Monday, November 19, 2012

I Am Not Independent.

This post is meant to be a quick partner piece to Amy Sequenzia's excellent questioning and reframing of independence.  I will get back to answering questions very, very soon, because that is important, and I want to do it well (when I am altogether), but my spoons seem to have all been in the dishwasher of late.  Sorry about that.  So.

I am not independent and I am good with that, now.  There have been times in my life when I have succumbed to society's peer pressure that what makes a human a human is to have independence.  These have been the worst times in my life.  Being homeless, sucky.  You don't know when to eat or drink or sleep because of what time is it and that makes you super sick? Non awesome. You finally get around to matter-of-factly telling the doctor your pain is almost intolerable (when you have a rather high pain threshold to start with) and you didn't know that was supposed to be accompanied by a swan song hyper Shakespearean death scene to get noticed so therefore you basically didn't say anything as far as the doctor is concerned, suckier.  You shrug that off because, hey, you need to be  independent--and it turns out that decision almost kills you because your tumors are going to make your innards septic or something...what is the equivalent of "priceless" on the suckiness spectrum?

I am a human being, not a human doing, not a human island.  I am interdependent.  So I need help with some things, OK maybe a lot of things.  Also, I am helpful and worthwhile to others in some other things, because that is the real meaning of life.  Even if I just make someone smile to look at me, that's me being of worth to that person.  We as a society really need to get off this "Everyone Needs to Be Totally Independent or The World Will Crash and Lives Will Be Ruined" kick, now, because it is hurting people like me, like the kid I was, and it is hurting people like my parents when they were younger, twisting their hands and guts with fear of what would become of me.  I think it is likely hurting the person reading this.  I send you love.

Here is what has become of me.  When I finally stopped using all my spoons trying to be what I considered "independent," and let myself be part of the world, and let myself ask for help, I got my life back, I got to be who I am.  I am happy and successful.  Why should I have to be able to do everything all by myself?  Who does that?  It is only disabled people who are really supposed to be that much of a super hero.  When stars or wealthy people have helpers, I guess that's randomly OK.  Nobody thinks that they are not "independent" and hence not really people.

So I am a happy, successful, interdependent person who cannot survive without a little help (OK maybe a lot) from my friends.  And family.  You know who you are.  Thank you so much.  :)

This message goes out there to all the youth who are knocking themselves out trying to make it look easy, not asking for help, floundering, and to all the parents who can't sleep wondering what will happen after... There's friends and more found-family.  The world of humans is a tribal world.  Independence is not the key.  Healthy, self-determined and well-chosen interdependence is where it's at.  It took me so long to learn that I want to announce it before I forget and it takes everyone else so many long hard painful times.

Thanks for listening.

Next, back to your questions, like I'm supposed to.  Thanks for your patience.

Love, Ib

19 comments:

  1. This, completely. I can't live independently. I'm fortunate to be in a relationship with someone, and we live at his mother's house (financial reasons) which ensures that there is always someone I can seek help from.

    Key point: In two years living here, I have never felt shame for this. Remarkably, this improves to a small degree the base-number of spoons I get to work with. Shame is a phenomenally draining exercise.

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  2. I hope you don't think that those who help you are totally independent themselves. If I haven't said this before, you have helped me in understanding my son and my motherhood, more than anyone ever did. Interdependent is a cool word. Hugs, L.

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    1. The relationship I am in, we definitely rely on each other. He has a neurological condition (as yet unidentified despite three specialists) so I help him out with that as best I can. It takes up a fair amount of energy, but it's a fair trade in this case. "Interdependence" is a great way to describe our relationship, since many tend to jump to the concept of 'co-dependence' - well, yes, alone we couldn't deal with these things. Together, we can. This is true for many people, but we only pathologize it in a small number of people.

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    2. Hugs L! Codependent is very different, where a person needs another person to be dependent. Interdependent is respectful mutuality. No need for sameness, as we are different. What I need help with is very different from what I can help with because thank goodness for diversity. Great distinction, thanks!

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  3. "I am a human being, not a human doing, not a human island."

