The experience of independence and free will is not always as simple as we seem to think it is. This is a concept that my parents taught me when I was very, very young.
Every action you make, every choice you take, every word that falls from your mouth, every thought you have impacts the world around you. And the actions, choices, words and thoughts of others impact you and your world.
The co-dependent version of this will make you believe that if every one of your actions, choices, words and thoughts have an impact on the world around you, therefore you are responsible for EVERYTHING that is wrong in the world around you. The overly independent, supposedly autonomous person insists that their actions, choices, words and thoughts have NO impact on anyone else, so they should be able to do anything.
The reality stands in between those two extremes, as with most other parts of life on this Earth. We are connected to everything, and everything is connected to us.
What that means is that every moment of every day that we live we can and should consciously choose our path and our interaction with those connections to build the life we wish to have and the person we wish to be.
Sometimes, the choices we make won’t turn out the way we think they will, because of the affect that other people have on us. But that’s ok. The point is the journey, not the final destination – which is the same for all of us.
Interdependence isn’t a bad thing. It means that you are at once both in charge of your own destiny, and in charge of the cooperative choices that impact you and your closest interactive sphere.
The best way to describe interdependence is a healthy relationship. If someone is consistently and only the dependent one in the relationship, then the independent person is never going to get their own needs met, because they are constantly meeting the needs of the dependent. A truly healthy relationship will make sure that both individuals in the relationship are a real partnership – that they each allow the other to rely on strengths of each other, and that they each support and assist with the weaknesses of each other.
Too often, relationships become one-sided. One person is the nucleus of the relationship, and everyone around them must do for that person. There are far too many caregiver types who won’t allow others to care for them, and burn out because they aren’t receiving the care they themselves need. And there are far too many narcissists who willingly join with those caregivers, because they want that person to fulfill their every desire.
It doesn’t matter if the relationship is monogamous or polyamorous. It doesn’t matter if the relationship is romantic or platonic. It matters whether or not one person in the relationship is using the other.