IT GOES WITHOUT SAYING, some days are harder than others. Even some of the days on the road to recovering from being a Trauma Mama are harder, but the overall trajectory is better.
As a small child I didn’t know how to cope with the chaos of my home. I worked out my own coping strategies on an instinctual level for safety. That mostly involved hiding from what terrified me. Since that was pretty much everything and everyone, you can imagine the job of remaining hidden and invisible and only popping my head out when I had a smile on my face took up most of my time and energy.
I’m beginning to see how one part of my coping was to deal with one day only. Get through that one day by keeping myself safe. I didn’t look into the future with a sense of hope. As far as I was concerned, the future looked like “same life, different day.” Keep under the radar at home, in school, at church. Be unseen and unheard if you disagreed with others. Only be seen in small moments of lightness.
This is a tricky way to live.
I carried it on into my marriage. Try, try, try harder to make no waves. Try, try, try harder to soothe difficulties rather than solve them. Try, try, try harder to only be seen in small moments of lightness–moments that became much less frequent in time.
I’m five years out now from my marriage. Five years of ever so slowly thawing from the freeze of being my Trauma Mama self, of holding my body so tightly, fighting my emotions so fiercely that my body said “Enough! I now give you the magical gift of Fibromyalgia!” If that doesn’t teach you to slow your roll, nothing will.
Part of the thaw means I’m feeling a broader range of emotion, I’m seeing a broader range of possibilities. I’m even starting to see, waaaay out there in the distance, what is that thing? Wait–I’ve heard of those……the glimmer of A Future!
I’m so fortunate to have a REAL LIVE AUTHOR write a guest post for me this week! (Although it would be pretty awesome if I got a real DEAD author to come back and do one, right??) My coffee and pie friend, Jeanette Hanscome, is author of the book Suddenly Single Moms among others.
Here’s my pie errr–author friend, Jeanette,
and the book cover for Suddenly Single Moms.
I love this cover since it coordinates with several of my coffee mugs making it possible for me to not only have coffee while reading, but look good while doing so.
And now, ON TO THE IMPORTANT BIT!!
Guest post by Jeanette Hanscome
Needy, that Dreaded Word
After my husband left, I feared the labels I would earn almost as intensely as I feared court orders.
I dreaded the first time I would have to check Divorced on a form. (I’m still trying to figure out why my marital status matters when getting my teeth cleaned.)
I resented that low-income applied to me and my kids.
I absolutely did not want to become an emotionally needy friend.
You read that correctly—at the lowest point of my life being seen as needy felt like the worst possible fate.
Even worse than too sensitive.
There was just something about that word. Needy.
I’d never heard it applied to me or anyone else in a positive way.
“One thing I love about you is that you’re so needy and fun to be around.”
It was more like, “I know you’re in a needy place right now, but I don’t have time to talk.”
“Stephanie seems like a nice lady, but she strikes me a rather … needy.”
I tried very hard to ration my public displays of emotion, and cried in front of carefully-selected friends on a rotating basis so none of them would feel burdened by my load of grief.
When people at church said, “You seem to be doing so well,” relief flooded my soul. If they raved that I radiated with joy and reflected God’s grace that was even better. Radiating joy and grace meant I wasn’t becoming needy.
Then something horrifying happened. I moved, came out of survival mode, joined a new church, and started (cue slasher film scream) feeling. I remember the day it hit me that I was in danger of being described as, “in a very needy place right now.” Some new friends and I were talking after Bible study and I no longer had it in me to radiate joy. I wanted to tug on one of those kind women’s sleeves and whimper, “I don’t think I’m doing so well anymore.” But I kept smiling and talking because I didn’t want to be that girl. The one who got weepy when it wasn’t even prayer request time. The one who took people up on “Call me if you ever need to talk.” I would wrap my arms around a hurting woman like me in an instant, but I wasn’t ready to be her. Not when I was still trying to find my place in a new church. I was totally blowing my reputation as a reflection of God’s grace!
God did a beautiful thing a couple of weeks later. He sent a friend who gave me permission to be needy but refused to let me label myself as if processes pain was a sign of weakness.
I will never stop being grateful for friends like her, because here’s the thing: I was needy. Extremely. My husband had left me and our two sons. I’d lost my marriage, my home, my credit (we had to file bankruptcy), and my sense of value. When we moved I’d left my church home behind, ministries, 14 ½ years’ worth of relationships, every friend that I felt safe to fall apart with, and my oldest son who decided to stay back where his job was. I was needy for love. Needy for hugs. Needy for friends. Needy to belong. Needy to share my story. Needy to be known for something other than my story.
Pain puts us in a very needy place.
When a friend is hurting because of a loss, I expect that she will be a little bit needy for a while. I hope that she will know she can come to me for the things I ached for when my life had been reduced to what I could fit into my parents’ garage, one bedroom, and a dinky storage unit that I would eventually have to clear out. If I say, “Call me anytime,” I mean it and hope she will take me up on it.
One of most refreshing things I’ve heard in the past year is, “We’re all a little needy.”
I also like, “We’re all messed up.”
I wish I’d known this sooner.
Obviously, I don’t want to stay needy. I don’t want to become clingy. I don’t want to run to people so quickly and often that I wear them out and miss out of the comfort of Jesus’ presence. I don’t want to be so focused on sad circumstances that I can’t see other people, live in the present, or enjoy life. But why suffer in silence when we don’t have to?
“But as for me, I am poor and needy; may the Lord think of me. You are my help and my deliverer; you are my God, do not delay.” Psalm 40:17
No matter which version of the Bible I read, I can’t find a verse where God tells David to suck it up and be a better reflection of His grace and joy.
He created us to need Him and to need one another.
So, at least for today, I’m letting go of my fear of being seen as needy. Because we all are whether we admit it or not.
What will I do for myself today? If I am feeling needy I will admit it. I will cry out to God and ask Him to send what I’m aching for, whether it’s time with Him or time with a friend. If I know I need to be with people, I will reach out to someone—a kind, sensitive person who will be sweet and supportive. I won’t even waste my data coverage on the “I can see that you are in a very needy place right now but I don’t have time to talk” “friends.”
The BringYourOwnBeverage Conversation: When have you felt chastised for being needy? How did that impact your ability to reach out when you truly needed support? How has God taught you that it’s okay to be a little bit needy sometimes?
Thank you so much for your post, Jeanette! We’ve had many conversations over pie about neediness, and I love your clarity and humor on the topic. 🙂