As a happily married woman I somewhat reluctantly agreed to write a review in Elephant Journal about this recently published book because I know the author and she is a wonderful human. But as I’ve been married for decades and not currently experiencing heartbreak (only the occasional agita) I figured I wouldn’t relate to it on a personal level. I imagined it to be skewed to a younger audience and a bit psychologically and emotionally, well, squishy. And the subtitle sounded kind of, well, enthusiastic.
Boy was I wrong.
Bridget Fonger has created something that transcends any age category and offers a spin on relationships that is not just refreshing, it is life changing. And although, frankly, a lot of self-help and personal development books are written by those who aren’t really writers, this woman really knows how to write. And she’s funny to boot. That’s a large part of the book’s charm. It makes it a delight to read, and re-read.
Before she launches into her definition of what it means to be a Superhero of Love, she spends nearly half the book prepping the reader by taking them through her personal story. It’s a pretty harrowing one. Her ability as a storyteller (much of the book reads like a juicy novel) makes what is some pretty powerful psychological material very palatable. She uses it to demonstrate how our psychological impediments, which she describes as saboteurs in our psyche and kryptonite in our path, prevent us from living our most emotionally healthy lives. They are the things that subtly and unconsciously influence our behavior and trip us up in our relationships.
The way she navigates some of the weightier emotional and psychological material is by shifting the reader’s focus whenever the lessons and practices might get a little uncomfortable. She does this by, again, throwing the light on her own experience, ande pretty nakedly discloses how multiple catastrophes ultimately served as her most significant teachers. And then she offers the goods: practical, wise, doable and repeatable steps that create a pathway out of suffering. The effect is that the difficult and important messages still get through, but you feel uplifted, and I dare say, a little blissful rather than raw, for having taken the emotional journey.
About becoming a Superhero, she describes five fundamental tools that she calls “Superpowers.” These are presented in multiple ways and with multiple exercises throughout the book. The effect is that these tools – lessons actually – go deep specifically because they are presented from different angles, and in different contexts. The five are:
Super Sight (think “insight”)
Super Hearing (think “listening”)
Super Humility (it has to do with gratitude and humbling ourselves)
Super Self-Love (self-explanatory but it leads to the next one)
Now, I thought that last one might be the most perplexing, but for me it turned out to be the crucial one. It it tied all the others up with a neat and beautiful bow. So, not only is each of these “powers” potent in their own right, they are offered in exactly the right order to reinforce their effect.
About that “saving the world” part of the subtitle? She’s not motivating you toward community action, at least not directly. It’s all about the crux of the book: that when we truly find ourselves, we become a conduit for love. Love becomes the prime mover for all our actions and underpins the way we act and communicate. Now, she wrote the book from a woman’s point of view and for women. But honestly, I can think of many men who would really benefit from everything offered in it.
One of my friends asked me if there was a spiritual component to this book. There is so much of a spiritual component to this book that at times (and I only cautiously say this) it felt as if it was divinely channeled. But Fonger is wise enough to recognize that some of the material – both the emotional exercises and the spiritual ones – might feel rough at first might or just might not resonate with some readers. I’m guessing that has to do with what she thinks might be their sociological or religious beliefs. But hers is a big tent. It has many rooms, some that can work for anyone, and some that can be revisited if and when the reader feels ready.
What it did for me personally is that it catapulted me out of my comfortable but disquieting left brain and planted me directly in my heart. That’s because this is a book written by a big heart. This is a book written by a very smart cookie. This is a book written – truly – by a Superhero of Love.