So Sad Today by Melissa Broder book review

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Have I mentioned that 2016 is the year of great books? I feel very fortunate to have read so many life-changing books thus far in 2016. So Sad Today began as an anonymous twitter profile that tweeted about depression, heartbreak, anxiety, eating disorders, and more from the vantage point of an anonymous person trying to participate in a society that attempts to ignore all of the above. The profile blew up in popularity because of its relatable, cynical thoughts and its eye-opening reveals about living with depression. Then, the anonymous person revealed herself and announced that she’d be publishing a book of essays. Like the tweets, these essays are fueled by a desire to be heard and also to be ignored. To live in the dark and to be recognized as a light.

My favorite essays from this book:

Help Me Not Be a Human Being (which starts with the quotation: “My sexual preference is me”). This essay focuses on the author’s desire to fall into a love that transports her into the unknown. A romantic desire that may be impossible but which she has cultivated, at times, and projected onto partners. This notion speaks to me- I’ve written (on this very blog) about my romantic tendencies to romanticize a moment and a person until they’re unreal and so far away from who they actually are. Every poem I write comes back to this undying theme within my soul: “What I have sought in love is a reprieve from the itch of consciousness – to transcend myself and my human imperfections- but this has yet to happen.” It has yet to happen. Her and I can both recognize that. We can also identify the fact that it probably will never happen/can never happen. And yet we keep pushing for it despite. Broder goes into a laundry lists of ‘love stories,’ moments that have happened that she has transformed into much much more than they actually were, romanticizing until the death. “I’m in love with you and you don’t want anything to do with me so I think we can make this work- a love story.””Just saw two ants drown together in my bathtub and it reminded me of us: a love story.” Everything is a fucking metaphor, isn’t it? When it comes to love, everything I see represents someone from my past, what we could have had/been. “That’s not the clitoris, a love story.” “Just because you have beautiful eyes doesn’t mean you’re deep: a love story.” (looking at you, JF). “Let’s pretend you are capable of being who I need you to be: a love story.” “I think it’s time for you to drop back into my life, ruin it, then disappear again: a love story.” “We’re going to spend the rest of our lives together in my head: a love story.” “I guess you aren’t going to rescue me from my life: a love story.” The love stories, they’re everywhere. It helps, though, to make fun of ourselves. To find the humor in this obsessive, romantic habit.

