jour pour jour + a celebration!

rompre: to break up

Plumbago and morning glory flowers draped over the hilltop village of La Cadière d'Azur. One of the things to love about le littoral is the abundance of flowers. The French call plumbago La dentellaire du Cap, or simply la dentellaire, for its ability to soigner les dents or treat toothaches--but don't take my word for it! 

Ever heard of someone who broke up with a friend over politics? Today, read my story... and thanks for forwarding to a friend!

rompre (rompr)

    : to break up, to interupt, stop

rompre avec son (sa) petit(e) ami(e) = to break up with one's boyfriend or girlfriend
rompre avec son (sa) meilleur(e) ami(e) = to break up with one's best friend 
rompre avec quelque chose = to break away from something
rompre le silence = to break the silence
rompre le pain = to break bread 
rompre la monotonie = to break the monotony 

Audio File : listen to Jean-Marc read the list of expressions, just above: 
Download MP3 or Download Wav


A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

Day before yesterday, while Jean-Marc and the neighbor were felling a few fire-hazardous pines near our new house, I began to think about some longtime friends and to puzzle, once again, over our unexpected estrangement.

It happened over politics, though I suspect the break-up began with the tree we cut down in our back yard (adjacent to my friends' yard). I never wanted that tree to be felled, but when it was declared a hazard ("If a branch broke off of that dying tree," another neighbor warned, "it could kill a kid!" That is all it took for me to agree to have the tree taken down.

My dear friends, a married couple, were physically ill over the tree-felling episode, which they witnessed from their back porch. An arbre is a sacred entity, and it must have been heart-wrenching for them to see that tree come crashing down. But it would have been even more traumatic to me to see one of its heavy branches come down on my children who played beneath it each day.

Around this time the French elections were underway and my dear friends, who are a married couple, were busy rallying for Ségolène Royal. These expats had even drafted a letter to the politician in which they proposed a detailed strategy that, should Mme. Royal heed the instructions, would help her win the upcoming election. When my friends forwarded me the letter via email, I read it, surprised by their moxie to go telling a French president elect what to do! Next I thought, good on them! for exercising their freedom of expression and for believing that they had the ability to effect a change in this world. I should exercise such precious freedoms too!

Newly inspired, I tried to respond to their forwarded letter, only it was hard for me to put my thoughts to words. The truth was, I knew so little about politics, in spite of getting an earful each day from my husband (anti-Ségolène) and again from my friends (super-pro-Ségolène!).

I thought to keep my reply simple, hoping both to encourage my neighbor to exercise his rights (and his wife's)... while not drawing too much attention to my own ignorance vis-à-vis the political debate). Here's the entire word-for-word response that I wrote:

Dear A,

I think your letter was helpful to Madame Royal and you have given some very good ideas. (Next I quickly changed the subject...):

It was nice bumping into you the other day while out on a walk. I will miss walking along that scenic path and the scent of the garrigue here in the Var!

My best to Z.


A few days later I received a surprising and disturbing response:

Dear Kristi,

I have received your email in which you try to give the impression that you support Ségolène.

Whom you support is your business. It is not my concern.
But when your daughter told us yesterday, when she and [name withheld] visited us, that both you and Jean-Marc support Sarkozy, it showed a certain double-faced nature, which didn’t come as a surprise.

What really disappointed me greatly is when the two girls started arguing the case for waging wars. “Having wars is good, so long as it does not take place in France.” That is what my ears heard. When I heard that my heart fell. That someone so young can make such a statement shows that they have been badly brought up, lacking any ethical and moral sense, showing no lack of respect for life.

With kind regards,


Reading the letter I was amazed. So many strange accusations and unthruths (No! my 9-year-old daughter was not out touting war! (She happened to be out looking for candy, which these neighbors and good friends took delight in giving her.) No, she would not have said both my husband and I were for Sarkozy (an impossibility!).

No, no! no! Rereading the letter I was struck by the sentence "that is what my ears heard"... Could it be that my neighbor was so caught up in the current politics that when a couple of 9-year-olds stopped by... they sounded to him like a team of warmongers?

I had to respond to the accusations, but I could hardly type the first word, and the second word is completely missing as you'll see...

Dear A,

I disheartened by your email.

As for the other harsh words, I am speechless.

I am not a Sarkozy supporter, for the record.

Reading your email and the accusations, my heart has fallen as you say yours has.



But the final words from my dear friend took my breath away:

Dear Kristi,

Please understand that I’m not angry with you.

The reason why I’m writing again is out of concern for your mental health and welfare generally.

Honestly, I don’t see one Kristi. There are two Kristis in one physical body, one Kristi who is totally unaware of what the other Kristi is thinking, feeling and doing. In medical jargon this condition is called schizophrenia. It affects thousands of people in varying degrees. If you don’t put the matter right now, it might get aggravated in the years to come. So I suggest you consulting with a reliable English-speaking psychoanalyst, I say English-speaking because that’s your parental language, not French, and all your earliest impressions are tied up with your first language. I realise that such psychoanalysts would be difficult to find in France, so you can try elsewhere.

Kind regards



No matter how many times I tried to find the words, I could not respond to my friend's letter. Sadly, I never spoke to the couple ever again. 

The letter left me deeply thoughtful and somewhat agitated. Were there several Kristis? A tree-felling Lumberjack Kristi? A two-faced Sarkozy-Segolène Kristi? Or a multiple mugged People-Pleaser Kristi? 

I don't know that I know who I am anymore than the next person does. Just who am I to know? I am both a very open and expressive public persona... and I am a fiercely private likes-to-live-in-her-own-room person, too. 

I leave off, ironically, with a well known aphorism: Know thyself. Some say it means "to pay no attention to the multitude". This brings me a certain peace when it comes to hurtful name-calling. 


To respond to this story, click here

Have you ever broken up with a friend over politics? Leave a comment here.



Mom, checking out all the succulents, or plantes grasses, growing in La Cadière d'Azur.

Oursin Sea Urchin (c) Kristin Espinasse
Jean-Marc left me a couple of sea oursins for lunch. "You sure you can open them?" he asked. I'm having doubts now... I should have paid more attention when he used the kitchen scissors to circumvent this prickly shell. Will take a stab at it soon... bon appétit!

