I spent thirty days on my blog discussing the need for and the value of chivalry between men and women. I was celebrating what healthy relationships should look like. I didn’t want to spend a lot of time on what unhealthy relationships look like simply because I think we all know that from experience. So it is with great interest, and perhaps a bit of irony, that I read Broken Pieces by Rachel Thompson.
I follow Rachel on Twitter and I think her social media advice for writers is spot on. (If you are a writer or dependent on social media for your business, you should follow her too.) This opportunity to read her work in exchange for a review came up and I took it. This book is her third and the only one that is not categorized as humor. Instead Broken Pieces is a love letter to herself as she processes the pain of her past dysfunctional relationships with men. This is non-chronological, and the short chapters read like journal entries. Rachel is vivid, expressive and honest with her own pain, the observations of what she has learned, and how she became a stronger woman. She explains how she was sexually abused as a child, how she was sexually assaulted in college and and often emotionally, physically and sexually abused by boyfriends, but she does this in a poetic, raw and artistic way. I imagine that this book was very freeing for her and I can certainly see how readers who have been through similar pain would find comfort identifying with Rachel.
My favorite parts were these:
Women have rooms inside of us men cannot fathom. It’s where we store the depths of the hurt we’ve been dealt.
He became so good at holding my body close and then pushing me away as though he was punishing me for loving him. I didn’t know when to gasp for air. And thus began my unknowing addiction.
In our tiny microcosm, where time melted as I fell deeper in in, where I became the girlfriend he wanted me to be, I should have known better. I knew that meeting a platonic friend would upset him, but I did it anyway. A small act of rebellion on my part, which earned me shards of glass on my head. But I also got back a piece of myself — my strength — through my defiance.
I blame myself. I take responsibility for allowing him to affect me. He wanted what he wanted, and I wallowed his desires to become a part of me. Being vulnerable isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes it is. The woman I am today? She would never allow something like that to happen. No way. If I saw that manipulation, intentional or not, I’d be out of there.
I am convinced that the author is a very strong woman. She makes it clear in the end that she is not a victim and despite the pain, despite the broken pieces, she will not allow her previous abuse define who she is today. The best part of this book is the sum of its parts: the honest, vulnerable confessions of a survivor, a fighter who is no longer afraid. I applaud her efforts in the writing and even though I am just getting to know her, I am very proud of the way she has come out of these events. I highly recommend this book for any woman who is struggling with abuse, is haunted by the past or who needs someone smart, articulate and strong to identify with.
A copy of this book was given to me free in exchange for an honest review.