Monday, April 02, 2007

What a Difference a Preposition Makes

By Patricia Lefave, Labeled D.D. (P)

There is a man on the ‘Net’ right now trying to sell me his system. It is yet another one defined as THE answer to life. As usual, and now pretty much as expected by me, from those determined to ‘save’ me from my ‘fault finding’, it is another vague abstraction filled to the brim with platitudes and aphorisms connected to nothing specific. Like all cultish ideologies though, I sense the inherent danger to those searching for their own truth, and hoping that perhaps this might be the ONE. Like so many of them, it is frighteningly subtle in it’s manipulations. Also like so many of them, it’s goal seems to be to create a meaninglessness in everything EXCEPT belonging to this particular group and following the slick talking leader.

The words pour effortlessly out of his mouth as he stages ‘interviews’ with those he has already convinced of his system’s higher value. In response to his comments their speech is peppered with non stop praise falling just short of a responding hallelujah! The group name implies, rather than states, a direct connection to God.

One of the psychosocial devices being used is this one:

“We understand we have the responsibility for others.”

Did you notice anything in that?
Most people likely don’t. The statement is delivered very casually in a tone that suggests “everybody” knows that! Then the talk quickly moves on so there isn’t too much time focused on that small change.

It’s the preposition; that tiny nearly insignificant word that changes the meaning in such a drastic way. The word is “for.”
I don’t have responsibility FOR others. I have responsibility TO others and they also owe responsibility to me. It is always a two way street.

“So, what’s wrong with the other way?” you may well ask. (Or perhaps avoid asking)
Well, let’s look closer and find out.
To believe that I have responsibility FOR others is simultaneously; patronizing to them, arrogant, self victimizing, enabling and just about as co-dependent as it gets.

It is the premise of co-dependent relating made to SOUND generous, giving and responsible. It is twisted thinking and is actually anti-logical, not logical. It is like a mirror image of logic, reflecting reality as it’s opposite. Like looking into a mirror, it is so LIKE reality, one dos not notice the reversed image.

If I believe I am responsible FOR others then I:

Absolve them of responsibility for themselves as well as take away their right to define themselves.
I will tend to violate their personal boundaries in an attempt to control THEM so that I won’t feel responsible for what they do. That’s warped.
I will try to ‘correct’ them and even their perceptions of themselves.
I may allow an aggressor to get away with what he/she does since I am convinced that what the other does is MY responsibility and that I have failed to control the other. I may also BECOME an aggressor since I have deluded myself that I should be able to control the other. I may become extremely grandiose in my zeal to accept responsibility that is not mine in the first place.
I will tend to enable and support aggression and control I both myself and others because I see my own well being as directly connected to rescuing and controlling the other since saving myself and saving them have become one and the same in my enmeshed state of mind.

This is the stuff that co-dependent enmeshment is based on, a misplaced preposition most people don’t even notice.

OK, you may ask, “So what difference does the word “TO” make?”

When I am responsible TO others, I:
Learn self restraint and the meaning of personal boundaries in the other direction too. I also learn how to block the attempts of others to violate my space without resorting to physical violence. I at least learn how to let them know, in a non violent way, that they are doing it. I don’t just keep silent and put up with it or pretend I like it.
I see a dividing line between self and others and I can engage with other of choice BY choice, not by force, or because I am internally driven by a warped personal psychology to do so.
I acknowledge my thoughts and behaviour belongs to me and also that the other’s thoughts and behaviour belongs to the other.
I do not support or enable aggression in myself or in the other. I know BOTH of those things must be true to work.
I do not accept being victimized by others as my responsibility or buy into some notion that I caused my own victimization and therefore ‘deserve’ it. I know that being victimized by someone is the aggressor’s responsibility, not mine. Since I am not enmeshed with the other, I will understand that and not feel the need to rescue and/or control the other as the only way to save myself. I know that I have to let go of that nonsensical idea before I can get past it.

This other way of looking at relationships is the stuff upon which good boundaries and the potential for true intimacy is based. Intimacy creates joyful relating for both self and the other.

Enmeshment is a binding, distressing, heavy weight never shaken, that drags everyone down for as long as we refuse to shake it off of us.

What a huge difference one little preposition can make.

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