How To Be Alone

Lane Moore is a rare performer who is as impressive onstage – whether hosting her iconic show Tinder Live or being the enigmatic woman of It Was Romance – as she is on the page, as both a former writer for The Onion and an award-winning sex and relationships editor for Cosmopolitan. But her story has its obstacles, including being her own parent, living in her car as a teenager, and moving to New York City to pursue her dreams. Through it all, she looked to movies, TV and music as the family and support systems she never had.

From spending the holidays alone to having better “stranger luck” than with those closest to her to feeling like the last hopeless romantic on earth, Lane reveals her powerful and entertaining journey in all its candour, anxiety, and ultimate acceptance – with humour always her bolstering force and greatest gift.

How To Be Alone is a must-read for anyone whose childhood still feels unresolved, who spends more time pretending to have friends online than feeling close to anyone in real life, who tries to have genuine, deep conversations in a room full of people who would rather you not. Above all, it’s a book for anyone who desperately wants to feel less alone and a little more connected through reading her words.

20190127_150814-01[1]

This review is difficult to write because How To Be Alone, Lane Moore’s heart breaking, funny, painful and ultimately healing memoir destroyed me for a solid week. Honestly I’m still not over it.

But I knew that would happen going in. Lane Moore appeared on Hannalyze This (an amazing podcast about mental health and processing trauma that I highly recommend you check out) a few weeks back and though I hadn’t heard of her before, I knew by the end of the episode that I needed her book. You know when a book calls to you on, like, a cellular level?

Yeah.

That.

How To Be Alone is a series of essays about Lane’s life, touching on her childhood (Emergency Contact Left Blank) through leaving home (Now You Get To Be An Adult, Even Though You Were Always An Adult. Good Luck!), relationships (So Your Family Dictates Your Romantic Future? What a Fun Punishment! and All This Pain Must Be Worth It Because You’re Supposed To Be My Soul Mate) and loving Jim Halpert from The Office (Am I The Last Hopeless Romantic On Earth?). Lane describes in strikingly honest detail – and I do mean tear yourself in half, blood on the pages honesty – what life is like when your primary support system, your family, is abusive and absent. In moments funny and tear-inducing, she writes of clawing her way to survival by way of the music, TV shows and books she used to build her identity in the absence of any adult affirmation or supervision.

What I loved most about How To Be Alone is it is a memoir written by someone who is still in it, by which I mean to say still in the pain, in the recovery. I heard Lane herself say in an interview that she was sick of reading memoirs by women detailing their painful experiences of negotiating the wilderness alone that almost universally end with… ‘and then I met Jeff and now everything is fine’.

Screw Jeff.

What Lane has produced is a book for people who are still in it. It’s proof that even in the midst of the pain and the horror there are moments of lightness. That feelings of pain – overwhelming and awful and insurmountable as they so often feel – are survivable, because Lane is writing not having survived, but currently surviving.

With almost every significant female written memoir in the story of survival canon ending with the arrival of Jeff, this is no small thing.

What I also appreciated about this book was that she didn’t only write about her struggles with romance, but with platonic relationships too. It’s always bothered me the way people who ‘struggle with relationships’ on TV do so exclusively in the romantic arena – seeming to have no problem maintaining an often large and close knit group of friends. As if feelings of insecurity, feeling like you’re a burden or having boundary issues only matter when sex is involved.

If you’re someone who finds life generally pretty hard, if you had a weird childhood that you’re still struggling with or you’re going through a tough spot right now, then you should read How To Be Alone. You’re likely to find a piece of yourself in there somewhere.

I grew up in a pretty chaotic household. My mum was a single parent and we had no money. She was in an emotionally abusive relationship for a long time (12 years – so basically my entire childhood and still a very large proportion of my life so far) and that person, though I haven’t seen or spoken to him in getting on for a decade, continues to loom large in my life in ways I’ve only really come to understand in the last couple years.

My dad was a very unreliable and often absent, and when he was around, the type who’d do something shitty to you and then find a way to demonstrate that it was actually your fault that he did that thing. We’re not in contact any more.

