by EMILY ORTON
Today is about love. Maybe it's about romantic love, friendship, family or that co-worker who always manages to make you smile. It's about those relationships where you show up as yourself and you are embraced.
The night before Karina was born my water broke so I woke Erik up and he me drove to the hospital. Before we got out of the car I said, “A lot of women yell at their husbands during delivery. I don’t want to do that to you.” Writing this memoir is like that except we’re both in labor at the same time. Heaven help us. We laugh a lot, but there are long pauses after statements like, “I’m feeling defensive.” "You seem defensive." “What did you mean by that?” “That’s what you thought I was doing?” Our communication is leveling up.
I was showing up to our collaboration, but I wasn’t showing up in print. In the first three drafts we passed every section back and forth, which resulted in a beige blurry we voice far too often. Ironically, I found it easy to write in Erik’s voice, but difficult to write in my own. Where was I?
Gordon Neufeld describes the primary work of marriage as trying “to be separate when you’re together and together when you’re separate.” I agree. I want to be co-protagonists with Erik in this memoir every bit as much as I—with my opinions, reservations and enthusiasm—was with him during the journey. Every bit as much as I am in life.
On the fourth pass, our goal was to turn we into I wherever possible. I read a book on finding my voice. I did writing exercises digging back into my childhood—the time when I was the only pronoun that made sense. I took my voice by the hand and walked myself right into the pages of our current draft. I reconnected with my curiosity, my personal boldness, my intensity, my confidence, my big ideas. I unleashes my experience into the narrative.
The unexpected byproduct was that it brought me into focus in my current life as well. Inspired by what I had re-learned about myself, I shared my vision, ideas and plans for the future with Erik on a long road trip. He said, "I like hearing you talk like this." Give your heart to people like that—people who embrace you as you are and encourage you to be the best version of yourself. They are worth celebrating.
This week we finished reading the current draft aloud together. It’s clear there will be several drafts before either of us is ready to share our story with you. What I can share is that the more I come into focus, the more dynamic we become. Two clear voices can create contrast, counterpoint and harmony impossible for one. I'm trying to show up as myself, my best self under the circumstances, for everyone I love. I hope you will, too. It's the best gift we have to offer today and every day.
Happy Valentines Day!!
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