ecriture. Mais pas aussi beau que moi. Moi je suis la beauté.’

    Do you want to see beauty?

    Comment by Marrow — March 10, 2006 @ 1:28 pm

  36. Hmmm… not sure if I have anything to say that I didn’t say before… Jim seemed like a nice guy so I’m sad it didn’t work out. Better luck next time. And, yes, I do think Mr. Frog is being quite a Prince. Lucky you he’s being such a good friend.

    Lots of kisses.

    Comment by nardac — March 10, 2006 @ 2:20 pm

  37. you are lucky to have such good ‘virtual’ friends on this board – I just hope your real life amis anglais & francais are as supportive,caring and life-affirming. As an old woman, I echo the old man earlier: “every day is a good day”

    Comment by Rose — March 10, 2006 @ 2:34 pm

  38. the dreams of what we might become together sometimes don’t include the people that we are….the journey is always worth it, for in the end the journey is all we have.

    I hope that you find happiness on the path forward.

    Comment by Nicole — March 10, 2006 @ 2:35 pm

  39. Oh, heck. Just caught up with the full saga, so beautifully and powerfully expressed. My thoughts are with you. Very much so.

    Comment by mike — March 10, 2006 @ 3:03 pm

  40. Jim’s clearly a fool, albeit probably a nice fool. What was he thinking? Heartfelt regrets and sympathy and all the other slightly mushy stuff which you get so much of (too much for my taste).
    Still, it’s an ill wind etc. I did think the blog had got a bit cosy and dropped a little from its pinnacle. Now I am reading with renewed interest, which must be some consolation.
    Heartless and egocentric? Moi (he said stretching his mastery of French to its limit)? Yes, at one level – but at a shallower level I seem quite a nice person.
    Come to think of it, what was he thinking?

    Comment by laurence — March 10, 2006 @ 3:11 pm

  41. You should be writing song lyrics instead of working as a secretary… you could make enough to LIVE in the South of France, let alone visit.

    Comment by magillicuddy — March 10, 2006 @ 3:13 pm

  42. Long time reader – First Time Poster……

    I’m so happy for Tadpole. She will now have a relationship with her Father….I could never imagine that she was going to leave the important relationship with her Father so that you could be with “Lover”.

    I’m sorry that your heart is broken (and I know how sad that is), but I feel that it is he best thing that could have happened for your child…..

    Father’s are important to children – especially one that seems to care as much as hers.

    Comment by Ron — March 10, 2006 @ 3:43 pm

  43. I’ve lurked for a while, as well. I wanted to add my own sympathetic sentiments and to tell you how beautiful I find your writing. I know that there is little that can disperse the feeling of loss, I hope you find your way to feeling better soon.

    Comment by Léonie — March 10, 2006 @ 4:45 pm

  44. I like Laurence, whoever he is. And I can’t imagine being too unhappy to eat. If I were you I’d be reeling from several jars of Nutella and the attendant sugar highs.

    Anyway, I saw the first daffodils today in Battersea park. It is Spring and you are young and beautiful, in possession of a lovely Tadpole and going to the South of France. Courage!

    Comment by Paola — March 10, 2006 @ 4:58 pm

  45. You write beautifully and it’s not difficult to imagine your pain, if we can’t understand the immensity of it. Keep being strong when you can and do acknowledge how you feel when the panic hits you.

    I wonder if more and more you’ll feel that weird acceptance of letting go that will help you get through? When my heart really broke I was torn between wild despair and a small calm voice that made me realise – That. Was. That. And I felt almost relieved.

    Deep down I knew it was the right thing. And now five years have passed I’m with my beloved husband and we have a tadpole-to-be. Life’s funny ain’t it?

    Anyway, these are thoughts for the future. Just wanted to add my name to those who are looking out for you. Take care.

    Comment by susie — March 10, 2006 @ 4:59 pm

  46. Just to say that I admire you – you are doing so well.
    And probably in no small part to the true love of your life, your Tadpole.

