Question : I am a mother of 2 kids. I am currently going through a separation with my husband, after 12 years of marriage. I had given up my career when I chose to be a mother and was dependent on my husband for the last 12 years. It started out as financial dependency, but I realise today that I had become dependent on my husband for almost everything. And this had become very toxic for us.
I am on the verge of starting my career again now. I most definitely want my parents’ support (to look after the kids when I’m working, maybe a little financial support with fees, etc) But I am scared that I will become dependent on them as well. I am scared that even this relationship will become toxic. I feel ‘Dependency’ creates toxicity. I want to be Independent. But I can’t afford to be Independent! What do I do?
Answer : In your question, you have used 2 pertinent phrases – “Dependency on Parents” and “Support of Parents”. And I guess you are perhaps mixing up the two phenomena in some way. I believe there is a fine line that separates ‘Dependency’ and ‘Support’.
You see, the word ‘Dependence’ often indicates a certain inner-helplessness. It indicates that you are dependent on the other and if the other does not reciprocate, you are likely to be hurt.
However, the word ‘Support’ often indicates that you are standing on your own and you only need (some) support from the other as an aid to your standing up. If the support is not given, you are not necessarily going to crumble and fall.
You have lived ‘dependent’ on your husband. But today you seek ‘support’ from your parents. You are not going to be dependent on their support forever. When you are in a better and stronger state, you will most definitely seek lesser and lesser support from them…and perhaps even support them in your own way!
I often wonder if we can ever reach a state where we (as humans) would need NO support at all. I believe we all need support to live a good life. We need the support of friends, family, well-wishers. We need them to cheer for us, remind us of our strengths, nudge us, push to achieve. We need their support to be fully happy. We are social beings after all! We give AND receive support.
But we can all be Independent. We can all live our life and look after the major aspects of our life without having to depend on someone for approval or sanction. And we find our Independence even while we take support of the people around us.
If ‘Dependence’ is toxic, I would like to propose that ‘Support’ is deeply healing. Support is the basis of human connection. Support is the foundation of Human Love.
[Also read this post on how resilience is built when we take support from others around]
NOTE : The questions and answers in this series are compilations of discussions during therapeutic sessions with my clients. These are not generic pieces of advice. I am deeply aware that these answers can seem way too simplistic for people actually going through similar situations. Please comment or connect with me if you find yourself grappling with something I have expressed.