Have you ever read a passage in a book that seemed to completely define where you are in your life at. this. very. moment?
That is what happened to me the other night. Bored with baseball, I decided to make good on my promise to myself to read more books. I picked up a memoir that I have been “reading” for quite some time. More accurately, I brushed the dust off a memoir that I was reading months ago but had neglected for quite some time.
(I am slightly ashamed to admit that the memoir I am referring to is Eat, Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. I am ashamed because I wrote about my needing to get back to the book in April! My seeming inability to finish the 331-page book is in no way a reflection of its merit. I really do love the book, so far. Full disclosure: I have read to page 119.)
Anyway, I flipped through the pages and opened up to where I bookmarked: Chapter 28. As I began to read, my heart swelled and at the same time, a lump developed in my throat. She is talking about me, I thought. Wait. No. She is talking about herself, but it might as well be me. Maybe its not the exact same situation but it is the exact same feelings. Which, in my book—pun kind of intended—matters more.
From pages 83-84:
“There’s a constant level of closeness that I really need from the person I love . . . But it just destroys me to not be able to count on that affection when I need it.”
". . . but who amongst us lives without sacrifice?
And the question now for me is, What are my choices to be? What do I believe that I deserve in this life? Where can I accept sacrifice, and where can I not? It has been so hard for me to imagine living a life without David in it . . . But how can I accept that bliss when it comes with this dark underside—bone-crushing isolation, corrosive insecurity, insidious resentment and, of course, the complete dismantling of self that inevitably occurs when David ceases to giveth, and commences to taketh away. I can’t do it anymore. Something about my recent joy in Naples has made me certain that I not only can find happiness without David, but must. No matter how much I love him (and I do love him, in stupid excess), I have to say good-bye to this person now. And I have to make it stick.”
This experience of self-identification in the words of another has just reinforced what I have known all along. Read more. Books, that is. Somehow, it makes me feel less alone. More understood. Happier even, to see my life mirrored in someone else’s, to know someone else has walked where I now stand and somehow made it through. And that today, they are better for it.
For me, reading those few pages was like talking to a best friend who knows exactly how I feel and what to say. Kind of like Liz and her Italian-language tutor, Giovanni, who upon seeing Liz break down in tears after breaking up with David says in perfect English: “I understand, Liz. I have been there.”
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