In early 2004, a few months after I was dumped by the man I believed to be my soulmate, as I was beginning to put myself together again, I was gripped by a desire to find out more about strong women. I was living with some friends at the time and my bed was just under their massive bookcase. I spent many days with their vast selection of books. It was almost like having a personal library.
One of the first books I read was “I, Tina”, the biography of Tina Turner. Now I was never a huge Tina Turner fan but I had bought “Private Dancer” – on cassette (do you remember cassettes?) and enjoyed it. I started reading and couldn’t put the book down.
From memory it was not the best written of books, but Tina’s story was sad and hard and, in the end, inspiring. Born into a dysfunctional family her life was punctuated by a lack of love and abuse. Yet, she managed to survive and, more than survive; she eventually thrived – once she left Ike – even though that step left her with millions of dollars of debt. Millions of dollars! I can’t even imagine trying to pull myself out of that kind of debt. Yet she did. At the time I had been left homeless, jobless and practically penniless after the break up. To read about someone who was in the same situation but also had that much debt and managed to work through it all, was just what I needed to hear.
And for all those people who are about to comment that Tina was a well known singer with the connections that allowed her to climb out of the hole, I believe she would have done the same thing if she had been a nobody. There are probably plenty of Tina’s out there that we have never heard of, who have left miserable lives with different measures of success.
It was “I, Tina” that first introduced me to Buddhism and chanting. Not that I’m a Buddhist, but I did try chanting for a bit. I was beginning my journey of self healing and it was one of the stops I made. Chanting is not for me but over the last year or so I have begun to meditate again – a practice I find frustrating at worst and blissful at best but I’m determined to persevere.
"I never felt sorry for myself. Once you start the self-pity, you're dead - you're in the box. I didn't allow myself to go in that friggin' box. That's the message. Don't accept it. Keep going." - Tina Turner
That is one of my favorite Tina quotes. Like Tina I didn’t want to go into that “friggin’ box”. I was down but not out and her story showed me that there are many people out there who are in far worse situations than I was or hopefully will ever be. Despite her situation, she never gave up. There’s something for us all to learn.
Another Tina quote: “Sometimes you've got to let everything go - purge yourself. If you are unhappy with anything . . . whatever is bringing you down, get rid of it. Because you'll find that when you're free, your true creativity, your true self comes out.”