It’s treated by many like a 4-letter word, but it’s not. It’s a process that we tend to avoid; very few humans embrace change, even when it’s necessary. I call it the “R” word … some liken it to the “F” word.
Responsibility. There, I said it!
Here’s what Google says:
*the state or fact of having a duty to deal with something or of having control over someone.
*the state or fact of being accountable or to blame for something.
*the opportunity or ability to act independently and make decisions without authorization.
Taking responsibility means that we do have control, we’re accountable and that we have the ability to make decisions for ourselves.
You have the power. You just have to give yourself the control, know that you’re accountable for your life and that you have the ability to act independently, to make decisions without anyone else’s’ authorization.
There ya have it! If you don’t like the story you’re in … change it!
In changing our stories, responsibility is only one aspect. The other is accepting that we create our reality. That’s a tough one, too, because it means that we create the good and the bad. The positive and the negative. The fear and the joy. Yin and yang. Danger and safety. Abuse and escape from abuse.
OK, don’t shut down and don’t panic. I’m not blaming you for living in abuse. You did not deserve to be abused. You did not ask to be abused. But, for a myriad of reasons, you chose to stay.
Let me give you two personal examples.
I began dating my abuser when I was 16. He openly displayed for me that he was controlling. I chose to ignore that part of his personality because he was handsome, charismatic, made me feel “loved” and I saw a bright and prosperous future with him. I could have run (not walked) away before we became more serious. I chose the bright and shiny aspects, rather than the reality I’d been shown. I also was in love with the concept of romantic love. It won. Eventually, I lost.
About 5 years into our marriage, emotional abuse expanded to physical bruises. I could have chosen to leave at that time. I didn’t. I got the “message” from my husband’s family that they didn’t want to know about his abusive behavior toward me. I assumed no one else did either. I kept quiet. It was the beginning of my long-held silence about my life. I could have run (not walked) away then. I chose to stay because I loved the man. I was dedicated to the sanctity of marriage. I also had no money; he controlled our finances. I had no friends. I felt trapped. I chose to stay.
In both examples, I didn’t have to remain in abuse. I had options, but chose to ignore them. First, I was 16, for pete’s sake! I had lots of options for dating…and for Life. Second, I was afraid. By then, I had no confidence. I had never lived alone and was convinced I would not be able to take care of myself without him. Rather than walk through that fear, I stayed.
I bet these examples and excuses resonate with you. The fact is that our lives in domestic abuse are so similar. They are almost identical, with just slight alterations. There are always opportunities to leave, to escape. Most often, that’s not the choice we make until we are absolutely ready. We are in love. We think they need us. We feel compelled to make the relationship work. We have children to consider; we think they “need” their Dad. We continue to make excuses for their behavior and for our acceptance of it.
Finally, IT happens; the straw that broke the camel’s back, the deciding incident. Finally, we know we are going to leave and we begin to create a plan.
I don’t think IT happens until we have done some personal growth, created new thoughts, emotions and actions. Without personal growth, we stay. We continue to make excuses. We continue to believe that it’s our responsibility to help our abuser. We have convinced ourselves that we are the strong one, the sane one, the savior for our poor sick husband. I thought it was my personal calling to keep my husband between-the-lines. I was wrong. But, I played that head-game for 23 years before accepting my reality. I stayed another 11 years beyond that!
Those 11 years were spent knowing I was abused, but not accepting. Except that I began reading books about abusive relationships, about enabling abusers, and about women who accepted their reality and chose to leave, to create lives they love. They had created safe and joyful lives, fulfilling lives away from fear, eggshell walking and daily anxiety. I started to think about doing that myself.
I did escape. After 34 years of marriage, I chose to leave. A new story began and I had to learn to take responsibility for how it manifested, how I would be different, how I looked at my past.
Without personal growth, nothing changes. When we continue the way things have always been, when we linger in the fear of change, nothing gets better. Even after we choose to leave our abusers, the cycle isn’t broken until we embrace personal growth. I’m going to quote Dr. Wayne Dyer again: “When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change.”
If you don’t like the story you’re in … change it! It’s your responsibility and you have the power.
Find face book groups of like-minded survivors of abuse, and join. Listen to podcasts. Read books. Surround yourself with women who support you, who have walked a similar path, who are not judgmental and believe you. Journal. Meditate. Take responsibility for creating your new reality, a new chapter in your life’s story.
- Be proud, because you chose to escape abuse.
- Be brave, knowing that you are excavating Yourself.
- Be strong, knowing that you’re creating your own authentic life, one that you love.
- Be confident knowing that you can change your story.
You ARE changing your story! You’ve got this!