Growing up in a family where people displayed codependent and covert narcissistic traits my system was entrained with a lot of misperceptions and distortions. Making me all too comfortable with dynamics and relational patterns that were not only unfulfilling and asymmetric but also harmful to my mental and physical wellbeing. This is why I had to explore and learn the differences and qualities of being needed, wanted, and valued.
Today I thankfully know to be mindful and intentional in relating.
Neediness is a red flag because it speaks to a mind state of self disempowerment and delegation of responsibility for one’s life. That is something I have been training myself to release and no longer accept, enable or am willing to engage with in myself or others.
Being needed is different as it arises from a temporary state of exhaustion or overwhelm. I have learned to check in with my being to ascertain if I have the energy and capability of being supportive before answering another’s need. Equally I check myself when in need of support to honor the other’s agency in saying no to my request. And I make sure to observe the dynamic of being needed and helping to ensure it doesn’t become chronic or lastingly shift the relational dynamic or perception of each other. I am aware that both tempt me to step into old patterns of becoming a ‘helper’ and ‘over-giving’ before feelings of resentment start poisoning the waters.
Being wanted generally feels good to the abandoned and neglected child I once was. It felt like something good and healing when I was younger and knew less about my inner workings. And for the most part it anesthetized or silenced the old wounds, which I then mistook for healing and goodness. But looking back I can see that it never had a healing effect and was just another tool of avoidance and perpetuation of the status quo. I see how easily being wanted becomes a dependence, a drug, I can hunger for and through which others can manipulate my feelings and wellbeing. And it rarely serves to feed the ego with what it hankers for if one is on a path of liberation, healing, and wholeness.
Being valued would have been hard to detect, understand and know for my younger self. I was too superficial, too conditioned to discern it and its unique qualia (quality of experience). When someone values me, everything they do and say differs from the actions and words of someone who wants or needs me. There is a balanced equality in the relational dynamic, a calm unhurriedness, a warmth of affection, and general openness and willingness to attune to me. Even if power differentials happen, they rarely move to the extremes and are part of a constant shifting and changing flow which doesn’t allow for fixed roles. When someone values me their engagement with me will more often than not take a form that nourishes the soul, there is a greater willingness and ease in giving, and much less of a grasping for my energy and being. I feel more spaciousness in these connections, more ease and grace.
There is an innocent joy in being helpful to someone in need, and I delight in giving of myself. And I no longer do it in a form that is depleting or harmful to myself or the relationship. That is in almost all of my relating, except with my primary care givers where I am still learning to calm my nervous system and uphold my boundaries.
It is nice enough to be wanted and I now look into the unvoiced or unknown motivations hidden in the wanting, the stickiness that would create distortions in the relational flow if left unexamined and unaddressed.
Not much compares to connections of reciprocal value and love, though.
The fabric of these connections feels light and luminous like gossamer and yet when put under strain it is stronger than Tungsten. The fabric of connections built on want or need are more fragile, volatile, and lacking in resilience in comparison. Which is why I prefer being valued and valuing those I connect with. Less may do for a while, at a distance, or until lessons are learned and contracts are fulfilled.
With gratitude for the eternal Guru and her infinite wisdom and guidance in this complex dimension of consciousness evolution.