One of my many private addictions used to be reading self-help and self-improvement books. I occasionally have a relapse but climb off of that saddle as quickly as possible. I quit reading them on a few general principles. One being that just buying them depressed me because I’ve found yet another outlet or excuse to point at myself and say “Ah, Hah!” How many times I have I told you in the dead of night that you were broken? Now here is the written proof.
Then there are the “how to deal with a person who has <insert problem here> and live to tell about it” type books. At first I’m all excited and insist that everyone I know read the book. They don’t of course, people rarely see themselves as the one who needs such advice. It’s not my place to tell them either but that rarely stops me.
After the initial enthusiasm wears off, I go through a phase of thinking “oh my God…this is me!” I’m the one this book is talking about. Honestly, If you read the symptoms in most of these books and check them off it occurs to you that we’re all loony enough to get carted off in the padded wagon at some point in our lives. I end up feeling like I’ve been walking around with a Technicolor wart on the end my nose and nobody bothered to mention it.
Now a new crop of self-help books have popped up in the last 4 or 5 years. Many of the books are a rehash of the self-help books in the 90’s. My main concern is that a huge portion of the books are now devoted to how to decide that’s it time to leave, and then how to actually perform the leaving.
That doesn’t help me at all. Unless someone has me handcuffed to a pipe in the basement, I can bloody well leave. I’ve left in a calm and peaceful manner with all my belongings, including my children, and I’ve left at 2:00am screaming into the darkness. Never the less I do know how to leave.
The staying is the hard part. And I’m not including those times when leaving is absolutely the only thing to do, such as implied or real threats of physical, financial harm. But for the rest of us who are in a viable relationship or want to be, it’s more helpful to figure out how to stay and live and grow in the process.
My therapy is writing about what bugs me. I can write a scathing retort to a real or imagined hurt so vicious the paper should burst into flames. Thank God, half the time it doesn’t occur to me until well after the fact. But the worst of my rants are for me alone. It’s probably better that way. I’d really rather not find myself on a list of mandatory attendees of an anger management class.