Disentangling Facts and “Truths”

This is something I have grappled with over the last year. When first confronted with the possibility that my ‘truth’ and Alex’s could be totally different I dismissed the idea out-of-hand.  In fact I couldn’t comprehend it was possible!

Now I view this in a totally new light. And doing so has helped me understand what happened / is happening.

My marriage is a fact. It happened.  20 April 1992.
Alex left.  Fact.  February 2009.

We also went on numerous holidays to Southern Africa.  Fact.   And If I take – say – a particular holiday perhaps I can explain what I think I am getting at regarding truths and facts.

In 2004 we went to Namibia and Botswana. We drove across the northern edge of the Makgadikgadi  (pronounced Ma-huddi-huddi) Pans in Botswana. We then turned off down a track which was virtually indistinguishable from the rest of the bush on either side of it. We travelled for several hours, through small hamlets where the ‘track’ vanished. We finally came out onto the salt pans themselves and drove across several small ones, finally arriving at Kubu Island.

Kubu Island is a rocky outcrop covered in baobab trees, surrounded by the salt pans. On one side you can look out to a completely white horizon. A sea of salt. We camped overnight. The wind got up in the evening and the tent almost buckled under it.

All these are FACTS.

Now for the ‘truths’ – these for me are different from facts.

Firstly if I engage with the Adventurer Me.

It was a brilliant day and evening. Slightly scary. We had to negotiate our way through small hamlets of people who didn’t speak English. We felt like intruders into their private space. When we finally found our way through and out on to the salt pans a new kind of ‘scary’ took over. You have to be careful where you drive as the salt crust can hide areas where the earth underneath is soft and can cave in. The trick is to stick with tracks made before you as you know these will be safe. After so many hours of driving it was hard to concentrate. Reaching Kubu Island gave us a sense of real achievement. The island is stunning. The baobab trees magnificent. We climbed to the top of the rocks and looked out at the view.   All that ‘nothing’!  Amazing. I just love these sort of adventures – really ticks all my boxes – Risk – Adventure – Significance (as in doing something different from most people!)

Now if I engage with the feminine Me:

Alex was amazing. He encouraged me to do the driving so he could ‘map’ read ( the map didn’t really exist!!) and check the GPS co-ordinates he had found. When we were faced with the salt he directed and congratulated me for getting us all the way to the Island. He told me about all the trees and the rocks and how the salt had been formed. He took charge of the fire so we could cook our supper and picked the best spot for the tent. When the wind blew up he staked out the tent so we wouldn’t blow away. I felt protected and cared for and special and significant in this life.

Now the ‘lover’ me:

When the sun went down. The salt turned the most wonderful pink, then red, before the sun vanished over the horizon and the pitch black took over and the temperature plummeted. The effect was spine-tingling. The multitude of stars above us magical. Alex helped me pick out the Southern Cross and told me all about the galaxies.

But. He didn’t hug me, he didn’t hold my hand, he didn’t cuddle up to me. We were two separate beings experiencing this event rather separately. We slept next to each other in our separate sleeping bags – which are actually designed to be zipped together. I think we may have had a brief hug.  Sad really. The night could have been so much more special.

Finally if I engage the ‘fearful’ – ‘masculine’  me – the one I really don’t like:

It was hard doing most of the driving – even though I think I’m the better driver.. I could have done with the occasional break. I felt insecure at times. But Alex prefers to read .  The tent nearly blew away. He could have chosen a better spot.

The point of all this is?   All the above are “true”. They’re all emotions I experienced at the time. By engaging different versions of me I can give myself a different perspective of the event.  Put the whole lot together and they become the total me.

I can’t ‘run’ the same event from Alex’s point of view but my guess it could be much the same as mine except for the Lover version:  I felt tired that evening – too much glaring at the map and anyway it was very cold.  I think she was hoping for more but I wasn’t in the mood and she didn’t do much to encourage me (come to think of it she rarely does – perhaps I don’t turn her on).  The failing Protector Version / weak man Version:  I don’t think I chose the best spot to camp, I should have taken us round to the other side of the rocks so we would have been in the lee of the wind.  I bet she thinks this is my fault and is secretly blaming me………  I feel I failed her.

So what happens when one version of ourselves takes over and ‘kills off’ all the others. The event – holiday – marriage –  gets skewed or distorted. I think this is how people ‘re-write history”.  What if Alex is only living in the fearful version of himself – the weak/inadequate version – or say the “non-lover” –  then all he will remember of the holiday and that magical evening was that it was OK but could have been better.

And we CAN “rewrite history”.  We all know people who suddenly sing the praises of someone who has recently died, having disliked them and found them a real pain when they were alive. They distort the past as suddenly they feel guilty for feeling the way they did so it’s more comfortable to do a quick rewrite – maybe to justify the deceased’s  behaviour  – as it makes themselves feel better – less guilty.

So I believe it is with Alex. To justify his actions, his adultery, the destruction of our marriage, he has “rewritten” or “blotted out”  vast swathes of the good times  so he feels less guilty. So he can justify what he’s done. But what if he has only managed to do this by living in a distorted version of himself? What if he has ‘killed off’ the lover, the seducer, the adventurer, the man, and has allowed a very destructive version of himself to rule him? What then? Will he ultimately be happy? Maybe for now.  But for how long?

