tiny beautiful thingsCheryl Strayed wrote an online advice column under the name of Dear Sugar.  The book of collected columns is the most important book on relationships and life I have read.

The questions posed by readers of The Rumpus covered deep challenges of being human, from dealing with relationship choices, almost unspeakable sexual and physical abuses, both sides of infidelity, financial challenges, frustration with career, struggles with emotional distress, struggles with jealousy and anger, the fallout of poor life decisions and much more.

Many of the questions are heartbreakingly deep and Sugar’s responses are never trite and always compassionate.  Often Sugar answers with a fearless baring of her own dark experiences and lessons learned to help provide another perspective to the person asking for help.

If the responses were Podcasts, many would need Headphone Alerts because the language is often raw and very adult, not appropriate for children.

Here is an example question:

“The Reckoning

Dear Sugar,

I am the lucky mama of one darling baby an oh, how I treasure every moment! Unfortunately—or fortunately, depending on how you look at it—the baby’s daddy does not follow suit on treasuring every moment.

Baby’s daddy lives in another state. He left while I was pregnant and did not attend our child’s birth.  Though he proclaims via emails every six weeks or so to care for his child, he does not pay child support, nor has he seen his baby since mere weeks after birth (our baby is now over one).  He has never even called to find out how his child is doing.

My question is this: Am I obligated to send pictures and keep him updated about his child since he sends somewhat pitiful emails every couple of months about himself?  I am heavily leaning towards no updates, but I would gladly take into consideration the opinion of a lovely sweat pea, such as yourself, Sugar.

I want to do what is best for my little bundle, even if what I want to do is kick the baby’s daddy in the groin with steel-toed boots screaming, “What the HELL is the matter with you, you narcissistic crazy!”

Whew. That felt good to say. Let the healing begin!

Joy & Love, dearest Sugar

Oh Mama

Dear Oh Mama,

Do you own a pair of steel-toed boots?  I do.  And I’m happy to loan them to you so you can properly kick the ass of that fool.  Your rage is justified.  Your angry astonishment over your baby’s daddy’s failure to be a true father to your beautiful baby makes all the sense in the world.

But you know what? It doesn’t matter one fig.

At least not in the face of what’s at stake for your child if you choose to let your perfectly reasonable fury guide the decisions you make when it comes to the way you conduct yourself on the subject of his or her father. ….”

Sugar’s full answer is eight pages long chock full of perspective and wisdom.


Here are some quotes that appear on the inside front cover.  In every case, the full reply is much longer and deeper than a short quotation can convey.

“We are here to build the house.”

“Nobody will protect you from your suffering.”

“The only way out of a hole is to climb out.”

“Acceptance is a small, quiet room.”

“Be brave enough to break your own heart.”

“Inhabit the beauty that lives in your beastly body and strive to see the beauty in all the other beasts.”

“Romantic love is not a competitive sport.”

“Walk without a stick into the darkest woods.”

“Trusting yourself means living out what you already know to be true.”

“Every one of us can do better than give up.”

“Forgiveness doesn’t just sit there like a pretty boy in a bar.”

“The think about rising is we have to continue upward.  The thing about going beyond is we have to keep going.”

“Let yourself be gutted. Let it open you.  Start here.”

Indeed. Start here.

— Greg Dixon





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *