Sunday, July 1, 2012

How can two people live through the same thing and yet their stories be so different

As I was writing my last blog entry on my personal demon, a thought kept re-occurring to me as I struggled to wrap my head around the beast that has been plaguing me.  It was the thought of how two individuals who share a meaningful experience can have such widely differing recollections of the event and the surroundings of that event.  As I ponder on this awhile it came to me from my own life experiences that even though two people are in the same situation and going through the same things they experience it and see it from different perspectives.  In either case both of the views are essentially correct much of the details are the same or at least similar. But the story differs in very important key points.  It is my thought here that this is because each of us learns how to internalize and review events  after the fact and we put our own filters and perceptions into the mix of actual events.  This began to trouble me a bit, because I had always thought that the truth would set you free.  That there can be only one version of an event.  But alas there are many versions, of the same event all replaying in those who were part of the event.

Who can say which event was actually the real event that took place? Can you honestly say that you yourself remember the exact sequences of the things that happened, that your personal experiences, hurts, feelings and other complicated parts of you were not involved in your recollection?  I daresay you can't and neither can I.  Each of us remembers the things that have affected us most, and we take those events and we color them in our own flavor.  Meaning this, we take each event from our own view point and we exclude all other perceptions of what happened, and since we have survived said event, we write it's history from our own point of view.  The details and facts of the event we keep in place for the most part, though I would hazard to guess that each of us wants to paint the events in our own best light.  I hope you can follow what I am trying to tell you here because it is important and something that has been killing me for a while now.  History, is something of an art form, since we haven't actually lived through some of it, we have to take it on faith and believe what we think is fact is actually correct.  But, I do say we must take into consideration that history is written by those that have won and survived whatever that conflict was.  History is recorded by the victors, not the victims for the most part.  Ever since the atrocities of WWII, historians have been doing a wonderful job of trying to piece together both sides of the story to make a cohesive tapestry that we can all understand.  But it isn't always easy to do this because as I have pointed out that we tend to have differing ideas as to what actually happened.  So what historians do is go by trends and data that has survived the conflict and utilizing sociological methods put together a model of what the culture and society was doing and don't come at it from the microcosmic level of personal involvement until it comes to a prominent figure that they think they know enough about.

As I am writing this I am thinking of how different the history books would have read coming at it from the Germans point of view directly after the war.  You see, as time and distance develops between the event and it's recording we can see things become clearer that were once obscured by the conflict itself.  History from the Jewish stand point would be of tragedy betrayal and utter loss, but again it is but a fragment of what actually happened during the time.  Albeit I admit that it is because of the domination and destruction of the jews that pulled the world into a massive struggle and war, there were others also being persecuted and executed besides the jews.  However, in history's eyes it is this main atrocity that we bring forward into today.  Blacks, gays, and other minorities were rounded up and imprisoned just like the jews, but we don't hear tales of those events quite as much.  The point I am wanting to bring home is this and this alone, there are always two sides to a story and neither side is right or wrong.  They are the differing views of the participants.  If further information for an event, such as a criminal trial we must go outside of the original participants to others who might have seen or viewed the event.  By piecing together the memories and recollections of a collective we can see patterns emerge, and from those patterns we must then look back at the individuals and see how they fit the situation.  I am sure you will agree that this is a costly and time consuming affair, but if we truly want to know what actually transpired we must take these steps to ensure total accuracy.  As behavior patterns begin to become evident, we can then start looking at the motivations and eventually the actions of what actually took place and come up with a broader understanding of the event.  However, again I caution that often times when we are in the midst of the event itself we cannot fully see what we are doing and we wing it most of the time. It is only upon reflection can we see the tracery of the patterns as the evolve.

So don't run around calling someone a liar just because they remember something differently than you do, because you see they are looking at the event from their own point of view and since you have not expressed or shared your own point of view with the other person how can you be so sure that what they claim happened, really didn't happen in fact? You cannot, and neither can I.  I honestly believe that in our personal relationships there is a lack of communication, we don't express all of our emotions and feelings to our partners, we don't share with them the benefit of our own point of view and so when it finally comes down too it, who is to say who is right or wrong?  No one actually, and that is the point.  Each camp, because as I have explained there are always two sides to everything, will have their own ideal and version of what actually happened, and if there is no collaboration between the two camps there can be no resolution of the facts.  Each side is deeming the other unfairly, and we not having the resources of government and the court system cannot do an extensive survey of the events surround and supporting the said action. We can only piece it together from our own experiences. So before you dismiss your partners story out of hand, and deny that the events unfolded as they have said, I beg of you to take a good look and review the facts as you know them and I think you will begin to see where the differences in the story come from and if you are truly honest with yourself you can begin to understand that they haven't lied, or omitted anything, they are just coming at it from their side, and since you haven't bothered to share your side with them you side is just as wrong as theirs is.

It is sometimes difficult to see things from the other persons perspective, and you don't want to look bad yourself, so you cling with desperation to your story and refuse to admit that you both could be wrong and that you both were at fault in the issue.  An instance comes to my mind from my past of something that is still plaguing Joe and I.  When last we spoke it was brought up yet once again and I see his side of the story, but he has failed to yet see what my side was. He was hurt, his family was hurt and yet both of us were involved in the situation from beginning to end, and yes I admit that I was wrong in what happened as much as he was.  But I was hurt and confused and I didn't see the harm that was being caused at the time. Now that years have passed and I look back at what actually happened, I realize he doesn't even see that he was involved that I did it all myself and I was solely to blame for the matter at hand. I won't go into details, other than to say that he was there and participated in the events that took place, but I was the one who was seen by his parents and not him and therefore I carry the blame on my shoulders and will till the day I die.  But this is one of the things that he has not forgiven me about and he has believed his side for so long that he doesn't even remember that he was also there and doing the same things, he just left before his parents found out.  I don't mind being the bad guy in the situation, but it devastates me to think that his parents look upon me as deceitful and full of disrespect.  I loved them and they were as much my family as his and it hurts me to know that I cannot and will not probably ever see any of them again, and that my mistake has forever banished me from their love and their home.

Yes, there are things that I understand that Joe can never forgive me of, but I am hopeful now that I am coming clean about those things that have been haunting me all these years he can understand a bit better what I was going through.  I cannot and will not forgive myself for turning a blind eye upon his needs and caring.  That I refused to see what pain he was enduring and didn't understand, or could not bring myself to face the truth that I was being ruthless in my pursuit of destruction.  I tried to force everyone around me away, I hid from myself the fears that were binding me and I plunged forward with despair trying to end my life and guess what I ended up doing, alienating myself and loosing some good and worthy friends along the way.

When you come to a point in your life when someone is saying one thing happened and you think another you owe yourself and them the courtesy of brutal honesty and truth.  You need to admit to yourself that their version is as much correct as yours.  That neither of you are lying and neither of you were in the right or in the wrong. The past is the past and cannot be undone, but it can be handled with respect and dignity and grace, and both of you can look like victors, neither of you has be win.  Because in the long run there are no winners or losers in a personal conflict there are only injuries and insults, and victims of war.  Please take the time and look deep within yourself, and realize the truth, see the moment and acknowledge the facts.  Don't look for blame, because there is blame on both sides, there is fault on both your heads and no one is innocent.  Look around you at the collateral damages and the lives your have hurt. Reach out and pick up the pieces and do your best to undo the hurt that you have caused.  You will be that much better when you do.

As always my hopes and dreams are with you and I hope to hear from you soon.

Uncle B