Messy Beds

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Enfant joue dans une chambre en sautant sur un lit

“You make the bed you lie in”, my mother would often say to me. It happens to be one of the many lessons that my mother taught me. Thanks Mom!

I had to get that in there; she deserves it.

You make the bed you lie in. A short and simple phrase, not a single word wasted. It gets straight to the point. I admire its humble efficiency.

I understood what my mother was effectively trying to teach me. Even though, I sometimes resented its meaning. It would have been so much easier not to take responsibility for myself or my actions-especially those less admirable ones. You know the ones I’m talking about. We’ve all been there. We’ve all made mistakes. We’ve all acted without thinking.

Trust me. There were times that I would have happily blamed an external source.

Imagine being able to blame someone or something else for anything that you might regret, past and present. Go ahead. I don’t mind waiting……Now, wasn’t that convenient.

Regrettably, it doesn’t work like that, does it? At least not for me, or you, hopefully.

We can’t choose willy-nilly which parts of ourselves to take credit for, and for which parts we will blame someone or something else. Likewise for our actions. Let’s call it selective responsibility. Whereby, through blame transference, we could all be a perfect reflection of ourselves.

Meanwhile, we could potentially be held responsible for someone else’s rejected self. The poor choices, mistakes and anything else by which that person would rather not be encumbered. Someone would also be responsible for our rejected selves.

What possible justification would we have to claim ownership of our perfect reflections? How can we be exclusively responsible for the parts which satisfy our egos? While an external source can be blamed for whatever we’re not proud of, whatever we regret. Is there some cosmic rule that eludes me? I’m confused, as usual…

One life; one story; one author. Each story may contain numerous plots, conflicts and resolutions. There will always be other characters in our stories, but they’re writing their own story as well, not yours. They’re way too busy coming to terms with themselves, much like yourself. Poor choices, mistakes and whatever else.

Whether we like it or not, we have the controlling rights to our personal story. Others can’t appropriate those rights. Permission has to be given.

Do you really want to give others that kind of power? I’m not talking about the ability to influence our narrative. We’re all influenced by others and the world around us. I’m talking about the power to control the narrative of our story. It could be pages, chapters or the entire book.

When we transfer blame to another, whether a person or circumstance, we’re saying that he/she/it had the power to determine who we are. In so doing, we’re willingly giving up our right to be self-determining. Our narrative has been determined for us. A scary thought. Your worst nightmare kind of scary.

I don’t know about you, but the idea of not being in control of my own narrative scares me more than any monster.

It’s my life. I prefer to be responsible for my choices and actions, thank you very much.

I do refrain from the misguided choice to transfer blame. I can’t claim that I’ve never done it. Perhaps we’ve all been guilty of it at some point in our lives. English poet Alexander Pope wrote that to err is human. Isn’t that the truth.

I’ve made more mistakes than I can count. Regardless of the reasons, I’m responsible for each and every one of my mistakes. I claim them, proprietary flag and all. They’ve served me well, so why would I want to make someone else responsible for them. They’ve been valuable learning experiences. They’ve helped shape who I am today. Flawed and uncut.

I’ve also known many successes and triumphs. I can’t take pride in those without accepting responsibility for that which I’m not necessarily as proud.

Both the positive and negative details belong within the pages of my story, helping to direct the plot. The same is true for all of us. If you meet someone whose story only contains the positive details, he or she has either torn out the other pages to keep them safe from unwanted readers, or has yet to write them.

During difficult times, I know how tempting it is to blame someone or something for the choices we’ve made. We always make the best choices possible in the present tense. It’s only in retrospect that some choices are redefined as mistakes.

As much as we would all like to sometimes, we can’t rewrite the past, only learn from it. We can only write in the present, which in turn, affects our future. It’s what we do today that matters. Each one of us must decide the direction of our story.

Will we take full responsibility when we stumble, make mistakes or even fail? Life will test our resilience.

Will we blame others, time or circumstance when we falter? We will be tempted.

Will we give ourselves full credit for our hard-earned accomplishments? We deserve it.

Will we take full ownership of our stories, including the good and the bad? Why not.

My cup remains half full.

Feet in leather sneaker on pavement background, top view

© 2015 Brenda Baker

An amazing YouTube video about never giving up.

4 comments on “Messy Beds”

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