Here’s a difficult epiphany:
I am responsible for all of my actions, past present and future.
It stinks to recognize that sometimes I’ve been a bad guy, or done the wrong thing, over the course of a lifetime.
I’d like to think of myself as being Nice and Sweet and Lovable.
I’d like to think that other people, or challenging situations, made me do this or that. Oh how I would love to hand this messy ugly stuff to someone or something else.
I hate the fact that I have become aware that blaming is lame. I used to love passing the buck. It was so much fun and brought so much relief.
I was a lovely, touching victim–especially when I was young, tremulous and tearful from a surfeit of hormones, and painfully thin.
Not only did I think other people were responsible for my lapses in conduct. I believed that I was responsible for other people’s behavior. This created some interesting dynamics in intimate relationships. I spent a lot of time exchanging blame with my significant others, feeling guilty and responsible for their actions and laying guilt trips on them, and ultimately engaging in attempts at mutual control and suffocation. Small wonder we parted–and I was left alone and lonely.
OK, I do know that I can attribute a few of my worst qualities and behaviors to my genes. There’s a good scapegoat. I can also lay a tiny bit of blame on My Childhood and the traumas I endured as I was coming up in the world.
Here’s the bummer, though. Here’s the joke it took me decades to get.
Once you leave childhood and home behind and you’re on your own, you become responsible for your actions, no matter how scarred and crippled you are as a result of your genetic material or the way you grew up.
I sure wish I had known that about 30 years ago. I think I would have watched my behavior a lot more closely.
There is, however, an up side to all this. Recognizing that I am responsible for my own actions also means that I have some say over what I do. No one else gets to control me or my behavior, although I hope that God will weigh in early and often. I am in charge of my actions. The same is true for others. I don’t have any control over what they do nor should I try to exercise it.
And that means:
I’m off the hook. I can concentrate on tending my own garden.
Tending it mindfully and well.