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Saturday, July 4, 2009

How Independent Are You?


On July 2nd in a closed session of Congress, the legal separation of the American Colonies from Great Britain was declared. This Independence is actually celebrated on July 4th. Our Independence Day. Independence to practice our own religion, live freely, and create a government that is for the people and by the people.

Since then we have had many other fights for Independence. Independence from slavery. Independence for women.

I think now we are in an era where the independence needed is much more subtle. Not something that can be won on a battlefield. Independence of the soul.

We are all interdependent. We are created that way. No man is an island, and all that. We all rely on the collective contributions of others in order to survive. We are social beings. It is our way. But Americans have also become very co-dependent as well, or dependent on enablers of co-dependence to perpetuate unhealthy behaviors.

Why is this relevant? Well, we can't truly enjoy our freedoms this country offers, if we are imprisoned by our own self-limiting patternings and behaviors, whether we are the enabler or the enabled. Psychology is showing this to be more and more common a problem in our society.

This is especially relevant because soldiers are very prone to dysfunctional behaviors that lead them to engage in co-dependent, enabling relationships. It's a combination of the trauma of war, the general destruction of their identity as an individual human being during training, and the very way the military creates a sub-culture that has no responsibilities other than to the military. Everything else is taken care of for them. They are not taught to think for themselves, to learn to work or adapt to life in reality. They become one of the collective. Seven of Nine.

This may not be as severe for all, but I've seen it time and again, and the studies I've read have confirmed this. Our soldiers, those very people who fought for and continue to fight for our independence, give up their rights and their lives to do so. And they lose so much of themselves in the process.

I admire the soldiers who make our country safe. I also feel sorrow for them. For what they suffer and lose as a result.

So this year, let's all take a look at our lives, and ask ourselves if we're really using the freedoms we've been given to enjoy our own personal freedom. Are we allowing ourselves to be trapped in abusive, dysfunctional situations at work or home because we fear there's no way out? Because we're scared about the alternatives?

Today I had a wonderful opportunity to enjoy a day with friends and family at a creek celebrating this American holiday. I spent time with people from my community who are helping me to become independent in so many ways. This is my Independence Day in a way it has never been before. This is a celebration for me of real independence from patterns of behavior that held me prisoner. I'm free now! And I celebrate with joy that Independence.

Happy 4th of July Everyone!! Enjoy your own freedom!