Love Like You Are Trying to Fill an Insatiable Spiritual Hole with Another Person Who Will Suffocate in There: this is my absolute favorite essay in the entire book (and maybe one of my favorite personal essays I’ve ever read). It tells the story of the author and an especially intimate partner that she had. She fell accidentally in love with this man and could not find herself afterwards. It was the love of a century and the heartbreak of the universe (I’ve had mine, too). She begins: “I tell myself I know nothing about love so I can recover. I am recovering from a fantasy that I projected on a young man’s body. He provided music and language and fingers and a face that moaned into my pussy. I am never going to recover from being that alive.” That last sentence. How often I’ve thought of my own loves in this way: how alive I was with them. How impossible it will be to find the liveliness again. She thought of this man only as a stranger to sext, a person in the void of humankind that understood, even if only a little bit, what it meant to be lonely. “I think we were both looking for light, maybe a fake one, maybe a real one.” Suddenly the recognition that he GETS it hits her and she’s intoxicated with love. “I remember eating an apple and talking to him about being alive. I don’t remember what we decided being alive was or even if we attempted to make a consensus. Maybe we didn’t even talk. He looked very alive. I felt it.” After trying (and failing) to play it cool and keep things as they were, she decides to tell him that she sees him as more. And he agrees, in a way, noting the way they could’ve been together in a different lifetime (to which she wonders why not this one?) “The fantasy was inherently sustainable as a fantasy. It could stay a fantasy forever, if we wanted.” She didn’t want that, she realized. And because he understood her, because they felt alive together… this meant that he would want the same thing as her, right? How could he not? How could they experience these moments together and not have the same brain, the same soul? I’ve asked these questions so much my journal is tired of hearing them. But he doesn’t think the same. He thinks maybe half the same. “That was as far as he could meet me. It was a beautiful place to meet me, but it wasn’t the impossible, which is what I needed.” “I sat with this for a moment. I pretended that what he was saying was not what he was saying or that what he was saying was okay with me. I wanted it to be okay.” Me too. I have stayed in bed with someone, nodding my head, ignoring my own tears falling down my face, because I wanted it to be okay. Because I wanted more moments. Because those words were just words and the way he looked at me was more truthful…. Because he wouldn’t SAY he was meeting me in the same place, that he felt the same, but he DID. And that’s never the truth. He means what he says. “we did so good. Good love. Another lifetime?” After it ends she ruminates: “What happens to the space that two people occupied together? How can it just disappear?” The transition from lovers back to strangers always mystifies me. The way that love can simply evaporate without anyone asking why (except me. I always scream why). “What I maybe miss most is being able to lapse into spaceland and fantasize about the sex with him. But it is no longer safe for me to do that. The fantasy is no longer safe. It’s a death valley. Reality killed it. I also miss the many months of uncertainty of not knowing whether we could be. The nebulousness. Now I know we could not. I want to text him and say: hi. I want him to text back: hi. I want to say: was I real to you? Could I have been real to you? Why wasn’t I? When are you coming back to me in the way I want you? But he cannot answer me. My longing is not for him but for the stars. No, my longing is for him. Why is my version of him not real? We got to be magic together. But is magic even real? I want what is unreal to rescue me from the world. I want to be a shadow of myself dancing in a hotel room with his shadow. I want to be free. I see him now in a dream and he has fallen for someone else. He comes to me in the dream and tells me he is to be married. I ask him what I didn’t have. Perhaps it is that I am of the stars and he is of the earth. Who is this woman who has his whole being now? Does she have his whole being? Do I still live there at all? I want to vomit up the whole thing and say But it was love.” WOW. How often I’ve wanted to scream BUT WE FELL IN LOVE to him in the hallway when we avoid eye contact. To point to each day in my planner and say REMEMBER THIS? IT WAS REAL, I want to scream to him and to myself. Why isn’t it anymore? “But love, lust, infatuation- for a few moments, I was not sad.” All we ever really have are the few moments. And we can know this deep within our core self and we’ll still fall hard. We’ll still break hard when we get nothing more but a few happy moments.

Never Getting Over The Fantasy of You is Going Okay: This essay provides a detailed list of things to do/not do when heartbreak occurs. I needed this list at this point in my life. It’s like Broder witnessed my habits and shook her head. “1. Conducting research by checking the person’s FB, twitter, and instagram every second, all the while feeling proud that at least you aren’t ‘liking’ all their shit anymore: What are you doing? Close all the tabs right now. Once you abstain from checking their social media, you will enter a short period of withdrawal. You’re eliminating what may feel like your last connection to them.” “Having sex with them ‘one last time’: there is no last time.” Made that mistake already. Not again. “Trying to stay friends: you have enough friends.”

My other favorites include One Text is Too Many and A Thousand Are Never Enough: “it is very easy to tell me you love me when it is over and you are thousands of miles away. Could you love me at your front door? I don’t think you could.” “It was the least satisfying ending ever. Now I want to contact him and be like just one more thing! I want to give it the perfect ending. But there will never be a perfect ending. The perfect ending is a romantic ending and thus is not an ending. The perfect ending will only feed the compulsion. But now I am sick again. I have holes in my brain where I want to hide from life. The holes are filled with voices that tell me he and I were nirvana, over and over. The voices seem like truth to me, because I am an addict. I don’t know if I will ever fill the holes. But I am trying really hard not to enter them again.” !! I try to perfectly end every romantic, fleeting person in my life. And it never works. It always leads to things happening again and again until we hate each other. I need to paste this above my bed, too large to ignore. And Google Hangout With My Higher Self, in which Broder chats with her high self about the meaning of life and death: “Higher self: it seems like you are afraid of containing multitudes. Like, why does it have to be all or nothing? why ru just str8 up good or str8 up evil? what if u r a lovable douchebag? what if u r a heavenly asshole? what if u r a destructive beautiful person? Me: idk. am I allowed to be good and evil at the same time? Higher self: look around, bb. that’s all there is.” This essay shows that there are moments of clarity and of self-love and realization of self worth amidst depression. I love these moments. I cling to them.

Ultimately, So Sad Today is a book that discusses how alone one person can feel in the ocean of human contact and social media. It explores depression and self-love at the same time, and explores what love does and what it’s worth even if and when it ends. It is a book I desperately needed and a book I will vehemently and obsessively shove onto anyone in my future.

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