Pattern painting by Claude Viallat

Pattern painting by Claude Viallat

Ah, the joy of post break-up soul-searching… Wailing why, Why, WHY at your indifferent bedroom walls  wondering what happened, where you went wrong, and what you should to do better next time. Stopping to retch a bit at the mere suggestion that there may be a next time. Vowing to remain celibate for the next 20 years…

In come friends and well-meaning people, flooding you with looks of pity, advice and self-help books. You smile weakly, and wish they’d opted for strong alcohol instead.

One lonely evening, as sleep eludes you once more, you reach out for the nearest book: Reinventing your life by Jeffrey Young and Janet Klosko. The title alone smacks of pure self-helpish bollocks sounds ominous, but after the first few pages, something unusual happens: You are forced to admit that actually, it is quite interesting, and even that you kind of want to know more.

Now, rest assured that my general attitude towards self-help literature remains one of barb-wired caution, but still, I am currently enjoying a little journey through the various patterns -also called schemas- we develop in childhood, and which tend to ruin our lives perpetuate themselves into adulthood.

There is something for everyone on the book’s menu: From exclusion, to distrust and abuse, vulnerability to high expectations. There are 11 to pick from, and if you’re particularly lucky, the battery of little tests will reveal that you are personally plagued by half a dozen of those delightful patterns.

Subsequent chapters guide you towards understanding why patterns form, how they affect your life, and what you can do to free yourself from their destructive side-effects.

Much of what I read about my patterns was new and rang true. I realised why do I find being single so uncomfortable, feel attracted to men who offer a mixture of hope and doubt, but never the certainty of stability. Why I harbour a ridiculous, but firmly-rooted belief that no-one could love me if they truly knew me.

The strength of the book is to acknowledge the patterns’ variety of origins (it is possible to suffer from an abandonment pattern, even if you were brought up by two well-meaning parents who never really abandoned you), and the difficulty of breaking them, but at the same time offering an encouraging, baby-step kind of approach to succeeding.

Its down-side is what I probably unfairly see as being over-simplistic: The examples presented tend to focus on individuals who are only -and quite extremely- affected by one pattern at a time, when in reality most of us drag not just one mammoth-sized piece of luggage, but a variety of assorted carry ons that manifest themselves in specific circumstances.

So mine’s a large Abandonment, with a side of Imperfection and Dependence, what’s yours ?

I’m going through a bit of a Lilly Wood phase at the moment:

Lilly Wood and the Prick – Where I want to be (California)

Posted by: Lady E | 06/09/2014

Skyfall

Cumulonimbus by Lady E

Where you go I go
What you see I see
I know I’d never be me
Without the security
Of your loving arms
Keeping me from harm
Put your hand in my hand
And we’ll stand. ” (Skyfall – Adele)

Suddenly, words stab,  the air is knocked out of my lungs, my eyes swim. I cannot remember who I am, feel like running, screaming,  dissolving into a sobbing heap. Instead, I sit very still, fingers moving automatically across the frets as my guitar teacher carries on singing.

Heartbreak is a cruel despot, with a knack for making you pay when you dare forget about it -if only for a few minutes.

Today, as I concentrated on getting that tricky Bm7 chord right, it sternly raised an an army of still warm memories of the dozens of other times I played Skyfall, of Mr Nice sprawled on the sofa, singing along or watching the football, smiling crookedly after yet another outburst against the referee.

I go about the days, stiff with fear of heartbreak’s absurd rule, avoiding any thought of the past or future, pretending to ignore that my new present feels miserably tight and scratchy.

Outside, the mountains tremble in a haze of heat, clouds rise and children squeak. Bigger things are happening.

We finish playing Skyfall and I hazard a breath as we move on to Pharrel Williams’ Happy.

Posted by: Lady E | 01/09/2014

Light

Light by Lady E

Light by Lady E

I hang up the phone and close my eyes. When I re-open them, I finally see the trees, volley-ball players, families strolling, and clouds shifting across the late afternoon sky.

I am sitting in a park on a busy Saturday afternoon. Mr Nice and I have just been discussing the fineries of our relationship’s funeral : Next week, we’ll tell the children.  We will let them enjoy the afternoon together, before letting them know of our decision to separate. To soften the blow – in as much this is possible when you are robbing someone of much of the stability and safety in their lives, we also decided to make sure they could still spend time together and count on both of us.

How this will work in practice is anyone’s guess.