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Oh, my dear. How wise of you to have removed yourself from such poison disguised as caring.

You know yourself far better than anyone else, and that letter has NOTHING to do with Kristi.

Stanley V. Wanek

Dear Kristi,
Suffice it to say, "the first things you notice in other people are your own faults."
Think of that when you think of A.

Gus Coulton

Wonderful story, the clue to their grasp of reality is the detailed advice to Mme Royale. (What advice are they now giving her)?

You should have sent two emails back, one from each of your imaginary halves. Then a third from yet another subset of your increasingly fragmented personality disagreeing with the other two.

Amanda Frost

We are having a hard time with "friends" this election year in the U.S. The venom is "high" and the underlying philosophy of each party is so different that "friends" have become "acquaintances," people one does not see very often in this political climate. What every happened to reasonable people or reasoned differences?

I think your "friend" needed the psychologist!

Madame K. Burnichon (Canada)

Friend? That is no friend, don't waste another minute worrying about it. In the first place, she is wallowing in self-importance to start diagnosing you. Live your life the way you know best, get rid of nay-sayers, they bring a person down (to their level). Congrats on your move!


These people sound very weird indeed. Weird and dangerous. Don't even think about them, and be very glad that you're not in touch with them now.


As a clinical psychologist, I can reassure you that you are in no way a schizophrenic. Your former friends, though, are most definitely crazy! : )

However, if you do know some ex-pats seeking therapy with an English-speaking psychologist/coach, I offer services via Skype: Drwgoodman.


I received a letter once from a friend, stating that she hoped the times she and I had fallen out were behind us now.... I didn't know what she was talking about, we had never had a cross word, maybe just a few less words of late due to busy lives. I feel the same about your letter. Left slightly agog, and I put it down to crossed wires, barking up the wrong tree, and a passion misdirected. Keep faith in yourself, xx


Oh how I could get going on this subject. But I probably won't say much here, better left to a future conversation over tea... :) I have long since learned not to try and glean information off of kids' conversations, as that old friend should have learned too. Just these past elections, my kids' friends were loudly discussing who their parents were voting for while riding along in my car and I'm sure my girls were responding with the answer that we their own parents were voting the other way. All that info just went in one ear and right out the I hope it did with the friends parents. But if I had to break up with someone over politics, it would have to be my own family! I only look at FB with half an eye open nowadays...


I am not surprised but I really am disappointed with many people who cannot discuss politics without being personally aggressive. What is politics anyway? Isn't it a cumulation of opinions or exchange of points of view and direction? Why do people become enraged in a campaign of name calling? When I came to France, many people back home had strong opinions of the french even though they had no french companions or had even been to France. Once you come here, you may not like some of the french ways but you should try to keep an open mind and sometimes you change your own opinions. Isn't that in essence to discussing politics? Isn't it an exchange of ideas and opinions without becoming personally aggressive, either physically or orally? Now, for those who don't agree, don't send me hate mail. I don't care to see it.

Tony Scott

In all things in life; to thine own self(s) be true...the extra s is just in case there is more than one of you hiding in there :)

Interesting story! Politics between friends are better left unsaid. My brother-in-law and I are polar opposites politically and are constantly in conflict...unfortunately, we are related so I cannot avoid, so therefore, relish the conflict and feed the fires constantly :)


Ces personnes n'étaient jamais vos amies.

suzanne dunaway

In Italian words that do not mince:

Va fan cullo!!! to your ignorant neighbor and all of her prejudices and erroneous assumptions about your kids and YOU. If there is one thing I adhere to at this ripe age it is that there will be people you simply do not need in your life and people you will cherish. This "neighbor" is not one to be cherised. And if there is only one in your life, you are fortunate. I suspect there are not many like this woman in your life, Kristin. Leave her at the river and continue your journey with a clear heart. PS If I ever run into this 'neighbor', she had better watch her teeth!!!! No one messes with my friends.

Suzanne White

Jealousy creates toxicity which then spreads like wildfire. They want you to doubt yourself. Be worried. "Am I nuts?" Of course you are not schizophrenic. But they are clever detractors.

Never listen to detractors. But never. Jamais. Jamais. Jamais. Walk away. Nose in the air. Like you own the place (which you do). They want to diminish you - not over politics - over life.

Theirs stinks and yours sings. C'est leur problème.

Dawn from Ann Arbor

Dear Kristi,
This post made me quite sad for you. I think A's agitation and inability to "hear" Jackie and her friend had nothing to do with politics. S/he sounds truly in need of mental health support. It is so ironic she suggested a psychoanalyst for you when that is what s/he needs (for starters). I agree with others who have posted: you are much better off away from someone like that. So interesting that sometimes we have cordial relationships with neighbors without truly knowing who and what they are. I think you discovered the true nature of these people, and it's good you are now physically removed from them. Take care, and best wishes in your new home!


My Dear Kristi,
It sounds as though your former friends have problems,and you and your family are better off without them. Reading your blog, you sound like a loving mother, daughter, and wife and should not be infected with such poisonous people in your life.
I enjoy reading all the fun adventures,
Keep up the good work..........
Blessings from,
Cynthia in Florida....

Mim   (Richmond, VA)

Things are, as mentioned above, too charged up here in the United States at the moment, to speak about politics. I only speak about my views with like-minded people. As for your former freinds, not of sound mind! They remind me of a relative who periodically sends us e-mails reminding us of how terrible we are. If we even send one sentence to her, such as "We're sorry you feel that way." She explodes with more ugliness. We've learned to ignore the e-mails now. I agree with Stan 100%.

Sarah LaBelle near Chicago

Some people get so wrapped up in their politics, they see the whole world through that lens without knowing they are wearing glasses.

It is a shame you lost friends, but they seemed ripe for the losing.

I almost lost a friend in the course of this election in the US. We pulled back from the brink in time. Contact is less, I expect, until after the winner is declared.

I lost far more friends when I got ill. No nasty letters, they just diappear.

