If I commit fraud, I have broken the law. I will be held accountable to my actions, and given a sentence accordingly. What is not my responsibility, is the effect upon the victim. Never would a judge say, “this victim is unable to let go of the crime, therefore your sentence is doubled”, nor “the victim does not care about the crime, so you are free to go”. I am held responsible only for my actions, and not for the other’s ability to cope. It is not my fault if they have been exposed to similar hurts in the past, and I had therefore re-traumatised them. Unless I had knowingly and deliberately targeted an area of their personhood, I cannot be found guilty for those things. I cannot be made to pay a debt that is not mine.
If I do a good deed for a stranger, I might receive a reward. Perhaps the recipient was particularly grateful, if on account of their history, the good deed had shown them a kindness they had not known, and brought about a healing and ability to trust. I can be thankful for the consequences of my action, but I cannot claim the victory for the healing. I am responsible for my act of kindness, and not the impact upon the other’s life.How another receives my actions is determined by their freedom of response. My actions might be the catalyst, but it is not the determiner of destiny.
Personally, I can find myself vulnerable to the words and actions of others. This holds particularly true when the other is a close friend, someone to whom I have opened my heart. Sometimes, I can feel wounded if another is emotionally distant from me, or doesn’t spend time with me. Is that the other person’s fault? Not at all. They cannot be held to bear the burden of my emotional wellbeing and how I might respond to their actions. I have a whole lifetime that has shaped me to who I am and how I respond today. It is my choice, within my socialisation framework, to misunderstand their actions to be on account of me, rather than accepting that their words and actions are a projection of their own reality.
A beautiful wise lady advised me recently to allow my love and loyalty to myself to become greater than my fear of the other’s response. These words have dawned in me a new appreciation of self identity and relational identity. I’ve been set free from the prison. I had given the keys to everyone but myself, and now I have taken back the key. Released from the cage, no longer can it hurt me and those I love, who believed they were responsible for causing me pain. Their actions brought about a response in me that caused pain, not because of what they had done, but by my giving a power over me that was never theirs, nor anyone’s, to take. I’ve put unrealistic expectations onto those I love, requiring them to fulfil roles in my life that none but God can.
Freedom is found today for both the captive and the unwilling guards. I take back the key. I’m opening the door and walking away.