Author Lays Out the Power of Authentic Relationships
When going through a trying time, it’s all about who’s in the waiting room. Those people, when you’re sick, that are in the waiting room, waiting to see how you’re doing or to take you home. Those people who you’ve formed authentic relationships with throughout your life, that are there for you the most. For some, those relationships don’t come built in. For Neal Goldstein, who grew up in Far Rockaway with a childhood burdened by hardships, and went on to become a successful lawyer, those authentic relationships in his life made for the ingredients of a successful turnaround. And in a newly published part biography/part guidebook, Goldstein shares how he did just that and how it can help others.
Although he lives in Long Beach, Goldstein, a personal injury attorney, recently opened an office in the old Wave building on Beach 88th Street. But he’s no stranger to Rockaway. It’s where his story begins. In the beginning chapters of his book, Who’s in the Waiting Room? Create the Life You Want Through the Power of Authentic Relationships, Goldstein reflects on his childhood growing up in Far Rockaway.
While he expresses the joy of growing up near the beach, Goldstein’s childhood was anything but beachy. When he was a child, he had to navigate the world of having a mother who was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Goldstein can recall a few fond memories of his mother being active, but it wasn’t long before she was wheelchair-bound and required care herself. This was paired with a father who was abusive and ultimately walked out on his family when Goldstein was 12, and two older brothers who were involved in their own lives and mostly absent as well, leaving Goldstein as the primary caretaker and advocate for his mom, and having to grow up fast.
Goldstein tried to navigate the motions of a normal childhood, primarily, by continuing with school, while dealing with the struggles of a broken home and an impoverished life. He went to I.S. 53 and then went on to Far Rockaway High School, but felt he never really fit in and wasn’t cut out for school. A few weeks into the 10th grade, Goldstein had his mother sign the paperwork and at age 16, he officially became a high school dropout.
While those things could set up a lifetime recipe for disaster, Goldstein was able to turn his story around, through meeting the right people and forming meaningful connections.
One important one began at the old Hartman Y, meeting the teen director of the program, Phil Goldberg, who passed no judgment when Goldstein explained why he wasn’t in school. Goldberg quickly became a mentor and friend, who helped Goldstein make more connections in the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization. Though not particularly religious, Goldstein found his people within the Jewish youth group, became an active member and eventually went on to become president of his chapter. Plus through Goldberg, and a young girl who he met, Goldstein was able to find the motivation to go for his GED, through night classes at Beach Channel High School. And so the high school dropout would go on to become a college graduate, a successful lawyer, a father of four and a husband to a girl from Belle Harbor who believed in his potential from a young age.
After going through such turmoil to such success, Goldstein’s story was one made for a book. He just needed some inspiration. “When I talked to my mother’s healthcare aide, who was with her for 21 years, she said to me, ‘I remember when you were 26, you said to me, you were going to write a book.’ I knew for a long time I wanted to write a book, but it wasn’t until about five years ago when I decided to put pen to paper and do this,” Goldstein said.
“Initially it was for my kids, as a way to leave a legacy to them about who I am, what I went through and even though they knew I had a difficult background, they needed to know a bit more and how I navigated those challenges.” However others saw the potential of Goldstein’s story. “Some said to me that some other people might get something out of this as well. So I decided to open up the book a little more to whoever wanted to read it,” he said.
Goldstein’s book not only tells the story of his own life, his struggles, and how he overcame them through the help of connections he made with other people, but it shows why those kinds of relationships are so important. “Throughout my life, I met people like that, where humanity crossed the divide, regardless of age, sex, color. Human beings that were just there to help me and fortunately, I was able to help them at some point,” Goldstein said. “What drove me was other people supporting me and I’m not in any way trying to minimize self-reliance, but I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support of other human beings. I’m not talking about Facebook friends, but genuine, authentic people. This book is about how we can start creating those genuine, authentic relationships, how we can continue them and what we can expect out of those things. We’re not born into this world to be alone. Self-reliance is important, but that doesn’t mean we have to be on this journey by ourselves.”
Who’s in the Waiting Room? Create the Life You Want Through the Power of Authentic Relationships was officially published on November 1 and is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Target. Goldstein’s story is one that could write itself, but this well-written work is one worth picking up and not putting down until the end. And without giving too much away, though she died in 2000, Goldstein’s mother lived long enough to see the outcome of signing her son’s papers to drop out of high school.
For a direct link to Goldstein’s book, available in hardcover and on Kindle on Amazon, see: https://tinyurl.com/NealsBook