When You Need to Free Others from Responsibility

Digital illustration art painting style a man and many colorful air balloons in big cave or geothermal, light beam above green field. freedom, let it be concept.

“Women are not helpless and dependent like little kittens; they have the courage and strength to roar like lions. They are not candles that need to be lit by someone else; they are the self-effulgent sun.” ~ Mother Amma

Sometimes in life we allow ourselves to be carried. This is not just a female experience but can be a male experience too. Sometimes the burden of life and suffering can feel so intense that we lose sight of our own power and we entrust that power, that ability to survive, that ability to live, to another. 

That ‘other’ could be our parents (when we are old enough to take care of ourselves), our family helping us out (when we are struggling financially) and our husbands or partners (when we, for whatever reason, have not got the financial or emotional resources to support ourselves). And there is nothing wrong in needing support sometimes.

However, there comes a time when we need to free others from that responsibility and by doing so free ourselves in the process.

Sometimes when we have been relying on others for too long, we can be impacted inwardly with a hidden silent sense of shame and guilt. I have had this, and it is time for this to be released.

How Do We Make Others Responsible?

Making others responsible can come under many guises. It can come in the form of:

  • Believing other people are responsible for our pain and life circumstances at this present moment in time
  • Believing we are unable to support ourselves, so we pass that responsibility onto another
  • Believing others are responsible if something goes wrong in our businesses instead of owning the errors or mistakes we made
  • Passing the responsibility onto our parents in terms of blame, when we find it hard to cope with life or struggle in certain areas
  • Following certain stereotypes and cultural beliefs that, for example men are responsible for caring and looking after women
  • Believing the Government is responsible for our healthcare, financial wellbeing and general day-to-day living costs when we have the ability to take care of our own needs
  • Believing life as a whole is responsible for giving us what we want, without putting the effort in or taking action to do anything about it

The list goes on.

Shame is an awful emotion to carry, along with guilt. It’s not an emotion that heals, but an emotion that steals. It steals our lifeforce energy; it steals our ability to see ourselves in a better light; it robs us of believing we are good enough.

We are conditioned to believe that by a certain age in life we should have satisfied all the prerequisites of what is defined as living a successful life, all false prerequisites might I add, but nevertheless something many people align with and believe because of the brainwashing we receive.

These include attaining a career, earning a certain amount each year, meeting the man or woman of your dreams, getting married, buying your first home, having children, socialising and enjoying family gatherings and generally ‘fitting in’. Belonging to the mass cultural stereotypes of what ‘good enough’ appears to mean to many people.

But what if we don’t fit in, what if we don’t belong? What if we meet none of the above pre-requisites by the time we hit a certain age? Does this then mean we are not ‘enough’ or that we are failures?

No, far from it. It simply means we are late bloomers and that these prerequisites are superficial and not the true essence of what is important about living our lives.

My Suitcase of Shame

Like many I carried this conditioning and I also carried a lot of shame and guilt, especially for the past 17 years.

I met my best friend Mike who was considerably older than me (twice my age) and we tried romance a few times, but it just kept returning back to our deep and close friendship. After an intensive, stressful time in a previous job, I agreed to allow him to support me, financially, while I found my way.

Kelly Martin Michael Doherty smiling

Seventeen years later, he is still supporting me (in that time I have had jobs, but it has been a long time since I’ve been able to bring an income in for one reason or another that is enough to support myself fully). I handed the responsibility for my life and wellbeing over to him. I resigned myself to the feeling that I was not capable of supporting myself.

I tried, I tried so many times to make things work, to allow an income in to support me, but apart from small amounts it was never enough to pay fully my bills and rent.

And I felt this deep shame inside for not being able to support myself. Yet I was also not prepared to take the step of giving him permission to stop supporting me.

He loves me, I love him. And when he got sick at the end of last year, I faced the intensive fear of loss that I had been carrying since my father died. I had to look at my life and face it. What was I going to do if he was not here anymore? And so just this past week we had a long challenging tearful conversation, because his pain levels have been quite high and I asked him ‘Are you staying around for me?’

He said yes. He was staying alive for me.

Now you can imagine how this felt for me. I felt heartbroken, even though deep down I had a strong feeling that this was the case, I needed to hear him say it.

One of my deepest underlying fears has always been, that if I succeed, if I support myself, if I step forward into the new and my life changes in a big way, that he would choose to leave this planet.

This fear came from when my father died, because I had lived at home until my early twenties, I went backpacking, came home for a year and made arrangements to finally fly the nest, to move out and live on my own down south (I lived up in the North East of England).

I needed my dad to support me back then, before I moved away. And I moved out in October 2002 to support myself and he died on December 1st, 2002.

My inner child took this upon herself to believe that me no longer needing him, him no longer being responsible for me, was the reason he died. That his work was done, and he was able to leave because I had left to support myself.

Fast forward to today and the remnants of that fear arise loudly, but I can no longer hold myself back fearing that Michael will choose to leave if I move forward. I have been doing this for 17-18 years now.

Michael is not responsible for me, but I made him responsible for me. It will take me time to break out of this deeply entrenched pattern, which was based on old pain and grief, but I want to do this now.

I also want Michael to choose to live, for himself, not for me.

And Michael has his own healing to do around the subject of serving others, rejection and knowing he took responsibility for me when at times he felt it was the wrong thing to do. We both lived in a co-dependent way and it’s no longer helping us. It’s stopping us both moving forward and growing.

When Enabling Becomes Disabling

chains enabling

We can receive support from others when we need it, but there comes a time when support become enabling, and enabling is not aiding or empowering other people.

My putting the responsibility for my life onto Michael held him back and also held me back, but also was meant to be, because over the course of 17 years I have grown so much. I may have missed out on a lot that many women do my age, but I would not turn back time. I don’t regret what I did or how we handled our friendship and relationship. We both gained so much and yet lost too.

If we can accept this, we can now move forward.

I am scared but I am ready.

As some of you may know I have been receiving intensive chiropractic work, which has felt more a healing experience than it is normally seen as. My curved spine and hunched shoulders, as I said in my previous podcast episode, reflected my crushed spirit, but also reflected the deep shame that I was carrying. Now I am learning to stand up straight, stand tall and open my chest to receive a new way of living.

I have no idea how all of this will go. I have no idea what path lies ahead for me, but I am prepared for real change now.

Whether you pass your power over to others in certain areas of your life or pass your power over to others in all areas of your life, ask yourself if you are ready to let go of making others responsible for your wellbeing. And see if you are giving your power away.

If you are the person taking responsibility for another, ask yourself if you are truly assisting their life path or whether you are enabling them to maintain the status quo or an uncomfortable comfort zone of safety and holding them back?

Whatever you are experiencing, I send you love on your journey to freedom.

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Kelly Martin
Kelly Martin

Kelly Martin is the author of ‘When Everyone Shines But You’ , a passionate writer and blogger questioning life’s illusions. After what seemed like a decade of intense anxiety, feelings of failure and grief from the loss of her father she chose to take a mindfulness path and has not looked back since. Kelly encourages people to find the treasures that lie within the pain and suffering and to learn to see themselves as ‘enough’ exactly as they are, right now through her writing and You Tube channel .

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