Friday, August 25, 2017

Acknowledging needs

It was a pleasant day yesterday, a walk and brunch with friends to celebrate one of the girl's birthdays, followed by a walk to one of the girl's houses, since she insisted I borrow a particular book. From there, I had intended to jump on the train, but the sun had come out, finally, and I was no longer cold. I decided to walk home.

It was quite a long walk. I thoroughly enjoyed it and one of the few thoughts I had whilst walking, that I can remember, is the question, 'Why hadn't I thought to take more long walks like this?'

By the time I got home, acknowledgement of my weariness began to sink in. After cleaning the kitchen I got into bed and I must have slept solidly for about two hours. Got up, got dressed, made dinner, fed one son and myself and out the door again to do a little shopping with him for his oncoming birthday.

On return home, I took in that my husband, home late and in his study, hadn't helped himself to the food I had left for him, and for another son who would return home very late.

So very weary, I just didn't have the energy to be that perfect little hostess tonight. I washed the dishes and informed my husband that there was food for him ready to eat, just to warm it up.

I had a bath. I went to sleep. I slept solidly for over 8 hours.

This morning, whilst I was still asleep, my husband made overtones out of the blue, something he does sometimes, for reasons I can't quite identify. It is as if something about his world, how he feels, isn't quite right, and this attention that he seeks, to give or to receive, is an attempt to quiet a feeling he has. He was giving me attention, and yet, I felt, instinctively, that this was him quietening his own uncomfortable feelings. It is as if, by giving me attention I'll give him attention back and things will be put back to right; whatever he is feeling will be relieved.

We do, of course, all need attention. We all need to be comforted. But, let's be truthful here, he gets the lion's share of attention. I listen to him. I feed him. I do the things he wants to do, in the way he wants them done, when he wants them done. I make it possible for him to do what he believes he needs to do, in the way he believes he needs to do them by being the support person in his life - attending to the children, the house, the food, the washing and ironing, the changing of the sheets, the cleaning of the bathroom, the one who organizes vacations and social occasions. I acknowledge his world view of everything, whether I believe it or nor, because that is what he wants.

And if he is so busy that I need to be wholly independent, I become that person. I make zero demands at the same time as I continue to be that support person - the listener, the cook, the cleaner, the organizer. I don't ever leave my family to their own devices. They know they can depend on me to have things organized and sorted, even when I am away.

As time has gone by, and most particularly this year as I have been asked to be an independent person nearly the entire time, I have noticed something. I have come to question the reasons behind someone who has distanced themselves from me quite suddenly becoming close again for a time. Are they trying to quieten some sort of discomfort within themselves?

There's the push and the pull, and either when it is too close or too far, there needs to be force in the opposite direction. It is as if they cannot be too close, or too far, before they need to turn away or towards me. It is as if I am necessary, but when they sense the necessary nature of me in their lives, they take fright and pull away, only to repeat the cycle.

When I had a night off last night, effectively choosing not to begrudgingly motor on through exhaustion, but rather choosing to do something for myself, to rest, this wasn't about anyone else but me. I was nurturing myself. But, somehow, I think, this was interpreted to be about the other, about how this made him feel.

We become used to things. We can become used to watching out for the other - their moods, their emotions, their ups and downs and the ever-present possibility that their negative feelings will be emoted in a toxic manner. We sort of 'pooper scoop' to ensure that the other is comfortable enough with the world, and with us, that this doesn't happen.  It becomes all about them and how they feel. In other words, we stop even being aware of our own needs. Everything becomes about the other, until the other notices some sort of little difference in the service and feels the need to make that right, but for us, or for them?

This is the instinctive feeling I got this morning; that I wasn't being given a little attention because I felt low. I hadn't done or said anything to suggest that I felt low. My behavior in going to sleep, not serving dinner at well past 9 pm, identified that I was tired, nothing more than that. So, if this was happening  under the banner of him wanting to feel better, or to coral me into being that person he relied on, willing and wanting to give service,  I wasn't ready to be that person. I was sleeping. I was looking after my own needs, as I had been asked to do for the lion's share of the most recent past.

I quite naturally take to the role of looking after people. Whether this is my authentic self or an adaption to my circumstances, I don't know. I know that a few night's ago my son who doesn't have a washing machine right now came around with his laundry before an overseas trip and I wanted very much to do this for him, because it's just part of the love I feel for  him. I want to help him, especially when he is so frantically busy, especially when he cares for me with such tenderness.

I want to be in a relationship, to have relationships, that truly meet my needs as well as the other. This is a fact that I have a tendency to ignore.

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