history behind the situation existant at the start of the main story
I was talking with someone about Book of Me recently, and she asked me (basically) why I wrote it. This really belongs on a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) because it's probably the question I get most often. And I realized that, even with all the interviews I've done over the past several years, I haven't really "gone public" with how the book really came to be.
My publisher Elaine always rolls her eyes and gives me a bit of a shove when I give my usual answer -- I started working on a Book of Me scrapbook in 2001, and in the process, shared it with friends at crops. They told me they had never done a page about themselves. As I was gathering resources to work on my own album, I decided to put it all together in one place and write a book. I researched the book proposal process and sent one out to several publishers. That is how it happened, but a very condensed version of the story. My publisher Elaine doesn't think my Reader's Digest version of why I wrote the book really does the real 'backstory' justice. So...here's the Real Story.
This backstory could have the subtitle, How A 30-Year-Old Mother of Two Saved Her Own Life With Scrapbooking, because that's basically what happened.
After staying home with my children for six years, I began to have an identity crisis. Or what I now refer to as an “anti-identity crisis”. I felt like my life could be summed up in my roles of wife and mother. That’s all there was to me. Period.
Do you ever feel that way? Like you’ve lost track of who you were “before”, and who you are now?
As I went about my days, I found myself thinking about all the tasks and chores and errands I did. I wondered if there was anything special about the fact that I was doing them. I felt like we could hire someone to do the dishes and the laundry and the cooking and running errands, and I wouldn’t even be missed. I felt like I had failed to make a mark, and I could easily be replaced. I even thought about taking my own life.
I can vividly remember one night, laying in bed, crying uncontrollably, and thinking about going to the store to buy sleeping pills. But I couldn't stop crying long enough to go get them (and didn't figure they'd sell sleeping pills to a hysterical, crying woman, anyway). It's strange now to think that not being able to stop crying may have saved my life.
But instead of ending my life, I decided to scrap it.
Instead of abandoning my husband and two kids, and taking myself out of their lives, I decided to share myself with them more fully. I decided to give them the gift only I could give -- My stories.
I started working on a scrapbook about myself. It became a tool to showcase what made me unique, and all that I valued about my life. And it quite literally saved my life. Because right there in front of me, created by my own hand, was proof that my life was worth living, remembering, and celebrating.
As I showed this album to my friends, I saw that they were almost startled -- so many of my friends had never thought of doing a page about themselves, let alone actually done one. Just like me, they were also absent from their own albums.
As much as I enjoyed the process of creating my Book of Me, and when I recognized how healing the process had been for me, I realized other scrappers might be searching for ways to create such a book for themselves. I wanted to help them by providing a roadmap for them to follow, compiling all the resources I had drawn on.
I became absolutely passionate about helping other women tell their stories -- about helping them not feel replaceable, helping them not feel invisible in their own lives. I didn't want other women to feel the same emptiness, the same hopelessness, the same feeling of being lonely even surrounded by loved ones. I wanted to help them work through that -- not just past it, but THROUGH it. And if you've attended any of my classes, you'll know that passion is still there, and that I care deeply about the stories of each of my students -- because their stories are much the same as mine, and I see myself in them.
So, this book was born.
And now you know the Real Story.
I bet you have a Real Story, too.