With Valentine’s Day coming up, it is a perfect time to talk about someone who changed her life by falling in love with herself. When she did, she became happier and ready for the successful relationship that had eluded her for forty one years.
She is Tracy McMillan. Tracy is a film and television writer in Hollywood (Mad Men is included in her credits.) Before that, she wrote broadcast news for fifteen years. She is also the author of two fabulous books, I Love You And I’m Leaving You Anyway (a memoir), and Why You’re Not Married…Yet.
But it is her childhood and her early adulthood – not her success – that makes her so fascinating. Her father was a pimp, a drug dealer and a convicted felon, and her mother was a prostitute. She spent her childhood bouncing between foster homes and visiting her father in jail. She spent her young adulthood pursuing unsuitable men which resulted in three divorces and multiple failed relationships by the age of forty one. She also struggled with substance abuse. Then she learned to love herself and took back her power.
We Live Inside Choice
Her personal evolution, which she traces in her fantastic memoir, I Love You And I’m Leaving You Anyway, is a powerful reminder that the story we begin with does not have to be the one we end with. If we don’t like the story that we are living, we can change it. To revisit the influencer I featured last month the author, Patti Digh, “we are always-always in choice.”
What is your story about what has happened to you? When you look at what has happened through the lens of “What can I learn from this?” you are creating a story that will serve you all your life. In addition to asking the right question, you are also seeking the answer from the right person: You.
Tracy’s transformation from an unhappy, needy and insecure woman into a secure, confident one was possible when she stopped looking outside herself for answers and for someone else to love her.
Her story is a reminder that when we feel lost, when it seems like something is missing, or when we sense a vague dissatisfaction, we need to look within. The answers aren’t outside and they certainly aren’t waiting in a new relationship. We need to dig deep and ask the tough questions:
How am I showing up to my life?
What kind of person do I want to be?
Do I love myself and believe I am enough?
What It Takes To Fall In Love
Perhaps the most hopeful takeaway after reading Tracy’s memoir is the reminder that we are works in progress throughout our lives. There is never a static moment when we are “finished.” We are constantly re-grouping and evolving. Accepting this truth and simultaneously believing that we are enough is at times the challenge. The moment we appreciate that these two truths co-exist, we become comfortable in our own skin and start to live inside a good story. We also fall in love.
In her book, Why You’re Not Married …Yet, Tracy describes self-love, “when you treat yourself the way a very good parent or grandma-type person would treat you.”
So for Valentine’s Day, instead of waiting for the grand gesture from someone else, what is one thing you can do to show you care (about yourself?)