Unless you’ve been really lucky, you’ve probably been there — stuck in a jaded place where you are ready to give up on dating. You keep wondering why you can’t seem to connect with the right person or have a mutually beneficial relationship. In Sheila Paxton’s new book Getting Past Jaded: The Healing Journey of Becoming Open to Love, that’s exactly the situation in which the main character, Audra, finds herself. Audra has gone through several failed relationships, including a marriage. She’s tired of men who don’t appreciate her, tired of dating, sick of dating websites, ready to stop focusing on others, and wanting to start doing something for herself.
That something is getting a tattoo to declare her freedom and independence, but it’s a decision with surprising consequences. When Audra goes to the tattoo shop, she looks at the tattoo samples and decides to get a dragonfly tattoo. Here is where I really became hooked into the story. I’ve never understood the fascination people have with tattoos, but I began to be intrigued when Lily, the tattoo artist, tells Audra about the dragonfly tattoo: “It takes a special type of person to be able to wear the dragonfly. You must have a sense of freedom and an ability to change direction quickly. You also need to understand your values and always move toward them, no matter what happens.” Audra suddenly discovers there’s a lot more involved with getting a tattoo than she first thought, but she decides to go ahead with getting the tattoo anyway, and here is where her journey takes many surprising turns, with Lily serving as her — and the reader’s — guide along the way.
Paxton’s novella becomes a fable at this point about the changes Audra must make in her life to break down her emotional walls and get past feeling jaded. Audra comes to realize that in order to find a lasting and meaningful relationship, she needs to quit focusing on others and begin focusing on what she wants for herself. I don’t want to give away all of the story, but I will say that what I most appreciated was the emphasis Paxton places on determining what our values are. Audra’s story illustrates how we must determine those values and look at our relationships through a value lens. When Audra starts sorting out her values and reconnecting with herself, surprising things begin to happen for her. Readers will both cheer for Audra and begin to think about how they can apply what Audra learns to their own lives so they can also begin to have meaningful relationships.
Getting Past Jaded is far more than another book about dating and relationships. It’s an introspective look into what we need to change about ourselves to achieve what we most wish for. Author Sheila Paxton is upfront in the book’s introduction about how Audra’s journey is based on lessons she had to learn for herself. Paxton has been divorced twice and has felt like her own relationship picker was broken. She reveals that she moved past this jaded state when “I realized I was the common denominator in all of my relationship problems, and I needed to find out what it would take to reverse my losing streak.” Finding out led to her meeting with relationship experts, going through therapy, taking graduate programs, and becoming a certified relationship coach. Most importantly, along the way she met her current husband of twenty-five years and counting, and today, she’s the founder of Intentional Relationships and is certifying coaches in her methodology.
Paxton’s personal experiences and her playful characters and scenes in Getting Past Jaded make her points hit home, and readers will keep turning the page to find out what Audra will learn next, and they will also keep going back to reread and apply the lessons she learns to their own lives. I think readers will be surprised by how Audra’s journey ends, and yet they will not be at all disappointed. In fact, they should come away feeling empowered and ready to embrace life, love, and themselves again.