Whose past, story, or truth?

The Memoir Project shared the article How Memorists Mold the Truth and asked us what our thoughts were. Thoughts? Too many for a comment.

The author begins talking about how furniture was moved in their house to deal with things that were out of his mother's control, and then took that idea into how memorists deal with their pasts. I will be honest, at first I was a little horrified. Memorists don't write fiction, we write our stories. But then I gave it some thought.

I am fully aware of a situation in my life where I remember the events occurring one way, and the other person in the situation remembers the events a completely different way. This isn't simply a matter of two witnesses with slightly different perspectives. This is more like two different meals in different restaurants that occurred at the same time. What I know, as much as I cling to my own version of the truth, is the other person clings just as desperately to theirs.


So what does this mean? Should we stop sharing our stories, or list them under fiction, because someone somewhere may remember it differently than you? Let me be the first to say, (though I know I am not) NO.

The beauty of blogs is we get to write things down in a semi-present tense. Some days what I write is that days journey, and sometimes I'm revisiting a walk I took in the past. But my perspective of that event is important to me. Leaving room for another's perspective is important as well.

Do you leave room for miscommunication, or assumptions which color how you see things?
Do you remember the baggage that you carry affects your experience?
Do you forget others have their own perspective and insist that you are the only one right?

Let me tell you what happens when we do that. We become angry, hard, and shut off. We hurt relationships, and the chance of relationships growing becomes weak since the other person feels cut off, rejected, and ignored. But that doesn't mean our stories should take a back seat to theirs.

Don't allow others to say your memories are flawed, but leave space for their memories to be different.
Don't excuse your story or dismiss it, because it has importance no matter what anyone thinks.
Do look at the memory as openly as you can giving grace and mercy to the story when assumptions must be made.

I don't know that any memorist rewrites history, or rearranges the facts. I think there is an understanding, an agreement, between writer and reader which says "This is my best interpretation of what went on. This is my memory." And is it not true that it is our memory which we live with? Which haunts us? Which causes us to take certain steps here in the present and into the future? So, tell your story. Share your situation. Give me your thoughts based on what you saw. But remember, another's perspective of the same situation is going to be different and that's okay.


  1. you are so right on...we have to allow for both sides of the story. i've seen this in my own family. how opening, softening to allow that has created alot of healing. it's not easy, but so worth it.

    1. Ah see, and I have seen the opposite in my family. I'm glad for you that there was the willingness to hear another.

  2. Oooh! I recently sent out a email to a person in my family line (he's a genealogist) who is related someting like a 5th cousin but who I have never met.

    In this letter I recounted anecdotes that I had been told about my grandfather, recollections of my own and stories from my dad, my grandmother, mother, my aunt G, my aunt M, aunt F, uncle R and my mom.

    Anyway when I sent him this letter I sent it out by email to all the family because he had provided me with a rich amount of family history of our ancestors. My family was thrilled...But...

    Boy oh boy my aunt P didn't agree with one of the stories and wrote me a rather pithy e-mail she seemed to think that her memories were correct and all the others were flawed and boy did she say so :0

    Funny how that is!

    1. Oh my word. Crazy people. LOL Did her story make her look better? I just wonder if it's always self-defense which puts the walls up unwilling to hear another.

  3. I added this comment to my sidebar recently, "What you will read here is my story, from my perspective, and in my words. Some may see these stories differently." I bumped up against my mom when I shared stories from my youth that she remembered from a different perspective. I finally figured out, and it brought a measure of peace to my childhood and teen memories, that we are all broken people and our perspective on a given situation differs based upon where we stand, and who we are, when life happens!

  4. Funny how people remember the same story so differently, isn't it? I read a story about that once ... it said there are always three sides to a story: his side, her side, and the truth. Of course, my side is always the truth. :) At least that's what I tell my husband.


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