The year 2016 is over. But, fortunately, the story of my life is not. For a hot minute there, that wasn’t an obvious given.
When I look back at 2016, I see a year that started off with the best intentions but, quickly descended into one debacle, after another, of epic proportions. It was a year of pain, heartache, loss, and grief. It was a year of acknowledging a lot repressed rage, and resentments.
It was also a year of guilt and shame. Of regret. Of wishing the story had gone differently than it did. It was a year of feeling like a total failure… At everything. Of recognizing that I didn’t really accomplish any of my goals.
All in all, 2016 was a year of massive disappointment. Especially, in myself.
I approached the end of 2016 wondering if there was really any point in putting any effort into my life anymore. I mean, why bother? Every year I set amazing goals, and have all the motivation in the world to accomplish them. Inevitably, though, the energy would quickly fizzle out. I’d get disheartened, frustrated, and ultimately, I’d just give up.
I found myself thinking, “Why should 2017 be any different?”.
Then, just when I was ready to bury my dreams, give up on my passions, and just be done with it all, something inside of me seemed to wake up. Some little, forgotten part of myself sat up and took notice of my little pity party, and my dejected state of mind, and…. Well, she got pissed.
And, I mean, really pissed. At me!
And this part of me was rather loud.
“Oh, HELL NO,” she screamed at me, “This is NOT how my story ends!”
For such a small, and forgotten part, this part of myself was pretty damn pushy. And, not easily deterred. And I know this because, at first, I tried to ignore her. I did my best to stay at my super-comfy pity party.
But, that little part of me would have none of it. Her message was clear, as far as my pity party attendance was concerned: “You don’t have to go home but, you can’t stay here“.
She…uh… ‘encouraged’ me to take another look at 2016. This time, from a totally different perspective. From a far more conscious perspective. An infinitely more difficult perspective.
It was time to look at 2016 from the perspective of radical Accountability.
2016, from a perspective of insane personal accountability, looked radically different than did my previous view. Instead of a year of failure and disappointment, 2016 started to look more like a year of lessons learned, wisdom earned, and challenges turned into future potential.
From the perspective of accountability, I wasn’t a total failure. After all, I did survive it.
So… 2016 didn’t kill me. If we are to believe age-old wisdom, then, I’m not only still alive but, I must also be stronger. Not too shabby, so far.
2016, from my new vantage point, became the year I found the courage to break the cycle of abuse, and end my marriage. And not by running away from it but, by standing up for my right to live without abuse.
What’s more, I continued to stand up for my right to live abuse-free. I’m still being dragged through a nasty divorce, filled with malicious litigation and various attempts to punish, and exert control over me through abuse of the legal process.
Yet, instead of simply giving in to my husband’s insane demands, just to get the whole messy thing over with, and to avoid the massively stressful trials & hearings, I have spent countless hours earning a “Google Law Degree” (as I have termed it), and standing up for my rights- both my legal rights and my rights as a human being.
I attended every hearing, and I spoke (mostly-LOL) with confidence and conviction. I presented evidence to defend myself against the vile accusations made against me.
I maintained my dignity and composure, even when my husband’s mother verbally attacked me (AT the courthouse!), causing a sheriff’s officer to have to step in between us, to deter her from coming into physical contact with me- seeing as how she was coming up on me, quickly, from behind.
And, there was so much more, about 2016, that my previously faulty memory now allowed to surface. Good things…. when looked at from my accountability perspective.
“I realized that some of the most painful moments of 2016 were, in fact, some of the most powerfully transformative moments.”
They were the moments that left me forever changed, and for the better. Much, MUCH better.
And that, my dear sister angel, is the power of personal accountability.
So, what do I mean by “taking accountability”?
What I mean by ‘holding yourself accountable” is that you take absolute, and total, responsibility for every, single second of your life experience. You take ultimate responsibility for every, single experience in your life.
Now, before anyone possibly gets their panties in a twist, let me make one thing crystal clear right now; Holding yourself accountable for your life experiences DOES NOT mean that you are accepting the blame for every negative, or hurtful, experience.
Holding yourself accountable means that you take responsibility for how you will REACT to every life experience. You get to decide the meaning, and the importance, of every experience. You choose your personal outcomes.
You CHOOSE whether any given experience will be one that diminishes you, or one that empowers you. You CHOOSE whether you will view any given experience as a blessing, or a lifelong curse.
You CHOOSE what your reality will be. You CHOOSE whether your role in any given experience will be that of a victim, or of a student- seeing and learning the lessons that our most challenging and painful life experiences have to teach us.
Accountability = The first step toward healing
Being accountable completely transforms your reality. From a reality in which you play the victim, to one in which you are the ONLY power and authority in your life. Accountability makes you the creator of your life experience.
To share a personal example; Accountability transformed my husband from an abusive narcissist, to one of the greatest teachers in my life. (Say WHAT?!?!)
Holding myself accountable for the experience of narcissistic abuse, in my life, means that I chose to see the lesson and the blessing, in the midst of the pain and suffering. Not because I was trying to mentally “Pollyanna” the experience. I don’t deny, minimize, repress, disassociate, or negate, the pain I felt.
By taking accountability for my life experience, I acknowledge and honor my thoughts, emotions, and experiences. In addition, and perhaps more importantly, I OWN my thoughts, emotions, experiences, reactions, and choices, as being wholly MINE. Meaning that NO ONE MAKES ME think, feel, experience, react, or choose ANYTHING. I am the ONLY one with the power to do that.
This is vital, so, I’ll say it again.
“I own my thoughts, emotions, experiences, reactions, and choices, as being wholly MINE. NO ONE has the power to MAKE ME think, feel, experience, react, or choose, ANYTHING. I am the ONLY one with the power to do that.”
By holding myself accountable for the experience of my abusive marriage, I was able to see the experience as an opportunity for growth, rather than continuing to use it as an excuse to live in fear for the rest of my life. I was able to emerge from a painful experience as a more whole, loving, compassionate, and expanded being, rather than using it to remain stuck, and addicted to bitterness, resentment, unforgiveness, and misery.
We all want to be happy. We all want joy. But, unfortunately, we can (unconsciously, of course) become addicted to our negative emotions.
Your body can, over time, become accustomed to receiving the chemicals your brain produces, that create negative emotions. A sudden deprivation of those chemicals, inevitably, makes you uncomfortable. It feels unnatural, at first. And so, you unconsciously decide to keep feeling the same negative feelings.
Accountability helps you to overcome these unconscious addictions. Accountability offers you a way out of the pain and despair.
Accountability sets you free.
So, sister angel, I want to encourage you, at the start of this new year, to hold yourself accountability for your every life experience. Take responsibility for every second of your life. Sure, it’s hard, at first. It can get pretty freaking uncomfortable. Especially, if you are still badly wanting to hold the ones that hurt you accountable for their harmful actions.
You must understand that, by refusing to let go of the need to hold others accountable, you are simply giving the people that hurt you, power over you. The cycle of control and abuse, then, still lives on. You are giving them the power to continue hurting you (you’re not feeling super joyful in that state of mind), and to continue controlling your life (your thoughts, your emotions, your stress levels…which, ultimately, can mean they control even your physical health).
Accountability puts all your power where it belongs… In your hands. It is the most empowering experience ever.
So, set yourself free. Take back your power.
Take radical accountability for every, single experience of your life.
You won’t regret it. I promise.