Happy Independence Day!

I thought I was independent as a young adult when I went off to college, then traveled to Mexico. I THOUGHT I was independent when in 1988 I went back to Mexico and stayed for six months teaching.

The situation where I lived wasn’t working out. I’d been independent here in the U.S., but there I didn’t know how to cook or clean or anything to their standards. The meals I tried to cook weren’t well received so I gave up. I ate most of my meals out even if it was just a yogurt and fresh fruit.

One day I had terrible stomach cramps and the woman I was living with took me to see the doctor. Later that day, I rode the bus to school as usual. I met up with some friends who invited me to their house.

Later that evening, they took me back to the place where I was staying. One of the sisters said, “She is going to scold you.” (Meaning my housemate.)

Well, she certainly did. After I said goodbye to the sisters and walked into the house, my housemate let me have it. For over an hour I sat at the table and listened to her tell me that she had called hospitals and everyone she knew to see where I had been. It was in the days before cell phones. I didn’t even have her phone number if I’d wanted to call and tell her I’d be late. Along with that, she blasted me. “You depend too much on your mommy.”

Me? Dependent on my mom?

I was offended at that. After all, I’d been out of school 5 years and had lived on my own most of that time. I’d been financially independent for most of that time period also.

But looking at it from her standpoint, I was lazy and didn’t do my share.

That was the beginning of the end for me. I began to get homesick and desperate to make it through the next few weeks until the classes I was teaching were finished. I didn’t try to fit in anymore.

I came home and started a new job, found a new place to live, bought a car. I met my husband and we got married nine months later. I was still independent, up until we had our first child. Then I became a stay-at-home mom.

As a mom with young children and with a husband who worked long hours, I did become dependent on my mom. She helped out with the kids, went with me on errands, and was always just a phone call away. Even when she was going through her illness I could still call and she would listen to my complaints.

She was very helpful during the time that I had my nervous breakdown when I was hospitalized, and after I returned home. She ended up getting sick and passing away a couple of years later.

It was about that time when my dependence shifted to my husband. I could no longer attend social functions without his presence there to buffer me and shield me from nervousness. He carried the financial burden of my doctor appointments and medicine without complaint. As I gradually got better, I became more independent. I even got a job and contributed to the household finances.

But I still relied on him to support me when we went places. I didn’t like to go without him. So when I lost him in August 2010, it took a long time before I could get back to my independence.

As I’ve shared in previous blog posts, through counseling, medication and emotional support, I’ve managed to come through the Valley of the Shadow of Grief and come out the other side, stronger than before. I have arrived at a secure place in my life. Lately I’ve become involved in church and attended social functions without that anxiety eating me up inside.

I’d like to say I’m independent, but financially I rely on my adult children who live with me as they share in paying utilities and pay for everything for our rescued cats, including food, litter and vet care. That could change in the future, and I am working toward the goal of becoming financially solid by the time I’m 60. (Not too many years away, unfortunately).

Although I have put the past behind me, I will always remember the words of my housemate in Mexico when she said, “You depend too much on your mommy.” It keeps me humble to realize that I wasn’t all that I thought I was.


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