I love books. I learned to read before I hit kindergarten and have been in love with the written word ever since. My mom had a rule that I could only check ten books out of the library at a time when I was a kid. (She had five reading kids to contend with, so ten books each was still quite a haul.) Going to the library and getting that stack of books sent excitement buzzing through me. Today, many years later, I still love the thrill of cracking a book for the first time and entering the world created by the author.
I want to share my book love with you by recommending some of my favorite reads in the hope that you will dive in and be changed by these books as much as I have. Every few weeks, you will see a Book Love post introducing you to a book or two that I believe will support you on your healing journey.
Today, I want to share two books that I think are a perfect pairing and that reflect my core beliefs about being human, how change happens, and where our greatest strengths lie.
The first book is Viktor E. Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning. This book was first published in 1946, but it is as relevant today as it was when it was written. Viktor Frankl was an Austrian neurologist and psychologist. He lived during the time when Freud’s thinking (also an Austrian neurologist) was preeminent, and his early thinking was shaped by Freud and Alfred Adler (an Austrian medical doctor and psychotherapist.) However, he soon diverged from Freud and Adler and created his own model of therapy called logotherapy. While Freud believed that humans are motivated by a quest for pleasure and Adler believed humans are motivated by a quest for power, Frankl asserted that humans are motivated by a quest for meaning (this argument got him kicked out of Adler’s professional circle, so apparently ‘cancel culture’ is not new).
As Frankl’s thinking about this new approach to understanding what drives us as human beings was developing, Frankl, who was Jewish, was deported to Auschwitz, one of the most infamous Nazi concentration camps. He survived Auschwitz, and upon his release he wrote Man’s Search for Meaning.
This is a book you will likely read and then re-read over the years. Frankl shows us, through his story of survival, that the greatest freedom we have as human beings is our freedom to choose how we respond to the situations that life is handing us. Circumstances beyond our control happen to us all day long – from the mundane (being stuck in traffic) to the life-altering (being cheated on). Our freedom as humans is based on the understanding that we and we alone have the power to choose how we will respond to the situations and circumstances that we encounter as we travel through our lives.
The second book I want to share with you is The Choice: Embrace the Possible by Dr. Edith Eva Eger. Dr. Eger, known as Edie to friends and family, also survived Auschwitz. She grew up in Hungary and was deported to Auschwitz with her family when she was 16 years old. In The Choice, Eger tells her own story and weaves in the stories of her psychotherapy clients. She tells about years spent trying to deny what had happened to her, tucking the horror away and never mentioning it to her friends or children while regularly suffering all the symptoms of post-traumatic stress. Eventually, Eger finds her way to healing. Along the way, she becomes both friends and colleagues with Viktor Frankl. She shares his beliefs about the power of choice to free us as humans and to create meaningful lives for ourselves even after experiencing disastrous trauma.
I want to share these two books with you for our inaugural Book Love post because I too believe that our greatest power as humans lies in our ability to choose how we will respond to the circumstances of our lives.
Everything we do at PartnerHope is rooted in this principle. My goal, whether I am writing blog posts, working with you on a coaching call in the Braving Hope™ program, or talking to you through a video in the Hope After Betrayal Facebook group, is to help you grasp that your personal power in the aftermath of betrayal lies in your ability and willingness to take responsibility for the choices you make.
Sexual betrayal is a life-altering relational trauma that has happened to you. You did not get to choose about this. It was outside of your control. However, how you respond now is up to you. The choices you make going forward will shape your life and your future. Owning that these choices are yours and deciding to make the best choices you can and to stretch yourself and open yourself to learning from the challenge that you are facing is the route to a richer, more meaningful, and healthier life.