I just finished our Book Club book for July – “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened” by Jenny Lawson. Awesome, amazing book. Go read it. Now.
I laughed, I cried, and I laughed until I cried. Jimmie threatened to take the book away from me more than once because I was too distracting. I think I read half of it to him.
I can’t even begin to come close reviewing the book, so I’m not even going to try. What I am going to do is tell you what struck me most about it.
I could relate to her rambling thoughts and sometimes asinine questions. And her relationship with her indulgent husband. And at times, reading Jenny’s words felt a little like being inside my own head. I totally followed the “unwelcome polar bear at a dinner party” rant (page 149). Didn’t even blink.
But in the midst of all the funny, the raunchy, the downright insane, there were a few gems.
Her description of her anxiety attacks in the “And Then I Got Stabbed in the Face by a Serial Killer” chapter touched me. Having dealt with panic attacks the last few years, I know all too well the mind-numbing terror that – no matter how irrational you know it is – just doesn’t go away. The fear, the feeling that something is horribly, inexplicably WRONG, and that there is nothing you can do. That you’re going to come apart at the seams. Your body goes out of control, and you’re convinced you’re dying. And the shame that comes with knowing you aren’t strong enough to beat it, that the only thing you can do is take a pill and hope it stops. And eventually, it does stop, but you’re left feeling raw and empty and terrified of what it means.
Then these lines hit home:
“Have you ever been homesick for someplace that doesn’t actually exist anymore? Someplace that exists only in your mind?” (page 110).
How many times have I wished for a time and place that isn’t real anymore? Or that never was in the first place? Don’t we all? Isn’t that part of what makes us cherish both the past and what we have now? There’s nothing wrong with missing what was. The only problem comes in letting it consume you, and not being able to let go and accept what is now.
I struggled with letting go of the past for a LONG time. I struggled with letting go of my own self-imposed failures, of those expectations that weren’t realistic in the first place. I berated myself because I wasn’t where I *thought* I needed to be. When I finally took a step back I realized that no, I haven’t achieved all of the things I want to. But look at what I have done.
I wanted to take off to the big city, live alone in a city full of strangers, with no job and no security. I wanted that freedom of not knowing where I was going to be one day to the next. I wanted the challenge, and I wanted the glamour that would come with telling people I left without a plan and made it. And I considered it. I really did. Some people even encouraged it.
Instead, I stayed. I took a job I’d turn out to hate, only to get fired 4 months later. Then I’d take another crap job, and then finally I’d land a job I love. The job that just may be the closest I’ll get to my dream job. I have security, but there’s freedom too. The job changes monthly (if not daily), and the work excites me. I get to travel. I get to meet strangers. I get the glamour of telling people that what I do makes a difference. I can come home to Jimmie and four fur-kids who remind me every day that I’m their world. And you know….I’m happy with that. But it took a while to get here….and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t still daydream about just packing it up and going off the grid for a while. And who knows – I’m still young. There’s time for that adventure. And nothing says I have to go alone.
But the part that struck the biggest chord of all was at the end.
“Because you are defined not by life’s imperfect moments, but by your reaction to them. Because there is joy in embracing – rather than running screaming from – the utter absurdity of life.”
I read that and just thought….Wow. Talk about fearless. Talk about creative. Talk about truth. Because what does it say about us that, as humans living in this crazy, messed-up world, we can still find ways to believe in the joy and beauty around us? That we can get up every morning and stumble through and be beaten down and embarrassed and shamed and humiliated…and yet, some of us choose to own that, to pull those moments into the very core of our being. To turn the bad around and say, “well that sucked, but look what I can do now, look what I have, look who I am.”
It says we are strong. We are beautiful. We are fearless. We are Fearless Creative.