There are songs about it. Women are praised for it. We all want to be it, don’t we? I am referring to being independent. This past year I have heard it so many times. I’ve said it so many times. I’ve felt it many times. I am on the fence about whether or not I like it. I know it is not the most politically correct thing to say, but being an independent woman kind of sucks. What I mean is, I don’t want to be an independent woman. I want help. I need help. People were put on this earth to help one another and I am no longer going to be too embarrassed to admit that I can’t do everything myself.
For the past several years, I have been going through a major transition in my life. It is a welcomed transition and I am looking forward to this new chapter in my life, but the process has been very lonely and I have had to do many things on my own. I have been the quintessential independent woman. I can change my own oil, change a tire, shoot a rifle or handgun, (better than most), move heavy objects, etc. all by myself. I even have even been given the name, Superwoman by my colleagues. People often wonder how I can do so much. My answer is, because I have to. I honestly do not want to be an independent woman. I want to be able to do all of the things I listed, but I don’t want to have to do them all by myself. I wears me out. When I take off my fancy bulletproof, uniform with the chiseled muscles embossed on the glossy exterior, what lies beneath is a battered and bruised body with aches and pains. That body is in need of a warm bath, massage, and bandages, but I am too tired to run the bath or reach for the bandages. Instead I sit and wait until the throbbing pain subsides and I put on the Superwoman garb to cover what has yet to heal and walk out into the next day to begin again as an “independent woman”.
The Superwoman moniker is somewhat true in my case. On the outside looking in, I may seem invincible. My superhero uniform is pristine and I am, for whatever reason, freakishly strong physically. I only sleep, at most, three hours a night and function perfectly on just those three hours (my grandmother was the same way. It is apparently a gene mutation. You can read a little about it here. ) All of these things are remarkably impressive, but unlike most superheroes, I lack the ability of rapid healing. I feel the effects of my “independence” physically and emotionally. I will have to admit that a lot of it is my fault. When I was younger, I was so proud of all of my seemingly superhuman abilities and loved to show them off. I taught everyone around me that I could do everything myself. After a while, offers to help stopped coming in because I supposedly didn’t need it. I was an “independent woman who didn’t need no help”. I didn’t like it then and I don’t like it now. I gave in to the pressure of being the independent woman. I wore it like a badge of honor, but it became my scarlet letter. Being the “independent woman” was shielding me from the help I needed.
Years later, I realize I am in the same pattern. I am no longer challenging men to arm wrestling contests, but I am still showcasing my “independence”. Now I would welcome any help that is offered, but I have shown that I don’t need it. As old habits die hard, I have become accustomed to turning down help because I have also convinced myself that I am invincible. I have recently had to allow myself to show weakness. Every superhero has his or her limits and I have reached mine. As before, I can still do all of those things, but it is getting harder to just throw on the costume and make it through another day.
Now I have to create new habits and change old behaviors. These past few months have been quite challenging, even for this superhero. I have never cried so much in my life. I have wondered why no one has been around to help. I had to realize that I had put on a superhuman performance that showed all of my loved ones that I could handle everything on my own. I truly believe in being vulnerable. In some areas of my life I feel that I am, but I never ask for help. I have no problem expressing my feelings or showing when I am hurt, disappointed, unhappy, etc., but I never ask for help with dealing with those things. I have a lot of work to do. As I have mentioned before in many of my previous posts, I am a work in progress.
I would like to challenge all of us to not only be open to help, but to also ask for when when we need it. We were not put on this earth to travel this journey alone. Although it is great to be self-sufficient, self-reliant, and self-supporting, we don’t have to be, nor should we be.