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Jackie Schuld Art Therapy Blog

A Book for Exploring Love: Communion

There are some books that find us at the right time. bell hooks’s “Communion” was that book for me.

I had just ended a very difficult romantic relationship and was currently starting a new one. I wanted to understand what was love and what love meant to me.

hooks explores “the female search for love” in her book. I appreciated her depictions of love in her childhood home, which included different experiences with her mother and father. I also experienced love in vastly different ways from my two parents. It helped me to more accurately see my past and understand its impacts on my current understanding of love.

It also helped me to grapple with what it meant to grow up with an angry father. She wrote of her father, “The one lesson he taught us about men that lasted was that men were to be feared.”

hooks also explored how many women grow up to want and feel contradictory things when it comes to love and romantic relationships. She wrote, “The longing to be the liberated, independent, sexually free woman and the desire to settle down and be domesticated.” It perfectly captured where I was at and what I was trying to navigate.

As I thumb back through the pages now, there are so many various quotes I underlined that captured something I was grappling with at the time.

She captured how many young women grow into identities where they do not trust themselves.

She noted that it was easier to create a revolution outside the home than inside.

She discussed how men use “emotional withholding as a weapon of psychological terrorism.”

In fact, as I write this essay, there is quote after quote that I love.

There are so many good points that I love - even foreshadowing. For I went straight from a poor relationship into a new one - which is seldom a wise move. The book foreshadowed difficulties I would have in my new relationship.

It’s been almost three years since that second relationship ended. I finally ended the self-torture and took a two year pause from being in a relationship with anyone.

It helped me to renegotiate my own beliefs around love. It helped to crystalize much of the deep wisdom that hooks shares in this book. It showed me I wanted and would wait for better.

It helped me to finally find a relationship where I experience love that feels good. The kind of communion I had always hoped for, but couldn’t quite achieve.

Reviewing “Communion” five years after I first read it is a new experience. I have five years worth of experiences. I see this book with new eyes.

I originally intended to review this book and then place it in my donate pile. But after seeing how much gems it has to offer, I think it is worth another read.


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