For the first time in over a month, I have been talking to the Mr Nice I used to know, rather than some spaced out version of him, and this man is lost, desolate, wondering how a relationship which has been giving him happiness and stability for a couple of years could suddenly become something he does not want.

I feel immensely tired.

I get up and start walking towards the light.

Posted by: Lady E | 18/08/2014

Flight

Kite surfers by Lady E

Kite surfers by Lady E

It ended in virtually the same way as two years ago, with Mr Nice soaring into the Summer sky.

I watched helplessly from below, as he briefly tried to wrestle his demons, before surrendering and fleeing.

Only this time, he threw to the wind two years of love, trust and honesty. Three children, who for the youngest cannot remember a time when we were not in each other’s life.

I am left barely standing, bewildered and bereft. Again.

About to take a deep breath and plunge into the terrifying, yet well-worn roller coaster of grief and heartbreak.

But I am not ready just yet. For just a few more moments, I watch the brilliant Summer sun, remember its caress, and let tears fade out the lines.

The Avener – fade out lines (fab French electro for your late Summer grooves)

Posted by: Lady E | 07/08/2014

Summer storm

IMG_1066

Summer storm by Lady E

It has been a year and a half since my last post, millions of seconds, grains of sand, skies, smiles, the woolly softness life takes on when things are finally stable.

Mr Nice and I have carried on knitting our little story: A messy tangle, crafted by clumsy hands, pulled by the demands of children, and life, but somehow working together, lovingly. Something surely no-one else would wear. But isn’t that what every relationship is about ? Making up patterns that wouldn’t fit anyone else, experimenting with colours and shapes ?

As a new Summer comes round, imperceptible tensions pull at the thread, neither of us really notice, absorbed in daily contingencies, and holiday plans. Until as relationship crisis always seems to hit, things brutally start unravelling.

Once the bewilderment of the first blow subsides, you look back and see pitfalls in which you landed, old demons at work, how perhaps you stopped giving the relationship a high enough priority. Images of all the happy times flutter through you head, and you hope it’s not too late.

This is where I am now, on holiday in the South of France, with a Mr Nice-shaped absence.

I sit on the sand, watch the storm clouds roll in, and I hope.

Lillywood and the pricks – Prayer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fiore9Z5iUg

Posted by: Lady E | 24/01/2013

Epilogue : Three Januarys

DSC_0001

Fate has a sense of humour: Last year’s Xmas present form my friend Aude…

On the first of January 2011, my partner T left brutally. Thus started the story of this blog, and my journey through gut-wrenching heartbreak.

I have few memories of the early days, when this blog was born out of a the tidal wave of shock. My choked disbelief, permanent nausea, an endless free-fall into darkness…

What followed was a year of war between pain, and courage. Pain so bad it turns you into a terrified infant, pain that makes you hate, regret, and forget how beautiful life is.

Courage as deep and primal as the fear, courage that drags you back ashore kicking when you just want to sink, courage that feeds from your children’s silent plea, and the closed ranks of family and friends behind you.

After an exhausting year, marred in grief and self-doubt came 2012, and timid new beginnings. In early January 2012, I got a belated Xmas present from my friend Aude.

That day, we went through our usual ritual of tea and chatter, over the din of our offspring, joked, ate chocolate, and decided that the new year could only be a good one.

That night, I met Mr Nice…

… This morning as the alarm clock called the start of yet another glacial January morning, his arm snaked around me, and pulled me closer.

And so ends my story, and this blog. Even though I have no idea what the future will bring, the last few months have been the happiest in a long, long, really very long time, and I feel confident. A whole new chapter of my life has started.

Many, many thanks to my readers & faithful commenters for their invaluable support. You were all part of the force that drove me forward to a better place, and for that I am immensely grateful.

If you are just at the beginning of your own journey into heartbreak, know that, as unbelievable as it may sound, you will be happy again. I have been where you are, and I am nothing special. Our ability to heal and rebuild ourselves is something so banal, yet so very extraordinary.

Arthur H – La beauté de l’amour (what else ? )

Girls, here is a sexy voice alert over Arthur H, enjoy !

Posted by: Lady E | 27/10/2012

Mojo

I am driving back from the airport on a Parisian motorway, the rising sun bouncing off high-rises is blinding me. I feel utterly bewildered, confused and frustrated.

Have you ever known that something was probably a very bad idea, yet been unable to resist it ?

