Sunday, August 14, 2011

A drag??

What is it about independence that makes most of us crave it and chase after it?

What is it about dependence that freaks us out and that most of us want to avoid at all costs?

Much of society is built upon this. Retirement policies - so that you don't have to rely on your children to look after you when you are old. Disability policies - so that you don't become a burden to your family members should you lose you become disabled. You hear people say "I really don't want to impose!" using this as an excuse to not ask for help. It is considered a compliment if someone says "that woman is strong and independent" - in fact many strive to become this; looking down on those who cannot stand on their own two feet. These don't sound that bad really - what is this blog post all about I hear you asking?

I had a conversation last week that really jolted me. I was visiting a professional person regarding an organisation that I am involved with - nothing to do with Matt. I had Matt with me, and he was happily playing on the floor of this man's office. We got to talking about Matt - this man was very interested and had lots of questions. He told me how he had grown up next to a family who had a boy with Down Syndrome who, because of his mother's dedication to his learning, grew up to be able to live by himself. He made some comment about how great it was that this boy "wasn't a drag on someone" as if this had to be avoided at all costs.

Is it really the worst thing to have to care for someone else? Is it really the worst thing if you can't do every thing yourself? Is it?

For me sometimes the opposite can be worse - being so independent that you never need anyone, that you feel in control and impenetrable that you don't let anyone see your inner being. That you live behind a wall of strength that never allows others to touch your heart. Alone, independent, but alone.

And aren't we as humans designed in such a way that we feel most alive when we are loving someone, when we are caring for someone, when we feel needed and feel thay we are making a difference in someone elses life. Ironically our society puts independence on such a pedistal, and yet it is our very interdependence that gives our life meaning.

Personally I can't ever imagine feeling that caring for Matt will be a drag. Call me naive, but I love Matt and that is how I feel. Don't get me wrong, I am not holding back on teaching him all that I can - I really do want to him to reach his potential. But this isn't because I want him to be independent so that people won't look down on him. So that people won't think he is a failure or a drag. Rather I want him to reach his potential because then he will be most fulfilled and find his meaning in life.

There have been times during the past 5 years, when Matt's needs have been too big for me to manage on my own. I had to examine my own attitude to independence and 'having it all together'; and the fears I had around asking for help. When I did rely on others - I found three amazing things happen. First, a lot more got achieved than I could possibly have done on my own. Second, my friendship with the person who helped me out deepened in a beautiful way as they saw they were meeting my need. Third, I watched in awe as the person helping me started to shine as they used their gifts, time and talents to bless me. It really didn't seem like a drag at all.


Cindy said...

So beautifully expressed, Jacqui.

I was just thinking of this, this afternoon, as I made the twice-a-week jaunt to Natalie's therapy, and where I also drive past "Planned Parenthood" (abortion clinic). I try hard not to look, but usually I look every day, hoping that I don't see someone there to kill a life that they think will be too much of a drag on their own lives. If they only knew what we experience! It deepens my resolve to show people how much love our kids can give, and that life is more than independence.

Thank you for writing this!

Debbie said...

Isn't it because we are all selfish by nature? Looking after an elderly parent, a 'needy' child, a disabled spouse (!!) will cramp our style, get in the way of what we want to do and achieve. Some of those situations can be exhausting - physically, emotionally and even financially. I look at some of the people who we have met through Grants dancing etc. and I am amazed at how they cope in very, very difficult circumstances and sometimes with very little help or support. Being independent can be good for the person (I just see how Grant having so much more independence now has helped him) but there should always be someone to whom you can go for help when needed and we all need help from time to time whether abled/disabled; challenged in some way or not. No man is an island - I think the saying goes!!