How can I pick just one book that has made a big impact on my life? Just like every person who comes along influences me a little bit, it is the sum of those influences that has affected my view on life. Just as every ounce of water flowing over the rock shapes it just a little, every book shapes me a little.
I loved Harriet the Spy, because she wrote in her journal constantly, and I wanted a friend like that, to be able to write in my journal constantly. Just observing life, figuring out how the world works. I found a journal, a pencil, and sat down, writing. My mom saw me and told me not to be like Harriet the Spy--don't write about other people. But that's what Harriet did. And that's what I wanted to write about--how can I write about myself without other people? She said I could write, but it deflated my enthusiasm, and I sadly ripped out the pages and put the spiral bound notebook back where I found it.
But I am a writer, so it didn't stop me for long; I just got sneakier about it, writing, then getting paranoid and throwing away what I wrote directly into the big trash cans for the garbage men so nobody could find them, so I am missing a good chunk of my written childhood. But I write now. Not constantly, but it is an essential part of life and self-care for me.
I think I've written about Laura Ingalls before. Yep--here it is. "I will love and honor you, but I will not obey you." That's a paraphrase of what Laura told Manley before they got married. I didn't want to get married--the whole idea of it was just repugnant because I thought I had to obey like my mom taught me--and I thought all men were like my dad. I wanted no part of that. But during my umpteenth re-reading of Laura Ingalls Wilder's books, I saw that, and it gave me hope. I can choose, and I choose not to obey. Ever. I told my husband this before we got married and he said it would creep him out if I obeyed him. It was pretty apparent from our dating that I was not the obedient type, anyway.
It was really nice to escape into Lord of the Rings, reading it over and over and over again because it is so thick and mesmerizing and took a lot of brainpower away from my fears and anxiety, giving me a safe place to be for several hours.
Harry Potter, though...it has carried me through some dark times. I really want to re-read the books, but I'm afraid I have so many negative memories and corollaries it's a little painful to think about reading them again. But it is so theologically and psychologically insightful, giving me a tiny little light to latch onto, to see, through the darkest night. When I worry about turning into my dad because of some little "flea," I remember what Dumbledore said: Our choices matter far more than our abilities (paraphrase). And also that it is better to talk about a painful thing than to keep it inside. To reach out to friends, friends who make our chosen family. Also, Hermione is me.
Stop Walking on Eggshells by Randi Kreger and Paul Mason. It's geared toward working with and loving a person in your life who has borderline personality disorder, but it works with so many situations. The crux of it is this: You do not deserve to be abused. You can set boundaries with those you love. Boundaries does not mean you don't love them. Boundaries mean you also respect yourself. And it works so well with beginning to grasp the narcissistic personality disordered person's impact on your life. I read a few of Randi Kreger's other books--I borrowed them from the library and hid it in my locker at work. Or deep in my backpack, underneath thick textbooks. They gave me life. And hope.
I do not deserve to be abused.
My fledgling boundaries were laughably shaky in retrospect, but at the time, each little line I drew was a major milestone.
It also led to me being disowned, but eh, I'm healthier for it anyway.
Then I was in college and then I became a parent and really haven't had time to read for fun again--except for my current favorite author, Jenny Lawson and Furiously Happy and Let's Pretend This Never Happened. She helps inspire me to write on this blog. I can never be as funny as her, but she still makes me want to write.
See--it's hard to come up with any one life-changing book. They all have helped me along the way, but these...these are the main ones.
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