“Love comes quietly; finally, drops around me, on me, in the old way. What did I know, thinking myself able to go alone all the way.” — Robert Creeley
Beautiful people, let's go!!
Today's blog post is based on a conversation I had with my sister (who shared a tik-tok post on an individual who speaks of hyper-independence)..it always jumps off with a conversation..Thank you sista (4 more days to go! wink, wink)
Because we live in a culture that worships independence, many of us tend to demonize any degree of dependence and see it as a weakness. In order to avoid the judgments of others (and ourselves), many of us try to conceal the dependence that is intrinsic to our nature as humans. We are, after all interdependent, social beings that require involvement with others in order to meet our intrinsic physical and emotional needs and to grow and thrive.
The definition of dependence is “reliance on something or someone." The definition is neutral; but for so many, the word “dependency” is a dirty word. In our “me” centered, society, it is a popular belief that to achieve maturity, we must become absolutely autonomous, and self-sufficient. If we allow others to become dependent on us, or we are dependent on them, it is typically viewed as negative or even pathological.
We enter into relationships with others because relating to them enhances our life in some way. None of us is independent of the need for others; we are dependent on others to survive, thrive, and grow into our full potential.
Healthy dependency or interdependency characterizes every loving relationship. Many couples find themselves drawn to others who have complementary strengths and character traits that enable them to rely upon and learn from each other, becoming more whole in the process. There are areas where no matter how much we learn from our partner, they will continue to be strong and more fully developed than ourselves. To lean on the other’s strengths is a sign of intelligence rather than weakness.
From time to time in everyone’s life, we all depend upon the help of others. Sometimes we push their wheelchair and sometimes they push ours. It is a strong visual image that reminds us of the reciprocal nature of relationships. When we fail to acknowledge how much we depend upon the support of others, we make our life more difficult. When we hold back from leaning on another due to fear or old habituated patterns, we rob ourselves of an opportunity for more pleasure in life. Denying our dependence is just as debilitating as excessive dependence on another where we don’t develop our own attributes. Both extremes weaken us.
That inability to trust is one of the cornerstones of trauma, and it’s a defense mechanism that most people use to cope. If we had to play psychiatrist with our own experiences, we'd likely became fiercely independent as a response to the fact that we no longer felt safe trusting the people around us.
Trauma doesn’t have to stem from extreme situations. It can be the result of negative events or circumstances that have shaped who you are and what you believe, either consciously or unconsciously.
Acting as if you’ve got everything under control usually happens because you don’t want to ask for help out of fear of being perceived as weak.
But asking for help — or accepting help — is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of courage and humaneness.
Don’t take me wrong: independence is a good trait, as long as you’re not self-sabotaging or suppressing your real emotions. You can be independent and still ask for help. You can be independent and still have deep, vulnerable relationships. In fact, you need to.
The most successful relationships are those where both partners feel that they are with someone that they can depend upon. They trust that their partner can be trusted not to hurt them, who will be supportive, and who won’t use what was shared in an emotionally vulnerable moment against them. They feel seen for their positive attributes and know that despite their dark shadowy aspects, they are loved anyway. When we know that we are loved “as is,” we are free to delight in the joys of success and to risk-taking on the challenges and sorrows that every relationship goes through.
A mutually healthy dependency promotes self-esteem, self-confidence, and ease in life. In making an agreement to create an interdependent relationship, we open to the possibility of healing old wounds, healing dysfunctional family patterns, modeling a successful partnership for our children, and becoming the best that we can each become.
When we experience being deeply loved, we can begin to feel more comfortable in our own skin. Much of the frantic energy that drives so many of us has to do with running away from ourselves because we’ve never learned to free ourselves from the self-judgments that we’ve inherited from our families and our culture. As we come to accept and appreciate ourselves, flaws and all, “hyper-independence diminishes and eventually disappears. We can experience the whole spectrum of connectedness from the deepest of intimate bonding to the peaceful tranquility that emerges from a solitary retreat.
The myth of independence is promoting isolation, and resulting in a growing number of lonely people. The feeling of being worthy begins with relationships with others. I feel that to the degree that many of us thrive in our lives, it is because of our feelings of security and well-being that built on a strong network of interdependent relationships.
It is a gift to our partners to acknowledge our reliance upon them and our gratitude for their talents, passions, gifts, good sense, and competencies. These are the ways that we honor their strengths. One of the greatest gifts available among the many that great relationships offer, is the assistance that our partner provides in the face of the challenges that life inevitably serves up to us. We can meet those challenges with confidence and can afford to take on those that are bigger, grander, and more exciting, resting into the assurance that we are fully supported.