Why is it so Hard to Admit Need?

Be Bold-Survivors Blog-Elizabeth-What-I-Need-From-You

Today my words come from a very insecure and needy place. Insecure because I'm trying hard to use words instead of behaviors to show how I feel and what I need. This "voice" seems childlike and continues to grow because it is still somewhat unfamiliar to me. My words might sound crazy but I promise I'm not a lunatic! My psychologist refers to me in "parts" like this, so I am going to do the same here today.

The needy part of this voice is the one I am most uncomfortable with. I have always hated and detested the needy part of me so I constantly reduced its expression.

One of the silver linings of coming out of infidelity is that you literally, and I mean literally, have nothing to lose. I have hit rock bottom. I have done what I said I would never do. I have shamed my family, destroyed my vows, and been absolutely and completely selfish. One of the saving graces in this experience is that I can start to freely accept and admit that I don't know anything and instead have a lot to learn.

So let's go back to the needy part.

I have always felt that needing stuff from people was a weakness. I'm a pay up front kind of girl. Better go over and above to make sure I didn't owe anybody anything. Neediness seemed synonymous with foolish, out of control and weak. On harsher days I felt it was closer to desperate or pathetic. (I think I may have a few shame and pride issues to work out...) I would pay bills ahead of time. I made sure I was never the friend who owed anyone money or child care. Self-sufficiency and independence were badges I wore with honor, straight into my decimation. In our marriage, I was even worse. I couldn't simply ask for what I needed. I would over do, out-perform, and run circles around anyone. My husband never got to be the "hero" because I never let myself need a thing from him. I basically became a martyr in my own prideful shell.

Through meeting with my therapist, I have come to understand that this "needy" part of me is actually healthy. WHAT?!?

Throughout this counseling journey I have become quite good at expressing this voice of need. My therapist encourages me to "simply ask for what you need" and so I do.

Our marriage remains a difficult area for me to need. Why is that? Is it just a woman thing? Is it an unfaithful thing? Why is it so difficult to ask for what we need? And why is it such a scary place to be?

One of the problems we have encountered in recovery is recognizing that each of us have limited capacity. My husband is battling his own demons, shame, and fight for recovery. Sometimes we have needs but we don't have the ability to meet them. Early on it seemed as though both of us were lying in the ICU, strapped to a gurney bleeding to death but asking each other for a cup of water.

We have become stronger and pulled ourselves off those gurneys. We are learning to put a voice to our needs. Thankfully our capacity to see and hear each other is continually increasing.

Below is a journal entry of mine from a few months ago where I expressed one of my needs:

Dear Luke (my husband),

I need you to learn to share your pain in a way that doesn't demonize or make me feel less than human. I know what I did to you makes you feel discarded, inadequate, and unimportant. It has never helped me to hear the phrases, "I would never" or "how could you?"

I live with my sin and the regret of my infidelity and see daily how much it has hurt you. Trust me when I say that I celebrate your strength and convictions. Selfishly, I do wish I could be more like you and I admire your innocence, your ability to stand firm on that promise and I envy your integrity. It is beautiful.

But when you look or speak to me with an attitude that I am less than because of the hurt I created, I only feel shame. Instead of feeling closeness, I feel cut off from you because of the self-righteous attitude. Again, I trust and want very much to learn from you and appreciate the precious ways you have kept your vows and promises to me.

Please realize that it is hard for me to ask for this because of an underlying message that tells me I don't deserve to ask for anything in light of the pain I have caused. But I know this is a lie. God forgives, cleanses, renews and restores. While I was a sinner, He died for me. I don't deserve anything and never will. But the only path to intimacy is to need and be needed. I will be bold and stop pretending I can be self-reliant. In the midst of feeling pain and remorse, I still have needs.

I need you to be honest about your own short-comings and failures and the ugliness in your own heart. I know, in light of my infidelity, your sin likely pales in comparison. It is grossly unfair and the consequences of your actions will never hurt or betray me in the same way mine have you. But it is important for me to know and hear these things from you. I know I don't deserve this but it really does help me. It makes me to want to share my failures with you and to be radically honest about my faults.

I desire to hear that you're proud of me. I fear you may never feel that way again. Even though I am working really hard at recovery, I know those words don't come easily. At any time I could betray again. Our eyes are now wide open to the possibilities of what one person can do to another. But just know, deep in my heart, I am working to one day maybe hear that from you again.

Where ever you find yourself in recovery, I hope you will take steps to be a person who needs. Take a class at Affair Recovery. Hope for Healing was full of people just like me who were trying to figure this out.

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This Is Me

Thanks for this. You described me. I was a needy child because of sexual abuse that I endured for many years and, as an adult, I see neediness as weakness. I tried asking my husband for things I needed over the years, but it fell on deaf ears, and I ended up involved with my AP; there were other factors involved, but not being listened to or heard when I did voice my needs was one of them. We’re only four months out from discovery, so everything is very raw. I appreciate the posts and videos on AR; they’ve been a tremendous source of information and encouragement, especially yours, Elizabeth, and Samuel’s videos. Thanks again.

You're welcome. Have you

You're welcome. Have you signed up for HFH yet? I hope you have or plan to. It is a great course and in my opinion, a "must" for all unfaithful spouses. I'm also sorry for what happened to you before you had a say in the matter. I will be praying for you.

Thank you, Elizabeth

I appreciate that you have shared a journal entry and the not so comfortable emotions that you shared. I am a betrayed wife and my husband and I are getting more comfortable sharing these types of emotions. I am grieving the loss of the marriage I thought I had and it is painful. I have also found that it is helpful for me to have a place, like in my journal, support groups, therapy, recovery friends, where I can express my emotions, such as pain, extreme anger, many of which I do not share with my husband. I have learned not to bury my pain, but expressing it to my husband sometimes is not the best outlet. I am also working on how I respond to my husband rather than reacting. Some of my thoughts and feelings, I choose to let go and not react to, imagine that? Recognizing needs, wants, and how to communicate them and to hear them are keys to recovery, in my opinion, on both sides. It is not an easy journey. Best wishes.

