The shit just got real. Pardon my French, but this is all I can think today. This morning I received the first style proofs of my memoir Switching Teams. Seeing an actual copyright page was so cool. However, I cannot decide if feeling like I want to throw up is from fear or excitement. Maybe both. Working on this for the last three years has at times been painful as I relived the more difficult memories while editing and proofreading. As it gets closer to actual print I have decided that this process feels a lot like giving birth to a child.
I have been pregnant with this book for the past three years. I think only elephants take longer to gestate their offspring. I can feel the arrival of my fourth child drawing near and lately have to breathe through the anticipation almost every day. It is exciting, but terrifying. Once it is finished and has made its appearance in the world I will probably feel the same way I did when my kids were born.
I will worry about whether or not people will receive my experience in a positive way. I worry if I will know what to do once it is published. As a first time author I have no idea what it will be like to actually have been published. There are unknowns around every corner. What will it be when it grows up? You know, that kind of thing.
When you become a parent you are immediately thrust into many situations that require a certain amount of vulnerability. I told my therapist this week that I may have not fully thought through what publishing this would mean. I chose to peel back the curtains of my coming out experience so that other people could know what coming out later in life felt like and people could see the joy and the pain of living authentically. At its core, my memoir is about love, dealing with fear, and change. These are issues that affect each of us, regardless of our life story.
My goal has always been to remain honest to my story and to make sure that the facts matched the truth. To put it simply, I did not take any creative license when I wrote Switching Teams. Believe me when I say that the truth is much more interesting than fiction in this case.
I admit I did not expect to feel so nervous about it actually being finished. I have to be prepared for both positive and negative responses and be able to not take any of it personally. This is difficult because this story is personal. I need to make sure that I remember to pick up my thick skin suit from the cleaners the week it finally is available for the world to read.
While I may be anxious about how it may be received or if anyone will even really care about my story, my wife reminds me of the reason that I wrote this in the first place. I chose to expose myself emotionally with the hopes that just one person would benefit from reading about what coming out was like for me. I have already received so many messages and emails from women who have shared their stories with me and thanked me for my courage. In my opinion, there is a thin line separating having courage from being bat shit crazy. I have definitely gained a new appreciation for the idea of “doing it afraid.” I believe that Mark Twain said it best.
Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.
Even though it has been almost 5 years since I first realized that I was a lesbian, there are still things that continue to work themselves out and moments when the whole process catches up with me emotionally. I am proud of what I have created. While it may not end up on the New York Times Bestseller list, I do know that I have accomplished something I always dreamed of doing. It took me 40 years to figure out the topic, but it was worth the wait. That is my story and despite my rapid heartbeat I am sticking to it.