Sunday, October 07, 2007

In Need

"What do you need?" she'd ask.

Inside I would think to the fuck do I know. You tell me.
Nothing was the word I wanted to reply but when you're in treatment for addictions it's a rather moot point to say you have no needs, you know? I could just hear her say "And you've paid $300 to share that with us Hope?" Once I knew the question was coming it was like willingly exposing my battered soul knowing I'd have to ask (strangers, no less)for what I needed to heal it.

That's the way it went nearly every day in treatment. My counselor would listen to my check in, where I had to explain why I chose whatever feeling word I had for the day, and then she'd ask me what I needed from the group. She started asking me this the second day of treatment, right after I'd been exposed as a caretaker of other people's feelings and numb to my own.

Oh, part of me wanted to cross my arms, send daggers her way and chant the mantra of survival I'd used all my childhood: "I don't need anything." In these sessions I worked hard not to sit cross armed and closed in on myself, although I was sometimes unsuccessful on the sending daggers part. Those close to me know exactly when I'm thinking fuck you and I think counselors get trained in decoding that as well.

Once Fr. Charlie asked me what I needed from my mom that I hadn't received. The first word that rose to the surface was nurturing. Aside from all the physical abuse I endured as a child, I had been born premature and spent my first 3 months in an incubator. In an era (hey, I belong to an era. Does that mean I'm old?) that lacked the knowledge of how much infants need physical touch. Heck, even without the incubator part, children need nurturing. Lots of it.

When he asked me how I could get that need met today, it was a new idea that I could search within and either meet my need myself or ask someone else to meet it for me.

I'm making progress. The other day I sat there with tears streaming down my face telling Fr. Charlie that I just needed to hear someone acknowledge how hard I was working at this recovery thing. In the course of our time together he did just that. Affirmed my journey. Affirmed the pain. Affirmed the hope. He was able to pick out from my sharing one spot of joy in my life. I told him that after my session at the treatment centre the other day I went and bought myself a $5 bouquet of flowers. Three beautiful, deep pink roses nestled in some baby's breath. I bought them as a testimony to my journey. I told dearest one I just might need to buy some every single week as a symbol of hope that the hard work is worth it. And that, dammit, I'm doing it.

Knowing what I need still doesn't come naturally. I have to work at it. But today I'm open to asking myself and either meeting the need myself, if possible, or asking for it from others. What does that look like? The other night it meant asking dearest one to hold me in his arms so I could feel safe. Another night it meant wrapping up in a blanket and rocking back and forth in my rocking chair. Every day it means showing myself compassion. Not too long ago it meant seeking someone out and making an amend. I realized afterwards that the amend came so effortlessly because I no longer define myself by my mistakes. That feels like huge progress.

What do you need today?
I need to know you read this.


Anonymous said...

Hun, that's a question I avoid asking myself until, of course, I'm once again at the end of my rope. And even then, I pussyfoot and tap-dance more than Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly put together. Oy.

WIsh I could give you a hug. You are doing the hard work.

Pru said...

I read this - and it's a hard question to answer sometimes, what I need, as hard as knowing what I want.
But progress happens. For me and you.

beth said...

I needed to read this, Hope - and realize that the underlying anxiety I've been feeling all day is because I'm feeling resentful against my husband because he isn't "loveing me the way I need" - and I've never even asked him to hold me - how the heck is he supposed to know these things if I don't tell him! ... thanks for sharing your recovery with me. I NEED IT!!! much love and hope.

daisymarie said...

I read it.

gracie said...

reading you... a prayer for an extra spoon for you today.

annie said...

I'm still reading Hope, just very quiet. I don't think you're postings have been narcissistic crap. I, for one, can see the growth.

And on a more personal level, I struggle with the same issue of showing myself compassion and with not wanting to ask for help with any of my needs. Your stories of growth and observations are an encouragement to me to do the work to move further along in these areas. I appreciate your candor.

JustMe said...

I worked the 12 Steps in the Bible with 59 other parishioners and a priest who told us this was indeed what we all needed in order to evangelize better one day. Shoot, I wasn't broken anymore.. I had no addictions.. All was well. I was in control.

Uh huh. What a shock to see how much we actually only exist as opposed to truly living! We are so dis-eased, so broken. And no, that is not a bad thing that is our fault. It is our refusal to hate.

That hard (hard as in cold steel scalpel placed into Jesus' hands to cut out deep, deep tentacled growths of fear and disappointment and self-loathing..) work took nearly a year, and then we followed up with a more intense program 12 Steps of Spirituality. I was indeed able to mark progress.. it was exciting! The most exciting moment was realizing what I could not realize without that hard work: We are loved unconditionally by the Lord. It does not matter what else we don't get; from Him, we receive exactly what we long for, here. There truly is nothing that can separate us from the Love of God. Absolutely nothing.

But to be perfectly honest, I got angry a few times. Everyone was very very kind, but sometimes there are paradoxes that don't need to be drilled home quite so much, like calling someone a caretaker. Back then, and still, it is not the WORST thing to be! After all, Jesus the Lord was a caretaker for at least 3 years!

As for saying what one needs.. Well, He told 3 apostles in the Garden what He very humanly needed --He desperately needed them to remain awake and be with Him, and they weren't up to it. So, He went ahead anyhow. It was just Himself and the Father and the Holy Spirit, then. That's a really huge WE, but it's not enough when One is facing the atoning of all sins of mankind!

You know what I need? I need to be in the beloved Disciple's spot at table. I need to lay upon Jesus' breast and just be loved, while I love. That is what we all need, and that is what/where we are invited unto, also. Sometimes, in my imaginings, I think it's someone else whose neck I tuck my head into and just breathe his salt, feel his pulse against my forehead.. but it's really Jesus whom I seek. I'll have to wait for that, tho'. The only thing I can do meanwhile, is to be that neck and that pulse and that reassuring others.

Hang in there. Hang in there :-)

Poor Mad Peter said...

Grace. Same as you.

Sue said...

I remember waking up as a child from a bad dream on more than one occasion and calling for my mother. She would stand at the door and tell me to go to sleep, and in failing to touch me, just became part of my nightmare. I need to be touched, to come back to reality, to know I am loved. I need a Jesus, with flesh and bone, to reach out and let me know He cares, and can make the monsters seem less scary and more imagined.

Hidden One said...

This is the first time I've come across your blog, but I read this post, and I will pray for you.

Heidi Renee said...

I'm here, I hear and I am so proud of you for all of the hard work you have been doing Hope.

wilsonian said...

I need a dose of your courage.
I need to keep reading posts like this...

Jackie said...

this weekend I'm thankful for you and how well your doing on your journy.

I'm here readung Hope, I check in almost everyday.

Hope said...

Thank you for your comments. This was a day I needed to know I wasn't talking to the wall.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your influence and for hanging in there when the going is brutal. My hope is that one day soon, I too can be as honest with me as you are with you.

Trish said...

I read too.

Anonymous said...

a little late,hope but I read it.

Yours in love that will not let you (or me) go!