Neediness

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what we want from the people we let into our lives so intimately, how we ask for it, what it does to us to want, to ask or not ask, to need. A lot of this is processing and introspection in the aftermath of a very complicated drawn-out relationship and breakup, and I’m not entirely sure about the wisdom of putting it up here, but this is a place for navel-gazing and honesty, for pushing my own boundaries of silence and propriety, so here goes.

Somehow I tend to find myself in relationships and even friendships where I’m the one constantly wanting, hoping, watching with every sense for each minute sign of approval and liking from the other person. I don’t know if I do this deliberately; if I’m somehow drawn to the enigmatic, private ones — I may very well be, since that could describe me quite well too, in a lot of ways, and I like the slow unwrapping of layers of confidence and intimacy.  But once I’ve decided I love someone, all my own reserve goes by the board: I become enthusiastic and impulsive, so starry-eyed about each one of her qualities, so open about my own emotions, telling her everything, talking about her, seeing her in every piece of art and music and in the colours around me, wanting to somehow bring all this beauty in armfuls and lay them out for her, like so many swathes of silk and brocade, saying here, this exists only because you are in this world.  I love this joy, this feeling of discovery, of seeing the world forever differently because of love, the reverence I feel for her then and how that extends to everything I associate with her. I’m not a synesthete, but I do have very strong associations of particular colours/textures with people I’ve fallen in love with, and I can’t go to a sari shop for example, even now, without getting emotional over a kingfisher blue silk or a particular shade of pale green georgette.

But the darker side of that reverence and joy around my ex in particular is that I was also constantly in a niggling agony of doubt, needing signs of reassurance, reciprocation, love, that I, too, am desired in return. Obviously this is more-or-less normal, but I hate the neediness that it brought out in me. I never doubted that she loved me, —  it was nothing as simple as that — and I still have a perhaps self-destructive sense of trust in her. For the record, I think I behaved abominably towards her at the end, but it was this constant wanting, this constant frustration that led to all the mutual resentment and anger and eventual breakup.

I hated becoming so dependent mentally, emotionally, on her. I hated the fact that I anticipate and adapt to her ideas and interests. She never asked me to; I wonder if she realises I did it at all, since I’ve never given up my own core ideas and I do have pretty eclectic interests, but the fact remains that I’ve done a lot of things because of her that it’d normally never occur to me to be interested in. That’s definitely good too, of course; I want to learn, see, experience as much as I can in my life, and I’m an infinitely richer person for it, but still, that doubt is there. Is this who I truly am? are these my thoughts? Why do I always say I love you, I care for you, why do I always offer myself and wind up wondering, doubting your every action, every look, every word?

I still don’t understand and it still hurts like hell to think about it. Sometimes I really wonder if that drawn-out torture was what I secretly wanted, after all. It certainly had a part in some amazingly hot sexual mind games, and days upon days of what Dylan called the pleasurable pain of a tease. I know her very well, — she is The Ex, you see, the one who was your best friend and first girlfriend and first crush, who knows you inside out too, who you can’t eject from your thoughts whether you’re together or not; she’s no monster, she can be the most sincere and loyal person, more than you can imagine humanly possible — and yet, I can’t imagine her without that particular smirk, that particular sadism in watching me squirm, knowing that she holds all the cards in the deck. I tend to pride myself on being articulate about what I feel but I used to have a recurring dream about a dog, so painfully eager to please, so unable to understand what was required, always looking up with big hopeful eyes, begging silently that this time it would be alright, that there would be a pat on the head, unable to communicate. I still can’t explain quite what I wanted so badly from her, quite what left me feeling so angry and hurt, quite why I never even attempted to ask for or talk about whatever it was. I just know that things have to change in the future; whoever happens next, I will not be able to handle that neediness in myself again, will not give it a chance to arise in the relationship.

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~ by mortarandpestle on November 25, 2007.

2 Responses to “Neediness”

  1. I can relate to this entry so much, though my perspective would be that of your Ex’s. I am the one with my guard up for so long, letting lovers peel away layer after layer slowly, carefully while she pours out her heart and soul. Lovers often tell me how special they feel that I opened up to them, trusted them enough… it becomes a sort of game, an equal power dynamic. I am definitely looking for something more equal this time and just as you’ve talked about the changes you’ll make to not be so dependent, I am doing much of the same work to learn to be more honestly vulnerable with women from day one so that the relationship can progress naturally.

    Still though, I am a sucker for the hot sexual mind games of a tease.

  2. oh, this is rather painfully familiar.

    oddly, though, i think that this part of my and jake’s relationship is one of the reasons i’ve felt so damn good recently; i’ve been pleasantly surprised to find that i am completely capable of taking care of myself (so far). it’s also, possibly, why i don’t want to get into another relationship. i’m afraid that i might fall that hard again, and be just as dumb about it the second time.

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