Many years ago, I participated in a community class that was focused on learning the teachings of the Hendricks Institute. They taught things like having 100% accountability for our life on every realm – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually (and for me, it also included energetically) – and for what we were speaking, thinking, doing, hearing, seeing, and experiencing. They spoke about being in alignment and having high integrity. They coached about relationship skills and having healthy relationships. It was in this community where I first heard the word “co-create”and came to understand what that meant. I learned that having a co-creative relationship was the highest ideal of symbiotic balance and 100% accountability on each partner’s part.

This class was also a space where I learned about a lot of good weapons and how to use them to eviscerate my opponents while deflecting attention from what *I* was doing that was incongruent with the concept of being 100% accountable for my life. Oddly enough, the skills for a healthy life and healthy relationships are fantastic weapons of war. And one of the most powerful tools is The Withhold.

Withhold: (according to dictionary.com) to hold back; restrain or check; to refrain from giving or granting

When I first learned of this concept, I was utterly amazed. I remember the one facilitator from whom I experienced lessons in the most painful of ways saying, “You really need to get your withholds cleaned up, Angie. Now!” I couldn’t see what in the hell she was talking about because I believed myself to be totally honest and upfront about everything in my life. Sometimes to the point of being overly expressive about my truths and causing people to groan with my propensity to divulge every. single. detail. about whatever it was that I was sharing.

withhold badgeWhile learning about withholds, I was a proud member of The Withhold Police. I was on high alert to see where people were withholding information from me and I would point fingers at them as soon as my alarms went off. I would loudly protest their withhold, hoping they would be reprimanded and be “made to” reveal whatever secret thing they were not sharing. I called everyone around me on it constantly. I was on hyper-alert and became abrasive in the practice of tattling on everyone who seemed to be withholding anything from anyone (“seemed to be” is the operative part of that sentence, by the way, because I had no way of really knowing back then if they really were withholding). Especially if that anyone was me. 

However, what I couldn’t see when I was focused on harping on everyone else in the world who was withholding information was that, underneath all that, I was believing myself to be completely honest and open in every dealing. But, that facts were that I lied to myself constantly, so I wasn’t totally honest and I didn’t allow people to really know me – mostly because *I* didn’t know who the hell I was – which is a major withhold and, if I learned something then I wouldn’t share it with anyone because it was M.I.N.E. which was also, you guessed it, a withhold. Big time. Additionally, I had become very masterful at dodging direct questions and turning it around on others so they would feel completely connected to me because I was interested in them. I distracted them from connecting to me by fully connecting with them and withholding all of me from them. This is when I realized I was The Interrogator.

As I became aware of my Interrogator stance that I would take as a shield, I realized that she was very, very subtle and skilled at the art of The Withhold. I remained silent so I wouldn’t reveal what I was thinking or feeling. I stayed silent so I couldn’t be called “wrong.” I watched and gathered information so I would “know” everything. This “knowing everything” was a survival mechanism. It kept me alive in my marriage. It kept me from getting hurt as an outsider when I was a child. It kept me safe in a world of “no one really knows me so they don’t really know how to hurt me.” What I didn’t see was that it was me that was hurting me.

Today, in one of my private Facebook groups, somebody threw out an accusation that someone was withholding something from the rest of the group. The comment was posted in generalized terms, speaking for “many of us” and declaring that the one person was withholding from the whole group. I sat there, staring at the screen and seeing myself about five years ago pointing fingers at everyone else but myself. I saw myself using unaccountable talk – “we, you, they, them” instead of “me” or “I” – and ratting out all the offenders of The Withhold Laws. I cringed because I remembered how many times I was embarrassed because, ultimately, the “withhold” I was seeing/hearing was because I wasn’t meant to see/hear what was being “withheld.” Or, even worse, when the “withhold” was because *I* wasn’t clear in my angle and *I* saw/heard it incorrectly.

I remembered the many times I put my foot in my mouth because I called others on the carpet unfairly or for nonexistent infringements on The Withhold Laws. I remembered feeling angry when others knew something that I didn’t know because I needed to know e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. I remembered feeling miserable and like I was not part of the exclusive club when others knew something I didn’t know. And that got worse when it was my best friend, in conjunction with the two facilitators, who knew, but I didn’t. It was like the three of them had a secret handshake and private language and I couldn’t get through the doors.

It was maddening being a member of The Withhold Police, although I didn’t realize how maddening and how exhausting it truly was until I finally got willing to be 100% accountable for my life. Ironically enough, my willingness to become 100% willing to be 100% accountable did not come until after I broke ties with that community and the facilitators who led it. Then, and only then, I was able to see myself for who I truly am.

This willingness has led me into a space where I am able to listen to, observe and read others (as I mentioned in my previous post) continually without absorbing extraneous information. My willingness to be accountable means I now know I don’t have to know everything and that I’m not meant to know everything and there is a lot I don’t want to know. It means that, if I feel there is a withhold happening, I look to myself first and see if I need to adjust myself before pointing outwards. It also means that, if I choose to call others out on the withholds I can sense, I do so accountably. Often I am surprised by the results.

I’m really grateful that I volunteered to hand in my badge and gun so I’m no longer counted amongst the members of The Withhold Police. Life is much more easeful from this vantage point.

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