My independence has become a problem (and I just used the passive voice and it’s killing me). It a problem. I just don’t trust people anymore.

Perhaps that has to do with my independence, perhaps not. My parents were in awe of how stubborn and independent I was even as a young girl. They usually didn’t worry about me making bad decisions, because I was never that kind of kid. But my independence came from a number of things – from being the youngest of two brothers quite a bit older than me, having parents that both worked (my mother not until I reached jr. high), and honestly? Because I was the only girl. I had to be tough – to stand up for myself against a brother who once shot me in the head with a bb gun. No, I’m not kidding. He actually did. When I was 9 and he was 15. Butthead. But I digress.

I am reminded of a friend I had several years back who once told me he liked onions because they strengthen the heart. And I remember it in a weird kind of “fuzzy-memory” way – I was sitting across from him at Pizza Hut, and as the pizza was ordered, “I like onions. They strengthen the heart” Then kind of under his breath he said” It’s good for the heart to be strong – that way it won’t let anyone in.” Usually I would consider it typical of the artsy, poetic kind of person I usually hung out with. But this guy? A strapping, burly guy with a football-player’s build and an attitude to match. This was my first glimpse into the heart of this complicated, and funny guy who was a dear friend for three years before he graduated and we lost touch with each other. And that quote stayed with me, because he never did let me in. Was it deep insight into the heart of gold? No, I quickly found out. Was it a line so I would think him sweet and sensitive? I doubt it. It was very matter of fact, not even said directly to anyone. I believe it was simply a random thought out of what I learned was a very random mind.

What is it about independence that cause our hearts to be hard? The whole “No man is an island” thing, right? I don’t know. I’m not breaking any new ground here, but there is something cold about about being completely independent from others. The world expects it of us, and at the first sign of the pain that comes from being disappointed in someone you trusted and we run back into our corners and hide, alone. What I long for is that corner to become dusty from misuse. So when disappointment comes, there is no retreat. I long for a time when expectations don’t exist outside of myself so I no longer have to retreat into that corner, head covered, eyes down, heart breaking.

But no matter how strong those onions made my friend’s heart, he couldn’t be an island. I saw him try, and I saw him hurt more than he would if he’d let the rest of us shoulder the burden with him. As you can tell, I haven’t learned that lesson yet. Maybe I will someday. In the meantime, I will go on protecting my heart (but not eating onions – yuck) and trying as much as I can to survive without all the messy crap that comes with trusting others. I am willing able to be “all things for all people” but I am not willing to let another person be that for me.

What I’m listening to: Nichole Nordeman’s Woven and Spun

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