Monday, 15 March 2010

Words Outside My Vocabulary - Need

1. A condition or situation in which something
is required or wanted: crops in need of water; a need for affection.
Something required or wanted; a requisite:

3. Necessity; obligation: There is no need for
you to go.
4. A condition of poverty or misfortune: The family is in dire
v. need·ed, need·ing, needs

Such a small word and yet I can barely bring myself to use it for the weight that it carries.

Since being in therapy, I have realised that I have an almost pathological fear of 'need'.
It's not something I can even bring myself to talk to The Woman about. (Note: dispassionate terminology for 'my therapist'... I have occasionally been tempted to refer to her as She Whose Name Cannot Be Spoken thus likening her in some way to Voldemort (anyone who has read Harry Potter will understand) but that feels a little harsh, even by my standards.

The word "need' is guaranteed to make me want to run a thousand miles. Not because of a desperate desire for weight loss (though there is that) and not because I am passionate about long distance running, but because the concept of need terrifies me beyond all reason.

I've started this post about eight times over the past few months and I've never made it past the third line.
Now I have, my head is a swamp and I know I can't possibly negotiate my way through in one go.
Bear with me. I have problems sticking with these things.

So... Casting my mind into the lifeless swamp of depression that nearly killed me about ten years ago, I have an image of me curled on my bed, hands over my ears chanting, "I won't need anybody or anything. Nothing can touch me".
A strange thing to say admittedly, but at the time, my eyes were unused to having to see in a darkness as black as this one and I had yet to master the art of decompression as I plummeted into depths I had never visited.
Somewhere in this distress, a determination never to need was consolidated.

I learned to hate need, and I learned that if I couldn't completely destroy it, then the most important thing I could do was to pretend that it wasn't there at all.

Need became shameful.
It became something I despised.
It became a cause for utter hopelessness.

A few months into therapy, I became quite desperately worried that therapy was breeding a need in me.
I was terrified of her. Terrified that I was losing control. Terrified that kindness was blunting my spikes. Spikes which were protecting me from needing anyone.

I recall one session a few months ago where The Woman suggested that I might miss therapy / her during a break.
I told her that I wouldn't ever need her, and the minute that I started to, I'd run a mile.

Today she mentioned her upcoming holiday.
And I wondered if it was time to leave or if it's all just in my head.

I don't want to need anyone or anything.
The idea simultaneously repulses, terrifies and enrages me.

There is so so so much more to this, but as I pointed out, I really will be swamped by the swamp if I wade too far out all in one go.


  1. It's ok to change your mind about what's good for you. It might have seemed safer not to need or trust anyone at some earlier place in your life. Now, you might be in a different place.
    Humans are pack animals. We get a little odd if we isolate ourselves too much.

  2. Keep on keepin step at a time!!
    Blessing, andrea

  3. Oh how I hear this to the depths of my soul. At 5 years old I determined not to need. Fast forward to now and I find the barriers starting to deteriorate and maybe a need starting to arise. It's a very scary place to be. I'm not sure how to need without being dependent. I am just becoming aware of this with my relationship with my T. I am struggling with this as well.

    Finding your way through this will be one step at a time. Writing about it is a great step in itself. I will be thinking of you...

  4. I am wondering if perhaps you and I are twins separated at birth. Either that or you have been listening to transcripts of my therapy sessions...

  5. Hi-

    I am here despite my joint/hip distress. Sigh.

    I understand the not wanting to need - my theme song, for a long time was Simon and Garfunkel's, "I Am A rock". After my journey to self/wholeness my songs are quite inclusive and in need of others close and fulfilling desires. If you go to my blog nad look up Choice Theory", the info may be helpful.

    Loving you
    peace and healing. Amen

  6. Hey Jeannie,
    Thanks for such an interesting perspective.
    You are right of course... We all have ways of behaving and responding which are based on something early... and as situations change, so should our responses.
    I get that.
    My main issue though, is that, whatever anyone says, I still feel unsafe.
    I do think you are als right about isolation tending to make people a little "odd", though goodness knows, some company can do that too!

    Andrea - Thanks for the encouragement.

    Lostinamaze - ... and I will be thinking of you too.
    It is so frightening to experience a threat to your barriers. It throws your sense of balance doesn't it...
    You see my writing about need as a good step, but I admire your bravery and your honesty here as you have dared to admit to something utterly terrifying!

    jss - Rumbled!
    I'm glad you get it, but also sad that you do.

    Gail - I remember being struck by the fact "I am a Rock" was your theme song because it is often in my head and was playing in my mind as I wrote this post.
    I was going to post it...
    I've read your blog about Choice Theory before... It sounds good, just a little difficult to apply perhaps...

    I wondered how your back was today.
    I hate the idea of you being here whilst you are in such pain. :(

  7. You don't necessarily have to decide anything about it. You can take a break just like she is doing. Breaks don't mean need. Just distance. Perspective.

    Both of which can be very important and healthy.

  8. Wow...I could have written this myself not long ago. Need is a really terrifying concept and you have described perfectly how it felt when I began to feel I "needed" my therapist.

    I am learning, through therapy and CoDA, that everyone has needs and wants and everyone is not only allowed to seek fulfillment of these needs, but is EXPECTED to! Adults are supposed to get their own needs met!

    It isn't greedy, it isn't wrong, and it shouldn't be scary. The key is making sure the people you are seeking help from are trustworthy and safe.

  9. I too hate to admit I need anything or body. I felt I could do it all by myself. Recent events have showed me how much we need people in our lives. Thank you for all your support.

  10. Lily - Thank you for your comment. It sounds prety wise.

    Shen - Thanks. I am amazed at how many people write about the fear of need. It seems t be a real issue for some of us.

    Getting needs met - Hmmm. Sounds painful and shameful and I KNOW it shouldn't... I wish it didn't...

    You are so right about the key being to get help from those you trust.
    It's such a risk.
    I hope it is worth it.

    Glad you have found what you have. x

    Wanda - Despite knowing that we can't do it all by ourselves... and despite even bein able to say that to others, I still try andI still WANT to be able to.

    It's really important to me that you don't feel you have to read / comment here right now.
    I just feel like you need to be heard without having to listen... if that makes sense..?