Summer Reading Series: "The Tell"
Credit: Linda I. Meyers

Psychologist Linda I. Meyers discusses her upcoming memoir: ‘Coming of age takes a lifetime’

At the age of 30, Linda I. Meyers decided to pursue a career in psychology, even after having three children. Spurred on by the Women’s Lib. in the ‘70s, she completed her PhD. at the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology of Rutgers. Meyers said it was her upbringing in a turbulent New York Jewish home that put her on the path to analyze the human mind.

Her mother’s suicide was the final impetus that drove her to make changes in her own life. She lays it all out in her upcoming memoir “The Tell” (She Writes Press) that is now out in bookstores. And while there is tragedy in her story, Linda hopes readers will be encouraged to follow their dreams, no matter how old they are.

Ahead of the book’s release, Blueprint had a chat with Linda about revisiting painful memories, opening up about her personal life, and “Dirty Dancing.”

New York Blueprint: Let’s talk about the origins of the book; where did it come from?

Linda I. Meyers: Well, it came from my memory, this being a memoir. It came from an effort on my part to want to leave a legacy for grandchildren, give them the opportunity to know the history of their family. To do that, I started writing one standalone essay and it just sort of burgeoned into many and now, it’s a book.

Credit: Linda I. Meyers

What was the writing process like for such a personal, intimate story?

That’s a hard question to answer because when I was in it, I was so in it, that I couldn’t even observe myself doing it, if you know what I mean. I was just taken up by the story and the people in my life came alive to me in a way that I didn’t even understand until I actually re-saw it on the page. One of the ways that I structured the book was that my memories began before I was born and in order to tell the story going forward, I needed to go back and tell the story that was behind.

That meant taking all the stories I had heard as a little kid … and weave[ing] them into a narrative. I did this by going back in time and re-creating my parents’ history and my grandparents’ history [of] coming to America, and then I moved forward and told the story of my life at the point at which I could have my own voice, I was old enough to tell the story from the first person.

Once you got to the point of your own story, was there a particular moment in your life that you enjoyed revisiting?

It was kind of fun to remember when I was in my teens and I stayed up in the Castkill Mountains with my grandmother in a bungalow colony.

Kinda like “Dirty Dancing”?  

Very “Dirty Dancing,” except it wasn’t a hotel. “Dirty Dancing” [took place at] a hotel. These were bungalow colonies and these were for the poorer Jews, who couldn’t afford the big hotels like Grossinger’s and The Concord [but] still needed to get out of the city for the summer.

Credit: Linda I. Meyers

Were you hesitant to put your life out there for any stranger to read?  

Well, that’s complicated. I wouldn’t say I had misgivings, but I would say I had concerns. I’m a clinical psychologist and a psychoanalyst and it’s possible that some of my patients might end up reading this book and that will be very interesting in the clinical work. So, I have some concerns about that and I don’t really want to [force] my story on anybody who would rather not know it.

How do you think your experiences affected your career path as a psychologist?

I think I was a psychologist before I could spell the word because I grew up in a very dysfunctional family, very disruptive family. When you grow up like that, you become very vigilant and your ability to read the scene and figure out what’s gonna happen next, it gets really honed because you have to know when to take cover, you know? You’re in a war zone. When I finally had my opportunity to go to college, which was when I was 30 and after I already had three children, it just seemed quite natural for me to major in psychology. I just kept going until I got my doctorate.

What do you hope readers take away from your story?

I hope that they will appreciate several things. One, that it’s never too late to do what one wants to try and do. People shouldn’t feel [like] ‘Oh, I should’ve that, damn, but it’s too late now.’ I came to realize that coming of age takes a lifetime and so, I would hope that people would be inspired to go after what they desire … There’s a trauma at the core of my book, and I would hope that when people read about that, that they understand that there’s ways to give meaning to the life of the person that they lost by making the best of their own life.

It might be too early to say, but any other projects you have going on? Any other topic you would to consider writing about?

Yeah, I have another project that’s sort of comes out of my professional life, I’m not ready to talk about it, but I’m hoping to get started on that within the year.

This is the first of our new Summer Reading Interview Series 

Linda I. Meyers

The Tell

Join The Discussion

Blueprint Calendars