Just Be, Just to Be Mattered: Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb

Pandemic Lesson #3,486: Don’t discount that winetherapy with your girlfriends.

As someone who’s relied on both regular therapy on occasion, and winetherapy a lot, one of the things that I miss most right now is just being able to talk it up with girlfriends. In fact, one of the last things I did before our shelter-in-place took effect was hightail it to a girlfriend’s house for pizzalad and wine, and an evening of talk talk talk.

It’s a scene that’s played out throughout my parenting years and then some, with some of my favorite memories being the Friday at 5 breaking of bread (Little Caesar’s $5 specials) and the opening of bottles ($8 Yellow Tail) with one or more of my best friends as our elementary-aged and preschool-aged kids ran around our homes and yards like wild little banshees.

Maybe not our best parenting moments, but some of the best just being present in each others’ lives. To know we mattered to someone helped get us through the rough stuff. And not unlike other therapeutic memoirs, Lori Gottlieb’s “Maybe You Should Talk to Someone” makes a point of letting people know that often times, it really is just about feeling mattered.

Validation.

Gottlieb offers an intimate glimpse into her life as a therapist by immediately pointing out she is also a human being with feelings — that she too can be devastated by loss and confused by an inability to see clearly a path forward in life. None of this makes her a bad therapist. It makes her an empathetic one.

Focused on a quartet of Gottlieb’s patients, we’re invited into therapy along with:

John, an Emmy-winning showrunner whose asshole demeanor is masking unimaginable pain;

Charlotte, a late-20s party girl fighting self-destructive behaviors;

Rita, a woman nearing 70 and contemplating suicide as a way out of what she is convinced is a failure of a life; and

Julie, newly wed and attempting to come to terms with a terminal diagnosis.

Interspersed between these sessions are Gottlieb’s own visits to her therapist, Wendell. Readers benefit from learning about both the person and the professional — which is insightful because the two inform one another. Just like real life.

It took me a little longer to finish this not because it wasn’t engaging — quite the opposite. Once I had chances to sit for a spell, I was able to make serious progress. The book reads like a novel, you come to care about the characters, and there are moments of heartwrenching sadness and absolute joy.

No, it just took me a little longer because it’s Quarantine Times and I got my daughter hooked on Parks and Rec so we had to binge the entire series. Not quite Winetherapy, but also quite lovely.

If you haven’t read this yet, go get it. A truly enjoyable read.

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