Glow in the F*cking Dark

Simple Practices to Heal Your Soul, from Someone Who Learned the Hard Way




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February 28, 2023 | ISBN 9780593664025

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About the Book

The author of the runaway hit Buy Yourself the F*cking Lilies shares honest and practical lessons for healing your past and owning your future so you can radiate strength, bravery, and joy when life gets dark.

“A revealing and powerful book that lit me up from the inside out.”—GLENNON DOYLE, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Untamed

Tara Schuster thought she was on stable ground. For years, she’d worked like hell to repair the emotional wounds inflicted during what she refers to as her “mess-wreck disaster” of a childhood. She’d brought radical healing rituals and self-love into her life. On most days, she was a happy, stable adult. She even wrote a book about it!
But then she lost her job, the one on which she had staked her entire identity. Cue a panic-attack-doom-spiral that brought her harshest childhood traumas to the surface. Isolated at home during a global pandemic, she felt piercing loneliness and a lack of purpose like she had never known. Finally, after experiencing a terrifying dissociative episode while driving down the highway, she realized that enough was enough; she needed to slow down and pull over—literally. It was time for Tara to stop the hustling and to reclaim her essential, free, and loving self.

Glow in the F*cking Dark is a guide to healing your deepest wounds, getting off your “good enough” plateau, and creating the spectacular life that you most desire. Tara clawed her way out of the darkness and recovered her shine, and in this book, she shows how to

• recognize trauma reactions and choose new ways to respond
• find what’s really under your anxiety
• repair your relationship with your body
• find solace and purpose in something bigger than yourself

Full of practical, achievable baby steps that we can take today, this book is for anyone ready to liberate themselves from their emotional suffering, discover their purpose, and finally sit in the driver’s seat of their life. It’s for anyone who is tired, hurting, and feeling like their essential brightness has dimmed. It’s for people who are ready to glow, even when sh*t gets grim.
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Praise for Glow in the F*cking Dark

“Tara Schuster is a phenomenal storyteller—a woman who insisted on reclaiming her agency to shine in bleak circumstances. Glow in the F*cking Dark is a revealing and powerful book that lit me up from the inside out.”—Glennon Doyle, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Untamed, founder of Together Rising, and host of We Can Do Hard Things

“Healing takes effort—and we can’t do it alone. In Glow in the F*cking Dark, Tara Schuster guides us along as she finds her way through her own pain and offers honest, often funny, and actionable advice for taking charge of your emotional health.”—Lori Gottlieb, New York Times bestselling author of Maybe You Should Talk to Someone and co-host of the podcast Dear Therapists

“Tara Schuster has done something remarkable: She’s written a guide to facing the slings and arrows of life that’s both delightfully irreverent and disarmingly earnest. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you might just come away stronger and better.”—Adam Grant, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Think Again and host of the TED podcast WorkLife

Glow in the F*cking Dark proves that Tara Schuster is a modern-day guru for people who really hate gurus. Ruthlessly authentic and bitingly hilarious, Schuster takes us on a roller coaster of self-discovery, revealing that we are all the student and the teacher on our own paths to growth and healing.”—Melissa Urban, co-founder of Whole30 and #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Whole30 and The Book of Boundaries

“Former Comedy Central exec Schuster follows up Buy the F*cking Lilies with an upbeat plan for readers to become more confident versions of themselves. Blending witty personal anecdotes and ample doses of wisdom, Schuster urges readers to surpass their ‘good-enough plateau’ and ‘unleash [their] inner glow.’. . . Her stories are candid and funny, and her chatty tone keeps the narrative moving. Readers will be charmed by Schuster’s honesty and humor.”—Publishers Weekly
“[Tara] Schuster organizes her ideas into easy-to-follow steps (each chapter ends with a bite-sized ‘Little Thing That Helps’) and also provides funny, self-deprecating anecdotes—e.g., the time she gave herself an allergic reaction eating a self-imposed raw-beet-and-kale diet during an online meditation retreat. The author doesn’t shy away from her darkest moments, writing about her troubled relationship with her father or her struggle with suicidal thoughts, which can ‘make you feel full-body sick, like your insides are going to leap out of your skin or, sometimes, like every muscle is paralyzed. It’s an excruciating kind of agony that you want to end at all costs.’ An approachable, exuberant combination of memoir and self-help.”—Kirkus Reviews
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Glow in the F*cking Dark


