Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Today is the The Oprah Winfrey Show finale. The end of an era and, I fear, the beginning of a long heartbreak for millions of fans around the world.  What excuse will I now have everyday at 4pm to shut off the world, pour a glass of wine, and get on the phone with my girlfriends to say, "Oh my God, are you watching Oprah?"  I just might have to have a lesbian affair with a bi-polar, body building, politician who jumps up on my couch to declare her love for me then surprises me with a makeover by Carson Kressley in order to fill the void.

Where will I get my spark of inspiration to look inward, or my gratitude for the life I am living versus the life of her guest?  Where can I now find the sheer carnival effect of plagiarists defending their actions (James Frey), pregnant men defending their "xx" chromosomes (born a woman), swingers defending their lifestyles, and authors of books defending their works as something I am supposed to "get" (Toni Morrison).  I really tried to read Beloved, The Seat of The Soul, and The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, but I just lost interest and ended up feeling like I wasn't smart enough to stay engaged.

In tandem with my twenty-five year relationship with Oprah has been my consistent treatment in psychotherapy.  Since the age of twelve I began sitting across the couch from a stranger divulging my dirty little secrets in order to answer the question my family members always yelled at me, "What is wrong with you?"  Watching Oprah interview guests which suffered the same maladies I had suffered like eating disorders, sexual abuse, depression, and overall failure, I was able to find my voice.  Between Oprah and numerous therapists I figured out that the only thing wrong with me was the fact that I was too scared to live my authentic life for fear of what other people might think.

When I try to be who I think others are most comfortable with me being, it never seems to work out very well.  Anywhere after three hours to three years of sporting the pink cashmere cardigan, headband, and pearls that my peers wore while trying to present a demure, ladylike persona I always found myself crying in bed for days while shoveling spoonfuls of gourmet ice cream in my mouth between hysterical sobs.  I just can't do it.  I am too loud, too clumsy, too bawdy, too uninhibited, too hyper-sexual, too direct, too big-boobed, and too intolerant of other people's bullshit to fake it any longer.

No matter how hard I tried, I have finally come to accept that I will NEVER be able to pull off the "Susie-Bow-Head/Sorority Girl" persona.  I may not have been a poor colored girl growing up in segregated Mississippi, but just like it took an outsider to tell Oprah to take off the Tina Turner wig in 2005, it has taken teams of professionals over the years to convince me that I am okay just as I am.

How does one even stay in therapy for twenty-five years?  Well, after my sixth or seventh appointment with a new therapist I typically hear this familiar phrase:

"Carrie, normally I don't do long-term therapy where I keep a client for years and years.  My style focuses on identifying the problem, working it out, and giving you the tools necessary to leave this room confident to confront whatever it was that brought you here.  You, on the other hand....well...I think it would be best if you just kept an appointment on my books at all times and perhaps came to see me no less than once a month for the time being.  I think it is best that we keep in touch to monitor your progress."
At first this statement was somewhat insulting, making me think I must be so screwed up that the practitioner needs to keep a leash on me as some sort of professional obligation.  But then again I drew great comfort as therapy has become something of a hobby for me to sort out confusion, plan goals, relieve stress, and talk about what I saw on Oprah that made me sob for two days.  Some people golf, some shop, some do yoga, and some others even compulsively drink, gamble, eat, or polish tile grout.  My vice of all vices is therapy, as it is the only thing which keeps me from doing each of the former all at once while standing on my head naked then posting it on YouTube for the world to see. Yes, I had to agree that it would be best to keep in touch. 

So as of tomorrow, I am on my own on that therapy couch.  No longer will Oprah figuratively be at my side to guide my voice with the courage and conviction to tell my truth.  I must rely on myself to capture the power to change my own life for the better.  I am reminded of the quote which Oprah is most fond of where Glinda, the good witch in The Wizard of Oz tells Dorothy, "You don't need to be helped any longer. You've always had the power."  It is true, we all have always had the power, now we must be brave enough to use it.

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