Consider them a small side trip in your full life, with such a focus on loving the people who are important to you.


I don't like to argue politics, although I feel informed and have strong convictions. For one thing, I am probably not going to change anyone's mind, for another, I think I know, but at the same time try to stay humble, knowing that I really don't know all that much. I will, however discuss politics as long as it's with someone I know well am confident that we share basic political views. In your case, someone just assumed what you thought and decided to judge you, based on nothing!

Debbie Ambrous -

Dear Kristi,
Being misunderstood or perceived wrongly hurts. It's very difficult to shake it off, especially when it is a friend. You certainly have a beautiful personality, as lovely as those morning glories. And, time will heal their words to you.
Debbie Ambrous

Nan Morrissette

Dearest Kristi,

I have always loved that quote, "Know thyself." But the older I get, the more I believe it should read, "Know thy selves."

None of us are one person. We have all lived many lives, and I am not referring to reincarnation.

We have been, AND STILL ARE, trusting children, adolescents longing for the future, young students seeking peer acceptance from friends, older students seeking learning and understanding and a path toward financial stability.

We have lived on our own, trying to determine what we want from life. We have practiced using our minds and voices in political and philosophical debate. We have stood for justice and tried to find it in a world apparently run by old men.

We have become wives, first through a fall into love, then, hopefully, through building a life with someone who becomes our dearest friend.

As older children, we have become caregivers to our aging parents, sometimes watching them struggle with illness for which we can only offer our love, sometimes sitting with them as they pass into their own next Great Adventure. As we age ourselves, we confront new fears about health, financial security, and loneliness.

The thing is, all of these individual people that we have been at one time or will be in the future... all these people are still part of our NOW, our current life. This is not schizophrenia. This is a result of living a full and enriching life.

Listening to the views and beliefs of those about whom we care is simply the result of a gloriously open mind. It is not about twisting our thoughts or about vacillating. It is about having and showing respect for others.

Your neighbors' last letter is painful, of course. But do your best to set it aside and bask in the love of your beautiful husband and children and mother, and in the many readers and friends who adore you.

Finally, my dear friend, thank God all those wonderful parts of your life happened, even the difficult ones, because they have made you exactly who you are today.

Nan Morrissette

Dearest Kristi,

I have always loved that quote, "Know thyself." But the older I get, the more I believe it should read, "Know thy selves."

None of us are one person. We have all lived many lives, and I am not referring to reincarnation.

We have been, AND STILL ARE, trusting children, adolescents longing for the future, young students seeking peer acceptance from friends, older students seeking learning and understanding and a path toward financial stability.

We have lived on our own, trying to determine what we want from life. We have practiced using our minds and voices in political and philosophical debate. We have stood for justice and tried to find it in a world apparently run by old men.

We have become wives, first through a fall into love, then, hopefully, through building a life with someone who becomes our dearest friend.

As older children, we have become caregivers to our aging parents, sometimes watching them struggle with illness for which we can only offer our love, sometimes sitting with them as they pass into their own next Great Adventure. As we age ourselves, we confront new fears about health, financial security, and loneliness.

The thing is, all of these individual people that we have been at one time or will be in the future... all these people are still part of our NOW, our current life. This is not schizophrenia. This is a result of living a full and enriching life.

Listening to the views and beliefs of those about whom we care is simply the result of a gloriously open mind. It is not about twisting our thoughts or about vacillating. It is about having and showing respect for others.

Your neighbors' last letter is painful, of course. But do your best to set it aside and bask in the love of your beautiful husband and children and mother, and in the many readers and friends who adore you.

Finally, my dear friend, thank God all those wonderful parts of your life happened, even the difficult ones, because they have made you exactly who you are today.


Oh my! That break-up sounds deeper than politics. And you are better off for the break-up since they are attacking you personally! Since this is an election year in the U.S., it seems everyone is talking politics, sometimes surprisingly vehemently. But I am refusing to enter all the arguments--exactly because I don't want to lose friends over it. I am just letting them post all kinds of stuff on facebook, and hopefully things will calm down when the election is over.

It sounds like you really didn't have the friendship you thought you had. Best to focus your energy on your true friends, who can let you disagree with them if you want.

Thanks for sharing this personal story. Wishing you the best from California :)

Cheryl Mauro-Berg

Isn't it lovely to lighten the load mentally? I've been fortunate that the people who are truly my friends enjoy me in spite of our political differences. We just choose not to discuss it. But the fact that your neighbors are expats says it all: they escape their own country's political intrigues to mess around in something that is none of their business. We are Americans and we are also Italian citizens. Both elections concern me. Expats here in Italy? They have learned to dummy up!

Karrie Barron

I am much less kind than you and your readers as I just wished that the felled tree had squashed them both, thus sparing you any hurt!


It isn't very often that my jaw drops when I read something online; but I must cofess that it did when I read the letters that your former friend wrote. It really sounds to me as if she is away in a world of her own that has nothing to do with reality. If she was a real friend she would never have written letters as awful as that to you. You are well rid of her.

In all the years that I have been reading your blog (and clicking on the more interesting links) you have always struck me as a very sensible and down to earth person with a great love of the beautiful in life. I really love your photos as well (I often wonder what kind of a camera you have); and your view of life in France. Keep up the good work; and don't worry about those who see the world with crooked eyes, as they are their own worse enemy.

Karen Whitcome (in warm and rainy Towson, Md)

Why is it that these confrontations latch on to us and are hard to shake? These people are obviously controlling, close minded and inflexible. Totally oposite from yourself.

I'm surprised because I've always heard that the French could heatedly argue about politics one minute and walk away holding hands five minutes later. I love that! It shows that one can have passion about their own opinion AND also have respect and open ears for your opinions.

I see a lot of nasty insult-throwing back-talk here in the US. Our citizens seem to choose their candidates before the debates even start and before checking facts. The only time I've felt attacked for anything political was on Facebook. It was just a simple supportive comment about our President. Wow. I'll never do that again. I was instantly re-ranked as their friend - I could feel it instantly and have felt it since. So. it wasn't a case of me taking it too sensitively. I still feel the aftermath.