    Comment by Flighty — March 10, 2006 @ 5:40 pm

  47. Hang in there, Petite. Letting go is difficult, but I think that you are handling it the best that you can. I admire that you can admit that you have no regrets, even when you are hurting so badly. Oh..and ou don’t have to be brave, you can grieve. You are grieving for the death of a dream and for the end of what you were together with your lover. It is totally understandable that grieving is the only way to heal your heart, piece by piece. Sending positive vibes. “The soul would have no rainbows had the eyes no tears” – John Vance Cheney

    Comment by H. (aka NC_State_gal) — March 10, 2006 @ 8:37 pm

  48. Petite, just saw the other two comments, I agree with the two guys who pointed out how important Dad is to Tadpole. I know we want to be whisked away but down to earth is good, too, and believe me, afew years on, and you’ll want that much more.
    ‘Chase me Ladies’ over on my blog has just made a funny comment about the dustbin of history ( he’s your equivalent in blog success but in the ‘humour’ section.) I was earlier comparing the love I’ve been offered by men in life to the bins outside M & S. I wonder what it is with March and binning people we know xx

    Comment by fjl — March 10, 2006 @ 10:28 pm

  49. You know, I’m surprised that no one has brought up the fact that writing about your feelings like that means that they are open for Jim to read too (and you know he’s still reading). I don’t think I could, or would even want, to let all that raw emotion hang out there in public after a painful break-up, knowing that my former “lover” had access to them on a daily basis. That would just make it all the more painful.

    Comment by Samantha — March 11, 2006 @ 12:35 am

  50. To Ron

    I’m not trying to bitch, but had to underline to you that distance doesn’t have to lessen a parent-child relationship. That gets damaged when parents use offspring as pawns/infantry. For some complicated reason, my partners’ family grew up very far flung – reunions are seldom – it’s far easier to get the UN agreement- yet contact is real, enduring, and supportive. With good parents, blood really is thicker than the proverbial. BTW your timing is absolutley lousy. Do you dance?

    Comment by J — March 11, 2006 @ 12:44 am

  51. I’m yet another de-lurker, Petite. I really admire you. It will get easier! But I know that means little right now, so do what you need to do. I think of you often.

    Comment by Katherine — March 11, 2006 @ 2:55 am

  52. Bonjour Petite,

    Vous vous ecoutez parler, mais ca m’amuse quand meme. Je suis loin de Paris et je n’en rencontre pas beaucoup des comme vous.
    Je ne veux pas savoir si c’est une fiction ou pas, tous les recits sont forcement entre les deux, c’est juste une question de degre. Nous les lecteurs, ne sommes qu’une bande de petits voyeurs, et votre vie reelle ne nous regarde pas. Mais d’un autre cote, vous nous avez ouvert la porte donc maintenant, toute votre vie racontee nous concerne.
    Samantha a raison si Jim existe hors du monde virtuel, il lit ces messages et ca fait un bon bout de temps qu’il sait qu’il est sur la touche. C’est un peu dommage que vous utilisiez le pretexte de ce blog pour expliquer la rencontre, mais qu’aussitot, vous vous ressaissisiez pour dire qu’en fait, ces confessions publiques n’avaient pas d’influence sur votre vie hors de l’espace virtuel.
    Bon, c’est bien ca qui titille notre curiosite : que ressent-on quand on lit sa vie sur le blog d’un ami, un amant, un conjoint, un ex…
    Bisous a vous et a votre petite fee.

    Comment by Kuri — March 11, 2006 @ 5:19 am

  53. To the few people who imply that Jim is being foolish etc. I’d like to say that, the way I see it (though I may be wrong) from reading Petite’s words, is that they BOTH saw flaws in the relationship and were unable to see a means of putting back the clock. Jim is suffering too and I reckon they were both extremely courageous to put an end to such an intense love affair because they could see gaps forming. It shows great strength of character to be able to give up when you can see unsolvable problems even though it hurts like hell! If Jim does still read the posts then he’ll know he has my sympathy as much as Petite herself.
    Virtual hugs all round (Tadpole and Mr Frog included)

    Comment by Sandy — March 11, 2006 @ 8:42 am

  54. Sam – he is reading, as far as I know, but it doesn’t bother me in any way. It certainly doesn’t make it more painful. Writing through the sorrow has helped me enormously to regain my perspective; reliving the intense moments here means they will not be forgotten.

    In a way, I feel free again to write what I really feel, whereas for a while there, it didn’t ring quite true.

