Shonda Rhimes. That lady can freakin’ write. It’s undeniable. At the end of last season, Vulture.com featured four Scandal actors’ favorite monologues. (A note here. If you do not watch and/or have not watched Scandal, we cannot be friends. Lol. Also, if you do watch Scandal but you have somehow found a way to reduce the main character to an inaccurately used, tired old stereotype, I respect your opinion but we can’t be friends either. #nb4r) The article features some pretty epic moments from Season 3 (Four Words: “You are a boy.”), but my personal favorite Scandal monologue (of all time!) happened long before Rowan Pope became a daily part of Olivia’s life on Capitol Hill.
To get into it, we have to back track to Season 2 and jump into the personal life of the president’s unbelievably ruthless Chief of Staff, Cyrus Beene. I scoured the internet for a clip of the following speech and was sorely disappointed when I could not find one. Fortunately, Vulture once again came to the rescue with a recap of “Molly, You in Danger, Girl,” Episode 18 of the show’s second season.
Cyrus Rant of the Week: During their fight, when James [Cyrus’ husband] accused Cyrus of making him perjure himself, Cyrus said, “This is who I am, this is who you married, this is who you love. You chose love, you chose me — you could have put me in prison or brought down the White House, and that is not sitting so well with you now. This choice is rotting deep inside; it’s not the choice, but the fact that you now know you are capable of making that kind of choice. You can pretend it’s me, that I’ve infected you with my bad, bad ways, but you did this, this is the man you are, and I love you anyway, because that is the man I am.”
Amazing, no? Ugh! Shonda, how I envy you. But what I love more than the depth of this monologue is the cold, dark truth. James so wanted to blame Cyrus for the lie he told in the name of love. But Cyrus, who never misses a beat, explained to James rather eloquently that his husband’s darkness is entirely his own.
In my own life, I have experienced this same moment. The accusation. The overconfidence of a loved one who is determined to make me responsible for their reactive choices because of the (admittedly unwise) choices I made. Well. I will always take responsibility for my mistakes. Always. But it’s not my job to carry the weight of your actions too.
The late Stephen Covey actually explained this distinction in his bestselling personal development book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Life throws a lot of stuff at us. Any and everything that happens is a stimulus. Things other people say and do. Lucky breaks. Freak accidents. All of these things are stimuli. And just like every cause has an effect, every stimulus has a response. But what we frequently overlook is the space between. The grand opportunity to choose what will happen next now that the proverbial ball is in our court. If someone cuts you off in traffic, you can give them the finger and curse them out, or you can breathe, let it go and turn up the radio. Similarly, when a loved one hurts or disappoints you, you can scold them, accuse them, retaliate in anger and then try to make them responsible for your enraged actions, or you can rationally express your disappointment and anger, love them anyway and find a constructive way to move forward.
Like it or not, that is reality. You have more control over a situation than you think, even under the direst of circumstances. The truth of the matter is that even if someone else puts you in an awkward position, you are under no obligation to stay there. And, much more importantly, there is more than one escape route. Thank goodness for outstanding writers like Shonda Rhimes who have the gift of making this kind of truth sexy, badass, biting, and absolutely irrefutable. Life lessons are everywhere, people. Are you tuned in?