I opened it.
It was the email version of a drunk delusional dance.
You are out of touch with reality, it ominously started.
It was an incomplete list of my inadequacies and finished up with alleging an obsession and mental disorder; the rant obviously triggered by the email I’d sent to tell them we no longer wanted them to be a part of our lives.
Ah, apparently, I’d been diagnosed.
I laughed until I cried.
I questioned my sanity and self-concept.
I rolled my eyes so far back into my head it hurt.
I wondered how someone could put something like that in an email and hit send, then;
I found peace.
I pulled my agency back to myself.
This was someone else’s story, and I was cast as a villain in it.
You ARE a villain in someone else’s story.
I know because I have villains in my own stories. I have people I’ve occasionally dressed up as monsters to maintain my narrative as a broken hero, a survivor triumphing over evil. Their ghosts haunt me, raise up a fiery rage through my entire being, and create the making of a damn good origin story against my own spiritual journey.
I am a creative author of my reality. As are you probably. As is the person who wrote you in as the super villain in their story.
You could be a villain in one story, a fierce warrior in another, you are a faceless nobody to a stranger at the airport, a multi-faceted diamond to your closest friend, a superhero to your child, and you are none of those things to yourself.
They’re kinda correct. And so are you. Difference in perspectives does not mean one is false and one is truth.
Truth can be a huge amount of……….gray.
We really have very little autonomy in the roles we will play in the lives of others. Our truth will resonate differently with each person we encounter. It gets filtered through the kaleidoscope of their own very nuanced life experiences to create a new version of you. For every person you have come into contact with over your entire life, there is another you, another unique version of who “you” are.
Incoming tough pill to swallow……
You do not have control over the “you” in the story of others.
The only truth we have control over is our own.
You’ve somehow been cast as a villain.
It isn’t your story to change.
Someone else’s story is their truth, whether we agree or resonate with it or not. Our stories are our own truths, whether we externally validate them or not. Sometimes stories overlap. Sometimes they are interwoven. Sometimes they are so far apart you wonder if they are even in the same book.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Sometimes how we are reflected back by others does have a whisper of truth. The fact that we have been cast as a villain in another’s story might be a red flag that requires our attention. Maybe there truly is a wrong that we need to right. Maybe we do need to apologize and repair…….then again, maybe not. Impact sometimes matters more than intention.
And how we have come to find our place in their story, is their doing. They are the casting director over their reality.
But so are we. So while someone else’s story — even one in which you are a villain — is not your story to change, it’s also important to remember, it’s not your role to adopt either.
Know your truth. Trust your truth.
The key isn’t to run around rejecting everyone else’s stories if they don’t line up perfectly with our own, but to recognize their truths as equally real to them as our own, while still staying aligned to what we instinctively know is our own whole truth.
For me, this was an invitation into a surrender of control, a surrender of likability. Other people don’t have to like me. An understanding that other people’s opinions of me do not matter. They are none of my business.
It’s a slow surrender into something beyond us, to see ourselves as a small speck in the infinite world, to see ourselves past our own stories, and to find value for the experiences and realities of others while staying deeply rooted in our own soul’s truth.
Surrender my friend.
Be a villain.
I decided that day that they could think whatever they wanted to think about me. They could say whatever they wanted to say about me. Jealous of an 8-year-old? Ok. Juvenile? Thumbs up. Insecure? Yep. A bad parent? Ok sure. Everything I’ve ever written about our experiences with our disabled daughter were directly about you? Absolutely. Whatever you say.
It didn’t change anything about me. Absolutely nothing. Not in my heart, not in my identity, not to my loved ones, not to my husband, not to my friends, not to anyone that’s interacted with me for more than five minutes but especially not in my truth. I accepted that the “me” in their story would forever play that role: the obsessed mentally unstable person.
I didn’t fight it. No sarcastic retort, no reasoning, no image gymnastics. No back and forth emails. No debating the same thing over and over again. No defending my honor or reputation. Their truth exists.
I held strong to my own boundaries, without using it to extinguish someone else’s beliefs. They had to go but with the understanding that my truth has value, and it also exists.
I allowed both truths to take up their own space, in no opposition, just existing where they do, separately, in our distant and very much no-longer overlapping life path stories.
Did it feel a little weird? Definitely.
But when I let go of trying to manage my roles in the lives of others, I am able to untangle my self worth from the stories of others. I’m no longer worried about what other people think of me. I’m no longer tied to a toxic situation because I feel obligated to contain the fall out of the poor perception of myself. I don’t have to continue to be the bigger person since I’m the oldest–I can be myself. I don’t have to be the peacemaker or allow my daughter to be in situations that make her uncomfortable. I’m able to see all versions of myself without passing judgement on them–while still seeing myself in the light of my absolute highest truth. ⠀
And that’s how I found my peace.