    Comment by petite — March 11, 2006 @ 11:37 am

  55. Hi Pondlife,–or Mrs Toad, frogs-porn, duck-weed, algae, or whatever you call yourself. You have deprived a daughter of a father.
    Let’s softly think about that.
    You feel; but you cannot feel until you can think. Have a look at fatherless kids statistics below. Mr Frog was christened with a NAME and you gave your daughter a cherished name. Wouldn’t, say, `Jaques’ and `Chloe’ sound sweeter? I don’t know their names but why protect the `innocent’ unless you have ALREADY distanced yourself? They are a part of you aren’t they? The fact that you use these pseudonyms is surely telling? You are arms-lengthing them from the `depart’ and writing to the gallery. As twee `PA’ you are already showing you place yourself -how you would want others and Parisians to see you –little girl lost. But you are beyond thirty. Imagine a male (eg me) signing himself `Petit Anglais’ –in Paris you’d think I was insipid-or calling the sympathy vote-the small man `lost’ in big society-your pose. Different for males, eh?-They have to be big boys.
    Plankton, you have made choices and are `La Grande Anglaise’ at thirty. Nothing wrong with writing fiction. We all `write’ and `feel’ our own histories, but we should say it is fiction and understand WHY we have to fabricate one. You are feeling before you think. Writing fiction-`confecting’- is you. Two thousand adoring fans prompt me to provide a reality check. Fatherless kids is a serious thing for society –it is not just `feelings’:
    FATHERLESS CHILDREN STATISTICS: US General Household Survey 1991 CMG Yahoo.
    US 22% No Father homes
    (UK 22% No Father homes) MARY WILLIAMS (UK Health Authority):
    Effects: Children from a fatherless home are:
    5 times more likely to commit suicide
    32 times more likely to run away
    20 times more likely to have behavioural disorders
    14 times more likely to commit rape
    9 times more likely to drop out of school
    10 times more likely to abuse chemical substances
    9 times more likely to be put in a state institution
    20 times more likely to go to prison

    (Source: National Principles Association Report on the State of High Schools.) Criminal Justice & Behaviour, Vol 14, p. 403-26, 1978.)
    By blogging here you try to Unlearn what you know. It is only PART of your story. It is `confection’ in the French sense of `fabricating’-a romantic side without causation. OK your blog is making money –but it’s doing it through UNthink. Dan is absolutely right –you have deprived a daughter of a father. Mutual exclusivity means a thing cannot both be and not be. You finish a relationship-you cannot have that relationship. A relationship is effort. If you boil water to a hundred degrees noting `masses of feelings’ shock/ sadness/ happiness; it still boils anyway. You took on a `lover’-even that is debateable a quick look at Freud shows that you took on an animus projection of your own idealized desires-ie an emailer! If you are educated you will know the statistics below:
    “Women choose long-term mates-not men. 80% of relationships* are started by women. But also, 72% of divorces are granted to women; so are women making and breaking? *Proven in human partnering studies. Although men approach and instigate more often and are more `unfaithful’; it is by rejection, vetting and changing partners, that women `limit’ and choose long-term.’’
    JAMES Q.WILSON (Prof Public Policy, Pepperdine University ) says “Monogamy is only the rule in roughly 17 percent of human societies. Polygyny–(Biological term) or polygamy –(legal term)ie, one husband taking more than one wife–is far more common. And even in monogamous societies, infidelity is widespread. By contrast, polyandry–ie, a wife taking more than one husband–is vanishingly rare’’. UK Gov. Statistics.(Yahoo)
    To me this shows that, like crossing the road, accidental death- marital split-up- is the norm, and we have to drive carefully-pro-actively-we don’t just `FEEL’ the road. If you start a relationship –you already know the `natural’ dangers –feeling shouldn’t be so important –feelings of antagonism are the norm. Pain-ennui-feelings that you are under-valued are normal, (pop into Le Louvre and see `ennui’ by Corot-or read Madame Bovary) thus like going to work-you know you don’t naturally love work but you have CHOSEN to get a job and stick with it. Pragmatics impinge don’t they? Or is it all a big surprise for a floating sensitive `feeler’ like you-the `victim’ of things happening around you?
    YOU CHOSE your man, you CHOSE your daughter-making money to survive is not romantic-but you write yourself up as a victim of circumstances. Get real.
    (Statistics Woolf Report Divorce UK)
    *AFTER DIVORCE
    Occurring to a married man after divorce Probability men per year

    Suffer obstruction to contact with his children 61%
    Will not remarry 77%

    Assets and legal costs Average/man Total money/year

    Transferred to women at marriage £ 9,913-00
    Transferred to women at divorce £ 18,804-00
    Paid to lawyers £ 3,000-00
    TOTAL usually paid by men only) £ 31,306-00

