It’s funny.  I never realized how badly I wanted to be needed until a pet came into our world.

We got a puppy this past Saturday…something I never thought I would do. When I was little we had a golden retriever but we lived on a farm so it lived outside.  I’m an extreme neat freak and pseudo OCD when it comes to cleanliness so I did not see a dog in my future. However, on Saturday little Rafa walked into our life…a sweet and cuddly baby corgi. Who knew this cute bundle of fur would make me strongly desire to be needed???

I have loved him more than I thought.  I find myself wanting to be with him all of the time, sit on the floor with him, lay with him, play with him…I’m slightly obsessed when I thought I would be the one just putting up with him.  But the last couple of mornings I have been trying to assess and analyze what emotions I have been feeling. I feel like I am being possessive or obsessive with him…to be the one he needs. I want to ensure that he wants me and that I am his favourite.  I actually, embarrassingly, get jealous when the others play with him.  I think I’m panicking that he will choose one of them as his favorite and I want to secure myself as that role in his life.  I want to be the one that is needed. Stupid, right?

I was talking with my friend, Amy, about it today and it really got me thinking.  She pointed out some interesting things. I thought that maybe what I was craving was the unconditional love of a pet – something I never understood before – but then Amy got me thinking.  Maybe that’s not what I needed. 

First, maybe it isn’t completely and purely unconditional, but Ted looooooooves me. If he was a dog, he would run to the mudroom every time I walked through that door, his tail wagging like crazy and trying to lick me.  Ted loves when I come home…when we are home together. He leaves me notes or sends text messages that he can’t wait for the end of the day when we are home together. This wasn’t sitting right, though, as the answer to why I was hogging Rafa. 

My thoughts were directed to Summer…my Summer. I was terrified to have her, begging to miscarry because I was so terrified of getting postpartum or being a horrible and depressed mom. But along she came anyway. She felt like my little savior from God. When my marriage was over she was 16 months old, but if I’m honest, I was pretty much on my own with her since she was born.  The new house we were to move into had a major house fire so we ended up moving into my parents for 8 months until it was restored. I remember my first night in the new house with her…petrified. I remember setting the external alarm before we went for our first sleep, very aware that it was just her and I now. Just the two of us. 

And, boy, did we bond and cling to each other.  She has been my world and I have been hers. She is who I have lived for. I would let her sleep in my bed – thinking I was comforting her – but deep down knowing that I didn’t want to be alone either. 

Then I married Ted and she got a dad and siblings. Life got a lot busier and she was getting older…friends started to matter more and I started to matter just a little bit less.  She loves me to bits but she is spreading her wings as she should. She no longer runs to my bed to greet me first thing, she doesn’t give kisses and hugs as freely…she doesn’t come running to the door to greet me.  All those things are ok but they are hard. She doesn’t need me as much. Deep down I’m her #1 but on the day to day, it isn’t as crucial.  

And Ted. He is wonderful. And amazing. And caring. And generous. And he loves me. And he wants me. But he doesn’t need me.  Not in the way a little one does.  And not in a way a dog does or could.  He can function without me. And sadly, I try to tell myself I don’t need him either.  When we are in a rough patch, I clothe myself in my tough exterior and have a coldness about me.  I’m cold to him…as if to remind him and myself that I don’t need him. I can do fine without him.  Maybe that is because he is a risk. He could walk like my first husband did. And I would like to think that I could handle it just the way I handled it the first time. 

But Rafa. He’s safe.  A dog is man’s best friend, right? So if I can win him over, I’ve got his loyalty for life. So I hog him and hoard him in order to keep it fresh in his mind that I am his favourite.  

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I remember when Ted and I were getting ready to move into this house.  We went to Ikea to buy all the shelves and drawers for our closet. There were boxes upon boxes on our cart and it was HEAVY.  Ted pushed it all the way until we had finished checking out. That was his cue to go to the bathroom. Having no idea of how heavy the cart was, I told him I would push it to the door. He left and I turned to push. I got that sucker to move a whole inch. That’s it.  I could not move it at all. Some man walked by me with his wife and daughter in tow, and he observed my struggle and commented, “You need a man.” I was shocked!  I went from 0 to 100 at lightning speed! When Ted and I got into the truck I told him what had happened.  I told him that man was crazy and arrogant…that I don’t need a man at all.

When we got home, I started to unpack the boxes and assemble the pieces so the installation would be quicker.  I was working on my own while Ted watched tv – and I was happy about this. When I struggled a bit, Ted asked if I needed help to which I quickly snapped, “No, I don’t need help!” And then I started muttering under my breath, “You know who assembled the crib? Me. You know who put together all the baby things after the showers? Me. I got up every single night. I took care of her through the day.  I made sure things got done. Don’t tell ME I need a man because that is the LAST thing I need. I did it ALL on my own.”

After several minutes of this, Ted asked, “Who are you talking to???” I said, “You! I don’t need your help! I don’t NEED a man! I can do it on my own just fine!” He was bewildered and replied, “Is this still about that comment that guy made??? IT WASN’T ME! I didn’t say it!” It then took me several minutes to snap back to reality and accept the help Ted was offering.  

I would like to think of myself as someone who doesn’t need anyone.  Maybe the reality is I try to convince myself of that. But I know I love Ted to pieces.  If I let myself dwell on that, what would life look like without him? A lot less laughing that is for sure. And my Summer…I have needed her more than I have ever known.  I have felt lost as she gets older and doesn’t NEED me the way she did. I think this whole dog thing has opened my eyes that I desperately want to be needed. I need to be needed. I’m craving both parts. I want to be needed. And I have my own needs that I crave.  

And that’s ok. Nothing wrong with that. 

I just need to accept these things now.  It’s ok to need people in your life…to rely on certain people and their presence in your life. And it’s ok to be needed…it’s beautiful to care for people – or animals:) and have them rely on you and count on you and look to you. 

But it is also ok to NOT be needed…to not always be #1. It’s ok for others to play that role at times too.  And it can be beautiful and liberating to watch someone else be needed and used. Watching the kids play with Rafa while I sit inside with my feet up…hearing their laughter and their coos at his cuteness…that can be beautiful too…to watch them play the role of the one being needed and used to fulfill.  

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One Response

  1. This reminds me of the saying “Grief is the price we pay for love!” You just have to remember that true love is always worth it. Dogs are the only creatures that love others more than themselves at all times. Your bond with Rafa is a blessing that will brighten your lives and bring your family together. Dogs have a 6th sense and are great at comforting when you need them the most. Dogs love equally. Not one more than another. They bring to each individual what they need the most from them.They love better than humans. They are the definition of true love!

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