Self Help Books: Are Book About Divorce Helpful or Hurtful?

As many of you know, or might have already surmised, I am a big fan of non-fiction books.  Of course I like fiction books too (Who doesn’t want to read a book about a bunch of final girls coming together to find and knock out the worst serial killer imaginable while still having that sorority girl banter Final Girls are always so famous for?), but there is something about non fiction books that has always tickled me.  Maybe it’s that whole learning more all the time thing.  I use them in my running (Meb for Mortals and the Runners Brain) and I use them when it comes to my writing (Stephen King giving me notes?  How about yes please!).  

So obviously my first trip out really of my parents house since I moved up here that wasn’t getting Minion food and new toys was to the Barnes and Noble right next to Petsmart.

First of all, there should be a rule that says you can’t go into Barnes and Noble unsupervised while you are in between jobs.  Its dangerous to your savings and bank account even if I did NEED those magnetic sloth bookmarks.

I was really looking for something fictional to take my mind off of things and I found it but of course, I found myself wandering to find my usual sections to see if they had anything different this side of the country.  The Sports/Running section, the writing section and the self-help and psychology section where I chuckled heartily (And not so adult like) about how all the Porn was shoved into the “Anatomy of good and Evil Section.”

And then I came across it.  Oh, the dreaded divorce section.  And I was momentarily enthralled.  Like I said if someone can tell me what to do in these uncharted waters I would give them my first born…if there was a first born to give all things considering.  Picking a few of the books up I squatted onto the ground and tried to appear as small as I could since most Barnes and Nobles have taken out their chairs so that people like me cant use it as a library.

Honestly, I was a bit appalled by all of these stories.  Of the things that some of these women do like slashing their exs tires so that they cant leave or blasting things on Social Media shaming their soon to be ex-spouses.  (I might have this blog but I haven’t pushed it out yet on any social media or told anyone but my parents and my best friend what he did because really its none of their bees wax.)  There was an endless list of things that these women did and yes I know that they only put the worst kinds of stories in these books for shock value but still….I feel like everything that happened with W was really the worst possible storm save him being physically abusive.  And I wouldn’t dream of sinking to his level.  Even the Optimists Guide to Divorce was…..well lets just say there is no optimist that would want to read these stories unless they were trying to feel righteous about the way that they handled things.

Now maybe I don’t need these things because we had basically nothing (No house, no kids, even our checking accounts were separate.  We only had a joint savings and a credit card that I had to close), but I really couldn’t see these strung out, long books filled with the worst possible scenarios helping me to start a new life.  In fact, it seemed like the point was to wallow in the fact that you were getting divorced. Do you really need a book to tell you to think before you post on social media or that you shouldn’t bad mouth your ex in front of your children?  Not only that but do you want to be defined by being a divorcee?  Do I want that?!

The answer is an overwhelming hell no! in which I shut the 365 Mindful Meditations on Codependency and put it back on the shelves behind the Art of Sex so that hopefully it wouldn’t seduce some other people woman into thinking that they needed a $24.94 book to tell them they needed to get out and do something.

Wandering around to the other side of the shelves were and away from the book that taunted me with the dreaded and stereotypical Men Are From Mars, You Can Be Too! titles I was filled with dread.  Was my father right and I am being too nice about this whole thing?  Should I be hiring a lawyer and liquidating everything that we’ve bought in the past nine years even though its probably only worth 2,000 bucks tops?  Should I be more spiteful then I’m being?!

And then the real question that comes up for every single person who has ever been broken up/ cheated on for any reason reared its ugly head.  Is there something wrong with me?!  

I’ve always been one to take an emotional thing and make it logical.  There are very few things that can’t be solved and I’m of the firm belief that no matter what has happened to you, someone has had it worse and lived through it (Or hasn’t).  You are not a snowflake (Can I even use that term now that the Alt-right is using it?  Whats our new term for telling people that they aren’t really all that special?).  And no matter what, there is a solution and in a few weeks, a few months or a few years…you will feel better.  But sometimes to people that comes off as cold or as if I’m not feeling emotions.  Oh, I am.  But the way I get through problems is by solving them, not by bursting into tears or slashing tires.

But still, there is that overwhelming question that we all feel about what the hell is wrong with us?  Why does everyone have their shit together except us?  How do my friends that are the same age as me afford to dress like they didn’t find all their clothes on a target run?!  In fact, how is it that, with the way that things are going, these bookshelves filled with all of these journals haven’t just fallen on top of me?!

And then one did.  Well, it didn’t fall on my but a specific book caught my attention.  Zen as F*ck: A Journal for Practicing the Art of Not Giving a Sh*t.  Okay now Barnes and Nobles and I are speaking the same language.   Maybe I don’t not want to give a shit but I think that out of all of the books on the shelf, and the taunting ones on the other side this one made me realize something.  Something big.

I do not want this to define me.  All of these self-help divorce books, all of the positive affirmation books….even if they are being positive they are constantly drilling into your brain not to be influenced by your ex while still telling you that your entire life is about that one specific incident with your ex.  Now I’m not saying that there isn’t anything worthwhile in those books but I am saying that if I keep letting what W did determine, or even so much as influence, my self-worth, I will be defined by the fact that he screwed up my entire life and that I let him do it.

I grabbed another book off the shelf, one I had seen before and had never gotten because I was embarrassed by my love for self-help books before.  Adulting.  Not a divorce book at all but a project for me.  Something to reinvigorate my life because yes okay.  I moved back in with my parents at 31 but that just gives me the freedom to take on these projects and work on myself without the constant nagging of having to make ends meet and “Why the hell is Spectrum internet calling; we paid them twice this month already?”.

And Lord just knows along with most of my friends and family that I love me a project.  Being as close to an adult as I can be, getting my shit back together, doing my marathon training, and somehow getting an adult wardrobe and more then one pair of each kind of shoe seems to be a good place to start.

So I think that my major point/question is this.  For those of you that have been through this before, did those self-help books actually help in anyway or do you think that they hindered you?  Was it helpful for you to have a process?  Is there anything else that you wished they would talk about in more depth?  Or did it just help to feel as if you weren’t the most spiteful bitch out there?


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