This was a comment in response to this post, but, as it feeds in to things I’ve written before, I’m also putting it here.
Easily could have written this myself… even the neck/head bit!
Needs are tricksy beasts eh? The thing I find most unfair about my move from denying all needs to realising that it’s ok to ask for help when needed is that I’m still attracted to people/situations where I don’t get my needs met, where I get metaphorically bashed in the face for daring to ask.
I flipflop between asking for my needs to be met passive-aggressively (i.e. not stating them but becoming increasingly full of rage that no-one has magically, psychically, divined what they are and spontaneously met them) and actually asking for them to be met (in actual, you know, words). Unfortunately neither approach seems to be more successful than the other. The former comes across as manipulative (which it isn’t, or at least it’s not intended to be; it’s a product of not feeling comfortable asking, or fearing asking on the basis that the answer will either be yes (terrifying responsibility and feelings of unworthiness) or no (terrifying pain and feelings of rejection)) and the latter comes across as demanding, intense, and high-maintenance.
I find that I’m adept at anticipating the needs of others and in that respect so the magic psychic divination thing and try to fulfil the needs before the asking even needs to happen. And so I expect that in return I guess. But that’s not realistic. Is it?
Or maybe, like with everything, I ignore all the times my needs ARE met because I can only focus on the negative. I only see all the times they haven’t been. I only see the being let down and abandoned and rejected and not the times I’m supported and loved. I suppose it’s also true that a lot of the time when someone either offers to meet my needs or consents to when I ask I back away like when you try and pick up a cat and it shrinks backwards and digs its claws in to the carpet. Suddenly it’s all like ‘oh god I didn’t expect you to actually say YES, Jesus god now all the focus is on me and you’re giving up time/energy for/to me and arrgghhh I’ve put you out and inconvenienced you and HELP’.
I’m a nightmare, basically. If my needs aren’t met I get super SUPER emotional and angry and resentful, yet if they are met I’m so bewildered by that fact that I can’t handle it. I think that comes across like I just have to have my own way all the time, and then once I get it I feel horrible guilty because I feel like I don’t deserve it. Maybe in some way I just need to know that people WILL meet my needs, or even just my wants sometimes, like I need that proven but not necessarily followed through on – because it’s not that I want to rob others of their wants/needs, I don’t actually want my own way all the time, I just need to know that I can. Which is essentially testing people I guess. And I can see why that seems manipulative. And I can also see why that’s exhausting and frustrating and a horrible position to put people in. It’s also exhausting and horrible to BE that person, to feel constantly insecure and fearful and like I can’t rely on people. Like you, I’m terrified that it will be taken away at any moment so I need to test it often to ensure it’s still there. Are you still there? Do you still love me? Can I still rely on you? I hate myself for it, but I need high and consistent levels of reassurance because there’s this perpetual erasure – you might have loved me yesterday, but do you today?
And I suppose this is why I have a tendency to get into relationships with people who are changeable and unreliable – in part it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy because I have come to expect that, and in part I still feel that I don’t really deserve something more stable and secure, and in part I don’t want it because I wouldn’t know what the fuck to do with it. I rage and rage that the people I’ve been with wouldn’t/won’t make me the centre of their universe like I do with them, but in truth if they did that I think I would freak the fuck out about it.
All my life people have been coming and going, and much as she doesn’t see it this way, even though my mum was always there physically I did and still do feel that she abandoned me emotionally when she got into a new relationship, and then relied on me again when it all fell apart. Those patterns just become how you deal with stuff I suppose – if that’s what life is like when you’re learning about life, then it’s almost impossible to retrain yourself to believe that it could be any different.
People disappear. And I can’t handle that. Which means that even though sometimes that’s natural, because people move on or grow apart, and sometimes it’s normal, because people have their own stuff going on and can’t always be there consistently, it’s something I just find enormously difficult. Even tiny things feel like such a huge abandonment and I go into child mode and I practically hum, vibrate, with the extremity of the anguish that provokes.
STILL on the waiting list for therapy after referral in March. Meanwhile I’m intermittently being a nightmare girlfriend. Not that boy is perfect or even particularly helpful with these particular issues a lot of the time. But. You know. Putting him aside, I need to get a fucking grip on myself for my own sake, so I can weather the changes a little better. So that it doesn’t send me into spiralling paroxysms of despair every time I feel abandoned or rejected, because almost EVERYTHING makes me feel like that, and for the purposes of looking after myself I need to be able to be ok whether it’s an overreaction to a tiny thing or whether it actually is an abandonment or rejection.
So I guess in some ways our stuff is similar, and in other ways opposite… I need to become better at accepting help when it is granted and not doing weird confusing demanding help and then rejecting it when it comes, but more than that I need to find a way to cope with NOT getting help, and especially not getting help when I ask for it. It feels like a cruelty of the universe that just as I get better at asking, my requests are denied – what happened to positive reinforcement, universe?! Sometimes I think I should stop asking, because to ask and be knocked back is so painful – making myself vulnerable in that way, showing my soft spots, and being rebuffed is just so uuuuggghhhh – but then if I don’t ask I have the resentment build-up and express my feelings in peculiar and passive-aggressive ways. It all explodes out one way or another. And it comes out as intense, consuming anger. Which if I’m going to get Freudian about it is probably really to do with my mother, and more obliquely I guess my father and all the not-fathers, which is why therapy pls. I don’t want to keep directing this at all the wrong people. One of whom is myself.
I wish I could just hear I love you, or I’m here for you, and think ok, well that stands until I receive evidence to the contrary. Rather than thinking ok, well that stands for now but any slight thing that makes me think there may be evidence to the contrary will cause all my belief and security to tumble down, and it will all have to be built up from the beginning again. I hate the house of cards metaphor because overused, but that’s what it feels like. It’s like cards were what there were, so that’s what I built my house out of, and every tiny quake causes it to collapse, but I don’t know how to build a house out of anything else. Cards were what I had, and cards are what I know, so cards it is.
It’s a stronger house when I’m on my own, because it’s built on me and I can control the terrain better. But building the house on someone else. Well. That’s risky business. Yet I don’t want to become one of those insular people who won’t put their foundations in anyone else, or let others put theirs in them. What’s the point in that? The self-protectors of this world would, I guess, say you shouldn’t put your eggs in anyone else’s basket, to mix my metaphors, but I just can’t conceive of relationships that way. I don’t think that’s what being connected to other people is about. Relationships – all of them, not just the ones with sex in them – are about building your house on someone else and them building theirs on you, and trusting each other to lie very still and take good care. The problem is when one person’s house is built of sturdy bricks and the other’s of souffle, or Jenga, or cards, or when one person is stable and the other wriggles about – especially if the brick person and the wriggly person are the same person, and the stable person, the mannequin, is also the souffle.
Sequinnedmannequin, House of Souffle, Signing off in shame.