I am leaving for a writers’ retreat tomorrow.
I am excited and nervous. I am in an almost-constant state of excitement and nervousness these days.
I tell myself not to feel guilty. That it’s ok to spend money on this adventure. That I am allowed to take time away for myself. Old habits are hard to break. Guilt is hard to outrun.
From the get go, W and I were not one of those couples who asked permission. We are both adults with free choice and free will and our own spending money.
As I sit here writing this, I feel gratitude for her support. For supporting this crazy habit called writing, which requires me to carry around tiny notebooks and pens at all times and jot down ideas and phrases at the most inopportune moments. That has me leaving bits and pieces of my work and my writing tools in our bed, turning that soft place where we sleep into a paper-cut and pen-poking hazard.
I think back to those days when I was still in the closet and had a fear of being alone. I thought people wouldn’t like me if they knew I liked women. I thought people wouldn’t like me if they knew the real me.
There’s nothing like publishing a memoir to remove any last, forgotten items from the back of the closet. A mangled umbrella, a partnerless tube sock.
What I’ve learned is that I actually have more friends now that I am out and open and me. Butch me who likes women and neckties and suspenders and baseball. Weird me who likes Wonder Woman and Cream of Wheat and books about dysfunctional people.
I have a newer writer friend who gave me a glitter pen to sign books at my book launch party. And this awesome “You Rock” rock that I’m taking to my writers’ retreat.
I have old friends who gave me this awesome metal sculpture stamped: “Rae Theodore, Published Author.” They tell me they are proud of my achievement.
It’s not about material things. So many people have given me a thumbs up by sending thoughtful e-mails, offering a kind remark or just being present in my life.
So, the moral of the story? Be yourself, be honest, be kind. That’s good enough for most folks. At least the ones who matter.
Oh, and if you’re real lucky, you might find your better half. The one who makes you believe that you can do it, that you deserve it, that you deserve her. The one who becomes your biggest fan and thinks everything you do is perfect (all the while admitting her bias). The one who says you look cute in a bowtie and a necktie and in that baseball cap that you wear backward on the day you don’t feel like showering.
I dedicated my book to W with this: “To my wife, who thinks me a better writer and person than I really am.”
And I think how lucky I am to have found someone who always sees the best version of me, even when I can’t. Especially when I can’t.
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How does your partner support those things that make you who you are?