Relationships can be tricky and It doesn't matter if it's a romantic one or otherwise.
Recently I was reading "The Mastery of Love" by Don Miguel Ruiz and the way he framed relationships is not only beautiful, but responsible. Two strong messages I received were, "I can only be responsible for my own feelings" and "I can only be responsible for my half of the relationship". The second point blew my mind. I have known and been practicing that I am responsible for my own feelings, perceptions and reactions, but my half of the relationship? As someone who has struggled with over responsibility, this intrigued me.
Something that a lot of people don't know is I suffered through an abusive relationship. He never hurt me physically, however the outcome of it was the feeling that I failed him and was "lesser than" because I failed myself and I didn't live up to the projection of me I sold people in my life. The end of that relationship came on a cold February night when I had to call the police to get my boyfriend out of my place as he was yelling and swearing drunk obscenities at me while punching holes in the walls. I never thought I would be "that girl", locked in the bathroom calling the police. The next day, I called his family to let them know this is where their son was and was blamed for not taking care of him and he was my responsibility. (Strike one) My closest friends I had asked for support in putting my house back together didn't feel safe coming over because of what had transpired and I should of acted differently. (Strike two) And weeks before all this had happened I tried to break up with him, and our mutual friend told me that I had to try to work things out since he moved across the country for me. (Strike three)
Even before all of this I had put so much pressure on myself to help him get what he needed and support him in his goals. I needed to help him. It was my responsibility.
Jump forward to today and I can see the fall out from this thought process. Not creating boundaries with friends or family. Attempting to help turns into others feeling smothered or pushed. Feeling exhausted because I was responsible for everybody's happiness. If anyone doesn't know what feeling responsible for other people's emotions feels like, this is my take. Imagine being Atlas with the world on your shoulders, then make sure you're walking on a tightrope. Everyone's happiness on that huge planet is all on you, and if you disrupt them (holding the world at the wrong angle, moving too quickly, breathing too much) a deep smoldering pain of shame, regret and sorrow pierces your gut. No pressure.
So now what?
I'm choosing to be selfish.
Playing with being selfish means saying no. It means not bending over backwards for a business contact, friend or potential partner because their happiness is not my responsibility. It means choosing to see someone upset, and not thinking I have to fix it. It means standing up for what I want, and don't want, in relationships and not feeling resentful.
I am choosing to think that love is unconditional and I can give loads and loads of it and still be whole! I am choosing to think taking care of myself, my needs, feelings and emotions come first in my life, and that it's okay to do so.
I am choosing to think that I am not alone, and by practicing my self love and pouring out love, others will be able to as well. I am not responsible for anyone else's happiness, and no one is responsible for mine.
I'll let you know how it works out :)
Photo titled time(less) by Jeff Manning