A woman’s history is an ever-growing tree of countless leaves and branches. Its interlacing roots snake and stretch through the tender soil of firsts: first loves, first hopes, first failures, first heartbreaks.
We exchange accounts of these firsts and the seconds and thirds that follow with the women around us — mothers, sisters, friends, aunts, partners, daughters — in search of common ground where our roots might cross. We long for them to intertwine, for our shared stories to converge and enrich the earth we stand on.
The trees of our histories sprout small and steady from this, from the way we hear, tell, and live experiences. Over time, we learn that however deep our roots may reach, however rich and firm the storied soil may be, we must seek out ways to guard and guide ourselves as we grow. We learn the importance of preserving our pasts so that we may use them for good in our futures.
Throughout our lives, our mistakes and missteps harden our bark, sharpen our bite. They teach us to protect the supple sinews of our core, to defend all that is soft and saccharine within us and embrace the power of all that isn’t.
We breathe in the love and kindness of other women like oxygen. We feel the comforting weight of their words fall on our skin like raindrops on leaves. We let them nurture and nourish us.
Some of our trees are knotted and gnarled, some are frail and fissile. Some scrape the sky with the tips of their branches, some let them trail on the ground. Some of us shape our histories, some allow ourselves to be shaped by them.
Each is entirely unique and inherently valuable; a reflection of the way life, love, and loss have carved, curved, and cleaved us.
They stand together in a mighty forest as stories and lessons for the women we love now and the women we’ll love later. They aren’t all pretty, and they’re often difficult to look at. But our personal and universal histories are the most important things we have, and I’m grateful for them.
Happy Women’s History Month! You can learn more about it here (for those of you in the UK).