It is common knowledge that once you turn 18, you are considered an adult — someone who is employed, already driving and, slowly but surely, more independent. The dependency you have felt towards your parent(s) or other loved ones is meant to dull and fade and you’re supposed to stand on your own two feet.
I’m 22 years old, and I have yet to burst my bubble of dependency – the dependency I feel towards my mother. As an only child, I naturally gravitated towards my mother who was my first best friend and my confidant. In return, I was my mother’s entire universe — a strong mother and daughter bond and a mutual dependency.
Easing myself out of this dependency seems to me to be nearly impossible because of the history my mother and I shared.
When I was growing up, my life was filled with many struggles; struggles that included a father who loved alcohol more than his own daughter and everyday shouting matches between my parents that I simply could not understand.
With each fight between my parents, I became more aware and grew fiercely protective of my mother.
It felt like it was us against the rest of the world. This strengthened our co-dependency; on my part, I truly view my mother as my only family.
Because I am her only child, my mom spoils me as much as possible and sacrifices her own happiness for mine. It is a personality trait of hers that became more apparent after the divorce.
On my part, I am left feeling guilty and inadequate because I am unable to give her anything in return. I can’t even help with paying for the monthly expenses, and all I can do is be the shoulder she can lean on.
No matter the circumstance, my mother is always there for me, and I am always there for her. But as I get older, I can clearly see a certain type of fear in her eyes, one that is reflected in my own.
It is a fear that we will have to live apart one day. With my college transfer quickly approaching, living apart is only inevitable. My aspirations now lie in Los Angeles – a place that is too far for my mother’s comfort.
Just when I become comfortable with the thought of leaving home and becoming a person she can truly be proud of, I am paralyzed by a fear about death.
I am afraid of losing her permanently, and that fear is so intense that whenever the thought crosses my mind, I become crippled with despair. My eyes well up, and I struggle not to cry simply because I cannot imagine living a life without her by my side, without her laugh and goofy behavior that never ceases to annoy and amuse me.
In my mind I have always viewed my mother as an immortal being and when faced with the truth that she is not, I cannot help but hold on to her for as long as I can. I don’t want to let her go for fear that my loneliness will one day consume me.
Will I even be “me” without her?
Alas, the circle of life won’t stop just for me. This is reality – a reality that I have to learn to let go and embrace my independence.
Despite knowing the facts, my need to spend time with my mother as much as I can wins out over all else. In the end, I embrace this dependency.
I can’t let go of the hand that has been guiding me for 22 years. Not today. Not yet.
And while I hold her hand even tighter and remain immersed in my bubble, the world spins madly on.