Modus Operandi

Our story.

This has been a reoccurring theme this week, which usually means it needs to be addressed. I think it started when I was listening to Brene Brown. It came up again the next day listening to Tony Robbins, then yesterday during a conversation with an old friend, and again this morning hearing a heartfelt conversation between to older men. It revealed itself from two different angles: our tendency to neglect the story of ‘the other’ and the way in which we interpret our own.

Concerning the other, it is almost unavoidable to react to and judge others when they don’t act in accordance with what we deem normal, kind, and rational. I personally, take pretty much everything ‘personally’. Someone is short with me, I said something to annoy him. Someone is in a bad mood, I pissed her off. You didn’t respond to my text in a timely fashion…like in less than 3 minutes without an explanation, I will spend at least two of them wondering what I might have said to upset you.  And this could be with anyone- the woman behind the register or a text exchange with my neighbor. I’m exaggerating a little bit, but not much.

The more probable and far less self-absorbed scenario is that someone’s mood, tone, word selection, and number of cigarettes smoked most likely has nothing to do with me. I can usually read people pretty well and am clearly sensitive to a fault. So it is the rare exception that I have pissed someone off or hurt someone without knowing it. Yes, it happens, but most often their actions or reactions have nothing to do with me.

They are simply playing out their story, their individual story that has been unfolding even before they were born. Stories that have layer upon layer of heartbreak, filled in with deep pockets of empty promises, and lined with scars of false truths and imposed inadequacies so entrenched they can no longer be seen. But they are felt, daily, until we numb them, intensify them, or expose them.

The latter is the only way to heal them. And the latter is what we seldom do.

Our story is also laced with all things beautiful, with moments of sheer bliss, of laughter and innocence, dreams and fearlessness, bold leaps and soft landings. Our first win, first true friend, first kiss, first love. These, too, define us. They steer our tendency to trust, our willingness to take risks, and our capacity to love.

But it seems to me that the amount of exposure we had to either end of the spectrum dictates in what direction we will go. For those of us who spent more time in the dark spaces, it is mostly our attempts to circumvent that darkness that determines our course. Operating from a place of fear, mistrust, and shame becomes our modus operandi.

We let our story define us instead of defining our story.

Owning the darkness of our story is terrifying. It means owning our crazy, our ugly, and our pain. No one wants to do this and few people do. Owning these necessitates exposing them…and this is not for the faint of heart. It means admitting we are weak, vulnerable, and yes, damaged.

But damaged, to me, is beautiful. It is truth. It is part of what makes us unique and cultivates our defining characteristics. It is courage manifest because it did not break us. It is inspiring because it transformed us… if we have the courage to transform it.

I can think of so many examples of the ways in which my friends and family, heroes and adversaries, have interpreted their stories. If I take the time to step out of my own interpretation and try to imagine why they are standing where they stand, it amazes me or it breaks my heart.

So herein lies the lesson or message or whatever you want to take away from this.

Our story is what shapes us, not what defines us. We instead, define our story.  

Every milestone and every scar will always be there, but it is how we interpret them, how we use them, that empowers or enslaves. It’s the ‘I am’, right? If you interpret ‘damaged’ as fucked up, as your cross to bear, then you will most likely claim this as your worth. And this is what will command every aspect of your life.

If ‘damaged’ is your gift, you phoenix, then you transcend, and you rise.

I am slowly learning that my story is who I am, but more importantly, it is how I choose to live. I might not have been able to control how the first few chapters unfolded, but it is now mine to write. I can fixate on my scars and use them as a scapegoat. Or I can honor them as a testament to my courage and strength, and to that of others. I am the protagonist, after all. I have my dragon, but I also have my weapons, some wisdom, and my happy ending. Or not… my choice.

 

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10 thoughts on “Modus Operandi

  1. I know commenting on these as I read them might be odd due to the timing as well as the fact you don’t know me…but I am going to say this know because I truly feel I have learned this much about you. You forget how beautiful and amazing of a person you are, and that very act of forgetting opens that rabbit hole and pulls at you. So, I am just going to keep reminding you when I can. You are a beautiful and amazing person.

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  2. I just saw this, the first thing I read this morning…not a terrible way to start the day. 🙂 Thank you, for taking the time to get to know me, for even being interested in doing so, and for your kind, thoughtful responses. I know the rabbit hole very well, and I most definitely did not feel either of those things after being in such a destructive relationship. But that’s all over, and I can accept that I do all that I can to make a positive impact and lift others up. So, thank you. I can say the same about you. It so clear to me after reading your beautiful, heartfelt words and understanding your commitment to live authentically and compassionately. You are a gift, no question.

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  3. Thank you for saying that. While I appreciate those words, I am not certain to what depth they are true. There is a well of darkness wherein I dwell that I am trying to understand and deal with myself. Perhaps my trying to get to know and understand you is a selfish way of alleviating or understanding that.

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  4. We all have that if we are honest with ourselves. God, I certainly do…the rabbit hole. If you can see the beauty in others and do what you do to remind them of that, I think that qualifies as compassionate and authentic. None of us are perfect. I can be a complete bitch in a bad moment, and have certainly done things that have hurt people I love. We are human and all trying to figure this whole life thing out…few have the courage to try to understand their darkness, much less actually deal with it. I have so much respect and admiration for those who do, because I know very well how daunting and terrifying it can be. So take it in, my friend. You are reminding me, so I get to do the same. 🙂

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  5. Jesus, Brooke. You never cease to amaze me, and that is saying something because I feel like I already know how brilliant and special you are, but this. My god. I am literally gobsmacked. In the thick of intense heartache and pain, this is what you were able to understand and articulate? The ability to see this clearly, in the best of times, is rare. But you, of course, you, can see the bigger picture and understand that there is a deeper meaning to all of it and that damaged and broken is perhaps the most beautiful place of all. I really don’t know how I got so lucky in this life to find you. What I do know is that I owe the universe everything for the gift of you, and I am going to do everything I can to make sure I never take one second of it for granted. You, your words, and heart have blessed my life beyond measure, and I consider myself one of the luckiest people in the world. Please never change, and never stop writing. You, my beautiful friend, are the light the world needs. Now if you don’t mind, I am going to go prep the pedestal for your arrival.

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    • I have no idea how to even respond to this, other than no pedestal, please, I’m afraid of heights! 🙂 I forgot I even wrote this, I was in such a fog…have no idea how I got to a place to write this at that point, but I’m sure inundating myself with Brene Brown and the like helped…which I admittedly need to revisit. I wish this insight was not so fleeting, but it’s a process, right? You, too are such a beautiful gift, T, and provide joy and light to so many- through your words, through your amazing kindness, generosity, humor and friendship. You inspire me and always will.

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