Muy necesitado

"We can find the balance between needing people too much and not letting ourselves need anyone at all." – Unknown

A few years back my husband and I began providing my eldest son with a weekly allowance. There were many motives behind doing so. We wanted him to understand the value of money, to think about saving, spending and the difference between needs and wants.   

We informed our son that his allowance was his spending money for things he wanted versus needed. If he needed new shoes, mom and dad would purchase those. If he wanted a pack of pokemon cards while we were grocery shopping, they were his to purchase. He had to decide how valuable those pokemon cards were in the great scheme of things. Sometimes he bought the frivolous items. Other times he saved and saved well. (He saves so well that I am often caught borrowing money from him!).

The concept of need vs want occurred to me last night after a number of conversations and blog comments about needy mothers or needy adoptees.

Again, I question if need is the right word in all cases

I understand what is meant by suggesting a person is “needy”. In my world that means they are high maintenance, unable to source their own soul, demanding and emotionally draining. They look to the outside world an those around them for love and validation and constant stimulation.

But I wonder if that “neediness” isn’t a symptom of something else, specifically, a desire to be loved or part of the others life. Furthermore, the rejection of such needy people is truly a rejection of love. Love that frightens you. Love that makes you unstable and unsure.

Early in my reunion with my daughter I wrote her fairly frequently. Even if she did not answer I would write her weekly, sometimes several times a week.  I would share family events, status of her brothers, pictures, and my own life happenings. I included her on every set of family event pictures ala Shutterfly. I would ask her questions about her life, her school, her likes and dislikes.  More often than not these notes fell on onto a deaf keyboard. There was no reply at all.

As our reunion progressed, I began to write less frequently. Lacking any sort of feedback from her on even the most benign of emails, I began to feel that I was going to appear to her as a high maintenance needy person. While she never told me so, I suspected she was sitting at her keyboard, launching her gmail and upon seeing my address in her inbox, she would roll her eyes, expel a loud breath of air and quickly hit the delete key.  After doing so, she would say to herself “Gosh, that woman is so frikkin annoying”.  Alternatively, I have also assumed that I am simply marked as spam and she never even sees the mail I send her.

I began to feel as if, and I had no proof of this, that I was one of those needy annoying mothers in reunion. Writing her too frequently, asking too many questions, being too interested in her life, violating some invisible boundary. If I wasn’t, wouldn’t she respond? If she was interested in me, capable of talking to me, wouldn’t she? 

So I decreased communication. I have even ceased sending gifts for holidays. I feel our relationship is very one sided and that I – with all my good intents – am making her feel stalked, uncomfortable and bothered.

I am not a needy person. In fact, I have been accused of not needing anyone, of being too cold, too independent, too analytical, and too guarded. I have been told I don’t let anyone in and I spend too much time in my thinking self – versus my feeling self.

(I could argue that this personality trait came from being left by all when I needed them the most but that would be an entirely different post.)

So if I know I am not a needy person, but I fear I am making the impression of a needy person to my daughter, what does it really mean? Am I just a nutter or is there something more here?

I suspect there is something more.

Do I need my daughter? Does my entire existance depend upon her and her alone? Of course not. 

Do I want to know her? Hold her? Talk to her? Love her? Help her? Hear her giggle? See her latest hair color up close and personal? Do I want hear her dreams? Help her achieve those? Do I want to hear her voice? Go shopping with her? Share a vodka martini with her? Discuss literature with her?

Oh god yes.

4 Thoughts.

  1. Ahhh, I can so relate to this, but from the other side. I feel like such a needy, stalkerish person in relation to my birth family. I know that is how they see me. And I have to constantly ask myself, AM I needy or does it just seem that way. I think in the earliest years of our relationship, I *was* truly needy and that came across and scared her.
    Have you ever asked her pointblank, is this too much? I can see from a young person’s POV how it could all be overwhelming, especially when one still closely tied to adoptive parents. I can imagine that when she is older, on her own, things could definitely change.

  2. Interesting questions, Suz. I suspect that part of the conundrum over the question of “need” is cultural. The idealized version of America is the land of independence. We just passed the holiday where lots of families meet together to thank God and fight with each other. And now we need to go shopping to get presents for those same people.
    Participants in adoption are left with a challenging set of needs. The proven need for bonded relationships, the need to understand the causes and consequences of our actions (we are after all social creatures, and natural selection has favored conscientious temperaments), the need for comfort and joy.
    Here I think the issue of want could also be understood as strategies for meeting these basic needs. There are primary and alternate means for meeting needs. I can cook or go out. I can sleep or drink more coffee. Some strategies are objectively more efficient or sustainable in meeting needs. I generally want to avail myself of these better strategies. If I eat out all the time, it will strain my budget, and coffee is really a poor substitute for sleep.
    Do you want a close and open relationship with your daughter because it is a potentially more efficient way to meet natural emotional needs than alternatives like therapy and the comfort of friends? Probably and understandably so.
    I would hesitate to put your wants concerning reunion in the same category as Pokémon cards. Lots of other factors are involved in reunion, and in many cases it may not be a viable way to meet the real needs of those involved. But is it frivolous? I don’t think so.

  3. Suz: Great, wonderful post! Thanks.
    Someone should write a list:
    “I cant be all that you want me to be because”? ————–
    Lets do some shifting here. By the way do you know my daughter? After reading this post I understand a lot more about her. I thought her selfish, demanding, inconsiderate, tempermental outbursts is just plain selfishness. I thought! She has the world at her feet, money, power and she may be Needy!
    I see that now and it pains me. I cant be all that she “needs” me to be. And she is not adopted so she doesnt have a permanent excuse…. Sometimes it is hopeless to try to tap into someone who isnt listening and even worse does not even want to hear..
    I can also relate to having a martini, lunch, shopping it starts out great and I come home feeling mentally abused. I am her mother and I cant fill all her needs. I know it isnt me she needs right now, and it may be such the case as with your daughter.
    Imagine for a moment that I was her adopted mom!

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