What a belter of a two years, hey? COVID has well and truly kicked us in the guts and changed the lives of so many. There’s been tragedy and mourning of a life that once was – and for some, it has been the perfect time to take stock and reflect on what we should take with us into the next chapter, and what we might be able to leave behind.
For those who find themselves in this boat – and I raise my hand in solidarity – may I recommend a book to you?
‘Maybe you should talk to someone’ is the latest offering from Lori Gottlieb, who is a New York Times bestselling author – as well as a psychotherapist and national advice columnist. The tag line says it all – it is constructed around her work as a therapist, her experiences with her own therapist, and the stories that unravel and reveal our lives.
Gottlieb’s writing strikes the perfect balance of self-help, biography, and just down-right beautiful storytelling. She follows the stories of multiple of her patients – who’ll you’ll be pleased to know, are masterfully distinguished from their real-life personas but stay true to the narrative of their life – through the highs and the lows of their experience.
It also tracks her own journey – how a mid-life crisis turns her world upside down and leaves the therapist in need of her own therapist. It’s a break-the-fourth-wall kind of experience.
I’ve recommended this book to anyone who has ears. That’s not because I think everyone who has ears needs to see a therapist (I’m not that blindly prescriptive, I promise) – but because I firmly believe that anyone can gain something from the book.
Weather it’s giggling at Gottlieb’s seating dilemma as she visits her therapist for the first time (therapist or no therapist, we’ve all been there), or whether it’s a slither of you reflected in the page, documenting the highs and the lows of simply existing – it is just so inherently Human.
That may sound strange, but as Gottlieb says:
‘Of all my credentials as a therapist, my most significant is that I’m a card-carrying member of the human race.’Pg 7.
Our very human-ness is the essence of this book – the flawed, the beautiful, the scarred and the blossoming. And as the rollercoaster slows, this book is an encouragement to take stock and reflect: what was the ride like? How has it changed me? What does the next step look like?
These are the great big questions that Gottlieb tackles. Through John, the middle-aged TV exec who terms everyone an ‘idiot’ and struggles with relationships; Julie, who navigates terminal canver with Gottlieb, all the way to the end; Charlotte, who keeps pursuing her type without the hindsight attached – or Lori Gottlieb, therapist turned patient. In each case, it’s humanity on display – and in each case, there is space to reflect.
For some, the great equalising effect of the last few years – where everyone was touched, influenced, impacted by the same thing – has provided a strong sense of togetherness. For others, this hasn’t been the case. And for some, that next step is daunting – what do we do with this newness that we carry? How do we move forward with what we know now?
I’m not claiming that Gottlieb provides all the answers … but she might provide the clue.
Maybe you should talk to someone! Maybe. It’s a decision all those people in the book made, and I won’t reveal the ending(s)… but it wasn’t all bad. In fact, far from it.
In any case, you should absolutely read this book. Even if it lands on the TBR (to-be-read) pile on the bed-side table – the question deserves pondering. That’s an ending I’ll reveal for free.
Photos by Lara Stimpson