If you’ve not read “Tiny Beautiful Things” by Cheryl Strayed yet, walkdontrun to the nearest chair, throw your arse in it, and start reading – it is THAT good. Here’s the Amazon synopsis of the book:
Life can be hard: your lover cheats on you; you lose a family member; you can’t pay the bills—and it can be great: you’ve had the hottest sex of your life; you get that plum job; you muster the courage to write your novel. Sugar—the once-anonymous online columnist at The Rumpus, now revealed as Cheryl Strayed, author of the bestselling memoir Wild—is the person thousands turn to for advice.
Tiny Beautiful Things brings the best of Dear Sugar in one place and includes never-before-published columns and a new introduction by Steve Almond. Rich with humor, insight, compassion—and absolute honesty—this book is a balm for everything life throws our way.
I wasn’t a reader of Dear Sugar – I’d never heard of it before, but I do love me a good advice column. I’ve often thought of seeking assistance from a therapist (as I’m clearly not that great at taking care of my emotional well-being on my own), but perhaps Dear Sugar is the better way to go – except that Cheryl isn’t writing this anymore. Her advice is amazing, the heartbreaking honesty that she brings to the task revolutionary…I can’t even. And I don’t use expressions like ‘I can’t even’ . Read this passage: “The most terrible and beautiful and interesting things happen in a life. For some of you, those things have already happened. Whatever happens to you belongs to you. Make it yours. Feed it to yourself even if it feels impossible to swallow. Let it nurture you, because it will. I have learned this over and over and over again.” Doesn’t that nearly kill you? I know – me, too.
If you were going to write to Dear Sugar, what would you say? What things inside of you do you want to know about? Here’s what my letter would say:
I need help with relationships – specifically, how to keep them, how to nurture them, and how to keep them alive. I have rolled from one relationship to another in my lifetime, rarely stopping to settle in to any of them – I’ve always been on the move to the next one. I don’t know how to stick with things when the going gets tough, and it has to be said that I have the attention span of a flea. I apply this to most of my life – I’ve repainted my bedroom three times in 6 years, I own 9 complete sets of bedding for my bed (nothing changes up a room like new bedding!), I’ve changed jobs a bunch of times, I’ve lived in countless different homes over the years, and – apart from the friends I grew up with – I don’t seem to be able to keep a circle of friends for any length of time. I want love, happiness, companionship, and a happy ending, but I fear that I’m not worthy since I can’t figure out how it goes. Help, Sugar!
Or, it might go like this:
How do I shut off the voices in my head? They keep me up at night, nattering on about the most hateful of topics. Every evening when it’s time to go to bed, I watch TV until I’m dozing, hoping to trick the voices into taking the night off. Instead, as soon as I shut off the TV, the eyes spring open and the voices start hollering about how pathetic I am, how it’s no wonder I go to bed alone every night because who could ever want me, and on and on and on. These voices are real assholes, Sugar…and they need to go away. As I go about my business during the day, I give the illusion of having my shit together, and I’ve managed to make most people believe that I have. At night, though, it’s a different story altogether – and I’m tired. I want a good night’s sleep, and I want to wake up believing that I’m something other than a loser. I’m exhausted.
Tired and Cranky
Here’s how Sugar might answer (these are excerpts from her book)…
…cultivate an understanding of a bunch of the other things that the best, sanest people on the planet know: that life is long, that people both change and remain the same, that every last one of us will need to fuck up and be forgiven, that we’re all just walking and walking and walking and trying to find our way, that all roads lead eventually to the mountaintop.
…It’s going to be difficult, but that’s no surprise. The story of human intimacy is one of constantly allowing ourselves to see those we love most deeply in a new, more fractured light. Look hard. Risk that.
…Do it. Doing so will free your relationship from the tense tangle that withholding weaves…Withholding distorts reality. It makes the people who do the withholding ugly and small-hearted. It makes the people from whom things are withheld crazy and desperate and incapable of knowing what they actually feel. So release yourself from that. Don’t be strategic or coy. Strategic and coy are for jackasses. Be brave. Be authentic.
I hope that you’ll grab ‘Tiny Beautiful Things’ and give it a read…it’s just so great, and there are few things as precious and beautiful as a good book. I hope you’ll enjoy it – I can’t wait to hear what you think! 🙂