Posted by on Apr 12, 2012 in Confusion, Love, Power, Responsibility | 4 comments



Responsibility comes from the Latin responsus, which means “to respond.”

The expression “taking responsibility” is ironically misleading, because actually we have no choice. We are always responding to situations, even if our response is to do nothing.  ~ Tina B. Tessina

I have been with the words ‘response-ability’ for several days now.  They came to me in a dream as a brilliant flash of insight.  Responsibility as the ability to respond.  (Gotta love the richness of our dream life to work this stuff out.)  I had been struggling for a few weeks with a challenging relationship dynamic in which I had been marginalized to the back burner.  Well, the back burner is still on the stovetop, right?  So I guess it was more like I was thrown off the oven entirely.  Or so it felt.  Hell, I was no longer even in the kitchen.  I couldn’t understand it at all; things had been going so well.  I thought I was really important to this person.  She said she loved me.  And then out of the blue (or what felt completely out of the blue for me) she just stopped responding to me.  Stopped responding to my texts.  Stopped responding to my emails.  Stopped responding to my calls for communication or affection.  Stopped responding when I offered affection.  Stopped responding entirely when life, love, ME called for a response.

Ouch.  Really really ouch.

So what are the dynamics that shut us down and make us unable or unwilling to respond?  Sometimes we just want a situation to go away.  If we just bury our head in the sand, things may blow over so that we may then be able to move on, unscathed and unmarred by messy communication.  Sometimes we are overwhelmed and frozen.  Maybe we are really afraid to communicate what is really in there.  When someone sees how screwed up I really am, they will definitely run for the hills.  Sometimes we feel trapped and smothered.  This relationship will take away my freedom; it will suck the life force out of me.  Sometimes we really don’t give a shit.  We may not care about the other person enough (or more accurately, we may not care about ourselves enough) to let them know how we feel.

But when you are on the receiving end of response-less behavior, the non-response response, this irresponsibility, what can you do?  The only thing you can do, the thing you must do is continue to respond.  Life calls for our response.  We move forward when we respond.

And yet, there are the quiet times, the grey times, the dark times, the bleak times when clarity is marinating below the surface and we seem unable to reach the thoughts, the words, the actions necessary to respond.  What to do when we don’t know?  What to do when another person is waiting for our response and we don’t have one?  What we can then do, quite very responsibly, I might add, is let the other person know what we don’t know.  “I’m marinating.  I don’t know what is going on.  I wish I had more answers for you.  I wish I had more answers for myself.  Life feels confusing.  I don’t know how I feel about you.”  This type of communication is golden.  It moves things forward.  Because it is honest.  And revealing.  And raw.  All the stuff good relationships are built on.

When we enter into relationship with someone, what is our responsibility?  Our responsibility is to be present, show up, and respond.  I also like be honest, reveal your truth, and allow yourself to be raw.  It’s not going to kill you, I promise.  And it may even help you move forward in your life.


  1. Another thought provoking gem for the soul…good stuff! Thank you!

  2. I been through what you’ve been through. Although, when I was in that relationship, things suddenly started to go wrong but I still never expected it to come to an end. We were like soul mates and then we got off track and couldnt find our way back. When he left, there was no real explanation except blame and when I called, texted, emailed, there was no response. I was denied the right to any communication of my feelings, I was left to are right, without that comunication, it is difficult to move on. But what can we do, we can’t teach someone to be responsible. It’s unfair. Maybe one day they will be thought how it feels to be left without a word and then they will think back and realize how hurtful it is.

  3. Hey Patricia. I am very guilty of this very thing and towards someone I love very much. I am in Portland till 3p today. I have a diffcult meeting soon and i was reading your website to calm myself. I think of you every single day and wish you many blessings. As you have been such a gift to me. Love always, Leslie

    • Leslie, I am so sorry to know that you were in Portland today and maybe we could have met for some coffee. I hope your difficult meeting was easier than anticipated. I would very much like to be in contact. You are loved. Love is the answer….

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