Tag Archives: responsibility for own happiness

Letting others take responsibility for…

7 Oct

11:38 pm

Their anger.

Their sadness.

Their confusion.

Their lack of sense of purpose, of self.

Their lack of trust, or faith.

Their joy.

Their “luck.”

Their change, or growth.

Their happiness.

I have been working on an “amends” with my brother for almost two years. Two years over ONE incident in which I blacked out and screamed mean things at him and his girlfriend, mainly at his girlfriend.

The other night, we finally talked. After months, maybe close to a year.

I got the impression that my brother was drunk. It made me smile (in an “oh, the irony” sort of way), and cringe a little. He finally asked a question about my boyfriend, which rubbed me the wrong way anyway (mind you, he’s never before, in the near-two years we’ve been dating, even acknowledge him as being in my life). And, he’s never ONCE asked me about my sobriety, how any of that is going. Not once. Ever. It’s relevant here because, if it was such a big deal, isn’t my getting sober part of that big deal now, too? Or, shouldn’t it be?

I don’t feel that pissed anymore, just sorry. Sorry about what happened, sure, of course. But sorry, too, for them. Sorry that he can’t forge the courage to call his own sister because his girlfriend is telling him he can’t. Sorry that she and he are in a relationship where she fans the flames of his anger and resentments–to match her own, many of which are based in her early-life trauma (psychological problems, incest, rape). Sorry that they don’t have any friends. Sorry that they don’t want any friends. Sorry that they might not see any of this; sorry that they seem to feel the pain that it causes anyway. Is it I who is in pain here, though? Am I unhappy because they seem unhappy to me? (Some of it is that they ARE unhappy; some of it is that I am projecting my own goals and values on them, for better or for worse.)

What I realized in all this is, everyone is responsible for their own happiness. And to grant people that responsibility is you telling them that you have faith in their ability to tackle what I would consider life’s hardest challenge–to live without resistance, i.e., be happy. Me saying I’m sorry a million times, and worrying about whether two “co-dependent” people are going to forgive me–this does me no good. This is meaningless, actually. I don’t have to care about this outcome, and I don’t have to make them happy. I don’t have to worry about whether they’re happy or not.

See, I think I’ve spent a LOT of time in my life not only caring what others think about me, but shouldering–internalizing–their responsibility for their own happiness. For some reason, I feel guilty that my brother, or my mother, or my father, or my boyfriend, or my friend is unhappy. I drank over it, in one way or another. It’s taken a lot of work, actually, to see this tendency to want to please taken to the extreme: the need to solve everyone else’s unhappiness!

Sigh. Deep breath. Like I said, I carry this around, like a burden. It’s so deeply ingrained in me that I’m barely conscious of it–this “ability” to see others’ pain and lack, and then, my habit of not letting that go and leaving them to tend their own gardens. However, when I quit drinking, it was staring me in the face, and there was no way around dealing with it. And, once I started learning how to let go, even forcing myself to “not care,” I became MUCH happier–more balanced, had more time and space to focus on my own self, my healing, tackling of cravings, even probing into deeper mental realms.

Some people don’t like it when you leave them alone, though. They don’t like it when you hand them back their issues and say, Here, this shit is YOURS, bitch (Breaking Bad reference!). It’s a rejection, and an abandonment. I’ve felt that way, actually, when certain friends (and even my brother) have told me to get a handle on my drinking…and then literally disappeared, walked away. I felt abandoned; it was unfair, I felt, and it hurt.

It was the catalyst, though, for me learning to finally stand alone, and take charge. Whether there is anyone to lean on or not. And, I could do it. I CAN do it.

So, this handing back responsibility is also a way for them to say, And, I know you can do it. I have faith in you; I know you can take responsibility for your own happiness. It’s a way for them to say, I can’t do this for you, and you can’t do mine for me–but, hey, that’s life, kiddo. We are ALL responsible for our own happiness.

This is not to say that amends aren’t important. I have to say that I don’t think I would stir the pot in the case of most of the people I’ve hurt and/or offended; it’s over, and revisiting the hurts would cause more damage. I do, however, believe that continual effort on my part to conduct my relationships well, to handle my end of the deal, is key to dissolving any and all remaining bad karma. I guess.

I wasn’t pissed at my brother after hanging up. I wasn’t dubious, or sad, or emotionally changed in any one direction. In fact, I just kind of let it go. So be it, I thought. If they’re still pissed, that’s their problem. Literally. And, problems can be solved. Just with this one, it’s not going to be by me.

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