I was raised believing that I was pretty much always wrong. If there was a misunderstanding, I either did not explain myself properly, or I took something wrong. I was not sympathetic enough, I was not clear enough in my explanations, I did not listen in the first place…For all practical purposes, usually I was the one who did the apologizing. After all, there would not be a problem, had I not been wrong in the first place.
It was a role I took on quite naturally. Through my relationships in high school, after high school right on through my marriage. There was not a time that I did not take responsibility for a problem, and do whatever I could to change myself and fix the situation. I spent many years trying to figure out what I could do to make myself a better person and cause less stress for my husband, friends and family.
Then there was that moment. The moment when I realized for the very first time…it may not have been my fault after all.
My job as a stay at home mom was to take care of everything but earning the money, or household projects my husband chose to work on. I did what I could to make sure our financial situation was in tip top shape so that we could live the American dream…One day I was discussing something about auto insurance with my mom. I remember the day with near clarity like it was yesterday. She was standing at my counter doing something, and I was explaining my thoughts on a particular scenario. I remember her making a comment that basically said it was a dumb idea. Ok…I moved on (cause that’s what I do). Then, within minutes, she told me the exact same thing I had just said to her as if it was a brilliant idea! I remember stopping in my tracks. Wait, did she just say what I think she said??…Didn’t I just say the exact same thing?? My brain was racing…I looked at her and said “That is exactly what I just said!”
Now, there was no “moment” of awakening within our conversation at that time, but there was a major awakening within me. At that very moment I realized that she really wasn’t listening to me. If she wasn’t listening to me this time…how many other times was she not listening to me?? THIS is where my life really began to change. This is when I started to re-evaluate the role I had played my entire life. It was then I realized that I had taken responsibility for things which were never mine to begin with…and was allowing everyone around me to not have to be responsible for their own actions or words. This was the beginning of change for me.
At first, I became very defiant. I would challenge nearly every conversation where things were turned on me. I would blatantly throw back their own words, pointing out they were not listening to me, I was not wrong, they were and I would put myself on a pedestal of indignant righteousness…Not the best way to handle my new power. Especially with people like my mother and my husband.
Realizing I was not getting the response I expected…which was pretty much that THEY start apologizing and THEY start giving me the credit I deserved. I knew that I was not going to change them…I had to change myself, again. Although, this time, it was not going to be as the victim or as the take it all on martyr. This time it was as my own personal champion. No longer was I going to apologize for things they didn’t listen to, or they didn’t understand, or for the things they did to cause any friction. I was going to be conscious of the things I said and did, and be more present in my actions. Let the new me rejoice!
Later, I will go more into detail how this really didn’t change my relationships with my mom or my husband for the better…For now I’m going to focus on just the awakening within. Finding that moment where clarity comes in…where you realize, for the first time, it isn’t you!
If you haven’t had that moment yet, start being more aware in your interactions. If, like me, you find yourself taking responsibility for relationships…always apologizing, always making changes for everyone around you…then start being conscious of what is really going on. You have to be responsible for you! You have to be aware of what you are saying, why you are saying it, and how you feel specifically about what you are saying and doing. Be aware of your own actions, be present and open fully to each encounter you have. Listen to the other person, and see how they are reacting to you and what you say.
For right now, just be aware. Let’s see if you get your moment. I bet it won’t take long. If you have, share it with me. Tell me when you began to realize that you weren’t the one to blame. How did you react? How did that change you? What has become of your relationships now that you are no longer responsible for everyone around you?