The Oprah Effect (1.6.18)
I admire Oprah Winfrey. I don’t know her entire story, I only know bits and pieces of her story. I also have strong opinions about her based on her living in our mass consciousness. That’s the risk of being a public figure. People project ideas, concepts, and beliefs onto you even though they don’t really know you. That’s one of the prices people pay for being in the public limelight. Oprah is a powerhouse. She is a communicator. She is a student and a leader.
I’ve been reflecting about Oprah, because she is phenomenal. I’ve considered her as an example of the Jesus in my lifetime. Oprah is a Master Teacher. She is here to guide us, to teach us lessons. I remember when Oprah had her first talk show. I liked her. She was vulnerable. She was gutsy. She was fair and considerate of other people. Back in the old days, we had to watch television live. Eventually, once VCRs were invented, we could record television shows and watch them when we wanted to – talk about empowerment. I was an Oprah fan, but I did not place Oprah in the center of my life as a super fan. When my sexual abuse history erupted in our family in 1984, I remember my mother saying, “I’m not going to go on the Oprah show.”I never asked my mother to go on the Oprah Winfrey show and discuss our family incest. But that’s how powerful and threatening Oprah’s show was about speaking the truth in 1984. Her show was a barometer of public consciousness. My mother was clearly stating at that time, that she refused to discuss this personal matter on public television, or in public, and it also felt like she was also threatening me to keep the family secret, secret. In some ways, I wish I could have gone on public television and purged myself of this massive poisonous secret that was killing me. But at that time in my life at age 20, I was dependent on my parents for food, clothing, shelter, and an education, therefore I was put in my place, again.
My mother did the right thing and got me help in 1984, however there were limitations on that help based on her having to process this nightmare of incest for herself. My mother’s mother had just died a long drawn out, horrific death in the hospital in the late spring. The last time that I saw my grandmother called “Dadee,” she was in a coma swollen up 3 times her normal size with one of her legs amputated at the knee. They were trying to “save her life.” Yeah, right. My mother was an only child carrying the burdens of her parent’s marital conflicts which erupted more on my grandmother’s deathbed (those conflicts are called unfinished business). Meanwhile, our beloved family pet, Buffy, a Cairn Terrier, died unexpectedly (to us) at the age of 14 on my maternal grandmother’s funeral day. So while my mother is grieving, while we are all grieving these significant deaths, she learns the tip of the iceberg in the summer of 1984 that her husband sexually abused her daughter, not once, but for 12 years, right under her nose, in the same house that she lived in.
Back to Oprah. I remember a turning point in her career. Back in the 1990s, Jerry Springer (“The Jerry Springer Show”), the King of Negativity, fight TV, and television show ratings was peaking. Oprah had a decision to make as a talk show host – create trauma drama for ratings or create a space for people to have conversations, to learn about each other, to heal, and to grow. Oprah chose the high road. The less sensational road. And look at her success.
Oprah is a voracious reader. Reading creates knowledge. Knowledge creates awareness. Awareness creates options. And options allow human beings to see another path, a way out, or a way through. I told the kids recently, Oprah interviewed everybody. She interviewed the cream of the crop and the people in the gutter. She asked questions, she listened, and she tried to offer solutions. Oprah was exposed to the brightest minds and people in the world. She was a master student on the stage of life, guiding us through therapy on television. She also assimilated these lessons, these golden nuggets into her own life to heal herself. What a gift. What an opportunity. And Oprah isn’t self-centered. She isn’t egotistical. She shares her knowledge and the knowledge of others with anyone who is willing to listen and to learn themselves.
Oprah appears to be the master of her own ship. She never got married and shared her wealth with anyone else. If a woman has and creates wealth, she can make decisions or hire experts to assist her with investing and managing her money to make her more money. It’s brilliant. Those of us who bought into the “marriage model” may have selected to share our financial health and wealth with a partner in life. Money brings out the WORST in most people. Financial stress is just that – STRESS. One of the top three conflicts in a marriage is money. If two people aren’t on the same page, living by the same rules, it can be exasperating moving forward in life financially. My husband was taught highly irrational money management skills by his father and my father often shared “the lack story” with my brother and me. I hated the speech, “we’ve got to tighten our belts,” because it created fear and insecurity.
Two of Oprah’s biggest aces in the hole appear to be her relationship with Gayle King and her relationship with Stedman. These two people seem to be a constant in Oprah’s life and have provided her with friendship, love, and support through good times and bad times. To me, true friends are a gift. And, a friend is another type of soulmate. Gayle King is one of Oprah’s soulmates. And Stedman is her other soulmate. It takes a strong, courageous, self-confident man to stand beside a strong powerful woman standing and living in the limelight. That man has to feel self-worth, in order to provide that woman with intangible things that money cannot buy – faith, trust, stability, and a shoulder to lean on as needed. Oprah is not invincible. She’s human, but she has an incredible support system.
Oprah doesn’t have any children. I’m not blaming or shaming Oprah for not being a mother. But being a mother is a lifetime commitment. It’s time consuming. It’s draining. Mothering is challenging and exhausting and it’s also incredible and life affirming. When you don’t have children, you can focus on yourself and others in unique ways. So Oprah has become everyone’s mother. She has mothered millions and millions of people through her special platform called the mass media. She has taught, nurtured, and helped people that she may never ever meet. The Oprah effect is wide, vast, and deep.
I’m happy for Oprah Winfrey and everything that she has accomplished and shared with us in this lifetime. I’ve always sensed that I will meet her one day – it just won’t be with my mother (which is fine, because I respect my mother’s right to her own process). Thank God for Oprah Winfrey and thank God for her big, generous heart, and spirit. Go Oprah! Go Oprah! Go Oprah! Go Oprah! A-women. A-women. A-women. A-women.