Iteration

STORIES TO TELL

You tell stories about me
And cry out your pain,
The things I did to you
Fresh and raw in the telling.
But that’s not me in your mind,
Just a phantom you’ve created,
A character you’ve built from
Memories chosen to fit the plot.
That’s not me in your head
Scolding and criticizing,
Holding you to a higher standard
Than I hold myself.
You believe you know me,
Not recognizing your own creation,
Colored by the beliefs you
Cling to and the lies we both tell.
You don’t know me, the whole me,
Just as I don’t know you,
Though I too have stories to tell

Yesterday I posted a different version of this poem. This one came first. It was the seed, but I wasn’t happy with it, so I took it and reworked it. And since I believe that rhyming couplets make everything better, I wrote yesterday’s post just for fun. The problem with rhyming couplets is that I can go on forever with them. I could have written pages. I had to force myself to stop.

While I had fun playing with words and rhymes, I didn’t fully capture the thought behind either of these poems. I feel like I’m failing the form. Most likely, I need more time than I’m giving myself. In six months or a year, I might come back to these and rewrite them completely.

I was on the periphery of an emotional conversation in which I played a significant role for the teller. Someone else was handling the conversation with wisdom and grace, things that my big Aries mouth often lacks. Since I wasn’t engaged fully (thus avoiding my usually tendency to turn every conversation into a battle in order to protect my honor), I was better able to listen, and so better able to hear. As I did, I realized that I didn’t need to defend myself, since the version of me that played a role in this story was just a construct in that person’s mind, created from selected memories that fit that particular story. In that sense, it was valid. That’s how this person saw me, coded me, solidified me in their mind. There were elements of truth, just not the whole story. And that was fine. This wasn’t about me. It wasn’t my story.

I often feel that nobody knows me. How can they? I don’t share a lot of what I’m thinking or feeling. Not the deep-down stuff. On the surface, I chatter away about all kinds of things. I’ll ask you about your thoughts and feelings. I’ll happily listen if you need to vent. And though I might commiserate, I probably won’t reveal too much about my own struggles unless I’m asked. Most people don’t ask. Even if they do, I would have to trust them before I answered with any depth.

What can we really know of one another? We do make up stories and fill them with characters based on the people in our lives. Based on. Whatever role I assign you isn’t the full truth of you. It’s a melding of you and me, created from the intersection of our lives. You’re more than that. I’m more than that. However much I think I know you, there’s always more. I need to remember that when I’m reacting to my own villains. And when I’m assigned that role by someone else. There’s truth there even if it’s not the whole story.

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