This post is uncomfortable to write as it exposes something about myself that feels so shameful…but it’s also something I think other people struggle with. I hope writing a post about it will help me get rid of some of this shame, forge a new path and, hey, might even help some you, dear readers and friends. So here it goes…
I feel comfortable being the benevolent giver, the supportive helper, the strong one. The one who is needed. It’s what I’ve based my feelings of security on for many years and has directed and influenced so many choices and decisions in my life.
Part of the reason for me doing this is because I like the glowing feeling of being nice, helpful and supportive – it makes me happy! And I get great pleasure from hoping that the world is a slightly better place for having me in it.
But there is another reason for my actions too.
I have struggled so much with feeling only as loveable and as worthy as my actions make me. Loved and worthy for helping others, for listening, for giving, for supporting, for lending, for putting others first, sometimes above and beyond the needs of other people I love (like my family) and so often above and beyond myself and my own needs.
I’ve been unable to fathom how I can be loved for just being me. I worry it’s not enough to just be myself and, if I don’t do things for others, I won’t be loved.
Look, I’m no saint. I’m not trying to paint a picture of myself as a perfect self-sacrificial lamb as I’m far from that! What I’m trying to say is there’s a part of me driven by the need for love and affirmation and I have tried to get this love/affirmation from my actions, unable to believe I can be loved just for being me.
At it’s worst, I crave for people to need me because then they won’t leave me, sort-of reminiscent of Ed Sheeran’s first hit.
I end up alone in my ivory tower with my only feeling of power coming from being needed.
I’m struggling to not delete the sentence above as I hate myself for being like this and I’m worried that the people I love will read this and cast me aside as a manipulative person. But it’s not like I’ve planned to be like this deliberately. It’s been through writing this blog and having life coaching that I’ve been able to step back a bit and ask myself what really motivates my actions.
It was Brené Brown’s most recent Courage Works that prompted this post as her words made me feel so uncomfortable. They exposed the wall I put up to stop myself from needing others.
I’m not saying I don’t have real, rich, beautiful connections. I’m really blessed to have gorgeous friends from my university days, time in Japan, people I’ve met in Brighton and, of course, my loving family. But I think the people I have formed true, deep relationships with have seen through my brittle wall of needing to be needed and have loved me despite it.
Could it be that they have given to me through allowing me to feel needed by them?
I remember once my close friend Charlie saying ‘I know you don’t like talking much about yourself‘. Charlie, if you’re reading this, I don’t know if you remember this conversation as it happened a few years ago…but it has stayed with me over the years and was perhaps the start of my realisation that I needed to be the listener, you didn’t need me to be that. I needed to be the kind, smiling friend supporting you, even though you perhaps didn’t need me to be that. You just needed me to be myself but you accepted me as I am and I thank you for that from the bottom of my heart.
So, how shall I end this blog post? There’s so much to say and I almost don’t know where to start…I think it boils down to two things.
Firstly, I realise (again!) just how far I have to go on my journey – loving myself more, knowing I have value just for existing, expressing myself more (and perhaps verbally, not just in blog format) – but I am grateful for what I’ve discovered and I’m so thankful for this blog as an outlet to grapple with my feelings and give some order to my thoughts.
The other thing I want to say to all of you is that I need you. There, I’ve said it.
I’m sure it won’t be an overnight process of knowing I’m loved just for being me (and, as I said, I like being helpful/kind/generous and this is likely to still be an important part of who I am!) but I want to make this public declaration of needing you all. It feels like I’m free-falling by saying these three words as they bring the potential for rejection, of other people holding the power and being able to hurt me.
But honestly though, it’s the truth. And besides, I’ve always wanted to sky dive.