Thursday, August 22, 2013
Heart on Sleeve Doesn't Mean Dirty Laundry
I am grateful for all my ex-boyfriends and lovers. There haven’t been that many in my forty-five years of life -- I’m not a Blanche Devereaux -- and if some readers may recall, I even took pride in a stint of celibacy not long ago.
I am grateful for the beloved who taught me how to cook. I am grateful for the one who, years later after our relationship, came out of the closet. I am grateful for the one who taught me how to fish. I am grateful for the one who thoughtfully brought me a book of Pablo Neruda’s poetry. I am grateful for the one who treated me like a queen and spared no expense. I am grateful for the one who wasn’t as wealthy, but whom I fell in love with after a simple picnic outdoors.
Were there problems? Yes, of course. What relationship doesn’t eventually face challenges? That’s what relationships are for -- to help us grow and become better people in mind, body and soul. Relationships are a form of yoga.
But dear readers, that’s not really the point.
What's the common denominator here?
The point is, that in my blog, you will never know their names. I have always respected the privacy of my exes in that way. But I do write for every woman, the archetypal soul woman, the woman who has heartbreak yet is resilient, who -- check my tag line -- lives, laughs, loves and cries chronically. That's just life, for pete's sake! The normal ups and downs.
Why am I writing this?
It recently came to my attention that someone sent a link to one of my exes about a fairly recent post I wrote about relationships. The story apparently blew up into a misunderstanding. I apologize if anyone’s feelings were hurt.
But let’s make a few things clear. Whatever happened is between us and whatever “informant” gave him a “tip” doesn’t know squat, because I haven’t seen him in months and in fact, I even joined an online dating site after he broke up with me.
So which ex was I referring to? Readers, you’ll never really know.
And here’s why. I have been writing in the first person for nearly a decade. My audience appreciates my raw and candid style. Sometimes it’s banal and funny; sometimes it’s sublime and sad. It’s just my voice, one that I refuse to silence.
I always tell it like it is. But it's not always just about me.
Are you going to ask Adele to not write and sing Someone Like You? Will you ask Elizabeth Gilbert to not write a semi-fictional memoir like Eat, Pray, Love? Would you go back in time and burn Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice? Would you tell Maya Angelou to rescind her poems? Would your life be better if Toni Morrison did not describe birth the way she did in Beloved?
I have been a witness to life. I have been a witness to many relationships, not just my own. This is what writers do: they witness and they write.
Some posts about relationships have disclaimers and when I started this blog, it was under a pseudonym, because nearly a decade ago, women my age didn't have the level of comfort and safety they have now in social media, although that's another wholly debatable subject.
The “I” is just a familiar voice, but it represents the many voices and stories I have heard from women about their love lives; it stands for the many narratives I have read, heard and witnessed over the years.
If you’ve read my blog since its humble beginnings, you’d know that my style and voice is one that has evolved beautifully and one that I have carefully cultivated -- there is an art to taking something personal and making it universal. But that “personal” may not always be just me. More importantly, in this editorial, you will never know the name of anyone I’ve loved, at least not in public, and if anything, only by a fake moniker.
What’s more, I was recently hired on a short-term contract to write a column on sex and relationships for an online magazine. It’s not the first time I’ve been hired for such a task. So part of what you’ve seen here is just overflow from my wordsmithing.
Let’s face it. Readers don’t just want to hear about stories that are all rainbows, unicorns and lucky charms. Readers want stories that are real, even if they are based on a semi-fictional interpretation of the world.
To the particular lover who took offense: I apologize, but the world really had no way of verifying it was you and honestly, it wasn’t really all about you. You were a good person who did do some nice things for me, but it didn't work out, although I tried my best to honor the love we shared, to resolve our issues and question my own expectations. I know you tried also, in your own way, but you did disappoint me on some levels, as I suppose, I did you. I was never perfect. No one is. After I’ve had time to heal, our relationship could evolve into a lovely friendship because you are, in spite of everything, a cherished presence in my heart.
To the person who sent him the link: mind your own business. I’m not running a gossip tabloid here. I'm not writing the journal of a high school girl going through puppy love. Stop jumping to conclusions.
There’s some real irony, actually. This particular lover and I never even had a picture taken together posted online anywhere. It’s rather sad actually, because I truly loved him and no one ever really knew his name -- at least not online. And we looked very good together!
But that’s how privately we conducted our relationship.
And yet my online acquaintances and friends, including relationship coaches, post thousands of status updates and pictures of their babies, lovers, spouses and members of their social circles, with real names of loved ones and even children in the mix. I know folks who make announcements about relationships five minutes after they’ve started dating. That’s their prerogative and I’m not judging them.
I do want to add some perspective: I don’t spill as many beans as people might think. I don’t even want to be a celebrity, rich or famous reality TV “blogger” -- privacy is in fact, quite important to me. I just want to tell stories. I’m a storyteller. That’s what I do.
If being a woman writer means no man will ever trust me with his heart, then fine. I guess I’ll have to live with that, but I’m not going to stop being the amazing woman I’ve become and will always be. I’m not going to stop expressing myself through the God-given gift of language or film or other mediums I’ve used to be a storyteller.
Just know this: I’ve never betrayed anyone’s true identity and never intend to. In fact, the running joke now is that when I meet my future husband (if I haven’t already met him, wink wink), I’ll probably elope and spring the news on you unexpectedly.
I write about all hearts, not just my own. We all have dirty laundry. You’ll never really see all of mine. I don't always wear my heart on my sleeve, but damn it, many of you appreciate it when you catch a glimpse, because it's part of being human and sharing stories.
And for that, I am very, very grateful. Thank you, faithful readers.