Accountability. It can make us feel very fragile sometimes.
We are all shovelling shit, we are all battling demons, we are all trying to get through and find our place and our purpose. Some people seem to have a kind of calm corrective way about them, and actively exhibit empathy alongside self-awareness. These sorts of people are my heroes and my chosen tribe. Not that there isn’t a place for the vast and varied masses who have a harder time dining with their own demons, or holding others accountable with grace.
It is probably useful to say, even the people we admire, Love, respect and trust the most are still going to hurt or disappoint us, and we them. Every one of us has their own faults and foibles. I like faults and foibles. The tapestries of tragedy and triumph that ties us each to our own trajectories is not only fascinating, it is a source of comfort and connection. It is wonderful to know that we are not alone, and it is calming and connecting to share our demons in a safe and secure scenario over a hot cup of tea or a tipple or three.
I ran into a friend of mine a few weeks back and the brief but beautiful catch up stuck with me. She has a PhD, is inarguably goddess and consummate performing introvert. She gets shade and even solid hate from countless sources and sticks to her (well aligned to my own) convictions. One of her very reasonable responses to hate is to be heavy on the block buttons across social media. She’s has battened down the hatches in her personal life and keeps her most sacred inner circle to only 5 trusted humans. That’s not to say she is dismissive or avoids others. She always greets me with a knowing eye roll and sigh as we are often two very busy women whose ships pass in airports and random tech events. There’s a shared understanding between us (and many of the other goddesses in my world) that we both haul around a hefty suitcase full of imposters syndrome and personal anguish that we shove down daily and keep carrying on with our Vaseline stage grins and public personalities. Respect and affection for this woman run deep, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t on occasion been stone cold envious of her and had to check that shit at the door. She is smarter, more educated, far more graceful, and I have to say undeniably more beautiful than I, but she is her and I am me, and we are both creatures of kindness and integrity. The few times the green eyed monster bites me in the ass regarding her have made me feel like absolute shit, and the genuine joy I feel when I see her shine (as she does with alarming regularity) eclipses my insecure and envious demon in short order.
Wait. That story applies to more than one of the wonderful women I have seen in the weeks that have passed. The constant stream of goddesses who cross my path and sit down for a coffee or a wine with me has been the foundation and strength that’s put my broken back together this year. So, if you’ve taken the time to talk to me online or IRL lately, please know how much it means and how much I appreciate it.
This long winded introduction is leading me to a subject that I’m trying to broach in today’s meanderings.
Accountability. Yeah, it can and does make us fragile. But it is a source of so much strength and respect as well.
Let’s first substantiate a truth that we all have to face and embrace at some point in our lives:
Life is messy and magical. Amazingly beautiful moments come and go, and pain and grief that are one moment unimaginable come to us all. Juggling family, friends, careers and passions invite chaos and confrontation as well as strength and satisfaction.
We often do not have control over what happens to us, and we do not have control over what other’s think, feel or say. The only thing we control is how we respond. Responding with passive aggression or contempt can be a knee-jerk reaction. Taking a breath and reacting with kindness and empathy can take more self-control and thoughtfulness than we can muster at times. We’d all benefit if we truly understood that when you throw mud you’re the one losing ground, or that hurt people are the people who hurt people, or kindness needs to be out go-to because other’s are quite likely fighting a hard battle we know nothing about. Maintaining a moral high ground when faced with bullishness or biting may feel like a hollow defeat when you are in a position of power or feel an urge to “teach someone a lesson” but I assure you, in the long run, not being a jerk pays off.
You have control of you.
The law of attraction and the basic rules of energy and the universe mean we are all held accountable for our reactions, whether we own this or not.
This week, I have been put firmly and fairly in my place by a dozen dear friends for passive aggression, mixed messages, or just being bossy or scrappy. The most confronting, and then rewarding example of this was when I got all salty at a very dear and incredibly esteemed friend for leaving me hanging halfway through a conversation with him on DM. There are three very real reasons I was confronted by this is abysmal behaviour:
- I do that to people ALL the FREAKING TIME without thinking. It is a combination of being busy, easily distracted, and undeniably self-absorbed.
