So often we find ourselves seeking in our adult lives what wasn’t given to us or fulfilled when we were children. The need is almost like a vitamin deficiency. When we need Iron or Potassium, our bodies crave foods that are high in these vitamins. I have even heard of stories where pregnant women eat dirt because their bodies are needing Iron so much. The same is true for our emotional state. We have to be careful that the deficit isn’t so great that we are willing to fill it with whomever comes along that “feels like love”. We have to love ourselves enough to listen to ourselves and not “eat dirt”, if you will.
I was deficient of love and acceptance as a child. I went through many of my childhood years feeling invisible, unloved, unheard. It seemed I didn’t matter much. So aside from singing constantly, I kept pretty quiet and to myself. I remember one day when my mother had come to visit. It was the summer time and my grandmothers yellow roses were in full bloom. Although I knew better than to pick them, I did anyway. I wanted to give one to my mother as a gift. I must have held onto that rose for an hour before I worked up the courage to finally give it to her. I was afraid of rejection, I guess. Afraid she wouldn’t want it. I always felt like a burden to everyone. A burden to my father, he left. A burden to my mother, she left, a burden to my grandmother, she complained about having to raise my sister and I. I was nearly adopted out to my grandfather’s brother and wife, and I remember the unsettling feeling I had at the thought of being taken away from my older sister. I felt like home was nowhere, and I felt unwanted everywhere. The only person I never felt like a burden to was my grandfather. He took the time to talk, to teach, to ask questions, to pray with me, to offer me pencils and a drawing pad, to tell stories, to take me to church. My grandmother did love us to the best of her ability but children cannot process this type of “unspoken love”. Children need to be hugged, held, listened to, accepted, comforted and told they are loved. As I got a little older, I learned that I must not deserve it, and that I wouldn’t get it, anyway, so I learned to be OK without having any of it. Life became easier when I didn’t have to worry myself with the need for love. But the truth is, even if we don’t want love, we can’t help it. We are just wired that way. We are wired for love, happiness and joy. That is what we seek most on our journey through life. We cannot deny our natural human needs, so what happens is, our body finds ways to fill the needs.
I have had moments of uncertainty, when I have felt a partner disconnect emotionally, I find myself second guessing my worth or feeling insecure and reverting right back to those feelings I had as a child where I felt alone and “not worth the fuss”. I shrink back and cover up. I think that maybe I asked for too much. “I should just go away now, so as to not be a bigger burden. Why did I think I could be worth something to this person, why did I open up to them? Stupid me.” What I’m re-learning, however, is it’s not wrong to open up, to trust, to be vulnerable, to need affection, to ask for what we need from a partner that we love and trust. It’s dangerous to need something so much that we look for it outside of ourselves, or with the wrong person. We have to get a place where we know that we are worth it, we are lovable, we are enough. We have to understand our value and love ourselves enough to not eat dirt.