That’s why I feel compassion for him.

It doesn’t change what’s happened.  It doesn’t change the facts.  But it helps my ‘truths’ – and keeps them true for me.

11 thoughts on “Disentangling Facts and “Truths”

  1. It is amazing to me that you can have compassion for him. Good on you.
    The re-writing of history is something I find so insulting and demeaning. X said that shared experiences were important to her….and she had those with J.
    In my mind, she had those with J while I was home with the kids, trusting her. Their shared experiences were taking pictures together. It may have been nice, but to me can nowhere come close to the shared experiences of things like being together when our son was born, or our wedding, or, or, or….
    So, It is nice to see that you have progressed so far in this.
    (By the way…all of my me’s see our experiences the same way)

    • I think learning to truly engage with the different versions of me has been one of the more amazing breakthroughs I’ve experienced. As I’ve discovered that I can not only use those different versions of me in different situations but that I am in control of them as well. I can switch them on and off at will. They’re all still me but I can make any one of them more dominant – and by doing that I have more confidence in the ‘overall’ me. If that makes sense.

      The fact that Alex sees events differently to me is no surprise – why wouldn’t he – his values and the rules he applies to them can’t and won’t be the same as mine. Only he knows himself to the core. Not me. The life he has lead is different so the interpretations he puts on events will be different. Even if we both loved every second of an event we would still love it from different aspects.

      I think that’s one of the problems couples may get into. As individuals we can become obsessed – or at the very least – over keen – for our partner to love something the way we do! We need to listen and hear. Accept and appreciate that their take on something is as valid as ours and as powerful for them – be it good, bad or indifferent.

      To then try and change them – to make them rewrite their version – is to undermine them and make them feel they and their thoughts and ‘truths’ aren’t valid. Result: Disaster.

      Anyway that’s just the way I see it!!

      • Like LFBA, I admire your ability to feel compassion for Alex. You are a long way ahead of me on this, it is quiet humbling…

        Thank you for once more providing an interesting perspective on things, and this “I think that’s one of the problems couples may get into. As individuals we can become obsessed – or at the very least – over keen – for our partner to love something the way we do! We need to listen and hear. Accept and appreciate that their take on something is as valid as ours and as powerful for them – be it good, bad or indifferent.

        To then try and change them – to make them rewrite their version – is to undermine them and make them feel they and their thoughts and ‘truths’ aren’t valid. Result: Disaster.” sums things up perfectly for me.

        Guilty as charged…When we had disagreements, I was always desperate to make T see things the way I did, to make him agree with me, when all I really needed was for him to understand my point of view. He probably felt bullied and I felt misunderstood: Disaster.

  2. Wasband THOUGHT he wasn’t appreciated. I THOUGHT I was loved. Factually we were both wrong.

    But so many things, I thought we shared were wrong. Especially, the agreement in some of the conversations we used to have with each other about the bad way people behaved, all of which he pulled on me on the way out.

    The resulting cognitive dissonance is probably the most surreal aspect of this journey

  3. Firstly I love adventures like these and they tick several of my boxes as well. The emotional recounting of the same adventure is brilliant but more telling is the no hugs thing. It somehow shows you were having the same experience but not sharing it with each other on some deeper level. I may be talking rubbish, of course ,but thats the impression I’m left with. I do think that in examining experiences like these you can get to understand a lot about a relationship and you’ve done so brilliantly with your normal honest and candour.A great post if I may so so

    • The hugs thing is very telling and it links back to my issues with initiating intimacy. He was not the most confident lover – hence issues we both chose not to talk about (me because until very recently I didn’t understand the effect the assault when I was 15 has had on me) and him – well I can’t answer that one – that would be for him to say and to my knowledge he doesn’t visit this blog!

  4. The mantra of “seek first to understand, and then be understood” is a wonderful way to approach the thought that we can change people or force them to our own experience. There is often such beauty in being able to see through their eyes if we can just shut off our internal voices for a bit.
    I admit that I sometimes had trouble understanding X, especially when her desires seemed to conflict with themselves. This I believe spoke to her own internal confusions but they often manifest in “retaliation” against us. An example…X would encourage me to go out with some guy friends and “do something for myself”. If I did, she would say “great”, but within a short time she would resent that I did that. When pointed out to her the opposing reactions she would admit that “yeah…I do that and I don’t know why, but I end up resenting you”
    or even more telling. She had an argument with our daughter’s biological father. She was upset. I went to hug her. She pushed me away, forcibly. A while later she was angry that I didn’t hug her,
    I truly did not understand….and by reacting in confusion and at this point some anger, I probably could not have.

    • Hi! You’ll have to explain more as I have no idea what you mean. Your comment sounds like a warning which seems slightly strange.

      Perhaps you don’t understand about how the different versions of you can come into play?! How important they are and how empowering it is when you do understand this.
      Thank you for your comment – but do please say more

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