    Why I am so aggressive in tone here is that you are describing the clockface without describing the clockwork. You are self-indulgent with your feelings towards everything –the tube, your coiffeur, your flouncy dress, the taxi, the park the nursery and your friends; regret, permanently on the verge of tears without thinking of macro subjects-ie causation. You are got O levels for a reason-surely?
    Where is the idea that we are ALL constrained, where is the economic determinism, the psychology, sociology, the alienation? Where is the idea that your partner –your REAL lover-is lost at Wagram, barbes wherever, working in a terrible hierarchy de-humanised, alienated, economically-castrated and lacking romantic input from you too? –Where is your idea that there are people less fortunate than you-? The focus SHOULD shift: your problems are as old as the hills. Other cultural perspectives Orientalism: help to say that a possible answer to your problems is to empty your ego a little –to not `feel’ conflicts but see yourself as part of the continuum of life.
    I hear a huge ego in your voice (`no twenty year old is a match for an English girl with her gladrags on’) What we have here is in fact a frustrated ego , a dominant –not a `Petite Anglaise’ at all. Dittio when you say you `cherish’ when French say they mistake you for being French. Sorry but your dream is to be something you are not. I’m sure you are an excellent mimic too. They are humoring you. Without irony, idioms, proverbs and deep deep cultural contexts and para-linguistic familiarity –you cannot possibly be a French speaker-so they are fooling you –in fifteen years you cannot possibly `sound ‘ like a real Frenchwoman. How many non-mixed birth French people fool you into thinking they `might’ be English?
    Re your real ego: you are so obviously in a private enterprise –a get-more advertised materialistic world-it is painful. Your links with sales, marketing and advertising are links to propaganda ie. dissimulation and trickery itself. Consumer dissatisfaction comes with the deal.
    Stop thinking about what you don’t have; start thinking about how you could help others – help people. OK, maybe you look good with your make-up and sheeney black power-dressed tights but you ain’t sweet if your heart really wants to dominate others and play to the gallery.
    It’s that simple-helping people is not whining into a computer using words no longer than three syllables pretending you’re Emily Poulin/putah . What happened to the psychology of intra-sexual competition ? The selfish gene? Dr Olivia Judson’s female genetic pooling and the 73% women divorcing figure? Of course the grass is always greener, of course hot passion is temporary-what’s new? Haven’t you thought about all that? Isn’t evolutionary biology relevant (the male ranger hunter; the cro-magnon female nurturer-constant competition-a vortex of antagonisms to deny or embrace?) These ideas are a lot more exciting than you mooching on about cabin –fever.
    And that’s major-isn’t it obvious if you live in a match-box in anal Paris joined at the hip to a guy- then you are too cramped? Most of your frustrations over Mr Frog (incidentally I agree Frenchmen and Frenchwomen are a disaster-I’m from Henley) are caused by SPACE and SQUARE FOOTAGE?
    Figure- biology dictates you should be out ranging the pampas and your’e stuck looking into Cartier’s window in Place de Vendome. But you talk about a love without morality, psychology economic determinism –eg who is PAYING the rent on your flat? Who pays the big hairdressers bill and the flouncy dresses? Perhaps this is irrelevant to you but money is what causes relationships to break up. You are not a victim. You are a participant in your life. This endless `observing’ is not pro-active –it is `Bridget Jones ‘, `The fabulous destiny of…’ or `Friends’ ie cobblers-only a tiny part of the story.
    Again why I am so aggressive here is because I have to counter seven thousand suckers on your side who will repeat the SAME cycle of alienated kids. I care about fatherless kids and know why 28,000 cars were burned in Paris –I have lived in France ten years-bought three houses here- and have a French daughter too-I look at the wider issues for difficulties-it’s the economy and a problem with `voisinage’. A competitive social model vying with the `warm French family’. The discretion, the retentiveness, the protectionism and cautiousness.
    The retentiveness and suspicion for each other in France also causes the kissing nonsense. How can you have a two pages of people writing into this blog saying how difficult it is to do the kissing routine in France –without realizing that France is MADE to create that awkward social dynamic-the other obvious examples are the `plastic saucer ‘ tipping ritual where you can and cannot sit or stand in a bar and the `tu’ and `vous’ awkwardness-and the amazing bureaucracy paperwork.
    There is something bigger than all those losers writing in agreeing with you and wishing you well like lambs to the slaughter.
    Shouldn’t you speculate on the rationale of these simple French conflicts in human dynamics? Eg: France threw out one Ancien Regime in 1879 and replaced it with an awkward approximation of the old pecking order. The rituals which cause tension so painfully quite deliberately separate-out the proletariate-the commune from the manipulators-if you deigned to pick up a history book- divide-and-conquer does make people feel inadequate. It fits in very nicely with old French Catholicism too-sorting –out winners and losers helps priests marshal society. They got rid of one king and gained ten million male dictators and `intellectuals’ to do our thinking for us.
    I call those social situations awkward but they are more than that-they are evil-they are arms-lengthing that is what France is all about. You can see the games they play.
    Look at the figures for gender wage–gaps in politics and managerial positions published this week. Frenchwomen representation is behind Moslem Pakistan and Iran.
    Incidentally can you imagine that father poisoning his son’s tennis opponents story happening in England? He killed an opponent and he gets eight years (probably four for good behaviour) because he was just a good competitive French dad? (I play tennis, and I know they ruin every sport by drugging up to the eyeballs!-they call it perfectionism)

