The year was 1980 something. I was a single mom, working a full time job and reading self-help books were not something I thought would ever interest me… that is until I emotionally crashed when my dad died. His death brought up all the hurt and anger that had been festering inside me for most of my life.
Stuffing my true emotions was something I learned to do ever since I was a kid living with an abusive, alcoholic mother who told me daily that my life didn’t matter. Every time she said those words to me, I stood there stoned face, not wanting to give her the satisfaction that she hurt me.
On the rare occasions I did cry about something (I don’t remember about what), my dad would yell at me and threaten to give me “something to cry about.” I would stop and stare at the wall wishing both my parents were dead. It soon felt better to turn my pain into anger.
Not expressing what I called “weak emotions” became a habit that served me well when I got a job delivering auto parts at a car dealership. In the 80s, women didn’t work those kinds of jobs, even with the new found “women’s liberation.” I worked in a what was considered a man’s field but that didn’t mean the men I worked with accepted me as one of them. In fact it was quite the opposite. I was subject to harassment… and plenty of it. They thought they could wear me down and make me quit but what they didn’t know, was my history.
My dad’s death changed all that. Instead of crying, I felt numb. Just getting out of bed was a struggle. Luckily, after about two weeks, I looked for professional help. My son was about eight and I needed to get my act together to take care of him. I found a support group and saw a shrink a few times. My insurance only allowed me four sessions, which isn’t nearly enough time to sift through all the mental crap I was carrying around, so my therapist assigned me books to read. It was quite a list but I was determined to feel better, so I could get back to being a mom and function in the world again.
Your Erroneous Zones, was one of the books on my reading list. It was the first time I was told that I was OK just the way I am and that I am a worthy human being. According to the author, Wayne Dyer, my life did matter. What didn’t matter is what others thought about me. This was a huge revelation.
Over the next few years, I still had self-esteem problems but I was slowly getting better and more sure of myself. I continued reading more self-help books and then in the 90s I discovered spirituality. I think it was a natural and logical progression. Dr. Dyer seemed to be evolving the same way because his books became more spiritual. His message were the same but from a spiritual (back then it was called New Age) perspective.
When I learned Dr. Dyer died last Sunday I felt as though I lost a family member. I never met him but through the magic of television, namely PBS, he became a “spiritual” father to me. He always seemed to say things in his lectures that I needed to hear. It was kismet. Dr. Dyer’s view on death was ” we are simply removing a garment or moving from room to room. It is merely a transition.” “We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
I am grateful to my therapist for suggesting I read his book. In a way, I am grateful for experiencing depression that led me to seek help. If I hadn’t hit that wall, I might not be living my authentic life today. Dyer said in one of his lectures that, “Adversities are things to be grateful for.” It took a long time for me to admit that, but I know he is right.
Namaste Dr. Dyer, I bow down to your memory and am eternally grateful to you for teaching me a better way to live.