Lyndsey and I finished our book! HAIL MARY was submitted to the publisher and is now officially out of our hands. Do I feel relieved? Thrilled? Accomplished? Not really! Instead, I feel deflated and also a little anxious because now we cannot change anything else. It is what it is!
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I’m learning the difference between having needs and being needy
My approach to relationships has always been to make myself smaller. Not physically, but emotionally. My biggest fear has always been being rejected, not because I am afraid someone might not like me, but because I have a fear of being inadequate, of not being enough, of not being good enough. Worse, I might be too much: too difficult, too demanding, too needy.
In order to prevent that perception of me, I cease to have any needs at all. I bend over backward to be accommodating, to be “chill,” to meet people where they are at.
No, we don’t need to put a label on what we’re doing.
Whatever you want.
Whatever you need.
Just let me know, I’m here.
I don’t want to be pushy.
I don’t want to pressure you.
Oh, you don’t like my clothing? I can change it.
You think my approach to life is sad and beneath you? I can change that, too.
I don’t parent the way you think I should? I’ll try to be better.
You’re right. I’m wrong. I’m sorry.
The process of making myself smaller shrinks my feelings, too. I turn them off, stuff them as far down as I can. I begin to zone out, dissociate, retreat into myself.
I tell myself I’m glad other people are telling me what they need so that I can meet those needs. I never stop to consider what it is that I need or whether I might deserve to have those met, as well.
It’s only when those relationships end or face significant strain that I snap out of it. Suddenly, I am angry. I have given and given and given and given, been patient day in and day out, waited, listened, hit the brakes, hit the gas, been affirming and validating and loving, done everything I can to be the person they want me to be. And yet, despite my best efforts, I am still not enough. Not having needs doesn’t prevent me from getting hurt; it does prevent me from feeling respected, fulfilled, and prioritized, though.
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I’ve had a really shitty month for a lot of different reasons. It’s not about one person or event or thing; it feels like everything is crashing down on me at once. I have been filled with despair more days than not, unable to sleep because I can’t stop crying, or because I’m so angry that I can’t turn off my brain.
Much of what’s coming down on me right now is a direct result of me finally voicing my feelings, saying what I want and need, and refusing to back down from that. It is a result of the boundaries I am setting. In the past, I would have avoided doing that for fear of being rejected or because I would be worried I would do irreparable damage to relationships I hoped to keep in my life.
I have refused to do that this time. And it’s felt much much worse. It feels like the things I’ve wanted to avoid are actually happening. The difference is that, now, something inside me has shifted.
When I believed more in the things AA taught me, I might interpret the back-to-back-to-back situations forcing me to assert my needs and set and maintain my boundaries as a sign from the universe; as my higher power giving me an opportunity for growth, should I choose to take it. I’d tell myself that it’s not a coincidence that I keep being put in situations where I have a choice to make: do what I’ve always done and give in, swallow my feelings, and make myself smaller OR try something different, put myself first for once in my life.
This time, I’ve chosen to do the second thing. Maybe it’s me taking the opportunity for change that the universe has handed me. Maybe it’s me finally understanding my own worth. I don’t think it really matters which.
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I still feel sad and despondent about many of the things going on in my life. But I also feel something new—a sureness in my gut that I deserve better than this, and that asking for what I need is not being needy. That I have a right to stand up for myself.
The people who want to be in my life will not shut down when I express my feelings, they will be willing to meet me where I am and hold those feelings—even when they’re hard. They will not find me too much for daring to have needs. They will not take advantage of my willingness to accommodate them.
They can choose whether or not they can or want to meet my needs, but I absolutely have a right to expect that anyone who wants to be in close relationship with me will be open to trying.
For the first time in my life, I believe my needs and desires worth standing up for.
When I was reading about what I could expect from my Venus return, I thought it would mean new relationships or deepening ones. Maybe, instead, the gift my Venus return has given me is the ability to know what I need and want from my relationships and, in doing so, has brought me to a new place in my relationship with myself. And what a gift that is.