But sadly, not yet completely over—as I learned one day in the summer of 2008 when Harpo studios left a call on my machine. I immediately called the producer back. He told me that he was interested in having me come on “Oprah,” but they hadn’t definitively decided on the theme of the show. He would get back to me . . .
That left me a basket case. I am so close? Would I get on, or wouldn’t I? How could I detach and let this play itself out? Feeling crazed, I phoned a rabbi I knew and asked for his advice, I entered his office, explained about my Oprah obsession, told him that I was now on tenterhooks, awaiting a call from her producer. I couldn’t relax and let myself find tranquility.
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“Well!” he replied, “For years now, I’ve been trying to get on ‘Oprah’ with an idea I have. Maybe can you help me?”
I couldn’t believe my ears. How can this be happening to me? I’d gone to a rabbi, an Orthodox rabbi no less, for peace and prayers, only to find that he was fixated on Oprah too!
But I did decide I wanted to work with him, so he taught me some Jewish passages from the Talmud to find serenity peace and how to put on Tefillin; two small black boxes with black straps attached to them; Jewish men are required to place one box on their head and tie the other one on their arm each weekday morning as they pray.
Months passed, and I heard nothing from Harpo. I left a few phone messages and mailed copies of my books. Still I heard nothing. Then one day, there I was with the Orthodox rabbi, in prayer and in the middle of putting on Tefillin, when my cell phone rang. Seeing who it was, I ignored the call.
“That’s Harpo studios,” I told the rabbi. “Being that we’re in the middle of prayer, I’ll call back later.”
“Are you crazy?” he shouted. “Pick it up, man!”
Tefillin in hand, I did. The discussion went well. They were considering the show. Trying to talk calmly to this producer, I turned around to see and hear the rabbi humming “Hava Nagila” and holding two thumbs up. There I was, after coming to this rabbi for getting prayer and equanimity, and instead he was egging me on!
I didn’t get on Oprah that season. Oprah Winfrey has announced that in a few weeks her show is set to end its run. I’ll miss ‘Oprah’ terribly, but have accepted that I’ll never be on. Even so, I know that the attributes of hers that I most admire will live on inside of me—and that with Oprah Winfrey as a psychological midwife, Joe-prah was born!
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Here are some things to consider if you are idealizing and over-valuing someone in your life:
• If you spot it, you got it!
• When having an extreme like or dislike for someone, notice what you have in common with this person.
• Who in your childhood possessed the trait(s) you are noticing so intensely in this person you are disliking or idealizing? Sometimes the trait is not in you but in someone you were close to in childhood or from a past relationship.
• Remember that 90% of your over-reactions to someone is about you, 10% is about that person.