A Position of Need

Hotel, NYC: D. Johnstone

Hotel, NYC: D. Johnstone

Over the past year I’ve stripped myself of “takers” – so called ”friends” who only contact me when they need something. One would think that by this age my intuition about people would be better, or at least I would have more clarity about what people are capable of. But I grew up the child of an alcoholic and I’m accustomed to the perilous position of trepidation. “Walking on eggshells” is how someone once described the state of living with an addicted parent. The description is simple and perfect. I’m eternally seeking the path of no resistance which means always trying to accommodate others, always making concessions for others negligent behavior, and forever believing that if I’m not “doing” for others then potentially, I’m in a position of fault.

Childhood imprints us – often in ways we cannot control – often in a manner that haunts and condemns us to repeat patterns of fragility.

Childhood imprints us – often in ways we cannot control – often in a manner that haunts and condemns us to repeat patterns of fragility. One assumes a deferential role to avoid conflict and yet the flip side of that is unbridled rage – rage at myself for all the opportunities I squandered while I was intent on avoiding a crisis situation, rage for all the times I second guessed myself when I was already fed up with someone’s cloying, soul-sucking need. How did I allow this to happen? The answer lay in my own need. My need is greater – my need to control, my need to maintain an environment that is calm, my need to make sure that everyone else is okay. And along with need is a good dose of fear – the fear that all the gossamer castles I’d built will dissolve and yield crisis after crisis. The disguise I’d brandished for so long – the ever helpful, always eager to please person – is actually a monster. It exists in survival mode, always bracing for impact.

Another email pops up on my monitor and pleads for help: Can you write this? Do you know this program? What steps should I take? I don’t know. You figure it out. I’m done forever weighing what might happen if I let go of the reigns. I’m taking a breath.

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