Somebody I used to know

Sunflower by Lady EThis week, I have reduced Mr Nice to tears, and seen T shrivel under my gaze.

No, I haven’t done a crash course in karate and beaten both of them to a pulp (yet), but yes, things have been flirting with the surreal.

Mind you, this in itself seems to fast be turning into the new norm, in this period of brutal change and grief.

After a glacial encounter with Mr Nice, which left me feeling at best like some random stranger trying to sell him double-glazing, at worst like I did not exist at all, I started reliving the exact trauma I went through three and a half years ago, when T brutally turned into some sort of terminator, inflicting pain, and systematically erasing any trace of the life we had once shared.

This particular style of violence left me feeling broken, with a sense of acute disorientation, and questions about my own perception of reality.

This time, something in me flicked and searing pain turned into blinding rage : How dare these people, who once loved and respected me turn me into no-one, and get away with it because their own guilt is just too much for their delicate shoulders ?

Outrage simply propelled me onto a mission to spread the joy. First, I called Mr Nice and told him exactly how I felt about his behaviour, and how to make things worse, I could not tolerate to be treated like a stranger. If only for a few minutes, I confronted him with the alternative reality of our separation, and that felt good.

Yet I wasn’t done with my bout of super-hero-puts-world-to rightedness.

I summoned T, sat him down and watched the faint air of worry spread over the handsome features I no longer love. Then, I simply told him about the pain I had felt when he left, about my fear, anger, loss, about what I went through, what the children went through, how to this day, we behave like strangers and it is incredible to think that we once loved each other enough to want a family together, and I’d had enough of that. For three and a half years, these things had been stuck unsaid somewhere in my windpipe, yet for three and a half seconds, I got a flicker of the old T, a glimpse of understanding and misery.

Confronting both men left me empty, but something is emerging from the rubble, a need to speak out and no longer quietly let people hurt or mistreat me.

While it is one thing to leave a relationship you no longer want to be part of, it is another to walk away from the destruction without a look back. No matter how tough the guilt is to bear, no-one should feel dispensed with the responsibility of showing compassion.


Right, I’ll put my cape back onto its hanger and get the dinner on.

Gotye- Somebody I used to know


Abandonment with a side of imperfection and dependence

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 I do 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)


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.


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)

Epilogue : Three Januarys


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 !

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


Something is happening.

And it isn’t just that the sun has lost its bite, even if it’s still hot enough to wear minimal clothing.

Or that reds and golds have started creeping down the mountainsides.

Or even that I have been back in France for a full (and how full) three years…

No. As we almost imperceptibly start to drift into Autumn, I finally feel free.

It has been over a year and half since T left, and annoyingly everyone was right : Time heals. Well, … Time and the other woman being dumped unceremoniously in much the same way you were. I know, it’s not very mature or glorious, but I’ll tell you what, it still feels damn good.

I even feel sorry for the now ex-New Ms T. She probably loved him and thought she could make him happy. I can guess what she may be going through, and don’t even think she deserves it… But still, I’m not Sister Emmanuelle (well actually, I may be to some), and I’m glad this particular thorn is no longer in my side.

Besides, time and its peculiar steam-rolling effect has made things I thought would never feel right become the new norm, pain I thought would never let up all but vanish, and even my particular brand of unrelenting, wonky single mothering -with one child away every other weekend, and the other not- a bit easier to juggle.  I guess with time, you get used to anything.

But most of all, I am finally free from my own demons, from the nagging doubt that I may not have been good enough, or the right person for T. Because this is it: No-one can be right for him. Too many personal issues stand between him and the ability to be happy, and still he chooses to blame his partners, rather than confront them.

This is what I instinctively knew right from the start. But somehow, my shattered confidence and T’s dazzling display of righteousness made me doubt. The situation pushed the buttons of my own past pains, and even though I have learnt to deal with these infinitely better, I still hadn’t freed myself entirely…

So while I still have some way to go down this particular path, my new-found freedom will make the journey a whole lot more enjoyable.

Icona pop – I love it

Ready for a boogie? This song makes me feel slightly old, but I don’t care, I love it …