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I Had to Learn Not to Take Responsibility for Other People’s Bad Moods

·483 words·3 mins

Once upon a time, I blamed myself for your every bad mood.

Whether you said so or not, every time you were sour, salty, tired, or crabby, I took it as a sign that I had done something wrong.

That I had failed you somehow.

Which is funny now to think about it, looking back. That I placed so much responsibility for your happiness onto myself. When I would never do the same to you – never declare you responsible for making me happy.

And when I have never met someone who could simply make happiness happen if I got into a mood myself where part of me was dead set against it. A rogue neurochemical or two sabotaging the whole operation.

Sure, I’ve been ecstatic in short bursts. Practically delirious in your arms. Whether due to good love making. The perfect compliment. A sudden unexpected resonance with you when I was convinced I was all alone. The only person who felt or thought a certain way. Accustomed to emotional echoes always coming via the sound of my own voice bouncing back at me.

An echo in a different voice… well, that’s something else.

An Old Double Standard Re: Responsibility for Emotions

Anyway, I know this when it comes to me. That my own happiness is not due to someone else’s actions alone. And is more typically an interplay between my own emotions and those of whoever is around me. And it’s never strictly someone else’s fault that I feel bad… unless perhaps they’re on a rampage or lashing out at me.

Even then, there’s a process whereby I can mitigate it. Create some distance. Protect myself. Distract myself from whatever storm seems to be raging inside of them and causing collateral damage.

But I used to forget this when it comes to others. That they have a similar part to play, a responsibility for trying to manage their own negative emotions. It was a glaring double standard.

I Don’t Blame Myself for Your Bad Days Anymore. And That’s Progress.

No more.

The last time you had a bad day, I was there for you. Available. Around. I was as kind to you as I could be.

I wanted you to have a good day. Like I always do. Because I want you to be happy.

But that doesn’t happen all the time. Sometimes something within you is set against that. Sometimes you just get into a funk.

And the last time you had a bad day, I didn’t take it as evidence that I’d done anything wrong. I didn’t take responsibility for your moods. Didn’t think it was up to me to fix it. Or to provide you the kind of comfort that mind-reads and magically knows what you need, or smoothly patches over invisible cracks that are forming before even you understand where they are.

I consider this progress.


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