Posted by: Marie | June 21, 2009

(91) Feeling disrespected

Post #91
[Email to the members of my accountability group sent Sunday, February 1, 2009]

Hi, everyone –

I have a dilemma. I am feeling disrespected right now and I am not okay with it. This week, I blocked off a huge chunk of my schedule, declined other invitations and managed my time well so I could be prepared for our potluck and meeting scheduled for today.

This weekend, I cleaned house, hauled fire wood into the basement, prepared the content for the meeting, pulled out dishes and cleared counter space . . . and, one day before the potluck, the potluck had to be canceled because people had scheduling conflicts. Thirty minutes before the meeting, the meeting had to be canceled for the same reason. The time I invested in preparing for the potluck and meeting was wasted.

People from our sister accountability group put the potluck into their calendars and managed their schedules so they could attend. They have been disrespected as well.

Before the Storm by Martin Chen

Before the Storm by Martin Chen

This is not the first time members have simply not shown up or have called at the last minute to cancel. It is not the first time that members have broken their commitment to the group. It is happening quite often.

Bottom line, I have better things to do with my time than to prepare for a group of people who don’t show up.

Can I share something with you that I have learned in my life? A while back, I created a list of my priorities and identified how much time, money and energy each of those priorities require. As I work my way down the list, there comes a point where I have allotted all the time/money/energy I have available to me and I draw a line — anything above the line I commit to whole-heartedly — anything below the line is set aside until a later time.

I have to say “no” to some things in order to really say “yes” to the important stuff.

I do this prioritization so that I don’t waste the time and energy of other people — so I don’t make commitments I can’t keep. When I find myself routinely having to break commitments because stuff comes up that trumps the pre-existing commitments, I know it is time to re-evaluate my list of commitments and maybe back-out of some groups or activities — or, I need to manage my schedule and commitments better.

If I repeatedly break promises — if it is easy for me to do so — what does that say about me and how I show up in the world? Would people be inclined to believe what I say? Would they trust me with responsibility? Would they depend on me? Would they invest in me?

I have some people in my life who are really important to me — they know that, if they want to spend time with me, they have to be respectful of my schedule and my commitments. If it is important to them for me to show up at a specific event, they know to get that event on my calendar way in advance. If they invite me to do something at a time I am already otherwise committed and I have to say “no”, they understand it is not personal — I’m just showing up when and where I said I would show up — and they know I will do the same for them. They know they can count on me.

I learned a long time ago that we teach people how to treat us. If I allow people to disrespect my time, they will — not all people, but many. It is human nature to “toe the line”. For every “inch” you allow to be taken from you, there is a person in your life who will take it. It is a rare soul who routinely respects others’ time just because it is the right thing to do. That is why we have to have boundaries.

Here is my boundary: I do not grant access to my time to people who routinely disrespect my time. I am right now in the process of determining which side of that boundary this situation falls.

As adults, it is our responsibility to know what we can and cannot handle. It is our responsibility to keep track of and follow through on our promises. I expect nothing less of you, especially in the context of an accountability group!

I understand sometimes truly unforeseeable things come up (like getting ill). In that case, I expect you to provide notice in a timely manner — which is not a couple of hours (or less) before the event. I know some of you contacted me an hour or two before the meeting — but I was otherwise occupied (which is reasonable) and could not monitor my phone during that time — so, I didn’t get the last phone call and the last two text messages until 30 minutes before the start of the meeting. I should have known much sooner.

I am feeling very angry right now.

– Marie

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  1. Oooo, that sucks. That’s why I hate groups. I make myself be ontime, schedule my time (which is like fingernails on a chalkboard), and I do most of the work – they still do what your group does. Aaarrrgggg!

  2. I’m in a PTSD group, and member attendance has been a problem with us too. It’s not something I get angry about, but it’s really…I don’t know. It makes it hard to get things done and adjust to the dynamics of the group when you get there and don’t know who’ll you find.

    I think group therapy is a bit intimidating to some, as far as commitment goes. A lot of abuse victims have problems sticking with things, I find…doesn’t matter what it is or how much it means to us. I try to remember that everyone has the same core issues I do, and may be in different places in their healing. Group was intimidating to me at first, after all.

    How did this work out?

    • Hi, Ivory & Jaleesa –

      Group dynamics are interesting, aren’t they?

      This group was created specifically as a space for each individual to set life-altering intentions — then we were to hold each other accountable to those intentions.

      It is rather hard to hold someone accountable, and to have others hold you accountable, when people don’t show up. That was my frustration.

      As you can see, I handled my frustration poorly. My frustration was valid, but I addressed it poorly.

      In therapy with Mark, he helped me see that I have a habit of verbally blasting people as a way to bully them into behaving differently — that is exactly what I did in this letter. It was manipulative of me.

      There are consequences to treating people that way. So, as for how it worked out . . . well, you’ll have to keep reading!

      – Marie

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