The Illusion of Independence

 My friend Pat has written for some time now about her journey of grief following the death of her life partner. Her latest post on this topic; http://ptbertram.wordpress.com/2011/09/30/grief-is-not-self-indulgent/ talks again of how non-grievers react to grievers.

Please pop over there and read her post as it will provide the context for my post. Go on…do it now…I’ll wait :).

I have followed Pats blog for a while to both offer support in a world that I know is not supportive of folks grieving and because I admire her willingness to write about this process and her inherent bravery in facing the agony that we like to pretend doesn’t exist.

Just like we pretend that we are not completely dependent on each other. Yes I know, we like to think we are independent. But we are not. And this illusion is causing us untold harm.

Independent; “not dependent on, influenced or controlled by others” says my dictionary. Not possible say I.

The reality is, as I said to Pat, we are a completely dependant species what ever else we like to pretend. Our physical health is completely dependant upon this earth we were born on and our emotional health is completely dependant upon our relationships with each other. And perhaps, if we could be brave enough to face our complete vulnerability we may work a bit harder at ensuring we appreciate and positively contribute to both the health of our relationships and the health of the earth.

My son is fifteen. In these years part of my role is to teach him how to do things for himself. Some say to teach independence but, clearly, I disagree. What I teach him is how to positively meet his needs. He is dependant on food. I teach him how to pick good food how to prepare it, the best to buy, even how to grow some. He is dependent on the planet. I teach him how to minimize his pollution, how to give back not just take.

And most of all he is dependent upon other human beings for his emotional needs. So I teach him about human nature. About knowing and respecting himself, about treating others with integrity, about owning his own faults and about not owning other people’s faults. I teach him how others can be damaged and how to support them if he can and so desires but how to not let them damage him and how not to add to the damage done to them.

I teach him to value relationships…from the stranger who checks out his groceries, to his friends, his girlfriend, the crappy people who teach him how not to behave and his family. And I teach him, as best as I can how to deal with hurt that probably will come. Of the extremes in how some behave from the ‘I can’t live without you’ to the ‘I don’t need anyone’ reactions. Of why these reactions can occur and why they are false.

You see I want my son to be happy and I know his happiness depends both on his relationship with himself and on his relationships with others. We are not independent, we are very very dependent and this must be acknowledged, respected and treasured.

So remember to tell those in your life how very precious they are. And if you know someone who’s grieving please be there for them…however long it takes.

Now I must drive my son with his girl to tenpin bowling. He tells me he can’t wait to be driving so he’s independent. Sigh!!!

With love…Leesa

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8 thoughts on “The Illusion of Independence

  1. Such a wonderful post, Leesa. I’ve valued your insights during these months of my grief, and this is an issue I’ve been struggling with. People seem to think there is something wrong with interdependence, though, as you say, we are all interdependent. To me, grieving is a way of coming to terms with the interdepence of the relationship that died with him, so that I can celebrate new interdependencies. There may never be another such love for me, but there is the earth, the air, new friends, and even my emerging self to depend on.

    Thank you for our blogging interdependence.

    • funny about that last line Pat. I was thinking as I wrote this post how blogging is more evidence of our interdependence…our need for comfort, for validation, for understanding and positive regard from others. Yes, folk think theres something wrong with interdependence. It scares the crap out of us because it invites the possibility of being disappointed…of being hurt and let down. Yet no amount of denial can ever change the simple reality that it is what we is.

      I too value our blogging interdependence 🙂

  2. Pingback: Codependency or Interdependency? « Bertram's Blog

  3. I really love this post. I have struggled with the notion of independence (I’m was one of the I don’t need anyone types) and the journey to connect with others. I like the notion that it’s a relationship with self AND with others. This is great stuff and has inspired me to think further. Thank you.

    • hey Katie thanks for dropping by and i’m glad this post spoke to you. I so get the ‘i don’t need anyone’ response. Its pretty understandable given the messiness of human relationships but unfortunately it also is a protective defense mechanisim that, if held on too leaves us empty because simply we aint made that way.

      Yes, the relationship with self is as essential as our relationship with others…maybe even more so. I have noted in my work that the relationship a person has with themselves is profoundly reflected in the relationships they have with others.

      To inspire people to “think further” is everything to me so thank you :).

  4. Pingback: I don't care what anyone else thinks (but actually I do)

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