“What do you need?” he asked, desperate to help her.
She sighed, knowing that she could not answer him. She did not know. She did not have a simple answer. She had never been allowed to express her needs, her real deeply felt needs, without someone having a hidden agenda or a wall of their own needs which blocked hers from being expressed fully. She had always been silenced and her voice did not feel safe.
“I don’t need anything. I’m fine,” she answered, lying. And he knew. He knew she was nowhere near ‘fine’.
“What do you need?” he asked again gently.
“I don’t know,” she replied, “I just do not know. It is all too complicated.”
He looked at her with knowing eyes, and asked her once again, “What do you need?”
She took a deep breath,
“I need my space and my distance to find myself and to break and heal alone. I need for everyone to stay away from me for as long as I need.
But I need for someone to sit with me, to stay with me, to not leave me. I need to feel the presence of another and to not feel so alone.
I need to be heard. I need for all of my pain and all of my secrets to be heard by another. I need to speak my truth clearly and for it to be received with empathy and compassion. I need my story to be understood and accepted.
But I need to never speak. I need to never have to say a word again about all that I have been through and all that I am going through. I need to take back every word I have ever spoken on the matter and every memory I have of it all.
I need to be allowed to feel everything I feel. I need to be supported in my feelings and for them to be validated as real and important.
But I need to stop feeling all that I feel. I need for someone to take all these difficult, painful, conflicting, confusing feelings away and to distract me by making me feel only positive life-affirming feelings.
I need time to process. I need time to process my life and my past and my future. I need time to reevaluate my world and my relationships. I need time heal without helping to heal everyone else first. I need to be given permission to step aside for a while when I have less and less time and energy for others.
But I need to be needed. I need for people to need my time, my company, my support, my love, my laughter, my help, my presence. I need my time to be wanted. I need my time to be used for others and for good.
I need human touch. I need someone to hold me softly and embrace me. I need to be enveloped in love and warmth and acceptance. I need somebody to take my hand and not let it go.
But I need for nobody to touch me ever again. I need for people to know that their touch can be so painfully triggering for me so I would prefer to avoid it completely.
I need connection. I need to feel less lonely in my life and my truths. I need to connect with the world, with people, with life, with reality, with mystery.
But I need to disconnect. I need to break myself off from life, to hide in an unreal world. I need to put my walls up, so nobody can get to the real me. I need to break away from the realities of living.
I need silence. I need to breathe deeply and hear my own voice. I need to have no distraction and to be still, quiet, calm. I need for all noisy, energetic, tiresome activities to be eradicated from my life. I need to rest.
But I need sound. I need to hear the words of others. I need to hear music. I need to dance in an open space but with much needed company. I need to sing. I need to shout. I need to scream. I need to run and run and run without getting tired or worn out. I need to keep moving.
I need everything to be black and white.
But I need all of the colours of the rainbow and each and every mixture they form.
I need to be challenged. I need to be questioned and to receive help in finding the answers. I need to be supported in my quest for truth.
But I need to be unchallenged. I need for my truth to fall at my feet, without questions, without needing any help to understand them. I need everything to be easier.
I need to love. I need to find all the reasons that I love and to love without any reason at all. I need to love deeply and to trust in my capability to love. I need to love in spite of anger and hurt and betrayal. I need to love unconditionally and irrationally.
But I need to not love. I need to feel other feelings in spite of feeling love. I need to feel anger and pain and indifference. I need to understand when love is not real and when it has been formed by other manipulative, conditioning forces. I need to understand when I can let go of love and be free of guilt in doing this.
I need other people’s love to not be a bargaining tool to make me overlook truth and to stop me feeling anything other than their love. I need for their love to not stifle me and my life and for their love not to mask everything that is also real.
But I need to be loved. I need to be love unconditionally. I need to be loved for the real, flawed, broken, perfect and imperfect me. I need for love to be the overriding force in my life. I need to feel like I am loved.
I need truth. I need to find every part of my truth, my story, my life. I need to discover all of the good and all of the bad. I need to hear it all, see it all, know it all. I need to discover me.
But I need to pretend it is not all true. I need to live in denial. I need to live in my old world of lies and live as the pretend version of me, before I found any part of the real me. I need the lies I was made to believe to be true.
I need you to help me. I need your guidance and your assistance and your strength to make me strong because I am weak. I need you to help me to find my way more easily. I need to you give me your roadmap to life and to lead me on my path as my legs falter. I need you to carry me and push me and take me where I need to go.
But I need you to respect my need to find my own way. I need you to see that I am strong enough for myself and that my map is a different one to yours. I need you to let me light my own path, in my own way, in my own time. I need you to see that some of my roads might be smoother or rockier than some of yours and that your experience of them is not always the same as mine.
I need you to see my light. I need you to see my beauty and my smile and my strength and my wholeness.
But I need you to see my darkness. I need you to see my ugliness and my tears and my weakness and my brokenness.
I need you to feel all of my pain and all of my grief as I feel it so you can understand where I am and understand my needs.
But I need you to never feel any of my pain or any of my grief and I need you to not understand any of my needs fully so you never have to experience where I am.
I need to need you.
But I need to not need you.
I need you walk away from me.
But I need you to stay,” she thought to herself, knowing she could not bear to speak any of this aloud, knowing that all her needs could not be met at the same time, feeling like she would sound too needy if she gave even part of this answer.
So she resigned herself to speaking her usual dismissive line, and said, “I don’t know. I’ll be okay.”
He gently squeezed her hand and they both smiled at the other and went their own, separate, frustrated ways