My mom tells this story about me. When I was a toddler, I was terrified of thunderstorms. Inevitably, I’d end up in my parents’ bedroom seeking comfort any time the thunder and lightning came.
My memories of this time are pretty fuzzy. But I do recall being afraid of thunder and sometimes falling asleep on the floor beside their bed. I guess pulling the blankets up over my head in my own room was only so consoling.
Eventually my parents decided I had to grow up. So one night during a thunderstorm, they closed their bedroom door and let me cry it out. After wailing through the Longest Storm Ever™, I crashed. They found me asleep on the hallway floor the next morning.
Mom says after that night I never left my room or cried through a storm again.
I’m no psychologist, but I like to think that the night I was left to cry it out alone was the night my independent streak was fully actualized. It’s my superhero origin story, and my superpower is: I don’t fucking need you!
Whether I couldn’t or should’t expect comfort from someone else didn’t matter. What mattered was that being okay with scary shit was on me, and I wasn’t going to let myself down.
But like I said, I’m no psychologist. And it’s probably just something I tell myself when my independent streak goes from superpower to character flaw—you know, to let myself off the hook.
It’s not my fault I don’t ask for help anymore. My life experiences made me this way.
Only now am I beginning to overcome the independent streak I let grow unchecked for the last 30+ years. I think I let it take over because I could. I was healthy and capable and got lots of stuff done.
With fibromyalgia, though, I have had to squash the independent beast within. Like smooshing down the trash in a garbage can, I sometimes have to plant a foot on top of the heap and step on it with my full weight to make room for a different superhero: Sometimes Dependent on Others Woman.