Award-winning storyteller, Michele Weldon seemingly had it all, the perfect marriage with a handsome, charismatic man, three sons, and a successful career in journalism, but the truth was very different. She told the stories of other people while working as a journalist for major newspapers and magazines, but when she decided to tell her own truth after her divorce, her peers warned her that she was committing professional suicide. Michele ignored their warnings and courageously wrote I Closed My Eyes: Revelations of a Battered Woman.
Heralded for its authenticity and riveting story-telling, her book was more than a good read. Michele’s messages helped other women to see how hiding keeps you trapped in the unhealthy, destructive victim role. Her personal story showed women how they could move on and liberate themselves to create a new truth..
Michele’s own life broke open after the book was published. She began to teach journalism at Northwestern, and wrote more stories and books, five non-fiction books to date.
Her most recent memoir, Escape Points, follows her life after I Closed My Eyes, about being a single mom, diagnosed with cancer and trying to raise three boys in the wake of an absent father. It won several awards including Editor’s Choice from Booklist.
The Good News and Bad News Is That Truth Is Contagious.
Dr. Nancy and Michele relate accounts of how people reacted after their divorces. Women shunned them. Michele said that it’s difficult to be around someone who is telling the truth if you’re being inauthentic yourself. Nancy agreed that she felt like people thought she was a leper and she wanted to tell them that they didn’t have to follow her lead. They could stay in less than rewarding marriages. But she chose to move on. And both women agreed also that when they did, it was empowering.
Michele said that since her first memoir, she has felt invigorated by her work. She is a prolific writer herself, but she also works hard to help other writers. Her work with the OpEd Project helps develop new voices across gender, economic, racial and political lines to narrate the world’s stories. Through workshops and scholarships, the project seeks to provide guidance and opportunities for writers to get their voices heard at a high level and make a difference in the world.
Reach Beyond Your Own Circle
The biggest problem women have is reaching out to ask for help. Staying in a truth that you can’t own keeps you stuck in an unproductive place. Developing communities where you can share your truth empowers you to get unstuck and live a more rewarding, happier life. Nancy repeated her mantra, “When we form communities of like-minded women and share our truths, anything is possible.” Michele encourages women to reach out beyond the circle of people they know. In Take the Lead Women, where Michele serves as editorial director, a large group of women work to create gender parity by 2025. It’s thrilling to work with women who are so energized by a cause and doing such amazing, life-changing work.
Listen to more of the advice and stories in this interview and check out Michele’s website for more about her and her intriguing stories. As editor of Take the Lead’s website, Michele is always looking for possible contributors. And she also says that the best thing about having written her memoirs is the women who contact her to share their stories and tell how her book helped them move on from their own stuck situation.