Francesca Garigue Heads Home To Her Own Voice

Francesca Garigue reflects on the stories we were told as little girls, the way revisions can feel so rebellious, and how she’s using this pause to tune into that voice that so many women ignore their whole lives.
Francesca Garigue Heads Home To Her Own Voice

“How do I operate if it’s just me? That is the unintentional project I’m being tasked with right now. What do my days look like? What does my career look like? What do my friendships look like? But also, where does my mind wander? Where do my curiosities go? What do I want?”

“And, why does it feel like such an act of rebellion to want to know what I want? Why does it feel so rebellious and so overwhelming and so disorienting to listen to that voice in your head, that women, in particular, have been taught to ignore? It feels like a luxury to consider these questions, which I think is curious: that a woman attuning to her own voice is perceived as luxurious or rebellious.”

Francesca Garigue – you can call her Frankie – went from being in a relationship of six years to being on her own, as of last fall. After back-to-back relationships since the age of fifteen, Frankie is thirty-five years old and finding her footing. ‘What hideous timing for a pandemic,’ she laughs.

“I was really fortunate that the person that I was with was so kind and so generous with their love for me. The driving force within our relationship – and now outside of it – has always been an appreciation and admiration for the other person’s curiosity of their own experience in this world. And now that we are apart, what remains is a respect for that curiosity– and the space to change in response to it.”


“That, of course, is the framework that I’ve landed on after many sob sessions into my pillow, and a whole lot of screaming into my empty car driving down the highway. That's how I have to frame it, because that’s what it is, but did that framework always exist? No way. It stings. And the pangs of that heartbreak become woven into all those memories – of springtime, the smell of chopped mint, and all those places your brain goes back to when you’ve loved that hard.

“But that voice in my head kept saying, ‘ I really need to know who I am and what my voice is when no one else is around.’ Society, subliminally and overtly, pushes women to carry this emotional weight of others – your family, your workplace, your relationships – but we never really signed up for that. I wonder how women would operate if we were raised with freedom from that responsibility. How would we spend our time and what would we create?”

“It makes me a little bit teary thinking, as little girls, what path might we have taken? What would we have done if we had the freedom to go home to our own voices? We have them and we know them, but we’ve been conditioned to question them. ‘Am I being selfish? Is it my ego? Am I difficult? Am I impatient?’ I’m so curious what the women of future generations will be like, if the responsibility to carry the weight of others is less.”


When it comes to carrying weight, Motherhood is a woman’s most easily recognized responsibility. The weight we carry is that of our children, but also the weight of our assumed responsibility to partners, to men, and to our communities at large. 

In recent years, political activism around reproductive rights has focused on a woman’s right to delay motherhood – or to defer entirely. Frankie reflects on the other side of it – freedom to choose motherhood without the permission of someone else – and suggests both sides uphold the same question: what happens when a woman acts for herself and herself alone? And why does that feel so rebellious?

“To date, the only thing I’ve ever truly known about myself for sure is that I want to be a mother. That’s it. That’s all I know. God, that makes me want to cry. I don’t know who I’ll be with; if I’ll be partnered; if I’ll be alone. I don’t know if it'll be next year, five years from now, or maybe never, but that’s the one thing I know I want. And that’s hard, because until now, I had always thought [motherhood] required the permission of someone else.”

“Thank god for technology, which is slowly pushing women out of that reality. Because, how does one orient oneself within their hierarchy of needs when motherhood is the one thing you know you want – and maybe your partner isn’t sure? Does it set the context for whether two people should be together? Should it? What if women could choose motherhood for themselves, without the permission of others, and without the access to that technology being contingent on wealth? If those freedoms don’t change the dynamic of society going forward, I don’t know what will.”


“I am so grateful to all the women who challenged the status quo in generations before – so we could not only have a voice but to continue fighting to hear our own. The women who fought for rights – to have an abortion, to vote – that even our grandmothers didn't have. The women and people who fought for language around consent and our ability to speak without being interrupted. For LGBTQ+ rights and the freedom to ask ourselves, ‘What person do I want to spend my life with? Person.’

