My Year of Living Vulnerably Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
From Rick Morton, the author of the best-selling, critically acclaimed memoir One Hundred Years of Dirt comes a dazzlingly brilliant book about love, trauma, and recovery, My Year of Living Vulnerably.
'Wonderfully readable and wide-ranging exploration of the visible and invisible touchstones of our lives...this is nourishing reading for our lonely, frightening, and fraught times. Part self-help book, part treatise on the importance of love, kindness, and forgiveness...Morton is a national treasure and we need more like him." (Books+Publishing)
In early 2019, Rick Morton, author of acclaimed, best-selling memoir One Hundred Years of Dirt, was diagnosed with complex post-traumatic stress disorder - which, as he says, is just a fancy way of saying that one of the people who should have loved him the most during childhood didn't.
So, over the course of 12 months, he went on a journey to rediscover love. To get better. Not cured, not fixed. Just, better. This is a book about his journey to betterness, his year of living vulnerably. It's a book about love. What love is, how we see it, what forms it takes, how we practice it in our lives, what it means to us, and how we really, really can't live without it, even if, like Rick for many years, we think we can.
As he says: "People think they want cars - and they do, to get to jobs and appointments in cities and regions where public transport has failed them. But what gets them into those cars, out of the house, out of bed for God's sake, is love."
"Read this investigation because it will remind you of how optimism and love work together. Read it because your heart has been broken somewhere along the line and you need to know how to mend. Read this book because Rick Morton is the bloke we all need in our life to show us it is going to be okay." (Readings)
"Wryly comic, hard-thought and deeply-felt.... It is a heartbreaking book, but a beguiling and necessary one. And a work far wiser than the modesty of its author would allow." (The Saturday Paper)
"One of the many charms of Morton's seductively clever book is the treasure trove of scientific, philosophic, and literary observations, scattered throughout its pages, like beacons.... This is a significant book, to be read, dipped into, put aside and then revisited. Morton writes with grace, enlivened by vivid imagery and spontaneous wit." (The Canberra Times)
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|Listening Length||9 hours and 28 minutes|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com.au Release Date||17 March 2021|
|Best Sellers Rank|| 11,800 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
20 in Biographies of Journalists, Editors & Publishers
24 in LGBTQ+ Biographies (Audible Books & Originals)
25 in PTSD
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Your book is full of the wonderful juice which comes from being trampled in the grape press of life. That’s maybe getting carried away, but, it is very good to encounter someone who has been there, suffered and while still suffering is able to share their wisdom, insight, intellect and good nature. To share their experience in the harsh light of day, but in a way which shows it’s beauty. There is a lot of very important stuff in this book that everyone should read. Thoroughly recommended for anyone willing to grow.
“Happiness as a goal is a rort. If you don’t believe me, stare into the eyes of one of those wellness influencers and see if the experience doesn’t immediately give you a panic attack.”
I haven’t read Aussie writer Rick Morton's first book yet, One Hundred Years of Dirt, a memoir about his childhood, which was the stuff of nightmares. Those nightmares have carried over into adulthood, but somehow, some way, he has managed to become – or seems to have become – a fully-functioning journalist and author.
His writing style is varied, sometimes conversational, with self-deprecating humour, and other times it’s deeply philosophical, with historical and literary references.
“On the outside at least, I appear to be an extremely well put together human being. This is a well-crafted ruse. It’s as if I was built by an apprentice in God’s workshop who was very good at sewing on the outfits but forgot to tend to the inside. On the inside, it’s a mess in there. I imagine my innards resemble a dropped tart. Perhaps you can see what they used to be, though dessert has been cancelled all the same.”
When he was finally diagnosed with complex PTSD, from his early trauma, a lot of things made sense. Until then (and possibly even now), people offered their own advice.
“I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve wanted to slug someone who says my at times crippling anxiety and suicidal ideation exist because I’m thinking about it all wrong. You know, just, kind of, think nicer?”
I can’t say being diagnosed made him feel any better, but it did send him down the fascinating brain research rabbit hole to find some answers. One of the therapies was flooding his brain with positivity. He was wired up and then watched a screen where pictures gradually appeared of cute animals, beautiful landscapes, and the like.
“It is as if all the motivational posters from the internet decided to hold a convention, at which I was the sole guest in attendance. They were beautiful and funny and I watched them slowly appear over half an hour, while the sensors on my earlobes and scalp sent signals back to the therapist’s computer.
. . .
‘The picture-story mode of presentation favored by the unconscious has the appeal of its simple utility. A picture can be recalled in its entirety whereas an essay cannot,’ McCarthy says.” (author Cormac McCarthy)
McCarthy has an interest in language and likens it to a virus that has infected our brains. But that’s a whole nuther rabbit hole!
The structure of the book is divided into chapters on topics which necessarily cross over into each other’s territory, since it’s hard to speak of one without including some of the others.
Touch - The Self – Forgiveness – Animals – Beauty – Masculinity – Loneliness – Kindness – Dysfunction – Doubt – Next – Beginnings
He returns frequently to the little boy he once was who was so traumatised that he grew up to be a wounded man. He learned about his condition from a reading at a writers’ festival by poet and writer Dr. Meera Atkinson from her book Traumata.
- - - - - - “‘My body is at the ready for flight. I can’t switch my nervous system off. It scans and calculates tirelessly, antennae out for threats,’ Atkinson read aloud. ‘The body remembers.’”- - - - -
Wow! This is a revelation. He knows about his anxiety and depression and memories, but this is different.
“Atkinson’s simple explanation of trauma as something that lives – it is not merely remembered, it is reanimated – described what had been happening to me for years now.
. . .
A world of bones can live in that sense of isolation, can make themselves at home in your desolation. And they rattle and rattle for the rest of your days. Sometimes they clatter so hard they knock you right out of yourself. Dissociation, doctors call it. A phrase I had not yet come across and yet had lived.”
As a journalist and traveller, he would have a hard time avoiding possible triggers.
“In my reporting job, covering social affairs from all corners, I traverse the full range of human suffering. Addiction, mental illness, entrenched intergenerational poverty, the trauma of institutions on the old and disabled. Grief. Injustice. Homelessness. The staggering hurt of hope offered and snatched away.
. . .
Trace the lines back far enough and you will find someone who should have loved them and couldn’t, which begat the perpetuation of neglect and emotional abuse down the generations. Go back far enough in any direction and the evidence is knotted together through family breakdown, abandonment and the stories of a thousand people who all wanted to be loved in one thousand specific ways, but who never were.”
Given his personal background, it must be an extra challenge to cover these stories, but he is passionate and committed and continues to champion their causes. He discusses the medical material, the psychological discoveries, the theories, the experiments and philosophy.
At the end of the book, there is an extensive list of sources relevant to each of the twelve topics. They include references to fiction, research, music, films, news articles, and whatever other media I've overlooked.
There is so much to think about that I read it in stages, letting it soak in before going further. This is current and includes the Covid 19 Pandemic and the effects of lockdowns on people who are already traumatised.
He set himself a broad task of trying to understand aand explain the connections between love and the brain and trauma, and I think he has done a mighty job of it. It’s not finished – his task, I mean – but the structure he’s established lends itself to adding thoughts and information in the form of further essays or books, which I hope he does.