Oprah: It means you were not a free woman. That's a hell unto itself.
Geena: It really is. You're just hacking off parts of yourself.
Oprah: Up until my 20s, that's the kind of woman I was. I'd pick the seeds out of a watermelon so my boyfriend wouldn't have to swallow one. I'd warm up the lotion so it wouldn't be too cold when I rubbed his feet. But I got cured.
Geena: Oh, see, I was stupider than you. I went for it every time. How did you realize you were worth more?
Oprah: It occurred to me one day after I'd been waiting on him, and he'd slammed the door on my hand. Growing up, I'd watched my cousin get knocked down the stairs by some guy. He broke both her legs—and she took him back. I always said, "I won't ever be that woman." But when this guy slammed the door on my hand, I thought, "I have become that woman." It was a jolt for me. I said, "This has got to end." So I called in a different intention. I called in moving to Chicago, which I did shortly after that. But I'm surprised that a woman like you could be a pleaser. You're six feet tall! You're in Mensa! You're an Academy Award—winning actress! You know what's fascinating? We can say to women all day long, "You deserve to make yourself a priority," and they look at you like you're speaking a foreign language.
Geena: Like, "How would I do that?"
Oprah: Because isn't my job, my role, my destiny to serve my family?
Geena: I just had a will to become myself. I've always had a picture in my head of who I think I really am, and I knew I wasn't that person yet. Since I was a kid, I'd think about becoming that person by the year 2000.
Oprah: Mine was 1984. Because of Orwell. Was there a moment when you realized that the negative tapes—the "I'm not good enough"—had stopped?
Geena: No. But somehow—through the therapy, through the self—defense class—it all came together in 1999.
Oprah: Before 2000.
Geena: That's the point. In 1999, I just knew I would never give up any part of myself again. New Year's Eve 2000 was extraordinary, because I thought, "I am the person I pictured."
Oprah: That's fantastic. I see women compromising—they're laughing at things that aren't funny, they're pretending to be someone they're not. It's less than the authentic life we were meant to have.
Geena: Exactly. We dribble ourselves away in the smallest ways. When I told my husband that I used to be a pleaser, he said, "You're nuts. You never could've been like that." He has only seen me deal directly with life. I'm still friendly and approachable, but if someone crosses the line, I tell them. And I don't stew over "What should I have said?" or practice what I'm going to say tomorrow.
Oprah: You hold your own space. What do you know for sure?
Geena: Well, I'll tell you my motto on this show: "If a person can do it, I can do it."
We Hear You!