Read something besides self help, already! This was something my counselor said to me about 2 months into my counseling with her, and 3 months after my husband left. In that short time span, I had probably read 15 or more of what I called self help books: books about divorce, single parenting, being single again, depression, surviving. You name, it I was reading it. As I mentioned in earlier posts, I was searching for my answer. I was trying to find MY story written by someone else so I would know how to get through it all and how I was going to turn out.
I was still in the phase where I could barely stop crying long enough to talk to my counselor and tell her about all my reading, but I did share with her what I was reading and why. Although she never came right out and laughed at me (she was a professional, after all) I look back now and can’t imagine how hard it was for her not to giggle a little. She knew, as I know now, that I was never going to find what I was looking for.
Into this 3rd month of what I considered H- E- Double L, a long time girlfriend and I were talking and she mentioned her birthday coming up, and how she thought I should come see her. I am sure it took some convincing on her end, but I booked my ticket. I planned to get the heck out of dodge and try to have some fun, and not cry for awhile. I looked forward to some girlfriend time, getting out , doing things, and not thinking about all I was dealing with ( like that would happen!)
I told my counselor my plan. She was excited for me, and very supportive. As I shared with her my plans with my girlfriend and what we were going to do for her birthday, she asked me if I had something to read on the plane. Well, of course I did! I whipped out two books that I was currently reading from my bag. She stared at them, then me, then the books, then back to me and said, “You can’t read those on a plane.” Um, why not? She didn’t even have to ask me what the books were about; she knew. Whether by the titles, or she having read them, or simply knowing me by now and what I read, she knew. She asked me about the books and how I felt as I read them. We discussed sadness, anger, fear, and anxiety, all emotions I experienced when trying to find my answer in these books. Do I really want to struggle with all those emotions in the confinement of an airplane, she asks me? Do I want to take the chance of crying the whole flight, where everyone will see and hear? Okay, I get it, so she recommends more light reading material, when I admit I can’t even wrap my brain around that so I had no idea what to pick. She recommended the book Eat, Pray, Love. The book had some similarities to what I am going through in terms of divorce, without being my normal self help book, and much lighter in tone.
I took her advice and bought the book and carried it on the plane with me, along with one of the books I showed her in her office (sneaky, sneaky!) As the plane took off, I brought out my book. My book, not the one suggested by my counselor. A few pages in, I felt the tears welling up. I looked around to make sure no one was looking. A nearby passenger smiled – oh no, what do I do! I attempted to smile back and quickly looked down to hide the tear that has escaped. I closed the book, wiped the tear, and took a couple of deep breaths. Now what? Do I just stare at the seat in front of me the whole trip?
Oh yeah, that other book. I put my book away and pulled out the other book. I read the back cover. Sounds okay. I opened the book and began to read. Hmm, not what I was used to. I found it hard to stay focused on the pages in front of me. My mind drifted to my situation, to my kids, to the hell I have been tossed into…stop, stop, stop! I can’t go there. I close the book, pull out my ipod, put my ear buds in, and picked a playlist of happy, loud, upbeat tunes, and closed my eyes to try to forget and maybe sleep.
Well, somehow I survived the plane ride and had a good time with my friend, marred only slightly by crap from my ex contacting me and returned home with some happy memories.
I did not finish Eat, Pray, Love that trip, or even soon after that. When the movie came out, I made myself read the book before I would allow myself to see the movie. Although I thought the movie was good, the book is so much better. I personally loved the section when she goes to India. Perhaps it is because my situation was causing such a stir and growth in my faith and prayers. But whatever it was, it was great for me.
From that trip on, I did what my counselor suggested and mixed in some light reading to my search for my answer. Seven years later, I still read self help books, but I find myself squeezing in much more light reading – and my advice is for you to do the same. Your body, soul, and mind will thank you.
Donna D26 Originally Published 7/2014