If It's Hysterical, It's Historical

The first time I heard someone earnestly use the word “trauma,” I was on a date with a guy I met on the Internet. I had sneaked my way into an invite-­only celebrity dating app where I had options for potential dates like, “DJ slash Instagram influencer slash model” and “~~REDACTED te” Not only had I tricked the app into thinking I was worthy of people who listed their profession as “founder,” I had even secured my first date and found myself sitting across a wooden bistro table from a bona fide Hot Person: an actor who was professionally attractive. As someone who usually dates “interesting” to “sickly looking” people, this was a revelation. A verified, blue-checked Hot Person! A tall Australian with a tousle of strawberry blond bangs swooping over his glasses and an accent that could melt the artisanal butter right off your gluten-­free bread.

As we discussed the menu, I felt those I wanna get close to your skin butterflies. Flustered by his attractiveness, I hastily ordered the first item, a cold kale salad with dried cranberries (???). I tried to recover from my incredibly lame, not-­enough-­food order by asking for the dressing on the side and a cup of water with no ice (again: ???), as if complicating the order made it better. Nothing says romance like cold kale (that was for sure going to end up stuck in my teeth), dressing on the side, and lukewarm tap water.

As we exchanged our getting-­to-­know-­you questions (“Where are you from? Who do you hate?”), I asked him what he was currently working on. He explained that he was in between seasons of his hit biker/zombie/apocalypse TV show and was taking this hiatus to work on a documentary. “I’m looking into how tro-­mah affects every single part of our lives. You look at the root causes of war, you look at how people mistreat one another, and usually, all our issues stem from tro-­mah. Mom who has severe anxiety and gives it to her children? Tro-­mah. Dad who is abusive to his kids and was abused himself? Tro-­mah. And then there is cultural tro-­mah! The Holocaust, the political system, discrimination and oppression. We soak in that tro-­mah every day.”

Eh . . . Did I miss something here? What was “tro-­mah”? I wondered as I looked into his unreasonably blue eyes. (HOW WERE HIS EYES THAT BLUE? HOW DO SOME PEOPLE GET BORN LIKE THIS?!) It took me a minute to come out of my swoon and realize that the word “tro-­mah,” without a bewitching Australian accent, was English for “trauma.” Trauma.

Oh God. No. I felt a full-­body revulsion as if my eyes might roll so hard into the back of my skull that they would come loose and drop down my throat like errant pinballs, only to land somewhere in the pit of my stomach. We all have our shit, but do we really need to dwell on it? Is EVERYTHING really “trauma”? This feels indulgent. Just moments ago, I had been thinking about how to ask this gorgeous specimen to come over to my place for a post-­salad snuggle. Now, I just wanted to get the f*** away from him.

I wrapped up the date as quickly as possible, oddly insisting that I had an early meeting the next day (I did not—­it was Saturday), and that this, in some ways, was a work dinner (it definitely was not and framing it that way was highly problematic). I flagged down our waitress and, without waiting for the bill, reached for my credit card so that we could expedite the process. My wallet, however, had other ideas. I was so flustered that I ripped the tab off the zipper and was now unable to open it. I grasped at the brass nub, but it wouldn’t budge. I picked up a butter knife and jammed it into the track, trying to jimmy it loose. With pity in his eyes, the hot Australian looked at me, the wallet with a knife in it, and said sweetly, “I can cover your salad.”

Back home, I had two major realizations. The first was that kale salad is not dinner. If I order a kale salad without any protein for dinner, then I will be inhaling an entire frozen pizza two hours later. The second, and marginally more important, realization was that I had clearly been set off by the word “trauma.”

