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Day 292: Selling the Drama.


Today I drove out to Malibu to sit on Surfrider beach to reflect on the day. I sat on the sand while sipping on my Hollywood guilty pleasure, a pink can of Sofia Coppola champagne. Reflecting not because today is the Academy Awards, a day that celebrates and rewards dramatic accomplishment but looking back on my own personal drama that was happening in Paris, one year ago today.

There was a cold front blasting through Paris, similar to the arctic temperatures that we were experiencing a few weeks ago, where being outside even for ten minutes was too long. It was one of those days that if you could help to stay in, you did because there was no reason to be strolling the streets on the year's most unpleasant day. MF and I had spent the night out at his grandmother's house in the suburbs and as we were packing up the car to head back to Paris, he had asked me to take his brother's Spaniard girlfriend, Valentina to Alliance Française to sign up for classes.

Taking the metro from Oberkampf over to 6th was the last thing that I wanted to do on such a nasty day. My thoughts were also weighed down by a scary letter that I had received from the IRS and a message that my gynecologist had left at my mom's house, and was waiting for their offices to open so I could sort it out. I told MF that while I'd love to take her, it would be best if we went the following week where we could make a day out of it, and perhaps get lunch at the nearby department store Le Bon Marché. I'm not a "if you say jump, I say how high?" kind of girl. I had things to do that day.

Just to be clear on something, Valentina wasn't exactly pressed to improve her already advanced French. She was like me, spoke well but could use some tinkering, so she wasn't lost her in the City of Light sans Alliance Française. The difference between her and I was that she didn't have her life settled in France, with her own friends and a job, so it was obvious that MF and his brother wanted her out of their hair for the day which some reason had become my problem. When I calmly told MF that it would be best if we went the following week, he called me selfish for not helping him out and that I was being dramatic for wanting to call the IRS and my doctor sooner than later. My talent for ignoring red flags had reached impressive heights at this point.

Obvious Lesson #1 for a healthy relationship: Support your partner. If she has important things to do regarding American taxes and her health, Alliance Française can wait. Apparently, this wasn't obvious to him.

I brushed off his lack of concern and went ahead and called Valentina myself to feel her out, to see if she was in dire need to go that day or just needed a girl's day. I offered her some refuge from the Brothers Flâneur by inviting her over for lunch. She was more than happy with this arrangement and had to tell me that she already told MF that she had registered on-line, so she didn't understand what all the drama was about. Neither did I.

Before she came over, I made the apartment cozy for a chilly winter's day in. I lit scented candles, made a pot of rose tea, found all my DVDs that had Spanish dubbing and laid out my favorite cashmere and mohair throw blankets for her to curl up on our couch while I wrote and made my phone calls in the dining room. As I was passing the Swiffer in the living room, tidying our home, I received a text message from him calling me selfish, lazy and unhelpful.

Obvious Lesson #2: Try not to be insulting and verbally abusive to your fiancée who is actually helping you out and has been nothing but supportive, especially right before she is about to make a nervous phone call to her gynecologist. What a jerk.

Valentina came over and I made us a frisée aux lardons salad, we caught up on neighborhood gossip, and she napped in the living room while I worked. After I sorted things out, made follow-up appointments and polished up my French CV, Valentina woke up and we walked over to one of my favorite restaurants in Oberkampf, Cannibale Café for dinner and girl talk. Over dinner and after our first glass of wine, she asked me how I was able to handle MF's difficult personality. I told her that while he can be a handful at times, that fact remained that I loved him for him and would never demand that he changed. She looked at me in amazement over my patience. Reading this back now, so do I. I was such an idiot.

As the check arrived, she received a phone call from Garçon Flâneur saying that he and MF were leaving the restaurant, were heading over to meet us and to expect them around 9. Even though MF was being a little bitch about the Alliance Française fiasco, I was prepared to blow the whole thing off and act as if nothing had happened. I learned to choose my battles - that was becoming more and more often in those days - with him and to keep the peace.

