In looking for some insight about how to keep the boundary between accepting responsibility for my behavior and not accepting responsibility for other people’s feelings, I stumbled across this interesting piece about relationship responsibility. It very much describes me and is enlightening.
When an incident occurs and feelings are hurt, I need to inventory it for my part and make whatever amends are appropriate. I need to also take care of myself. Some of the amends I might owe may be toward me. Here are some questions I am asking myself to help inventory the incident:
- Did I engage in unacceptable behavior?
- Did the other person engage in unacceptable behavior?
- Did I have acceptance?
- Did I maintain detachment?
- Did I maintain my boundaries?
- What was my part that led up to the incident?
- What can I do to make amends for my part?
- Am I expecting the other person to make amends for their part? Is that appropriate?
- Did I presume goodwill? Do I presume goodwill now?
- Have I been trying to make someone else responsible for my feelings?
- Have I been assuming responsibility for someone else’s feelings?
- What can I do right now to take care of myself?
I blogged yesterday about one of the things that has been bothering me lately. The other thing, I believe, has to do with control of my environment. I’ve recently moved in with another person, and each of us has lived alone for a long time, so each of us is used to being able to make whatever changes we want. Each of us is used to an environment where changes do not happen without us.
Now, I feel insecure, because changes happen that I do not expect. Doors that have so far been unlocked are sometimes locked. Keys that usually live in certain locations now live in others. Items that were stored here are now stored there. I get used to the new environment, but then the new environment changes, and it wasn’t me doing the change, and the change wasn’t mentioned to me when it occurred.
My conditioned reflex, my old way of being, is to react defensively. It is to blame the other person for making changes unfairly. It is to keep a resentment about the changes. It is to read meanings into the changes. My security instinct feels threatened, although no actual threat is occurring. It is all about control, and the loss thereof.
All of this disquiet is happening on the inside of myself. This is my stuff, my issue. I cannot see into the inside of the other person and they cannot see into the inside of me. Outside of ourselves, in the physical reality, I don’t think there really is any threat or danger. There might be inconvenience if I need to get something that I cannot access, but I’m not likely to die of it, and I can ask how to get to it again. I can ask that it not be moved. I can ask what place would be better. I can participate and communicate.
And I can, like yesterday, presume goodwill. There is no reason to expect that the other person is out to get me, that they need to obtain some advantage over me or that they enjoy keeping me off balance. It is entirely reasonable to assume that they are just living life and getting things done the best way they see to do them.
Just writing about these things, I feel better already. I can keep praying for acceptance, the ability to detach, and the ability to set healthy boundaries in this as in all things. Then I can focus on the present, the next right thing to do, and be grateful for what I have right now.
I am having an acceptance problem. I have to accept that an intimate relationship with a recovering alcoholic is still an intimate relationship with an alcoholic. It’s nice that my qualifier doesn’t drink and continues to work a program toward serenity. The fact is that certain classic characteristics of alcoholism remain, and they may never go away. It’s unrealistic to expect them to. Just because they were not in evidence during the courtship and honeymoon phases does not mean that they have been absent. I don’t know what it means – either the other person was too focused on something to engage in them or I was too blinded to observe them. Or some other factor. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that they are there.
Back to ADB we go!
- I need to accept that they are there and there is nothing I can do about that. That’s firmly in the hands of my qualifier and their HP.
- I need to detach from the internal workings of the alcoholic. While these classic behaviors may be affecting me, they are not about me. The alcoholic’s feelings, moods, psychology are not mine to own or be responsible for.
- I need to form boundaries to take care of myself. How can I take care of myself in this situation?