As is my custom when I have an intense and inexplicable reaction to something, I sat down on my aggressively floral duvet, picked up my journal with a cover illustration of the Trevi Fountain depicted in delicate detail, and let my favorite white-­and-­gold pen investigate. As I wrote, I found myself proclaiming, “I didn’t have it that bad! I have no right to trauma. Trauma is for other people who have really SUFFERED. I just had a kinda consistently bad childhood. Why is everyone so sensitive? Why does everyone have ‘issues’? AND, let’s say that some things, for me, were a little on the ‘traumatic’ scale, well f*** that! I have already done SO MUCH WORK. THERE CAN’T BE ANYTHING LEFT TO DO. IT WOULDN’T BE FAIR!!”

Wow, I thought, reading my scribbled temper tantrum. The lady doth protest too much, methinks. If the mere suggestion that trauma could play an unconscious role in people’s lives—the dude had never said anything specific about me—­forced me to skip a potential make-­out sesh with a legitimately paid-­to-­be-­handsome person, then I knew there was definitely something to unpack.

Even though I had been in therapy off and on for ten, fifteen, twenty years, there were certainly some feelings and memories that lingered that I wished didn’t exist. At some level, I understood that they affected my present life, but mostly, I ignored them, thinking that they weren’t “important” or “big” enough to be addressed. They played like a program I neglected to shut down, running in the background of my computer screen, invisible behind all of the windows and tabs I had open, but sucking down my emotional battery nonetheless. I called this cluster of bad feelings and memories “the Thing.” It was like a cloud, a sequence of hard-­to-­swallow moments from my early childhood that I had absolutely no interest in revisiting. But every now and then, they would visit me, unannounced and certainly unwelcomed. Rude.

Recently, they found me on my first “post-­pandemic” outing, when I attended a reading for a new poetry book about how love is an act of resistance in late-­stage capitalism. Or something like that. In any event, I think that’s what they were talking about because I know NOTHING about “late-­stage capitalism,” and I have to confess, I am barely interested in the topic. But the guy I was dating knew the author, and a poetry reading seemed like a pretty soft launch into the post-quarantine world.

We were on the back “patio” (converted parking lot) of a dive bar. Everyone’s outfits seemed strange, like people were deciding what fashion was for the first time and the decision was chunky sneakers, giant flood-­leg pants, and crop tops. After a pandemic, what you wear on your first outing is a statement, and I was not here for these statements. And honestly, why are crop tops a thing? How can you charge me for a full shirt when a quarter of it is missing? OH GOD, WRITING THIS MAKES ME FEEL SO OLD. To be fair, however, I have always hated crop tops, even when I was young enough to wear them. Though I did partake in the Baby-­T Movement of the 1990s, my chubby little belly spilling out from under a T-­shirt that read da brat, in giant block letters. But I digress . . .

The plastic tables and chairs had, in my estimation, been set up incorrectly—­way too close together, not socially distanced at all. The stage was wrong, too, directly adjacent to the sidewalk and street, so the author had to compete with the loud conversation of a family trying to decide if they were parking in a legal space. “Well, what does the sign read?” a man barked, totally unaware that on the other side of the wooden fence, an audience of seventy was straining to hear the poet passionately discuss “social contractions.” “I don’t know, it’s confusing, ‘No Parking Anytime,’ but two-­hour parking seven a.m. to six p.m.? What does that mean? Is it no parking or some parking?” A woman tried to decipher this Rosetta stone of municipal regulations. I had no idea what the f*** anyone was talking about, either with the parking or the post-­sovereign precepts. It did not help that the speaker was also, tragically, stationed directly next to the open-­air “kitchen” of a hot dog roller and French fry stand. Every time an order was ready, a waiter had to walk across the stage with trays of fried food. It was a shit show.

About the Author

Tara Schuster
Tara Schuster is the author of Buy Yourself the F*cking Lilies, selected by Cosmopolitan, Real Simple, Goop, Publishers Weekly, and many more as one of the year’s best books on mental health and self-care. Previously, Schuster served as vice president of talent and development at Comedy Central, where she was the executive in charge of such critically acclaimed shows as the Emmy and Peabody award-winning Key & Peele. A contributor to InStyle, The New Yorker, and Forbes, among others, Tara Schuster lives in Los Angeles. More by Tara Schuster
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