I received Scary Close: Dropping the Act and Finding True Intimacy by Donald Miller as a Christmas gift, and I’m extremely grateful I did, because I probably wouldn’t have read it otherwise. At first glance, it gives off a self-help book vibe, and I typically run in the other direction when I come across books like that. I’m not sure why, but the idea of being seen reading a self-help book embarrasses me. I guess I’m afraid people are going to realize I’m not perfect (*GASP*). Either way, I did read the book and I’m officially much more open to reading self-help style books in the future. However, I don’t want you to leave thinking Scary Close is a self-help book, because it’s not.
Donald Miller is a memoirist. He uses his personal experiences to uncover a larger truth in life and share it with others. For instance, when someone gives you advice, you don’t want to hear that they heard it from the friend of a friend. No, you want it straight from the horse’s mouth. That’s what Donald Miller does. He speaks to the reader like a friend, giving them the highs and lows of his past in hopes they will come away from the conversation a better person, and, truthfully, I believe he nails it.
To give you some background, I have a bit of a checkered past when it comes to relationships. I had a falling out with some of my closest friends when I was fifteen, and then went through years of mean girl-style bullying. So, romantic relationships were the only thing in my life that made any sense to me. I didn’t feel capable of holding onto my friends, but I never had any trouble getting a boyfriend. So, that’s what I did. I’d use relationships to give me the confidence I felt I was lacking. If I had a boy around to tell me I was pretty and worthwhile, I was happy. However, self-doubt and manipulation are not the building blocks to a successful relationship. So, as soon as any relationship started to get serious, I bolted. I was like an adrenaline junkie, constantly searching for the next high, the next rush. I had a string of very sweet boyfriends all through high school with countless numbers of non-official boys in between, and I’m genuinely not proud of it. I’ve been married for nearly three years now and I still think about how many people I hurt trying to make myself feel whole.
Thankfully, though, I met my husband when I was relatively young—only seventeen. For the first few months he felt like every other boyfriend. He was always around to tell me I was pretty and worthwhile and desirable, but then he started to push, to dig deeper. He challenged me to move beyond a surface level relationship, and I panicked. I dropped him the way I’d dropped countless guys before, and tried to move on quickly to the next. The problem was I started to desire the deeper relationship he’d been pushing me towards. After several months, I came crawling back. I told him everything about my past, about the rejection I’d experienced with my friends, about the string of guys I dated, and about being afraid of going deeper in fear I’d only find rejection. He understood, he even sympathized, but he didn’t take me back immediately. We spent the next few months pursuing a friendship, meeting in public places, getting coffee, and talking. We did nothing but talk for months. Then, eventually, he let me back in. I knew then, three months into being 18-years-old, that I’d found the man I was going to marry. And now, at 23, I can confidently say I’ve never had a moment of doubt.
The story Donald Miller tells in Scary Close is similar to mine, and, I suspect, similar to a lot of yours. So many people deal with intimacy issues. These can span from fearing intimacy to jumping into intimacy too quickly. Miller deals with both types and everything in between. He begins at the personal level, discussing the masks we all wear in society to be accepted (the mask of humor, intelligence, or beauty), and then progresses into friendships and, ultimately, romantic relationships.
Overall, Donald Miller masterfully examines what it takes to connect with those around us. Whether you are single and looking for a partner, or you’ve been married for thirty years, this book is worth the read. I know the advice of a 23-year-old who has only been married for three years isn’t worth much to many of you, but I know a thing or two about intimacy issues, and I wish I’d had this book to read when I was struggling.