Most of my friends will tell you that I am not really a self-help kinda gal. I read for pleasure – thus the name of this blog. I have to do a fair amount of reading-to-learn for my job, so my personal reading tends to lean towards the “lost-in-a-book” category. A nice balance of fluff and more challenging fare.
That said, there are so many memoirs out there which actually fall into the category of reading I like to do. Stacy Morrison’s book Falling Apart in One Piece ticked a whole bunch of boxes for me: well-written, engaging, takes place in NYC, heroine who was relatable and, okay, yes, it just happened to be about the deterioration of a marriage…a subject that has been much on my mind these last few months.
Morrison was, for many years, a well-regarded magazine editor (Marie Claire, Modern Bride, Redbook) in New York City. An over-achiever, her career is hitting new heights just as her thirteen year relationship (ten of them married) to Chris starts to skid. The night he announces that their marriage is over is a shock to Morrison, although she is certainly able to trace its demise once she sets herself to the task.
Falling Apart in One Piece doesn’t gloss over any of the details. The stages of grief are all there in full view: shock and denial, pain and guilt, anger and bargaining, depression and loneliness and finally, hope. Morrison is also quick to share the blame for what went wrong; she’s done the hard work and scratched beneath the surface of her own shortcomings as a partner.
Falling Apart in One Piece isn’t a finger-pointing memoir. (In fact, the book is dedicated to Morrison’s son and Chris.) Morrison honestly tries to work through what went wrong, but it takes months of soul-searching to finally get to a place of hope. The beauty of her memoir is that she doesn’t ever make it feel like all it takes is the snap of a finger or a new man to fix what has gone horribly wrong. Her heartbreak is palpable:
Somehow I came back downstairs to finish a conversation I’d never wanted to start, a conversation I had never even had the foresight to dread. I sat on the sofa next to Chris, not touching him and barely even looking at him because I was so afraid, and I cried. He talked, and I talked. I reasoned and begged and pleaded and sobbed and wailed. I tried to manipulate. I tried to convince him I would die That Very Second if he didn’t realize the total wrongness of his thoughts. I didn’t yet understand that these tactics would no longer work, that I was already out of the equation.
Morrison is left with no choice but to pick up the shattered pieces of her life and move on: she has a baby, a new job, a house in need of many repairs and suddenly, she is all alone. Her memoir is full of moments of humour, insight, sadness and, ultimately, hope.
Anyone who has been set on this path – whether or not they have chosen it themselves or had it chosen for them – will benefit from Morrison’s reflections. The end of a marriage is heart-wrenching, but as Morrison’s favourite poet, Rainer Maria Rilke says: “The point is to live everything.”