I do not have an easy time being close with people. I am painfully socially anxious and I second guess literally every single interaction I have. For a long time I just assumed I was broken, but I’ve recently realised (on an intellectual level, anyway) that actually my natural setting of General Dread may not be one I was born with so much as one that was… installed. Healing is a long, hard process I for one have barely even begun, but books like How To Be Alone, filled with pain as they are, go a long fucking way to helping you feel whole again.

In How To Be Alone – even though Lane’s life was a lot (a lot) harder than mine has been – I saw myself reflected in a way I really never have before. There was no neat tying traumatic experiences up in a bow, but instead a slow unfolding of the exhausting process of learning to carry your extensive and heavy emotional baggage – and the hope that you might one day let it all go.

 

 

Advertisements

Author: Lydia Tewkesbury

26. Loves a good story.

8 thoughts on “How To Be Alone”

  1. I can see this is a very personal read for you, Lydia, and your review is so brave and beautiful it was honestly one of the best I’ve read from you so far. Books can have such a profound effect on us, it’s crazy. It sounds like this one will hit close to home to many readers, and that’s a marvellous thing. I don’t think I’d be able to read it, personally, as I try to read to escape from sadness, stress, or just to relax (and find happiness along the way, if possible!) so this one would completely defeat the purpose.
    I guess it’s not really that healthy to run away from strong emotions as much as I do but oh well xD I would absolutely bawl my eyes out going through this memoir, that’s for sure! Which can only mean it’s a good one. I commend you for being able to do it and for finding some peace and reassurance in it. I’m sure it wasn’t easy! But facing our demons can be one of the most freeing (if terrifying) experiences we’ll possibly ever have.
    Absolutely terrific job with this post 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! I was really nervous to post this one. I am trying to find ways to write about some of the more difficult times in my life so this review felt like a good starting point.

      Oh I totally get that! I would say 90% of my reading is to distract me from my problems. This book is certainly heavy, and Lane’s writing is so raw I don’t think it is possible to get the whole way through without crying at least once. But yeah, even though this was a hard read, it was definitely comforting to me. I have a few passages in the back of my mind that I’ve returned to in difficult moments even in the few weeks since I’ve read it.

      I followed this one up with a fluffy contemporary romance. Life is all about balance 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. No one deserves to be treated that way and I want to thank you for taking the time to even share all this with us. While the author’s experience might have been horrible, it’s still quite amazing how much you were able to take from her experience and learn things from it. This definitely sounds like an incredible and insightful read that merits every second of our time. I’ll definitely consider it if I ever have a craving for non-fiction. Phenomenal review, Lydia!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I was nervous about publishing this one but in the end I thought what the hell! I might as well.

      It is an amazing read, and if you’re ever in the mood for some seriously raw memoir it is the perfect thing. Lane Moore is so funny as well. I am endlessly impressed by the way she pivots constantly between absolutely heartbreaking expression and then cracking a joke to ease the tension. She’s amazing ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I can relate when a book calls to you in a seemingly cellular level, and then that book ends up changing your life — or, at least, is relatable in such a way that it’s hard to get over. Thank you so much for sharing your own personal experiences — that made your book review so much more vivid and beautiful, and even though I may not be able to relate as intensely to How to be Alone, I would love to read it to gain a better understanding of the reality of other people’s lives. In the end, I feel like that’s what books are for — to relate and to learn about lives that are different from your own, just to realize we’re not all that different on a human level.

    Again, thank you so much for this honest review, Lydia ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Zoie! That means a lot to me.

      I think even if you’re not reading this book because you need something to relate to there’s still something in it for you. Surviving hard times – even if they aren’t what Lane’s been through, which I would imagine is the case for most of us – is a pretty universal theme, and her strength and humour in the face of such extreme trauma is comforting and inspiring wherever you’re coming from, I think. You’re right – reading is totally about getting inside someone else’s experience of life, and in her descriptive, funny essays Lane really does invite you to feel what it feels like to be her. It’s the best xx

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wonderful review! This book sounds like it would talk to me on a cellular level- I relate to a lot of the things you said in this piece and really agree about it being frustrating in shows/movies when people only seem to struggle with the romantic side of their life, but otherwise their relationships are perfect. This sounds like such an important book and thank you for sharing your story ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! If you relate to what I said then you should definitely pick up this book! In bad days I’ve had since I’ve found myself rereading the occasional chapter – Lane is very comforting ❤

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s