I depend on myself. My children will be the first to tell you that I am uncomfortable counting on someone other than myself to get urgent jobs done. With me, self-reliance has become so extreme that it’s a flaw.

Take my recovery from my recent surgery on both eyes. Unable to drive, I was forced to ask a friend to take me to the doctor to have bandages removed. That dependance—it felt like weakness—hurt. And I am deeply grateful to that friend who went out of his way to make the trip easy for me.

But I refused to ask anyone to take me shopping or buy groceries for me. Instead, as I ran out of staples, I substituted. In place of rice, I ate noodles. When I ran out of orange juice, I drank tea. Short of fruit, I ate vegetables. I made do.

My excessive self-reliance comes from a deprived childhood. My deficient parents too often left me without food or clothing. By the time I was six, I knew my well-being was up to me. I learned of necessity to care for myself.

That made me leery of depending on anyone other than myself for necessities. My insistence on self-reliance served me well during my years in combat and made me more than willing to help others. I came to understand that while having to depend on someone else was hard for me, helping others was a source of great fulfillment.

Now I’m growing older. As I become more feeble, less sure on my feet, and less able to trust my own memory, I will be forced to depend on others. I will face a new challenge: humility and willingness to change.

The results so far don’t look promising.

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