I was glued to my phone for two days just reading this book. It had been a while since I read anything and coming back to something so engrossing reminded me why I love to read so much. In A Beautiful, Terrible Thing, Jen Waite shares her personal experience of finding and investing several years into a perfect, loving relationship and its demise at the hands of a husband who turns out to be a very unfaithful “sociopath”. The book follows two timelines, alternating between the good and bad phases, distinguished by the day she reads one incriminating email. And that too when she was recovering from labour and learning to care for their three-week old daughter! She goes on to find out that her husband continuously had affairs throughout the duration of their relationship.
A Beautiful, Terrible Thing looks at how a fairy tale can become a nightmare and what happens when “it could never happen to me” actually does.
From this point on, both looking back and forward is incredibly difficult. Why couldn’t I see the signs? Is it my fault that I wasn’t enough? What has been happening all these years behind my back? Understandably, Jen wants to find out more because moving on without any solid proof but too many lies and suspicions is hard. On the other hand, getting the evidence doesn’t make it much easier to move forward. It just raised more questions, even fear. How do I trust anything? Where do I now take the life that I was building along with this person? How will I be a good parent alone? How long am I going to depend on others to get me through this? When does the day come that this gets easier and how do I get there? It was a sad moment in the book for me when she says that she was so overwhelmed by her situation that she could not see her daughter for the wonderful blessing that she was.
…so completely destroyed that I am left clinging to texts that switch between outright cruel and sappy and lovey. Sometimes they come in literally one right after another. I went from trusting and loving this person, from feeling adored and protected, to licking bitter morsels that he is throwing at me off the ground whenever he senses that I am starting to break free. Now I understand why sociopaths are dubbed “human heroin”. I have been shooting pure, unadulterated psychopathic love into my bloodstream for five years. I am coming down from a drug I didn’t even know I was on, and the withdrawal has knocked me on my ****ing ass.
But with the support of her family, love and aspirations for her baby, and a determination to feel better, Jen pushes through.
I was discussing this book with a friend and she asked me what was the turning point to start recovery. Among one bad day after another, where does that one good moment come from? The question compelled me to go back and reread that particular section of the book. Jen wakes up one morning and notices that her feelings of despair or anger aren’t as strong. She runs with it and lets herself enjoy the day but afterwards she crashes right back down. She learns that it isn’t a battle that goes uphill only but when it does, you let it carry you upwards readily. You plan ahead and eventually the experience can transform you into something better and stronger. I think, eventually dwelling on the past gets tiring; while it is never completely forgotten, it can be pushed to the side of the mind to make room for living in the present and planning for the future.
During her recovery process, Jen finds a therapist who is the right fit for her experience, mindset, and needs. She reaches out to people with similar experiences. Most importantly, I think she really wants to get back up. She sees that one setback or decision in life has not written her whole future and she has a lot more to do and live for. Still, there are many days of upset and being barely functional. The point is to go from just feeling awful and hopeless all the time to having fewer and fewer moments with those feelings.
The book ends on a positive and empowering note as Jen decides to become a therapist for others who have to overcome similar experiences.
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