Downward Spiral to Delusion
Neediness doesn’t always look like a dependent person who needs, needs, needs attention. Sometimes, it looks like trying to fill the perceived needs of others, such that you become their savior.
In my experience, it isn’t always that I’m needy per se. I didn’t need someone to be my missing piece. Rather, I was trying to be the missing piece of another. You could say that I needed to be so.
Related to filling another’s emptiness is a desire for that person to change—to be other than as they currently are. Sadly, this is not fair, respectful, or loving. It’s toxic.
Whenever I’ve fallen into this toxic paradigm, I fail to see the other person for who she really is. That prevents me from really getting to know her: I artificially limit my ability to do so.
All in all, this leads to my being delusional. The prime delusion, or at least the root of it, is this: I thought she was insufficient as she was. I thought she had to change.
Sometimes I’ve gotten so focused on what I think is wrong with me, or what I’ve done wrong, that I couldn’t see all that time that deep down I thought the problem was with her. Of course, the problem is ultimately with me. But in order to recognize that, I first have to realize that I think it is with her.
All in all, neediness for myself hasn’t been as much of a problem as a neediness to change the other.
I wonder if this is common among people who aspire to give generously to others, yet haven’t quite matured into doing so just yet. You want to give to people, yet that desire gets distorted into a need to change them.
Where does this malaise come from? Does going around trying to fill the holes of others indicate a hole of my own?
But the “holes” of others are all my own imagining—right? What I see as a problem in another person, they don’t necessarily see as a problem. For all I know, the person I see wrongness in experiences herself as being self-actualized. This means that the supposed holes in her are imaginary.
What if, then, my own supposed holes are imaginary? Would that not mean that nothing is wrong with me? I’ve only succumbed to ridiculous ideas that something must be wrong?
I suppose I’ve been down this road before.
To unravel one particular relationship in my life, I started by considering that the problem might lie somewhere other than where I thought it did. In this case (contrary to what I said earlier), I blamed the other person all along for the complications. Eventually (took long enough), I realized that (a) I had wanted and been hoping for her to change, and simultaneously (b) we tried too hard to make things look a certain way.
It makes sense that (a) and (b) go hand in hand. When you want someone to be a certain way, you’ll try to craft your relationship with them to look a certain way. Of course, that’s not necessarily where the relationship wants to go. In fact, it’s very likely that that’s not where the relationship wants to go, because this desire is the product of delusion.
After I admitted to her that I wanted her to change, things turned around rather quickly. I felt free to take a different approach to the entire relationship. I stopped holding back what was true for me and trying to “win” what seemed like constant battles against her. Instead, I stepped into self-disclosure and humility. This yielded connection anew—a desire on both sides to communicate clearly and truly understand each other.
Now that I could finally be myself, I found I could allow her to be herself. I told her what I actually thought about and experienced of her. As I revealed more and more truths, and communicate with greater honesty, I found I was able to naturally treat her with greater love. Able to speak from uninhibited truth, I was also able to speak from genuine love.
It was soon apparent that I was regarded and being treated with greater love and honesty, too—more so than ever before. When I changed, the whole relationship changed.
Now that we were finally comfortable being ourselves around each other, this made it easier for us to become even better selves. I’ve been able to relate not only to her, but all people, more honestly. She has grown substantially herself. And this was all without any such change needing to happen.
No longer do I feel any need to change her. While neither of us is perfect, there are no “holes” that need filling in her, nor are there any in myself.
Saving and rescuing are different from sharing. I can share freely with her, and we can enjoy each other’s presence, but we don’t need anything from each other—including change.
Giving to each other really feels more like sharing with each other, which is why I use the latter. Neither of us has to give up anything. Really we’re sharing—ourselves, perhaps. I don’t need her to change, but I’m glad to help her if she asks me to, and I’m excited to see her grow. Similarly, I don’t feel like I need to change for her at all, but I feel inspired to be my best with her and with her support.
So in a way I get the results I wanted in the first place, but without all the neediness. Plus they are far better than anything I could have imagined before it became reality. :)
Trust in the New Paradigm
Overall, you can’t fill your own emptiness by trying to fill the emptiness of another. The only emptiness you can perceive in another person is your own. You do not know what this person really needs or wants. As far as you know, she is perfectly fine.
When you seek fulfillment through filling emptiness, you are demanding that the emptiness remain. For if the other person were to become full, what would you do? There would be no need for you. You would then be left with your own emptiness—and only your own.
Do not seek holes in another person’s life to fill. In so doing you are declaring her weakness, and why would she like that? You’ll either create a co-dependent or disgust her and push her away.
It can be difficult to stop relating to people on the basis of pain—on a need for drama and constant problems. However, once you spend time around someone who is far beyond this paradigm of relating, you see that it isn’t necessary.
The way I am going to get there is by trusting that it is functional. If I don’t believe it will work, then I will never give a healthier way of relating to people a fighting chance. Trust, in matters of uncertainty, is all I can do. Trust and move forward. The best I can do is cultivate my own internal certainty that there is a better way, and it is right in front of my nose.
Questioning the Emptiness
Take this from two years ago—the first ever draft of What is a Real Life? This is from the first section of the book, titled, “The Missing Piece”:
Do you believe that fulfillment consists of nothing more than fleeting moments of happiness resulting from some sort of extravagant external event, and these moments are quickly followed by endless-seeming blocks of mundane and overly-meticulous “activity” (or lack thereof)? Do you ever feel just plain trapped?
Do you ever feel like something- maybe just a little (or a big) piece- is missing?
Do you ever go along through your days wondering if this is really all there is?
What sounds more fun—trying to be each other’s missing piece, or coming together as complete individuals? Which sounds healthier? Which would be the more conscious and congruent choice for you?
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