The most important thing in a relationship is emotional maturity.
And the most important part of emotional maturity is the ability to take responsibility.
This as true for anything else in life as it is in love.
Tonight Taylor and I watched Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot, a comedy-drama that came out this year, based on the story of cartoonist John Callahan.
Callahan was an alcoholic before he was a cartoonist. And in between being an alcoholic and drawing cartoons, he got in an accident and became a paraplegic, which (eventually) changed his life for the better.
It ends on a relatively high note, but it took the entire film (and well into his actual adult life) for Callahan to learn the most important lesson:
Step 10 from Alcoholics Anonymous,
Take personal inventory, and when you are wrong… promptly admit it.
Callahan struggles with this one. He blames his mother, the driver of a car, his attendant… he blames everyone but himself.
His AA peers openly point the blame back on him, pointing out his self-pity and excuses, but it takes John most of the film to realize where he’s going wrong.
And as an audience, we of course can see this too. In real life as well.
But we often fail to see it in ourselves. We often fail to catch ourself when we’re making excuses. And the first thing we should always ask ourselves is: what can I do differently here?
(If “nothing,” then we need to move on. That’s our choice.)
The other side of this, of course, is playing the martyr — blaming ourselves and taking on everything. That’s not the solution either.
And just as John had to forgive himself, once he did accept blame, we too have to be kind to ourselves as well. But we can’t forgive ourselves as long as we are denying our role.
By taking accountability, we also regain the control and agency over our lives, and the power to experience them fully.