They say knowledge is power. Others believe money gives you power. And some believe their power lies in their sexuality. For me, my power came from self-responsibility. It was one of the very first lessons I ever learned in life. Mind you, it took me many years from the time it first came into my awareness, to actually learning the lesson and then integrating it into my life moving forward.
I had grown up with very little love or affection as a child and no real role model and was to find out many years later that I most probably had at least one, if not two, narcissistic parents. I have to say, I don’t like labels at all. My experience has taught me that as humans we tend to misuse labels to define the person when in actuality, they are used in psychology with the intention of defining the behaviour.
In any case, by the time I had turned 14, I remember deciding that I just didn’t care about anything anymore, largely because I felt like nobody cared about me. Unfortunately, that attitude sent me on a destructive course of self-sabotaging behaviours, addictions, and habits. It wasn’t that I didn’t care about others, it was that I didn’t care about myself.
While I may have been very responsible when it came to holding down a job, putting a roof over my head, food on the table, and paying my bills on time, emotionally I was quite immature and as I found out later, extremely co-dependent. And having only had unhealthy relationships modelled to me, I had no clue as to what a healthy relationship looked like and a string of failed relationships was to follow.
It was when I was in my late 20’s and had just ended my second long-term relationship that the concept of self-responsibility came into my awareness. We had been together seven years but were having problems and I suggested maybe it was better we gave each other some space while we worked through the issues, so he moved out.
It was during this period that I found out he had started seeing someone else instead. I’m very loyal and committed when in a relationship and would do whatever it takes to make it work, so I felt utterly heartbroken and betrayed.
In the months that ensued, I was trying to reconcile everything that had happened and why it had happened. One day, I was visiting a friend who had a copy of the book ‘You Can Heal Your Life Too’ by Louise Hay. I picked it up and had a browse through it and something about it must have resonated with me because I went out and bought a copy for myself to read. I guess there was a part of me that felt my life did indeed need healing.
I remember I didn’t finish it to the end, but of all that I did read, there was one little line right at the beginning of her book that did stand out for me. On a page entitled ‘Some Points of My Philosophy’ the very first line that struck me was ‘We are each 100% responsible for all of our experiences.’ Out of all that I read from this book, this was the one piece of wisdom that I absorbed and that stayed with me. Since I had just gone through a painful relationship breakup, I spent a lot of time ruminating over this philosophy.
It got me wondering how I may have contributed to the demise of my relationship. That perhaps I was to blame for what happened. I started to think about how my actions, or lack of, had impacted my partner leading him to do what he did. But as life continued and I started to move on, I soon forgot about it all as I spent the next three years of my life single and in a whirlwind of booze, drugs, clubs, and partying.
Perhaps I was unconsciously escaping from my pain of not just my breakup but my childhood or perhaps it was me simply finding and embracing another aspect of myself. I’d never had the opportunity to just be free and single since I went into my first serious relationship at the age of 16, barely out of high school. Whatever it was, I have no regrets about those years because I felt the closest to my true nature than any other time of my life – a free spirit.
To cut a very long story short, it was then 10 years later at the age of 40 as I stood facing the end of another relationship, one that was toxic and soul-destroying, that my mind wandered back to ‘we are each 100% responsible for all of our experiences’ and I remember asking myself the question how did I attract this into my life?
By this time, I had a beautiful daughter who was only four at the time but I was so broken with no sense of self-worth whatsoever, that I was just a shadow of my former self. Something was very wrong, I didn’t know what, but I knew I couldn’t carry on going through life like this if I wanted to be the best version of myself that I could be and the best mum for my daughter.
That moment in my life became my descent into my ‘Dark Night of the Soul’ but it was my willingness to reflect on myself and take responsibility for my part in the breakdown of these relationships, as opposed to being a victim of them, that set me off on my healing journey and saved me. That was back in 2009 and to date, it’s been an 11-year journey of self-discovery, of facing my own shadow, of what has felt like walking through a very dark tunnel with no light at the end of it.
There’s certainly nothing easy or pleasant about having to look at yourself and own your toxic behaviour patterns and admit your part in not only the dysfunction and breakdown of the relationship but that you also hurt the other person through your own shitty behaviours just as they had hurt you through theirs.
Taking responsibility for my actions meant stepping out of victimhood and to stop blaming the other person for everything that happened, no matter how they may have contributed to the situation themselves. It meant being honest with myself, often brutally, and owning my behaviour. What happened to me as a child that caused my trauma and wounding was never my fault, but as an adult, it is my responsibility to heal from it and change those toxic behaviour patterns that I’d learned as a child.
It was pointless to blame anyone else, even those that had and still do go out of their way to hurt me because it keeps me in a state of victimhood and takes away from my power to do anything about the situation and I refuse to be a victim. I refuse to give away my power to another that easily.
I came to understand that I did indeed attract these situations and relationships into my life and I have to live with the consequences of that. I had learned from a very young age to accept a high level of frustration for very little love in return. But one thing I can be grateful for is that I recognised my learned unhealthy behaviours and in doing so, I’ve not just healed my toxic patterns, but generations before and after me. The trauma and dysfunction that has been playing out in generation after generation in our family, stops with me.
All of this is not to say that it’s okay for people to treat me badly and it’s my fault if they do. It was certainly not okay for my partner to cheat on me and I can’t blame myself for that. That was a choice he made and there were other ways he could have handled the situation, one of which would have been to just end the relationship. But I have no control over what actions he chooses to take, or anyone else for that matter.
Self-responsibility extends not just to our actions and how we respond to our experiences, but also to all the different aspects of our lives that we need to take responsibility for. And this makes up one of the philosophies of Open Heart Open Soul which is:
Be responsible and accountable for all areas of your life – mental, emotional, physical, financial, social & spiritual.
There are also many people who believe we are an infinite soul who chose to come to Earth to experience certain things, and while I have a very open mind and understand I can have many beliefs which can also change over time, I choose not to attach to any of them. My opinion is that in this human experience, it’s not particularly helpful for those who have gone through traumatic sexual and physical abuse, to be told they chose that experience.
Now, after much reflection on my last 11 years and Louise Hay’s philosophy ‘you are 100% responsible for all of your experiences’ I would say that, more importantly, we are responsible for how we choose to react or respond to our experiences, and while we’re not to blame for what may have happened to us, we most certainly have a responsibility to confront and address our trauma or issues and heal.
The last thing I would want is to hurt others and to continue to impede my own growth, because of unresolved trauma and issues that I simply refuse to face. Blame only takes away from my power to do anything about my situation but the realisation that self-responsibility is where my true power lies has been the foundation of my awakening.