Off The Record
Gwyneth Paltrow Pens Candid Essay About Turning 50 And Owning Her Past Mistakes
Gwyneth Kate Paltrow is a world famous American actress, author, businesswoman, model and singer.
Recently she has opened up about owning her past mistakes, embracing her aging body, and setting boundaries ahead of turning 50 this month.
The founder of the Goop (a wellness and lifestyle brand and company founded by actress Gwyneth Paltrow) wrote a candid essay about her past and her hopes and plans for the future.
Paltrow explains that she has some regrets and mistakes that sometimes still keep her up and night, and hopes that she has ‘learned from them all.’
‘I have hurt people, never intentionally, but I have done so just the same. I have let people down by not being who they needed me to be. I have betrayed myself to keep the peace,’ she wrote.
‘I have crossed lines, the thoughts of which sometimes rip me from sleep and suspend me into the hollowness of shame for a long, dark night. Most regretfully, and so often, I have not spoken my truth to spare some perceived consequence, that hurting someone will tear us both apart.’
Paltrow admits that she had a hard time standing up for herself and setting boundaries because she was afraid of upsetting people.
She had a romance with Ben Affleck and Brad Pitt, whom she broke up with just a few months after they got engaged in 1996.
‘My most lasting mistakes and the mess that comes with them have all stemmed from me not standing fully in my truth and speaking from it, come what may,’ she wrote.
‘Saying the words that could have spared seasons of heartache and repercussions. No. This does not feel right to me. Your expectations are not appropriate. Your behavior is not appropriate. This relationship is no longer right for me. This project is not right for me. You are no longer right for me.’
Paltrow isn’t sure if she would like to correct her past mistakes because they’ve taught her ‘meaningful’ lessons.
‘If nothing else, they have led me to a path of questioning. Of seeking a better version of myself,’ she wrote. ‘People often ask, “If you could go back to your 21-year-old self and give her some advice…” Well, I would know my boundary and hold on to it more tightly than my life itself.’
Paltrow is also trying to teach her children and give them enough experience to avoid her mistakes.
She was also responsible for bringing down convicted sex offender Harvey Weinstein, who had produced a number of her films.
The movie mogul was kicked out of the Academy in 2017 after he was accused of rape and sexual harassment by many actresses.
Paltrow alleged that Weinstein came on to her at the start of filming Emma in 1995, called her to his hotel room, put his hands on her, and then asked her for a massage.
‘I had one really uncomfortable, weird experience; then he was never inappropriate with me again in that way,’ she told Variety back in 2019.
Paltrow shared that Brad Pitt, her boyfriend at the time, threw Weinstein against the wall and said: ‘If you ever make her feel uncomfortable again, I’ll kill you.’
‘I would like to slow down. I would like to retreat a little bit. I would like to make my circle smaller. I would like to cook dinner more. I would like to see misunderstandings become understandings,’ she said.
‘I would like to continue to open the deepest part of myself to my husband, even though it scares me. I would like to sing more, even if it’s just in the shower. I would like to tell anyone that had a negative experience with me that I am sorry. I would like to fully acknowledge myself.’
Paltrow admits that she is ‘imperfect’, as we all are.
‘I can shut down and turn to ice, I have no patience, I swear at other drivers, I don’t close my closet doors, I lie when I don’t want to hurt feelings,’ she explained. ‘I am also generous and funny. I am smart and brave. I am a searcher, and I can bring you along on my quest for meaning. When I love you, you will feel it encompass you through time and space and till the end of the earth. I am all of it.’
With her birthday just a handful of days away, she admits that she has come to terms with her aging body.
‘My body, a map of the evidence of all the days, is less timeless. A collection of marks and irregularities that dog-ear the chapters. Scarred from oven burns, a finger smashed in a window long ago, the birth of a child. Silver hair and fine lines. The sun has left her celestial fingerprints all over me, as if she soaked a brush in dark-taupe watercolor, flecking it over my skin,’ she wrote.
‘And while I do what I can to strive for good health and longevity, to stave off weakening muscles and receding bone, I have a mantra I insert into those reckless thoughts that try to derail me: I accept. I accept the marks and the loosening skin, the wrinkles. I accept my body and let go of the need to be perfect, look perfect, defy gravity, defy logic, defy humanity. I accept my humanity.’
She recalled how her mom’s 50th birthday was held at Michael’s restaurant in Los Angeles in February 1993, saying the ‘dinner was delicious’ and ‘the good wine flowed.’
‘Everyone was asked to contribute a poem instead of a typical gift,’ she explained. ‘I remember uproarious laughter, happy tears. I remember my mother full of life and joy at the convergence of the love on display, the deliciousness, and wonderful/heartfelt/brilliant/messy poems.’
Paltrow recalls when they travelled to the island of Nevis with her parents to celebrate their dad Bruce Paltrow’s birthday.
She could tell that her father was going through something, but she couldn’t figure out what.
‘He said he was “fine,” but I found him swallowed by something — he felt bereft, unanchored in some way. It was unsettling,’ she said. ‘He could not embrace the milestone, this marking of the passage of time. Perhaps on some level he knew it would be his last decade.’
Paltrow’s father was 58 when he passed away from oral cancer and pneumonia in October 2002.
‘I am struck by how, for both of my parents, 50 seemed like a reckoning. For my mother, it was a culmination of the wonderous, the highs, the loves, the art. For my father, a culmination of sorrows,’ she noted.
‘I think of my children, now old enough to remember this “big” birthday of mine into their own adulthoods,’ she said. ‘Perhaps their memory of it will be neither that I was solely elated, nor grieving the things I lost or did not bring to fruition.
‘I hope that they can feel me feel all the things and hold in the complexity of that notion. That they know I am both good through and through, yet sometimes not. That my feelings of regret and my mistakes can act as scaffolding for what I build from now on. That they are the greatest accomplishment of my life.’
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