petite anglaise

May 22, 2006

bien dans ma peau

Filed under: navel gazing, single life — petiteanglaiseparis @ 11:31 am

I move slowly through the park, my steps perfectly in time with the music filling my head, hair buffeted by squalls of wind. The asphalt is coated with a thick layer of pale pink blossoms; the tiny flowers drift, confetti like, from the trees, into my hair, onto my shoulders. I flick at them, absent-mindedly, lost in my thoughts.

A year ago today, I wrote a post about leaving the father of my child. Re-reading those words now, it almost feels as though they were written by someone else. I suppose, in some ways, they were. The woman who wrote them had been sleepwalking for the longest time. She knew her life wasn’t making her truly happy – and writing this blog had helped her come to this realisation – but was terribly afraid she did not possess the strength to break away, start a new life. She was beginning to see the light: that being a mother didn’t have to mean burying her own personality, her own needs, deep inside; denying their very existence. That way only bitterness and simmering resentment lay.

There followed a turbulent year of dizzying heights and desolate lows, filled with an intensity I would never trade for a return to my old life. Out of the ashes of the relationship which ended in March stepped a woman who has finally learned how to feel comfortable in her own skin. Who has understood, at long last, that being alone can make a person feel more whole than being one half of an ill-matched couple.

Out of habit, I still lie on the right-hand half of the bed, rarely straying over the invisible line which divides it in down the middle. But I no longer sleep fitfully when there is no-one by my side. And the nightmares have left me.

I move slowly through the park, buffeted by the wind, music filling my head. And realise I am smiling at no-one in particular.


  1. The music playing on repeat on my ipod was Ladytron – Beauty. The words are not relevant, but the music is just dreamy…

    Comment by petite — May 22, 2006 @ 11:35 am

  2. Happy for you, Petite.

    This is a beautiful piece.

    Comment by Claire — May 22, 2006 @ 11:36 am

  3. That’s a beautiful summary of a turbulent year. Very touching.

    And I read it as I listened to the song – I have had that whole Ladytron album on repeat play for months, it seems.

    Comment by An Unreliable Witness — May 22, 2006 @ 11:47 am

  4. Lovely. Take this place and move your centre firmly on top of it. Life will throw more curves and tangles, but remember it is possible to be happy and content, and you will be.

    Comment by BoyOnTop — May 22, 2006 @ 11:54 am

  5. Good for you. Whether it’s in work, relationships, or whatever else, I’ve always believed that if you can be honest with yourself about what you really want, and what you really like and dislike, you’re much better able to decide if the grass is greener elsewhere, or whether it just looks that way from a distance (when you can’t see the rocks and dog mess – okay I’m starting to stretch the analogy).

    I spend most of my life single, but happy being single, without a life full of messy one night stands, and with memories of a few very enjoyable relationships. I work hard for a pittance, but people pay me to drink nice wine and talk about it. If I went under a bus today, I wouldn’t have regrets even though I would still like to live a long, fulfilled life, preferably in the company of a woman who would love me as much as I would her.

    Comment by JJ — May 22, 2006 @ 12:00 pm

  6. Fantastic writing, even more touching when accompanied by your music. Hesitating between feeling happy or depressed for you, your last line finally brought a smile on my face.

    Comment by Thomas — May 22, 2006 @ 12:25 pm

  7. yes, but watch out: you may soon find yourself sleeping fitfully when there IS someone by your side.

    of the two, i think i’d rather have your old problem.

    Comment by david orland — May 22, 2006 @ 12:55 pm

  8. Congratulations on having the courage to chose your own path in life rather than just being whisked along for the ride. Change is rarely easy. May the next year bring you joy as well as challenge (and may you continue to share them both so eloquently).

    Comment by Hexe — May 22, 2006 @ 2:00 pm

  9. Glad you’ve found happiness.
    Now let’s have less of this ‘all the negative comments are from men’ nonesense.

    Comment by Parkin Pig — May 22, 2006 @ 2:02 pm

  10. That was a year ago? Wow…time flies…

    Smiling is infectious, the more you smile, the more people around you smile. This is definately a good thing.

    Comment by Clair — May 22, 2006 @ 2:10 pm

  11. That tune is so so good..

    Comment by David in London — May 22, 2006 @ 2:25 pm

  12. Good for you for having the courage to break out that relationship. A lot of people stay in relationships too long solely out of inertia. They see a bad relationship like an old car that they have poured too much money into. They think, “but we’ve been together for X years…” Meanwhile, they are missing out on other healthier relationships because they are stuck in the first one.

    Nice tune too. Have you ever heard that modernish NarcoTango stuff?