Well, despite the fact that I will be 39 in a month, and should really know better, I have. Well done me.

Luckily, I now have a week off to clear my head, and get back to reality…

Want to feel French and a bit wild ? Listen to this :

M – Le Mojo

Posted by: Lady E | 22/10/2012

I wish for you

Sub-saharan Africa and the arctic circle are currently enjoying a little war, whose front-line is apparently Western Europe. Which means that one morning, I open my shutters, and get shocked-awake by a cool 2°C, and the next morning, having practically donned my ski jacket before risking it, I get hit by a 22°C Summery breeze.

Apart from the interesting scuffle happening overhead, my life has felt singularly dull lately.

Well, not entirely dull, if you account for the fact that I have been juggling workloads, feeling pulled between demands from work, and children, all the while fighting the urge to hide under the duvet, pretending I wasn’t there…

And that I have been going out with three men, which I do realise makes me sort of sound like a harlot, but no, it’s not even that exciting. We have been going out as in going out the door and into cinemas, restaurants, and even a science café as it happens.

And so as this song * came on tonight (note if you are diabetic, that  it is probably unsafe to listen to on account of its ultra-high sugar content), I stopped what I was doing, feeling suddenly deflated, and a little sad. Despite meeting about a dozen gentlemen in the last few months, some of them perfectly nice thank-you-very-much, I guess I am still wishing for you…

* Jasmine Ash – I wished for you

Posted by: Lady E | 09/10/2012

Guess who…

… Came for dinner the other night ?

Are you sitting down ?

Ok, no, don’t get that excited, it wasn’t Channing Tatum… Indeed, it was only T. I’ll let you get over the anti-climax for a moment.

But still, can you believe it ? The man who broke my heart and our family in hideous ways, before dumping my son came for dinner … and it was actually ok.

At times, it felt as though the last time we’d had dinner together as a family was the night before, rather than just under two years ago. It felt a bit surreal, a bit sad too, as little details of what was nice about our life together came flooding back.

But overwhelmingly, it was good. The children were happy, I actually felt relaxed, T and I have definitely entered a new phase: We get on well, in spite of everything that has happened.

When after a steep climb, I contemplated the breathtaking view from a local mountain-top last weekend, I felt dizzy with how much it felt like looking down at my proverbial past (well, it may have had something to do with low blood-sugar too).

But anyway, if you’d told me a year ago that I would be inviting T for dinner, and actually mildly enjoying the experience, I would have scoffed. But there it is, as incredible as it may sound, I have mostly forgotten what pain and despair felt like.

I remember how much I hated and feared this man, in much the same way I remember crushing his hand in agony after our daughter was born, swearing that I would never do this again. It feels so distant, so far away, as though all this was lived by a different me…

I haven’t taken leave of my senses though, and for anyone who is wondering, there is no way I could let him back into my life. I have some self-respect.

Right, ready for a little boogie ? This song is totally addictive and has had me shaking it uncontrollably.

The black keys – Lonely boy

Posted by: Lady E | 19/09/2012

Day-off

Yesterday, my son was sick *, which meant I had an unexpected day-off with a moping nine year old, and a very lovely, late Summer sun…

It gave me a chance to clean, wash, tidy, shop and do all the boring stuff I had skipped last weekend, because I was too busy doing scrupulously nothing, except enjoy myself with a dear friend who was over from the UK.

It also gave me a chance to watch a seminar about consciousness – which aptly enough totally blew my mind -, by English psychologist Nicholas Humphrey. It addresses such typical coffee machine-topics of conversations as what is consciousness ? How does our brain make sense of sensations ? How did the sense of spirituality, characteristic of the human species come about as an evolutionary advantage ?… And what d’you mean, all you talk about at coffee breaks is the weather ?

Anyway, here’s the seminar, which is a bit long, so get the Häagen Dazs out of the freezer, make yourself comfortable, and you won’t be disappointed

…If you haven’t got a spare hour, here’s an interview, which only take about 20 minutes but probes around the same questions.

One of the ideas that struck me was how we humans are set apart from other superior vertebrates by our ability to love life, because we give meaning to sensations … To the softness of morning light filtering through foliage, to the melody we make out in the sound of running water, to the smell of warm bread on my way to work …

So come on, I’m dying to know, what delicious sensations have made your day beautiful today ?

* He is right as rain today, in that amazing way children have of springing from the brink of death to rude health, in less time than it takes to warm up some hot chocolate.

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