feeling responsible – a gift and a curse

By Dina Tibbs

Earlier in the year when I was in circle with my sisters, we all randomly pulled a word. The one I pulled was responsibility and my first thought was I have a love/hate relationship with that word. I have always been “the responsible one”, in fact growing up I really was forced to be responsible; it was expected that I was responsible for myself. So as a child, I was an adult.

The gift in this is that I do not take my own or other peoples’ needs lightly. I feel a responsibility to my family, friends, clients, the planet and myself. The curse is that it becomes a control mechanism, where I take the lead instead of allowing others to be responsible for themselves and then when it becomes overwhelming I check out, I swing to the other end of the continuum and shed the responsibility like a snake sheds her skin. Until recently, there was no balance point.

This summer I went through a period of intense anxiety, and as I worked with my spiritual mentor, this soul agreement I had with responsibility came out into the light. What came to light is that I had an agreement that until I took care of all my responsibilities I could not play, I could not have fun. This was an agreement from my childhood, which served me at the time, but as an adult it no longer serves me. What I realized is as I grew, I began to “create responsibilities” out of a need to be needed, wanted, loved, to control my surroundings and try to stay on top of what will happen next. My entire healing practice was based on this agreement, and the reason for my anxiety was that this was no longer resonating with me. My inner child was screaming that she wanted to play, to not have to be so serious all the time.

Beginning to clean my house of these responsibilities can be an uncomfortable place, because in the past when I decided to say fuck it, I will not be responsible anymore I would go to the other extreme, and go down a road of self-indulgent pleasure and substance abuse. Now I am in a place of moving towards balance and understanding what is a true responsibility and what is a creation in my mind or shedding an old responsibility, such as my responsibility as a mother looked much different when my son was 3 than where he is now at 11, yet I still operate like I am mothering a 3 year old. We all have responsibilities to take care of; the key for me is taking care of them from a place of fun, joy, and playfulness. Understanding what is mine, and creating the boundaries for what is not.

What responsibilities are you carrying that are of your own creation, a coping mechanism to feel needed, wanted, loved by those that are external to you? And how can you begin to clean house and not carry the weight of the world on your shoulders?