I just finished reading a Serendipity Book. You know those books you pick up at the library or bookstore and think to yourself: Hmmm … I’ve always wanted to read this; or I’ve heard good things about this author/book; or it just feels right in your hands; and then you take it home and nearly every line speaks to your life in that exact moment? That’s a Serendipity Book. I had it with C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity and I had it again with Sarah Ban Breathnach’s Something More: Excavating Your Authentic Self.
Authenticity is a word that has been bobbing around in my head lately and when I read this beautiful book it all came together. I would highly recommend this book to any woman who has been struggling to love and accept herself and/or has always found her identity in her personal relationships, fractured or healthy as they may be (Doesn’t this sound like us all?) I personally know so many women who could benefit from the wisdom in these pages.
Here are some passages that especially spoke to me:
“[…] We may loathe our human frailties, flaws, and foibles in a world that only approves perfection; loathe our oddities, eccentricities, and ugly habits; loathe our inability to avoid insidious comparisons; loathe our buying into the illusion that good men would save us because that would be easier than striving to save ourselves or believing that we could.”
I sent this one to some of my closest girl friends because it just seemed so relevant. It was one of those passages to which your soul responds, yes yes yes!:
“When another’s love for us or its lack becomes our truth, we see ourselves through that person’s eyes and through the relationship that exists between us. Because our love relationships are often imperfect, emotionally manipulative, disappointing, sometimes even dishonest delusions, and because we see ourselves reflected in them, we often see ourselves as damaged goods.
If the relationship is lonely and unfulfilling; it must have been something you did or said. If it’s been months since he’s reached for you; it must be the way you look. No matter how many times you try to engage him, he shuts you out. You sit by the phone and wait for the call that never comes; you call him and immediately interpret the irritation or hesitancy you hear in his voice to mean there’s something lacking in you.
[…] That’s why every woman must at some point in her life become courageous enough to turn away from the prism of her relationships as the reflector of her worth […]
Pull away from HIS view of you until you can commit to an exclusive, inclusive relationship with your Authentic Self.
[…] Today, pick up a mirror and look in it until you see Spirit’s truth reflected back. You are a woman of great style and enormous substance. Did you know that? You are a woman of beauty, intelligence, vision, warmth, power, influence, strength, wit, generosity, compassion, and soul. And if you don’t see this, you’ve been looking for your worth in all the wrong faces, and I don’t care who you live with.”
I read and walked for miles at night along the beach, writing bad blank verse and searching endlessly for someone wonderful who would step out of the darkness and change my life. It never crossed my mind that that person could be me — Anna Quindlen
“You must become your own heroine. Most people have lives crowded with incident but without purpose. You must start seeing each day as a blank page waiting to be filled up with amusing anecdotes, profound turning points, provocative choices, and pursuits of passion […]”
“Bad men are spiritual graces sent in disguise to teach us, through torment, to love ourselves.”
“No man can ever give you your self-worth, but you can let plenty of men rob you of it.”
This next one makes so much sense and a good answer to the question I’ve often heard–“Why are all women so crazy?”:
“When a woman’s heart isn’t at peace, she can’t invest her time, creative energy, and emotion in anything else. She can’t focus. Since there’s plenty swirling around her, impatiently awaiting the attention she doesn’t have–because she’s struggling to hold the center of her universe together with her bare hands–she becomes conflicted, confused, annoyed, scattered, depressed, and often testy.”
“[…] For a woman there [is] something worse than being alone: being with a man who doesn’t deserve you and doesn’t know it.”
“[…] When a new man comes into your life–whether he’s a king or a carpenter […], if he can’t match your generosity of spirit and meet your emotional needs, you’ll never be happy together. When you yourself are rooted in abundance consciousness […] and the object of your affections […] is rooted in lack, the two of you will always feel frustrated and continually clash.
Nothing else matters. Not your astrological signs, not the way he makes you laugh, not the kisses that make you swoon. If you two aren’t generous, demonstrative, and emotional equals, you’ll always feel that you aren’t getting the love you deserve, and you’ll be right.”
“You now have two options. Chase this Something More in a series of unfulfilling repeat-and-return relationship reruns with bad men until the day you die. Or, you can stop running. You can stand still for a moment, long enough to swear to God that you’d rather be alone for the rest of your life than endure one minute of a destructive, unhealthy relationship with a man who does not deserve you. You decide to try a turn on the dance floor with the One that brough you, baby, here to Earth.”
And you know what? It’s not about the popular view/misconception that feminism is about hating men (an accusation thrown at me this week that still has me feeling bitter) and rah rah rah; girls rule and boys drool. It’s simply about loving and accepting who you are as a woman and straying from the belief that you need a man to complete you. There’s nothing wrong with a little self-love and a little independence, is there?
* All quotes from Something More: Excavating Your Authentic Self, Sarah Ban Breathnach. Grand Central Publishing, 2000.