What to Read
I want to share a list of novels from a woman whose taste in literature jives with my own. She starts her list with this introduction, “Some relationships ebb away, petering to their end. There is loneliness and ambivalence after this kind of breakup, no doubt. But there is another altogether more visceral kind – the brutal, sudden and sometimes unexpected end to love, which is experienced like a death. For this, some serious heartbreak literature is required…
Books like these – which carry us through the worst of times – become lifelong friends. They offer wisdom in the dark, a voice saying you are not alone. And they touch on larger themes of grief and the inward-looking process of rebuilding oneself. They will hold your hand through the worst of it…Top Ten Books for the Broken-hearted
Now, on to the serious stuff.
Understanding What Happened…
Betrayal, Trust and Forgiveness (2004/1992) Beth Hedya, Ph.D. Explores many forms of betrayal, considered as a rite of passage.
Broken Open: How Difficult Times Help Us Grow (2004) Elizabeth Lesser. Inspiring stories of difficulties,loss, transitions; how to hear call the of your soul.
Healing from Hidden Abuse: A Journey Through the Stages of Recovery from Psychological Abuse (2016) Shannon Thomas. A therapist’s down-to-earth focus in layman’s terms on narcissistic abuse tactics, recovery tools.
Healing through the Dark Emotions: The Wisdom of Grief, Fear and Despair (2004) Miriam Greenspan. Through her loss of her infant son, the author endured to make meaning out of suffering.
Heartbreak: Recovering from Lost Love and Mourning (2011) Ginette Paris,PhD. Examines neurobiological evidence that equates heartbreak with physical pain. She knows the territory and is a master of metaphors that will help you recognize and manage the heartache.
Journey from Abandonment to Healing (2000) Susan Anderson. A pioneering psychotherapist who raised awareness of abandonment as the trauma that it is. In her groundbreaking book, she outlines five stages of healing and offers exercises for healing.
Love & Betrayal: Broken Trust in Intimate Relationships (1994) John Amodeo, PhD. This book is perhaps the original primer in dealing with betrayal. “Focusing” is emphasized as a technique for recognizing, managing and transforming the heartache.
Psychopath Free: Recovering from Emotionally Abusive Relationships with Narcissists, Sociopaths, and Other Toxic People (2012/2015) Jackson MacKenzie. A little book with big insights, and uncannily precise descriptions of what happens to a person caught up in with an unrecognized emotionally abusive relationshipDon’t let the title put you off.
The Dark Night of the Soul: A Psychiatrist Explores the Connection Between Darkness and Spiritual Growth (2005/1992) Gerald May, M.D. Exploration of “the dark night ” as a time of deep transition, giving dimension and fullness to spiritual life. Based on John of the Cross “Dark Night of the Soul” commentary.
The Drama of the Gifted Child: The Search for the True Self (1978/2008) Alice Miller. Classic pioneering book on childhood trauma and enduring effects of repressed anger and pain.
The Wisdom of the Broken Heart: How to Turn the Pain of a Breakup into Healing, Insight and New Love (2010) Susan Piver. Thirty-three short chapters with helpful exercises for recovery from heartbreak. A mindfulness meditation orientation by warmhearted, witty meditation author and teacher.
When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times (2002) Pema Chodron. The classic handbook of warm, straightforward advice from a beloved teacher in the Tibetan meditation tradition. How to deal with life difficulties, and to use painful emotions to cultivate wisdom and compassion.
Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men (2003) Lundy Bancroft. Lundy tells it like it is in confronting the often hidden traumatizing abusive behaviors. Grows out of years of hands-on program work with abusive men.
Coping with and Healing from Trauma
Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving: A Guide and Map for Recovering from Childhood Trauma (2013) Pete Walker
Healing from Trauma: A Survivor’s Guide to Understanding Your Symptoms and Reclaiming Your Life (2008) by Jasmin Lee Cori
Healing Trauma, A Pioneering Program for Restoring the Wisdom of Your Body (2008) Peter A. Levine, PhD.
In An Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness(2010) Peter A. Levine, PhD.
Overcoming Trauma through Yoga: Reclaiming Your Body (2011) David Emerson
The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma (2015) Bessel van der Kolk, MD.
Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence—From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror (1992/2015) Judith Herman
Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness: Practices for Safe and Transformative Healing (2018) David A. Treleaven & W. Britton
Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma (1997) Peter Levine, PhD.