An Incomplete History of Brooke and Forgiveness

[Original Posting Date: June 12, 2020 6:22 pm- 10:45 pm]

I did it! I drove all the way across town, despite not having working audio in my car. It turns out that this new stereo deck I installed, like my parents’ microwave – is smarter than I am. It had politely informed me that the problem, indeed, lies within my car’s amplifier.

So I played music from my headphones, worn around my neck

and it took a little work

but I started feeling it.

Which makes me wonder, once again, about the potential health benefits of loud music – which I’ll talk more about some other time.

But while I was driving

I thought about some stuff

One of which was driving itself

I think that may have been one of my first, totally unconscious and unintentional experiments in forgiveness!

Of course, I didn’t think about it terms of Forgiveness, nor of Experimentation, then

But Old Brooke was a terrible driver, because she mostly didn’t pay attention.

And I caught myself, over and again – doing the kinds of things that caused me irritation when other drivers did them…

Except, when I was doing them, it was usually because I was just being spacey.

Not always, I have to admit.

But often enough for me to get better about not assuming that other drivers were actively trying to make my life worse, always. And if I allowed the possibility that they weren’t being mean, just maybe were being a little oblivious

even if the possibility was slight

it was enough.

Enough to frequently just..dissolve my outrage.

Even before I began describing myself as a ‘happy’ person, I had, for years- been describing myself as probably one of the few people in LA who didn’t really mind the traffic so much.

(I also listened to TED Talks and Hardcore History episodes almost exclusively when I had long commutes, though- so I didn’t feel so much like I was trapped in a slow moving bubble for hours every day, for no other reason than Getting to Work)

But it was a retraining my brain thing, I think

The longer I kept on being kind of oblivious, and giving other drivers the benefit of the doubt –

Not assuming they were also being oblivious, really – but also maybe not assuming that they weren’t

Well, eventually I stopped feeling irritation at all, unless I saw obvious signs of aggression.

 

And then I caught myself driving aggressively, too.

 

I have never really been someone who drives aggressively very often.

So that particular belief – that I was Not An Aggressive Driver

Was a tough one to undo.

But, once I started paying attention

I just could not ignore the evidence- not forever, anyway

the evidence that I could be, and sometimes was An Aggressive Driver.

The thing is

I always justified it

Which ties into what I wrote on Consistency the other day

both because of the problems resulting from feeling like an action that I am not okay with myself undertaking under some circumstances- is okay under others

and also because those other drivers

Cannot know just how terrible of a day I’d been having

Cannot know why I justified my anger

They just see another asshole on the road.

 

And that

Opened up the possibility, in my mind

That, perhaps

those drivers that I had still been feeling Anger or Irritation towards

Well, that maybe they’d been having a Really Bad Day

Or, worse

Maybe, for some of them

Every day was a Really Bad Day.

 This also ties into the whys of the whats (another post I will link to, once I have actually uploaded it)

Because, when I am irritated – when I am not patient, nor forgiving

Then I tend to act in kind.

Tend to take that irritation, that anger out on that driver that I feel deserves my wrath, deserves to be taught a lesson-

Or sometimes even on other drivers, later

But has tailgating someone, or driving realllly slowly when they cannot pass, or the like-

Has that ever caused the offending driver to feel chagrined? Ever helped them understand the error of their ways?

Like, even once? Ever?

This goes into why I’m starting to suspect that punishment may never work, but I’ll go into my thoughts on that later.

 

So, forgiveness.

Let’s see if I can work through some feelings

Turn them into thoughts, into words

I am not sure, right now

Whether that this thing in my head which I call Forgiveness, is more of an active or a passive sort of thing

It is probably some of both.

But maybe it would help if I took the time to define it, first- which I’ve never really taken the time to do, before

Haven’t done, yet

But might do, now – as I write

I almost feel like Forgiveness is a thing which happens within the mind of Brooke

at the point after which I have begun to see how a person – any person, myself included

could have ended up acting in a certain way – a way that seems Not Good, to me

Without also thinking of them as Not Good, as a person.

The Not Good Day thing is one example

or, when I’ve found out about the trauma someone had experienced, that I had previously been unaware of- and which suddenly changed my understanding of why they might have acted that way; that suddenly made their (or my own) destructive behavior make sense

in a way that it had not, before

Or, when I’ve changed my internal definitions of what constitutes trauma itself-

I have tended to, throughout my life- act even more destructively, sometimes- as a youth and as an adult – perhaps in part because the shame of feeling like I didn’t deserve to feel Not Good; that I had no right to feel that way – added to the Not Good feelings

and compouned them.

I feel like that kind of thing can manifest in a wide variety of ways, depending on the People Factor (will link to that post later, as well!) of each unique person

So, maybe one way to look at the thing in my head which I call Forgiveness – another angle from which to view it

is that it’s what happens when I realize that a person, myself or another

is hurting

and did not know how to make that hurt go away.

I feel like that is when we lash out

with physical violence or aggresssion

or with the weapon which tone can become, when wielded as such.

Tone itself can convey anger

irritation

condescention

all sorts of painful things

even when the words spoken

do not.

Even laughter can be a weapon; sometimes subtle, and sometimes…not.

But I’m starting to wonder

if maybe people only seek to harm, to wound others

when we are hurt ourselves.

When we aren’t really sure why we’re hurting, and therefore – on some level – are acting in a way that might hurt others as though that will soothe our pain

Or, maybe

when we aren’t fully aware of how our actions, our tone – are affecting those around us

 

I don’t really know about all of that.

But what I do know

is that I didn’t start feeling like I was making any real progress towards the goal of treating people in a way that I was more likely to be proud of, and less likely to be ashamed of

Until I became more forgiving.

…and, I suspect

that it may have had to start with finding forgiveness for myself.

As long as there were still Things that I Did

that I could not look at

that I continued to see as Life Sentences, defining who I was and what I was capable of- forever

well, then there remained the possibility of other people being similarly Broken.

Permanently, broken.

That, though – that Forgiveness of Self

that’s a hard thing to find.

and I do not know the words for this, yet – have not Found the Words that might help another along the path to Forgiving the Self.

I think, though…

I think maybe this will help me get there:

I have noticed, time and again

That people – people of all the species I regularly interact with – are incredibly forgiving.

It takes so many instances of getting hurt by someone we love

to finally let go of that love

Sometimes, that never happens – sometimes (maybe rarely, but maybe not!) we find ways to show them a better way of treating us

But sometimes

sometimes, things end in tragedy.

But we say “I’m so sorry”

to humans that we’ve hurt

and mean it

and they give us another chance. A chance to prove it

We show love to pets that we’ve neglected, or caused to feel scared

and they, too

give us another chance

they give us chance after chance to prove to them that we mean it

to act in a way that makes them feel loved

So, to anyone outside of our own selves, it seems-

forgiveness comes easily.

maybe even is the automatic.

 

If we perceive the potential for real change in others

just as others perceive it in us

Why is it so difficult for each of us to look at our own selves that way? 

I don’t have the answer to that question, right now.

But maybe it’s not because there isn’t one.

 Maybe I just don’t know it,

yet.

brooke

I spent three years living on the street in Los Angeles. I came out of that, changed. This is my story.

Leave a Reply