    So what I am saying is, Pond -Duck, is start reading, do some sport and start helping others, roll up those sleeves, get those angel wings off Tadpole-newt and read some books and get into the countryside. Paris is not at international `opportunity’- it is a jam-jar full of parrots obsessed with brand names -Parisians talk to themselves in soliloquy rants constantly in the streets.
    In the countryside it’s better but the French are repressed –kindness (weakness to them) is laughed at.
    What I’d hate is for you to do a Stephen Clarke-(although a Year in The Merde ‘ is actually a lot more intelligent than your blog) and make money out of this egocentric retentive trash.

    France is the land of big fish in a small pond and you and your amphibious family are blowing bubbles in it.

    MARK LAWRENCE

    Comment by Mark Lawrence — March 11, 2006 @ 12:07 pm

  56. I say let him read them all petite, I always feel that everybody plays too many games, hiding feelings, pretending not to care, do I call / don’t I call? This way if he chooses to read at least he has the full picture and no-one is left guessing.
    Keep it up you’re an amazing writer. (Have just discovered your post on being ill à la française and suppositories….not the time or the place here I know, but congrats, it’s hilarious!)

    Comment by Louise — March 11, 2006 @ 12:46 pm

  57. Kuri, your comment surprises me a little, Petite is one of a great many who chat on the blogs. :-) Writers do live for others in this way to a certain extent. I think she’s touched an interesting taboo subject. Hence the readership doubling. You have a point re the privacy thing, but J knew she blogged when he went out with her. She is always articulate and discreet and never abuses privacy law. I think her comments are brave and from the point of view of someone who’s been in a very similar situation, I’m happy to see them promoted. I might remind you that women writers (and intelligence operatives) changed the face of the last century :-)

    Comment by fjl — March 11, 2006 @ 2:32 pm

  58. Mark Lawrence, whoever you are, you have just snatched the prize for longest ever comment (clocking in at over 2,000 words) from the once very verbose Chameleon. Congratulations.

    I don’t think your comment shows that you have read much of what I have written, before embarking on this character assassination rant, but I am rather flattered that you could be bothered to devote so much time and energy to it.

    I make no apology for who I am and what I write, nor how I am living my life. And I don’t force anyone to read it.

    And as for this site making me money, may I just point out that I have so far had donations toward my future hosting costs, and £ 15 from amazon. Nice little earner that, in two years, and clearly the only reason why I do it.

    Comment by petite — March 11, 2006 @ 3:32 pm

  59. I guess Mark is just trying to say how much he likes your blog but he’s a bit tongue-tied!

    Comment by fella — March 11, 2006 @ 4:04 pm

  60. If Mark has so much to say I suggest he starts his own blog rather than using yours – unless he pays you a contribution!

    Comment by Sandy — March 11, 2006 @ 4:20 pm

  61. My goodness! I know it doesn’t need to be said – as it’s more than obvious – but that angry, mean post from ML really has nothing whatsoever to do with you, Petite. Maybe he’s lost his kids, maybe he’s just a jerk – either way, he should get his own blog.

    I’m sorry that someone should choose to throw such nastiness at you – especially while feeling the stun of a broken heart…

    I couldn’t eat, I woke up every morning feeling okay and as soon as the reality hit, I would sob and sob until I could hardly breathe. I couldn’t eat. I missed his children – I had been in this thing with them too – I missed his voice. It wasn’t that I imagined I would ‘never’ meet anyone again – I truly mourned the loss of him.

    On this side of it, three years later, I am very much in love with Mr. Right. Neither of us knew, when we met a year ago, that our attraction would turn into what we have now. When I think of the others I’ve loved before, they pale next to him – I have never known someone so perfect… for me. I know that everything in my life has led me to this point – that out of sadness did come joy.

