As a meteorologist, Ginger Zee has covered almost every major weather disaster in her career—the California wildfires, Hurricanes Katrina, Sandy, Matthew and a ton of others. But the storms she’s chased were nothing compared to the internal tempests wrecking her psyche.
Inspired by a waterspout she saw over Lake Michigan and running towards it instead of away as everyone else on the beach did, the eight year old became fascinated by weather, earning a science meteorology degree at Valparaiso University. The EMMY-winning Zee worked as a meteorologist (and please don’t call her a weather girl) at TV stations in Grand Rapids and Chicago, is now the chief meteorologist for ABC News,
But despite this success, Zee couldn’t escape the demons of her childhood and her emotional fragility. She first recounted her struggles in her 2017 book, Natural Disaster: I Cover Them. I Am One, which she described as “Ginger Lite.” Now, in her recently released A Little Closer to Home: How I Found the Calm After the Storm, she goes gale force in talking about her psychological issues.
Married with two children, fit, intelligent, and successful, many might think she has it all. But there have been times when Zee avoided looking in mirrors.
And no, that’s not a typo. Zee’s self-esteem was so low that she couldn’t stand to see her reflection. At times in her life, Zee also struggled with anorexia around the time of her parents’ divorce, attempted suicide, was deeply depressed, and was sexually abused.
Now, she can laugh while showing a touch of class when responding to people who write to her idisparaging her looks. Really, people do that kind of stuff. I’m assuming that’s because they’re the most beautiful people in the world.
Suffering from Low Self-Esteem
It was the latter that convinced her she needed to share her story, that indeed she owed it to people to tell about all she’d been through, that got her to write another book. It came after watching a replay of Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony on “Good Morning America.” Ford had alleged that she had been sexually assaulted when a teen by two young men during a party. One of them was a nominee for the Supreme Court and Ford was suddenly thrust into the spotlight.
From there, Zee and I discuss how in the not so distant past, women were often to blame for sexually harassment or abuse as in, “if you hadn’t worn that short skirt” or “you shouldn’t have agreed to go to his apartment.”
“The realization was the impetus and I start diving really deep with my therapist no matter how difficult it is,” she says. “Trauma doesn’t leave your body. The shame and the feelings have to go somewhere. What I wasn’t doing is going past my trauma. Once you get past it, life is so much better. There’s so much relief in letting go of the responsibility for something we had no control over.”
Zee hopes the book will help others talk more freely and avoid being judgemental.
“I think of my therapist as my personal trainer for the brain,” she says.
These realizations helped Zee who sees herself in a much healthier place now that she is able to work through her feelings.
“The shame isn’t on me, that’s how therapy helped,” she says. “So did the Me Too Movement. I don’t have to take responsibility for things that I didn’t do and that weren’t my fault. That’s why I knew I had to write this book to help others who are going through what I did.”