Who’s Version Of You?

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

It’s natural following the breakdown of a relationship, be it romantic or friendly, there will always be two sides to the story, two versions of events.  After all, we are all the protagonists in our own stories.  We can all accept that in any given situation we weren’t 100% in the right, and both parties can hold a degree of blame, but we’ll see ourselves as the one in the right.

That said, sometimes the degree of blame you hold is tiny compared to the other person… and yet sometimes you get the feeling that the version of events has been twisted so dramatically that the you that you are, the you that you were, is an entirely different person to the you that is being presented to the world by others.

Photo credit Fxq

Photo credit Fxq

I’ll use two examples from my own life.

I had a group of friends when I was with my ex husband, and I had another group of friends when I was going to the gym.

When my husband, those friends resoundingly followed him to the point of shunning me in public and refusing to offer any support when I was seeking him out to spend time with his daughter.

Why? What had I done?

By no means do I not assume any blame for the breakdown of our relationship, I am certainly hard to live with at times.  I was struggling with depression and anxiety, I know I’m neurotic and often anti social.  However, I didn’t do a “thing” that would make me a villain in this tale.

After he left I made every possible effort to enable him to have a relationship with his child.  I didn’t demand child support, however entitled to it I was and still am, I drove to visit his family and him, I made efforts to arrange for him to spend time with her and didn’t lose my mind at him when he cancelled last minute.  I put my personal feelings aside and encouraged their relationship, even when it was hard and even when she was having hysterical and violent tantrums after spending time with him.

As far as I can tell, and given this is my first divorce, I did things pretty fairly.

Yet when he was refusing to make contact with his child his friends, our friends, rejected my attempts to get help in reaching him.  I was deleted from Facebook.  I was ignored in public.

These were the people I had spent my social time with, people I had trusted and spent time with.  People who had bought gifts for Miss Rose’s birthday and attended my wedding.  People I’d been to the cinema with, restaurants with.

What version of events has he given them?

I remember when we met how he spoke about his sadness about not having time with his son, a child he made in a previous relationship.  He cried that he was prevented from seeing him.  That he always supported him, always loved him, but the mother was cruel and heartless.  I felt so sorry for him and I felt horror at her behaviour.

I’m not stupid.  I am certain now that it was fiction.  I’m also fairly certain that I too am cast as the cruel ex wife who stops him seeing his child.  The woman who takes his money without giving him anything in return.

In turn, the friends from the gym.  These weren’t my best friends but they were girls I saw almost every day, talked to, shared important life events with.  They were girls I talked about my boyfriends with and my heart aches, got advice from and gave advice to.  They were close and I cared about them and valued them.

When a male friend got inappropriate with me I ran.  I needed space from that entire world.  He kept going.

Photo credit The Hilary Clark

Photo credit The Hilary Clark

When I bump into them now, these girls I used to be so friendly with, it’s like they don’t see me.  Or if they do, they’re cold.  They act like I do when I see someone who has betrayed someone I care about, someone good.  They will smile and be polite, but offer no hint of friendliness.

So what has been said?  Were my rejections of a married man’s inappropriate advances towards me reshaped?  Surely no woman would behave so coldly towards me did they know the truth.  It would make no sense.  The only explanation is I have again be recast, though what I’m accused of doing I really don’t know.

So what’s the answer?

Part of me wants to scream from the rooftops.  I AM INNOCENT.  I HAVE NEVER KEPT HIM FROM HIS CHILD!  I REJECTED THAT MAN’S ADVANCES!  I DID NOTHING WRONG!

Part of me wants to carry on as I am now.  Just smile and be friendly back.  It doesn’t matter what they think of me, they’re from a past life.  They obviously don’t care that much about me anyway or they’d have sought me out for my version, they’d have expressed sadness and concern for my isolation.  They’d have checked in on my child.  I don’t need them and I’m happy without them, there is no need to go making drama.

But what’s the right thing to do?

My ex husband may continue his career of creating babies he never sees, and another woman may find herself in the same situation.  My ex friend may continue his career of befriending and then becoming inappropriate with younger women, and another girl may not be as capable of avoiding it as me.  Am I throwing my sisters under the bus for the sake of a quiet life?  Am I allowing my own reputation to be tarnished with old friends because it’s easier than fighting for my name and being the strong woman who I aspire to be?

In truth, I find the version of me being reported to almost seem like she belongs to someone else anyway.

I’m a different woman to when I was married.  I’m a different woman to when I was a single girl at the gym.  Perhaps if it was the current incarnation of me that was being trashed I’d fight against it, but it isn’t.  It’s someone else.

The only thing I can take from this is that now I question.  When a person is suddenly removed from my life by another, I don’t automatically assume they’re the devil based on reports.  I think and question and keep in friendly communication.  Sometimes it’s right, sometimes it’s wrong, but I don’t ever want to treat someone I was close to the way my friends have treated me.

If you worry about who’s version of you the world is seeing, I guess you just have to decide whether it matters.  Ultimately for me I decided that for people no longer in my life it doesn’t matter.  For those who still are, it does.  I’ll fight for my current self but not my past.

But the past me still hurts.  She’s still me.  I’m still here.  I wish it were different.  I just accept how it is and move on as best as I can.

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

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