I have a weird deal with this principle...my life is a juxtaposition of feeling responsible for everything and trying desperately to have others show up in a meaningful way to alleviate some of my over responsibility...
It is hard. My feelings of over responsibility and my equal feeling that others do not really step up all that much in my life.
I know that this feeling is only loosely based on fact, I have a lot of people in my life who are responsible to me and for me, and honor their commitments. However, I would be lying if I didn’t admit that there is also a long, sad story I tell myself where I don’t really ever get the help I need or want. What I have learned is that both stories are true.
First my over responsibility...I have historically been completely willing to come over to your side of the street and take responsibility for things that are not mine. Alleviating you from any and all responsibility for stuff that is yours...I have allowed people to move in rent free, I have given money that I don’t have so that I could “help” you out, I have signed up for causes and commitments that I didn’t want and couldn’t handle because “someone had to do it”. (Hand to head right there). What my over responsibility really shows is how much I confused martyrdom and responsibility...here is the difference: martyrdom is taking responsibility for that which is not ours and then laying a big guilt trip on others so that we can finally be recognized for all our good works...So totally unattractive yet, I have been there oh so many times!
Responsibility really, for me, is owning my 100%. And leaving you yours, right there and not picking it up or getting lured onto your side of the street in some sort of misguided attempt to “help”. Let’s be clear - most, if not all of my helping, is really just me trying to control you, the outcome and the situation...rarely do I want to help you in the manner you need or want. And so much more often I am only willing to help in the manner that I determine would be helpful...
These are some harsh truths right now, on a Friday no less!
What I can see is that I have so confused responsibility with control. They are not the same. There are lots of things that I am responsible for: doing my job, parenting my children, taking care of myself, paying my bills, honoring my commitments, not taking on more than I can handle, my attitude. These things I am responsible for...and I have little control over any of it...Yet I have tried, somewhat successfully, to control it all. Oh, most of the people involved didn’t like me much in the process, but we did get the shit done. Well, you likely got your shit done and I got to feel like I was helpful but really what I was doing was becoming overly involved in your life so that I could ignore or escape some aspect of my own that I found hard, uninteresting or lacking the appropriate amount of luster to hold my own attention.
In the end, I am responsible to me, for me and about me. All things Erin fall into my sphere of influence. And I live the best and most purposeful life when I stay in my own orbit and let you stay in yours. This doesn’t mean that I don’t connect with you or help you out, but I allow you to tell me what you need instead of me thinking that I know what is best for you.
I have to be my own business and get the hell out of yours. I am not responsible for you or anyone else, even my children. They are not babies anymore, they are teens and the best and most loving thing I can do today is to allow them to figure out as much shit as they can about who they are and what they are. I am really here to keep the lights on, food on the table and them from burning the place down...they don’t really want my help and REALLY don’t want my control. They want me to take care of the things that are mine and support their efforts to do the same. And they are teens, so they would really, really like it if I allowed them to make their shit my responsibility. But we all know how that works out...
I have to be 100% responsible for my 50% as my friend Paul says...in all that I do. I can get over into your 50% but we all know that is the quickest way to beget resentment.
I have learned over the last 20 years to be leery of people who invite, and sometimes in fact beg me onto their 100% plot, I have come to see this more as invitation for both of us to become instantly and forever miserable...because I know for sure, that the only work I can do is my own. And as much as I would love to believe that your work could be made easier or better with my assistance, I know from my own life that is simply untrue.
I have to remain constantly vigilant to walk the very delicate line between self care and selfishness while also tightrope walking the slackline of my own life. I can do it for you, but I rob you of the lessons you are meant to learn. And I rob myself of the time and energy to attend to my own life...and learn my own lessons.
And there for me is the big reveal, I take responsibility for you and your stuff so that I don’t have to look at my own. Yours is easier, more solvable and better from my view. Yours I can really get in there and effectuate some real change! But that is just folly...I can’t. All I can really do is get in there and muck it all up...preventing both of us for really growing and owning that which is ours to deal with...
I am responsible for this and this alone: my life. My efforts, my use of will, my attitude and how I show up, if I show up. That is all. I have to own the skin I am in and recognize that this is all I am given for raw material. I can leave the cutting board of my own life and become distracted in your designs and schemes but really, no matter what I do, I will always and forever just be shirking off my own responsibility so that I can muck about in yours which results in both of us being robbed of amazing opportunities for growth, change and a feeling of contentment.
Responsibility is tricky because there are lots of opinions to the contrary about exactly what and for whom I am responsible...today, I know that you all get to think whatever you want about whatever you want, which would include a less than stellar opinion of me. However none of that changes my only real responsibility in this life: to do the work to find out who I am and then do the next indicated work to improve on what I find while honoring the good that exists. Be me, and allow you to be you, that is all.