I have often been told that I’m a “needy” person, that I demand a lot of attention. In A. A. speech this equals to, “Needing to be treated like I’m special to feel normal.”
In Attached, a book by Amir Levine M. D., instead of calling somebody needy, he uses the word “anxious” to describe those people who “…love to be very close to your romantic partners and have the capacity for great intimacy. You often fear, however, that your partner does not wish to be as close as you would like him/her to be. Relationships tend to consume a large part of your emotional energy. You tend to be very sensitive to small fluctuations in your partner’s moods and actions, and although your senses are often accurate, you take your partner’s behaviors overly personally. You experience a lot of negative emotions within the relationship and get easily upset. As a result you tend to act out and say things you later regret. If the other person provides a lot of security and reassurance, you are able to shed much of your preoccupation and feel contented.”
I fit the characteristics of an “anxious” person. Levine says that being anxious is not right or wrong, it’s just the way I interact with loved ones. I’m hoping that being more aware of what situations trigger me might help me change my behavior to become less anxious.
Levine says that most of what people do has little or nothing to do with me, which is what I’ve been hearing in these rooms since I started recovery. And to paraphrase the Big Book, when I am disturbed, it’s because I find something or somebody unacceptable to me.
Since I can’t change other people, and believe me, I’ve tried using different techniques from being adorable to water boarding and everything in between with negligible results, I get to change MY behavior.
My behavior does not define who I am anymore. I separate who I am from what I do. I spent years thinking that I was born a certain way and that I could not change. I was defined by fate. I now believe that I’m a good person and that nothing I do can change that. As we say in A. A., “We‘re sick people trying to get better, not bad people trying to be good.”
Needy or not, I accept myself just as I am today. I am no longer rushing to the impossible goal of being perfect. Instead, I try to enjoy my journey to becoming fully human. Accepting, approving, and loving myself just as I am, is not a one-time decision for me. I get to make this decision over and over trying not to be overly critical for not getting “it” the first time.