The power of a reliable person on repeat
I write the text message as fast as I can, painfully going back to edit all the mistakes.
"Do you really think I can do this?"
I pause for a second.
"I mean, really?"
And then I add:
She responds within minutes. "Yes," she says. "I believe in you. You are so strong. You can absolutely do this!"
Small pools of relief form at the corners of my eyes. I have asked her this question regularly for over two years. And she always replies yes, no matter how many times I ask, or how many different ways I can think of to ask the question. As if rephrasing the way I ask could somehow trick her into unveiling that she wasn't really telling the truth.
But the message she sends back is the same as ever: "You can and you will."
Of course, I interpret it to mean a little more than just that.
I'm here. You're not alone. You have my support.
That's what I really read into her message, and it's what I really need to hear. I'm asking her the questions a thousand times, because I'm struggling to truly believe that what I'm reading between the lines is true.
I am not alone.
I understand that it's true for other people, and deep down I know the same applies to me. We are never alone. We are divinely supported. And most people in our lives actually do trust, care, support and believe in us – even when they don't say it directly.
(If not, they wouldn't be in our lives!)
But sometimes we need to hear those words from someone we trust, we need the message loud and clear, and we need to be reminded of the truth. A hundred thousand million times again.
She is my person, on repeat.
We all need someone who can say what we need to hear.
We need someone who can remind us – over and over and over – without getting bored. We need someone who can just be there, when we are in the middle of a storm, someone who can be solid as a rock. We need someone who can be a witness, a sounding board, a life raft. Someone to hold on to.
And yet, we can be awfully cruel with ourselves sometimes.
As if the world isn't difficult enough on its own, we internalise that harsh collective voice and start to judge ourselves for what we need.
I should know. I did it for years.
You've gotta stop being so needy, was the sentence I told myself always daily. Grow up! You're acting like a child. I'd scorn myself for hours on end sometimes, especially when I was waiting for a reply from her. You're making a fool of yourself, I would continue. You are being a burden. You are just being annoying.
Somewhere along the line of growing up, I got two things awfully and almost deadly tangled up: My need for other people... and shame. When I needed someone, because I was afraid, sad, overwhelmed or simply just lonely, I would beat myself up for it because I didn't believe that this need was valid. I thought other people didn't need people the way that I did, that it wasn't okay. I believed that there was something wrong with me for needing validation, or comfort, or love. I thought that growing up meant never again having to need another person again.
Oh, how was I wrong.
In retrospect, it sounds kind of strange to look back and see what I was thinking. And yet, at the time I was deadly serious. I would sometimes rather seriously hurt myself than admit that what I really needed was another human being.
Someone who would listen, someone who could understand.
Someone who cared.
It's easy to forget that all needs are important.
We all have social and emotional needs, and there is nothing wrong with us.
Mostly our shame around having needs can be put into two boxes: shame for having the needs itself, and shame for the intensity of the need. For the needs themselves, we can for example feel shameful because we need someone to comfort us, or because we need something as basic as to be seen. And for the intensity, we can feel shameful for the amount of food we need to feel full, or for how much we need someone to care.
Over the past couple of years, I have learned to accept and even embrace both the needs themselves and the intensity of them.
I don't see needs as something constant, but rather something that evolves as I grow and change.
But for now, I'm embracing my need for a person in the form of a safe harbour, someone who believes in me.
So I pick up the phone, one more time.
"Thank you for being there," I message back.
"Of course," she replies.
PS. Registration for my workshop Listen to the Wild Within is closing on Wednesday. It's born out of a calling to teach you a different approach to self-care and nourishment – an approach that works. Read more here.