A presidential election, a midlife crisis, and psychiatric therapy bring some revelation to the author and perhaps a turning point as well.
Handler (Uganda Be Kidding Me, 2014, etc.) is at a crossroads. She has become the embodiment of the sort of elitist entitlement that she fears helped elect a president she hates. She also seems burdened by what she previously might have considered blessings, living a bubblelike existence with assistants to deal with her every command and inconvenience and few significant responsibilities. “I have the Trump family and their vampiric veneers and horrifying personalities to thank for my midlife crisis,” she writes of the anger and emptiness she felt amid a successful life. She had conquered the comedy circuit, the TV screen, and the bestseller lists, but it no longer seemed enough in the wake of a national crisis. But what could she do? As it became obvious that her inner turmoil ran deeper than Trump, she finally sought therapy. “I was forty-two when I finally saw a real psychiatrist,” she writes, providing an exhaustive account of her therapy that includes pages of re-created dialogue. Handler also details the traumas that have shaped her, mainly the death of her brother when she was 9 and, later, the death of each parent, whom she had loved with such ambivalence and grieved differently than what she thought was expected. Her brother has remained fixed in her memory as the first man who broke her heart, and rather than experience such heartbreak again, she has found deeper, more meaningful relationships with her dogs, who provide much of the comic relief in the text. When her therapist advised, “you have been a human doing, and we need to get you to be a human being,” she winced at the banality. But by the end, she matches him with, “wake up. Take a nap. Laugh. Cry. Rinse. Repeat.”
An adequate self-help memoir from a woman who wouldn’t seem like the type for self-help books.