Depends on the Heart
6/5/2014 1:28 PM
By Kelly Deeny
Dependence and guilt are two of the unseen side effects of my congenital heart defect, the ramifications of which still drive a great many of my choices/actions.
As children, we are dependent on others for almost everything. They feed us, clothe us, and provide guidance as we develop. Dependence on those who care for us is understandable and expected. All children must come to a point in their growth when they start relying on themselves. They trust their instincts, abilities, and knowledge. At that point, one more independent thinker helps our community grow and develop. They spread their wings and follow their dreams, all the while thankful and appreciative of the wisdom they received along the way.
What happens if you’re stuck along that border of dependence and independence? How do you flourish when overcome with guilt, especially when the reasons are intellectual nonsense?
I hold on to the belief that my parents endured worry and fear leading up to and during my heart surgery. Just 20 months old, I depended on them for most everything. They were my foundation, my base, my rock. I recovered and thrived thanks to an amazing support system and my own determination.
I didn’t realize until much later that I fixated on needing their approval and validation throughout most of my teenage years and into early adulthood. Disappointing them or causing them pain created anxiety and guilt within. I absorbed their insightful wisdom and when that knowledge differed from mine, I chose theirs over my own developed opinions.
I still look to them for guidance, support, and assistance even though I’m a grown woman capable of deciding for herself. It may seem ridiculous (it does to me) that I feel guilty my CHD brought pain to those I care about. I’ve been trying for more than 35 years to counterbalance any pain or grief I unwittingly inflicted while also struggling to live independently. It hasn’t been easy nor always successful. I just want to clarify that no one EVER made me feel guilty or accused me of burdening them as a CHD patient. Those issues were my own. Now that I am aware of them, it’s up to me to choose differently.
As I set off on a new phase in my career, I’ve come to understand that most of my struggles for independence were based on guilt that was neither necessary nor warranted.
A graduate of Temple University's English program, Kelly Deeny recently completed book one in her juvenile fiction series. Using various forms of the creative arts, Kelly seeks to heal the emotional and spiritual scars that remain from her 1979 open heart surgery. While her ventricular septal defect was repaired and no physical limitations remain, she's just recently realized how vital the arts are to her healing process. Visit Kelly’s website by clicking here.
1 comment(s) so far...
By Danielle on
6/15/2014 9:20 PM
Re: Depends on the Heart
I can relate to the way you feel and I also struggle with dependence and independence as a young adult with CHD. You are very brave for telling your story and striving to overcome the struggles that you face with CHD and independence. Keep striving, keep hoping, keep dreaming.