Responsibility v. Love

You are not responsible for the ones you love, except if they are children under a certain age or a pet. It may be a controversial thought but the subject is worth discussing. Many of my Millenial peers go through life feeling responsible for friends and family, carrying huge chips on their shoulders that shouldn’t even be there. We all want to justify a particular situation in which we felt accountable for the choices of others as if this absolved the person of any wrong doing. The truth is what others do, think or feel is not up to you. Even if they try to make you responsible for their behavior you don’t have to accept the burden. You have a right to walk away from unsafe or overwhelming relationships. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.

When I wad laid off, I felt that my fanily and friends should have had my back but I quickly learned that it was up to me to save myself. It may sound harsh but it isn’t; my family cannot be held accountable for my decisions or emotional state. Yes, they can offer support and comfort up to the level that their love and means allow but whether I lived or died was not up to them. My husband wasn’t responsible for my credit card debt or bills, nor for my physical and mental health. Some of you may assume that contractually and morally he has an obligation to take care of me but this is only accurate to an extent. By law he can choose to divorce me and walk away from being at fault for anything under my name. The fact that he choose to stay and help me through the chaos that followed the pink slip was an act of kindness and love, not of responsibility. He held my hand through the process and brought some clarity to the situation. It took a long time to understand that his brand of love was to get me to push myself out of the hole I had created for myself. Now, I am grateful for it because it made me a stronger and even more independent person.

Be careful when burdening yourself with other people’s problems out of love and devotion. Although I can’t argue against taking care of a sick family member or providing for a destitute friend, I can advise you to take care of yourself and clearly know your limits and state boundaries. In my quest to help my own family succeed, because I felt responsible for them, I got into arguments about financial affairs and courses of actions that resulted in alienating those that I was attempting to help or rescue. It was never up to me to make their lives easier or to expect daily expressions of gratitude, as an example. Because of this you can’t take their decisions personally and you have to learn to give only that which you can spare. In certain scenarios it may be okay to give more than what you can afford to spare but those are again extreme cases that cannot be argued against.

The next time you feel the need to take someone under your wing and solve their life’s problems remember that by taking over you are not allowing the individual or group of people to own their mistakes. Providing others with the answers stunts their growth and development. Unless it is a matter of life or death, stay away from fixing everybody else’s conundrums. You cannot adult on somebody’s behalf. Each person needs to learn through their own experiences. As much as I would like to carry the pain and anxiety of my peeps on my shoulders it is up to them to appreciate and study the consequences of their actions to determine if the lesson was worth the pain. If you are constantly feeling unappreciated you may be exceeding your role in that person’s life. Take a deep breath and watch from a distance. If you give them enough time they will surprise you.

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