On Being a Woman with a Past


in Creativity,Happiness

One of the delightful things about this summer has been my ability to connect with a number of my women friends.  Old friends.  New friends.  New-old friends.  It has been a gift to be sure.  The conversations have been rich and satisfying; the topics varied. 

Interestingly, there has been one consistent theme:  concern about the women we were in the past.  Things we are ashamed of, things we regret, things we wish we had done differently.  I find this endlessly fascinating. 

For each woman, myself included, the “thing” is different.  Failed marriages.  Multiple marriages.  Affairs.  The child out of wedlock.  Scandals.  Lawsuits.  Unjust accusations.  Success not realized.  The one that got away.  The one that should have been kicked to curb but is still around.

We talk about these things as if they should be big secrets.  Granted, some of our actions may not have been the result of the best choices but we made them nonetheless.  And, we are not bad people.  Sometimes we forget that.

I wonder what kind of women we would be if we could embrace our pasts?  If we cherished them.  Flaunted them.  Let the world know that we have done things.  That we haven’t sat on the sidelines of life.  That we have led interesting, juicy, complicated lives. That we are women with pasts and that we are damn proud of it. 

Kind of sexy, isn’t it?

If we could do this, I think our creative selves would open up.  We would remember that we can risk –successfully and unsuccessfully – and still survive and thrive.  Instead of using our energy to keep a lid on the shame or the regret, we could channel all that sexy, interesting energy into a poem, a book, a business, or our next dream, whatever that is. 

We would see possibility in everything.  We would not limit ourselves.  We would not censor.  We would blow the doors off….  Will you join me?

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Rita July 17, 2010 at

I’m thinking that if you get to a certain age and haven’t become a woman with a past of some sort, you haven’t been fully living. All of the interesting women I know I have something. The idea of being proud of having lived a complicated, messy life is a new one…but I like it.


Andrea July 17, 2010 at

I totally agree … but I actually know people who live in such a tightly controlled way that such experiences must allude them. On the one hand, I envy them for having been spared the pain and drama; but, on the other, I wonder if they will have missed out on a certain richness that comes from hard-won knowledge.


Ronna July 17, 2010 at

I love this, Andrea. For myself, I’m unclear on how to “flaunt” my past…particularly the things around which I still feel chagrin and even shame. But clearly, that’s your point. And, of course, those are, at least in part, the very experiences that compelled me to eventually become the woman I am in the present.

I wonder what an online dialogue would look like in which women anonymously (at least at first) had space to reveal their past, to write it out for all to see – still safe, understood, appreciated. How might an unveiling then invite a freedom and, as you say, creativity, we could have never imagined? I don’t know. But I’m curious.

As always, I appreciate you – your words, your thoughts, your brilliance.
Ronna recently posted..What are the stories you’d like to hear


susana October 13, 2010 at

Everyone has a story…it’s just that nobody talks about it…that is of course, until someone else tells their story…but it’s still allllll a big secret….as if we’re alone. interesting.


Andrea October 13, 2010 at

You are right, Susana, we all have stories but so few of us are willing to share. The stories are what have made us strong and interesting people. Maybe it is just important that we realize that we do have these stories and that they do matter.


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