The dictionary defines accountable as, “required or expected to justify actions or decisions”. Last year, I sat with a group of men that shared some of their personal stories. I listened as one man shared that he had a drinking problem and was on the brink of losing his family. Coming home from work, he would get a drink to relax his mind and fall asleep. Then he would wake up and go out with his friends to drink again. It made him angrier and more irritable. Arguments were started with his wife until one day, she gave him an ultimatum. Either get cleaned or she was gone.
Fearing that he might lose his wife, he went to get some help. While at an Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) meeting, he listened to the stories of other people. A lawyer mentioned how they would show up to court smelling like alcohol. The drinking became so bad that they were eventually disbarred. Other husbands talked about losing their families to drinking. After hearing these stories, the man knew that he needed to make a change. It started with him recognizing the problem he was causing in his life and marriage. Now over a year sober, his marriage is stronger. Drinking uncontrollably ripped him of his manhood. He became irresponsible and inconsiderate. If he didn’t acknowledge his actions, he probably would have lost his wife and his battle with alcoholism.
Learning from his story, I had to come to terms with my own irresponsibility. I met a woman a couple of years ago, towards the end of my senior year in college. We were just friends at first, but we developed a sexual relationship. I’d used to call her over to my apartment to watch a movie and have sex. It was fun and enticing. Over the course of our “friendly” relationship, I started to notice that she developed feelings for me. She would get clingy and upset if I talked about other women in front of her. I did my best to be upfront with her and told her that I’m not looking for a relationship. In fact, I was willing to cut the sex out. Understanding my position, we continued having sex.
For sometime, the situation was perfect, but slowly and surely the questions about a relationship came back. Irritated, I told her we shouldn’t have sex anymore. She became upset and started to believe I was having sex with someone else. I wasn’t, but she was willing to do anything I wanted. Guys at her office would try to talk to her, but she would tell them that she had a boyfriend. I started to feel guilty. I felt like I was robbing her of a true relationship. Ultimately, I cut all communications off and stop interacting with her. Last year, I reached out to her to apologize. I shouldn’t have taken advantage of her heart and I should have been more responsible in understanding her feelings. My honesty was appreciated, but I broke her heart and she didn’t want to have anything to do with me. I assumed that if I told her my position upfront, then I was clear of all wrong doing, but I took advantage of her. It was wrong and I lost a friend.
Being a man means being accountable for your actions. It’s about not blaming others, but taking control of yourself. Whether it is in our careers, friendships, romantic relationships or family, we have to recognize the roles that we play.
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