Finding Ashley is one of my best reads of 2022 so far. It had a combination of themes such as loss, finding love, healing and starting again. Today, I will be talking about the themes of starting again and healing (Let me know in the comments if you want me to do a themed series for this book).
This book is about a woman named Melissa Henderson. Melissa lost her son to a brain tumour illness, got divorced shortly after and then parted with her passion for writing. She moved to a secluded area in Massachusetts and devoted the last couple of years to this fixer-upper house she bought. It was her fresh start from all the things she lost and left behind in New York.
I don't want to spoil more than I already have, as it is worth the read, but what I got from this book is the context to starting again in life. Firstly, it is essential not to confuse running away and starting again. Merriam Webster states that running away means leaving quickly to avoid or escape something. Starting again by a Cambridge definition is to begin to do something again, sometimes differently. And according to Word Hippo, it is to resume after a brief discontinuance, to give strength to a new life in order for things to change.
Melissa's sister Hattie is a perfect example of running away in this book and avoiding problems. Hattie went through a horrible incident in her pursuit to be an actor that made her jump two feet forward into the safety of being a nun for the last 20 years of her life. She never mentioned to anyone, even her sister, what had happened to her, and she saw it as a way to not deal with what she went through. But soon, Hattie realised that she couldn't avoid her feelings. Hattie went through the phase of questioning her vows and devotions after embarking on a journey to help her sister and realised that being a nun wasn't something she had a passion for. It was a place for her to run and hide.
It is okay to want to feel safe by hiding, but the book shows that sooner or later, you have to come out of hiding because growth makes it uncomfortable to remain where you are. Hattie had come to terms with what happened and told those she trusted the most. She abandoned all that she knew and all that made her comfortable and started again. Hattie ultimately left the covenant and decided to do some charitable work with the UN in Africa.
Starting again is about change. An example of starting again can be in terms of a career change. I may feel emotionally and physically done with my last career. I find that it is not challenging me or evolving me. So I go back to school and commit myself to another path. Recognising my problems and how I felt and using that to identify a change must be made. I believe that's what Melissa did. She spent time alone, with quieter and better scenery, where she could compartmentalise and hear her thoughts without all the city noise. Directing any grief, sadness and anger to a hard day's work fixing the house, allowing her emotions to be felt practically. Melissa chose peace, and that's what starting again looks like. Peace of mind that I am on a path of redirection and realignment. Starting again should also be about healing. Eventually, Melissa opened herself to falling in love and this whole other life that she never thought possible.
Starting again is the hardest and most courageous thing anyone can do, and it is okay to do. As people, we go through things that hurt us, break us, or aren't working anymore, and we have no choice but to start again. I think beginning again is part of life and learning more about oneself. This book shows that life isn't always about staying in one place forever. It is about constantly moving and evolving until it's time to stop.