“What if all women were raised with that construct? That you partner with the person that makes you feel seen and heard. Who would we actually choose? What are the things that are driving so many women into partnerships where they are with someone, but still saying, ‘I’m lonely. I’m lonely with this person’?”

“I don’t know. I’m curious about it though, because, quite frankly, who do we call? I call the women in my life when I’m scared and lost and confused and can’t find my own voice – because I know they will pick up the phone and by almost saying nothing at all, they will say, “I get it. I hear you. I see you. I trust you. You’re right. It’s okay.” You don’t have to explain anything.”

As we all spend record amounts of time alone, we’re being given a strange opportunity to travel back in time and rewrite the narratives we were told as little girls. The chance to turn inwards and say to ourselves, or to the kid version of ourselves: I get it. I hear you. I see you. I trust you. You’re right. It’s okay.


“Now, I’ve been quarantined by myself for almost two months. Two months without a hug. The right word is not ‘morbid curiosity,’ but I keep asking myself, ‘What's going to happen?’”

“I hope we don't have this experience too often – and if we do, it will certainly never be the first time again. The way we've walked into this experience is without tools or strategies or familiarity. It's like the first time you lose somebody. The depth to which you're stricken by that grief is so unfamiliar.”

“The really interesting thing with any category of grief – whether it's grief for a relationship, or a person, or a lifestyle, or whatever it is that we're all grieving right now – is that there is always beauty woven into the pain. You can't help but see things; those glimmers, those threads of beauty, in the garbage.”

“And as we are all navigating this emotional rollercoaster of quarantine, we are digging into our toolkit for tools we haven't reached for since we were kids. How did you fill your time when you were little? How did you make things stop hurting when you were tiny?”

In this heightened transition – moving through the growing pains of solitude, during a global pandemic – Frankie is tuning into the voice in her head that for so many years felt like a weakness. As she listens, she’s starting to realize that maybe that voice has been a strength all along: pointing out that she’s strayed off the path; calling her home.


“My dad – who I lost when I was twenty-two – was so brilliant, so curious, and so brave in his sensitivity around the anxiety and depression I’ve felt my whole life. He would say, ‘Those things that feel like weaknesses right now are your superpowers. You just haven’t figured out how to use them yet.”

“In comic books, when the superheroes first figure out that they have their spidey webs or the ability to make it storm, those powers at first are destructive and scary and overwhelming and paralyzing. But as you get older, they are the things that will make you incredibly strong and incredibly powerful. They will open up the world in the way that you are meant to see it. But until then, it hurts.”

It’s amazing how quiet the world is right now – and how many powerful messages are coming through that silence. From the voices of intuition deep within ourselves. From memories of the people we’ve loved deeply over the years. And still, after all that, there’s space for each one of us to join the conversation. What would Frankie say to that kid version of herself during this period of extended isolation and unusual circumstances?

“‘Everything is temporary,’ That’s what I would tell the kid version of myself, because she was so frightened that any bad feeling would last forever. Everything – both beautiful and painful – is temporary. That is so true and so gnarly. And if that’s not the microcosm of the human experience, I don’t know what is. When it’s beautiful, it’s wonderful and it will end. When it’s hard, it’s terrible, and it will end. Usually, it’s somewhere in between.”



Interview and Article by Molly Virostek. Photographed by Ira Chernova.

Tags: bodytalk , Womanhood

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Comments will need to be approved before being published

What a peaceful & calm reflection. I truly enjoyed this article.


May 2020

This was a progressive, thought provoking read. Hats of too you Frankie – you gorgeous CUUP vixen!

Jaime Wyrick

May 2020

Beautiful article! Comforting and timely. I too experienced the end of a significant relationship a couple of months before this pandemic hit the world. It’s been a coming home to self… a gift really.

Kerry Kramer

May 2020

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