— Trigger Warning – Child Abuse. No specific details given. —
Dave Pelzer is a study in perseverance and resilience.
The three books I read before this one (A Child Called It, The Lost Boy, and A Man Named Dave, all available on Amazon) were heartbreaking and horrifying to the point where I still – 25 years after reading them – feel a gut-punch when I think of what this man went through as a child.
The title and content of Help Yourself is a natural progression because the one thing that is very, VERY clear throughout ALL of Pelzer’s books is that he does NOT feel sorry for himself.
I would have, in his shoes.
To say he was beaten within an inch of his life would be the sickening truth. There was unimaginable cruelty. I won’t go any deeper into that, as it’s not the point. Not by a long shot.
However, while you do NOT need to know all the grisly details to apply what Pelzer offers in this book… it helps set the stage for the resilience part of his story. That, in turn, will give you hope, especially if you had a similar upbringing.
I was rather late to the party. I remember that the first three of his books were available at Target. I picked up the first one and read it in an afternoon. Then, for reasons I don’t remember, I asked my (then) husband if he’d go back to Target and get the other two, which he did.
(He wasn’t all bad, after all! Which brings something to mind that i hadn’t meant to touch on … but here we are.
I was married to my first husband for 20 years, most of it not great. But there were loving gestures, beautiful moments, joyful days, and good years. In hindsight and now that he’s gone – he died suddenly in the summer of 2014 – I can pull out lots and lots of good memories. Even the yuckiest memories have now been replaced with reminisces of a kinder, gentler time… it’s okay now. No longer bitter or angry. Gotta say, it feels good. But I digress.)
It’s funny, because as I wrote that little segue above, it occurs to me that it actually DOES fit because it’s how I helped myself pull all the threads of my first marriage into the entirety of my life, including right now. Here. This moment.
I’ve spent way too long running away from the past and too quickly into the arms of the future, as evidenced by my (very blessed and lucky) rebound second (current and final) marriage.
Sometimes, you just gotta STOP. Deal with shit. You know?
And yes, I digress. Again. And actually, NOT, too. I love how things come together. Keep reading…
Pelzer is not reinventing the self-help wheel here. The advice is practical and pretty-much what you’d read in any other self-help book about overcoming adversity. Like this:
“If it doesn’t do you any good, dump it. Take some action, push that lever, flush it away, and don’t look back. Take small steps everyday of your life, and start taking control of what you say when you talk to yourself.” -Dave Pelzer
You see what I mean about everything coming together?
However, everyone’s voice and story is unique and for that reason, Pelzer’s ultimate message doesn’t hurt to repeat: We need to “free ourselves from the shackles of our past.“
As an adult, I have always believed in taking responsibility for my actions. Sometimes, to my detriment, especially when I take responsibility for YOURS, too.
The older I get, the more I believe that no matter WHAT happened to you in the past, you MUST find a way to rise above it or you’ll suffer for the rest of your life.
Pelzer clearly believes that, too. For that reason alone, this book is worth reading. Even if it’s just a reminder for you.