We should all be more dependent.
No, it isn't a typo.
Dependence. What a scary and shameful concept—right? How dare I let myself depend on another person?!
If you've read anything that I've posted before, you'll see that this one flies in the face of two of my biggest rules: never say "should" and don't generalize to all people... Frankly, I don't have a defense. I had to say "should". I HAD TO. Sue me.
There is gonna be some ambivalence with the exact language used here, though, as the definition for dependence dooooooeeees sound kind-of codependent. Words & labels aside, let's look at the bigger picture: it is okay to depend on someone.
I noticed this come up for me recently when I was having a very hard time, and as much as I wanted someone's support, there were so many thoughts racing through my head, telling me not to lean on them.
You can do this yourself.
This isn't their problem.
You look like you want attention.
Pretty crazy, right? All day every day, I talk with people about how much they deserve to have the support of others and yet, I fight against it myself.
There's a lot of stuff out there that tells us how we should and should not be in relationships. Needy. Codependent. Toxic. I see these buzzwords all over social media, being dished out quickly and frequently all over social media. Even as a therapist, I've been susceptible to these scary judgments about what kind of girlfriend, daughter, or friend I might be. And unfortunately, these labels, buzzwords, and quick-to-judge platforms have translated into a culture that can completely defy the value and necessity of depending on others.
In the Western world, independence is often regarded as the ideal. Hey, I can't be mad about it; I love my independence. It has made me resilient, hard-working, and allowed me to grow through extremely difficult periods in my life. Independence is great...
... it can also be isolating, unforgiving, and harmful.
Extreme independence is a common response to trauma. Thinking that other people will lie, hurt, or take advantage of you based on past experience leaves you with no option but to rely solely on yourself. This may be stem from time in your childhood, when you were left to "suck it up" and deal with things on your own, or from a relationship where you were consistently led to believe that they would not care for you. Regardless of its source, the idea that you should only ever depend on yourself goes against our very nature as humans.
When I've been in my most extreme independent states, I constantly felt alone and overwhelmed by the sheer force of everyday life. I was buckling—and with my mindset at the time, I assumed that my overwhelm was an indication that I failed. I was failing at being an independent person.
We need connection. We need socialization. We will always need a village of people to help us face the painful and unfair realities of life.
Like anything, dependence requires moderation. Dependence is not codependence. Dependence is a part of healthy, secure attachment. Not that there is some universal goal that we should all strive for, but it's a beautiful thing to feel confident and strong enough to support yourself, and to allow yourself to be supported by others.