I have a lot of not-so-great traits. One of them is not holding people, in my personal life, accountable for their responsibilities and actions. I’m a caretaker and it just has seemed easier to take care of things or just forgive (really ignore) rather than to make others responsible for their actions. Clearly, I’ve chosen people in my life who have been willing to take no (or limited) responsibility for their actions. Karma.
So, about a year ago (in keeping with my year of 50), I decided it was time to encourage people in my life to be more responsible – and for this person, to be accountable for that which he should be responsible for. It was really hard for me to do and I backed off over and over again. I hate conflict and I knew this would cause conflict. Plus, I could see that someone was really fueling his new lack of responsibility and I knew I would be going up against two, not one. But, I also knew that I wanted to my kids to learn that when they have commitments, they must follow through and I needed them to understand (and watch) that even when life is difficult, they still need to move forward.
Fast forward a year and its gotten really bad. He’s angry, resentful and those feelings are ruining the relationship we once had. At first I was heartbroken – still am to a certain extent. But, I also realize that our relationship was built on me taking care of everything to keep the peace … I think that’s a diagnosable condition for therapy – no labels please! 🙂
In some ways it’s freeing to let go of being accountable for every part of this situation and putting it back where it belongs – in his lap. In some ways, I continue to feel responsible for his anger. That, however, is something that I must let go of.
We’ve all been there. We’ve all taken care of partners, children, friends, and their “stuff” because it’s “easier” to just do it ourselves and we want to avoid conflict. But, my friends – the conflict is inevitable – no matter how long we caretake – and we are not doing them any favors by taking care of their sh**. This is how we teach our kids to be adults – and we need to do it with the adults in our lives too.
So, watch me grow. Watch me say – enough. Try it yourself. Look around you and oh-so-gently (or maybe by ripping off the bandaid) let people in your life be responsible for their actions or inactions. It’s freeing, important and scary … but I believe that in the long run, it will be healthy all around.
Have a wonderful day!