Need to be Needed

Up and down the stairs I go. Pick up prescriptions. Ensure there is food in the house. Clean the house (as much as they let me). Do the laundry. Help with cell phone issues.  Go to the bank.  Buy cards for occasions. Drive them here and there. These are a few of my favorite things…to do for mom, dad and my aunt.  And sometimes I complain. Sometimes I revel in the fact that these three 90+ year olds are in my life.

During one weekend when I was running up and down stairs taking care of a few things at my Aunt’s, I overheard mom and Aunt Kit talking about me. My Aunt was concerned that I was doing too much for her. My mother, as usual, poo-pooed that idea, I was doing what I wanted. I heard mom say, “She needs to be needed.”  I stopped dead in my tracks. Was that true? How does she know that?

I walked into the kitchen where they always sit, sat down at the table and looked at her with tears in my eyes.  “Why did you say that?” I asked. Mom was very matter of fact and just reiterated because it is true.  I just sat there lost in my own thoughts.

First I justified, of course I need to be needed doesn’t everyone.  My mother then shared with me that my need was different than most, and similar to hers. My mom always needed purpose. In fact she’s still alive and pushing forward at 95 because she is a fighter, and has purpose. In her mind, what would my aunt do without my mom coming to her house every day? What would my dad do without my mom at home each day? She had purpose in terms of the two most important people in her life, and she knew it. She needed to be needed and was by both of them.

I knew I needed to explore this idea of needing to be needed and figure out if it was positively or negatively impacting me.  I started by thinking about how my mom knew this. She is the same way so she had insight into me that I hadn’t explored before. As we started to discuss, she looked at me and just said, you have always needed to be the one that would fix, or do whether it was for your friends or your husbands.  As I started to really delve into this I think she is right.

I recalled an event at a football game 30 years ago when my husband’s boss was drunk and said some things that weren’t right to my husband. The drinking didn’t stop with this man, so I had beer muscles and felt I needed to defend Craig. It wasn’t pretty as I recall and I had to walk away from him for quite a while. My husband never seemed upset with me but now I wonder. Did he need me to save him? Was that just my need to be the savior, the fixer?

There were many points in my second marriage where I was the fixer, or tried to be. I wasn’t always successful and there definitely times that my husband had wished I had kept my mouth closed. I have seen that happen with my family and with some of my friends as well. I tried to fix, I thought I was needed to fix and I wasn’t, or worse, I made it a worse situation.  So I know that my need to be needed when translated into me needing to fix things has not always been positive. I have done a lot of work on being the fixer and have stayed out of more issues due to that adjustment. Thank goodness!

Recently I was out with a friend and I shared how bored I was. I didn’t seem to have a lot of people to do anything with, and although I appreciate my time alone, I didn’t want to be this bored and isolated. I know that isn’t healthy for me. She thought I was always on the go and always busy and I laughed. I am home more than most think. And at home, I don’t feel needed unless it is about feeding a cat! I don’t have anyone relying on me for anything other than my parents and I have no one to rely on. Perhaps this is why I jump to do everything and anything my parents need. Even if it is inconvenient, which it very often is, I may complain because I’m an idiot but then I run and do because I feel so good being needed. She explained that she thinks most people have a need to be needed and that I’m being too hard on myself to think that is a negative.

Perhaps. Perhaps I just need to accept that one of my traits is a need to be needed, to know I am helping, and am there for those who want me there.

Perhaps I thought about this wrong. So what if I need to be needed. So what if that is what is driving me to be tired because I run around a lot, if it is fulfilling something in me, then so what? And at that moment I realized that it is my need to be needed, to help that drives me, both at work and at home. No longer will I look at that need as a negative, it is a need and it is a purpose. Perhaps part of the reason I am on this earth and part of the reason I come into some people’s lives, because they need me. For a moment, for a situation or for a lifetime I am needed. And I’m ok with that.


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