Don’t tell me about self-help. I’ve tried every diet from Atkins to the Zone, every panacea from Advil to Zyban, and pondered every enigma from the Aztecs to the Zodiac. I’ve gone to the seminars, attended the workshops, and read all the books. I’ve tried The One Minute Manager and The Two Day Fast; I’ve studied The Three Minute Therapy and The Four Agreements; I’ve applied The Five Tibetan Wisdoms and The Six Pillars Of Self Esteem; I’ve perfected The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People and The Eightfold Path To Midlife Love; I’ve pursued The Nine Steps To Financial Freedom, The Ten Ways To Simplify Your Life; I’ve practiced Eleven Weeks To A Younger You, and The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. I’ve attained The Power Of Positive Thinking, become The Sensuous Man, had A Conversation With God, walked The Road Less Traveled, golfed The Course In Miracles, ate Chicken Soup For The Soul, and yelled Who Moved My Cheese?
I bought so many self-help books, shelf help is what I need at this point.
Read enough of these things and you’re bound to get conflicting advice. First they told me to join them on the “broad highway of the spirit,” then they told me “the road gets narrower.” They told me “easy does it,” then they told me to “jump and the net will appear.” They told me to “embrace my adulthood,” then they told me to “find my inner child.” They told me to “get out of myself,” then they told me to “go inside.” It all became so frustrating I had to get a book on anger management.
I didn’t just read about self-help, I immersed myself in it. I’ve attended classes, clinics, conferences, and conventions on everything from Nirvana to numerology. I’ve been to Jesuit retreats and Buddhist temples, Christian Camps and Indian sweats. I’ve bounced from Bradshaw to Baba Ram Dass, from the Bible to the Bhagavad-Gita. I’ve kvetched through Kabbalah, consulted Confucius, decoded Da Vinci and combed the Koran.
I’ve followed my bliss, chanted my mantra, dairied my dreams, and danced with my shadow. I’ve had my tarot read, my auras checked, my chakras cleared and my house feng shui’d. I’ve done grief work, bodywork, biofeedback, and bee pollen pods. I’ve done group therapy, aromatherapy, hypnotherapy, and psychotherapy. I’ve tried affirmation, meditation, visualization, and deprivation. I’ve tried spirit channeling, astral plane travelling, new life rebirthing and past life regressing. I’ve tried subliminal tapes, sublingual sprays, coffee colonics and wheat grass juice.
Far from being the leafy path to serenity, self help became the greasy downhill slide into insanity.
I didn’t snap out of it until I realized I was wrapping my legs in seaweed and singing to the seals as part of a Loon Point yoga-thon.
All right. I was crazy. I see that now. I’d stopped drinking, smoking, eating, screwing, laughing, or having any fun.
I was post feminist, post new age, post group hug and post-posttraumatic stress. I was also lost. I didn’t know who I was anymore.
Trapped between my male dominant upbringing and the feminist minefields I had to navigate in order to get a date, I’d somehow managed to transform myself into a drone that had no male qualities and no female qualities either. People reacted to the new age me by wondering where Dean went. Great! First I was trying to find myself and now I was missing. Which they told me was precisely the point. I’d spent my whole life getting my act together then I had to get rid of my act!