Posts Tagged ‘Unmet Needs’

On my blog entry entitled Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID): Are Any Alter Parts “Bad”?, a reader posted the following comment:

It is the little girl that is the worst problem. I know this sounds terrible, because she is a little girl, but the sorrow and the fear are more than I can tolerate EVEN with the so-called ‘dark’ part available to help condemn the crime and not its little victim…Then when I crash, she escapes and makes my life a miserable hell, but I still cannot remember and nothing is resolved. The whole thing just keeps repeating and it’s finally driven me to drink. I’m not sure if things can ever change, but most of the time I am able to keep a hope that they might. I wish they could because I need that kid to keep from falling down and dying prematurely. She is the one who writes stories, takes the photographs… she even used to sing, but that has been many years ago now. She is the creativity that makes life worth living but I can’t have her here because sometimes she STABS me with her art. She makes horrors to torment me, yet I cannot remember. Sometimes this makes me dread her even though she’s just a kid. ~ Ethereal Highway

What Ethereal Highway is describe here is her repository of unmet needs. She experiences the unmet need as an alter part. Other child abuse survivors experience the unmet need in other ways. No matter how we experience it, unmet need is very tough to work through.

The problem is that we, as abused children, did not believe that we were allowed to need. Our need made us vulnerable, and we hated ourselves for having needs — even basic needs that we would never begrudge our children for having, such as the need for love, safety, security, or food.

To this day, I hate to feel needy. My loathing of needing anyone or anything actually stands in the way of my healing process at times because I choose to stay “sick” in some areas of my life when the alternative is needing something from somebody else. Human beings were intended to be interdependent, so it is normal for me to need another person from time to time, and yet I resist feeling need with all that I have.

I have known people without dissociative identity disorder (DID) who have nearly been driven mad by the needy part inside. The book When You’re Ready by Kathy Evert and Inie Bijkerk provides an excellent example of this. The woman was sexually abused by her mother (among others). In order to survive, she split off the needy inner child and moved on with her life as an adult woman who had walled off the need into the inner little girl.

When the woman was ready to heal, the needy inner little girl would not go away, no matter how much the woman wanted her to. The little girl needed basic needs met, such as cuddling with a teddy bear and sucking her thumb. The intensity of the unmet needs overwhelmed the woman. The book chronicles her healing process as she accepted this need as “mine” and healed it.

The drinking is a way to keep the needs of the inner little girl separate. This cycle will not end until you are ready to embrace that need as yours and begin healing it. I strongly recommend reading the book When You’re Ready to help you with this. I recommended it to another online friend (who had not been sexually abused by her mother), and she found this book to be a very helpful resource in understanding herself.

Facing and embracing the need is very hard. I am fortunate in that I split off my unmet needs into many different parts. I cannot imagine the enormity of facing a deep reservoir of unmet need all stored in one place. You can heal this part of yourself, just as the woman in the book did.

Photo credit: Faith Allen

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As I have shared before, I no longer have a relationship with my mother-abuser. After years of mother-daughter sexual abuse, I cannot handle having her in my life. I do allow her to send me a monthly letter. Sometimes I respond, and sometimes I don’t.

My mother was never a mother to me – not in the way that I needed. Yes, she birthed me, fed me, and clothed me, but there are many more things that a child needs from her mother. I never had those needs met, and they have left a gaping hole inside of my soul.

I had hoped to fill that hole with my relationship with my mother-in-law, but that did not work out, either. For very different reasons, she was not the woman to fill that hole. However, she did meet a few of those needs, such as taking care of me after surgery or answering my basic questions about how to make mashed potatoes or whatever. Now that she has passed away, even that little bit is gone.

I periodically go through phases of really yearning for a mother. It tends to happen during the holidays, and this year has been no exception. I dream about having a mother figure to lean upon, but I awaken to being alone as I always have been.

I do not yearn for my mother/abuser. I know that she has nothing to give. I do not yearn for my deceased mother-in-law because I know that she had her own limitations. I don’t yearn for a particular person – I yearn for what should have been but wasn’t.

In many ways, I feel like an orphan. My father is dead, and my mother is as good as dead to me. I am a strong person and know how to take care of myself, but I envy those who have a safe place to fall with their loving parents. Yes, I know that most relationships come with some sort of baggage and dysfunction, but it still would be nice to have a mother figure who loved me. I would be nice to know that someone out there thought I was special and loved me just for being me.

I try to fill these needs through friendships as well as through quality books and movies. I also try to nurture myself and be my own mother. However, sometimes the ache eats away at me, and I really just want a mom.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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