It’s been too long since I've been able to read an entire book in a day. I'd forgotten the sheer joy of being caught up in another world for hours at a time. I've been on vacation in spectacular Costa Rica (again! Lucky, I know!) and the living is easy. We came back to the place where I originally had the idea for this blog, and its magic continues to work for me and in me. I'm so grateful for the healing sounds of the surf and the fire of the sun, fueling my creative spark. It's heaven on earth. But I'm digressing, again. For my first selection, I chose Patricia Briggs' latest Mercy Thompson novel, Fire Touched. I enjoy this series, and I love how the characters are developing over the course of the stories. This book was no exception, and a particular area of development was the relationship between Mercy and her mate/husband, Adam, the Alpha of the local werewolf pack. At one point in the story, Adam has reached the end of his rope concerning how some in his pack have treated Mercy, and calls his wolves to task. In a beautiful speech, Adam tells these wolves that Mercy doesn't need him to put food on the table or a roof over her head—she can do that herself. She doesn't need him to defend her or protect her—again, she is perfectly capable of taking care of herself. "She doesn't need me to do anything except love her. Which I do." That speech pretty much melted my heart. And my first thought was, "Wow! I wish someone would make a speech like that about me." But my second thought was that it wouldn't be possible for anyone to make such a declaration about me because it wouldn't be true. I wish I could say that all I need or have ever needed from my husband was for him to love me, which he does. Unfortunately, as I thought about it, I seem to have needed a lot more from him over the years—and much of it was not appropriate to ask for, much less expect, as I clearly did. I think many of us get confused between the needing and the wanting. I think we also get confused about appropriate expectations with respect to our mates. Adam's stirring speech about Mercy made me think about all that I've thought I needed over time, and how misguided much of my perceived needs have been. And how much of a burden they have needlessly placed on my mate. Sobering thoughts. One of the things I thought I needed from my mate was self-confidence. Mine, not his. I wanted him to love me enough so that I could love myself. I wanted him to think me beautiful—or at least beautiful enough for him, when I clearly did not believe this to be true. One of my best friends has a daughter. This girl has more self-confidence than Kanye West, without any of the narcissism or sociopathy. Neither my friend or I are sure where this unshakable belief in her own beauty and awesomeness comes from, but damn if I don't wish I could get me some of that. That lucky girl will never need a husband to validate her looks or her mojo, like I clearly did. The tragedy, of course, is that no one can give that to you, so to ask that of a partner is a fool's errand. Sad but true.
I was also convinced I needed security from my husband. I needed to know early and often that he loved me and wasn't going to leave me. Abandonment issues much? Yep, might as well have had a sign on my head reading, "Insecurity-R-Us." My poor darling told me many times a day how much he loved me and assured me of his fidelity and staying power. I only started to believe him about a decade into our union, after which time I worried that he would die—thereby leaving me. Rather pathetic, I know. Not to mention terribly off-putting. It's a wonder I didn't drive him away completely with my ridiculous insecurity. He was going to stay or not. He was going to live or not. And my attempts to control him and his actions almost became a self-fulfilling prophesy because of my distorted efforts to get something I needed but which he sadly could not deliver—because I needed to feel secure in myself rather than look to him for it. Our mates cannot give us the love we needed from our parents. That ship has sailed. They cannot feed the hole in our soul that needs filling by the Divine. They cannot provide the distractions we need to anesthetize the pain of life. They cannot ameliorate the crushing weight of grief, even when we feel we need the relief so badly we demand it from them. We feel we need to be protected from the sting of failure, the discomfort and fear of illness and the work of life, sometimes. But that is not the role of a mate.
A partner should not do for us what we should do for ourselves, even when we think need them to. No one should do that. And yet we foist these expectations on our unwitting spouses and then wonder why we are disappointed. How refreshing would it be if we only asked for love? How happy would our partners be if they could fulfill our needs and be the man (or the woman, as the case may be) we only need to love us?
When I thought about how lovely it would be to be the recipient of the speech Adam made about Mercy, it didn't occur to me until much later how amazing it would be to be able to give such a speech. What would that be like? I can hardly imagine, but now that I've heard it, I can't unring that bell. I love the goal of only needing love from my husband, and vice versa. I may and do still want other things, but not getting what I want is a whole different ball game than not getting what I need. One is negotiable, while the other is grounds for despair.
My goal is the former not the later – and I will work on that.