07 Jul Independence Builds Barriers – Updated
I originally wrote this article in 2009… and today in honor of our recent Independence Day celebrations and building on some interesting science I’m currently reading about… it felt like time to republish one of my favorite articles.
“Independence builds barriers”… This might surprise many of you and I believe it’s an important aspect of today’s modern relationship that we must look at within our own lives if we desire healthy, happy and fulfilling relationships. It’s become readily clear to me through observing my own life and the lives of the many men and women I’ve worked with over the years, that the “independence” so radically promoted by the original women’s movement and by today’s societal conditioning has wrecked much havoc in our intimate relationships… and in our offices for that matter.
Please know that I am immensely grateful for the changes created for women and society as a whole as a result of the Women’s movement. At the same time, I recognize that while the movement gave us equality, power, pay, and independence, in exchange for those freedoms most of us traded health, happiness, romance, passion, friendship, fulfillment, and more.
It is absolutely true that for the first time in evolutionary history, women are no longer dependent on men for their inherent survival. Hallelujah! And, it makes me cry sometimes as I watch the parade of women I see that now believe they have to do it all… They have to be everything to all people all the time. Simultaneously, women have been so conditioned that weakness is unacceptable that we’ll do anything to prove our strength… and we have a society filled with exhausted women.
Women, how often do you feel exhausted before you ever get out of bed?
Men, how many women do you know that push themselves to the point of utter exhaustion and then go into a fit of exasperated rage or collapse in a pile of frustrated tears?
I know I’ve been one of those women. I thought I should and could do it all. I can’t. There’s always a trade off. I read recently in the book, “Taming your Alpha Bitch” about how we as women are trying to do some much that we’re always trading off one thing for another. They talked about how we women will finally get ahead in our business and we wake up and can’t button our jeans… or our relationship is thriving and our professional life is struggling. I soooo know the reality of these challenges.
Similar conditioning has existed for men as well… Our society chastises “softness” in men and criticizes them for any semblance of “weakness” that might arise. This has cost us so much.
For all of us – men and women alike – it is our vulnerability and openness, combined with our willingness to give and receive that allow us to thrive in life and celebrate in love!
It’s time for all of us to open up to the possibility of choosing healthy and conscious DEPENDENCE…
There’s another cause. Beyond the societal conditioning of “be independent no matter what”… those of us who have experienced some form of abandonment in our lives will often say, “I’ll never let that happen again.” “I’ll never get attached like that again… I’ll never let someone get that close again.” And then we strive for more and more independence, creating wider and deeper chasms between those we might otherwise love deeply… or be loved by.
Before I conclude, I’m in the process of reading a new book called, “Vagina” and it talks about recent scientific research that may prove that women are actually “wired” for connection… That our bonding, even our “addiction to love” may be pre-wired into our biochemistry and our sexual nervous system. The implication is that all the judgements we’ve had of women who seem to compulsively want love may be in vain. Or that those of us women who have almost “fought” ourselves to be stronger, more independent, are fighting a never-ending uphill battle. These bonding behaviors may prove to be biological and necessary for a healthly working society. I share more as I learn more.
So no matter how it started for you, the “independence strategy” runs in all of us and it’s time for us to drop the barriers. It’s time to reconnect and enjoy the gifts that we can give one another. Men and women, the masculine and feminine, actually complement each other in life when we allow ourselves to serve and be served by others. Giving becomes recieving. Receiving becomes giving. Remember… in order to receive you have to surrender some of your independence and allow someone – a man or woman – to help you.. to support you.
If you ask for help… if you open your heart to support… it does not mean you are weak or dependent. It means you’re strong and powerful… and becoming even more so.
To be complete I must note, we’ve heard for years about the unhealthiness of co-dependence in relationships. This is true… when “I HAVE to have you or be with you” or when my emotions or sense of well-being are dependent on your emotions, we cannot create healthy authentic relationships. This is true and we must move forward from here.
Once we have found our independence and grounded ourselves in it… then dependence and vulnerability become critically important components of passionate and fulfilling relationships. This healthy dependence arises from two people who are first comfortable with themselves and honest about their needs and desires.
Then they chose inter-dependence and vulnerability with each other.
So find your independence…know you have it… and when appropriate… choose to surrender it in exchange for deeper support, love and intimacy… and even power!