In this month’s newsletter article, we talked about taking responsibility for our life experiences. We want to talk a little more about lesson three—Be aware of where and when you are NOT taking responsibility so that you can eventually change. In Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, Susan used herself as an example of learning this lesson, especially as it applied to her dating life before she met her second husband. Lesson three can be applied to all experiences in life, but it is a powerful lesson when applied to romantic relationships.
Susan’s words explain it best—
It took years before I realized that the place I played the victim role most often was with the men in my life. I remember many evenings of complaining for countless hours with my girlfriends about the grief the men in my life were causing me.
Those “jerks,” as I so self-righteously called them, were always doing something to take away my happiness. One was always late, one was incredibly stingy, one didn’t make enough money, one loved to play golf too much, one wouldn’t get a divorce, and so on. I was able to build up incredible anger and resentment about them. Hours and hours on the phone of “Would you believe he actually …” Naturally, my loyal friends shared my drama as I shared their upsets about their men. It was a Moan and Groan Society. We never seemed to tire of each other’s stories. No wonder: we fed each other the martyrdom we were obviously enjoying, and we always got to be right! The payoff was that we didn’t have to create our own happiness—we could simply blame men for not giving it to us.
During this time I was certain I was taking responsibility for my life. I was making a wonderful living, I had a great apartment, I was totally “independent.” But I wasn’t taking responsibility for my life. I was still expecting the men in my life to “make me happy.” I finally learned there is really only one person in the world who can make me happy, and that is ME! Ironically, only through this realization was I able, for the first time, to have a wonderfully nurturing relationship.
When you are not handling your life, no amount of caring and nurturing is enough. You become a bottomless pit. The man in your life could stand on his head for you, as some of the men in my life tried to do, but it is never enough. My daughter, Leslie, recently commented on how fantastic my current marriage is. “Yes,” I said, “it’s amazing how perfect Mark becomes when I stop expecting him to handle my life!”