In this post, I will take a closer look at my needs and ponder how they have been fulfilled in my life. This line of thinking has an imperative role in my marriage, as I have difficulty voicing out my wants on the assumption that I don’t really know what it is I desire in the end. This hesitation also leads to some conflict, since my husband can’t possibly know what I want, and thus my needs often remain unmet. This then brings anxiety, stress, and a generally volatile mental state.
What are my core needs?
Besides the obvious things to keep my body functioning (sleep, food, some physical activity), I’ve identified just one core need I have: the need for physical and emotional safety. As of writing this post, I have plenty of both, even though the borderline makes it very difficult for me to cope through some moments and keeps making me my own worst enemy.
While physical safety, things like having a roof over my head and food to eat without the fear of abuse, are relatively easy to gain, the emotional form of security isn’t so easily accessible. My hope is that one day I will be able to brave the storms of my mind on my own, without having to rely on my husband’s validation or constant reassurance (or the paramedics), and that the emotional safety I need will be met by myself.
Unfortunately, my mind is not a safe place for me yet. The whispers and toxic fumes of past events linger. In essence, I am continuing the cycle of invalidation and abuse that was inflicted upon me. Not the kind of torch I was hoping to be passed onto me.
Was I in the wrong place?
A major contributor to my issues with relaying my needs to the world is in my past. My choice of boyfriends, where I went to get validation, and what I let people get away with. The shadow is in the lies I allowed and even told myself, albeit I was doing it to survive. At least I thought I was doing it for that reason because I didn’t know of anything better.
Fear is a curious thing. When it is injected into you in sneaky, manipulative ways, you’ll not even know that the person in front of you is the reason for your misery. Well, them along with yourself. This is something I learned just before I broke off from my longest ever relationship, one that lasted for 14-years.
The thing is, I allowed myself to be in a place where my needs were not even considered to be on the list of things to look at. I was too afraid of abandonment. I believed that there was nothing out there for me, that this is my life now. And while it was a truly horrendous place of manipulation and delusion, I can’t do anything other than to take responsibility. It was me who stayed, me who blocked the knowledge that this place was never going to be a good match for me to begin with. All the alarms were in the air, and I choked them with the ashes that abandonment left behind.
What needs of mine have been rejected?
In my lifetime that number one needs of mine, safety, was broken through my childhood and all the way to my husband’s appearance, after which I’ve had to start the difficult process of adjusting to the feeling of having an actual sanctuary in my life. My parent’s separation, the bad relationships, bad friends, bad state workers… It’s no wonder I feel like the whole world is against me at times.
Some of the needs I’ve had deprived besides safety are: the need for support (I was 130kg, the long time partner did not support me in my multiple attempts at change, and instead, kept enabling me since treats made me more cheery, for a moment), the need for choice/equality (I was never treated as an equal. First my passions as a child were overruled, and after that, the wants of everyone else went above mine, even if I tried voicing them), and the need to be listened to (there was this one nurse that refused to let me see a doctor when I told her that our once a month appointments were not enough – even when I had two social workers backing me).
Everything from proper food, proper clothes, a proper chance at life, even the control of my own finances… For the longest while, I had none of those.
Is the change of scenery the answer?
When my husband came into my life, everything changed. My identity changed, quite literally. I left the bad places behind, even if it meant letting go of some life-long bonds with people, even family members. I had a name change, and with that, I started shedding the final pieces of my old skin, a process that is still ongoing.
For me, the change was a partial answer, but I am not enough of a fool to think it would solve everything. Staying away from dark alleys is a great start but whatever I do, I can’t run from myself. I need to work hard on understanding what I want and need from life before I can start reconstructing the identity I lost during my early adult years.
Get out of a bad relationship!
While I admit to the fact that my choices had a lot to do with my life and how it turned out, as well as how it will go from now on, I also understand the twisted reality of being around abusive people.
If you are around someone that makes you feel constantly guilty, only talks to you when they need something, if they are dismissive of your needs, or if they keep enabling your bad habits, get out. Don’t take the abuse and use. I know, it’s easy to say, I haven’t been in some objectively scary places where I would’ve been beat and threatened all day long… But I have believed, once, that if I left, I would die. That I had no chance of survival due to how much of a failure and how terrible I am. My worth was minimal, and as it turns out even my family validated that sentiment when I finally managed to leave.
My friend, facing the fear of ripping yourself away from such people, getting torn apart by the pain of loss of the ones that got you to believe and invest your all in them, it is far more rewarding than to keep being hurt when there is no hope of change in the future. And while some people may change, let’s be real, it is very unlikely to happen. Take the chance, and trust yourself instead of the manipulator in front of you – you can handle a lot more than you think.