Wednesday, October 25, 2006


A former teacher commented to me the other day about the status of a friendship of mine: I worried about you because he was pretty needy, emotionally, of you.

I didn't want to put it in those terms, but she hit the nail on the head. The friendship in question has changed and morphed over the years (close to 17, yikes) and I'd been wondering about the sense of dread that I felt during recent communication. While I hadn't expressed anything to her other than "we've been in touch again," she responded with the sort of insight that I had forgotten I appreciated about her. Needy.

Her assessment came earlier this week and the week so far has been a bear. One of those weeks when I constantly feel that big things are slipping past me and little things are sharp rocks beneath bare feet. I sat upright last night, filled with panice over two pretty significant things that I'd forgotten or neglected. Both can/could be remedied pretty easily this morning, but even as I calmed myself with deep breaths I wondered why my life felt that it was spinning out of control and all I can do is watch.

We have a generous assistance fund that I'm currently administering. Not a day goes by without an inquiry; some valid and some not. Often people call, often the come by. I have very mixed feelings about all of it -- some days I'm humbled by someone's situation and other days I'm outraged -- either at the injustice or the manipulation that I feel. This morning has been a morning full of people with needs, people who are needy. After not even three hours in the office, I am weary.

The unwashed coffee cups on my desk had grown mold and I finally carried them into the kitchen to wash, the hot water and bubbles from the soap cleaning the grime and stains away. Outside the window bright and vibrant leaves are falling from the trees, scattering across parking lots and yards. I stood there with my hands in the water wondering what would help lift me out of this place I find myself. What do I need, I wondered. Making the connections about all those around me who need something from me -- from the basic needs of my toddler child to the complex needs of poverty and assistance -- and my own reluctance to be needy, let alone my apparent inability to even identify my needs, brought a moment of clarity.

How do I ask for help, express my needs, garner support and use it, without being needy, feeling needy?


P.S. (an after-thought) said...

You've express some of the mine field of being in a position or profession people go to for help. And maybe being a female increases one's care-taker-tendencies.

And we've all heard that we're supposed to take care of ourselves or we can't take care of others. But as you said, we can't always identify our own needs. Therapy helps, but maybe the best help is to realize that we each are worthy. Shouldn't it be easy to know we are worthy because Jesus died for us? But we also know we were unworthy of that extreme love. A emotional catch 22 for sure.

In parenting especially, and in working with people, one has to decide in one's own mind where is the balance is between enabling and encouraging. Hard to do!!!! And when is it ok just to keep giving, giving, giving. As my husband says, that is what Jesus did for us. But God doesn't take away the consequences of our actions, either.

There are a number of books out there on Boundaries that I would recommend if you haven't read about that subject. One set is by two Christian authors. I don't have names handy.

There is a saying about doctors "practicing" medicine, like they haven't mastered it yet. But that is life, especially parenting. There is no master to go to for help, except the Master.

God give us all grace to be graceful with others, yet strong when we need to set boundaries.

Today PS shall be SP: Still Practicing


Katherine said...

I'm humbled by the depth of your reflection. I've been so utterly unreflective lately, and I think it parallels that I've felt needier than usual lately. Your capacity to question and grapple with these issues within yourself seems to be a buffer against the sort of neediness that uses and grates. Needing, in and of itself, isn't bad. To be needy isn't bad. To manipulate and exploit without consideration for the other is, and that just doesn't strike me as anything you would ever do.

Can I just say that everytime you mention your nasty coffee mugs, my sense that we are kindred spirits just soars? It's like the moldy icing on the cake. :-)

Mrs. M said...

First, I'm sending mental hugs your way, for whatever that's worth, and you'll be in my bedtime prayers tonight.

Actually, that's all I'm going to do. You're in a hard place, you'll get through it, and in the mean time, there are strangers who love you.

Pink Shoes said...

Thanks, folks. As you all know, some days are better than others and there are bits and pieces of joy along the way that make it all seem OK.
You're all treasures!

Mary Beth said...

Hee hee, moldy icing on the cake!

I acclaim you for realizing your need to be needy, when you are needed so much by others. I think it is a good, good thing and means you are farther along on the road than you think you are.

I also think that we can't truly help the needy until we have been so ourselves, *given in to neediness,* I mean.

"I need help, please." That's the first step. Keep walking, we are here to walk beside you.

Sue said...

What they all said PS...your self-awareness is so inspiring. Hold on in the midst of the mould and chaos, and know that you are in my prayers.