“God help ‘em. Little did they know a writer was in their lives.”
An ex-boyfriend of mine made me take it all down. Once upon a time, on stephanieklein.com, lived a story about my getting caught with my pants down. I was 12 years old in the story; it was long before I even met my boyfriend. Yet he worried, “what if my parents or friends read that story? You have to take it down.” Then he tightened his lips and tapped at the computer monitor. But I don’t wanna; it’s mine and has nothing to do with you. Tap. Tap. I felt like a victim being coerced into writing a suicide note right before her slaughter.
I took the story down. That was my second mistake; my first was not deleting him, instead, just for asking.
When he first read it, he was a little uncomfortable—the way anyone would be if they were reading about their current, or even former, love interest’s involvement with someone else. But at least he had the good sense to breath and realize it happened a long time ago, having nothing to do with “us” or even “me.” He was more bothered by the idea that someone else in his life could read the details of mine.
I felt amputated. I really did. But you’re not letting me put it out there, and it’s a story I want to tell. The content of the story isn’t me anymore, but the writer before you, the one who has the need to tell it, is who I am now. He wanted to keep her all to himself. That, or he was ashamed of who she was.
My next ex-boyfriend (God I love that phrase) did the same thing with this teflon of a story.
“You don’t want to read this one, baby. You’ll hate it and never want to touch me again,” I warned. And he believed me, so he didn’t read it.
“But why, then, do you have to put it up on your site, Stephanie? I mean, dear God, woman, can’t you, out of respect for me and for us not do that?”
No. How about that. No. It wasn’t about how much I loved him, and it really wasn’t about how much he loved me. I have to be true to myself, to my gut instinct, and everything in me told me to post it. I loved writing it; it’s a story I love to tell… it’s about the disappointment we feel when we’re looking to make a connection. It’s not just about fingers and carpet burn. This is what I do, who I am. It has nothing to do with us, until you make it about us.
I don’t believe "art at any cost." I also don’t believe if it comes down to art or being a gentleman, it’s always best to choose, "gentleman." It depends on the reasons, on the hurt or pain that might be caused. It’s case by case.
Know what you’re doing when you get involved with a writer. Know it’s not about you, even when the story is about you. It’s about the need for the writer to tell it. And if your skin isn’t thick enough to deal with it, perhaps you should do some traveling. Work on a thick-as-a-mitt leathery tan.
I’m not going to compromise and not do my thing for a chance at some relationship. If it’s the right relationship, he’s not going to give a shit. And, then I’ll write about that too, and it won’t cost a thing.