I’ve been reading this book that is solving all my problems. Literally, every single one. Ok, not really, but wouldn’t that be fantastic if such a book existed? I have, however, been reading a super fantastic book. It’s about this woman, Anna David, who’s in a really big funk. She’s put a lot of time and energy into getting her life together but still feels like there’s areas she can’t get a grasp on. Especially in the relationship arena. While her friends are getting married and having children she’s still struggling to find love. So she’s in a bookstore scouring the Your relationships are failing and you can’t figure out why section and she comes across a book called Sex and the Single Girl written in the 60’s by a woman named Helen Gurley Brown.
The book promises to help single women get what they want, step by step. Anna is desperate for things to change in her life so she starts not only reading the book but faithfully following all of Helen’s advice. Helen Gurley Brown becomes something of a guru to her and Sex and the Single Girl her guidebook. If Helen says to redecorate, adjust her wardrobe, take stock of the men in her life, she does it. Then Anna takes it a step further and documents her experience following the advice of her new guru.
And here’s where I come in, in my own funk. Feeling like despite my own best efforts there are parts of my life I just can’t get a handle on. That’s when I’m in the library perusing the Tried and tried but still can’t get your self together? section and discovered Anna’s book titled Falling For Me.
I’m going to be honest here and tell you I thought it was just going to be another one of those touchy-feely-learn-to-love-yourself bullcrap books I’ve read before that makes me feel good for a minute but leaves me wondering how in the world to actually implement any of it. But the opposite happens. I find myself diving into a story about a woman who, although she is a well-known author living in a nice apartment in New York, is dealing with some of the same nagging insecurities and feelings of failure as me. And so, as she began to follow Helen’s advice, I start to follow hers.
I’ve spent a lot of time on internal work and I feel pretty good about the person I’m growing into. But I don’t feel like my outer life reflects it. I walk through my house and grimace. I can never seem to keep up with the dishes. My shower looks like it belongs in a guy’s dorm. I’m pretty sure I could fill an entire bottle of penicillin from the mold on the walls. Or create a new kind of cheese. I’ve spent time and money redecorating my bedroom in a beautiful rich shade of pink with Parisian decor but my floor is littered with laundry, a pile of books I’ll never actually read, a box I keep meaning to go through. My closet is shameful. I could put on a really great fashion show…for Goodwill.
It’s time to make a change. Look out Miley Cyrus, I’ve got my own wrecking ball. My new mantra becomes what would an adult do? I say it frequently when I’m not sure what to do in hopes that tapping into my more responsible side will bring about the transformation I desire. I mean, an adult would do the dishes now instead of tomorrow when they are crusted over. Right?
So I start in the kitchen, washing a massive amount of dishes and making sure everything has a home so things don’t sit out on the counter unnecessarily. I completely reorganize the living room. I tackle my bedroom, emptying drawers, throwing away mismatched socks and car accident underwear. You know, the ones you pray that if you’re ever in a serious accident and the paramedics have to cut your clothing off to assess your injuries you won’t be wearing those underwear. I clear my floor of junk, light candles that have sat collecting dust, and marvel at how lovely my room is now that I can actually see it.
Anna writes about all the shifts she makes in her life, from trying new recipes to taking up things she’s always wanted to try like rollerblading and pottery.
And so I do the same, trying a recipe for dinner I’ve never made before. It’s not extravagant but its a big step up from grilled cheese. I start looking online for guitar lessons in my area because I’ve wanted to learn for years. I even purchase some shoes. Nice ones. Brand new. A shift starts to happen, at first I don’t even notice it. But my motivation has changed. I’m not doing things so I’ll feel more grown up. Or because I’m worried that someone will think I’m a slob. I’m not trying to make myself worthy of love. I’m making changes for me, because it makes me feel good. Cleaning and organizing the house, filling it with things I find beautiful, replacing things that are ugly and worn out, is making me feel loved and cared for. Like I am worth it. I find I’m spending less time asking “What’s wrong with me?!” And instead asking “How can I do this in a way that would better suit my needs?”
As I near the end of Anna’s book I wonder if she’ll have this great epiphany about her entire life. Or end up in a relationship with the man of her dreams. That was, after all, her initial goal. Part of me hopes she doesn’t. Not because I don’t wish her the best. I’ve actually grown quite fond of her. But because I want to believe that her journey hasn’t been about becoming more attractive to someone else. And so, I am not disappointed when Anna concludes her book with this, “Now I see that I have a fully developed and realized life – one that involves taking more risks, facing more fears, and in general, treating myself like the special woman that I am, …I’m not too late or the only one still standing during a game of musical chairs. I’m just on time – for me…I’m not only exactly where I’m supposed to be but also exactly who I’m supposed to be… With Helen’s help, I’ve fallen, just a little, for myself.”
And so Anna, thank you, for helping me start my own process of falling for me.