9 pm came and went while we sat at the Cannibale Café finishing up our pichet of red wine. 10 pm, gone. 11 pm, no news. Neither of them were picking up their phones as we tried to touch base with them. We were getting the roll-to-voicemail brush off. At this point, I was tired, tipsy and was through with sitting in a café like a doormat girlfriend. Valentina and I walked back to the apartment in irritated silence. Me being the older one out of the two and not wanting to fuel the drama, I wanted to set an example and remained calm.

11:45 pm.

We were sitting on the couch watching The Golden Girls (the only thing that keeps me calm when I'm furious) when we heard the key in the door turn. The two of them walked in drunk and laughing.

They looked at our stern faces, called us cute and began mocking us. Valentina was pissed, as was I but decided to address it once our company had left to avoid making a scene. MF fed off of things like this to demonstrate to others how difficult his life was, so I knew better to not encourage him. It wasn't until he told me the reason that he had left us in the café that sent me over the edge. His excuse was that he had run into my friends (friends of mine that he knew uniquely through me), and had drinks with them. He stood me up to hang out with my friends in the Marais. 

Unacceptable. 

I was actually going to excuse the fact that he left us waiting for them in a bar, but the fact that he was with my friends and didn't feel that it was necessary to call me? This was when my claws came out. Who does that? I had asked him that very question and his only response to me was: “Arrête”, followed by his favorite, “Arrête ton cinéma”. At this point, I didn't want to be told to stop my drama, an implication that my irritation was ridiculous. He blew me off to hang out with my friends. How else was I supposed to react?

He sat there and laughed in my face as I tried to find the logic in his one-track thinking. For him, this was easier because he simply could not admit that what he did was not only wrong but really mean. This was also his stubborn Turkish side coming out. I said to him that if he told me to “arrête” one more time, that I was going to throw my glass of water (that I was sipping in a failed effort to remain calm) in his face. That's how pissed I was. 

Not taking me seriously, he leaned in, looked at me with black eyes and said, “ferme ta gueule” with defiance. He just told me to shut up.

I don't need to tell you what came next. I calmly walked over to him with my blue tumbler in hand and flung the water in his face. 

So much for me remaining the calm one.

Please believe me when I say that I have never done anything like that – in my entire life. I was turning into that crazy chick and it was awful. Silence took over the entire apartment as he stared back at me, Valentina and Garçon stood stiffly in shock, only the sound of the water dripping down the wall behind him could be heard. 

Obvious Lesson #3: Don't underestimate your pissed off Italian fiancée.
 
We never did recover from this night and commenced the beginning of our inevitable end. Looking back a year later, even on the coast of Malibu, this particular story still irritates me. I shudder when I think of how much crap I put up with and how I blamed myself for his inappropriate and erratic behavior. Looking out on to the Pacific Ocean with my feet buried in the sand, the sun warming the back of my neck, and with every bubble of champagne that slid down my throat, I realized how far I have come, how simple my life is now and how everything works out exactly the way it is supposed to...

I am still waiting for my Oscar nod though.

Cannibale Café
93, rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud
Paris 75011 

Update: (January 14th, 2013) After re-reading this a year later, with the story taking place almost two years later, I have to say that this story doesn't hinder any feelings, hurt, anger or disappointment. I don't even recognize myself in this story. I guess that's called moving on...

23 comments:

  1. What a difference a year makes! Isn't it nice to see clearly in hindsight. He wouldn't have treated you like that if he loved you - it was totally disrespectful - but while you are in the situation you keep making allowances or excuses - it's often only by looking back from a distance you can see it. I'm sorry if this sounds racist, but as soon as you said 'stubborn Turkish side' it all made more sense - more misogynist than stubborn, I'd say. Middle-Eastern men are brought up to feel women are inferior, and it will take more than one generation to change that. I'm really glad you've found someone who treats you as you ought to be treated!

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    1. Yes, this remark IS racist, as well as stupid, false and off topic.

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    2. Hi Anony,

      While this is certainly true with many cultures even outside the middle-east, MF's entire family was run by the women. His aunts, mother and grandmother called the shots and the men just stayed in the background. I really adored his family dynamic.

      The only problem was that MF had been babied by these women his entire life, so he never developed appropriate behavior with women because he was always getting away with bullshit with no consequence.