Comes a time in adult life when we find people who we held as friends for years have developed into pillars of righteousness. It's better to trim away some of those connections, I think. The tree in your story is very symbolic of the unfortunate occurrence that fell upon you. For your welfare, it was best that both were felled. (How does that sentence translate with rompre?)

Great to hear from you. It gave me an opportunity to connect with a friend who some might feel is easy to kick around but whom I know is everything a human should be. AND.... who seems to be much more French than her neighbors.

Tonya in Arkansas

Dear Kristi,
I've got the answer to the whole thing. Your neighbor, who could never be a friend, ....
is a witch.

Keep smiling and keep the white light around you and your lovely family!



Don't think ill of me, but a smile came on my face reading about your "encounter". So I'm not the only one who bumps into these crazies. If you correspond again, sign your name Dr. Espinasse, Service de Psychiatrie

Eileen - Charlottesville, VA

Hi Kristin,
What an odd response from your neighbors. It's best to let it go, they probably have other problems in their life and are just projecting their unhappiness on you. Religion and politics always gets people riled up!
Enjoy your new home and your new adventure!


nuff said by everyone. back to a question about your phrases...

rompre avec sa (son) petit(e) ami(e)

To be consistent, shouldn't that be written with the "sa" in the parentheses instead of the "son"??

Carmen Clarke

I agree with all your other readers, Kristi. I admire you and your family, and the wonderful thoughts and experiences you share. You are a loving, caring, intelligent person. And you love life and give out positive energy to all of us that are lucky to know you. Unfortunately, there is evil in the world, and it tries to hurt. I was reminded of this by another friend's story just yesterday. We must be vigilant and keep our lives 'good.' Reject poison ideas and people.
Time to 'prune the friend tree.'
Your ex-neighbors are very mal-eleves. Thank God you moved.

Dennis - Sebastopol, CA

Kristin Hello,

In a situation like this, the best thing was to give them the last word. They will think they "won" and "too good" to continue a relationship with you. Ironically, they think that you will be missing their insight into your human condition.

In the meantime, you will have more room to choose and pick real friendships as you see fit. Friendship should be a natural event not something that needs work.



Shari Reed

The problem occurs when people extend politics to evaluate what kind of persons their friends are. To see anyone who might disagree with you poli-
Cally as being immoral,etc. indicates that the person judging is close minded and not a good friend candidate. I too have had friendships ended because of politics but those are friendships that were doomed anyway. This is not just a problem in France--politics permeates our western cultures. And with religion losing influence in many places some use politics
As a vehicle for expressing their sense of right and wrong. Politics is just
People and people are flawed and fallible--never take it too seriously.


Darling Kristi,
I would have jettisoned those confusing & hurtful letters long ago. You are quite a few years removed from this episode since Jackie was only 9 & you may have thought that you would better understand them as you grew in knowledge & experience, & they are fodder for this column. Though ruminating on past hurts doesn't solve anything.
You are very astute in realizing that the tree incident might have precipitated this avalanche of negativism. Did you ever advise them that it could have been one of them or their guest who might have been hurt by falling branches? From what you have quoted here, they obviously have control issues at the least.
Political stances & how they are expressed reveal much about people. Sometimes it's just frustration over the lack of control in their lives.
I like Nan's post about the many facets of our personalities. Some of our worst hurts are lessons in how not to be. Always be thankful for the good in your life & magnify it. It will keep you buoyed on miserable days like today with hurricane Sandy howling outside my window.


WOW !!! I was totally amazed that you would finally put into words the pain you have endured from the vicious letter you received from this man years ago. To all of our dear friends here in the comment box, even I had never seen his letter until this morning, but a few times in the past since this incident witnessed Kristi's pain when this incident was brought up and then quickly put aside as Kristi could not open up to me fully.

Kristi I am always amazed by how you seem to have a grasp on what is going on in the world even though you live in the forest and spend your days planting lettuce. 'he-he- i am tickling your tummy with my words....

I for one am very happy that you are now looking into your past for stories for us - and igniting (sp?) all of us with your brilliant mind.

I miss you so much Honey - call me so we can talk about all of the wonderful friends you have here in the comment box and discuss their input and how much they have brought into your life.



Joan Linneman

The world has so many real problems. Why do some people go looking for imaginary ones?
Joan L. Bon weekend a tous!


All I have to say is "bon debarras" and don't give them another thought


Hi Kristi,

I imagine that one half of this couple was male? It is a typical ploy by a certain type of male (who also influences his female partener, when he finds that he cannot win the argument, to cast aspersions on your sanity. It catches you on the back foot and distablises you. I know, I've met quite a few men like that, I know just what it feels like. But it says more about him than it does about you.

I know it must have really hurt but do your best to shrug it off and laugh about it. That's all it deserves.

Hugs, Lili


Kristi. I have
notes in my Mother's hand, with the 'Know Thyself' message.
It always makes me sad, and thankful to her for being so wise. I tend to dwell on words I have spoken that no doubt hurt the feelings of others, only to hear them say that they thought nothing of the incident. I think that you, also, are more sensitive than others realize.
You also have a wise Mother, and I am glad she is still here to help you. Enjoy all your loved ones, they are the important part of your life.


Hi Kristin: Your expat neighbor's political opinions mean nothing since they cannot vote. They would do well to remember that they
are guests in France, and should comport themselves with impartial respect for the French political process.
As to the insults upon your character - there is obviously too much
wine consumption going on in their house.

Donna Davisson

Good for you for having the strength to not respond...that speaks volumes.


How ironic to read your post just after praying and reading my Bible, seeking God's answers and truths regarding friendships.

I have been very hurt by the actions and words of my some of my closest friends as I go thru the most painful of circumstances. As much as I would like this to change, I know that I can at least always have the comfort of God.

For me reconciliation is always desirable. I too have been a people pleaser and I detest conflict. I have tried to cherish and make the best of relationships but I am learning as I get older that sometimes I need to realize my own self worth and walk away from a toxic relationship.

