It’s important to own our shit. It really is. And while it’s never easy, if we look deep and dare greatly it is possible. Owning our stuff — our bad behaviors, our patterns, our negative cyclical thoughts about ourselves — requires that we truly see ourselves and take ownership of our relationship with our authentic-real-self. I am the only person responsible for my relationship with myself.
While we don’t like to admit it, our negative behaviors actually enable us to perpetuate the things we least like and most fear about ourselves. For me, it’s the idea that I’m crazy or that others will see me as crazy. Because I’m afraid of this, I often go to that place of thinking I’m crazy before the label can be placed on me by anyone else. It’s a form of self-protection — if I point out that I’m crazy first, then it won’t really matter or hurt as much when you see me that way. Plus if I take all of the responsibility for our dynamic and our exchanges then you won’t be upset with me, you won’t see me as a threat and you can go on thinking you’re fabulous.
The problem here is that my identification with this idea of being crazy let everyone else off the hook. Others didn’t have to be accountable for their stuff. The blame could be placed upon me. This worked as a form of self-protection as a child — if I’m bad and my mother is good, then she’ll still love me and be available for me. She won’t rage and hate me. She’ll be my mother. And with that comes the insatiable hope that she’ll actually choose me over the predator and protect me. Because of that desperate hope, I wore the crazy hat quite well.
Now, in my grownup home, I’ve managed to keep the crazy hat on for a long time. Let me point out, no one put the hat on my grown-up head. I simply kept it on long after I fled my childhood home. This allowed me to perpetuate my negative beliefs about myself and keep myself small and safe and nonthreatening. While wearing this hat, I made it my mission to own my family members’ discomfort, accountability, responsibility and so on. My inner dialogues running like this:
“Oh NO, you didn’t manage your time well and now your homework isn’t done! I am the most horrible mother in the world. If I was a better mother you wouldn’t be in this situation. Wretched me, not protecting you from your discomfort!”
“Holy cow! You’re rushing and you can’t find your things! I’m so, so sorry! If I were a better person and kept the house tidier you’d know where to find your things. If I were good, you’d remember where you put them. I’m sorry. I am the worst person ever!”
That actually is crazy-thinking. It’s “crazy” in the sense that it is complete nonsense and I just don’t need to see myself like this anymore. It was an unconscious coping mechanism that kept me safe as a child but now … well … now that I’m aware of it, I can see that it’s just holding me back.
So I’m taking off the crazy hat. It’s so tight it’s cutting off the circulation. I’ve grown a lot since it was first put on my head and I’m changing the rules. I can see that I’m not helping anyone — including myself — by owning more than my own stuff. I am proud that I’m able to own my anger and apologize for my behavior but I’m not claiming anyone else’s bad behavior as my own. That needs to fall on their shoulders. I can love, I can help and I can guide them but that’s about it. Being accountable and willing to look at and see themselves is all on them.
There’s just one thing — I’m discovering that no one really likes that I’m taking off the hat. Nope. There’s a change in the family-system and people in general struggle with change. We like things as they are. Life has become familiar, predictable and comfortable. It’s so much easier to blame someone else for your stuff. The more I hold my space, the more my loved ones resist. It’s okay. I understand. All change takes time and adjustment. We’ll fumble about a bit but we’ll eventually figure it out and create a new family-system. But one thing is for certain, the hat is off. I’m done with it. I’m doing what my dear friend, Don, suggested I do in the comment section of my post yesterday. I’m looking at crazy in a whole new way. I’m “flying my freak flag” and I’m embracing myself. Celebrating!
I love my grown-up-family and we are certainly not crazy like my childhood family was but I’ve carried my old habits with me nonetheless. They’re ridiculous habits that truly don’t serve me anymore. I am the only person who controls this. If I start seeing myself as a good person and I start setting limits and boundaries, my family is going to have to step-up, respect the changes and stretch themselves right along with me.
I know they can do it! These are fantastic changes for all of us; it just may take them a while to see it that way. Change is scary and it makes people afraid. I get that. I do.
Are you wearing a hat that needs to be reexamined? Take a peek. Be curious. See what you find. Take care!
Categories: Tri-Umphant Living