      Thanks for your comment!

      @Gabe - Easy there!

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  2. "No one can ride your back unless it's bent". MLK

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    1. Very true. It really is no one's fault but my own for accepting this. This I know now.

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  3. Oh. My. God. What an asshole! This guy actually wiped his feet all over you! But you know, he's probably been pulling that shit and getting away with it his whole life. He is a little POS. He liked to see how much crap he could inflict on you just so he could feel powerful. I know the type. Repugnant!

    The guy I told you about, the one who two-timed me with my so-called "best friend" 13 years ago... he didn't treat me as badly, but he liked to gang up on me with her to ridicule me so he could feel important... and when I would lose my temper (and justifiably so!), he would say: What is it, NOW?! And when I would point out that I was sick of being belittled for their entertainment, he would claim that the evenings we spent together were great until I RUINED THEM BY GETTING ANGRY! And that he was JUST BEING HIMSELF! To which I would reply: So you're telling me that your true self is an asshole?

    Oh God! Good riddance! The crap you put up with when you're 26 and painfully lonely! Well, I have the satisfaction today of knowing that I got that out of my system when I was young, totally turned my life around and came out of the whole ordeal with a very strong backbone!

    And I get the last laugh, trust me!

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    1. How incredible is this story? To this day, he thinks that he has done no wrong. He even went so far to tell his family and friends that he ended things with me because I was "violent" and an "alcoholic" to justify this behavior. When I first heard this, I was upset that I couldn't defend myself but now I don't care. Let them think that.

      Oh I heard that I "ruined everything" because Iwas being "chiante" and he claimed that I gave him no support when I spoke up for myself. I know this song and dance all too well. How manipulative, right?

      You're right, it's better to get it all out of your system in your 20s, so you don't find yourself at 30 dealing with abusive behavior.

      How did you find out about your friend's dishonesty with this "awesome guy" you dated? Did someone tell you? I'm so curious!

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    2. You know, I have a feeling his family is on to him and takes his ranting with a grain of salt... they can't possibly think he's pleasant.

      Until recently, I was still in touch with the guy... which surprised a close friend of mine who knew of the situation... and who knew on good authority of the backstabbing. She finally told me and confirmed what I had suspected all along. Even 13 years later, it stung, but it didn't last long. I've decided that the energy I waste on that nonsense is energy I don't have for my Master's and other things and people that matter. And I also realized that whenever I hear from that guy, it brings me back to that very painful episode of my life and that it's a trip down memory lane I'd rather not keep taking. So I blocked his email and moved on. I feel free now.

      (The girl I lost touch with 13 years ago, when I asked her outright if she had fooled around with that guy and she got all huffy and puffy and said that I should never have asked her and that we couldn't stay friends because SHE WAS VERY HURT THAT I DIDN'T TRUST HER!!!!! How about that, eh?:))) Oh, I knew how to pick my friends and lovers back then, didn't I?! LOL!:))

      Ironically, I'm happy I went through that shit in my 20's. It helped me grow. I take full responsibility for my bad choices and also for LEARNING from them. That's very empowering. The day you realize that you're responsible for your choices is the day you realize that you're in control of your destiny and your happiness and noone else, so you can't blame anyone for your problems. That's an amazing feeling

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  4. Hi, I've been reading your blog for the last week and I really enjoy it! :)

    I'M SORRY, what I'm about to say is totally irrelevant to what you've posted (once again I apologize)! But - I was wondering how exactly you found an apartment/studio here in Paris with a bathtub?! I'm a student and currently on the hunt for a studio with a bathtub and it's not going too well. I like Paris so far, but I just really want a bathtub! Weird? Quite possibly...

    I'm aware that this is way out there, and it's not particuarly relevant to you. So, if you respond - great! If not, I'm still a silent reader, lol. Have a good day!

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    1. Hi there,

      I found my apartment through word of mouth from my former landlord, so that's no help to you. There's leboncoin.fr, craigslist.org, and tons of other sites that you can put bathtub in your search. The tub was a stroke of luck though, really!

