One Reason to Live: A Memoir About Surviving Trauma
One Reason to Live is a beautiful memoir about survival, hope, and learning to trust yourself again after experiencing incredible trauma and tragedy. So many of the memoirs written by older women that get pushed into popular culture tend to veer into territory gaudily lacking in self-awareness and often skirt straight into the realm of “upper-class problems” territory. Their blurbs offer promises of empowerment along with possible kernels of wisdom they themselves wish they had heard as their younger selves, which may have led their lives in more fulfilling directions sooner.
The fact that many of their more genuinely moving experiences revolve around or even stem from the autonomy given to them by their wealth can be really frustrating for readers like myself who might not be able to relate as well to the “upended everything and traveled abroad because my life was too comfortable” narrative. We all know I’m talking about Eat, Pray, Love, and while Christine Rose likens her own story to that of Gilbert’s made-for-Hollywood drama, I would argue that she gives us something wholly her own that is raw, tender, and ultimately, far more moving than anything I’ve read in the genre before.
After a traumatic brain injury dramatically alters her husband’s personality, Rose’s marriage of fifteen years, along with the life they had built together, begins to gradually deteriorate around her. Already suffering from C-PTSD due to a series of devastating sexual assaults and dealing with suicidal ideation, Rose desperately searches for a reason to keep living. After some intensely painful deep diving and a harrowing experience with Xanax, she finds it: her one reason to live. On a scrap of paper, she writes “Live in Europe”, and begins to dig herself out of the ruins her crumbled life had left her to suffocate under.
There are so many reasons I found Rose’s story to be so moving, but perhaps the most poignant one is her honesty about her struggles. She speaks frankly about assault, suicide, depression, and co-dependency; how her mental struggles affected every other aspect of her life, and how trauma can be held in the body to such an extent that it physically manifests in ways you may not expect. You would think this might be a bit of a bleak writing style, but instead of candy-coating everything her every struggle is followed by pulling herself to higher ground. Not only did she find reasons to live again, but she also created her dream life, her dream community, with little more than an oversized backpack and scrap piece of paper.
If you often find memoirs to be lacking in soul, give this one a try, you won’t be disappointed!
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