I reserve the right to remain reliant.
While basking in the newly summer sun last weekend, an epiphany crash-landed in the middle of our relationship. Things haven’t been the same since.
I can’t take any credit for the brilliant realization, it was all his. Things were perfectly quiet, we weren’t even talking about anything, and so far the day had been super standard in a great sort of way. Suddenly, he laid it on me (the wisdom) then stood there looking at me and the oak tree we were sitting under with a gaze that, if I’m perfectly honest, looked a little feral.
He proclaimed. It’s okay for you to want me, but it’s not okay for you to need me.
Now, I didn’t just fall off the heirloom tomato truck yesterday, I’m no fool, I’ve traveled this long and winding conversation many times before and so this time I just shut up. And listened.
He continued. When you want me, that means you’re happy when you’re with me. When you need me, that means me not being here makes you unhappy.
It was too late. He’d seen me looking at him. I couldn’t feign spontaneous samadhi brought about by this lightning bolt of truth. I was going to have to talk about it. Gack.
(And me here out in the wilderness without a Venus-Mars dictionary.)
He was just getting warmed up. When you want me, that works for me, that feels good. When you need me, that feels like pressure and gives me the idea there are things that are expected from me—need doesn’t feel good.
And then he asks me. Does that make sense?
That’s when I really knew I was in trouble. Thought I might get by with head nods and an “Aho” or two, but no, I was invited to contribute or at least respond.
I wish I could say I kept my wits about me. I wish I could say I came back with something like, “It sounds like want feels good to you and need feels bad?” But I didn’t, I tripped on the expectation word, slipped down the slippery slope of panic, and began to feel, in this very conversation, yes, that’s right you guessed it—needy.
How in god’s name does this happen?
I was now under the influence of that special kind of needy that lives in the primal regions of the brain. You know, the one that screams—I am in mortal danger, who is this man, why is he using double negatives and could I please get some context here.
So, there I was, way down deep in the hole, while he, in his enlightened state, smelled needy on me so quick and so bad his nostrils were flaring like bat wings on fire. All before I could even open my mouth.
Feral stare intensifies.
Seeing me frozen with fear, he went on. Saturday morning, after we made love, I had to run, I had a meeting, remember? When I left, you looked sad and disappointed, probably because I couldn’t spend more time with you. That look on your face stayed with me all through the meeting. I felt pressured, I felt that what I do isn’t enough, that you have expectations on my time and even though you never complain, I can see I’m making you unhappy.
Time for me to leaf back through the files of time (lucky for me, I have the relationship play-by-play memory of a woman), back to yesterday morning, and what I was thinking as he ran out the door.
Oh yeah, Saturday morning, after making love, while he was on his way out the door, I was thinking whether I should ask him to pick up the dry cleaning on his way home, or just go out to get it myself. And then I was trying to remember where I put the receipt and calculating how long it would take me to find it, while wondering if I would ever wear the dress I’d taken to dry cleaning ever again since I’ve gained weight recently and I need a new dress anyway, and wow, the sex was exceptional this morning and I’m feeling sort of slinky and . . . . I digress, what can I tell you, I have the mind of a woman.
As much as I’d have loved extra pillow time with this man among men on Saturday, I was deep in a mind cramp about the dry cleaning as he rushing out the door to his meeting.
Back to our current reality.
Needy, god yes, I was feeling the intense, insane need to be understood right now and that wasn’t going to cut it. I had one choice, I had to pull myself together, meet my neediness straight on, deal with it within myself and forge ahead. This wasn’t about me being understood or the two of us working anything out. He and I, we’d been around this hay bale many times before. I knew enough to know that he knows me and he knows I know him. Want and need, we’re pretty clear on. We have a solid respect for one another and, though I’m being a little tongue-in-cheek in how I tell this story, our way of communicating is something extraordinary that we cherish.
He was feeling tender. He regretted rushing out the door on that splendid morning. He was feeling that feeling of love breaking open, running over.
He wasn’t looking for understanding and he didn’t want to hear my story about the dry cleaning. He needed (or was it wanted) to know he mattered to me and that I knew I mattered to him.
I took one long, loving breath and then I told him what was surging through my body right there and then.
I’m going to be needy sometimes, lover man.
That’s the way love goes.
PostScript: I asked him, moments later, “How did that feel, when I replied just now?”
He said. Honey, it felt like love.
Editor: Lori Lothian