I love July 4th!
Deep-down, I am incredibly patriotic. I cry during the National Anthem, for example, at football games and the such. I usually feel a little ridiculous when I begin to tear-up but then I realize… we have a lot to be thankful for in this country, we really do. July 4th makes me reflect on so many things; the strong spirit of the “Founding Fathers” (and Mothers) of our country, the sacrifices that have been made by so many to maintain our freedoms, our right to vote and our right to speak our minds (even if we don’t agree with one another). Say what you will, but these few things alone make our country stand-out from so many others and I am proud of us! Yes, we are a work in progress and we need to keep striving to get better but, overall, we are pretty darn great!
This year, however, Independence Day made me reflect on a different kind of independence. An independence which is really just ego-based, sometimes fear-based, stubbornness. An independence which makes one afraid to ask for help when they need it, makes one declare, “I don’t need anyone. I can do everything on my own.”
Many people are guilty of this; I know I certainly have been, especially in my younger years. Having grown-up female in a home with old-school, stereotypical male/female roles, I was determined to never “depend” on any one person for any one thing. I would happily declare this to anyone that asked, as well.
In some respects this has definitely made me a more able person; I know how to build my own furniture, change my own oil, install drywall (recently, my greatest accomplishment was installing my own door bell!) but also how to bake a cake from scratch, clean my pool and tend to my yard.
This determination to “do it all” also gave me a great drive and passion for life and it’s experiences. I have traveled to many places – often alone. I also attended graduate school and built my own private practice/holistic heath center upon graduation. All seemingly great things but I have done most of this alone…something to ponder.
Then I reached a point in my life where everything personally was crumbling and I began to tell others the truth of what my personal world was at that moment in time. I learned a lot from this experience: 1) It was ok not to be “perfect” and people would still love you that way (sometimes more so because you were human!) 2) when you told your truth so many others had the opportunity to tell their truths and so often they were almost the same story of pain, loss, rejection, whatever you may have been sharing at that time but so many others were holding all of this in, as well, attempting this perfection that was just not possible and 3) letting others know that you needed support or help does not make you weak or less wonderful as a human being, it connects you with others, gets them to share their experiences and creates a sense of community.
We are human, afterall, we need community; we need each other. Let us not strive for perfection but for health; let us strive to be whole.
Happy 4th, everyone! May you all celebrate your independence and simultaneously appreciate your need for connection and community.
~Jewel Sommerville, D.Ac.