Sometimes looking back on your past is a way to provide perspective but it should never be used as a way to revise the facts.
Recently, I came across a short piece written by an author I know that spoke about her family life and her siblings. I fully expected to read an interesting perspective however what was written quickly dissipated into a tepid piece that went nowhere, and offered a few lies along the way.
How do I know this? Because one of the siblings she referred to as having completely disappeared into a black hole was the same sibling I know she had interacted with online just a few weeks earlier. How odd that the author should misrepresent not only the contact, but the fact that both are easy to find online as is the case with most people these days.
Revisionism works when it’s objective, academic, and a truth based narrative on something from the past that comes replete with facts to support the revisionism. So while there’s something to be said about people telling and retelling their truth, there’s a lot more to be said about making certain the facts support the telling and retelling of their truth.
I realize and understand that perspective has everything to do with a person’s truth in telling and retelling their story. For example, if two people witness the same event at the same time but they aren’t standing in the same exact place when the event happens, you will hear two different versions of what happened. If one was looking one way while the other was looking another, there is no way they will both see and remember the exact same things about what happened.
That’s why personal stories, while important, need to come with cautious perspective from the listener who is only hearing one point of view and one opinion from each person who tells the same story.
It’s why the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are similar but not identical, and why there are a very few discrepancies between each of the gospels. While they and the other disciples were with Jesus, the four who wrote the gospels agree on many of the basic facts, but they remember some of those basic facts a bit differently from each other. Some of that can be chalked up to writing style, but some of it has everything to do with where they were standing at the time these basic facts happened.
That’s not revisionism. That’s interpretation of the facts.
Unfortunately, when people like the author I mentioned decide to revise history with a narrative that has marginal facts and a lot of false assertions, their writing becomes two-dimensional to readers — even those readers who know nothing about the author’s history. It also calls into question everything else the author claims to be a true accounting of their own life.
I’m not saying anyone should out others who are engaged in questionable revisionism. I’m saying that when you find it, remind yourself you are only hearing that one person’s telling and retelling of a story that may or may not be an accurate accounting of what happened.
Before you tell your own story, ask yourself whether you are retelling the situation as it happened to the best of your recollection or if there is revisionism going on intended to lessen your role in what happened or meant to create something so far removed from the truth that no one is able to ferret out the truth from the fiction.
Your silver lining today is that people oftentimes act in a way that allows you to find the loose stitches in the fabric of your own storytelling. When that happens, it’s time to be accountable and responsible and own up to the truth and the facts of the event you are remembering and hoping to share.
Call yourself out long before you tell and retell your story so you can provide the most truthful accounting you can of what happened. And remember to keep the blaming and shaming and fingerpointing and name calling out of your story telling.
In the meantime, my friend who has allegedly disappeared into the sibling’s alleged black hole has decided to continue to give that sibling a wide berth. Why not call her on it? Because sometimes the kindest thing to do when someone insists on presenting lies as fact is to wait for the facts to catch up to them and out that person by way of the facts.
23 July 2021