Apr 30, 2005

declaration of independence

so, the other night I saw the movie "closer"
without going into what I did, and definitively did not like about the movie (NOT two thumbs up, incase you hadn;t guessed) I find myself thinking about this moment, a moment in which one character reveals that the fact that his initially unobtainable lover now needs him has made her less appealing, less sexy, less admirable, less impressive

it brought me back to thinking about varying conversations I have had with people during relationships highs and lows, and specifically the amount of times I have heard people say that they just wished their partners happiness wasn't so entertwined with their own, that they weren't needed, or didn't need so much
that they just wish that the person they fell for had their own life

now I understand we appreciate people with vibrant personalities, who are strong enough to project them as unique individuals, and I understand we love the thrill of the chace and that initial freedom

but I think there is more in it than that...

we live in a society that heavily champions independence. whether we like to admit it or not, we largely champion individual success over the health and happiness of the community at large. The emphasis on the ability to pull yourself up by "own" bootstraps, if you will.

and you can say all you want about family values and community, but one is only likely to be truly admired for their communal or family values when there is an implicit individual triumph within such achievements as well: you know, the president of the company invests in the community or the well-to-do father looks out for his family. first you look out for number one, then you check in on the little people or take time to affirm that other's are keeping up at a reasonable pace.

this is old news, of course. and it will no doubt come as less than a shock that I have "issues" with this mentality when applied to the scio-economic frame.
Yep, I'm a communitarian, if not a proper socialist
and I won't go into the intricacies of those beliefs under the assumption that nobody here has all day

but what has lately struck me about this emphasis on personal success, and the implicit individuality contained within the notion, is that part of being a "success" in our society is having a relationship, a partner or spouse, and it's not just about the joy of love, for many, it's about ego and purpose and their defined place in society

and yet I find an inherent dissonance in these two beliefs are they are frequently sought and actualized, increasingly off-put by the way such a sense of individuality and independence has worked it's way into the very fabric of our personal relationships, our methods of forming intimate connections

presumably we are above such lots as arranged marriages and contractual necessities, in this day and age, are seeking to form greater bonds, to build serious and meaningful relationship with others when we "couple up."
we are not simply seeking to find a way to procreate or increase income. yet we are expected to retain a questionable level of independence while forming such connections, especially where it pertains to our life path, or needs, or hobbies and goals

it is often considered weak, co-dependent or pathetic to alter one's plan or to compromise one's "success" to build a more meaningful relationship with one's partner, children, or lord forbid, friends and neighbors.
so we have these relationships, these love affairs, in which we are careful to keep our needs first, but to devalue any instincts that such needs might involve "needing" another, we avoid co-dependence, a loosely defined term meant to pinpoint an unhealthy extension of doing for others at the expense of one's own needs, but that has been extrapolated, occasionally, to damn the desire for togetherness and the prioritization of one's loved ones when the pursuit of their company or approval seems unseemly to us
we are told that our moods should be autonomous, our self-confidence completely unconditional, and that we think of ourselves and what we want for ourselves should almost exist in a vacuum of affirmation and feedback

and we are expected to keep our live's goals, to a certain extent, separate as well, if we expect to have any pride in our work and in ourselves
but is that possible? reasonable? why would we desire to join lives but keep all the seams apparent and easily unravellable? is this not in direct contradiction to intimacy and commitment? why else would they call it "tieing the knot?"?

naturally, I am not condemning the need to have one's own desires, needs and passions, to have autonomous goals, differing careers or intents...I think in order to give to someone you sort of need to know who you are and why you have to give, not mention what you need to receive and share, but it seems that inherently part of getting attached is that you, well, get attached
as you fuse your goals and needs and desires blend
you begin to picture your future and life and needs as part of eachother, from sharing a home to simply acknowledging that you like certain activities and plans more with the other person in them

so shouldn't a measure of your success become your ability to nurture these relationships, at some point admitting that those around you are needed, no just loved and wanted? shouldn't your ability to shirk your independence be the ultimate example of wise progression?

not a secondary consideration, not a pathetic representation of insecurity, not a signal of weakness
but implicit to sanity and happiness

I don't know, I'm just rambling again
but it seems implicit to mental health, to personal happiness that we give credence to interpersonal dependence and the roll it plays in our ability to form relationships, to build them and to end them.

to their capacity to add not just happiness, but purpose
and we should skip a beat, we should take pause, we should alter and play with and reexamine who we are, personally and interpersonally, when someone who matters enters our world, we should learn to trust and depend and maybe alter our perceptions of the point, if we hope to be "successful" in our lives

1 comment:

chris pez said...

i'm not independent.

i'm co-dependent.