I was familiar with inspirational speaker, author, and spiritual leader Iyanla Vanzant from her Oprah appearances and catching her life coaching on Starting Over from time to time, but I didn't know much about her life story. My mom checked out Peace from Broken Pieces from the library, loved it, and recommended it to me. I must say it's well written and insightful.
Iyanla starts off the book by reflecting on the Christmas morning her daughter died in 2003. She'd succumbed to a year long battle with a rare form of colon cancer and left a young daughter behind. As if burying your own child isn't traumatic enough throw in marital issues, financial problems, and just feeling like your whole world is crashing down on you. Something's gotta give!
It took Iyanla about 3 and a half years to pen this book because of fear. She was a best selling author of a number of self-help books and alot of people looked to her for spiritual guidance. Secretly, she felt like a fraud. Her personal life was barely holding up and she was afraid people would turn on her if she opened up about what was really going down. After much prayer and self-reflection, she took a good look at her life and the patterns and behaviors she'd been taught since childhood.
Although she lost her mother to breast cancer at the age of 2, Iyanla had made many of the same mistakes her mom did. She talks openly about her downright mean grandmother who subjected her to brutal beatings, but treated her older brother with only love and kindness. The father who abandoned her emotionally and one time nearly killed her after a savage beating. The uncle who raped her and the aunt who looked the other way. The husband who would disappear for days at a time and physically abuse her when he felt like it.
Even after raising 3 kids, getting off welfare and moving her family out of the projects, and making a name for herself, Iyanla was still Ronda Eva Harris, the abused little girl who never felt like she was good enough. The child who was always put down and mistreated and felt like she deserved it.
The death of her daughter was only one tragedy that lead Vanzant to a breakthrough. She writes candidly about her time with Oprah (who was very fair and kind to her) and the mistake she made by hosting her own short-lived talk show. I've always gotten a bad vibe from Bill Geddie, aka the "View Master", and the descriptions of his domineering chauvinism and disrespectful behavior didn't surprise me at all.
Kudos to Iyanla for finding her inner warrior woman and kicking all the crap to the curb in order to be her authentic self. Another big lesson from the book is the importance of addressing familial cycles of dysfunction and abuse in order to heal. It has to stop. Peace from Broken Pieces is a highly recommended read.
Go for it.
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