Family

Emotional Independence

long-tailed weasels

When I was young, I didn’t know how strong I was, and I thought I always needed someone else. (Sorry about that frond of dried grass; it was the bane of my photos. I think of this as my Romeo and Juliet picture.)

A friend of mine called me “emotionally independent” the other day, and I smiled. It wasn’t always this way. When I was divorced the first time, I blamed it on my husband– he was a wingnut. When I divorced the second time, I questioned myself; he was a nice guy. Our marriage wasn’t healthy, but it wasn’t because of any moral failings. Realizing I made a poor choice, I sought counseling. Our relationships had been codependent; the only way of life I knew. I changed that with counseling. I learned stronger boundaries and the concept that not everything is my business. I learned that I don’t have to fix everything that’s wrong in the world — only those things that are my responsibility. The new rules were quite a relief.

long-tail weasel couple

Do you think of yourself only in the context of half of a couple? Romeo and Juliet look very intent here!

How do you know if you are emotionally independent? Deepak Chopra said that, “What other people think of you is none of your business. ” If you can live by this philosophy, you are well on your way to emotional independence. It is, simply, living by your own standards, not for the approval of others. I have a strong inner compass and I have high expectations for myself, whether they match what others think I should do or not.

Long-tailed weasel

Alone and strong

For example, I stopped wearing clothing that isn’t comfortable to me, even if it is “fashionable.” I was supportive of my (third and final) husband and children, but would not be shamed into doing something just because it was some random person’s priority. I began saying “no” a lot. I found a way to volunteer meaningfully at my child’s school, but I couldn’t be roped into the bake sale that would net very little money and require a lot of effort from me. If the other moms criticized me, I let it roll off; it didn’t shape my life.

Long-tailed weasel

I think of this weasel as “the bachelor.” Maybe his mate was just busy elsewhere. He played with the others, but was obviously alone, not as part of a couple.

In this final marriage, it meant that I had to speak up when something was not okay. I couldn’t act like I didn’t care while it festered and putrefied emotionally, year after year. It meant not being needy and clingy. If my current husband had to go on business travel, I learned to say good-bye, hike up my big girl panties and handle everything without him. I’d been a single mom for several years; I knew how to do it. There was no need to be angry or hurt that he was leaving; he did it because he was good at his job, not because he wanted to leave. I was capable and could function without his constant attention.

long-tailed weasels

Here’s a weasel couple and another off to the side. They had so much fun playing together!

I still love my current husband and adult children, while recognizing that we each have our own responsibilities for our lives. Our lives intersect and overlap in a wonderful, healthy way that enriches us all. My happiness doesn’t depend upon their approval of me – it focuses on our love and the fullness of our connections.

 

 

 

 

18 replies »

  1. I loved what you say… Being able to speak up when something is not okay or when you have a problem shouldn´t be an issue at all… Relationships are most times complicated and it is hard to cope. It happens. But being able to know which are your own boundaries is an important thing. Sending best wishes 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Karel! I’m applauding with a big grin on my face for where you are is where I’m heading. I want to thank you for showing me the way, for leading and sharing your story with us. I accepted all that you wrote and am in practice mode, still working through the kinks and the occasional caring of how someone else judges me. I ADORE the photos! Oh my gosh, those little weasels are precious. I just wanted to hold them and hug them! Where were you when you took those photos? How lovely! I think you are an inspirational person and I am very grateful we’ve connected xo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your kind words. I found the weasels quite serendipitously outside of Boulder, CO where I was photographing a prairie dog colony. The weasels were right next door, so to speak. The path from codependent to independent to interdependent has been long and not always pleasant. Luckily, each step forward feels more liberating. The hard part has been changing my thinking.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s