Cover Reveal ~ I Loved You in Paris: A Memoir in Poetry

I have been writing poems since I was a little girl…poems about the boys I liked and later loved, poems about the boys who didn’t love me back, poems about my relationships with friends and family and the ones I have lost, and most recently poems about the loss of my marriage and the man I fell in love with during my first year as a free woman. In the end, all of my poems have always gone back to one thing: love. New loves and old loves, love found and love lost…but always, it’s about love. It is with this love that I am thrilled to share the cover art for my upcoming poetry book release, I Loved You in Paris: A Memoir in Poetry. The cover was designed by the talented Blue Harvest Creative.

I_Loved_You_In_Paris_J_Sobanet_FC_Final

Release Date: February 23, 2016

About the book:

In this companion poetry book to her sizzling memoir, Meet Me in Paris, Juliette Sobanet gives readers a heartbreaking look into the raw emotions of a romance novelist as she loses her own happily ever after. From the impossible pull of forbidden love to the devastating loss of her marriage, and finally, to rebuilding life anew, Sobanet’s courageous poems expose the truth behind infidelity and divorce and take readers on a passionate journey of love, loss, and ultimately, hope.

A sneak peek of one of my favorite poems in the book:

Broken, I Am Not

My heart may have shattered

My chest may have cracked

My dreams may have gone up in flames

My lungs may have ceased to breathe

And I may have considered ending it all

More times

Than I will ever admit

But what I have learned

In this insane journey to rock bottom

Is that beyond my bleeding heart and my crushed bones

Beyond the ashes of my lost dreams

And the last breath I believed I would ever take…

Lives a soul

A glorious, vibrant soul

Who is untouchable, unbreakable, indestructible

The ultimate warrior of love

Who welcomes rock bottom

Who cries victory at the sound of my broken heart

She emerges from dust and ash

Brushing off shards of broken bone

Kicking away mounds of bloody flesh

And she is smiling, triumphant, radiant

As she reminds me

You are not that lacerated flesh

You are not that scorching pain

That you so wish to cling to

You are me

I am you

And broken, I am not

Le Poème du Jour ~ le 1 février, 2016

Here is a snippet of a poem I wrote for one of my greatest loves on his birthday. The poem is aptly titled, “On Your Birthday…” and it’s featured in my memoir, Meet Me in Paris. It’s such a relief when you meet someone with whom you are so perfectly aligned, and even if you can’t spend your life with this person, just to know they exist is magical.

1 fevrier

The Day I Told the Truth

Today, my private life and many of my deepest secrets—secrets which I have worked so hard to cover up for so long—are being released to the world in a book.

A book written by my own pen…my memoir, Meet Me in Paris.

Meet_Me_In_Paris_JSobanet_Final

About the book:

What does a romance novelist do when she loses her own happily ever after? Take a lover and travel to Paris, obviously. Or at least this is what Juliette Sobanet did upon making the bold, heart-wrenching decision to divorce the man she had loved since she was a teenager. This is the story of the passionate love affair that ensued during the most devastating year of Sobanet’s life and how her star-crossed romance in the City of Light led to her undoing. Meet Me in Paris is a raw, powerful take on divorce and the daring choices that followed such a monumental loss from the pen of a writer who’d always believed in happy endings…and who ultimately found the courage to write her own.


Writing the story of my divorce, my affair, and everything I’ve learned and experienced along the way has forced me to face my ultimate fear of telling the truth. I sent emails and made phone calls before the book release to let the most important people in my life know that I have written a true story that they are in, and to tell them the pieces of the story I had previously hidden from them.

I finally, finally told the truth to the people who most deserved to hear it.

One of those people was, of course, my former husband.

In an email to him, I wrote,

There is a lot to my truth—it’s messy and difficult and not what many people will expect, but it’s me. In writing this book, I realized that I have to love myself for all of it—the mistakes, the mess, the depression, and all of the love that I’ve given and received along the way.

When we spoke, instead of the horrified reaction I was expecting, my truth was met with kindness, compassion, and understanding. My truth was met with love.

And I feel like I can breathe now.

I realized I wasn’t doing anyone any favors by hiding the truth. The people I have been blessed to love in this life are much stronger than I realized. They could handle what I had to tell them.

I was the one who couldn’t handle my truth…or at least I believed I couldn’t.

There is astounding power in truth. Yes, it may hurt. Yes, you may bleed because of it. And others might bleed too. There will most certainly be tears.

But it is ultimately the fear of facing the truth, the fear of telling the truth, and the fear of living our truth that is the most harmful to us.

It is our fear that will kill us. Not our truth.

As for all of that hard-to-face truth, I will let my memoir speak for herself, and instead, I will leave you with a poem I wrote recently while listening to the song “Near Light” by Olafur Arnalds. If you like to have music to go with your words, play the tune on Spotify while you read and perhaps, allow yourself to be inspired to tell the truth to those who most matter in your life, or most importantly, to yourself.

Near the Light

Near the light she stood

Where grace had no name

She called out for it nonetheless

But just out of her reach

It sparkled, shined, bled

In her hands

 

Near the light she wept

Where love had once lived

She called out to him

But he didn’t come

He loved, pierced, killed

Her heart

 

Near the light she danced

Where glory used to shine

She called out to her lost inspiration

But beyond her pointed toes

It swirled, twirled, slipped

Through her grasp

 

Near the light she loved

Where she once gave everything

She called out to all she had lost

Come back, Come back, Come back

 

But in the darkness

Only echoes

Of her broken heart

Returned

 

Near the light she nearly died

Where she once stood, wept, danced, loved

She had no voice left to call out

But just before her last breath

A whisper kissed her lips

 

It was truth

Her truth

 

In that moment

Grace, glory, inspiration, and love

Breathed peace into her soul

 

We were here all along, they said

All you had to do

Was step

Into the light

 

Her eyes opened

And she saw

Life

Where there had been none

 

Full, unending, new

Beautiful

 

She stood

In the light

Of her truth

Life After Divorce: Embracing Your Grief As a Sign of Love

Before my divorce, I believed I was an experienced “griever.”

I thought I knew all there was to know about grief: how it feels, how to handle it, and most important, how to survive it. While my life was beautiful in so many ways, I’d experienced quite a bit of heartbreak in my thirty-one years, with the worst loss of all being the unexpected death of a cousin who had been like a brother to me during our childhood.

When I heard the news of his passing, I was only three weeks shy of my college graduation. I had finals to study for, papers to write, and a dance recital to perform. I didn’t care about any of that, though. My cousin was gone. He was gone.

I lay in bed all weekend crying and feeling as if God had punched me in the gut. I’d never before experienced grief in such a violent, visceral way.

It knocked me to my knees–literally–and I feared that it would swallow me whole if I didn’t take control of the situation.

So, ignoring the sage advice of my girlfriends who told me “Let yourself grieve now,” I had a stern talk with my new roommate, Grief. I told him to beat it, at least for the next few weeks until I graduated.

To my surprise, Grief listened.

It wasn’t that I didn’t continue to have meltdowns, but through the tears, I found the strength to take care of business so that I could graduate.

Then, just as my friends said it would, Grief resurfaced.

I carried the grief of losing my cousin with me for several years after his passing, and to this day, I miss him. I always will. But even though the grief was intense, it didn’t capsize my ship. Amid this loss, I was still able to love and find the beauty in life, to feel gratitude and work toward my dreams. I didn’t need to grab the wine bottle or take drugs or numb myself with Xanax.

The fact that I was able to stare Grief in the face and keep moving through life only reinforced a long-held belief I’d had about myself–that I could handle whatever curveballs life threw my way without falling into a lasting depression or needing antidepressants to survive the day.

And then, I got a divorce.

After twelve years with my husband, I knew that the grief over losing our marriage would be immense, but I still believed I was an expert on this grief thing, so I was certain I could withstand the storm.

What I learned rather quickly was that I was not, in any way, prepared for the storm of depression that would ensue over the next two years.

This would be the storm that would finally capsize what I’d always believed was an unsinkable ship–me.

Thankfully, friends and loved ones threw me life vests along the way to keep me from drowning. I sought out my own life vests as well in the form of therapy, yoga, meditation, healers, antidepressants, travel, and the most healing of them all–writing a memoir about my entire experience.

But even with all of those life vests keeping me afloat, I still have not managed to convince Grief to get the hell out of my house.

He’s moved in. Permanently, it seems. And I have no choice but to live with him.

Grief and I have been cohabitating for a couple of years now, and it is only in recent months that I have stopped my desperate pleas asking him to pack his shit and go. Instead, I’ve made a space for him in my home. I even make him a cup of tea at night, and we chat like the old friends we are. Interestingly, taking a friendly approach toward Grief seems to have diffused him quite a bit. Although, when he does storm through me unannounced, I am no longer surprised by his dramatic antics. And I’m no longer angry that he’s still here. Because I’ve realized something.

This intense grief I’ve experienced is a sign of great love.

If I hadn’t loved my husband with my entire being, I wouldn’t have felt such immense pain over the loss of our marriage. Yes, that love changed and shifted in the final years. Yes, there were problems we couldn’t repair that led to the end.

But that doesn’t mean that we didn’t love each other. That doesn’t mean that I don’t still send him love and wish him only happiness and joy, because I do. That is unconditional love, after all.

With any loss we experience throughout our lives, we must always remember that suffering is universal. Grief is a part of the human experience. To deny or suffocate our grief is to deny our humanness. Instead, we must embrace our grief as a sign that love was shared, and perhaps, if we’re feeling really friendly, invite him over for a cup of tea.

To take a quote on grief and love from my own true story, Meet Me in Paris:

“Where there is great love, there is also potential for great pain.

Because I have hurt so deeply, I know that I have also loved deeply.

And since love is the bedrock of my journey–of our journeys–I know my particular journey has been worthwhile. Worth every tear I’ve shed, every meltdown I’ve had, and every dose of Wellbutrin I’ve taken.

Love is worth it.

I know that now, and so I don’t curse the journey. Not a single moment of it.”

*This piece was originally published on The Huffington Post.

Love is the emblem of eternity quote_winter scene

The Journey I Never Expected To Take

As a writer, I am obsessed with journeys. Sure, I love a good fictitious romp–I’ve been making up stories since I was young enough to string a sentence together. But it is in recent years–the years where I said goodbye to my marriage and started anew, anti-depressants in one hand, wine in the other–that I’ve become enamored with true stories written by real people. As I mentioned in my last post, these are the stories that have comforted me in my most difficult moments post divorce. These are the stories that have told me: Someone else has been where you are, and they made it out alive. These are the stories that have encouraged me to keep going.

I started this blog as a way to stop hiding behind my fiction, as a way to tell the true story of what happens when a romance novelist loses her happily ever after, and as a way to reach out to others who may be going through what I’m going through, and to let them know they are not alone.

At the New Year, when I wrote my last post, 37 Extraordinary Dreams ~ One Extraordinary YearI had it in my head that I needed to go do something extraordinary!, use it as a way to work through my grief, and write about it along the way. Much like Cheryl Strayed does in Wild and Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat, Pray, Love, I wanted to go somewhere exciting or do something huge to, once and for all, shed my wretched divorce baggage and move on with my life. But instead of coming up with one big journey to take, I came up with thirty-seven!

I have been hard at work on making many of my dreams a reality–I’ve spent two weeks in France (out of the four I promised myself), I’ve seen my books on the shelves of bookstores, I finished my screenplay, I’ve been dancing as much as my busy schedule will allow, and I can almost do the splits again!

What I didn’t realize when I made this list, though, is that I have already been on an extraordinary journey, one that is worthy of writing about. One that I hope will inspire others. One that I desperately want to tell.

So, logically, being the devious novelist that I am, I decided to hide all of that juiciness in a novel! See #15 on my list:

15. Write and publish my next novel: The Places That Were Ours

Oh, yes, The Places That Were Ours was going to be a novel based loosely…ahem…on the most intense, heartbreaking, passionate years of my life. I figured that if I can’t tie up my own love stories into neat little bows of happily ever after, at least I know my characters can!

So, I wrote the prologue and the first fifty pages, and I pitched the book to my agent and to my publisher as fiction. I went so far as to place my protagonist in a coma so that even she wouldn’t have to face her demons.

Talk about hiding behind my art.

But each time I opened up the document, I couldn’t write past the first few chapters. Something essential was missing. Something monumental…

Ahh, that pesky little thing I have been going to such lengths to avoid: The Truth.

And then, before I could take this book any further, my publisher turned it down. I wasn’t too distraught, though, because I knew somewhere deep down that I didn’t want to write this novel. I didn’t want to hide behind my characters’ questionable choices, their hidden desires, their passionate love affairs, their sweet triumphs and most embarrassing catastrophes.

I wanted to write about my own.

But as it often goes in life, I had to hit rock bottom before I could find the courage to do the thing I really wanted to do. And so, when my next major writing rejection came, I finally, finally, said–and please do excuse my French–fuck it. 

If this is the only story that is surging through my veins, keeping me up at night, begging to  bleed its ink onto the pages, then just write the damn story.

If the only thing that truly matters to me anymore is being purely, unabashedly, unapologetically me, then just write the damn story.

Otherwise, what am I doing here?

As a writer, it’s not my job to write fluff. It’s not my job to keep people happy. It’s my job to tell a story. A damn good story. And so, for better or for worse, wedded as I am to my craft, I have decided to write the story in my heart.

The story that is mine.

The story that is ours.

The Truth.

And so, it is with excitement, a little bit of trepidation, and mostly joy that I announce my next book:

Meet Me in Paris

One Romance Novelist’s Quest to Write Her Own Happily Ever After

What does a romance novelist do when she loses her own happily ever after? Take a lover and travel to Paris, obviously. Or at least this is what Juliette Sobanet did upon making the bold, heart-wrenching decision to divorce the man she had loved since she was a teenager. This is the story of the passionate love affair that ensued during the most devastating year of Sobanet’s life and how her star-crossed romance in the City of Light ultimately led to her undoing. Meet Me in Paris is a raw, powerful take on divorce and the daring choices that followed such a monumental loss from the pen of a writer who’d always believed in happy endings.

I’m close to 100 pages along this wild journey, and I’m loving it. As for a release date, I don’t know yet. But I do know that I am finally, truly, following my heart.

To take a quote from my favorite truth teller…

Anais Nin Fever of Creation Quote

 

How Does It Feel?

So, I’m going to be honest. Totally, bluntly, I’m-a-few-glasses-of-wine-deep honest (which for me means two glasses, and no more, but if you know me, you know that’s enough to get me talking).

I started this blog in June because I was at a standstill with my writing. My divorce was final, I was devastated, and I couldn’t write. I couldn’t write anything except what was actually happening to me.

And so, Confessions of a Romance Novelist was born.

I wanted to tell the truth. I wanted to be like the writers I so admire, the ones who are brave enough to write about their real lives. Those are the writers who have helped me through my roughest times. To know that someone else has felt the way I feel, has grieved the way I am grieving, has experienced a loss so deep they can hardly breathe…and yet they have the strength to keep going, and to write about it no less, is my greatest inspiration. I wanted to give that gift to others…and to myself.

Plus, they say truth is stranger than fiction, right? Well, in my case, I believe it has been. On so many fronts. And so, I wanted to tell my story. I already reveal it in pieces in my novels, of course. But I wanted to tell my true story. The whole story.

And then, something happened. (Doesn’t it always?). I started dating someone. A nice guy. A normal guy. A handsome, sweet guy. And I really, really liked him. Early on in the relationship, I thought, okay…maybe I can be normal too. Maybe I can do this relationship thing again. But dear God, if I’m broadcasting all of my depressive divorce thoughts and wild writer ideas on this blog, he will find out, and he will probably break up with me (or at the very least be secretly horrified). And his family! What if his family sees this?!

I have to take this blog down.

So I did.

And I tried. I tried to fit into the mold. All of his friends were getting married. His family wanted to meet me. But only a few short months later, I knew I couldn’t do it. I was still having full-on meltdowns over my divorce. Missing my husband and wondering if I had made the right decision in leaving him. Wondering if I had permanently and forever screwed up my life.

Oh, and I was still pining (and mourning) over the extremely unavailable guy I fell in love with immediately following my divorce. A guy who was still in love with me too, but like any tragic, ill-timed love story, we couldn’t be together. And probably never would be.

How Romeo & Juliet of us. I certainly picked the right pen name…but I digress.

On top of all of that, I was still losing weight. I was still pretending to be happy. I’m really good at that–the pretending to be happy skill. Many of my friends and acquaintances think I’m handling this divorce thing extraordinarily well because I’m always smiling! Always fabulous! Always pulling it together! But dear God, if they had only seen me in those moments alone in the shower, or in the car, or downing Xanax, or alone in bed at night gripping the pillow like the earth may actually collapse beneath me at any minute…

It wasn’t pretty. It was downright terrifying.

There were many a day when the only reason I got out of bed, the only reason I didn’t do something stupid was because of my giant, adorable cats who required that I get my depressed ass up and feed them.

Yup, there, I said it. That’s the truth. My cats saved my life.

I have never grieved as hard or as intensely as I have this past year. And that is not to say that I haven’t been through some shit. I mean, we all have, right? But losing a husband, a partner, the man I spent twelve years with–even though I was the one who chose to leave–was, and still is, the most monumental loss of my life.

And so, back to that sweet new boyfriend I’d met. I had to break up with him. None of this was fair to him. He deserved someone who was ready for everything he had to give.  And that wasn’t me.

So, I ended it.

Right around that time, I talked to my ex-husband* again. (*Side note: I hate calling him my “ex.” It sounds so impersonal, so full of hate. And I have nothing but love for this man. Despite the fact that I was the one who chose to leave. So in this blog, let’s call him my first soul mate. Because I still believe that is the role he has played in my life.) So….around this time, I was talking to my first soul mate again, and we were confused. We missed each other. We weren’t sure what to do next. I knew one thing, though. I knew that all this back and forth between men was not helping my writing.

And I knew that none of these men were paying my bills.

I needed to write again.

So I suggested to my first soul mate that we take two months off from being in touch. Just to have some space to breathe. He agreed.

One month later, I was out at a wine bar with one of my close girlfriends. I told her that I felt like I was in a holding pattern. Waiting until the two month “waiting period” was over, so I could see what might happen next. What if he had changed? What if the perspectives we had both gained over this past year had made it possible to try things again?

So, I asked her, “Do you think I should wait another month before moving forward? Before dating? Before trying to meet anyone new?”

She answered with a clear and firm, “No.”

She said more than that, of course, and everything she said made sense. Logically, my response was, “Let’s order a pizza.”

We headed to the counter, and while we were ordering pizza, I met a guy…

But that’s a story for another night because this girl needs to go to bed so she can write books in the morning. After all, even that guy isn’t paying the bills.

I am. And I need to sleep. Then I need to write.

Don’t you just love a cliff hanger?

I will, however, quickly explain why I titled this post “How Does It Feel?”

While drinking wine and eating a box of Trader Joe’s organic Mac & Cheese (at least it’s organic, right?), I was watching “Le Week-End,” a Paris-based film–being the obsessive Francophile I am, I love any and all Paris movies–and in this particular Paris film, the song “Like a Rolling Stone” by the Rolling Stones came on.

The chorus hit me…

“How does It Feel

How does it feel

To be without a home

Like a complete unknown

Like a rolling stone”

Losing my husband has felt like losing my home. I am rebuilding it. Day by day. And it is here that I will write about what that feels like. The only promise I will make is that I will tell the truth.

Hemingway said that “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

And so, that is what I will do…

Hemingway quote