My heart aches for you. Though never having met you I believe over the years of reading French Word a Day that your true character and heart is obvious. You are obviously a tender hearted person with compassion and sensibility. Which is why when people say and do things like this lady did it hurts all the more. What she wrote was of course ridiculous but it still must have been so shocking. Take heart in the love and words of comfort of so many that think you are a really great person.

Linda in Port Townsend WA

Sounds like a case of megalomania. First, they have the bizarre notion that it's their business what you do with trees on your own land, then they seem to think they have the right to give political strategy to a candidate, as if they are part of the campaign team. Finally, they climb their throne and look way down on your whole family, making pronouncements about everything from everyone's political stance to the way you raise your children to the inner workings of your mind. Geez, it must be exhausting to be God!


The final reply could have ended with

"Kind regards,
Kristi & Kristi"

mimi taylor aka cigalechanta

What a toxic cocktail this couple are!
Don't let this nasty business linger in your mind. They, I suspect are jealous of you.

Debra Saturday

these people are closed and lacking compassion.

they knew very well their words would hurt you and had hoped they would, otherwise why write them?

I would not presume to tell you how to run your life as if my life is/was perfect. No, unless they have 'walked in your shoes' they cannot honestly say they know what is 'best'for you. No one can.

I try not to talk about politics or religious beliefs. Most people take themselves too seriously over it all. As these people have taken themselves far too seriously.

I send love and compassion for you Kristi. May the barbs they have placed be removed and healed by love and sweet times.

I also send love and compassion for these people....that their hearts be healed and their minds be open and accepting of the differences of humanity.

hugs you Kristi...if you are 'two people' then I am too..and so are the rest of us. :)


Chère Kristi,
I was profoundly saddened by what I read. Just heartsick. Not so much by your neighbor's words (the words angered me) but by the hurt and sadness that I am guessing, and can read, that this has caused you. And then reading all the comments about what is going on in our world here in the US and the division it is causing among friends.

Something bigger is happening all over the world. People are desperately searching - desperate being the operative word. I feel a sense of helplessness sometimes when it comes to politics and wish for a more respectful time when people could talk about issues, learn from each other, compromise and 'agree to disagree' which we have all completely lost in our current discourse. But this I know: people often lash out at the messenger and don't usually see the ugliness within themselves. The only way I know how to stop the cycle is to refrain from it ourselves. Which is what I saw you do. It would have been so easy, and you would have had a right after that last horribly unkind and incorrect letter (couched by the way with "sugary kindness" which is always the tell tale sign of dishonesty....) to respond back in kind, which you did not do.

So let all of us take this story to heart and when someone is unkind, vindictive or spewing ugly words - stop in our tracks and do as one very special human being did many, many years ago and learn to turn the other cheek. Kill 'em with kindness. It may give the other person pause, but even if it does not - at least we have taken the high road. I know of no other way to stop the cycle.

My heart goes out to you for the pain they have caused and I am surrounding you with virtual hugs. I miss you, xx Robin


How old are these people? Some older folks have the capacity to completely "lose it" when they feel threatened---and WHO KNOWS WHAT or WHERE FROM that threat may come?

Obviously this is about THEM !-- not you, not your daughter, not Segolène, not the time of day nor the temperature outside !
We can never know the evil lurking inside another person, nor the innocent remark that may trigger the volcano.
Sadly she(he) must continue to live with this anger. You, however,are FREE !

Temporary pain which we learn from becomes
longterm GOOD.

You may always tell them you miss and remember the good time.( especially if they are elderly).They will "get" it !


As another in the psych field, I'm thinking Axis-II disorder. No, not you. Them!


Wow! What a severe reaction. You must have been both crushed, and somewhat disbelieving! How could a friend make such a snap decision and not have more confidence in you? ..which leads me to the thought that this very troubled couple were never the friends that you thought they were. I thought political polarization was mainly a feature of the US. Having lived in Italy, often men gather in cafes and on street corners, etc to argue the merits of one candidate over another. I live in Phoenix. Here in the US, you are either one thing or another and many judgements are made about you based on your belief, whether its politics or issue ( a woman's right- to- choose ) . It is very sad. Living through the 60's where the tone was "question authority" , social justice and social change, I am very sad to live in a world where we can't have opposing points of view ( or like you, be undecided ) without being labeled " the enemy". I am sorry for your loss but clearly you have lost nothing because these were not friends to begin with. Your readers, with whom you share your thoughts and your heart, adore you! Let that and the love of family and REAL friends be enough!

Rhina Badia

Good riddance!

Btw, what a gorgeous Mom you have. I love her outfits and hat! Lots of style!

All the best.

Cheers, Rhina (Glen Ellen, California)

judi dunn

.. Kristin...I am so sorry those dreadful nieghbors hurt you feeling so much.... they had become 'toxic' in their realtionship to you . You did the right thing by not responding in the end, and let her find someone else to rant to! My mother once told me two things not to discuss with good friends were 'religion and politics'! I have tried to remember this sage advice.... your own mom, Jules, seems to me to be full of great advice as well! Do not change one thing about yourself.. we all love and respect you just as you are! Bon weekend, Judi Dunn.. Tallahassee, Fl.


Wow. To me this is a reminder to not be like your neighbor, so quick to judge and make assumptions. "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." Matthew 7:1,2 And our part is to forgive those who do.


Kristi, your ex-friend is not a nice person. So maybe it seemed that your daughter was saying something pro-war, but to judge you as having given your children no moral compass and to decide to hate you, irrevocably, because of this is a horrifying act. And that is what they have done. Here are a few things which are wrong with that:
1. A nine-year-old can come out with all sorts of things without really knowing what they're saying or how properly to express themselves. So, most likely, it was basically a misunderstanding.
2. A nine-year-old can pick up half-baked ideas from anywhere, and even the best parent can't constantly be policing their children's every thought. So taking something said by a nine-year-old as sufficient reason to judge and hate their parent is plain nasty.
3. They seem to feel that saying something pro-war means that you're pro-death, pro-violence or anti-life! To be anti-war is a good thing, but it's a bad thing to fail to see that there can be powerful reasons to believe that war might be necessary and that when people speak in favour of taking to arms, it's not out of blood-lust and there's no need to hate those people.

Sorry to say this, but you're better-off without them.

