It’s funny for me these days because people who know me well consistently point to things I do and say, “Yes, that’s you being hyperindependent again. It’s the hyperindependence of the traumatized again.” The idea is that when bad things have happened to you, the way you avoid learning helplessness is to be become very self-sufficient. You become strong. Take care of yourself.
Which sounds good, right? But in the process, you can end up pushing away help that is offered with good intent that you could really use. And sometimes need.
I end up in absurd predicaments because I am convinced on some deep level that no one cares about me and that no one should and that I need to take care of everything — or sometimes that I need to not need anything. Sometimes it’s both.
Anyway, it apparently results in all sorts of quirky, alien-esque behavior that thrills and entertains.
And I’m being reminded of that again when I find myself musing on something funny. I’ve been this way for ages — I was that way in my ex-marriage, now over a decade in the past, dissolved via divorce.
And the funny thing about realizing that is that my ex-husband used to tell me I was needy, high maintenance, and dependent.
It was a trip when we opened up our relationship after eight years of monogamy, and the new people I was meeting — friends and lovers alike — were all marveling about how independent I was.
How could that be? I wondered. But like a lot of thoughts, it trailed off into the ether… never to be thought of again…
…until this morning… when it dawned on me. When I was able to piece that together with a bunch of other things that happened at such a random moment (I rarely think of my ex-husband these days and never with bitterness or much intensity). When I remembered how happy he was when he finally dated someone who looked up to him. Who seemed to need him. Someone who made him feel big and powerful and important, in a way that I did not.
Look, we had a good time, but I never felt that way about him. I didn’t look up to him. Not on purpose. I’ve been in other relationships where I did look up to a partner, but it wasn’t that way with him. It just wasn’t our dynamic, our energy.
And when he got that adoration from someone else, I saw the change in him. It was instant.
And I can see now that he wanted to be needed. He wanted that out of a partner. And he wanted it so badly that he projected those qualities onto me and, ended up complaining about something I wasn’t (because our relationship was still hard and unsatisfying), when in fact I think it was my hyperindependence that made our relationship hard. And when he did date someone who needed him more, it was better for him.
Everything worked out the way that it should have. We’re both happier now, in good careers, great love lives. But it’s funny how these things become so much clearer in hindsight. And how extra credit closure just sidles up and finds you, years later, when you’re not even looking for it.