As humans we are born with a huge amount of dependence. There is nothing we can do for ourselves and so we are completely dependent upon our caregivers to see that all of our needs are met.
As adults we admire independence, when we are adolescents we cannot wait for the moment when we can depend on ourselves. That feeling of stepping out into the big wide world to stand on our own two feet is a pivotal moment in life.
Independence is a balance of being able to cope with life's ups and downs and knowing when to ask for help.
Unless of course we have trauma that we are still holding onto in our subconscious.
Trauma from childhood.
If you grew up without a sense of ever feeling “safe”. If you couldn’t depend on your parents or lived in a home where your parents or siblings were the ones that depended on you. If you spent your earliest years feeling you had no control over what was happening to you.
You grew up to have a deep and almost feverish yearning for control and independence.
You deal with the fear by becoming what some might call (almost with regard) “fiercely independent” and you even wear the badge with pride. You only ever respond to questions about your wellbeing by telling all those around you that you are “fine, busy but fine”, because you usually are very busy. Ultra-independence takes an inordinate amount of effort.
Your friends look up to you, your strength and relentless drive. They often turn to you for help as you seem to have it all together and be winning at life. Outwardly successful and incredibly driven, the Ultra-independent is the best person to rely on to sort out a friend’s problems.
To be able to do everything, help everyone and not ask for help is exhausting. Friends quickly tire of offering help only to be told every time “it’s fine I can manage” because managing is how you feel safe, in control, unbreakable.
You look so capable to your friends and family that they may not offer any help at all. So, you continue to cope alone and feel more lonely and without understanding why. After all, you want to be in control and independent right?
Until you start to crack under the amount of responsibility on your shoulders.
Ultra-independents are highly susceptible to burnout and nobody notices the signs until it’s too late and your world comes crashing down. Even then, you rarely allow yourself to stay down for long and insist you can “fix” yourself, perhaps have a spa day or some “self-care”, in complete denial that you are doing this to yourself as a response to the trauma of an unsafe childhood. Take away your Ultra-independence and all that pain comes flooding back so you will do whatever it takes to retain control over your own life.
What you fail to realise is that you are not in control – the trauma response is.
Recognising this trait is the first step in recovery. Ultra-independence is the opposite to co-dependency and much less talked about. That needs to change. It’s time to acknowledge that depending on nobody but yourself creates such a demand on your energy, both emotionally and physically that you will eventually crack, before you ever ask for help.
Learn how to ask for help. How to trust people and rely on others not just yourself. Begin to breakdown the barriers and displace the armour you have created to maintain your independence.
Most of all, treasure your independence, it has got you this far and you are doing great. You just don’t have to do it all alone. You can depend on others and still be safe.