Ron Faraldo

Since buying our house in St Michel de Lanes some 15 years ago and now living here the past 4 years we made many friends. But looking back on these years I realize that when we were only here for the three months of the summer that most of these friends were also only summer folks and almost all English.(I am American and my wife is Swedish and we have lived in Sweden the past 40 years or so.)
However, the more time spent here and as our French improved I noticed many of our English friends , well sort of dried up.People who I had thought we were really close to and who we saw almost daily just stopped dropping by.
I should add that , it seemed that with the more French friends we acquired , the less English ones were around.It went slowly and was at first hard to see. Upon meeting these old friends on the street they were all smiles and friendly as ever. I often asked myself," what is going on; what had I done?"
Well I got word that one socalled friend had been insulted when he found out that I had given a painting,( I´m a painter)to another Brit and not to him!
All these intrigues were new for us and painful.I have yet failed to understand what seems to be some sort of jealously from the surrounding British community that we had had been gifted with so many French friends who have become like ´family`.
I am thankful that a few of our English friends are still with us and are very dear.
We seem to be a special group , WE EXPATS, and there seem to be more complications than I can ever understand. SAD.
It is with mixed feelings that I read your story.Sad, and at the same time realived that we are not the only ones to go through unhappy experinces.


I have learned e-mail can’t replace face to face conversation. Some things just shouldn’t be expressed in an e-mail. You can’t see the other person’s body language to read them and there is too much time to think about and interpret what was written in an e-mail.

I have also learned some people don’t have a person in their life to use as a reality check. These are usually isolated people or those people who have pushed others away because their “reality” is the only truth. These are the people that cause us to “walk on eggshells” and most likely suffer from a form of mental illness.

Joy Eballar

Hi Kristi, I know how you feel. Just a few months ago I was shocked by the reaction of a "dear friend" that I have known since 1st grade..almost 50 yrs ago!
I had been getting so many negative political posts/ads from people 'sharing' on facebook, that I felt I needed to make a polite request stating that I wanted to keep FB negative free on my page, so "Please do not forward political propaganda" and mean campaign ads to me.
No one had seemed to have a problem with it except the one person I thought would understand. WRONG! My longtime friend sent a message to me for all to see, that if I was "that intolerable and judgmental" that I should delete her as my friend, from life. I was devastated and shocked. After calming down a few days, I sent her a private email, not apologizing but expressing my shock at her reaction and name calling. To me it crossed the "invisible"line you just don't cross in relationships. I was never one to speak up for myself but after going through some traumatic life changes this past year, with outside help, I finally had confidence enough to put myself 'out there' and speak my own truth. I would not apologize for it, but told her I would never 'delete' her as my friend, in any way. However it definetly has changed my heart and view of out "friendship".
So...YES I have lost a 'friend' due to politics, but I guess she wasn't really a friend after all. Hard lessons in life.
YOU are great, sweet and kind and good the way you are. Don't change. <3 Joy /Seattle,WA

mary paulson

Kristi, You are receiving such beautiful comments this morning. Your story sounds like one I experienced.Who knows why these individuals go off. All I know is , I can't trust them,control them and I don't want to. So I respectfully keep my distance from them.Interesting subject. You always surprise me!


Sheryl in Denver

Kristin: I must say I giggled through this post. Not to say that I discount your sadness at losing a friend. But because their unsolicited advice was so bizarre! I am wondering if some of the friendship was "lost in translation" perhaps? I lost a very dear friend last year. I am still hurting from it. We were friends for 20+ years, and we would speak French together, too. She actually introduced me to this blog. I have learned good lessons from the loss, but it still stings. And I am still trying to figure it out, just as you are.

Devra Long

I nearly choked on my coffee while reading this; obviously these are disturbed people and were never really friends; good riddance to them!!! It always saddens me when I discover that a friendship is not what I thought it was and it's hard to let go. But then I realize that I don't miss them and have more time to concentrate on the positive, loving people in my life.
Sending you a warm hug!

jan greene

Kristin, Notice the support from all your on line friends! As a clinical social worker the professional side of me agrees that this 'other' is the very crazy one. But more than that the outpouring of love and support speaks to the solid YOU. Keep this with you always and as you wonder what has hit you from this person, keep walking! Yes, this is a political time and we have lost friends, one very dear to me. I always trust that if we pray enough, the way will become clear! Thank you for your sharing!

Mary L. Holden

"Know thyself." What that great philosopher left off was that in doing so, you know others! And...when you need to know more, you can count on an exchange such as this to let you REALLY know! All is well, everything happens for a reason and "keeping your karma clean" can mean having a blog or journal to sweep the situation into the ethers where it belongs.

Now may I please learn the French word or phrase for "wisdom?" In fact, may I have the French term for menopause too? I once read in a book of my grandmother's that the French phrase for it translates to "a return to youth." I've been telling that to my friends--some of them kind of act like little girls again (and they're a lot more fun than they used to be).

Christine Kelly

Wow, great supportive comments here, Kristin. An arrogant, self righteous person like that gives the dear French a bad name!

As for her bizarre, nonprofessional analysis of your alleged mental illness, she is sadly ignorant. It could be like someone getting food poisoning from a dinner invitation and then being told it's really because they have colon cancer! She obviously has mental issues, and that is what is on her mind, whether consciously or subconsciously. She may even have been told she needs professional help.

Finally, remember the phrase: With friends like that (you don't need enemies.)

No more correspondence with her is your best route to protect yourself. You have enough going on, I believe!

April L.

Dear Kristi...I've experienced strange reactions from some I thought were "friends"; They were baseless and seemingly came out of nowhere and can understand how those emails left you reeling. It often reflects private turmoil on the sender's part, not anything you or your family have done. As for politics, being a Jehovah's Witness I take no partiality in political or nationalistic affairs, but can tell you even peaceable neutrality can attract considerable hostility so I can empathize. Keep being as kind and understanding as you are...even when you find it hard to understand how anyone can be unkind to you and yours. I enjoy your posts and hope you continue to settle in happily in your new (beautiful) home.
April (in New York City)


HI kristin, It sounds like spiritual jealousy to me. How sad that these people lead such empty lives. Best to shrug off the energy quickly knowing that all is well within yourself and your family. Obviously, this neighbor knew exactly where to aim her arrow. Sending love and prayers and joy, Mary

Lynda House

It brings to mind some of our Yorkshire sayings,
'When in doubt, say nowt.'
'There's nowt so queer as folk!'

