July 18, 2010

Finding the end of suffering

As you probably know, the Silicon Valley Moms Blog closed its doors to new posts this month. I’ve joined a new blog, however, called From Left To Write, that will be continuing the SV Moms book club tradition. This month, I had the opportunity to read a memoir called “This Is Not The Story You Think It Is” by Laura Munson.

Laura’s husband, comes home one day and declares that he doesn’t love her anymore, but she’s not buying it. Laura recognizes that he is going through a crisis of self, having just gone through one herself. She understands that for him to love her he must first love himself, something that is difficult for him to do when his business is failing, money is tight, and he is feeling unfulfilled. Rather than fight him, question him, or try to persuade him to stay, she opts to cultivate her own happiness. She supports him and gives him space, knowing in her heart that he’ll come around, and even if he doesn’t, she’ll be in a good place.

I wasn’t immediately fond of this book. The style, particularly in the beginning of the book, read more like a blog than literature. The writing felt choppy. Like this. Or this. She talked a lot. To me. To herself. I found myself thinking “use a comma, woman!” But in the end the story did speak to me in a couple of ways.

Surprisingly, I found myself identifying with her husband. I didn’t excuse his behavior; he behaved, as she states, like a “twenty-year old frat boy.” But this year has been tough for me. I have felt lost and sometimes deeply unhappy. I recognize that I have not always behaved perfectly, my sadness and confusion over Moe’s diagnosis manifesting itself as dissatisfaction toward my house (too small!), myself (lose weight!), and, yes, sometimes even my husband (just do the dishes already!). I allow myself to feel discontent toward the things over which I have some level of control, rather than than the one thing I cannot change and that I will likely be dealing with for the rest of my life. That is simply too big and scary.

Laura’s primary message throughout the book is to stop allowing your happiness to depend on things outside of your control. Jeff has seemed to understand this from the beginning, but it is harder for me. Like it or not, my reality is that my son has autism. This is not going to change so I can choose to find a level of contentment with that or not. I spend a lot of time wishing things were different, wondering what Moe would be like now without autism, how he “should” be able to do this or that. This “wanting,” as Laura calls it, is what leads to suffering, and throughout this time in her life she is working toward the “end of suffering.” I like that. I like the freedom in letting go, of knowing that I don’t have to make things perfect, because they aren’t going to be.

Finding my own end of suffering is not going to be easy, especially since we cannot just let things be. We need to be fighting to help Moe every day, and that, in itself, puts suffering in my face pretty constantly. As I wrote about just a week ago, I’ve found both strength and comfort in the fellowship of suffering. It is one thing to write a book after you’ve been there and done that. But clearly the journey to happiness is one we all have to go through on our own. The knowledge that happiness comes from inside may need to be rediscovered over and over again, as we face harder and harder challenges in our lives.

Note: I was given a copy of This Is Not the Story You Think It Is by the publisher as part of my association with the From Left To Write blog. I was not otherwise paid to review or write about the book.


  1. Our situations and struggles are individual and never the same as another's. It can be hard to accept generalizations as methods for dealing with problems, but sometimes they might be helpful. Some problems have end points however, which makes them easier to handle.

  2. I hear you on the things we will be dealing with the rest of our lives. Some things are truly out of our control.

    Thanks for a great post and for being a part of the From Left to Write book club.

  3. I don't have a child with autism, but I taught children with autism for years and I feel a great deal of empathy for what you must have been through. There is a mourning of the loss of a "neurotypical" child. I will say, though, that teaching children with autism taught me to experience great joy when my students would make the smallest of gains. And now, a mother of a non-autistic child, I have a deep appreciation (and gratitude) for the things she does with ease that were so hard-won for my students (and their parents). Thank you for your post!

  4. You said it so perfectly: I found my happiness in the moment by recognizing that they can be few and far between so I better enjoy the ones that I have. Little by little, I began to see that they're a lot more frequent than I'd originally thought! We can only come to this conclusion by our own journey. How beautifully stated!

  5. Thank you for reading my book and for this discussion. It is a powerful thing to find the end of suffering. yrs. Laura.

  6. Thank you for reading my book and for this discussion. It is a powerful thing to find the end of suffering. yrs. Laura.


I love comments! Respectful disagreement always encouraged.


Related Posts with Thumbnails