Saturday, January 19, 2013

What If We NEED To Be Needy ...?

"Don't be needy!"

"Sheesh, why do you need so much attention?"

"You seem to need a lot of emotional support..."

"You are inTENSE!"

"You are so so so emotional...!"

"Drama queen ... are we?!?"

"You're a bit too ... emotionally-open."

"Do you really have to share so much - can't you be more private?"

"You seem to be lacking boundaries..."

"You don't really need anyone else in your life - just love yourself!"

"Have you ever considered that you might be ... codependent?!?"

"Oh please don't cry/laugh/talk/sing/dance/move/think/feel so much!"

"You're really out-there...!"

Welcome to my world. What I often hear, around, and in, me. I've had the lifelong curse of "too-muchness" ... even in kindergarten, my teacher commented, "Dena is bright and wants cooperate; but she is VERY sociable!" Now, this wasn't said as if it was a compliment ... but more of a foreboding of danger: Get that kid in line FAST or else you'll never reign her in!

Thus far in my life, everyone has failed at that endeavor.

I'm still here.

I'm still ... intense.

I am a connector.

I am an uber-schmoozer.

I like to get rawly-emotional, relationally-real, and really-really (did I say really?) deep.

I've been told I do the emotional-equivalent of bungee-jumping.

And ... I think I am honestly just this way.

But what I'm wondering is - WHAT is wrong with THAT?!?

Is it because schools are controlled by people who want to ... control? By people who lean toward order, and reigned-in emotions, and suppression of individuality, so that the educational show can go on..?

Is it because we have created, and continue to support, a culture that requires people to adhere to a "don't-tip-the-cart or ruffle-the-feathers" conformity, so that the system can be maintained?

Are displays of authentic emotion truly so threatening to such a system (well, yes ... but then, is the maintenance of the system more important than honoring our emotions)?

Why are emotions deemed to be such a liability? Why are we afraid of them? Why must they be suppressed, mistrusted, feared, maligned and discounted...? And why must we do so to the ones who do express emotions?

[Note: I do recognize that humans come in various temperaments, personality-types, and that there is a wide-spectrum of intro-extro-version (I have been both), as well as a variance in ways to express oneself. I'm just questioning how much of that is innate and true to who we are ... and how much of that is a learned/conditioned response? I'm one of the ones who wants to know.]

Now, as far as the claim that to be emotionally expressive means one is "needy" or "codependent" or one "should just focus on loving yourself" ... I take issue with that.

What if we learn to love ourselves through the process of experiencing love from, and for, others?

What if we are intended to be inter-dependent, moreso than independent, but we fear the risk of such a depth of connection?

What if needs aren't evil...?!?

What if all just means we're (wait for it ...) human???

What if such admonishments aren't just a bunch of spiritually-correct psycho-babble that needs to be questioned ..?

I have given birth to 8 babies, and I have observed countless others. And, I have been one. What I notice about babies is that they have needs ... and they let them be known. Loudly. Incessantly. WithOUT apology. And when babies, and children, have all their physical needs met (are fed, clothed, kept warm, sheltered), BUT are not touched, are now given loving attention and affection ... they fail to thrive. And they can die -- from lack of loving touch.

We are pre-wired to need this intimate-encounter with another. It's not a luxury, but a crucial requirement to sustain life itself.

And so I ask myself, and I ask you ... at what point in our growth and development, do we LOSE that need...? At what point do we no longer require touch, love, affection, attention? In childhood ("just ship 'em off to school, they need to learn to toughen up!"? In adolescence ("well, they don't ACT like they want hugs! besides, they're so awkward and gawky - I don't want to embarrass them")? In adulthood ("hey - you don't need anyone - just love yourself - you're enough!")? In old age ("they just can't take care of themselves anymore, or remember anything, and they're just SO embarassing -- let's put them in that wharehouse, I mean, retirement home")?

Could it be that we have indeed "failed to thrive" because we do NOT emote, and we do NOT connect, and we do NOT touch, and we do NOT experience authentic intimacy with another? Could our "failure to thrive" be masked as addiction ... and working-too-hard ... and religion ... and spirituality ... and depression ... and anxiety ... and psychological imbalances ... and suicides? And just merely-existing, eeking out a "living" rather than truly living life ...?

What if we ARE connected? What if we DO need each other? What if we need to give each other, and receive from each other, more attention, affection, acknowledgement, appreciation, affirmation, and authentic expression of who we truly are...?

What if we're not just emotionally malnourished ... but actually starving?

I don't know about you -- but I'm gonna keep on being intensely too-much, too-open, and too-loving.

Even if/when it's misunderstood ... even if/when it's not always returned.


mike m said...

I think you hit it out-o-the-park today! thanks.

Darcy said...

I often think about this with the kids at my school that are like that. It is a tough balance encouraging them to be themselves and enjoy who they are and keeping them off the tables or break dancing in the aisles.

I admit to being frustrated by these kids when their personalities conflict with my need to get them in and out of the cafeteria in a safe manner in 20 minutes.

I can only hope that compassion (which I pray for lots and lots) comes first before my need to control.

Debra Masters said...

Dena, I was not as outwardly social as you, I was more inwardly social with the whole world that lived in my head. Same comment type from my teachers!!!

I raised my kids to be free-spirited. My 5th born is the most artistic/free-spirited of the group. The day my oldest daughter and I had to take him to school was very traumatic for her and I. As we walked him to the door our steps got slower and slower. We looked at each other in horror, because we hadn't taught him to stay in the 12x12 inch square they have to stand in or to stand in straight lines. And we KNEW this child was about to be crushed.

My other children learned to play within the system. To be there in body and to be running around Mars in their mind. This one? He was too "out there," too talkative, too loving, too artistic, too musical, too MICHAEL. If I could have taken him and run, I would have. But I had no other options, so in we went.

His shiny spirit was utterly dulled by 3rd grade. School was torture for him (and my oldest daughter, by the way). He didn't finish. He did find music in middle school and that helped a bit, but was too little, too late.

I totally get what you are saying. I tried so hard to be touchy feely with all my kids, even my boys, but this one got particularly adept at push-awayness. He blames me for much. I pray he finds his way to forgiveness and he is in the process of recovering his muchness. He hasn't, however, been able to manage a 9-5 job...another manifestation of this out there personality, I believe. Life is such a challenge for the muchness-folk.

The rest of us? We learn to hide our muchness to stop getting yelled at/put down. And we suffer for it.

Thanks for your muchness, Dena!!!!!