I learned very early on in life that you need to create a toolbox filled with your personal coping mechanisms, the things that help you survive through the hardest days and the biggest challenges.
As a child, my first shelter from the big, scary world was books.
During the first ten years of my life I was a sad, lonely, only child. My parents divorced when I was a toddler, and I was shuffled back and forth between two completely opposite homes. I became two different daughters. I acted one way around my open-minded, free-spirited mother in laid-back Santa Fe, New Mexico and another around my intimidating, career-driven father in cosmopolitan Denver, Colorado. I was what you might call a poor little rich girl.
During the school year, I lived with my artist and elementary school teacher mother, who wore thrift-store fashions and drove a beat-up station wagon covered in liberal bumper stickers. We lived in an artist commune; shopped at an organic co-op; and frequented yoga ashrams, art festivals, and spiritual seminars. While I was free to be myself, I was often the adult and my mother was the child, as she suffered from the effects of divorce, loneliness, fear and bipolarism.
Thanks to my wealthy father, I also wore brand-name clothes, attended elite private school summer camps, and took vacations to Europe and the Caribbean. But my father wasn’t a regular presence in my life. I only saw him during holidays and summers, and even then, I spent most of my time with the hired help. My father was a virtual stranger and was mostly neglectful, often critical, and always distant. The few times we were together, my father would simply read the Wall Street Journal, or we would awkwardly talk about “the weather.”
Growing up, I was an anomaly: the shy, nerdy tomboy with a bohemian mom and a millionaire dad, and my classmates didn’t know what to make of me or what to believe. I hardly knew what to think of myself. I was desperate to fit in and find my place in life.
I survived these feelings of being a lonely, misfit by finding comfort in books. As a toddler, I loved the “Little Bear” series by Else Minarik. I was enchanted by mother bear’s stories of her little bear and saw myself in the pages. I still remember numerous lines of Shel Silverstein’s whimsical poetry. The very first series of books I remember liking as a child were about a little witch with a cat named Gink called “Dorrie the Witch.” By the end of grade school, I walked to the Santa Fe Public Library every weekend to check out another edition of Nancy Drew. I read every book by Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume and Roald Dahl and was mesmerized by The Twenty-One Balloons. As an adult, I fell in love with magical realism, such as the works of Isabel Allende and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
Now as I write my first memoir, I am greatly inspired by Trevor Noah’s “Born a Crime,” which showed the power of a good memoir to be relatable regardless of sex, race or class. Though on the surface I have nothing in common with a Southern African, male, comedian, I could relate to his pain from not feeling like he belonged anywhere.
With books, you can escape to another world or place in time and imagine yourself as an entirely different person (one who is much braver and is fighting much bigger battles than your own).
Link to inspiring books: >https://www.inc.com/christina-desmarais/25-of-the-most-inspiring-books-everyone-should-read.html