Oh and finally, with friends like that, who needs enemies! Very disappointing when so called friends let you down, but we learn more from the bad things that happen to us than from the good. When one is an open and trusting person like you Kristi, you are vulnerable to the nasty jibes of those who are not so kindly disposed towards their fellow man. Put it down to a bad experience and move on. We all love you.

Kerry tomb

Truly some things are better left unsaid and certainly unwritten. As for being a reserved person, wanting to stay quietly in your room, I doubt that since you seem to enjoy writing so many personal things in your blog.

Observe more the political manners of the French, speak your mind, be honest and then let it go. They tend to respect you more at the end. I have taken on a whole cafe/bar in Paris with my conservative , traditional American values. We all eventually left with smiles on our faces and the heart and conscience free.

Dad in Idaho

If people are rude to you, it is because they are jealous of your beauty, your talents, your warm demeanor, and your lifestyle. There is only one Kristi and you can hold your head high! Just listen to your real friends and family who really know you and love you.

Fred Lovett

Did this really happpen? Are there schizophrenics like your erstwhile friend who, as some sick people do, see their own problem in others? Think yourself lucky to have found out their true nature before it became a disaster!

Fred - trust everyone until they screw you!

ken boyd

My Mother used to say " consider the source
of the criticism " And also remember that
leftists are fond of using the old method of
" projecting " so I believe you have nothing
to worry about . I must also remind everyone
that the only thing that is sacred are people,
trees are plants . I hope you read this Kristin.
Napa Valley

Cynthia Lewis in Salisbury, Eastern Shore of Maryland

Dear Kristin,

You have such wonderful caring friends here in the "comments corner". They have said it all and have shown their appreciation and love for you. Your life and writings prove what kind of a person you are: loving, kind, thoughtful, open, sincere, never doubt yourself. Bises.


Yikes, a friendship falls apart because someone actually put stock in something they heard while children were playing? I think not!! I hear the green-eyed monster here as well as someone with a terrific desire to hurt others. Best to shed (as you have done) this truly toxic "neighbor.". XO

Karen from Phoenix

It is amazing how people react to things. Everyone is entitled to their opinion BUT to be aggressive and nasty if someone doesn't agree or they perceive they don't agree is just plain WRONG!

I try to not talk politics or religion with anyone, as in my experience people get nasty.

As for losing friends, I believe some people are in your life at certain times for a reason. When they are gone, even though it is sad, looking back at what you shared can be healing.


Gwyn Ganjeau

Kristin, your graceful negotiation of that exchange--and your equally graceful retelling of the story--is a powerful illustration that you know exactly who you are. I'm sure in the moment it must have felt as though everything you knew was spinning around you and there was no terra firma. but you followed your own true north and it got you through it. you've given us quite a gift today--the opportunity to revisit similar rifts and separations and look at them through a different lens. i suspect friendships may be rekindled today--or peace will be achieved through the resolution of the pain. you have such a talent for finding and giving words to a shared human heartbeat. stunning.

as for your friends--i suspect i may have said this before in this forum because it is my 'go to' in so many circumstances. but whether i find my self jealous of someone or judgmental of someone, i remind myself i don't know what their demons are. we all have them. but it always makes me less harsh and more grateful that i'm in the skin i'm in.

thank you for sharing this today. gwyn


So very sorry, Kristin! I had a similar incident, when French friends (who we had known a long time, had been guests in their home for many years, we had hosted several of their children for months in our home, etc.) just said out of the blue one time, "In America, you don't you take care of the old people and the poor - why do you do that?"
It floored us! They assumed, since we were not Socialists as they are, that we did not care for the old and the poor!
My work, in my daily life, is to to help others, as you would say, learn to fish, so that they might be able to fish for themselves and their family, rather than giving them one fish every day. That is my belief, and I don't find others who do not subscribe to my personal belief to be evil or mentally challenged! We disagree on the means to the same end, as I see it. But I often find those who disagree nowadays imputing unpleasant characteristics to those with whom they disagree.
Sometimes we must break our ties with people who are not positive influences in our life - it can be sad, but true! You are such a positive influence on so many other lives, in so many ways, just brush the dust off your shoes, and carry on!!

Judi Miller, Lake Balboa, CA

Loss is loss and it sucks - it hurts, even when it happens due to a selfish, highly critical, a bit of a crazy person's rant. It's hard not to suck it up inside ourselves and question if we had any part of the whole thing. But, mostly it just hurts and can take a long time to swirl and eddy and bubble back up again to give us one more punch in the stomach. I think you bringing this up with your loving reader community is not only a gift to yourself in saying "goodbye" to that hurt, but it's also been an amazing gift to us, to share something that's been lurking there and is now ready to be exorcised and released on the winds -with all your friends here taking deep breaths and blowing the sadness up, up and away!


Good grief, as Charlie Brown used to say in cartoons. Live and let live. My mom, now in heaven, always said to never discuss religion or politics. Best wishes to you!

Sharon from Arizona

It's unbelieveable that a neighbor would make that diagnosis with such limited information. When something like that happens I would say "consider the source". It sounds like they do not have a grasp on a healthy mind themselves. To judge a person on what their 9yr old child says, is totally wrong. If they were concerned about your welfare, they could have talked with you about her remarks.


How coincidental that I have also gone through an "argument" with a sister-in-law, over politics. Like you, I do not pay much attention to politics. But when she mentioned something wrong about the history of my birthplace, I tried to correct her, for the record. She got mad that I dared say she was wrong, even though I did not even use the word "wrong". The more I explained about my side, the more she got agitated. La situation devient de pire en pire. So I decided to garder le silence, au nom de la paix.
With people like that, it is best to...stay away, bon débarras!


