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Radical Love: Learning to Accept Yourself and Others



Radical Love: Learning to Accept Yourself and Others PDF

Author: Zachary Levi

Publisher: Harper Horizon

Genres:

Publish Date: June 28, 2022

ISBN-10: 0785236759

Pages: 224

File Type: Epub

Language: English

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Book Preface

The book you have in your hand was supposed to have been in your hand a year ago. It was written. All but finished. Just a few final tweaks and I was ready to hit send. It was, I hoped, a powerful and compelling tale of my mental health journey from the depths of despair and depression to recovery, culminating in my greatest—or, at the very least, best-known—professional achievement: being cast in the title role of the movie Shazam!

At that point, the subtitle of the book was going to be “From Suicide to Superhero.” Because that was my story. I had reached the point where I didn’t want to go on living, and then a month later I was back to work with a new lease on life. I’d been to hell and back and come through, more or less, in one piece. I wasn’t magically “cured”; I still had issues to work on and I was working on them. But I had an uplifting tale to tell about hope, perseverance, acceptance, and, above all, radical love. Wanting to share my experience to help others, I started doing interviews with various podcasts and publications, and a very kind editor at HarperCollins reached out to inquire if I’d be interested in putting my thoughts and experiences down in a book.

I’d never once imagined my life story being important enough to take up a whole book that other human beings would pay actual money for. Still, given how vital and important it is for our society to address the subject of mental health, I felt that if I could use my story and whatever platform I’ve been given to help anyone out there who’s struggling, it would be a worthwhile thing to do. I think vulnerability is important. I think it’s a superpower. It feels awkward and scary to be open and real with people, but it has only ever brought positive things into my life. Plus, I genuinely feel it’s a part of my responsibility to talk about the struggles I’ve had. Maybe I can write something informative and illuminating, I thought, and hopefully even a little entertaining as well. So I sat down and poured my heart out and wrote the book. It was pretty much ready to go and the sequel to Shazam! was just about ready to film, and then: Boom.

The whole world shut down.

Then it exploded.

In the spring and summer of 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic hit and sociopolitical unrest exploded nationwide in the wake of the killing of George Floyd. My work and my life ground to a halt, and my mental health cratered along with them. The relative stability and peace of mind I’d fought so hard to build proved to be far more fragile than I’d allowed myself to believe.

The manuscript for this book sat and sat on my desk, waiting for my final edits. I was so crippled by anxiety and depression I couldn’t even bring myself to look at it. And besides, did anyone out there want to read “From Suicide to Superhero and Back to Suicide Again”? I didn’t imagine they would. I picked up the phone, called my editor, and explained where I was and how I didn’t think I could make my deadline.

“But that’s not even the biggest problem,” I said.

“What is it?” he asked.

“The ending,” I replied. “It doesn’t work anymore. Because I didn’t come through it, and I’m definitely not okay.”

So the book went on hold along with the rest of my life, a rough year went by, and now here I am back at the keyboard, typing again. Not merely because I’m in a better place, though I feel that I am, but because that rough year brought me to a place where I finally understood the ending. I came to the very, very, very hard realization that my mental health journey doesn’t have an ending. I’m not “fixed.” I may never be “fixed.” But it’s okay that I’m not. I may never be able to repair all of my brokenness, but I can love myself in spite of my brokenness. I understand that now. So even though my journey hasn’t come to an end, I have come to the end of the story I want to share with you.

Which leaves us only one question: Where to begin?

Honestly, we could pick any number of points. We could start with me throwing myself onto a community theater stage to get the love and approval of strangers that I never got at home. We could start with my Grandma Pat chasing my naked mom out of the house with a butcher knife. Given what we know about how generational trauma works, we could start in Civil War–era Missouri with my maternal great-great-great grandfather’s drinking problem. Or maybe try my dad’s side in Colonial New England and start with my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandmother being put on trial for witchcraft. That could be fun. But I don’t know that we need to go back that far. This story, the one I want to tell here, starts out the same way a lot of stories do nowadays.

It starts with a ping.

CONTENTS


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