I’ve always been obsessed with books. They are life long friends, one of the greatest treasures I’ve ever known. Old books, new books, childbirth and parenting books, Oprah’s book club books, the books assigned by my teachers at Middle Tennessee State University (particularly the women’s studies classes)… I’ve loved them all.
I did. Honestly. Even when I stopped reading.
For about 10 years, beginning with the birth of my son, I rarely actually read a book. I purchased, borrowed, collected, and inherited books. They were piled all around me. I would hold them, organize them, flip through them, and loan them to my friends. Occassionally, when I had a crisis, I would sink onto a pile before my beloved bookcase and “research” until I found something to avert said crisis. That happened the most with parenting things:
What does one do when their nursing toddler won’t stop biting?
How can I keep him from running out into the street without spanking?
Getting toddlers to sleep… what the hell?
And there were the others, the non-parental crisis:
How can I get my husband to stay when he wants to leave?
How to survive sharing my children with their father’s new wife?
What is codependency?
What to do when you’re married for the second time… and you think you’re a lesbian?
Clearly, I’ve leaned heavily on these books. And although a decade passed without me really reading them, I never could release them. Despite years of failed attempts, I wasn’t ready to stop calling myself a reader, declaring that I loved books. I wanted desperately to be the woman who read again. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.
The AD/HD diagnosis helped a great deal, at least with the books that were required reading for my classes. Eventually, I graduated with honors but still there was no reading for personal development, no expanding of my mind, enriching of my spirit… and reading for pleasure? Well, I’d almost forgotten that completely.
Honestly, I was crushed by the entire battle. My ability to concentrate, even on words I felt sincerely desperate to receive, seemed lost to me. I could hold the books but I couldn’t actually read them. I feared it was for good.
It seemed that everyone was reading the best books. My wife’s college classes offered mind-blowing texts and novels. My mom, my best girl friend, and even my daughter were all reading amazing book after amazing book. Oh, how I had to read this one! Seriously, I would love it. They promised. In fact, I could just take it for when I had time.
What in the hell happens to time? I didn’t understand it, at first anyway. Then, the pieces started to fall together. I got sick to DEATH of not having time to do the things that I love. I got sick of hearing my own voice go on and on about how I loved all of these things, including reading, but never had time to do them.
I love to do yoga but don’t have time. I love to cook healthy meals but don’t have time. I love to play games with my kids, take classes, go to movies, and write. Oh, how I love to write… but I didn’t have time.
I love to read but don’t have time.
Then, suddenly, I realized that I was full of sh*t.
(Yes, that’s a highly technical self-assessment by one very savvy life coach.)
I didn’t take time. I didn’t take the space. I didn’t create the kind of space where enough silence existed for me to actually read. I did all of the things that were loud and flashy and demanding of my time, and didn’t make time for the quiet, beautiful, sacred things. Facebook has that number in the little red box in the upper left hand corner t0 tell me what I need to do. Email dings to let me know it desires my attention. The phone rings. The children speak. The litter box stinks and the cats meow to let me know about their unmet needs.
But, what about mine. I have a need for peace. I need space, time, and silence to feed my mind, body, and spirit. Everyone knows that it comes down to this. I’m not offering something new here… except, perhaps, the thing that makes it possible for us to finally say, “No, it’s my turn.”
For me, that was hitting some sort of reading rock bottom. I grew sick of my own excuses. I couldn’t keep seeing the books, claiming to love the books, longing to be with the books. I couldn’t stand it anymore. I couldn’t stand myself anymore. It was the integrity piece. I had to either stop claiming to be that girl, or I had to go be her.
I had to release some of the people pleasing, to-do listing, mind-numbing media overwhelming junk. I had to bypass the low hanging fruit on the concentration tree of my life. I had to get the ladder and climb higher, crawl out on a great branch with a freaking book and dive in. I had to read and wallow in the truly endless possibilities that spring from my love of books.
A few years ago, I started reading again. At first, just a short one on vacation but I finished it. Then, another in the evenings before bed. I finished it. Then, another and another. In time, I’ve taken back my mind, made room for my inner life-long learner to thrive once more.
Yesterday, I read an entire book. It’s a preview copy of a wonderful book for women with AD/HD. Today, I’m starting another one. This one is an advance copy of a Feng Shui book for me to review. I can’t wait to see what kind of space and life-changing treasures it holds.
Most of all, I’m just happy to be home.