Monica Lewinsky has a more painful past than some people can even imagine, but she’s not shying away from it
The 45-year-old anti-bullying activist — who infamously had an affair with then-President Bill Clinton when she was a White House intern in the 1990s — revisited the troubled time in her life for an upcoming documentary series called The Clinton Affair.
The Monica: Her Story author wrote a piece for Vanity Fair, published Tuesday, explaining her decision to participate in the documentary, starting with her belief that in order “to move forward,” she must “excavate, often painfully, what has gone before … That’s exactly where we need to start to heal — with the past. But it’s not easy.”
Next, she dove into memories of impeachment testimonies, the Starr Report, news clippings and more. She also discussed her grief, distinct from depression, over the years she lost because society dismissed her as “That Woman” and demanded to know if she was really a “victim or vixen.” Then, she turned to the topic of apologies — and who truly deserved one in the wake of the scandal.
In June 2018, former president Clinton faced criticism for saying in an interview that he didn’t believe he should have to apologize directly to Lewinsky, because he had publicly apologized 20 years before.
“And if I were to see Hillary Clinton in person today, I know that I would summon up whatever force I needed to again acknowledge to her — sincerely — how very sorry I am,” Lewinsky writes. “I know I would do this, because I have done it in other difficult situations related to 1998. I have also written letters apologizing to others — including some who also wronged me gravely. I believe that when we are trapped by our inability to evolve, by our inability to empathize humbly and painfully with others, then we remain victims ourselves.”
Lewinsky added that, on that note, “Bill Clinton should want to apologize. I’m less disappointed by him, and more disappointed for him. He would be a better man for it … and we, in turn, a better society.”
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Also part of Lewinsky’s healing process? A anti-bullying campaign called #DefyTheName. To promote it it, she shared the worst names she’s ever been called since her life turned upside down in 1998.
“I had a long list of things from which to chose,” she told PEOPLE in October. “Where I landed … is ‘Monica Chunky Slut Stalker That Woman Lewinsky.’ And that just scratches the surface … The core message is, don’t let the names that other people choose to call you define you. And don’t let being bullied define your future, either.”
The Clinton Affair (a name that notably doesn’t emphasize Lewinsky’s role in the saga) was created largely by women, from interviewees, to editors, to executive producers, Lewinsky notes. It premieres on Sunday, November 18, at 9 p.m. ET on A&E.