Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché,
My dad is in his 70’s and has Alzheimer’s. After the whole family got involved with his placement (including his ex-wife/ my mom,) I learned a lot about my family. I always identified with my dad and from his point of view it was my mom who was at issue. Now I have learned an entirely different story. This version describes my dad as a person I never met and didn’t know. The new story dates back past my dad, past his mom and even back to her mom. I have no idea what to think now that my family story has been rewritten. My dad is in no condition to comment on this information but I guess I already know his perspective as it is what I have known up until now. I might never know the actual truth and despite this new story I don’t feel any closer to my mom. What do I do when everything I know is challenged?
There is no one story! Reality is ambiguous and different for each individual. Let go of the idea of right/wrong, this/that, he said/she said. You are an adult and have to make your own choices.
Take all information with a grain of salt and realize all humans are damaged in one way or another. Write your own story based on what type of person you want to be and how you want to affect others. What your mom and dad did, and its importance from an intellectual stance, has nothing to do with your own intent; your life is your story and your future.
Remember: truth is relative. There is no one truth. Whenever people try to define one truth or one story it forces stereotypes: good guy/bad guy, his fault/her fault. Blame causes resentment and anger; these make for dramatic movie plots but solve nothing in reality.
Your reality is a choice; choose wisely as there are long lasting repercussions.
Dr. Brilliant Cliché
Granny says: This is a good lesson for you. We all tend to hear only one side of any story- the side our friends tell us, the side the media tells us, the side that has been neatly packaged to someone’s advantage. But behind every obviously hen-pecked husband, there is usually a wife who has been tortured to the point of rancor by passive aggressive tactics which no one else gets to see. And behind every socially aggressive player, there is probably a sad and dejected child who never gets called to the game.
The only conclusion you should be drawing from your contrasting stories of family history is that everyone has their own experience and what you see is not all of what you get. As far as your own life and your own identity- you are an adult and you can make your own choices. I suggest you make them and leave your family history to the archives.