Cheryl's Blog

The high cost of anti-dependence

I’m sitting in a hotel room off the coast of Maine staring at a steel blue sea.  Lazy ships slide along the horizon as white ducks, closer to the shore, dive in and out of frosty waves.  This view is my idea of heaven.

My husband Michael booked a special weekend here to celebrate my birthday. Last Friday his instructions were simple:  Pack a bag for three nights and be ready to leave at 4pm.  As romantic as the idea sounds, I have to admit that not knowing where we were going or what we were doing was a bit intimidating. But rather than question his plans, I let it go. In the last couple of years, ever since losing our cat, Poupon, actually, I’ve made it a point to loosen my grip on life. That loss was a stark reminder of how little control we have over the things that really matter.

All weekend long, as I’ve enjoyed some quiet time alone without having to direct any plans, I wish I’d learned long ago to let someone else run the show now and then.  Like so many women, for most of my life I’ve been the one in charge (by choice) and it’s fostered a kind of anti-dependence – a tendency to turn away help because it feels unnatural and uncomfortable.

Oh, but at such a price.  I can see the cost of anti-dependence in my older loved ones who have a hard time receiving help when they actually need it.  And I’ve experienced the frustration and disconnection that occurs when you offer support to someone and they turn away.

It’s tricky business to give to people who reject help.

So, this weekend I’m learning a few lessons – to trust, to be open to gifts, and to receive love.  Not only because it’s healthy and life-affirming, but because it brings me closer to loved ones and I want more of that.

I encourage you to consider these lessons, too 😀.

As I pull my chair back from the window and the striking ocean view, I make a mental note to thank Michael for his birthday present. While I know he thinks it was the gift of a weekend away, turns out it was so much more…



PS – I’m coming to London! I’ll be speaking at Alternatives on Monday, December 16th and my husband Michael will be joining me for the event.  You can learn more and get tickets here.