There I was standing in front of a group of people - perhaps 30 or more in a beautiful independent bookstore in Seattle, Washignton. I could feel the quiet in the room, the soft breathing of the crowd as I read from one of the more provocative chapters in my memoir - Shameless: How I Ditched The Diet, Got Naked, Found True Pleasure and Somehow Got Home In Time To Cook Dinner...."
I could feel the anticipation in the room as I read aloud about "The Dark Knight" looking deeply in my eyes and asking me if I could surrender to him. And it occurred to me that I was actually stripping in public. Have you ever done that? Allowed yourself to be excruciating vulnerable in public? So vulnerable that you felt like you were stripping off your clothes?
That has been what it has been like for me on my book tour. Doing a reading from a memoir - especially one as provocative and intimate as Shameless has really challenged my own notions of shame! Could I read to a group of strangers, and share one of the most intimate experiences of my life? It was one thing knowing that people all over the country were reading my memoir - it is quite a different experience reading your most personal thoughts aloud to a group.
As I read, I felt the color rise to my checks as I tried to connect with the group of spell bound listeners. I made myself look into the eyes of my audience. It was terrifying! Was there healing in this for me? Was there healing in allowing myself to be truly naked in public? I wasn't sure. The only thing I was sure of was that I was allowing myself to be completely vulnerable with this group. It was like falling backwards - and trusting that you would be caught.
I finished the chapter - and was met with applause, laughter and the longest question and answer of the entire tour. It was fabulous. I almost didn't read that chapter - it was near the end of the book - and it felt too intimate to me. But I trusted that somehow it was the right chapter for the group that was assembled. So I stripped naked in public, and I didn't die. Instead I found myself embraced, loved, and something more. By sharing my soul with people - they shared theirs with mine. It was a risk worth taking.
When was the last time you "stripped naked" in public? Allowed yourself to be truly intimate with people? It can feel really scary - but the lessons of my Shameless Book Tour has taught me that taking the risk to be intimate is the most rewarding experience of all.