      Just an FYI....the bathtub is a quarter of the size of a normal tub. It took me a few baths to learn how to sit in it properly!

      I wish I could be more help! Good luck! Having a tub (even if it is the size of an m&m) makes a difference!

      Hope this helps.

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  5. Hello darling! You handled this story/memory so well. As always you are an inspiration to us woman to remember how we should be treated and to put ourselves first. I can't wait to see what the next six months brings for you!

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    1. Aww thanks K!! I don't know how well I handled it, I did house him with a glass of water in the face a la Samantha Jones, but I suppose he deserved it! : )

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    2. Dirty martini, Dirty bastard!;)

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    3. I knew you'd get that one, Duchess!!!

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  6. "Arrete ton cinema" is one of those sayings that instantly makes my blood boil. I think it's because I heard it most often when speaking to bratty children, to then have it used on me when I had legitimate adult disputes...nuh uh...

    Kind of like in English when a man accuses, "you must be PMSing". Even if I was or wasn't, just pisses me off more.

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    1. How annoying is that expression!? It used to make my skin crawl when he'd say that.

      I'm glad I'm not the only one who hates it as much I do. And now that you say that it is used on children makes me hate it more! What a jerk!!

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  7. Wow Ella. Wow. It's surprising how you put up with him for so long but, these things happen I guess. Wow. What a little piece of sh**. Seriously. Upward and Onward, girl! Upward and Onward!

    p.s. Random question but have you gotten into Downtown Abbey yet or were you already way ahead of us since you're in Europe? If not, get into it. Nothing better than An English aristocratic period t.v. series to convince that you don't need to go out tonight. For some reason I'm pretty sure you'll get sucked into it like I am. :-) Check it out.

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    1. Isn't this story ridiculous? I called my American girlfriends right after it happened, hoping they'd say that I was being dramatic and they didn't because they were so blown away by what he had done. They were all like "Leave him!" POS, indeed!

      Downtown Abbey? No. I think I read one of the other bloggers mention it in a post and it went over my head because I didn't recognize it. I don't get BBC in my apartment but I'll definitely check it out when I'm hunting for a new t.v series to watch! Thanks!!

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  8. Isn't it interesting how hindsight works? While in these messed up relationships it all seems normal and fine, then given some time and lots of distance (as well as normalcy) away from it all, that craziness you allowed yourself to put up with is quite astonishing! I am hoping that with my last ex, it was me just getting it out of my late-20 year old system and now that I'm in my 30's, I'll be much wiser! ;-)

    I couldn't have pictured a more perfect scene to be one year away from it all...on the beach, with the sun shining, and champs in tow.

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    1. Totally. When I was involved I actually thought it was all my fault and would make excuses for him when I spoke to friends, defending his cruel behavior. It was pathetic.

      I hope for you too that you that last guy was you shaking off your bad habits of your 20's! I showed my mom your site and told her that you had an ex situation too and she said: "What a jerk he is! What's wrong with these men?! You girls are adorable! She's going to find someone betta, look at her, I just know it!" So at least you know that my mom and I are rooting for you! We have faith! : )

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    2. You just put the biggest smile on my face! Thank you and Momma Ella! ;)

      xo

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  9. Wow this episode really got me mad. I mean your previous tiffs were obviously horrible, but I don't know what it was about this one that really upset me. I think he needs help, I mean that seriously, he's a narcissist and verbally abusive, so maybe some anger management as well? It's stories like these that really make me wonder why it took you so long to get over him. I can understand being upset about everything else that comes with being upset about a break up, but the actual longing for MF, I don't quite understand.

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    1. Hi there! Thank you for your comment!

      It took about six months to fully get over him and I think that was a fair amount of time to exorcise a 2 year relationship. I think the hardest part was starting again from scratch and creating a new life all alone. It wasn't mourning just him it was morning my apartment, his family, people whom I thought were friends, my life. I was totally alone and I think that's what really burned.

      Love is a tricky thing, sometimes we can't help but getting do stuck on the bad guys. I'm glad it only took a few months to see that I deserved more. : )

      I hope I cleared things up for you!

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