(photo via my instagram feed)
There exists a small circle of women that I claim as my best friends. I have to say that with a plural ending b/c it is impossible to choose just one who towers above the rest. They are my people, my tribe, my safety net, my history, my sounding board...they are an integral part of my story. Some I have known since kindergarten (an astounding honor, given how many times I've moved). Some may as well be family. Some I met online, just a few years ago, but I've lost track of when I didn't know them. And then, there are the imaginary friends. Imaginary only in the sense that I don't know them "for real"...and they don't know me at all. They are women who I can imagine sitting down with a bottle (or three) of wine and sharing stories and trading tears for laughter. They represent who I want to be when I grow up...even though most are younger than me. They are wise and creative and brave.
One of them is Susannah Conway.
I ordered this i know (aff) last week, not willing to be patient & find out if it would be available for nook. As I pulled into the driveway after a morning with Colleen @ the farmer's market, I remembered that it was due to arrive. I planned to unwrap it, read a few pages, and then set about completing the to-do list that has been demanding my attention.
I spent most of the day on the couch.
I started reading, and audibly gasped on the second page of the intro...y'know, the pages BEFORE the pages that are actually numbered? I read this...
"It's entirely possible to squash your pain down and carry on with your life, but one day it will catch up with you. One day a little tear will appear in the blanket and then, with an almighty rip, all your crap comes tumbling out. This is a good thing in the long run."
At that point, I put the book down. I picked up my car keys, drove to the corner store, and bought another bottle of wine. And I cancelled any plans of productivity that I might have had.
Susannah's book is the story of unraveling & recovery in the years following the death of her partner. She tells her very personal story with a raw honesty that brought me to tears, and also found me shaking my head in agreement & empathy. The loss that I am dealing with is not of the physical sort, but it represents a death nonetheless. Susannah's description of her journey through grief felt so familiar. I haven't yet allowed myself to really mourn the death of a seventeen-year relationship. Are you allowed to mourn when the death is your own choosing? I've only just begun to talk about it, to say the words out loud. With an almighty rip.
"Our lives are not lived in a straight line; the choices and decisions we make take us in many directions, the crashes and collisions shunting us off our paths until we pick up the breadcrumb trail and get back on our way."
If I'm being brutally honest, I felt like sh*t when I finished this book (early on Sunday morning, less than 24 hrs after its arrival). I was angry with myself for not coming out of this darkness with the insight & reflection that Susannah achieved. I catalogued, for the millionth time, my failures & shortcomings. I was exhausted & emotionally drained. And then I looked back at one of the many passages that I highlighted on a dog-eared page...
"I believe that by being the best and most healed version of ourselves, we can truly make a difference in the world."
That particular page (pg 217) ends with the question & declaration..."Are you ready to try? Let's do this."
I said in instagram/twitter that it was safe to say that this book was life-changing. I honestly feel that way. It's the universe reminding me that I'm not entirely alone - that others are dealing with the painful reality that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.
I'll be signing up for Susannah's Unraveling class in the fall. And I'll be re-reading this book while I wait.