This book started out with something that’s been on my mind for months now, and I was so relieved to see someone else share the same belief:
“Bringing a child into the world without its consent seems unethical.”
While reading this book I discovered that there’s simply no subject that Broder is afraid to write about, and no shortage of readers who can relate.
So sad today? Many are. Melissa Broder is too. How and why did she get to be so sad? And should she stay sad?
She asks herself these questions over and over here, turning them into a darkly mesmerising and strangely uplifting reading experience through coruscating honesty and a total lack of self-deceit.
Favorites quotes from the essays:
Essay #1: “How to Never Be Enough.”
“An external attribution exists to make you feel shitty. It’s a handy tool, wherein you perceive anything positive that happens to you as a mistake, subjective, and/or never a result of your own goodness. Negative things, alternately, are the objective truth. And they’re always your own fault.”
“There aren’t that many ways to find comfort in this world. We must take it where we can get it, even in the darkest, most disgusting places. Nobody asks to be born. No one signs a form that says, You have my permission to make me exist. Babies are born, because parents feel that they themselves are not enough. So, parents, never condemn us for trying to fill our existential holes, when we are but the fruit of your own vain attempts to fill yours. It’s your fault we’re here to deal with the void in the first place.”
This is essay stayed on my mind for days, especially that first quote I shared. So good.
Essay #2: “Love in the Time of Chakras.”
“Staying drunk seemed like a very practical solution to me. If you could drink yourself into happiness, why would you stay sad and sober? And if you could drink yourself into ultra-happiness, why would you settle for regular happiness?”
Essay #3: “I Want to Be a Whole Person but Really Thin.”
“I am an eater who enjoys structured magic. I don’t feel courageous enough to let myself eat whatever I want, because I don’t want to face the wrath of what my mind will do to me after. I have a vested interest in keeping things under control, because when I lose my illusions of control I get very scared. The world is scary enough as it is. Just let me have this way of life. Let me continue to live under these self-imposed systems of diet ice cream, where I can have some of what I enjoy about binge eating—just without my mind destroying me after.”
“I am an eater whose mind says no.
I am an eater who knows that ultimately you are responsible for yourself, an eater who doesn’t want to take responsibility for herself other than to seek the feeling of safety.
I am an eater who is scared to be so honest here, a disordered eater.
I am a superficial woman of depth.”
This particular essay really, really hit home for me. Sometimes you just read something that connects everything in your mind. And this was it.
Essay #4: “Help Me Not Be a Human Being.”
“We’re going to spend the rest of our lives together in my head: a love story.”
“I still can’t believe that someone as hot as you has validation issues but I also know that being a very sensitive person on this planet is painful and some of us are built like sieves, or have holes where any external validation just pours right through and we never get full, and I also know it’s ultimately an inside job anyway and no amount of external validation will ever be enough (though damn it can feel good in the moment, and it sort of makes me mad at god, actually, like, okay god, you built me like this so teach me how to validate myself in a way that feels as good as when a boy does it or the Internet does it, because there is always a cost when a boy does it or when the Internet does it): a love story.”
Essay #5: “Love Like You Are Trying to Fill an Insatiable Spiritual Hole with Another Person Who Will Suffocate in There.”
“What happens to the space that two people occupied together? How can it just disappear? Why can’t it just become something else?”
This particular essay was so deeply personal and emotional, I truly felt like I went through so much in such a short time. And I loved it.
“When we think of our old lovers, and the people they are with now, we wonder what we did not have. We wonder collectively, as people, what other people have. A collective unconscious is formed, a cloud, and we laze around it and lie to each other. We tell each other we are better than one another, better than whoever he is with now. We tell it to each other, because we are well-meaning people. We tell it to each other in friendship.
Our single friends say they are going to be alone for the rest of their lives and we tell them they are crazy. We tell them they are definitely going to find someone. But how do we know? We know nothing.”
Essay #6: “Honk If There’s a Committee in Your Head Trying to Kill You.”
“The ocean gives me performance anxiety about being at peace. The moon is definitely judging me. Dogs know the truth. Babies see through me. Anything natural, anything pure: judging me.”