    Comment by homeimprovementninja — May 22, 2006 @ 2:39 pm

  13. Don’t get lost! Paris is quite something for ending up a long way from where you started…

    Comment by fjl — May 22, 2006 @ 3:09 pm

  14. You know it’s been months, years… since I’m reading you now, i never left a comment not knowing which stupid thing i could say but i wanted to tell you today that I’m happy you’re happy with the choice you made, you knew that you were not happy but scared to begin a brand new life, now you did it, it’s still not great and light daily but you made it. “Change”, you should listen to that Tracy Chapman song, it’s the one that convinced me for good that i had to change my life too!

    Comment by Aurelie — May 22, 2006 @ 4:25 pm

  15. Beautiful and inspirational post. And the music was wonderful as well. Must…download….now. :)

    Comment by Dina — May 22, 2006 @ 5:17 pm

  16. Wheres Trevor at? He’s probably listening to Fleetwood Mac on his ipod. Maybe he is Mick Fleetwood – he is after all 6’2 in his stockinged feet.

    Glad you’re happy PA. It’s been rainy and miserable in London all weekend, and not even the thought of a man in stockings could bring a smile to my face.

    Comment by Hmmm — May 22, 2006 @ 5:48 pm

  17. Excellent imagery. makes me wonder about certain things regarding my own issues.

    Comment by Dave of the Lake — May 22, 2006 @ 6:34 pm

  18. To be happy in ones skin is a very difficult but wonderful achievement. Treasure that feeling and be thankful.

    Comment by John — May 22, 2006 @ 7:47 pm

  19. A longtime lurker says: Tres bien! Glad to hear you in fine, happy, confident spirits again.

    Comment by udge — May 22, 2006 @ 7:51 pm

  20. That’s one of my favorite French expressions: “bien dans ma peau”. Sometime I seem to be constantly seeking but am not quite “there” yet. Maybe soon.

    I’m with Clair – it doesn’t seem that it’s been a year for us, the “petite watchers”, looking in. Perhaps it seems longer for you… but you’re through the tunnel and out the other side now. Well done!

    Comment by The Bold Soul — May 22, 2006 @ 8:23 pm

  21. How beautiful to see you come to this contentment. Vraiment, c’est tres beau.

    Comment by Emma Catherine — May 22, 2006 @ 8:46 pm

  22. “…that being alone can make a person feel more whole than being one half of an ill-matched couple.”

    This is the most beautiful statement, Petite. I honestly wish more people could realize this and fully understand it. I’m so glad you’ve reached that point in your life. As my grandmother always said, “The point in life is not to find someone who completes you, it’s to be complete enough to find someone who complements your completeness.”

    Comment by Teleri — May 22, 2006 @ 9:14 pm

  23. beautiful writing … and being on your own, is not the same as being alone.

    Comment by andre — May 22, 2006 @ 9:16 pm

  24. Beautiful piece, Petite. Thank you for sharing that with us.

    Comment by Frances — May 22, 2006 @ 9:38 pm

  25. This post reminds me of the Gorecki-listening, self-hugging-on-the-train post. Does your life seem more three-dimensional when there’s a soundtrack playing, like mine does?

    Comment by LJ — May 22, 2006 @ 9:41 pm

  26. Definitely LJ. When I listen to “You Gonna Want Me” by Tiga, I *own* the rue de Belleville.

    For example.

    Comment by petite — May 22, 2006 @ 9:53 pm

  27. Bravo Petite! And here’s to continued smiling at no one in particular :)

    Comment by Kasey — May 22, 2006 @ 11:32 pm

  28. Well done, am glad someone has found herself :)

    Comment by Amy — May 23, 2006 @ 12:26 am

  29. I do that sometimes, kind of giggle to myself sitting on the bus, usually when i’ve got the ricky gervais podcast on or something. get some reet queer looks!

    Comment by Lee — May 23, 2006 @ 1:30 am

  30. go, petite…add my voice to the others in being glad to share that walk in the park with you vicariously. peace is worth most everything, yes?

    Comment by caroline — May 23, 2006 @ 3:20 am

  31. Credit where credit is due, Petite. The nightmares have not left you – in facing your fears, YOU have left THEM. You are whole enough now not to allow anyone in who will diminish you.

    Just as there is no room in a cocoon for anything other than the butterfly, which emerges, whole, after its solitary metamorphosis…

    You are finally enjoying the music which only you can create!

