Author’s note: I was reading the following passage to my husband. I’d written this a few years ago and was presenting this as prideful evidence that in the last few years, I’d improved dramatically. “I am so much more well adjusted,” I bragged. Husband number one cocked an eyebrow, “Um hum,” he said, choking back a laugh and ending in a fit of coughing. As I said, husband number one….
I think I may qualify as “needy.” That is a psychological term I’ve been aware of for several years now. We’re not talking “needy” as in, without assets, but “needy,” as in need of validation, reassurance and self esteem. I’d never thought of myself as particularly “needy,” until last week. Now, I am considering therapy.
It had been a particularly trying day. I had made five trips, 17 miles each way, into town, twice completely, as it turned out, unnecessary. My efforts to please, to be a good Mom, good daughter, good wife, good dog….whatever (still looking for the right word, “owner” doesn’t work), had been met by complete indifference. It was one of those days when every time I turned around, someone needed something. Right now! Even the boys (ok, the dogs) were unhappy because we hadn’t walked. I’d not met a single expectation. No one cared about how hard I had tried. No one!!!
Mom was in the hospital. I had met with the doctors and talked to the nurses. I had been to see Dad, fixed his lunch and done my best to soothe his anxiety about Mom. Headed back into town from Dad’s house, I encountered my vagabond dog jogging up the road, where he had no business. He was, evidently, fed up with waiting for his walk and going it on his own. I returned him home, chastised him and left him, surly and truculent on the porch. After all, he pointed out; it was my fault he had gone AWOL. If I had met my responsibility, he would not have been walking on his own. He was correct. Obviously, I was unreasonable too.
I’d been to the grocery store, pharmacist, dry cleaners. I’d bought food, prepared food; I’d picked up everything on everyone’s list. I’d moved ungrateful children from point A to point B, and then back again; without a thank you. The day was almost over. I had not had a walk, the sure sign of a failed day. Daughter #1 was angry because I protested at her request to be driven home after school and returned to town an hour later (five trips already, twenty minutes each way, times five, equals… plus one more equals….) This, to save her boy friend the inconvenience of driving ALL the way to our house to pick her up, and ALL the way back. You must understand when I drive ALL the way back and forth it is not an inconvenience, it is a privilege. Anyway, I’d knocked myself out getting everyone’s errands done, missed my walk, failed as a parent and as a daughter and I was running out of gas. I hate getting gas.
I pulled into the gas station. I filled the car and entered the building to pay. The cashier was a tall, burley kid with tattoos, a pony tail and several piercings. Making change, he laconically asked, “How’s yur day?” My eyes welled up with tears. Oh my GOD! Someone cared!! I told him. In a torrent of words, I poured out my fatigue, my disappointment, my concern about my mother. In the warmth of that dear man’s tender concern, I almost cried in relief. Here was a caring human being, someone who asked about me, about MY life, my day, someone who cared about ME. I thanked him for his tender concern, his compassion, his warmth. “Thank you for asking, thank you for caring,” I sniffed gratefully. About that point, he interrupted to say, “Wow, Lady! Most people just say, “fine.”
Shoot, now I have to find a new place to buy gas. I can never, NEVER go back to that station!