    I know that all the supportive words won’t dull the slow, tormenting pain you are feeling right now – but I also know that one day, some day, you’ll be in love again.

    Bonne chance, Petite :)

    Comment by fifi — March 11, 2006 @ 4:33 pm

  62. Mark, there are some great medications out there you might want to look into…

    Petite, glad to see, even in your own comments, that your wit and humour are still abound even during this horrid time. I can only join others in wishing you the very best. And how wonderful for you to know that, although your relationship is long over, the man you chose to have a child with remains gracious and kind even now, when he could be petty (the tulips thing was truly beautiful.) I guess that’s why you loved him in the first place, and although these things don’t always work out as we expect, doesn’t mean that they weren’t worth it, the same of course being true for your relationship with Lover. It can still be beautiful, even once it’s gone. Courage.

    Comment by redlady — March 11, 2006 @ 4:50 pm

  63. Oo-er, Mark Lawrence.

    Pepperdine University statistics, anyone?

    BTW, you perfectly well can sound like a Frenchwoman after 15 years. I should know.

    Hang in there, Petite, some people have chips on their shoulders.

    Comment by Claire — March 11, 2006 @ 4:53 pm

  64. Hi it’s me again,

    Thanks for not being too nasty to me! What I say is is look at the statistics –it IS women choosing. It’s perfectly obvious that Petite COULD get her house into order and re-win Mr Frog. `The love you make is equal to the love you take ‘
    The Beatles

    I’m right aren’t I? I’d like to be proved wrong.
    OK Pepperdine …point taken….But James Q Wilson is big in US admin…….

    Come on. I’ll be nice from now on. MARK

    Comment by Mark Lawrence — March 11, 2006 @ 5:16 pm

  65. Hugs to you Petite…

    Comment by Lucy-Jane — March 11, 2006 @ 5:24 pm

  66. But maybe she doesn’t want to re-win him. You make him sound like a Tombola prize.

    Comment by Claire — March 11, 2006 @ 5:42 pm

  67. Mr F and I make wonderful friends, but formed an unhappy couple. He also makes a fantastic part-time dad. I don’t want to change any of that, and I’m sure he doesn’t either.

    Comment by petite — March 11, 2006 @ 6:34 pm

  68. Oh OK Cheers , Mark

    Comment by Mark Lawrence — March 11, 2006 @ 6:38 pm

  69. Mark you eejit

    A recent statistic for you, published recently in the Guardian: after divorce in the UK men are on average 2% better off, whereas women are on average 17% worse off. Women don’t do it for the money…

    The same Guardian article described the recent collapse of the Child Support Agency which was created a few years ago because so many divorced fathers would not contribute financially to the costs of their children’s basic needs – food, clothes, shoes, never mind all the extras. The Agency collapsed partly due to duff software, but also because it proved so hard to track down errant fathers, or to get many to pay up.

    You talk about women determining the course of relationships. Among the divorced women of my acquaintance several achieved mutually agreed splits with their husbands after becoming emotionally distant (like Petite and Mr Frog), several were left by their husbands for another woman, typically a younger woman, and several others have suffered emotional and/or physical abuse – severe abuse in a couple of cases. One, a mother of two girls, has just left her alcoholic partner after 14 years of trying to help him – and has left him the family home. She spent the last year feeling suicidal trying to reach her decision which would mean breaking up her family. I only know one woman who left her husband for another man, and she and her husband had been emotionally distant for a long time.

    I imagine the women of my acquaintance are a pretty representative sample.

    You attempted to sound so knowledgeable, Mark, but you really spoilt the effect by going on for far too long, using derogatory terms to address Petite, and generally sounding rabid. People are moved by Petite’s writing for a good reason. She identifies emotions and events which chime with many of us, highlighting very human feelings and frailties and frequently owning up to the negative thoughts about other people that we all have.

    Petite, Jim, Mr Frog and Tadpole – all the best to you.

    Comment by Helen — March 11, 2006 @ 7:43 pm

  70. Speaking,Mr.(Miss?)Lawrence,of pseudonyms and of, amoung other things,writing to the gallery,I ask:
    for whom were your comments REALLY intended? On the surface, it would appear as though you are merely adding your 2 cents to the dialogue between Petite and her readers. However,the bitterness of your tone only detracts from any authencity you wished to relay. It is a telling sign of your own insecurity that you opened your comments by being insulting..a surefire attention-getter.

    Seriously,who pissed in your cafe au lait?