Kristi, You were very brave to post this. The neighbor was exceptionally cruel to have written this nastiness to you. I can only hope that your neighbors later regretted their action, even if they never took steps to correct what they did.
Trust all those who love you that you are a good person and do not need any type of "therapy"! What a joke. Yes, you seem to be a people pleaser, and that is difficult with folks who take strong positions in politics and who would be difficult to please. But that is not your task in life - to please them.

Bill Facker

Let them go, Kristi .. and attempt to remember them for their redeeming qualities ... if they have any. Aloha, Bill

Jean Lillibridge

I believe they are jealous. I hope they are reading your blog!

Beverly Brentnall

From my knowledge of life such as it is, I have learnt one very valuable lesson - usually when negativity comes your way, generally it has much more to do with the person who is making the accusations than the person receiving them! Life is like a mirror, if you feel unusually negative thoughts about someone, look at yourself first ... Stay as you are Kristi!

Bill Facker

AND, Kristi ... a great prescription for your "craziness" is a good dose of the "Big Toe Rouge" JM is crafting! :-) Aloha, Bill


I never respond to political or other emails that I believe will cause a fuss. It is not worth the time and the pain answering will entail. Life is to short. Enjoy your new home without your problematic neighbors. Don't give them a thought.


Wow! Those comments were over the top and hurtful. Good riddance to bad rubbish!

Rosalinda B. Roll

Could it be that "A" suffers from the disorder, "Borderline Personality"?

I am amazed by her efrrontery. You are not schizophrenic by any stretch of the imagination, but your neighbor might profit from seeing a psychiatrist.

Diane Young

I can't believe that anyone who knows you, even if only in your FWAD, would ever say hurtful things. But we've all had these experiences and my thought is "Let go and let God". I became good friends with someone I'd had a blowup with because I called and apologized and wrote a note as well. We still exchange Christmas cards 50 years later. The difference is I knew I was wrong and made amends. Your former neighbors don't sound as though they ever think they're wrong. It's their loss because the rest of us would treasure you as a friend and neighbor.

Jim in sunny and alwats 72 degrees Carlsbad

Mon Dieu, Kristi!! These vile emails took my breath away, and I can't imagine the pain they must've caused you! I only wish that you had posted them years ago, so that the love, overwhelming support, and sage advice from your readers could have helped ease the pain and erase the memory of those hurtful words. I have read every word of every post on this subject, and they have given me great consolation and a renewed faith in humanity. You certainly do attract a sensitive audience with an evolved consciousness, an open heart, and an open mind ... just like yourself. I hope these enlightened readers have been as comforting to you as they have been to me.

So please, just delete those emails, forget those misguided malcontents, and let's get on with the more important things in life like planting your potager and starting a new vineyard.

Kirk Woodyard

My TOGETHER friend,
This story is a reminder to me to be quick to listen, clarify, and ask questions rather than quick to disagree, accuse, and assume people are eager to hear my advice.


Wow lots of posts! But I must add my 2¢ without having read all the many responses. I am glad that you didn't select rompre because you and your mari are separating which is what i feared upon seeing the vocab word.

Like many have said we need to distance ourselves sometimes from those who have been friends in the past.

The man sounds like he's gone off his nut.

Kirk Woodyard

I love the comment from Gus Coulton at 1:21 PM today about the three emails. Priceless, wish I'd thought of that.
Kirk from Virginia


Oh wonderful, kind, sensitive Kristi, who always finds something in herself to criticize and approaches everyone with a warm heart, Kristi, do not let this crazy woman get to you!

People with emotional problems sometimes use politics as a platform to project their aggressive feelings. The aggression can then be expressed without being attributed to them (or so they think), but rather to an external event. It's sad, really. These people have pent-up feelings of anger stemming from hurt and lack of respect that have accumulated in their own lives, and that they feel powerless to deal with any other way.

Don't let her get to you. I say this knowing that I would have been terribly upset and shocked myself. But it sounds like you've gotten over it. Anger is very destructive, you know. This lady is causing all kinds of mental and physical problems for herself down the line. Nothing you can do.

If you still lived there, I would suggest planting another tree, as mature a one as possible. Of course she would have done nothing but complain about it, but placing a living, oxygen-providing tree in this hole of anger would have been a good thing.

Lisa A.,Los Angeles, CA

WOW...that's crazy! You should be very very thankful not to know them anymore. Sometimes it is good to do "Spring Cleaning" even with the people around you who are not good for you to keep around. Kind of like weeds. N'est pas?
Huge computer hugs!

Julie S.

That was the craziest, jump-to-conclusions response from someone, based on hear-say from a nine year old I have ever heard!! I have heard many times, and I believe it to be true, that when people criticize others, it is usually about themselves and their own issues. I will leave it at that. Please don't give it another thought.
Love to you and your family,
Julie in San Diego


I'm sure that was hard for you at the time but I must say, I thought it was hilarious. Those people sound certifiable. And you are a good writer. Loved it.


Wow, I don't often comment, but when I read this story I felt compelled to! But after I read all the other posts, I realized everything that needed to be said about this bizarre couple had already been well-expressed!


Mon cher un Kristi, Please do not despair or continue to put yourself through anymore analysis. You do know yourself and have been true to yourself! YES, I have lost people who I thought were friends to politics. I believed that they were more ethical, moral and true but was disappointed to see differently. I was appalled that someone who acts as if they are caring and offer such horrible conclusions and remedies to delude themselves from their old weaknesses, delusions and anger. I guilty of conducting self-analysis and self criticism---and after therapy to cope with years of lingering grief, learned that I had done all that I could do in those two situations of life, illness and death. You give rays of sunshine, laughter and glimpses of positive distraction when I need it; good people share so unselfishly!!!! Do not waste another moment of precious time on the loss of such "friendships"--I also believe in karma and what you do comes back to you. Such people should be afraid of their karma. Love to you, Robyn from Albuquerque!!!


Kristi, In my humble opinion I think you should have written the last word...being of the "self" that is immensely talented and developed in communicating...I would have dove-tailed off their replied sentiment..."Neighbor(s), What you think of me is none of my business..Kindly keep your opinions to oneself.".. Adios

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