Issue 69 –
Suggestion # 13: Accountability
Hal : As a man, I see that was my weakness in my other marriage. I never had the sense of my responsibility. But in this marriage I’ve found that in myself. I know that no matter how deeply she’s caught, it’s partly to do with me. That’s a huge, huge understanding. If you can get to that understanding, it saves so much trouble. It always has to do with you!
Sidra : It goes back to accountability. It requires going back to your own instrument and figuring out where it’s out of tune.
Hal : And not assigning fault.
Sidra : (She laughs wistfully.) Yes, that’s such a terribly hard thing to give up; being able to blame everybody else, nailing the other person to the wall to help him see the error of his ways. So hard to give up … …
Basically, what we’re saying is it’s a fifty/fifty thing, a dance. It’s finding a way to do your half. It doesn’t mean that there aren ‘ t things that will just totally disrupt a relationship, like addictions, for one example. You can be as accountable as you want and if you’re dealing with somebody who’s deeply addicted to something, there’s a limit to what you can do.
But in general, it’s being aware and feeling into the idea, “This has happened before with a very different person. What did I do? ” I consider myself a very feeling, connected person most of the time and when I get the feedback that I’m not connected, and I get that from more than one place, I try to identify in myself, literally, what is the psycho-physiological state I’m in that corresponds to this feedback? What am I feeling physically? What are the thoughts going on in my head? How does the other person look to me? Where are my feelings being, say, misunderstood? Where am I trying hard and it’s not working?
When Hal tells me, “You’re at the desk and you’re not relating, ” or “ You feel like a Mack truck, ” I know what that feeling is and I’m accountable. The feeling (when I’m caught) is: “Here I am. I’ve got all this work to do. He’s just pestering me. ” Now I know that’s the sound of my Mack truck. I have to go there in myself to recognize it.”
Hal : That’s right. You know, I’ve talked a lot about my impersonal energy. There was a time when an awful lot of people criticized me for being too impersonal … a lot of people. That went on for many years. Now, if you had asked me during that time, “Hal, how do you feel about accountability? ” I would have said, “I’m all for it. ”
Sidra : “I’m totally accountable. ”(Smiles)
Hal : Have you ever heard anybody in this work say they’re not on the side of accountability? Of course not! So, why is it that I believed in accountability but I couldn’t provide it? I couldn’t do it because I was locked into a Primary Self System that feels that accountability is good, but it’s a one hundred percent impersonal Primary Self that feels that way. So, from that place, I don’t have linkage to you. I can’t appreciate your feelings because from the perspective of that Primary Self, I don’t have that much appreciation for feelings. Theoretically I do. They’re okay. But, they’re more for girls than for guys. (Hal winks.) It ‘ s a whole way of being and living in the world. Fortunately I’ve got a sense of humor, so I cover over a lot of stuff and from this place, I can also enjoy people, right? But I’m really not connected in terms of vulnerability.
So, when you would say to me, “Hal, you really are just too impersonal, ” I thought you should separate from your personal self and get more into your impersonal self. Then you’d have some appreciation for my impersonal and that wouldn’t be a problem for you! At the time, that basically was my philosophy. I was fine. Sidra was just unavailable. So, I had to do a basic unhooking, which took me a long time. But once that unhooking was done, suddenly it all became very clear and I realized a lot of people were hurt by me.
I can imagine other scenarios though. Even if someone had said, “ “Hal, you’re really too impersonal. I just can’t reach you, ” or something like that, they also didn’t know how to approach me. And, by “didn’t know how ” I mean, they just didn’t know what to say. For example, if someone had come to me with “You know, Hal, I really have to tell you that I feel very vulnerable around you. I don’t know which hand to put forward or what to do, ” or “I feel like an idiot. I don’t know what’s going on, but it’s such an unpleasant feeling when I approach you. ” If people had approached me that way, I think I would have gotten it faster. But, we were all just learning how to do vulnerability then, and these were new things.
Sidra : Yes, let’s see. When it comes to accountability, sometimes it’s just the simplest things in a relationship, the positive bonding pattern in particular, that makes us go beyond our own needs. One of the things we’ve to learn to do and we ‘ ve often helped each other with, is to rest when we’re tired, and eat when we’re hungry. It seems so simple, but if you don’t do it, you can really louse up a relationship. You just become a bear to live with. Whatever your basic needs are, they have to be met. Lots of discomfort, and many unpleasant fights can be avoided by taking a nap, or finding a snack. So, when irritability comes up in you, it’s a good idea to check in and see what needs to be taken care of on a very basic level.
This is also accountability for yourself. Taking care of the basics for yourself, is just so easily overlooked. We forget when we haven’t eaten and we don’t realize when we ‘ re tired. Certain Selves are really clueless about that; like my Mack truck and my eighteen-wheeler. They have no sense about vulnerabilities like that.
Hal: So, we’ve learned to help each other with that.
Suggestion #14: Holding the narrative of the relationship
Sidra : Okay. There was one other, what we’d call a theme in relationship, that we’ve held for each other and that I think is quite beautiful. That’s holding the narrative or the story of the relationship, and reminding each other of it. It ‘ s so easy to get lost in your day-to-day activities that you can lose this very easily.
I feel it’s important in a relationship to hold the story, to remind each other of it, and, particularly in tough times, to hold all of it. Sometimes, the relationship isn’t going to continue anyway. But I think we have to preserve the narrative, hold it and give it the magic that it deserves. We should never really lose that for ourselves or for the other person… never really to let go of it. And, when you’re in a primary relationship, it’s good to remember it as much as possible … well … not compulsively, like every morning we have to go over everything. But don’t lose touch with it, because it holds the magic for you.