6 things we have learned from Michelle Obama's new book ‘Becoming’

Sarah Harvard

Michelle Obama has dropped quite a few bombshells in the days leading up to the release of her memoir, Becoming,which is released today.

The former first lady has not been afraid to hold anything back. In her recent press interviews, Ms Obama took a job at President Donald Trump, revealed marital struggles with her husband Barack, and some of the obstacles she faced in her private life while she was invariably in the public eye.

Here are six takeaways from her memoir:

She did not think Mr Obama could win the presidency.

Although the Chicago native gave Mr Obama her blessing, she was still worried about the racial tension in the country. In Becoming, she revealed that she was “harbouring a painful thought: Barack was a black man in America, after all. I didn’t really think he could win.”

In an interview with “Good Morning America,” Ms Obama explained that she was simply doing “what a lot of black folks were doing: We were afraid to hope, because it’s hard to think that the country oppressed you could one day be led by you.”

In the book, the former first lady wrote about the criticism—sometimes racially motivated—she faced throughout Mr Obama’s campaign. She was accused of not loving her own country, and headlines like “Her Looks: Regal or Intimidating” became the norm. “I am telling you, this stuff hurt,” Ms Obama wrote. “I sometimes blamed Barack’s campaign for the position I was in.”

She had a miscarriage, and then conceived Sasha and Malia through in vitro fertilization.

About 20 years ago, after the Obamas were attempting to have a baby for quite some time, they were able to get a positive pregnancy result. That, however, ended up as a miscarriage that left Ms Obama feeling devastated.

“A miscarriage is lonely, painful, and demoralising almost on a cellular level,” she wrote. “When you have one, you will likely mistake it for a personal failure, which it is not. Or a tragedy, which, regardless of how utterly devastating it feels in the moment, it also is not. What nobody tells you is that miscarriage happens all the time, to more women than you’d ever guess, given the relative silence around it.”

She later reveals that she was able to conceive their two daughters, Sasha and Malia, through in vitro fertilisation.

The Obamas went through couples counselling.

A few moments after the birth of their two daughters, the Obamas sought out couples therapy. The reasons are similar to most married couples: They did not get to see each other enough. Mr Obama had a rising political career, and that required a lot of hard work and time.

At first, the Hawaiian-born politician was reluctant to speak about their issues in front of a stranger. But Ms Obama explained to him couples therapy was born out of necessity, to aid her in exploring her own “sense of happiness.”

The couples therapy sessions helped the former first lady explain to her husband that, whenever he was traveling or away, she felt “vulnerable all the time.”

“I feel vulnerable all the time,” Ms Obama wrote. “And I had to learn how to express that to my husband, to tap into those parts of me that missed him — and the sadness that came from that — so that he could understand. He didn’t understand distance in the same way. You know, he grew up without his mother in his life for most of his years, and he knew his mother loved him dearly, right? I always thought love was up close. Love is the dinner table, love is consistency, it is presence. So I had to share my vulnerability and also learn to love differently. It was an important part of my journey of becoming. Understanding how to become us.”

The Sandy Hook shooting was one of Mr Obama’s difficult times as president.

Although Ms Obama rarely ever got to see her husband while he was working, she wrote about the only time he requested her presence during the work day within his two presidential terms. It was in December 2012, after news broke out that a gunman walked into an Connecticut elementary school, and killed 20 students and 6 teachers.

“My husband needed me,” the former first lady wrote. “This would be the only time in eight years that he’d request my presence in the middle of a workday, the two of us rearranging our schedules to be alone together for a moment of comfort.”

Mr Obama was just briefed on the brutal catastrophe involving school children.

“Those images were seared permanently into his psyche,” she added. “I could see in his eyes how broken they’d left him, what this had done already to his faith.”

The former first lady and the Queen both commiserate over uncomfortable shoes.

In September 2009, Ms Obama made headlines for an awkward faux paus: She hugged the British Queen during the G20 Summit in Pittsburgh.

“I laid a hand affectionately across her shoulder,” Ms Obama wrote. “I couldn’t have known it in the moment, but I was committing what would be deemed an epic faux pas.”

But the encounter between these two powerful ladies were anything but awkward.

In her book, Ms Obama revealed that she hugged the Queen after they both confessed how painful their shoes were at the moment.

“You’re so tall,” Her Majesty reportedly told the 5-foot-11 Princeton graduate, before pointing down on her Jimmy Choo shoes and asking if it hurt her feet. When the Queen admitted her own shoes were painful, the women bursted out laughing.

When the Queen and Ms Obama met again, Her Majesty invited her to sit with her in the backseat of a Range Rover. “Did they give you some rules about this?” the Queen reportedly told her. “That’s rubbish. Sit wherever you want.”

Ms Obama won’t be running for public office.

The Harvard Law graduate has sparked a lot of inquiries of whether or not a career in politics is in her future. She electrified Americans with her powerful, eloquent speeches about “going high” when others “go low,” referring to Mr Trump’s notably racist presidential campaign.

But in the epilogue of her memoir, Ms Obama made it clear: She has “no intention of running for office, ever.”

She believes she has found another method in resisting, or fighting for democracy.

“We all play a role in this democracy,” Ms Obama wrote. “We need to remember the power of every vote. I continue, too, to keep myself connected to a force that’s larger and more potent than any one election, or leader, or news story — and that’s optimism. For me, this is a form of faith, an antidote to fear.”