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Differing Versions of the Same Story? You Bet

Posted by on Sep. 15, 2011 at 12:22 PM
  • 17 Replies

As you can clearly see from my last post, sometimes we write pieces that are tied to certain dates. In journalism, this is called the "news peg," or the reason the piece is running now. Sometimes this is a specific date, or season; perhaps the piece is a reaction to something in the news.

In my case, my previous post was in response to the tenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks. As we all well know, everyone has their own September 11th story. But what our everyday tales? What happens in families when one event creates differing versions between relatives?

I have a sister. We are very different, living by different rules, giving different gifts, and relating different versions of growing up in the same household. We are sisters: Different because we grew up in the same household, not in spite of that fact.

Does this make a memoir impossible? Does the sheer knowledge that someone else can readily disagree with your version diminish your tale, or make it less true?

Not a bit -- and quite the opposite. None of us grows up utterly without the influence of others. The key in successfully writing about your life is to stay in the voice of how it occurred to you and how it looks from your point of view, staking out the territory of how you remember it, and making no claims to this being the only possible or true version.

And then when everyone tells you that it didn't happen that way, you can agree. It didn't happen that way to them.

What about your own children? Have you already begun to see how one event has two sides? How about in your family of origin? Have you got sisters/brothers/parents who will tell tales that differ from your version of the same events?

What is your experience with this?

by on Sep. 15, 2011 at 12:22 PM
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by on Sep. 15, 2011 at 12:39 PM

There're always three version of any dilemma or story....his story, her story, and the truth (which can be his story,  her story, or a combination of the two).  THAT is why I always go directly to the person I want to know about instead of asking someone else about that person. takes a bit of hutspa to approach or ask difficult questions but that is the only way to get the correct information. 

If there is a dispute, the best way to get to the truth is to place ALL parties involved in ONE room and ask the questions with everyone present.  It is very difficult to lie on someone when you are staring them in the face and vice versa.

by Member on Sep. 15, 2011 at 5:17 PM

I usually remember things differently than my mom and my sister. See I was abused by both.Today showed why sides differ. My mom doesn't remember it and my sister doesn't want to remember and I do remember. I was on the phone with my mom and was talking about someone running into an old friend. Well while I dont remember the abuse from this girl my insides did and so did my sister who told my mom about it. That is pretty sad but true

by on Sep. 15, 2011 at 6:09 PM

 All those questions are answered with yes.  In my life experience, some were not there to know all that took place and therefore won't let go of the evil and put the live back in.  Instead theyturn their cheek the other way and say goodbuye, when reality wise the issue was already taken place and the peices put back together.  Then when I had a family, and we divorced, the children went with their dad (unspeculated at the time), and it became  a disaster.  I know the real truth to it. and time will only tell what comes about it.

by on Sep. 15, 2011 at 6:16 PM

I have 3 sisters. I am the oldest. We are chronologically close but only see or talk to each other a couple of times a year even though we live within 50 miles of one another. There are times that I can't believe we've had the same parents, addresses, schools and experiences.  I am afraid to open my moutn about some things because the sister that is 15 months younger than me will rip my memories apart with her sharp tongue. The middle sister will give me a wry look and our baby sister and I have completely different takes on everything. Without our parents alive to give us reality checks, it is really hard to talk about anything deep about our childhood.

As far as my kids go, they definitely see their childhoods from completely different planets.

by Silver Member on Sep. 15, 2011 at 9:51 PM
And then when everyone tells you that it didn't happen that way, you can agree. It didn't happen that way to them

I need to remember this! I am constantly being told I am making up memories.
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by Cherrie on Sep. 15, 2011 at 10:17 PM

Perspective is a funny thing. Yes, I've already experienced two sides to a story with my own children with me! For years now, my parents have been telling me things have happened differently than I recall them. It's very frustrating to me! And yes, the same goes with my brother and sister. Just last year my brother said he wasn't at a concert that he took me to! Truth is relative, I suppose. We all have our own.

by Crystal on Sep. 15, 2011 at 11:51 PM

 I had put in a post (journal entry) just the other day that normal is relative.  This post is similarly the same idea.  What you remember is relative to you because we all view things in different lights, with different ideas on everything and different experiences even if we were together at the time, not to mention the different personalities to begin with. 

by Member on Sep. 16, 2011 at 11:04 AM

Same here, my mom and I have totally different versions of my childhood. We tend to  not talk about it because it just starts arguments.

by Patty on Sep. 16, 2011 at 11:58 AM

 I've heard it said that every child is born into a different family.  I saw this in action as my own children were born.

When my oldest was born, he experienced life with a family that consisted entirely of two adults and himself.   The two adults had no clue what they had let themselves in for, and no clue how to proceed lol.  Along came a brother 17 months later.  This second baby was born into a family with a little more confidence and experience.  He has always had an older  brother to look up to when it comes to learning how to do such important things as potty training and grabbing toys from each other.

My third child is fondly nicknamed our princess power-ranger.  Without the benefit of having two older brothers, she would probably only be our little princess.   She learned early on to take what she wanted because the boys were ignoring her.

I'm sure they will all have their own very different points of view as they grow.  

This seems to be the basis of the differences in how we remember our common memories.  It all depends on where you were standing at the time, doesn't it?


by on Sep. 16, 2011 at 12:18 PM

I'm thinking a lot today about stress and the effects it can have. Right now, facing some seriously big life changes with a one-year-old child who is about to start walking, I'm afraid, worried, anxious, unsure. A new environment (which would be a big part of the changes I'm alluding to) would certainly cause problems for him: new dangers, worse sleeping, insecurity. Leaving behind the important mommy-related contacts I've made -- a kids' group, my babysitters, our housecleaner -- will surely send me spiraling into depression and desperation.

If I stop for just a moment, however, I can try to tell a different version of this story to myself. Big changes with a toddler are certainly easier in many ways than the same big changes with a first-grader, or, gasp, a pre-teen. A new environment can also mean more opportunities for my child to grow and learn. Change might even be good for the mama in this story -- change may bring us to a more mother-friendly community where babysitting and kids' groups are not so rare as to become precious.

This story will have to be continued when more information surfaces, but for now, having at least two versions to consider makes me feel a little less frantic.

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