In the movie Shirley Valentine, the heroine attempts to cover up her stretch marks as she’s about to make love to her Greek suitor. True to Mediterranean fashion the lover insists her imperfections are a badge of honor—that they come from embracing and creating life. Stretch marks should be celebrated, he tells her. Revered.
Shirley ran away to Greece intent on rebelling against domesticity, her dominating husband, and her grown, dependent children. She was intent on becoming a Shirley, someone more attuned to that once-upon-a-time woman who’d gotten lost in life’s mundane rituals.
The Latin definition of “intention” is: to stretch toward something. Shirley may have chosen to make a mad dash abroad, but we all have our own ways of stretching. For me, that’s why I write—to reach toward a better understanding of who I am and what I believe, and then to evolve and change.
No doubt I’m marred along the way, tripping over my own feet as I stumble toward my next stage. But instead of getting rid of those stretch marks, scars, and blemishes, I believe they should be shown off with pride. For the situations that created them served as life lessons, each one telling the story of when I worked through adversity to bring myself, indeed others, through a portal. With each mark comes progress, offering the experiences I’ve needed to make me who I am today and lay the foundation of who I’ll become tomorrow.
Everything I know I’ve learned from living, not books. What’s more, it’s all come in fits and starts. Evolution is not linear, and nor are my thoughts. No doubt I’ve rubbed salve on a few of my memories, and surely some thoughts and feelings have faded, but the important aspects of a woman’s life—becoming an adult, the joy and failure of marriage, growing children, and incidental happenings—continue to be, for me, what’s important.
These tales serve as a tribute to our resilience as women, and it’s my hope that they engender discussion and soulful understanding in each of you. The agonies and ecstasies of my past are not particular to me, rather I am a seeking to define woman like everyone else. As a general rule we tend to see things collectively and find companionship in our commonality. It often helps us to not feel alone, ashamed or afraid when we discover that what we think or do others also think or do. Certainly open sharing can save us a trip to the therapist’s office. Like my mentor Joan Erikson said, “If we don’t share our feelings, we might as well be men.”
So may you find solace in the thoughts herewith, and celebrate all the marks you’ve created on your body and in your life. Because each one means you’ve dared to live, to strive, and to stretch toward something.
Pearl Editions, LLC
Buy the Book