Sunday, March 25, 2012

Going in...Coming Out...

If you want to make an omelette you have to break some eggs.

Well I love cooking and I am willing to break eggs so lets just dive in. Diving headfirst into love is not something I have been timid about.
The question on the table for me is, have I been diving in heart first and undefended?
I have used my head to understand so much about relationship, its dynamic patterns, my part in those patterns, how to get accountable and how keep the focus on myself, speaking only about myself and not the other person. I have a full tool bag of skills to use to ‘make relationships work’. True, I have picked people with far less fascination than myself in implementing these tools but is that really the issue or is it that I have avoided the one simple and yet essential ingredient necessary to anchor the relationship in secure attachment.
What would that be you wonder?
I’ll take NEED for $500 please Alex.


In our autonomous, individualistic society, need has become a bad four letter word. We are told that we should grow up and be self sufficient, stop asking for our needs to be met like a child needing attention from a parent. I myself have advocated for this kind of autonomy, feeling that leaning too much on a partner was a burden and somehow unenlightened.

After all as spirit I don’t need anything...right?
As spirit I am called to BE not need.

And yet I am also a human being and I am realizing more and more that I have been leaning away from needing, as evidenced in my default to spiritual wholeness rather than feeling the need itself. Ultimately it felt safer to learn how to return to myself and my own essence then it did to trust that another person would be there for me consistently. Where is the balance in this? Is it possible to return to oneself with the help of a human union?  The time has come to admit I need other people and feel how vulnerable being in that state makes me. I am realizing that I have not admitted to myself what I need because I held a belief that I was meant to rise above my needs for fear of being needy.

Well there is a world of difference between asking for one’s needs to be met in a relationship and being needy. And I am embarking on a curriculum to get really clear about that distinction.

I just did a one day workshop called Hold me Tight facilitated by Dr Sue Johnson whose book by the same name has inspired Emotionally Focused Therapy as an effective way of working with couples in distress.  Watch this experiment called Still Face.

When I look at that baby I see myself. When the baby turns away from its mother because it is too painful to reach and not be met, that makes my insides quiver. It explains to me why spiritual fullness feels safer than needing another person. The baby doesn’t understand what to do to retain contact. And truth be told, neither do I. When it comes to vulnerable interaction with another being I get confused.  Yes, I have become an expert at breathing into myself and spiritual centering as a way of not acting out from fear but true vulnerability with another person would include the need for consistent attachment since that is at the core of our human wiring.

Let me be clear that I am not throwing out my well earned skill set of years of independent centering. I am in fact intending to add to it. And what I am adding is the ability to be humanly vulnerable and let my needs be known in relationship. That means I would have to feel what the needs are and risk asking for them from another. Yikes!

Try on these words if you will.
 I need you.
What happens when you say them?

For me I feel fear, I feel a weight and judgment rise up warning me that this is not a good choice. It’s not a healthy or safe choice and it’s certainly not an attractive choice. And yet this dichotomy of on the one hand knowing I am whole as spirit and on the other wanting to create an interdependent full body relationship cannot be ignored any longer. I want to cultivate a human relationship with its messy inconsistency and sometimes exquisitely painful nuances not sit in Zen mode on a mountaintop (even an urban one in a penthouse.) Breathing away my needs and attachments just won’t cut it anymore.  I want to risk not having my needs met but knowing that I asked and that I didn’t die in the process. Understand that this is not about asking for things, I have no problem with that. That is easy because it is not at the core of my vulnerability. The human desire for connection and safety is.

Need needs to be part of the human equation and that means you would have to know what you need and be able to ask for it in a way that the other person can understand.

On the other side of fear is a need. When I feel this fear or contraction at saying the words ‘I need you’ to someone if I keep breathing into the body, I just might have to FEEL the need for attachment, safety and security. In the past I trained myself to meet this need by myself and that felt like progress. I learned to stop asking to be met, just like the baby would if her mother continued to not respond and instead I soothed myself becoming my own internally referenced safe sanctuary.

I have excelled at the art of giving love, of stretching so I feel my own essence and spiritual wholeness but I have not become an A student yet in REACHING for another. I stopped myself after a series of partners who without words were saying no to meeting me in this dance of vulnerability. For my part, I am sure that the way I was asking back then was clumsy and cloaked in toughness on the outside to mask the softness within. I can see how energetically I contributed to simple cues being missed and how my needs might have been perceived as an impending hammer of doom.

These days, I am hearing from men that they like a woman who needs them, that it is important to them. Ok, I believe you. So I am going to learn to locate, identify and ask...vulnerably.

Ultimately without that reach for a partner it occurs to me that the invitation to dance is rather one sided and not at all conducive to juicy reciprocity between a man and a woman. Or between any 2 human beings for that matter. I don’t ask in my friendships either. I pride myself on the flexibility I offer the friendship rather than what I have considered the weight of including needs.

So there you have it.  Into the next layer of the cake I go.

I wish it felt like a sweet delicious Limoncello Baked Alaska crowned in crisp sugary peaks but alas…it doesn’t. It feels risky and uncomfortable, sticky even, fear that my friendships won’t withstand this new added dimension and my messy learning curve. That’s a clear indicator that I am called to explore it. I am called to break some eggs.

Cover me I am going in! Again!

Here’s to leaving no shell uncracked.

Branded by exploring needs….

Authentically yours,

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