Edited by Diane DeBella
When we tell our own stories and share our own truths, they become so much more.
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Telling my story was the most difficult task I have ever undertaken, and I did not make the decision to do so lightly. In fact, it took me fifteen years to gather the courage to tell my truth. I know that I would never have found the strength if it had not been for all of the brave women who came before me—the women who found the courage to give voice to their own truths—through poems, short stories, novels, essays, speeches, and memoirs: the women whose life lessons helped me come to understand and appreciate my own.
It has been nearly a year since I sent my story out into the world. What I wished at the time was that one woman would read it, its message would resonate with her, and she would share it with another woman and begin a conversation. While I am thrilled that the book did spark such interactions, I could not have predicted what happened next. As women began to reflect upon their own life experiences, they wanted to share them—to pay it forward—to add their voices and offer their life lessons to others. As a result of this strong desire, the I Am Subject project was born.
Together with Anora McGaha, founder of Women Writers, Women’s Books, we put forth a call for submissions. We realized that women often lose their sense of self to external roles, expectations, and objectifications. Many times, we don’t even realize that we are no longer the subject of our own lives. Yet, if we begin to strip away all of the external layers—those that define us by the roles we play—what would be left? Who would we be? We invited women to share their own powerful moments of claiming or reclaiming themselves as subjects of their own lives.
More than 70 women from across the globe responded, and as I read each story, I was incredibly moved by the heartfelt authenticity of each writer’s experience. Yet, as I put on my editor’s hat and tried to envision individual pieces coming together in an anthology, I experienced a brief moment of panic. Obviously, each woman’s experience was unique, and each story I read had little in common with the previous one, or the one before that. I began to wonder if it was indeed possible to meld the stories in such a way that each woman’s truth would shine, and each story would flow seamlessly into the next.
Of course, I should have known better. As I continued to read, common themes and patterns began to emerge organically from each piece, regardless of a woman’s country of origin, socio-economic status, age or race. And just as I had discovered when I was researching the lives and works of numerous women writers for my collective memoir, I was struck by how each of our unique stories contains common threads that when woven together create a beautiful tapestry that is a woman’s experience.
This anthology consists of 36 stories that fall within four overarching themes related to women claiming or reclaiming themselves as subject of their own lives: family history, body and mind, internal and external roles, and life altering moments. I have provided a brief editor’s note before each section. Like my own story, some of these truths are painful; all of the stories are powerful and genuine. Our truths do indeed matter, and when we give voice to them, we can often find support and shared community. When women claim themselves as subject of their own lives and share that experience, they move beyond self-empowerment to provide strong examples for others to learn from as well. As a result, when we heal ourselves, we often help others.
I am filled with gratitude for every woman who shared her truth, and I know that within these pages you will find messages that offer hope and increased insight into your own life’s journey.
~ Diane DeBella
I Am Subject: Sharing Our Truths to Reclaim Our Selves
About Women Writers, Women’s Books
Anora McGaha started Women Writers, Women’s Books (WWWB) in the spring of 2011 as an international online magazine for women who write. With the @WomenWriters Twitter account as the primary communications and marketing channel, Anora began following women who indicated they wrote, and asking for guest essays from those she found interesting.
The mission of the community is to affirm and encourage women to write and get their work published. WWWB does this by welcoming guest essays for the magazine; providing encouraging and helpful feedback; publishing informative essays on writing, publishing and marketing; and fostering community online.
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/womenwriters.womenbooks
Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/WWWBMagazine