If you needed 3 things to be happy, aside from adequate food and shelter, what else would you ask for? What would get you through the storms and deserts of life; the deaths and birthings; the loneliness and joy?
Sometimes people feel they shouldn’t have needs. As if that makes them “need-y”. I think that is a deep-seated thing especially when it comes to people. Can/should we “need” people? I think sometimes we feel that if we actually admit we want and depend on someone in some way, it is admitting weakness. If it is, so be it. Being honest is how community is built – and we DO need each other. It’s OK to admit it.
Enough of “some people”. I’m thinking about me. So, I know this will shock your socks off, but the 2 things I really need above everything else is to …. love and be loved.
(You knew that was coming, didn’t you?)
First, I need to love. So, what I do not mean by that. By love I don’t mean a warm sentiment, though it is usually part of it. It doesn’t mean sexual intimacy, though that can be part of it. It isn’t “I want to know every step you make” (that is possession) or “I need to meet your every need or I’ll feel disappointed in myself and convinced you’ll never want me in your life” (that is ego and insecurity – and yes, needy). My need to love (I hope) has more to do with the need I have to give of myself, my resources, my time, my intent … to contribute to others’ well-being and the world. It feels really good to love like that. It can be tricky to keep the desire for recognition out of it, but if we give for the love if it, it can be it’s own reward.
I was in a quandry today. Several people I care a lot about in Louisville are at a Memorial Service of someone really precious right now. I didn’t know her, but from their stories I feel a bit of her – and I can see her impact on them. I hear their grief and their need to say good-bye. Part of me really wanted to go – to support them and recognize the passing for and with them – as an act of love and friendship. But I do not know the family. And I didn’t want to be a spectator.
Secretly, just between you and me, I love memorials. I love hearing the crazy and beautiful stories of people’s lives, experiencing the rawness of people’s emotion, and participating in community memory. But I was conflicted. Silly, I know. But I think it is a symbol of my need to love and be part of community, even if it isn’t quite mine yet. And I’m early in creating a place for myself here. If it had been my church community, I would have gone, but it wasn’t.
I need to be loved. That does not make me needy. At least hopefully not. (Do you see how hard it is to shake that idea that need = needy?) What I don’t mean by needing to be loved is that I need people to fall all over me like I’m the Dali Lama or anything – or treat me like a princess (though an occasional backrub wouldn’t be turned down on off hours) – or being the recipient of constant attention (see parenthesis under “I need to love” paragraph).
Love is not that complicated when we give it from the heart. And it is oh so good to receive that way. For me, at the risk of looking a little self-y, here are a couple of simple thing:
- When you think something nice about me, tell me.
- When you wonder how I am, send a text, a note, heck even a real live phone call. THAT is love.
- If something I’ve said or done is meaningful or helpful, let me know.
- Respect my need for solitude and don’t take it personally.
- Feed me. 🙂 For heaven’s sake, invite me to dinner.
- Expect me to ask you for what I need and want.
A new friend who moved back to Louisville after growing up here said it took her about 4 years to make a friend. And she’s no hermit, hiding out ignoring people, or dressing in vampire attire and inviting you to Mary Kay parties or anything. But not one person – in four years- invited her family to their house for dinner. She was always hosting. That’s no good, people. No matter how you look at it. Love needs us to do something to be meaningful.
Finally, let me just say “thank you!!” to those of you who understand my need to love and to be loved, for putting up with my quirky, earnest way of being in the world, and allowing me to love and be loved by you. I need this. I really do!