Matt Gemmell

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Inconsistent memories

personal 1 min read

Increasingly often, I'm noticing significant differences between past events as I recall them and as 
they're recalled/recorded by others.

We all periodically get mixed up about something that happened in the past (perhaps confusing it with 
an entirely separate, but similar, occurrence), leading to an uneasy investigation and usually a realisation 
of our error. Sometimes, we simply have to settle for some rather tortured rationalisation than we're just 
confused, or our memory isn't as good as it used to be, since no explanation is forthcoming.

But sometimes, and more and more often lately, I realise that the basic facts of a crystal-clear memory of mine 
differ from the "established" facts. No haziness or long intervening period to make simple confusion a plausible 
explanation. A complete, interconnected set of concrete memories of a period of time, entirely self-consistent and 
properly temporally placed, merging into other agreed-upon memories both before and after the period in question - 
but the recollection is just <em>different</em> from the ones I hear/see elsewhere. There is never <strong>any</strong> 
recollection of "what really happened", negating the possibility of simply recalling dreams which featured an alternate 
set of events.

Most often, the events are just personal experiences, and incidental in and of themselves. Very occasionally, though, 
quite major events are involved - those with significance outwith my own daily life. It's an exquisitely unpleasant 
feeling to be faced with at least strong anecdotal evidence that a past event which you participated in, "actually" 
unfolded in a way very different to how you remember it.


Has anyone else had similar experiences (consistently; I'm sure most people have experienced this at least once)? 
How do you reconcile, or at least rationalise/explain, these "changes to the past"?