I did something this week that I haven’t done for a really long time. I read an actual book, from start to finish! I had no idea when I opened the front cover that by the end of the day I would already be half way through, and by the end of 3 days I would have finished the whole thing! And I had no idea when I started that within minutes I would be reduced to a blubbering emotional wreck. Because that is just not me!
I have never been an overly emotional person (until I became a parent). In fact, a friend of mine who has known me since I was about 15 has regularly over the years referred to me as ‘Leen the ice queen’. I’d love to tell you that it’s because I’m good at hiding my emotions, or putting on a front. But it’s not; all of my life I have felt desensitised to things which seem to provoke deep emotion in others. Yet within minutes of opening this book I was reduced to a blubbering mess. And I kind of think the book goes some way to helping me understand why I have always been this way.
Aside from finding the book almost too easy to relate to, it certainly helps that Kit De Waal’s writing is beautifully accessible. The essence of Leon is captured with ease in her writing, and she transported me to those houses, streets, and gardens.
‘My Name is Leon’ by Kit de Waal was not exactly what I expected when I bought it way back around October 2016. I got from the synopsis that it was going to be a tale about brothers and their bond, but had I have realised just how closely this book would echo my own life it would not have sat on the bookshelf waiting for me for nearly 6 months!
Within the first couple of pages I could see what was going to happen to these boys, because I have been there. I can vividly remember feeling exactly like Leon does about his baby brother. Luckily for me, our story didn’t quite pan out like Leon and Jake’s (without giving away the story too much!) and we were saved from separation.
Like Leon, we found family in a place we least expected to, and learned that blood isn’t always thicker than water. My grandparents raised my brother and I for a big chunk of our childhood. That’s my blood Nan and technical step-granddad, neither of whom had any blood ties to my brother. Yet they loved both of us in a way we have never experienced since.
It Got Me…
Reading ‘My Name is Leon’ took me back to some painful parts of my childhood, and really pulled at some heartstrings that even I didn’t realise were so fiercely ensconced within me. But more than this, it has made me so grateful for what I have. I felt like the story echoed my life so closely, and that made me feel even more positive for Leon’s future, and reminded me how lucky I have been.
Is it Just Me?
I don’t know if it was just because I could relate to the story so much, but it seems like becoming a mother has opened this well of emotion inside me which is bursting to escape at every potentially emotional turn! This is the woman who, aged 9 watched The Exorcist and laughed. The woman who, as a child regularly fell asleep with Pet Cemetery III playing in the background. The woman who has struggled to form and maintain meaningful emotional bonds all her life, even fearing that she wouldn’t love her own children.
And this is that same woman, crying reading a sodding book. Reduced to tears watching an advert, reading a blog post, or hearing a painful story.
I wonder, is it just me who has gone from cold as ice to blubbering wreck since becoming a parent?