Why are there people who are so crabby about someone else’s life story? There are a couple of understandable reasons and a couple that are just plain bratty. Here’s what you can expect from those who don’t like your memoir.
They See Things from a Different Point of View
Consider the memoir A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer. When Dave was a boy his mentally ill mother singled him out for abuse. Night after night, while the rest of the family sat at the kitchen table eating supper, he was locked in the basement starving. His moving story can’t help but be different from that of others in his family.
People who are in the same situation at the same time can have dramatically different experiences of that situation. Research has shown, for example, that teachers who think they are unbiased often exhibit biases based on race and gender. They don’t even realize they’re doing it. So one child might adore the teacher and another will not.
Here’s what’s important: Everyone has a right to their own experience. Don’t argue about it. When they say you’re remembering it wrong, tell them you respect their point of view and would appreciate it if they would respect yours. Then drop it.
They Believe in Modesty
Even if you don’t mention someone in your story, they could be uncomfortable with your revelations. You might have yanked them out of their comfort zone. A person doesn’t have to be old – although it probably is more likely to happen with an elder – to think that topics like sex should be kept to oneself. There was a time when people, especially women, were expected to suffer silently if life was hell. You may know someone like that who will find your candidness to be crass.
Just like before, give them credence for their beliefs, but don’t change yours.
They Can’t Control You
When you tell your story in your own voice, it’s concrete proof that you are your own person. People who’ve been pushing your buttons for a long time won’t like that. They can cajole, bully, cry, and rage at your honest telling. Don’t ever put yourself in harm’s way, of course, but also do everything within your power to safely stand your ground. You’ve just made an enormous stride in your life – out from under their thumb. It’s natural for controlling people to have a hard time with that.
Let them figure that out while you carry on.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen someone behave badly upon reading a relative’s memoir. I’m convinced that many are just plain jealous. You’ve moved forward with your life and they haven’t. They want to pull you back into misery with them. And they’ll do everything in their power make that happen.
They Hate Your Memoir but You Can Still Love Them
Telling your story and revealing it to others can be daunting. Don’t be afraid.
Will others see you in a new light? Yes. Is that good? If your story represents you at your most authentic self, yes.
The end result can be new kinds of relationships with the people in your life. Best, of all, that can’t help but lead to your own new relationship with yourself.
Now, go back to writing your story. You will surprise not only others but yourself, as well.
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