    As opposed to making your points in a convincing manner,you come across as a severely frustrated person with way too much time on his/her hands,time that could obviously be better spent making a positive contribution to society,as you suggest.

    As for the “lambs to the slaughter” allegory, I have found that Petite has quite a motley bunch of readers in her comments box, nary a lamb amoung them.

    May your statistics keep you warm in your old age, as it is evident that you have yet to grow a heart.

    Comment by Belle — March 11, 2006 @ 8:11 pm

  71. Ooh Petite, sounds like ML is trying to hit on you.

    Anyway, since your life is apparently not worth examining, least of all by you–the writer, I’ll be looking forward to your next few postings on the following topics:

    “Shouldn’t you speculate on the rationale of these simple French conflicts in human dynamics?”

    and…

    “Look at the figures for gender wage–gaps in politics and managerial positions published this week. Frenchwomen representation is behind Moslem Pakistan and Iran.”

    Oooh goody goody.

    Comment by dongurigal — March 11, 2006 @ 8:21 pm

  72. Re. Mark Lawrence’s comment – I’m just LOVING the idea of frogs-porn …

    Comment by Paola — March 11, 2006 @ 8:21 pm

  73. Hope you’re well-sorry, if I was a little rude.

    Mr F was silent at you giving him the big E Grande, look at the wall-mural just north of Les Halles in Rambuteau or Rameau I think near Bottin . It is a mural of eight storeys and is a painting of a huge staircase with a an old man at the bottom straining to climb the long staircase of life . And the goal is a little girl smiling to him at the top of the staircase.

    Mr F is that man on his lonely life’s labour stuck in the dark metro tunnels and the little girl is his sunshine, his heart, his new life and his love.

    Helen, I love being called an eejit because it’s true to a large extent –you sounds-as does Grande-very sweet. And the guy who says we can warm ourselves with statistics is right too-we all work around statistics-I get my from the mind-chilling Cheltenham Males Group-(Yahoo-have a look gasp gasp) which I do and don’t agree with. I am not at all extremist . BUT this thing about Grande is spiralling out of control surely the whole raison d’etre of this site is for us to say-`Be sure of nothing but the holiness of the heart’s affections’ (Keats –`You’re right to leave him’? )
    But what I am saying is more like the old hippy: `Love the one your with’.and Van Morrisson’s excellent song `What’s so funny about peace, love and understanding?’

    I take this as lovely dialogue between the mystic but totally unaccountable side of sincere women and binary reality.

    If you think I don’t have a heart, I dooooooo , but …… I just think Mr F needs a good counsel for defence.

    Comment by Mark Lawrence — March 12, 2006 @ 7:44 am

  74. Mark. Am not going to get personal, but when using lies, and more damn lies (statistics) at least use relevant ones. The study into effects of fatherlessness was on BOYS. Unless Petite has a very warped way of raising spawn, Tadpole is a girl, for whom the statistics are way different. I won’t even start on the non-sequiturs on French society. Unless one is prepared to challenge ones own ‘idées reçues’, living somewhere confers little insight. One can chose to look on from outside, or, to burst the bubble and go discover. The former smacks of an (unacknowledged?) superiority complex/cultural imperialism; the latter of a desire for knowledge/ understanding. Education is not just about facts, it is about context.
    PS Do you have a thing for Gary Lineker? Presuming he’s a cuddlier namesake/nom de plume.

    Comment by J — March 12, 2006 @ 9:01 am

  75. I cried. I went through the same exact thing and you captured all of my feelings perfectly. Thank you.

    Comment by juliana — March 12, 2006 @ 4:05 pm

  76. I hate it when a significant other starts going distant and cold, and gets aloof, and withdrawing. In a way it’s the nastiest thing. I’d rather have outbursts, I think, though both behaviour types are timewasting ones that a woman can do without. If Petite walked away from a man who was cold, withdrawn, apathetic and manipulative and now has the grace and dignity to offer him friendship out of decency and respect for her child, then I think she’s behaved beautifully.
    Women are asked to take crap in all sorts of different forms. Why? I think the social norm should specify that we should have to take nothing, I mean nothing, but a fulfilling and happy challenging relationship with great, open, playful sex. The new FJL rule. I’m happy to say ‘for better or for worse’ but not ‘for crap.’
    So no crap. :-)
    ‘scuse my language Petite xx

    Comment by fjl — March 12, 2006 @ 9:30 pm

  77. I know all about that feeling when you see somebody else who is happy. We’ve tried and failed at IVF several times, and following each climb out of the wreckage any mention or sight of children hurts like hell – and yet spending any time with children of course makes your spirit soar.

    Comment by Jonathan — March 13, 2006 @ 12:38 am

  78. ML

    I haven’t deprived my daughter of a father. He spends more/better time with her now than when we were together. I can only recommend that you take the time to read more thoroughly before you judge.

    She also stays with his parents, regularly, so has not been deprived of her grandparents.

    There is no deprivation here. Only a healthier atmosphere where Tadpole sees her parents separate but friends, both utterly devoted to her.

    On what basis do you make the assumption that Mr F would want me back? He doesn’t. He knows this all played out for the best.

    Finally, I have explained why I chose the pseudonym I use in a previous post. My old boss called me “la petite”. My first French boyfriend’s parents called me “la petite anglaise”. Nothing more to read into in than that. Perhaps you would like to pay “La Coquette” a visit and quiz her about her pseudonym? Or L’Oiseau anglais?

    Comment by petite — March 13, 2006 @ 3:34 pm

  79. Blimey. Mark Lawrence – those are loooooong comments. How nice to have all that time to spend passing judging other people’s lives in their comments boxes, and how thoughtful of you to make sure we don’t waste similar quantities of our own time by not having your own blog where we could do likewise.

    Comment by KW — March 13, 2006 @ 4:04 pm

  80. I first stumbled upon your site while searching for information on the etiquette of ‘la bise.’ Drawn in by your elegant, quirky prose, I have continued to read your blog intermittently.

    Your thoughts on the recent heart-wrenching developments in your life resonate with me and make me feel connected to my fellow humans again, at a time when I’m feeling at odds with the people around me. We are all so different, and yet so similar–bundles of joy, anguish, hope, and wry cynicism, just trying to get by and find happiness as best as we can.

    Thank you for your words–I admire your ability to so concisely and eloquently express thoughts that I struggle to put words to.

    Best of luck, and may you find what you yearn for.

    Comment by Emi Wang — March 14, 2006 @ 5:11 am

  81. Song for Mr F

    I was dreaming in Montpellier and thought:

    Oh what can ail thee, knight at arms,
    Alone and palely loitrering?
    The sedge has withered from the lake and no bird sings…..

    Oh what can ail thee knight at arms
    Alone and palely loitering
    Is all this sighing really worth
    La belle dame sans Merci. ….?
    lovers reunite

    Shelley I think It’s good anyway.

    I was in Montpellier yesterday-so couldn’t read my mail..

    Montpellier All Afternoon,

    I was looking out over Place de Comedie another unnecessary day at the two masks carved on the Opera:
    `Tragedy and Comedy’ and thought… I knew which one is me and Mr F.
    I looked down
    `Waiter, swift fellow, why has my croissant gone soggy –it flopped into my coffee
    Did you marinate it?’’
    “No sir, look again. And look another time, it is your tears.’’

    Cupid and Psyche
    Cupid asks (validly) if love has wings why shouldn’t it flutter about?
    Psyche: because it might land on one stem that breaks.

    Basho and the frog The green shiny thing slops into the stream.

    There was young man from Japan,
    Who wrote verses that wouldn’t scan,
    When asked how so?
    He replied, I don’t know,
    But I like to get as many words into the last line as I possibly can.

    `La defense: This is where you get off she said ` It is the end of the line.’ `But, Angel, this is where everyone gets on too.’ Say I.

    The four caryatids are smiling in Paris.

    Mark-the Honest Broker

    Comment by MARK LAWRENCE — March 14, 2006 @ 7:32 am

  82. Can I try whatever it is that Mark is smoking?! It might be the only enjoyable way I’ll get through this week. :o)

    Comment by Hazy — March 14, 2006 @ 9:19 am

  83. Mark’s comments will no longer be shown on the site. I’m afraid if he can’t be succinct in his ranting, it’s no go. Otherwise I’ll have a database crammed full of 2,000 comments I don’t even understand…

    Mark – get a blog!

    Comment by petite — March 14, 2006 @ 10:22 am

  84. Now Petite,aren’t we being just a bit hasty in tossing Mark off the comments box? Aftter all, what else is he going to do in the insane asylum all day?…

    Comment by Belle — March 14, 2006 @ 8:31 pm

  85. He’s not barred, just being moderated. He has clearly been heavily medicated today, as I have not heard from him. Yet.

    Comment by petite — March 14, 2006 @ 8:42 pm


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