You seem like a wise woman

You seem like a wise woman and your words are very well said. I'm not sure about you, but I tend to face issues from an emotional perspective and my husband from a logical perspective. I'm sure God designed it this way. I hate all of the pain you are having to face. But like you, the discovery and resiliency we can find in it is good. Thanks for sharing your heart and wisdom with me (and everyone!).

Thank you Elizabeth

I see a lot of myself in this too...my pride kept me in a perpetual perceived self-sufficient state, not wanting to need anyone’s help for anything because someone might see me as “less than”, and taking it further, I thought I could do it all better than anyone else could - and don’t try to help me because you’ll just mess everything up that I’m doing. Yeah, total pride. Arrogant, blinding pride. And so not conducive to ever letting anyone in close enough to see the real me. No vulnerability. No meaningful relationships as a result. What I saw as weakness (admitting need to anyone) was actually as you said, healthy.

Anyway, thank you for being vulnerable and willing to share your thoughts and struggles along the way as you walk through the process of healing. All the best to you and your husband.

Of course. Same to you. Go

Of course. Same to you. Go be needy!

Vocalizing Needs

Hi Elizabeth,
Thank you for your courage to blog as well as your eloquence. AR was missing the perspective of the UW, for sure!! We are soul sisters. I never let my H be my hero. I was always too independent. I screwed up (literally!) and now am committed to healing myself and restoring my marriage, if my BH will have me. I've taken the H4H course (what an amazing course!) and am looking into becoming a group leader. Your letter is beautiful. I can hear the longing to connect with your H. So many times my H belittles my needs...that I don't deserve to have them. Contempt and disgust are what I get at home. I try to not "turtle" or to remember that Gottman said contempt was the best predictor of divorce. Everyday is a challenge. What was your H reponse to your communication needs? Does anything help? Anything you share is appreciated. Thank you, again.

Thanks for your encouragement

Thanks for your encouragement. It sounds like you are taking all of the steps necessary to become safe and repentant. I'm happy to hear you are considering leading one of the courses. I love HFH as well.
I am not sure how far out you are, but your husband might be just trying to protect himself from further pain. You have valid needs, it is just I'm not sure our betrayed husbands have the capacity to meet them in light of the pain we inflicted with our infidelity.
I know my husband responds best to me when I can be direct and consistent. Not pleasing, because that comes across as manipulative. And I also have to humbly recognize that I can get my needs met through God, female friendships, and then give him the space (as long as he needs) to heal. The main message I want to give him is: I am committed to healing, repairing and staying.
Best to you.

Much gratitude

These words mean so much. I am just beginning this journey and this lesson is so well put and tenderly delivered. I hope I am able to ask for what I need someday too.

What I wouldn't give to get

What I wouldn't give to get that vulnerability from my UW. I want to forgive. I want to stop talking about it. I want to acknowledge my areas for growth and improvement and what I could've done better (not that ANYTHING justifies her affair) to make a better marriage for BOTH of us on the other side of this horrible tragedy. I want to be vulnerable again with the one person on Earth I'm supposed to be able to. I miss my wife terribly.

I don't really know what my original point was. I started writing and that just poured out of my heart. Thank you for sharing your perspective, though. It really is a glimpse into a side of things that I desperately want to wrap my brain around, but my wife's reluctance to be vulnerable about it has just added to the pain of all of this.

I know this article is 4

I know this article is 4 years old but I’ll just put it somewhere because I don’t know what to do with what I am feeling. I am the betrayed. And I am sorry but I cannot get past the « I have needs too as an unfaithful ».

« I need you to learn to share your pain in a way that does not demonize or make me feel les than human » this is the kind of stuff he has been telling me and I cannot understand he can ask that when he did what he did to me.
Did he think of the consequences of his actions when he was doing it? Of course not! So now, why does he watts from me to not make him feel something he is responsible for? How can you have needs when all you did was getting your needs met in the WORST way?
this is beyond me.

« But when you look or speak to me with an attitude that I am less than because of the hurt I created, I only feel shame. » this is also a thing he could say and I just want to reply « but you just created that situation yourself why are you now feeling ashamed of what you created? Didn’t you think before so then you wouldn’t have to feel ashamed because then you wouldn’t have cheated?! »

This is the most incomprehensible thing for me.

I’ve learn from a past experience how much DISCOMFORT I felt that I would never want to put myself in any situation that would cause me all these feelings. So I do not get when the unfaithful has all these feelings because of HIMSELF ONLY but say it’s the betrayed who makes him feel this way and especially when he already cheated on an ex and has been cheated on. I mean, you know 1000000000000% what it does, how it made you feel so how can you « complain » and have needs to not feel that way?

This is really beyond me. I ask God to help me because I really have no comprehension, it’s too much for me.

Even when I said what was wrong on my side, what I did wrong, he still uses that as a weapon to point out to me how I am not perfect (I never ever said I was -_-).

You wrote things that maybe if he said them this way, I would understand, but the thing is, he used everything to blame me, accuse me, and well do everything wrong with my pain so now I am at the point that he does not deserve anything from me unless he does some things to help me finally heal.
He got to a point of unvalidating, accusing, pointing fingers, hiding, lying, gaslighting, so big that I cannot give him one cent.
I can’t. It is impossible.

and oh God knows how infuriating it is to me because I am not like that!!!!!!!!!!! But I became like that because of his choices and actions.

I am fed up.

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