A huge part of my CPTSD recovery has been about building a healthy relationship with responsibility. Growing up, I had far too much on my shoulders... I was the peace-maker, the therapist, the husband, the responsible adult to our dysfunctional family system.
I didn't realise it was happening but I do remember wondering why people joined things like the Scouts... why would you add more complication and hardship into your life when life was difficult enough already. I didn't actually know those other kids (or some of them at least) had loving, accepting, happy childhoods and the Scouts was a perfect way to bring a bit of safe challenge into their lives.
Anyhow... it was in March 2022 that I wrote up a list of my responsibilities:
- My Health
- Sleep / Rest
- My Happiness
- Desire / Fantasy
- My Wealth
- My Relationships
- My Wisdom / 'Self'
- My Attitude
I've visited the list a few times during the course of the year and haven't found a need to add to it.
The list that I have been adding to is the list of things that aren't my responsibility which includes:
- Anyone else's experience of life
- Anything that is not under my control or influence
- Any aspect of my influence greater than my ability or scope
- My parents
- Anyone else's happiness
- Anything outside of my boundaries or values
- What anybody thinks of me
- The 'state of the world'
- Colleagues, clients, suppliers
- Others' low- or high appetite for risk
- "Being" anything in particular
- "Doing" anything in particular
- Being "good"
- The un-owned responsibilities of others
- Anything I choose not to be responsible for
- Proving anything to anyone
- Anyone else's conduct
- Anyone else's lost property
I frequently get the feeling that setting these kind of boundaries makes me an asshole. But I've also found myself having more time and space to be more loving, more accepting and more generous in the places where it matters.
It's only my childhood conditioning that creates that 'asshole' feeling, and I was reminded of that when six-months after I regrettably cut off my mum, she came round to find out why... she went away happy once she'd established that I was simply a "selfish little shit" (her words!). It is common for emotional abusers to call 'selfish' when we stop dropping all of our own needs in order to service their demands.
I'll leave with a quote from Julia Cameron's "The Artist's Way":
As blocked creatives, we focus not on our responsibilities to ourselves, but on our responsibilities to others. We tend to think that such behaviour makes us good people. It doesn't. It makes us frustrated people.