It's all well and good that in theory I am responsible for my behavior and my [insert loved one here] is responsible for his/her behavior. It sounds so cut and dried, so easy.
But what about the interconnectedness, the great "tapestry" of the human family? What about my own little family? We breathe the same air and drink out of the same milk carton, but it's still not my job to be responsible for how they feel or behave.
I like this quote, because it acknowledges that while I am not responsible for say, my husband's actions, I definitely influence our relationship patterns, in both positive and negative ways.
For example, I know just what to say to really hurt him to the core, and sometimes I do this (shamefully) as a way to test that he is really changing his heart. Can he react to me kindly even when I am a sharp-tongued meanie, I wonder?
"As we learn to identify relationship patterns, we are faced with a peculiar paradox. On the one hand, our job is to learn to take responsibility for our thoughts, feelings, and behavior and to recognize that other people are responsible for their own. Yet, at the same time, how we react with others has a great deal to do with how they react with us. We cannot not influence a relationship pattern. Once a relationship is locked into a circular pattern, the whole cycle will change when one person takes the responsibility for changing her or his own part of the sequence." (Dance of Anger, Helen Lerner,p 133)
My husband is leading the way in changing his part of our circular relationship patterns. He fails at times, but he is making a herculean effort to react to me in loving ways. AND IT FREAKS ME OUT SOMETIMES, because I have nothing to push against. AND IT IS CHANGING ME. In our pre-recovery life I was so used to feeling like his enemy in matters big and small. But I am here to say that when he reacts to me in a humble, accountable, loving way, I want to change how I react. It's contagious. Love breeds more love. Try it.