Do you ever wonder how it’s been so long since you’ve been on your own that you don’t even remember what exactly happened that made you choose to live this way? I can’t, either.
I have always been proud of my independence and looked at it as my strength, like why would I ask someone to be there for me when I know all people ever do is abandon you and leave you alone.
Instead of giving someone a chance to hurt me, I would rather keep myself protected by doing everything on my own.
It wasn’t until I bruised my knee at 21 that I realized that I’m not just independent but hyper-independent.
I sat on my bed with blood on my knees for an hour before seeking help. All this time, I wondered why I felt uncomfortable asking for help. I would rather be in pain and do little about it on my own than ask people to help me do it.
This hyper-independence has made me build walls around me. It’s a trauma response. Of all the times I thought I was saving myself, I was responding to my trauma.
Feeling Safe In Hyper-Independence
Maybe you were neglected when you were a kid, and your parents were absent when you needed them. Perhaps their actions kept telling you, ‘you’re on your own, kid,’ and you believed them as a child. So you grow up becoming a person who wouldn’t let anyone treat you like you were when you were eight.
Perhaps, your friends made you feel left out, or you were the least favorite in your friends’ group. Maybe, your best friend left you when you needed her the most. So you learn to keep people at a distance.
Or a partner cheated on you and abused you. The feeling of being used, disrespected, and betrayed made it easier to believe that it’s not safe to trust anyone else but yourself. Keeping yourself safe from the pain that you’ve been through a lot of times seems like the only option. When we don’t want to go through the trauma again, we learn to protect ourselves by believing we’re safe without the support of others.
To tell you the truth, holding on to your trauma and pushing yourself too far isn’t safe at all. It’s fear. That you might get hurt again, and all the years you spent protecting your heart would go in vain.
Is There Some Way To Cope?
Google definitely has a long list of articles on overcoming hyper-independence. But, trauma isn’t something you can heal following a 30-day routine.
Healing isn’t a straight path. You relapse, you hurt, you get hurt, there’s pain and bruises, there are scars from 15 years ago.
I have forgiven people, not because they asked me for it. They didn’t. But because at some point in my life, I realized there’s no point in being mad at a person who’s been dead for more years than the years he caused you pain.
I still have a long way to unlearn this defense mechanism. And I hope that when I do, I’d be able to say that I no longer belong to an unsafe world.
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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