2019 Reading Challenge

2019 Reading Challenge
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Book Review: From Straight-laced to Cross-dressed by Douglas Baign

I am always amazed by the honesty of memoirs, particularly memoirs about one’s time in therapy. Therapy is an intensely personal journey, painful and difficult and revelatory (generally not in good ways). It requires one to bare their soul and self and to look demons in the eye and tell them, outright, to go away. Transcribing that journey cannot be an easy one, nor can the decision to do so. But I do imagine it can be a freeing one, and I certainly hope that is how today’s author found the experience…

In his memoir about decades spent in therapy in an attempt to discover the underlying issues causing his obsession with suicide, Douglas Baign explores every aspect of his life from his ultra-fundamentalist Christian upbringing to his familial and romantic relationships throughout his life to his questioning of every belief he ever held. He does so in a very detailed explication of his various therapy sessions, as well as a life-long series of letters. The issues he explores are complex, as is his consideration of them and their impact on him.

This is not an easy read – as one would expect, the reasons he enters therapy are painful and gut-wrenching, and the realizations he comes to throughout the course of his treatment involve horrifying truths that carry trigger warnings. It’s a long, painful, emotional journey through the dark, and I often found myself, like Baign, feeling like I was wandering through a morass with no end in sight.

Baign offers up his life in a fashion as honest, compelling and no-holds-barred as any I’ve read. I was incredibly impressed with his honesty and willingness to share his story so that others can take strength from what he went through. This is a tough read but Baign’s voice is so open and engaging that once I started I simply couldn’t stop until I had read all that he had to say. It is unforgivable, what some people do to others – particularly dependent, reliant, innocent children. Baign tells his story in an unflinching voice. He lived it; the very least those of us who have been lucky enough to live lives free from such pain and darkness can do is witness it, so that the secrets can no longer hide in the dark. Monsters are best slain in the light of day; that’s where their powers are weakest, after all…

I hope that Baign’s book reaches those who most need to read it. It’s a dark and painful story, but ultimately there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Even if it seems dim and far-off it is still there – and that is what those wandering in the dark need to reach for…

My review copy was provided by the author.

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