For my A-Z of alcohol misuse this week the letter is R for responsibility, I’ve had to learn about responsibility and it’s owner.
As the daughter of an alcoholic I have and still am overly responsible. There is a sense that I have to make sure everyone else is ok, enjoying themselves. If someone else won’t do something, I have to do it.
This level of responsibility can be so draining and also it means we can lack fun and the ability to relax. i find myself struggling to mix responsibility and fun.
What is Responsibility?
the state or fact of being accountable or to blame for something.
the state or fact of having a duty to deal with something or of having control over someone.
There are a few things in that definition that I think are important to mention. “accountable” is one. I know I feel accountable to others, I feel I have to do right by them, to give them a service or provide them with a good time or an event I’ve organised. I don’t believe that now, the responsibility and it’s owner has taken time to digest and accept, but it’s transformed how I feel about myself and what is and isn’t my stuff.
The other part of that definition is “blame for something”. I think as a child of an alcoholic I usually felt to blame for things, so it’s a theme in my life. If something goes wrong, it’s my fault (it isn’t!, at least not always). There is a fear that if you think people will blame you for something you’re organising or doing going wrong, you feel that responsibility. It’s like a weight on your shoulders isn’t it?
On reflection of the definition above, the “duty to deal with something” can mean that you take responsiblity for someone else’s happiness and enjoyment. Obviously in reality we can’t do that, we aren’t that person and don’t know what will or won’t make them happy in any given moment.
To think that you will know what will satisfy someone, be acceptable to or please someone in any given moment is unrealistic. You aren’t a mind reader and I think this is where daughters of alcoholics struggle to separate what they are and aren’t responsible for.
Who made the contract?
If you think about it, when you agree to organise, do something, commit to something are you making a written contract? You probably aren’t in a lot of situations. There are always exceptions, so if it’s work related then maybe there is a contract but then that is usually specific in terms of roles.
In life though, we don’t make contracts with each other. For example: If you agree to arrange an event you don’t formally agree what you’re responsible for and what others are going to do. You certainly don’t have the power to ensure they have a good time. Yet you still may try. That sense of responsibility sits firmly on your shoulders.
Is that because you don’t want people to blame you for it not going well or being any good?
What if you decide to help out a friend in some way, you offer your help but start to feel like you have to solve or fix the problem. Where does your “commitment” start and your responsiblity end?
What is their stuff and what’s yours?
Ultimately the reason you maybe taking on stuff that isn’t yours is because you haven’t yet realised what is your stuff and what’s other peoples. Boundaries are particularly important to be clear on before you commit to things.
I did a blog post on personal boundaries which you can read here.
Do you accept that other people are responsible for themselves? (there are of course exceptions e.g. kids). It comes down to responsibility and it’s owner. Who is responsible for what?
Let me put this to you, would you expect someone else to make sure you had a good time? make sure you had a home, good job, good friends? Or is that on you?
I’m hoping you realise that is on you, so therefore, if you flip it then the same applies to other people. They’re responsible for their own happiness, enjoyment, job, work, safety etc.
Ways to help you let go of responsibility of others
Note down your own perceptions and views of responsibilty, list out what you truly believe you’re responsible for (in all areas of your life)
What situations/people cause you to feel stressed or tense (around responsibility) e.g. arranging events/helping others (be mindful of things like “I don’t mind” or “I like helping others”, whilst that is admirable, it can be habitual so it’s what you’re use to, that doesn’t mean to say deep down you want it to be that way)
When you know who/what causes you to feel stressed/tense etc, what specifically makes you feel that way (is it expectations – maybe yours/others, is it beliefs? someone told you to put others first and do whatever you have to do to make them happy)
Where do you feel it in your body?
In an ideal world, how would you like it to be?
Feel free to share this blog post, just copy this link and paste it on your social media. (For the non-IT people out there, left click your mouse, hold the left button and drag it across the link below and then left click on copy, go to your social media, create a new post and then right click and left click on paste. Ta da!). If you’re using a mobile device/tablet, hold your finger on the link below and then it should come up with copy, do the same as the above.
Here is the link:
If you’d like to chat then do get in touch, I’m happy to gift you some time. Click here or email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (07732) 403305.
Remember you aren’t alone and you can always join my Change Your Mind Facebook group, where other families of alcoholics support each other with challenges they experience from the past or present. You may have lived with an alcoholic in your past, but it’s still impacting you in the present.