You would think that after experiencing a pristine weather day and two wonderful meals I was treated to on my 48th birthday by two wonderful people, that I’d be driving home at the end of it feeling quite happy and joyful, yet I wasn’t. Rather, I was feeling three unwanted character flaws that have plagued my entire life.
What are those three things?
Loneliness, neediness, and high maintenance.
As a kid, I always felt lonely and that I didn’t matter. My needs were often overlooked due to living in an alcoholic home with two mentally and emotionally imbalanced parents. Alcohol and drugs became my only solution to deal with it for my late teenage and early adult years until they got out of control and forced me to stop them both. Once I did, thus began an arduous two and a half decades of constantly feeling a level of loneliness that’s led to so much neediness and high maintenance-based behaviors with anyone who have grown close to me.
After spending my childhood with such loneliness and no real deep connections to speak of, I’d cling to anyone who liked me and became a friend or partner to me, always seeking and wanting signs of love and attention from them, two things I never got much of as a kid. It was almost as if I kept trying to make up for what I didn’t get back then. This persistent seeking of love and attention unfortunately showed up as neediness. And the more I became needy, the more I became high maintenance as well.
Over the past 25 years, I’ve tried to change that by removing these unwanted character flaws through one therapist after another, through diligent work in 12 Step recovery programs, through work in The Mankind Project (MKP), through countless self-help and spiritual empowerment books, through prayer and meditation, through loving myself unconditionally, and well, through a vast number of other things too. Yet, those flaws have remained, except for a few key moments in my life, the biggest being after I spent ten days on a silent retreat. For about six months after that retreat, I felt embraced by something so amazing that those negative traits seemed to have disappeared. Unfortunately, they came back when that feeling of being embraced so deeply, suddenly wore off one day, landing me right back into that perpetual state of loneliness, neediness, and high maintenance.
I tried to do that retreat again almost a year later in the hopes to regain that feeling of being embraced, but wasn’t successful. I tried plenty of other things as well in the years that have passed since then right up to the present, yet have continued to remain unsuccessful. So, at the tail end of my birthday, this is what I was feeling and it was totally brought on by the sadness I felt over a close friend not calling or texting me on my birthday. For as much as that shouldn’t have affected me so greatly, it did.
This has indeed become the most frustrating part of my life. Feeling lonely, needy, and high maintenance all the time hasn’t made for much of a positive space for others to stick around in my life. That’s why I’ve begged God to help me feel more of God’s presence, and have tried more than you could ever imagine or suggest might help to make this happen, even going so far as meditating for hours a day at one point until I passed out from holding my breath too long, which ended only in me bruising my skull!!!
While I’ve had some pretty incredible friendships and relationships in my life who have stuck by my side even with me carrying these unwanted flaws, and while I’ve also seen and done so many amazing things in this world too, none have ever been able to remove my feeling of loneliness and because of it, it’s left me in this constant state of neediness and high maintenance.
For as many paths as I’ve gone down to rectify this, for as hard of work I’ve placed in my life to be free of these defects of character, and for as much money as I’ve spent on each of the ways people have suggested may help, I continue to carry the burden from each of them.
The positive news is that I don’t buy into there being some person, place, or thing in this world anymore that will ever fully be able to take these character flaws away for good. Even the best sex in a new love relationship will only ever temporarily abate it because I’ve experienced even that.
In the end, I believe the only way I’ll ever become free from loneliness, neediness, and high maintenance, is to feel the true unconditional love of God within me, which for the life of me, I continue to pray for every, single, day…
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson