"Please, just ...no."
That was my first response when, at a monthly card game that I manage to attend about once a year, a friend of mine asked me if I was going to read Glennon Doyle Melton's memoir, "Love Warrior."
There are certain book recommendations that result in my hitting the gas pedal on my bitch mode almost instantaneously. Most are usually anything of the inspirational or self-help genre. I know why this is, and I'll get to that shortly. But bitch mode it is.
- "She's a mommy blogger. I already know how hard it is to be a mom."
- "I'm sure it's like 'Eat, Pray, Love' or 'Wild.' Those books about self-discovery that include some kind of journey that isn't realistic at all. My daughter has to be at swim practice at 5:45 a.m. for crying out loud. I have no time to visit a shaman in Bali and then write about how I cried sweet tears of soul recognition and my husband appeared down on the beach, where we renewed our vows."
- "Ladies, I'm here to play euchre. DEAL."
So it wasn't until my friend said again, "You have to read it" that I agreed to suck it up.
I don't regret it.
But I'm not happy about it either. And that's not necessarily a good thing or a bad thing. Regardless, now my head is full of thoughts, most of which I just don't have time to think about, and these thoughts require a lot of attention.
So, back to the bitch mode. I know why it exists, and I am not proud of it.
I recognized it when I broke down and read "Wild" — a memoir that began with me saying, "Yeah, right. I know a lot of women who would love to take months off to hike the PCT. Must be nice." I was naive. Ignorant. Completely misunderstanding of the book's intent. I loved "Wild" from the first page. And I'm still jealous of the adventure.
But mostly I'm jealous of the truth telling.
Cheryl Strayed, Brene Brown, Glennon .. they are truth tellers. They are brave. And honestly, I'm just jealous. Because I have stories. We all have stories. And Glennon hits the nail on the head when she describes the relationships among women:
"...Many messages are from people I've known for years, but I'm discovering that I never really knew them. We've spent our time together talking about everything but what matters. We've never brought to each other the heavy things we were meant to help each other carry. We've only introduced each other to our representatives, while our real selves tried to live life alone. We thought that was safer. We thought that this way our real selves wouldn't get hurt ... it becomes clear that we are all hurting anyway. And we think we are alone. At our cores, we are our tender selves peeking out at a world of shiny representatives, so shame has been layered on top of our pain. We're suffocating underneath all the layers."
How many of us really share our stories? Honestly? Honest to goodness, I wake up every morning putting faith in the fact I want to be the very best version of myself. But then my feet hit the floor. And I'm tired. Because I woke up every 90 minutes the night before from worrying about a kid. Or I'm having a hot flash. And I have to get out the door to get to work by 6 so I can leave at 3 and try to get in a 3-mile jog so I don't hate myself for not exercising and oh crap I promised I would buy mouthwash and the car is almost on empty and I need to make pasta because someone has a swim meet tomorrow and I really should be coming up with a freelance story pitch but I also need to catch up on Westworld and Sweet Jesus the half-bath is disgusting but OMG my feet and it's going to be 80 out tomorrow which means sandals so I need to get on nail polish and now I need to stay up until it dries and I can't remember the last time I really talked to my husband and please sweet 8 pound 6 ounce Baby Jesus don't let Donald win the election and great it's midnight I need to get up at 4:30. So bite me, best version of myself. That girl is my fantasy.
"Love Warrior" is pretty brutal, but it's Glennon's truth. From her childhood trauma with an eating disorder and heavy drinking in college straight through to a shotgun wedding and marital betrayal, she puts it all out there. And it's her path to a reconciliation—not just with her husband but ultimately, herself—that consumes the second half of the book and where most people will find inspiration. For me, personally, it was a little too out there. But the beauty of truth telling is that everyone's story is different.
That paragraph above? For now, it's as honest as I get. I've got stories, I swear, I'm saving up for the miniseries on how I got PTSD from parenting, but I can count on one hand the number of people I share them with -- mostly, because these are my children's lives, and if everything I did as a kid had been blogged, I'd would have willingly joined a witness protection program. But also, because kids' mistakes often unintentionally, but honestly, feel like parenting failures. And I'm not ready to out myself as a total fraud as a parent. I gotta play cards with some of these people.
So here's to the truth tellers. Bless your courageous souls. And hopefully, through your words, we all find a little more light in our lives.
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