What is really needed?

its not you

Excerpt from 'It's not you and it's not me'

In the midst of our suffering, we have a skewed view of what is really needed. And the greater the suffering, the more skewed the need and the more desperate we are to get it. 

It looked like I needed the man to make me feel valid and worthy.  The only way he could do that would have been by convincing me how much he cared about me, how special I was… 

Because then I would feel OK. My self esteem would be intact. My view of the weekend I had just experienced would stay as the rosy time I had filed it as. My future as one half of a couple would unfold as planned. The gateway to the world of romance, sex and adventure that he represented would stay open. 

But it is not true that that is what I needed. On the surface, perhaps. At the level of ego and insecurity definitely - but ego and insecurity are not what I am. It is not what any of us are. Trying to fix that in place does no one any favours. 

I did not need him to tell me I was special. 

I actually needed him to do exactly what he did and tell me he hadn’t found the person he was looking for yet. 

Because what we need isn’t what we think we need. 

What we really need are the reactions, words, experiences, people and situations that will mirror, in an apparent external world, the conditioning of insecurity, fear and shame so that it can be seen. So that it can be understood, healed and integrated. 

Otherwise, this conditioning remains as an underground dictator, subconsciously creating and controlling all aspects of our reality and reactions to that ‘reality’. 

Getting what we think we need is a ‘mini-reward’ (as I call them) that satisfies the subconscious insecurity. It is a bonus payment for the underground dictator that says, ‘Keep going. You’re on the right track’. It is a momentary relief from the on-going search for security and it  maintains the search. In fact, it makes the search more intense because to regain the pleasure of the reward gets harder each time. 

The rewards of temporary security, approval and validation are a drug. Not receiving the rewards creates a crashing low that makes the  search for the next high all the more desperate. 

This sets our experience up as: Search. Find a high. Crash. Search more desperate. High not quite so high. Crash even lower. Search even more more desperate…

and on and on….

On that trip to the airport,  the suffering kicked in and the need for him to say something nice to me, to make me feel better became more intense. 

I didn’t hear him say anything that could reassure me in that ever deepening state of insecurity so I closed up. 

In the airport lounge, I sent him a text which, on the surface, was an attempt to explain what I was feeling but really it was another desperate plea from an even lower state. The obvious but unspoken ‘Say something to make me feel good about myself. PLEASE.’

The needs were becoming more desperate. The lows were getting lower all the time and the highs, by then, were non-existent. 

There is no end to this pattern because nothing has changed. When life is lived unconsciously, when the underground dictator rules the show, then suffering just sends us deeper (as it did for me) into the addiction. 

The problem is the occasional mini-rewards of validation fool the needy, insecure psyche into thinking that one day the reward will be big enough or permanent enough that we will be complete, peaceful, happy. 

From the idea of ourselves as lacking, we crave whatever it is we think will make us stable. 

From the idea of ourselves as separate and isolated, we crave security.  

And ironically, this stability and security is unconsciously sought in the familiarity of old patterns playing out. If we are used to someone we love not being there, not giving us the attention we crave, it is no surprise that we find ourselves in relationships in which our partner is absent or unavailable. 

The subconscious capacity to create a reality that continually replicates what is known is powerful and all-consuming. 

It looked like my sense of being, my future, my wholeness could be secured through this man. Those lovely days of dating, his attention, affection and compliments were crack cocaine to a system operating on the belief that being loved by a man was the answer. 

And when I believed that was being taken away the system went into free fall. I stopped listening to him. I cut off from him. 

And I cut off because I actually, and this is very hard to acknowledge, didn’t care about him. 

It was not him I cared about. No matter what it looked like to me or how much I extolled his virtues to friends and hairdressers. It wasn’t him I cared about. It was me.

If it was him I really cared about, if it was him I had really been dating, I would have listened to him. Really listened to him. Of course I would. I would have wanted for him what he wanted for himself. 

This realisation puts all our interactions into perspective. Are we really in love with them? Or do we just love how they make us feel? 

We won’t know until the moment comes to listen to them say something that challenges our ego. 

We won’t know until they want a future that is different from our vision. 

We won’t know until they stop supplying the nice feelings of validation we rely on. 

If we cannot be present to them in that moment of challenge, if we shut off from them when they are telling us what is true for them and what they really want - the relationship is about our stability and not them. 

This sounds harsh but, the truth is, they are simply a prop in our quest to find happiness and security. This is not love. This is fear in action. 

They tell us they are going to move to another continent or that they are not happy or that they want something different or they want some space and we believe that the intensity of our suffering, withdrawal or resentment is because we love them. 

That’s not true. 

The stronger the resistance to what they are saying, the more clear it is that aspects of our identity are being challenged. 

There is no way round this. 

When the man told me something I didn’t want to hear, I closed him down.  I wasn’t getting what I craved from him, so game over. 

This puts a very different perspective on the whole weekend. It indicates that I was not falling in love with him. 

His words, attention, affection and actions were helping me fall in love with the idea of me. 

The experience was securing my sense of being and so all was well. In that euphoric state of ‘being someone’ it is easy for me to say ‘He is wonderful. I love him. I would do anything for him.’ 

But it is just not true. Because not getting what we need shows the reality. Far from doing anything for him, I can’t even listen to what he is saying. 

In that moment in the car, he was a drug supplier that had turned up without the goods. 

What is more unwelcome than that? What invites more vitriol, violence even, than that? 

What use is an empty-handed dealer to me, the addict? 

The confusion about who he really is goes way beyond that though. 

Let’s look at who these people in our lives really are… 


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