And that’s okay.
When we sit down to write, we can only write what we know, right?
The fact that stories, especially when relationships are the topic, we can only write OUR VERSION. But you know what? That’s okay.
I have been writing a lot lately about the breakup of a long term relationship I was in, and have written through the process, I have used my words as a coping method. I have shared my voice, in articles and stories, to get my feelings out in front of me. It has been therapeutic, although it IS only ONE side of the story.
Even when it comes to fiction, there may be a variety of characters, yet we can only give them OUR version of the story. We create that story for them, thus giving them the life and the knowledge that only we know. Therefore, it is one-sided.
The only exception to this, is if we interview someone who is the topic or focus of our work. Yet, if you think about it, even the interview is solely one-sided. It is from our subject’s perspective.
Over the past few months, I have found a new realization about stories and how they are one-sided. Within a failed relationship, each party has their own version of the REASON for the breakdown.
Neither of them are 100% accurate, as we all know, as we tend to harbor memories in our own version of what occurred. Both sides of the story may be close to accurate, however, when you throw mixed emotions, trauma, and heated arguments in the mix, actual words or events can become clouded.
Further to this, in breakups that aren’t amicable, the partners or spouses involved, may embellish their version, in order to make their ex sound like the bad guy. It is almost human nature to appear to be the one who was the martyr, versus the one who was the “problem”.
In my experience, I have shared my version, or my side of the story, with many close friends. It was a major part of my healing process, and listening to other people’s perspectives of my relationship was the solidification that I made the right choice, for my own mental health.
With that said, I have also heard versions of the story that my ex has been sharing, and it enrages me to hear the inaccuracies. Perhaps the way he shares our failure is his perspective, or perhaps he is fighting to be the martyr. Who knows? I just know that the version that he is sharing, that is getting back to me, is downright incorrect, and frankly, he is lying to cover his own ass. This makes me wonder if he is going through the same process, hearing through third parties what I have been sharing, and believing that I am telling untruths.
The Telephone Game
As a kid, I remember this game we used to play in the schoolyard, or during boring classroom hours. It was called the Telephone Game.
How it works, is one person whispers a short, few sentence, story to another person, and they whisper it to another. The tale is shared with person after person, depending on how many players there are, with the final player saying the story aloud.
Of course, the story transforms into nothing like its original form, once it landed in the ears of the final player. It becomes misconstrued, corrupted, or misinterpreted.
The game got its name, from back in the day, when there were telephone operators who worked on switchboards. They would listen in on private conversations and share them with their friends, who would share with theirs. It was the epitome of gossip and rumors.
I have experienced a new version of this game, through Social Media, since my split with my ex. It is actually fascinating how quickly a wrong message is communicated, and rebounds back to you, completely twisted. The only difference between Social Media and the telephone game is that there is the ability to share photos and images, memes and statuses, that others see and misread.
When we write, it can also be misconstrued. Readers can “read into” our words, and see them in a different light than they were intended.
Everyone Has Their Own One-Sided Story
Another fascination I have found, is that even the third parties involved have their own version of YOUR story. It grows into a one-sided story that they build from yours.
Suddenly, it becomes their story, as they begin to share through the gossip mill. It typically starts with one question, “Did you see what _______ posted on Facebook?” That’s where THEIR story comes into play. It becomes your story, but a 2.0 version, making it theirs.
I actually am guilty of experimenting with this phenomena, as I endured my “moment in the sun” as the one who left. I purposely posted Memes and statuses just to stir the pot and to make people discuss. None of what I posted was untrue, but it gave the opportunity for speculation and scrutinizing, to those who saw it. Perhaps this was an evil agenda, perhaps not. But it was MY thoughts, my feelings and MY story to share. Social Media is an open platform to share whatever you like, and allow others to see and interpret.
The reason I opted to stir things up was to weed out the “looky-loos” , who popped up in Messenger, to suddenly be curious about my life. This happened frequently during our split, and everyone had their own version of broaching the subject; “What’s going on?” or “Are you okay? Need to talk?”
Sadly, some of these people were just asking for their own gossip gasoline, while others, who reached out, truly cared. At least I like to believe they did. However, I have ONE side of the story for them. That is all. I can say what my ex did, to make me leave and I can share why I felt the need to finally give up. If they want his version, they need to ask him.
Much like a coin that you see on the ground. All you see is one side. If you want to know what’s on the other side, you need to make the effort to look at it.
I have learned one valuable lesson, however, through the entire process of breaking off a long relationship. You never truly know who you can trust, or who has your back in the pool of mutual friends. Until you are stung by words you share with someone you thought you could trust, its impossible to get through the muddy waters.
I said something, jokingly, to a person whom I felt was trustworthy and as a result, I was stabbed in the back by my very words. Mutual friends of your ex are difficult to navigate, mostly because they “may” be hearing both sides and drawing their own conclusions. From the seeds of the stories they hear, they concoct their own version, and they share with others who hear it differently, and on and on. Oddly enough, everything I shared with mutual friends came back to me, in a twisted, new version. Interesting.
I KNOW my story. I know all the reasons for my leaving him behind. I also know that it is completely one-sided.
As it turns out, the only person who truly knows the details of your world is you. You can try and explain, or describe, or write, how you feel and what you experienced, but you cannot help someone else feel your true journey. Everything about your life is solely in your memories, your heart and your soul. There is no way you can expect anyone else to comprehend the capacity of what you have endured.
You own your story. You hold the memories, and you hold your own version of the truth. Even if you write it all out, in every gruesome detail, there will always be a reader who sees it from a different perspective and runs with it, creating a new design of your words and voice.
I have learned so many valuable lessons through this rough experience, and for that, I am eternally grateful. My version is mine. His belongs to him.
In all honesty that is all that matters.
We only know OUR individual stories and that is enough for me.