Unwifeable by Mandy Stadtmiller
Trigger warnings for this book: Sexual assault, eating disorders, substance abuse
I am struggling to find words to give the appropriate amount of weight to a book this heavy, and this important.
Very raw, very real- plenty of cringing moments for the both the author and the reader. I couldn’t get enough of it, and I really want to recommend it for my readers.
Stadtmiller got her start in New York City, having moved away from Chicago after a grueling divorce from her husband. She climbed her way up the New York social scene through writing (first for The New York Post , then later, xoJane) and various forms of comedic performance (the book focuses on her time in stand-up, but hints at her podcast). We witness her road to recovery from various addictions, all the while navigating complicated and abusive relationships, both with others and herself.
What makes her “unwifeable,” and how does she define it?
To admit to a big reading audience how scared you are to be unloved, and how you used to openly seek attention from others in less-than-savory ways, is its own form of radical bravery (and “radical honesty,” as she references in the book). There are some very private, vulnerable (and to me, quite scary) moments and emotions in this book. The confessional nature felt very freeing in moments when I could identify with some of the passages from my own experiences. It was as if to say “hey, I f***ed up, and I’ve been hurt…but you’re going to make it, too” (otherwise why would she right the book, yeah?).
I think many of us struggle with feeling as though we are “not enough.” For Stadtmiller, this manifested as an addiction to sex and alcohol. For the rest of us, we might be addicted to over-committing ourselves at work. We might be people-pleasers to the point of sickness. Some become inauthentic and put on a “show” for others to get attention, rather than risk the fear of rejection for just being ourselves.
Not an easy read content-wise, but well worth it. I never tire of tell-all memoirs of this nature, because everyone has a life story to bring to the conversation.
The biggest takeaway for me was the resilience fostered through her affirming and positive relationships- romantic and not. The people who stood by her while others tried to take advantage of her position, and encourage the idea that she needed to wear a mask.
May we all be a little more mindful of (and grateful for) the people who stood by us through tough times, and encouraged us to be our most authentic selves.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Booksparks at no cost, but was not otherwise compensated.
- This book is also part of the #SRC2018 campaign with BookSparks! Follow along on Instagram.
- The author’s Twitter account and Instagram account.
- A recent, thought provoking article by the author on the term “wifey.” (Washington Post)