Tracy McMillan: A True Storyteller

4 years ago by

When I first listened to Tracy McMillan’s TED talk about love and finding yourself, I not only loved the message but also how it was delivered. That warm, smart, self-deprecating yet loving voice, that woman had something special. Meeting her through our friend Jessie a few years later, confirmed my feeling, Tracy was fascinating.

This is why when it was time to call on the people who inspire me for the Moroccan retreat, I thought of her. She doesn’t only talk about love and relationships, she’s also a screenwriter and an author. I thought she’d be absolutely perfect to take our guests on a deeper level of understanding their own story. Let’s hear her story today on Pardon My French recorded for you in Marrakech on a beautiful afternoon.

pardon my french tracy macmillan garance dore photo

pardon my french tracy macmillan garance dore photo

On her early years…
I was born into kind of a terrible situation. My mother was a prostitute and an alcoholic and my dad was a criminal, a pimp, and a drug dealer. I like to say that they had a heart of gold. One thing that I’ve learned is that everybody has a story and there’s a validity to every person even if they end up in a place that we feel like it’s okay to judge someone because they’re a criminal or a prostitute. What I’ve learned in my life is actually “no.” Every person has a sacredness to them. So, I’m born. One version of my story is that I was born, I was given up at three months, I went through many many foster homes. It was tragic. Another version of my story is that I was born, I took a look around, and I said, “Hmm, I can do better than this.”

On being a naturally talkative person…
In high school I won most talkative—like hands down. I don’t even think anyone else got a vote, but believe me this was not a good thing. When I was growing up I was a talker, but it was named a bad thing. I had to sort of change my mind. I remember having a therapist slash wise woman in my life who said, “Tracy, you’re exactly the right size for who you’re meant to be in the world. Like you have every right quality for who you’re meant to be in the world.”

On how she talks about love…
Really, it’s been lot of failure. Failure is a really powerful teacher. I’ve had so many experiences in love relationships that have turned out to be quote on quote “fails” that really I’ve learned so much. You can learn a lot from success, but you kind of learn more from making mistakes if you do the inner work afterward.

pardon my french tracy macmillan garance dore photo

On her relationship patters…
Relationships really were my obsession. I kind of had a pattern. I would be in a relationship, I would move to a new city, I would stay with the person for a year or a year and a half, we’d break up, I’d move to the next city, I’d find the next boyfriend. It wasn’t pretty, but I learned a lot. In some respects, I was very, very conservative. I really wouldn’t date a guy unless I knew that he was going to be in a committed relationship with me. I married the second guy I was ever with. So I sort of did it backwards, probably because I was coming out of that childhood where I had no security so I tended to really look for that long term relationship.

On relationship red flags…
No red flag is more powerful than the one in your own gut. So that said, if you’re on Tinder, or Bumble, or whatever and you see a guy who has a dog and he’s doing something risk taking—like jumping out of an airplane—I would pass because chances are he’s getting his emotional needs met by his dog and risk taking behavior is highly correlated with a certain kind of avoidance as an attachment style, especially after age thirty-seven. That would be a little bit of a red flag for me. I would swipe left on those people!

On how giving birth freed her in some way…
After I had a kid, I started to develop more on like an inner level. I started stepping out into some of my dreams. I always sort of half-way joke that there was something about giving birth—the actual birthing part—where everyone is standing around looking at you like, “The baby’s crowning!” There’re like ten people looking right at you and there was something very freeing about that for. After that I was like, “Oh, I’ve been seen, okay.” I was willing to take risks.

pardon my french tracy macmillan garance dore photo

On what she learned from her third marriage…
I awoke to myself in that relationship. It was like, all this time I’ve been looking for the wrong person. I was thinking the man, the relationship is going to make me who I want to be. In fact, it was myself I was looking for all that time.

On relationships as mirrors…
I think everything you’re looking for from a partner, you have to give it to yourself first because it’s like every relationship in your life is going to be a mirror of the one you’re having with yourself. So if you don’t like what’s happening out there, there’s something in here that needs to be addressed. You have a responsibility to look at whatever is happening in your life and then understand that the only person who can really change it is you. I think most people think of love as this thing that happens out there and then somebody gives it to you, and really it’s something that’s happening in there and then you share it with the world.

Tracy McMillan: A True Storyteller

Other things discussed…
Ted Talk
Mary Tyler Moore Show
Proust Questionnaire
Why You’re Not Married

Special thanks to El Fenn for letting us record this episode with Tracy during our creative retreat. Learn more about Tracy on her website and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.


Add yours
  • I love that – a man getting his emotional needs met by his dog – hahahahahahahahaha

  • Sunny Side December, 4 2017, 11:14 / Reply

    Wow quel karma ! Comprendre les projections que l’on fait sur l’autre est une clef si précieuse. L’autre est un miroir, les névroses s’emboitent, se chevauchent et finalement il n’y a rien à reprocher. Cà fait juste réverbération !

  • I really can’t laud the perspective of a woman who, after three marriages, decides that a man who has a dog is to be avoided because having a dog flags him for undesirable emotional needs!? People do have dogs for many healthy reasons!


  • I again may be one of the few men who relate to your posts with a gender-less balance ! The greatest point I relate to is the value of the individual! The story we tell may or may not be the truth , but it is the story we have committed too !
    Dress The Part

  • Géniale interview, quelle femme !

  • Polley Pantcheva December, 8 2017, 9:37 / Reply

    I listened to the podcast. Amazing woman! Thank you for featuring her and thank you, Tracy, for sharing your story and experiences.

  • i dig many aspects of this interview, especially the devotion to shifting narratives. super valuable on a regular, everyday basis. i was a bit disheartened by her lack of awareness about other people’s journeys and the possibility that each person has their own path. i am married, first and hopefully only, and 37. first marriages are not all the same as she declared, they are wildly individual as we all are. i feel like she dumbs things down to fit her own sensibilities and does not take into account different types of men, circumstance, desire, etc. her journey is inspiring but i wish she gave a bit more space, less judgement around other choices that don’t fit her ideas of love, relationship, men.

  • Tracy you are grand and strong and with such start to get where you are…wow. It`s simply fantastic.

  • Thank you SO much for introducing me to Tracy McMillan. As an “older” woman, whose children are grown, and who has recently moved from the East coast to the West coast, I feel freer than ever before. And part of that glorious freedom is the time and space to figure out myself — which is a lifelong process. I will definitely check out Tracy’s TED talk.

  • Jorge Alexandre Teixeira February, 20 2018, 6:44 / Reply


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