“There is a large part of me, the committee, that wants to see me dead. If it can’t kill me, it’ll settle for seeing me miserable. It wants me spinning out on what I lack, talking to myself. I don’t know why these forces exist in me that want me to die, I guess I’m just wired that way. But it’s cool that there is this other part of me that must really want to live. I don’t have scientific proof of its existence, and I don’t need it. I’m still alive. So I know it’s there.”
Essay #7: “I Took the Internet Addiction Quiz and I Won.”
“The Internet has given me the dopamine, attention, amplification, connection, and escape I seek. It has also distracted me, disappointed me, paralyzed me, and catalyzed a false sense of self. The Internet has enhanced my taste for isolation. It has increased my solipsism and made me even more incapable of coping with reality.”
“If people never become real, it’s harder for them to disappoint you. That’s why the Internet is good for sad people. You can be with people without having to be with people.”
Essay #8: “I Don’t Feel Bad About My Neck.”
“I feel bad about my deeper, underlying reasons for judging people with children. I judge them as a defense mechanism, because I am sad about my motivations for not having kids. I am self-centered and dysmorphic with low self-esteem. I am scared I would give birth to my own childhood self-hatred. I am scared I would give birth with my head in the oven.”
“I feel bad about my struggle, because it is nothing compared to other people’s struggles and yet it still hurts.”
Essay #12: “Hello 911, I Can’t Stop Time.”
“I don’t want to be human. I don’t want to age or die. What I want is to be impervious to all of that. And if I can’t defeat time and death, then let me at least be impervious to what other people think of me. I want to be beyond reproach. Let me at least try.”
“But it’s a lot easier to rely on a tangible fix than it is to rely on a nebulous spirit, a quiet voice, deep inside yourself. ”
Essay #13: “Google Hangout with My Higher Self.”
Higher self: it seems like u r scared of containing multitudes, tbh
Higher self: like, why does it have to be all or nothing? why r u just str8 up good or str8 up evil? what if u r a v loveable douchebag? what if u r a heavenly asshole? what if u r a destructive beautiful person?
Me: am i allowed 2 be good and evil at the same time?
Higher self: look around, bb. that’s all there is.
Essay #14: “The Terror in My Heart Says Hi.”
“I’m always scared that every feeling is going to be permanent.”
“I hope this shit has a happy ending.”
“Everyone thinks I’m going to be okay except me.”
Essay #15: “Never Getting Over the Fantasy of You Is Going Okay.”
“I think it’s important to never stop believing in magic.”
Essay #16: “Keep Your Friends Close but Your Anxiety Closer.”
“It’s probably good that I keep pushing myself to leave the house and maintain my social masks of competence, engagement, and comfort. But what if I did tell people exactly what was going on? What if I valued my own peace of mind more than what other people think of me? Would I end up jobless, friendless, and loveless? Would I vanish entirely?”
“I think it’s okay to not be grateful for your curses. I think it’s okay to just want your blessings to be blessings.”
Essay #17: “I Told You Not to Get the Knish: Thoughts on Open Marriage and Illness.”
“Does anyone really know who they are marrying? People change. We do not know if the person we commit to will be the same person in ten years. We do not know who he or she will become. Will you be the same person in ten years: in health, body, money, interests, mental health?”
The feelings in this essay were so raw and immediate, it stayed on my mind till the end.
Essay #18: “Under the Anxiety Is Sadness but Who Would Go Under There.”
“For someone with anxiety, dramatic situations are, in a way, more comfortable than the mundane. In dramatic situations the world rises to meet your anxiety. When there are no dramatic situations available, you turn the mundane into the dramatic.”
“I would say to myself, You felt like you were dying yesterday. But you didn’t die. So even though you feel like you are dying today, you probably won’t die. But intellect couldn’t refute the panic attacks.”
“It seems weird to me that here we are, alive, not knowing why we are alive, and just going about our business, sort of ignoring that fact. How are we all not looking at each other all the time just like, Yo, what the fuck?”
Ultimately, I think I completely fell in love with Melissa Broder and her writing. She’s honest, mesmerising, and completely genuine. I cannot believe it took me so long to pick this book up.