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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

I Don't Need You Anymore

I know. The title is obnoxious. However, it is also, in some ways, true.

When I began therapy more than seven years ago, I didn't need anyone. I believed if Darrin left me for any reason (and I really did believe he would) that I would be fine. Not at first, of course, but with time  life would continue, I'd find things to fill my time everything would be all right.

One year into therapy I confessed to Darrin that I actually WOULD NOT be fine if he left and he, very surprised that I even thought about that, assured me that he wasn't going to. Then I began to make connections with other people in my life. And as I did so, I felt myself bonding with them in ways that felt essential to my daily living.

Some of those people stayed for awhile, then bowed out of my life, causing me all sorts of aggravation and turmoil. Others stayed longer. A few are with me still.

For a few years (I estimate three or four), I felt that I couldn't manage most of what was happening in my life without having some of these people to lean on, to talk to--I depended on them to help me through most of the stress and agony I was wading through. Each filled a unique and important need even if their time with me was fleeting.

Last year I realized how dependent I had become. And I hated it.

I am actually a very independent person. While I understand how unhealthy it was for me to live for a long time without making intimate connections with people, I also loved the way I felt about myself. I didn't have to worry about how I was treated. I never wondered if someone would snub me or leave me out or abandon our relationship--because I had none. It was an infinitely safe emotional state of being. I found myself longing for a return to that in recent months.

Then I remembered a couple of incidents that brought my reality into focus. I remembered years ago, when Darrin was often gone for long stretches of time for work, feeling a gnawing emptiness I could not identify. And one day, when the gnawing had become all-consuming, I fell to my knees and cried out loud, "I'm lonely. How can I be lonely?" and I experienced in that moment an extremely rare occurrence of weeping. Then I got to my feet and cleaned my house because that's what I did when life felt out of balance, and within hours I was myself again.

I remembered watching small groups of women shopping together and wondering why they were doing that, and I recalled an incident when I was an elementary teacher, watching a colleague as she distributed small envelopes to some other teachers--the kind of envelopes that contain invitations to parties--and feeling a sharp pain inside when I was not included. Then I realized that I was always invited to many parties, showers, get togethers (attendance at which I never enjoyed--but I went anyway and was delightful--because that's what you're supposed to be when attending a social event) and there was no reason for the feeling, especially when I found out later that they were assignments for our next staff meeting. My envelope was sitting on my desk. I was left feeling confused and upset at my irrational reaction.

So as I thought about the dependency I was feeling, I decided maybe it's okay to rely on people you love to a small extent, but it needs to be a reciprocal relationship. I suppose that's what led to the recent discontinuance of a few relationships in which it was clear I needed those people but they no longer had need for me. What I believe is that people who don't need each other tend to associate, but they don't really connect. I need connection.

As I've grown stronger in the past few weeks, I've felt my need for the people I love fluctuating. There are days when I want them with me constantly (no, I don't follow up on this--I'm not stupid), or I don't think about them at all. I believe the times when I don't think about them are a response to my need for independence. I don't see it as a healthy thing, but I do see it as necessary.

Today I realized that I feel more level. I'm no longer vacillating between "AHHH! Don't leave me! I need you!" and "Go away, please. I don't want you anymore." I also recognized that I don't feel stressed when no one is talking to me. I'm not waiting for someone to come online or call me or send me a text. In fact, I'm not waiting at all. I'm just doing my work, playing Scrabble, singing randomly, and thinking about things that make me laugh.

So....I really don't need you anymore, at least, not in unhealthy ways. I think I'll always have needs that only certain people fill, and when life becomes crazy I'm sure I'll need to talk with the people closest to me and ask for their support and love. Right now, however, I'm okay just spending time with me.

That being said, interruptions from the delightful people who share my life and love are always welcome.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing this. I am working through some very similar feelings and it is so nice to know I am not alone.