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May 30, 2013 at 8:00 AMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Growing up and Accepting Responsibility

By Anne Christen More Blogs by This Author

What does it mean to accept blame? Is it accepting responsibility for your actions? Is it being held accountable for what you say and do? Is it standing up and saying, “Yes, I’m the one who did that,” when something goes wrong?

I believe accepting blame involves all of this and more. I’ve always believed this, and I’ve always thought – perhaps rather foolishly – that I do a decent job of taking responsibility for my actions. But looking back on the road I’ve traveled, I’m beginning to believe I haven’t done as well in this regard as I had originally thought.

Coming to Grips

Take for example my former best friend, with whom I haven’t spoken for almost two years. I look back on our friendship and see that I wasn’t as supportive as I could have been. She went through a really hard time when she had her extramarital affair. Not only did she genuinely love the other man, but she also felt consumed by guilt for what she had done to her husband. I tried to convince her at the time to get a divorce because I honestly believed her marriage couldn’t be salvaged. Rather than do that, though, I should have just listened and empathized. In hindsight, I can see I probably pushed her away, but I’ve never considered this possibility before now. In fact, I’ve always blamed her husband for coming between us because I know he thought I was responsible for her affair (that sounds ridiculous, but it’s true). In any event, I wasn’t a responsible friend.

The same is probably true of the relationship I have with my mom. I know the decisions I’ve made have disappointed her on many occasions, and she thinks I’ve strayed from the family values she tried to instill in me. I need to apologize for disappointing her and let her know her teachings will always be with me. That might go a long way toward mending the hurt feelings between us.

Matters of the Heart

I know I haven’t always been responsible with my boyfriend’s heart. I got hurt pretty early in our relationship, but I didn’t know how to tell him. So I bottled that hurt, and, along the way, I began to build up walls to protect myself. I’ve had no outlet for that hurt, and, on many occasions, it’s turned to anger. As a result, our relationship has suffered.

I tried to explain all of this to him, but I don’t think I did a very good job of it. And now I have more anger and hurt. Despite this, the important thing is that I'm trying to take responsibility for my actions and acknowledge that I should have told him how hurt I was a long time ago how hurt I was. The truth is that I was afraid of rejection. Now, he feels I’ve been false to him in some way. I haven’t been, but I haven’t fully shared my feelings, either. I know I’ve also done things to hurt him in return, which means I need to take responsibility for myself all the way around.

Thinking you’re one way and realizing you’re another is a difficult lesson. I question now if I keep everything bottled up too much. Do my friends and family know how much I love them, or do I need to say it rather than wait for them to see it? I’m not very good at verbalizing my thoughts and emotions, so I probably need to work on this. I also need to work on honestly and openly communicating with those I care about. Those are my first two steps to taking responsibility for myself.

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