    Comment by Belle — May 23, 2006 @ 7:49 am

  32. The good news is that it goes on getting better.

    Comment by meredic — May 23, 2006 @ 9:11 am

  33. Hello Mlle Petite Anglaise,

    Merci pour ce joli Post. Votre blog est une delicieuse Friandise (Meilleure que mes Edinburgh Rocks ;) )

    Bonne journee

    Comment by Inaki — May 23, 2006 @ 9:15 am

  34. Shall we try to keep things in proportion, she just had a happy spell, that’s all. If you encourage her further, she might develop feeliings of grandiosity, become euphoric, and then walk in front of a bus.

    Comment by Trevor — May 23, 2006 @ 9:56 am

  35. ha!

    Dependable as always Trevor. Good job you are here to keep my feet on the ground.

    Comment by petite — May 23, 2006 @ 10:11 am

  36. I was wondering where Trevor fits in to all this.

    Comment by Parkin Pig — May 23, 2006 @ 10:49 am

  37. Hi Petite. I was in Paris for a couple of weeks recently and realised why you love it so much.

    Enjoy the single life. I doubt it will last for any longer than you want it to.

    Comment by Suze — May 23, 2006 @ 11:26 am

  38. Please Petite, no more musical snippets. I was heartlessly parted with £13 by Virgin Piccadilly yesterday as I had to have that Ladytron album there and then. £13!! I usually pay £8 on line. Bastards. It is a habit I cannot afford to get into..

    Comment by David in London — May 23, 2006 @ 12:08 pm

  39. In the words of the Lithuanian entry for Eurovision 2002, “Happy I ‘cos happy you”.

    Comment by Rob — May 23, 2006 @ 1:07 pm

  40. Good for you, you have turned a page! Now things can only get better.

    Comment by Lost in France — May 23, 2006 @ 2:10 pm

  41. “If you encourage her further, she might develop feeliings of grandiosity, become euphoric, and then walk in front of a bus.”

    Please, Petite has much more sense than that! Now, if you had said the Metro, well then I could understand that……..;-)

    Comment by Dave of the Lake — May 23, 2006 @ 3:01 pm

  42. onward and upward!

    Comment by piu piu — May 23, 2006 @ 4:15 pm

  43. I agree that is a wonderful statement: “being alone can make a person feel more whole than being one half of an ill-matched couple.” So true! If only more people realized it. But it isn’t an easy thing to come to realize.
    I also have always loved the expression “bien dans ma peau”, it is what we all strive towards

    Comment by lapagefrancaise — May 23, 2006 @ 5:42 pm

  44. “I agree that is a wonderful statement: “being alone can make a person feel more whole than being one half of an ill-matched couple.”

    Jonathan Larson, the playwright of “Rent,” had written another musical called “Tick…Tick…BOOM,” and there is a song called “Louder Than Words” In it, there is a wonderful section that goes:

    “Why do we stay with lovers
    Who we know, down deep
    Just aren’t right?

    Why would we rather
    Put ourselves through hell
    Than sleep alone at night?

    Cages or wings, Cages or wings,
    Which do you prefer?
    Ask the birds Ah:
    Fear or love, baby
    Don’t say the answer

    Actions speak louder than Louder than, Louder than,
    Louder than, Louder than words.”

    Comment by Dave of the Lake — May 24, 2006 @ 2:37 am

  45. So true… I am so, so happy being single right now, enjoying my ‘new’ life in New York… looking forward to Paris too. Could we meet on the 8th the day I arrive in Paris? saves me going all the way to mornay and back again…. piu wants to come out too…


    Comment by mimi — May 24, 2006 @ 4:28 am

  46. There is in fact a little video that describes perfectly well the dangers Trevor has pointed out (“feelings of grandiosity, become euphoric”, etc.). It lasts just 1:10. It’s simply called… “Jesus Christ : the musical”. And it’s an absolute MUST ! And, last but not least, it can save your life…

    Comment by coutho — May 24, 2006 @ 11:08 am

  47. True Lapage, it can be hard to let go, even of what you didn’t want in the first place…. and it’s only too easy to let go of something someone else values.

    Comment by fjl — May 24, 2006 @ 11:27 am

  48. Don’t u wish to engage yourself in a couple again ?

    Comment by sylvain — May 24, 2006 @ 7:17 pm

  49. well, I’m sure it will happen, it usually does when you decide you aren’t looking…

    Comment by petite — May 24, 2006 @ 7:41 pm

  50. The usual – longtime reader, rare commenter – but what a lovely post.

    Comment by Daryl — May 25, 2006 @ 12:53 am

  51. Ciao Petite (Ciao all).
    Reading through all the posts of the last year or so, it is pleasing to see this moment of happiness. One moment begets others. Long may this continue for you Petite. Take care.

    Comment by Scott Free — May 25, 2006 @ 1:24 pm

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