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Stories Don't Mean Anything If You've Got No One To Tell Them To

Stories Don’t Mean Anything If You’ve Got No One To Tell Them To

By Kristen Chase

I recently discovered that my ex-husband reads my columns here.

He never seemed to have much interest in my writing while we were married, save the times when I’d complain about him and it was brought to his attention by friends who thought they were doing him a favor by telling him.

I’ll still never live down the time he went to Paris without me and I bitched about the “I LOVE PARIS!” scarf and awful sweater he brought back.

“But you never mentioned the expensive jewelry!” he said to me.

“That’s because it was ugly and I didn’t want to sound like a jerk,” I replied. “And I didn’t want you to sound like a complete fool with no taste.”

(Okay, so a little hyperbole there, but pretty much accurate in intention). 

His ire about my writing only representing one side of my story was unrelenting, and even now that we’re divorced, it continues.

“You’re a phony. A public liar,” he texted me.

(Grammar and spelling corrected on his behalf). 

In this case, he was referring to my 6-day trip to Hawaii, which I wrote had been the first time in ten years that I’d been away on vacation without the kids. Apparently, this “lie” upset him greatly, and he felt the need to yell at me for it.

I still stand by my calculations, which doesn’t include business trips I took away from my kids as “vacations.”

And let’s be honest here, this is a very small, silly matter, at least to me, anyway. Especially when there are more important things, like say our children’s well-being, to worry about.

Hey, let me pick out that piece of sawdust out of your eye while I walk around with a giant plank in mine. 

(Yes, that’s a biblical reference. And one of my favorite ways to explain hypocrisy).

But I wonder, does it matter to you, Internet?

Of course, there is a belief by some that we bloggers embellish the truth or sometimes even make up stories and endings, maybe even beginnings, because they are more interesting and compelling.

We draw you in with our words that you believe to be 100% real, absolute fact as they happened because that would be awesome to read.

Can you imagine? 

I can only speak for myself when I say that my stories here (and everywhere I write) are true. They are how I see things and live them and experience them, not how anyone else does, because writing about how someone else sees me would be well, weird, and challenging, and pretty disingenuous.

Writing someone else’s experience is what I consider “fiction.”

This is my art, my creative self-expression. But instead of pencils or paints, my medium is funny words and adjectives and carefully-crafted sentences so that you’ll want to read to the end.

It’s knowing the nuances of what to share and how to share it.

I’m not here to make you think I’m any better or worse than I actually am in person. In fact, I’m not here to make you think anything about me at all. You can form that opinion on your own, knowing, I’m sure because you’re smart, that you’re only getting part of my story.

There’s only so much I can tell you in one column a week. Only so much you’d want to know. Only so much I’m willing to share.

These columns are my words strung together into stories about my life that I hope you like to read and that evoke something within you that makes you want to come back for more.

I don’t think that makes me a phony. Or a liar.

But rather, a storyteller, where the characters are the people in my life.

Kristen Chase
About the Author

Kristen Chase

Kristen Chase is a writer, author, and a single mom of four. It’s as exhausting as it sounds (at least the mom part). Also, awesome.

Kristen is also co-founder of

Kristen Chase is a writer, author, and a single mom of four. It’s as exhausting as it sounds (at least the mom part). Also, awesome.

Kristen is also co-founder of Cool Mom Picks and author of The Mominatrix’s Guide to Sex.

 

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Comments

  • Susie

    Smart people know that any written words only present one side of the story, compelling or amusing as though it may be. 

    There is a stunning shortage of smart people on the internet some days. 

    I love your writing, and shall continue to read it until either you stop writing or I stop being able to read. 

    And ex, ol’ buddy? Go climb a proverbial tree 🙂

    • Right Susie? I was always like, GO START A BLOG! (And thank you). 

  • Jean

    Your ex is a butthead. Keep writing Kristen, you are amazing and I love reading your stories, be they true or not (and I know yours are I’m just saing ).

    • Can’t stop. Won’t stop. 

      Oh god I just quoted Miley! xox

  • You and I are not only on the exact same page – we’re on the same sentence.

    I’ve always been very careful to tell the true stories of my life, but from my perspective and my perspective only. If I talk about how I feel about something, and I’m not just writing to villify or trash somebody, I will never feel the need to censor myself.

    The post I wrote about my divorce took four hours to write and it’s less than 300 words long because I wanted it to be about how I was feeling, not about the people involved.

    That doesn’t stop my ex-wife from telling me what a horrible human being I am for writing anything that doesn’t even concern her or paint her in a bad light.

    So, yeah. I get you, agree completely with you, and understand the bitter ex who will never understand how careful you are being with the words you choose to publish.

  • Liz

    I had an amazing memoir instructor (hi Laurie S) who taught us the difference between telling THE truth and YOUR truth. She went so far as to say if you’re not digging deep, if you’re thinking about others’ perspectives, if you’re not slighting someone somewhere at some time, you’re probably not being honest enough. Work harder. 

    I see good bloggers like you as memoirists. I’ve always thought my job is to be honest as I can be to myself, and to weave my truths into interesting stories or observations that make my specifics universally relatable. You’re not a detective documenting moment-by-moment details as they happened. (“And then I took four steps into the room before turning right to face the kitchen, Officer…and that’s when I saw the gift.”)

    It’s not relevant whether he brought you back jewelry or two pieces of jewelry or how much it cost or what kind of box it came in. The point of the story was made without those details. 

    I guess the point I got from the story is that if you go on a trip to Paris and don’t take your wife when you could have, then make up for it with a hastily chosen made-in-China tourist souvenir from the CDG gift shop… that’s a pretty good indicator that one day, said wife will be writing about her divorce.

    • “I guess the point I got from the story is that if you go on a trip to Paris and don’t take your wife when you could have, then make up for it with a hastily chosen made-in-China tourist souvenir from the CDG gift shop… that’s a pretty good indicator that one day, said wife will be writing about her divorce.”

      xoxox

  • Zchamu

    When people are looking for reasons to be angry with you, they’ll always find them. Keep writing, writer. xo

  • Zchamu

    (Er, you being the collective you. Anyone. Not you in particular. You know what I mean. xo)

  • I had the same experience – he claimed to never read my blog when we were together, the suggestion being that it was frivolous and not worth his time. Suddenly after the breakup, he was furious I ever mentioned him. As Anne Lamott says “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”

    • Yes, that. Exactly. Thanks for sharing that, Suebob.

  • Claire

    This is one of the reasons I stopped writing. Even when I reincarnated, became anonymous, I came across someone who knew my ex. The world became too small for me to be honest. And we then went through the heartbreak of recurrent miscarriage and my words left me, I didn’t know how to write about that, how much it hurt. So I stopped.
    If your ex wants to be bitter, let them. It’s how you see the world and it’s perfectly valid to writeabout it.

  • I love that you had to correct his grammar. When someone pisses me off with words, I edit in my head and feel superior.

    But I agree with what you said. You’re writing from your perspective. He can write from his if he’s so inclined but he’s not (it seems) so he can just bark.

  • Liza

    I was thinking about the question of “truth” in marriage just last week, when I had my first vacation with the children, and no other adults. I realized that I want to create space for vacationing and leisure and fun in my life and my children’s lives. Part of what I realized is that I could only remember 2 vacations with my ex, in 12 years together. Later, I realized that wasn’t precisely accurate, although my perception and feelings about our trips together remains the same, and THAT remains what I’m committed to do differently moving forward. So I was both wrong, and telling the truth. It seems likely to happen again.