Many years ago, while searching for something to read in a secondhand bookshop, I came across – Going Mad to Stay Sane – The Psychology of Self-Destructive Behaviour by Andy White – in the psychology, mythology, alternative healing and self-help section (which in this bookstore was in a small alcove separated from the rest of the shop).
It was the title which caught my eye because it described the way that I viewed myself at that time. In fact it summed up my life story. I felt as though somewhere early on along the path of living, being and growing up I had taken a wrong turn, and once I’d taken that wrong turn all my subsequent moves and choices were also wrong.
Why did I think this?
Mainly because when I compared myself to the rest of the world (I know that’s not exactly the best way to judge who one is) I always seemed to be out of sync, an outsider, in this world yet not of it, and rather than it being a cool and desirable status to be weird, different, eccentric, unique, a special little snowflake, it was a painful burden that crushed me.
Every time I tried to be ‘normal’ I only became more ‘abnormal’.
“Self-destructiveness sets in with a vengeance when life presents us with a challenge which for one reason or another we feel unable to meet. The self-destructive act, whether deliberate or not, buys time in which we secretly hope to find the ego strength to master the challenge and avoid the humiliation of a defeat.”
Andy White, Going Mad to Stay Sane
Or so it seemed to me and once you make that kind of decision about yourself (which I had long ago) you get stuck in it and everything you experience proves your version of reality to you.
Reading that book changed my life by changing my perspective. First it explained my own story to me using a mix of psychology and mythology, and, most importantly of all, I felt that the author of the book had a personal connection and life experience understanding of my story (often with other authors I read I felt as though they were too far removed from their own work, detached, superior, above it all – their lives were perfect and they were just ‘doing their job’, studying those who weren’t as healthy as them, that kind of thing).
I’d read thousands of books, tried loads of ‘healing systems’, therapies, attended workshops and lectures, etc, seeking answers to my questions and solutions to my problems, but most of them left me feeling worse about myself rather than better. They added more shame to my shame, more guilt to my guilt, more stuck in a rut to my rut, more impossible barriers to break through between me and the rest of the world.
When I started blogging about my life, I recommended Andy White’s book. Unfortunately it was out of print, hard to get, and if you did find it it cost a small fortune. People understandably got a bit miffed at me for repeatedly recommending a book which was so hard and expensive to get, and they asked me if there was an easier way to get a copy. Someone even suggested that I scan my copy and post it online – which I was tempted to do but that would be committing several copyright infringement crimes.
So I opted for tracking down the author and asking him rather brazenly if he’d reprint the book. Which he has done – and was in the process of doing it when I contacted him.
“Nevertheless growth means relinquishing the claim to be at the centre of things, to be feted with personal privilege and special dispensation against life’s vagaries. It means to see oneself “as a mortal like everybody else, harassed by difficulties; it would mean assuming responsibility … and recognising that it is up to him to outgrow his difficulties and to develop whatever potentiality he has. “
Andy White, Abundant Delicious
In our early correspondence… I sounded like a crazed fan and I suspected that Andy White was a bit worried that he’d attracted a stalker. I always sound crazy (as anyone who reads my blog posts knows), particularly when I’m excited, when my passion has been activated. But as often happens with those who get over their concerns about my mental state, my crazy talk ends up seeming not as crazy as it sounded (or something like that).
After awhile of to and fro, Andy white asked me to read the manuscript of his latest book. Now it was my turn to think that he was crazy. I was flattered by the request but also terrified that… I wouldn’t like it.
They always advise that you should never meet your heroes… I’ve found that to be good advice on most occasions, except for this one.
Long story short – I love Abundant Delicious – On Obtaining Your Heart’s Desire by Andy White.
It’s a challenging read.
If you want to obtain your heart’s desire, you need to figure out what your heart desires – what it really desires instead of what we think and tell it that it should desire. The desires of the heart are complex, often expressed in symbolic form, through myth, imagery, emotion, feeling, and passion. Sometimes it’s hidden beneath, within, and you need to take a journey inside to discover it.
To change your life you need to change your perspective and that may mean being willing to go to uncomfortable places within the psyche.
To understand yourself, your life, you need to explore your story – and your story is often interwoven with the story of others, of your ancestors, parents, society and culture.
“To go beyond the pool of light or the city walls in search of the key is a scary and exhausting business. It means leaving behind the familiar if fruitless patch of consciousness with which we’ve been identified for so long and know so well, in search of something that seems hidden to us and shrouded by darkness. Everything that previously supported and nurtured us may no longer be available or relevant, and it may seems to us as though the very ground has been removed from beneath our feet.”
Andy White, Abundant Delicious
It’s a wonderful book, rich with insight and meaning.
An opus of Andy White’s life – part of which has been spent helping others with their life.
He’s a gentle, caring, and understanding guide, guiding you through the mysteries, puzzles, and knots of your own experience.