- He’s never been anything but honest, helpful, and kind to me. Salty at times, yes, but definitely well earned on my part. I can be a royal and needy pain in most people’s ass at times.
- Instead of Occam’s razor (the simplest explanation – like maybe he got busy doing something) was totally ignored and I jumped straight to a dozen utterly ridiculous conclusions.
Turned out he was bedside with a friend in hospital. So, basically, in this particular case, I was being a complete asshole. The reason this is relevant is the way he handled it. Every time I have been a royal bitch or blown things out of proportion he’s reined me in with kindness and held me absolutely accountable for my behavior, no matter how embarrassed I am, and trust me when I say I am well versed in the language of shame. He asks why I did the thing I did. He asks what emotion was behind it. He demands a sincere and thoughtful apology and then we talk about how and why I am going to behave differently in the future. I was given the opportunity to step up as a friend and put together as small but incredibly witty and thoughtful care package that included: mixed nuts (because I can be super nutty) and salted dark chocolate (because he was quite rightly salty at me. He received my gift and apology with grace and now I have an opportunity to prove to this person who I admire and respect dearly that I can think before I blow up and let insecurity and fear steer me. I still feel sheepish, but I also want to react to everyone who treats me with respect and kindness, as firmly and fairly as he has done with me. This is the same person who suggested I curb the swearing a bit as my words and narratives “paint a masterpiece” and then, when I drop a C-bomb into the mix I “splash white paint all over the canvas”.
I’ve risen to giddy heights personally and professionally lately. The three kids who live with me are settled and secure and seem to be thriving between the expected earthquakes and outbursts associated with being cantankerous teenagers and a willful pre-schooler. Phteven (formerly Phteven my husband, currently Phteven my best friend and b’ness partner) seems to be happier than I have seen him in months, maybe years, and we are communicating and wishing for the absolute best for ourselves, our family, our business, and each other. I’m dating up a storm (although sadly not landing any keepers above those who have been dear to my heart for many months or years already) and feeling rather pretty witty and wise as a single and strong woman. And, probably, if not definitely, the most obvious cause for most of the magic I am basking in can be traced to one wonderful person.
I took on an EA named Hayley a few months ago. I saw her toiling and volunteering for countless events and organisations, while raising a young family and running a farm. She wasn’t looking for a job, but every time we talked I trusted and respected her more and more. I finally poached her from her busy schedule to support me a few short months ago. She made me sign NDAs and contracts and has proven herself to be capable, honest, kind, and a cheerleader and friend as dear to me as the people closest to me and who I have known for decades. Her acting as my gate keeper and guardian angel included an evening in Hamilton where we stopped for a drink with some old girlfriends, and the whole hipster bar was awash with males and very few women. She literally had her eye on every man in that place, and responded with care and a cold and knowing “I’ve got my eye on you guy!” look at anyone there who spent too long looking in my direction. She also culled a few of the less than perfect relationships I’ve been struggling with by simply stating “Dee darling, you simply don’t have time for that shit.”
So, all this care and concern, and the support to do more than I ever could on my own kind of got me feeling a bit more cocky than accountable. I need to own that, and be grateful for the gift of Hayley the guardian angel, rather than getting stompy and demanding at people I should be kind to. Everything takes some adjustment, and I need to adjust to this and let my humility return as it may have taken its leave lately.
None of us are perfect. But the tough stuff definitely gets easier when we are honest and accountable, to ourselves first, and to others as a result. Find friends who hold you to account with kindness. Know that you are going to do shitty things from time to time and don’t be afraid to dine with the demons that steered you in a dark direction. If you choose to remain ignorant or deny your bad decisions, you’re destined to repeat less than ideal behaviours. If you explore the pain or the impetus behind being an asshole from time to time, you might be able to slay the beast that brought you to that behaviour. The really great bit about that kind of accountability, is that embracing and facing the darkness makes it more rewarding to appreciate and own the genuine rays of light you are responsible for too. You can do this without ego or arrogance, and it feels awfully good when you do. As it should.
Thanks for reading.