But then there was this chance to write a book, to communicate to the outside world, to tell my story and the writer in me couldn't resist. But there is only one good way to write a book about your life—you have to tell the truth. At that moment I had to decide, my family had to decide whether or not we were ready. After much talking and thinking and debating and sighing, we decided we were ready. We weren't, of course. We couldn't have been.
How can you ever be ready for the wrath of some people, the pity of others, and the surprising amount of love and community that comes as well? And how could you be ready to show up at a television station to talk about your book only to find yourself sharing the green room with the show's other guest—a three-legged, mangy white puppy saved from a lifetime of torture in a puppy mill? How can I compete with that tiny face who has posed with the likes of Barack Obama and Lindsay Lohan. The dog has her own tour bus!
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It all came as quite a shock. The scathing comments being the biggest shock of all, of course. The first ones on the web called me a whore, implored my husband to leave me, damned me to hell, and caused my cheeks to catch fire, my nerves to clench, and my stomach to heave. But then the comments of support came rolling in and soon it was an even tide. An ebb and flow of commentary that quickly became an education that I couldn't have come by any other way.
And that has been the thrill of the last four months, for nowhere else could have I experienced the power of a skill we have come in many ways to take for granted.
I like to think I'm a pretty good communicator. I know when to speak and when to listen. I know when to share and when to hold back. I know how to manipulate language to make it do my will. I was on the high school debate team after all. And I've been married for eleven years. Nothing like a long-term relationship to teach you the power of communication.
For my husband and I that doesn't always mean talking. Sometimes, it means quite the opposite, in fact. Sometimes it means asking, "What's the score?" instead of pleading with my husband to change the channel away from yet another college football game. Sometimes it means putting the laundry in the dryer even though I have a strict "I am not the maid around here" policy. Sometimes it means not demanding a conversation and accepting that "I'm fine, baby. Everything's fine" actually means "I'm fine, baby. Everything's fine."
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Now, when we first opened our relationship, it did mean talking ad nauseum. It seemed like there was no way around that. It was a huge step for two long time monogamists (or supposed monogamists, anyway) to take. How would this work? What would the rules be? What about jealousy? What if you love her more than me? What about our kid? What about my in-laws? Is this a bad idea? Are we bad people? Am I a lesbian? Do you want to leave me? We're freaks, aren't we? Will there be sleepovers? Will you watch? Will I? Will, well, you get the idea.