Thursday, August 16, 2012

dear sugar

i am loving your book.

here's why:
  • radical empathy.  thank you for defining empathy on every single page and for showing that empathy is not the same as sympathy.  sugar knows it's really about being there, bearing witness, being humbled by the degree to which we can fuck things up, hearing and speaking truths. 
  • your writing is unparalleled.  your stories have the remarkable ability to become shared experiences even when the exact details were not experienced in the same manner or context.
  • i expected to raise my eyebrow at some of your advice.  i was wrong.  your keen observation of the flawed and miraculous human spirit and bold willingness to speak the truth with love are amazing.  i've worked with seasoned professionals with advanced mental health/social work degrees who get it way wrong.  you get it right real.  dead on real.
  • i've just left my career of two decades partly because the truth (and speaking it) had become softly exiled and replaced with well-intentioned-but-not-entirely-honest-positive-thinking-strengths-based-agenda-driven practice that is not truly helping very many people.  i was constantly amazed by the use of this oversimplified approach and the ability of some of my colleagues to euphemistically twist words and make the biggest pile of complex and dangerous crap all good in the course of two or three sentences.  i feel oddly validated by your relentless celebration of the transformative power of reality and truth.  the truth is not punishment.  it is a gift.
  • your approach to understanding and acceptance feels very genuine.  thank you for understanding that true emotional support is necessary and important, but that it's not the end of the helping story.  i think it's brave the way you offer up the whole possible story with alternative endings. 
  • you remind me of a friend i am lucky to know.  she always tells the truth and calls me on my shit in a safe, accepting and forward-moving way.  i know that not everyone has a friend like this and (sadly) not everyone wants a friend like this.  for those who don't have this in their lives and want it, sugar fills the role in the best possible way words printed on paper can.
  • three hundred and fifty three pages dedicated to raw honesty, love and genuine optimism.
with deepest respect,

waving not drowning