    I love these words so much.

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  4. I'm not independent either. I'm the less socially acceptable half of an interdependent marriage, and have been ever since I developed the chronic health problems that put a damper on my independence. However, I'm still perfectly able to make my own choices. This is understood. It is a non-issue. There is no reason for it to be otherwise.

    So I'll sign on to your message, and add the note to these concerned young people---being interdependent, needing help from others, being in a symbiotic relationship, should not be shameful or stigmatized, and neither should they be taken as justification to deprive your freedom. Anyone who tells you otherwise is not working in your best interests, and is not the best candidate for an interdependent relationship, even if such a person is of your own family.

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    1. Great point Adkyriolexy! Interdependence is among two free people, otherwise it would be codependent which as Apanthropy pointed out is not at all the same, nor healthy. We all have inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness! Thanks for clarifying that super important issue of freedom!!!

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  5. I am learning to be less independent, but it is painful. After so many years of thinking I had to be alone and do alone, it's hard to admit I need help or even that help would just make things easier. At the same time, I have a deep need for solitude, so it's a balancing act. I see my teenage son going through his angst years saying, "I can handle it!" to every challenge, but he clearly isn't. He has ADHD and I hope soon he'll realize he isn't independent, too.

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    1. I wish the world didn't make him feel like he has to be or he's less of a man. Or less of a person. Right now he kind of has to be all "I got it!" because otherwise it's "defeat." That's wrong and that's what I protest.

      Solitude, I have found, is a great time to do those things that I naturally kick ass at, such as loitering :D.

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  6. Oh Ib, I so love this and YOU! Interdependent - yes! I am an NT-NOS (my friend AspieKid actually coined that) but I too am not independent nor do I want to be. When I was "independent" I spent the majority of those years binging and puking, in the throes of bulimia and believe me, that is NOT a quality of life worth emulating or having. So yeah, independence is not all it's made out to be. Still, I had and made the choice. I'm grateful to have had that. Choice makes all the difference in the world. And I guess that's what those parents who worry are worrying about. We all want to have the illusion of choice for ourselves and for our children, even if it is just an illusion. What I wish for both my children one Autistic and one not is that they find people they can be interdependent with and that they find the happiness I have found in doing so.

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    1. Choice is real and it's going to be realer. We are going to keep working tirelessly as it gets realer and realer and bigger and bigger. One way to strengthen choice is to weaken the pressure to "independence" because that is one of the names for "normalization" in disguise. And, you know, just, No.

      Everyone should say No to that. I think totally "diagnosis free" people should be up in arms and start chanting "Who you calling normal? Want a piece of me?!" That would be funny, but also, quite fair. Normal indeed. Feh.

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  7. Another great post. Following a head injury 20 years ago a friend of mine still lives with her parents. Because of this she is able to work full-time in a job she loves. She has her own money and is financially independent. But she relies upon her parents for support in order to be able to work.
    This was proved recently when they went on holiday for the first time. She had to take 2 days off work to cope.
    By accepting she is dependent in one area of her life she is able to be independent in other areas. I really admire her.

    And yes, who wants to be "normal" anyway LOL. I refer to those non-asd kids my friends have as "Standard-Issue" to tease them.

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  8. LOL love it. You are great Anna M.! I love it when you write!

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  9. Thank you for posting this! You have articulated so beautifully some of the ideas I have been kicking around. It is so frustrating for me when I mention to people how well my autistic son is doing with one activity or another and their response is "Oh, so he doesn't need any special support?" or "Oh, so he participates just like everyone else?" How about using his happiness, comfort, health, and engagement as standards of success? *sigh* It also strikes me that independence is a red herring of sorts, and in many ways inconsistent with the goal of sociality.

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  10. You nailed it. We all depend on food getting to the grocery store, gasoline to the gas station, the power grid delivering electricity and heat to our homes. My mother needed much help with basic financial matters, especially after my father passed, but was actually more social than I am. We all have strengths and weaknesses, and the best families (and workplaces for that matter) are ones where the individual talents, interest, and abilities complement each other to make a strong functioning family (or business).

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