Radical Love

 Radical Love: Learning to Accept Yourself and Others, by Zachary Levi

I like Zachary Levi, so when this (rather surprising) book came out, it caught my eye.  Levi writes about his long struggles with mental health and relationships, and it's a sweet and deeply felt story that I found valuable.

The short version is that Levi comes from generations of family abuse and re-enactment -- lots of people who had no idea how to love others or themselves.  They would escape their family homes, only to build new ones that were just the same.  Kid Zachary found escape in making people laugh, and threw himself into a Hollywood career, but by the age of 37, after a short disaster of a marriage, he was falling apart and had no idea how to cope.  Never having been loved as a child, he didn't know how to accept himself as a regular imperfect person.

A lot of intensive therapy later, Levi learned to build basic skills like not beating himself up at every moment.  He was also greatly helped by friends and by his faith.  So he was doing really well for a few years, starred in Shazam! and everything, and then Covid hit and he fell apart again.  In this round, he learned to also accept medication as a help to keep him on track.

Through all of this, Levi figures out that he has a lot to say about forgiveness and letting go.  That the horrible abuse that was visited on him -- or lots of other things we go through -- was not because he was at fault, but because the people who did it to him were so trapped in their own pain and patterns (what he calls 'bad programming') that they didn't know how to do anything else.  In order to heal himself, he had to accept that his parents were unable to do better, and love them anyway.  That didn't mean getting close and vulnerable so they could continue to hurt him, or giving them excuses.

Both can be true at the same time: it may not be your fault, but it's still your responsibility....if you have pain and bad programming and feelings of worthlessness inside you, that is not your fault.  But when your pain has caused you to transgress and hurt other people, accepting and dealing with the consequences of your choices is still your responsibility.  And that struggle, the difficulty of reconciling those two ideas, is to this day at the root of all of the issues I have with my father...

 I thought he had a lot of good stuff to say, and his book is worth reading.  I'm not really one to read celebrity memoirs (OK, I guess I said that about J. Michael Straczynski a little bit ago!) but this one is worth it.





  1. A memoir, for me, is often better than self-help, more believable, more true. This is how I lived, a memoir says, and this is how I managed to get better.


Post a Comment

I'd love to know what you think, so please comment!

Popular posts from this blog

The Four Ages of Poetry

A few short stories in Urdu