What story do you want to tell?

Today I was watching a YouTube video about a woman that works as a freelance photographer (among many other things) and she was talking about something which really resonated in me. She was talking about the need to balance her professional life, which entailed taking pictures and video footage; and her personal life, which was just enjoying moments for herself. It reminded me of the Ben Stiller “Secret Life of Walter Mitty” when the photographer says that sometimes he doesn’t take the picture. That the moment is for just him.

She talked about wondering what story she needed to tell and how sometimes she loses sight of that.

Sometimes we lose track of those moments. Especially when you are trying to build a business or create some content, just about any golden moment could be used to do just that. Lately, I have been doing a lot of paid writing and today, I turned down an assignment because it would have been due tonight at 10pm. I had already been writing content for most of today and another 2000 words would have left me fried. I’ve been neglecting the book and my blogs lately for some much needed pay. I have bills and my recent taxes showed me that I need to step things up a little bit.

A reader commented on one of my posts recently too about having the chance to make my blog whatever I wanted and write about anything I wanted to write. It was good advice. Lately, I quit doing Facebook, and for a while I stopped posting here, which was rough considering I was posting on average three or four times a week before my hiatus. I think without Facebook, I wondered who my audience actually was. What story was I here to tell?

This is difficult because there are many times that I write with someone in mind. I’ve been quiet about that lately. At the end of Decemeber, a friendship of four years plus ended. For about a year and a half, that person had become someone I was writing for. My muse. She told me that she reads everything I write. To spare you the grisly details, our friendship faltered and at the end of December, I decided to make some boundaries. Those boundaries turned into burning bridges. Four and a half years of friendship was over.

I said goodbye. I said what I wanted and what I needed and why things could no longer continue how they had been going. She said nothing. After a couple weeks of silence, she blocked me. I don’t know if she is still reading my posts. It doesn’t matter because I no longer write for her.

The story. What story was there to tell? Could I grouse and complain about the friend who was no longer a friend? Should I discuss at length how abandoned and angry and isolated that made me feel? How I felt like I was disposable and meant nothing to her? Or was I like that photographer and I needed to look at my surroundings and ask myself what story I wanted to tell? How I needed to do it for just me and not anyone else. Much less someone who gave no thought to pushing me out of their life and treating me like I wanted too much. I was not the person I thought I was in their life. I was a “situationship.” Which is basically nothing.

People will do this to you. It hurts. It sucks. We grieve their absense and we continue to move on with our lives. Even when they hurt us and act like we hurt ourselves. That kind of person is not a friend.

Like the reader said, I can write whatever I want. I can make this blog whatever I want it to be. I’ve been holding myself back because a part of me wants to write about that feeling of loss, of a dear friend, and part of me wants to do what they did and pretend like there was nothing between us. I don’t want to write and give them the satisfaction of knowing they still have been living rent free in my head, while they are out there living their best life.

Exploiting my personal experiences isn’t the only reason I blog here, however.

When I was going through my divorce seven and a half years ago, I felt very lost. Anytime I would try to read up on making the decision to leave my marriage, the algorithms would bring up the stupidest things. If you Google “Should I end my marriage?” the results would say, “Don’t end your marriage.” and list a dozen reasons why it was against God and why you should stay and try to work things out.

Sometimes you have to trust your heart and call it and say goodbye. To say “I’m not cool with being treated like shit!” In marriage. In friendship. In being a parent.

So maybe, just today, I have a few things in my story I want to tell. First of all, it is okay to have a system of values and stick with it, even if it means losing people. I hated feeling like I was an option. I hated being treated like I had read more into the “situationship” than what was really there. Fucking gaslighting. And I hated knowing that when I was gone, they would continue doing all the things I knew were red flags in the beginning and why I thought dating them would have been a mistake. They hadn’t changed like I had thought. I was just on the other side of it. Even when they were telling me things like “I respect you, even if you can’t see it.” Bullshit. You shouldn’t have to tell someone you respect them. Your actions show this, not words.

The other thing is that if I can write about some of the things I have learned, it might help others. At the very least, I can look back and say, “Look at the lesson I learned.”

So what have I got to write for? Just myself. I have to write like everyone I know is dead. I have to write like someone who used to read everything I wrote doesn’t follow me anymore, because it’s not about them and what they might be comfortable hearing. It’s about the story I want to tell. They made their decision, so fuck it. I get to make my decision too and free myself from wondering if I’m dogwhistling them or writing in opposition to them.

Neither matters. If someone says, “I’m just going to disappoint you one day,” believe them. They will work their ass off to prove it.

Today, the story I want to tell is one of taking control of my life and my writing again. To say the things I want to say because they should be said, and not pull my punches because of how they might make someone else feel. This is my place to write whatever the hell I want to write. I have that power. I know that this person isn’t coming back, and I have been so wounded by them I wouldn’t want them anyway. What cut me the most was having to watch what I had to say because anything I said would be twisted and used against me. So fuck ’em.

I have all sorts of changes coming up in my life. A landscape that will soon be nearly unrecognizable from the last seven years. It’s time I stopped saying what I think other want to hear and time to start being true to myself. There is a time to write for others and a time to hold that moment to just yourself. If others can benefit from that journey, then great. If not, they don’t have to read it.

I’ve been through some shit, and I’m not going to sugarcoat it anymore. I’m going to write with honesty, emotion, I’m going to land punches and break hearts, I’m going to write with a pen dipped in hell and understand that on this road in life I don’t have everything figured out. But I don’t have to be a big whimp about it anymore either. That hasn’t stopped me in the past.

Today I get to be free. I only have myself to worry about, and I can take the risk of telling whatever story I want. I hope some of you join me. But if you don’t, I still have the words to keep me company.

The question I ask myself is this: is this for just me or someone else? Maybe it’s for whoever needs to hear it, myself included. It’s a balance.

So what story do I get to tell now?

Anything I want.