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The Welfare Addiction

Just when you think you really know a word; then you break it down and wallah! One minute it feels great and the next you need to check into rehab! Bish-wah?

open dirty hands with one coin in them

Topic: Dependability - Trustworthy, reliable, steadfast, loyalty; yes, that sounds wonderful! Then there’s Dependable: Reliable, trustworthy, faithful, steadfast, responsible. Absolutely my middle name! Ok the, let’s get to the root word: Depend: Rest on, hang on, be influenced by - wait? What? I’m confused. Dependence: Requirement, reliance, need, addiction, crave – hold up now, you’re making me nervous Webster & Merriam. Dependent: Hooked on, at the mercy of, needy, HELPLESS – OK! Now you are just talking crazy!!! Right?

The Affliction

Dependability, yep I have it; without a doubt; that ability to be “dependable”. I love it, especially, when I hear such a statement running through my own head. In fact, I crave (uh oh, there’s that word) the idea of being dependable and love it the most when others around me can securely make the statement, “If Cherie says she will do it, consider it done.” Then it hit me, the word itself has the word ‘depend’ nested within it. Oh my, I don’t like to depend on anyone other than myself that is. The very implication brings about feelings of insecurity, worry and shame.

After all, I spent the first 18 years of my life on AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children). For those of you who don’t know what that means; in short, it is WELFARE. When that information came to the forefront of my attention, I realized the play on words and how it affects our lives, our thoughts, our beliefs.

I started thinking, If AFDC is Aid to Families with dependent children and dependent by definition means, hooked on, at the mercy of, needy , HELPLESS, then the concept of Welfare, which by definition means well-being, health, comfort, security, safety, protection, prosperity, success and fortune is well… quite a crock of bullshit. What an oxymoron to have lived my life by for the first 18 years under the impression that the AFDC check, which magically appeared every month in the little mail slot of a box labeled 2C, meant that I was part of this illustrious welfare system promoting security, protection and success! It is no wonder that being dependable sounds horrible and exhilarating to me all at the same time.

What does it really mean?

Nonetheless, the idea that I possess dependability at the very least has superseded the truth about what it really means. One day while pushing (yep like an addict) ‘my’ idea of dependability; I was stopped in my tracks when a significantly important man in my life, revealed a life lesson to me. He said that being dependable is not as good as being accountable. Now, if you knew him like I know him you would know he didn’t quite say it exactly like that; but the concept is one in the same.

The situation began like this: I was exhibiting all types of anxiety and fear about Misty walking to school when she entered high school. I consider myself a very dependable parent, who would be there for her child should anything whatsoever jump off. (For those of you who don’t have the slang in your vocabulary to understand that, it means someone who tries to harm her.) In any case, here I was waking up early enough to pretend to walk the dog at the very time she needed to go to school.

Walking him across the street as to give the impression she is not walking with me, but always keeping her in eye and physical distance that I may swoop in and beat the crap out of anyone who might remotely look like they are going to lure her 5’8” strong built, determined and focused demeanor into their vehicle. (There it is again, living that oxymoron mentality).

Letting it all go. But How?

As I confessed my fears and worries to him pretty much every morning before beginning the “I just want you to know I am dependable“ routine. He gently put his arms around me as to comfort me and reaffirm that he understood the ‘welfare’ I was trying to provide to Misty, but that I was in fact only offering her a magical AFDC check. Which, would be useless to her when she is required to walk on her own, because she would be spending more time looking around for me or someone to save her than being alert and prepared should she need to spring into action.

This information was so practical it crushed me. I remember feeling like I couldn’t breathe knowing, well quite honestly, that someone else was right! More importantly, I had to admit he was not only just right but he was right about the ‘welfare’ of MY child. Something by definition I felt ONLY the Lord and me had under wraps.

So, the moral to this story is Dependability may equate to trustworthiness, reliability, steadfastness and loyalty. And I certainly want my legacy to carry all these ideals. However, how I apply them has changed. I can be dependable for my children by providing them the skills and tools needed for them to be accountable in any situation, whether I am lurking in the distance or not. This breaks the link in the chain of the oxymoron confusion that I grew up with.

This sends a clear message that you can depend on me to be strong enough to grow you with the skills you need to be accountable in any situation, which will ultimately promote your welfare. In conclusion, dependability is not even about me and that was a hard pill to swallow.

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