With time, I have learnt to be my own rock! Even in times of dire need I’m well able to keep my worries to myself till I can. I feel, any time spent asking others for help, can be utilized trying to do it myself. That’s because now I know many life answers. Other than that, even though I try to help others whenever possible, I do not find it easy to ask others for help.
Not just asking, I sincerely do not expect or demand any help from others. Life is very busy for all such families who are working full-time or over-time so I try to avoid telling people to take precious time out from their busy schedules. I also do not judge anyone for not having helped me.
But I was not always like this. Being born and brought up in a big family was a different thing altogether, when we all were dependent on each other. Later on, the family I got married into was also the same, quite big though smaller than my birth family. In both these cities, both families had huge extended families with all their social events, perpetual marriages, birthdays, religious events and what not.
In big families people are just there for each other – simply by being there. They do not have to ask each other for help yet all the work load, little miseries as well as bigger problems, literally every little thing is automatically shared, often without a word. Emotional problems also get taken care of. Thus, inside home-front or outside, my native cities were full of relatives and friends who, despite occasional conflicts, were co-dependent on each other as well as stood by each other. I too found strength experiencing the merits and the demerits of such dependency.
These were the lessons learnt during first half of my life. But that’s that. Thereafter it’s been a life that was pretty much lived alone. Alone means, as a couple with no extended family at all in the city I live. A growing child is a company but he could not be our rock as such. By the time a child is grown up enough to understand what life is all about, parents have already become their own rock. So it was for me.
Years ago, when we initially migrated to Australia and we were younger, there were friends galore, rather one too many. There was too much of mutual dependency as our kids were born, school issues arose or we were generally helping each other settle down in a new country. But soon people got busy and scattered to different locations. Actually my family moved away. More new friends came along but we left them behind after once again moving to a distant suburb. All these wonderful friends, who were very close once, seem to be totally changed whenever we see them after a long time. Our priorities changed, lives moved on. None of these groups could ever be our constant rock so we learnt to rely primarily on ourselves. Of course, other than these ever-evolving friendships, there are ever-changing workmates, besides the wider Australian community, new neighbors as well as Indian-Australian organisations. Helpful but they can’t be our rock.
Overall, when this process of change occurs a number of times in life – this parting from family and friends – we become stronger. Thus after this vagabond life, at some stage I became my own rock. Literally I seek strength mainly from myself. And it comes. It always comes. It’s there inside us.
For example, owing to my husband’s work hours as well as work-related tours, I often got to experience a life where, along with my own career goals, I had a major share in household work as well as taking prime onus of bringing up our only child who never had any grandparents or extended families around him. I had to do my best. I could do it.
Only after his schooling finished that I finally felt free to spread my wings around, to seek local people who can be of some help. Such people are many and yet they are not many. Because only a handful of people in the world truly care for us. That’s not surprising given the fact that most people can’t relate to our life and circumstances, esp. those who live far away have not seen our life’s ups and downs.
And yet, through all this, my mother who lives in India has been my constant rock, even if it is more of moral strength. I should not and do not expect her to be my rock, as it is rather they, our aging parents, who need us to be their strength which we cannot be as we live so far away.
Lately, as my son got busier with his higher education, another realization has dawned upon me that parents can’t keep centering their lives around their children, as they eventually leave the nest sooner or later. Getting prepared for the inevitable time, I too am gearing myself to become stronger than I have always been. Moreover, if the family structure and priorities change, all my previously acquired strength is not going to be of much use. That’s because growing young children need a different kind of all-round support and love. But soon it will be more of mutual exchange without any expectations from parents’ side. Parents need to become a rock as they learn to let go of the usual smothering and clinging love they once had for their off-springs.
Parents approaching middle-age also need to strengthen their physical health, while fulfilling their pending career dreams and hobbies, as well as learning to be happy for themselves rather than seek joy only through their children who are about to move out to have their own life. When children become less dependent, parents also need to renew or strengthen their family friendships and look after their own social needs. At this stage, I too will need more friends for things big or small. Being busy with our young families and career issues, we ourselves drift a bit apart from our close friends and families, we isolate ourselves mentally. That uncaring attitude has to go to a certain extent.
And yet, I may still not rely on too much help from others. I will always try to be my own rock – mentally, emotionally and physically – at least till I can. I usually seek internal strength through prayers and music. That will continue.
In response to The Daily Prompt: I Am a Rock
‘Is it easy for you to ask for help when you need it, or do you prefer to rely only on yourself? Why?’