Book Look: Girl, Wash Your Face

Hi guys. It's been a hot minute, huh? I know, I'm sorry. I'd say I've been busy, which isn't a lie, but really I just haven't had anything to write about. I have a few books lined up to review next month, and I'm not really satisfied with my drafts for anything else I've read; however, the book in the title of this blog post has been hyped for weeks. It's one of those that it seems like everyone I know has read it and, I mean, I enjoy a good "self help" book when I see one, so why don't I just hop on this bandwagon?

To say that I have mixed feelings about this book is putting it mildly. Rachel started as a blogger, developed her own social media company, and has now published a book meant to boost women up by giving us life anecdotes that show us how #relatable she is - she opens the book with a story about how she peed herself (just a little bit because, guys, she's had babies and that just happens sometimes). That last sentence sounded like I'm about to go on a rant about the book, I know, and if you're waiting for that to happen, I don't think it's coming.

It's hard for me, personally, to read a book from a non-Christian perspective written by a woman who's a pretty devout Christian even though she may have done some shady, non-Christian things and for the life of me, I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because I've lived in the Bible belt for so long and I'm so, so sick of Jesus being shoved down my throat at every turn that I've become intolerant to the idea of it. Really, Christianity in itself isn't so bad because the teachings just relate back to being a good person, loving other people in spite of what you believe to be their "sins" and just trying to do good. I can get behind people who want to do a good thing, no matter who their god is.

I'm not going to go into the issues I take with religion, that's not what this post is for. This post is me reading a book written by a lady who's relatively close to my age, who might have some insights for me on the life stuff I may be struggling with. Honestly, I didn't really find anything that clicked with me until I read chapter five, interestingly titled 'Loving Him Is Enough For Me'.

She talks about her husband, how their first try at love was not spectacular - there was an age difference, he was the older guy taking advantage of the younger girl (without ever wanting to be that guy apparently), she was the booty call who got her heart broke (even good little preachers' daughters do bad things). The thing about this chapter that got me, really got me, was this line: "But here's the deal: I am not the only woman who ever let a man treat her badly." After that line, this chapter becomes the story of a young girl who was so desperately trying to hold onto a man she thought she loved by being everything he could ever want and more...and it still wasn't enough.

It tells the story of their breakup, how she sat in in the middle of her bed and begged him not to leave and, you know, he left anyway because he was always going to. It became the story of how that Rachel pulled herself together and got on with it, in spite of the way she'd been hurt, and how she found her worth as a person again.

You may be wondering, "Marah, why did that chapter hit you like a ton of bricks." And reader, I'll tell you, because you and I don't have secrets. We've talked about my mental health, we may have talked about my struggle with suicide (I'm not gonna go back through my posts to see if we've talked about it), so I don't have any qualms opening up to you like this because this feels less personal.

Guys, I've been that girl.

I've been the one desperate to hold onto someone even though his mind was clearly on other things, with other people. I've been the one literally on my knees, begging him not to go - I had no pride, I had no sense of self-worth, I just knew that if he didn't love me then no one else ever would because I sure couldn't love myself.

Part of this was a huge battle with mental illness, part of this was being young and giving up literally every good opportunity I had to be with a guy who was, largely, a waste of my time. Most people may shy away from saying things like that because they want to appear to be the bigger person or whatever, but I don't really care. This guy was my first big love, but was also a monumental waste of years of my life. Did I learn some things? Sure. But learning those things was not worth the damage he did before he left.

When I got into this book, I 100% did not feel like the target audience for it, even though Rachel tried to make it as inclusive as she possibly could. But this chapter, this is the ground I could meet her on. This is a chapter I wished I had had to read a decade ago, it may have helped me see some things more clearly then I could at the time. Maybe I could have saved myself years I lost to terrible things because I was angry and hurting...but if I had, then I wouldn't be where I am today with the people I have today.

After this chapter, I decided to buy in. The next chapter talked about never giving up on your dreams, working hard no matter how long it takes, you know the routine about as well as I do. But she sure did get me on perception: if you work with life, really give in and go with it, then it will enable you to keep fighting for what you want because of the way you see things. If you keep seeing the answer as 'yes', then you won't give up in the face of a thousand 'no's, you'll just find a different route to 'yes'.

Rachel talked about persevering in the face of failure with such passion I could feel it as I sat reading in the dark in the library (because we're not open and I'm not turning on the lights until we are, dammit). "Your dream is worth fighting for, and while you're not in control of what life throws at you, you are in control of the fight." Yes. This. This is what I needed to hear in this very weird time in my life.

The rest of the book did nothing for me because it was pretty much a case of "if you're not a parent then this doesn't apply to you." And, I mean, I get it. She's a mom writing this predominantly for other moms, let's not kid ourselves, and I'm about as far from parenthood as I am from marriage at this moment. I appreciated the few parts of the book I could personally identify with; I think Rachel's a smart, interesting woman and, though our world views could not possibly be more different, I find myself rooting for her to go on and do all of the things because I believe she's a good person. The book didn't wow me the way it has my friends or patrons, but I did enjoy parts of it. I think I'll buy it for my friends who are working their way through parenthood, it'll probably do more for them than it did for me.

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