“We never understand how little we need in this world until we know the loss of it” James M Barrie
Human needs are described as “the elements required for survival and normal mental and physical health”. Psychologists sometimes list needs in groups such as basic needs (food, shelter, security); connections (companionship, intimacy); and higher needs (self-esteem, contribution). Needs are distinguished from wants as a deficiency causes a negative outcome. Moreover, you never realise that you require needs, until you do not have them. Then the ache sets in.
It has been reasoned that at a time of crisis, such as after an earthquake, people’s needs return to basics – for food, water, shelter. At those times there is little need for intellectual stimulation, education, or meaningful projects to fill their time.
The ending of a marriage is similar to a crisis or trauma, especially if it is unexpected, sudden and beyond your control. It rocks the very foundation of your life and threatens everything you ever had including your self-esteem, family, companionship; and emotional and financial security. Your fundamental needs of security, trust, and having some control over your own destiny, are destroyed in an instant. As everything comes crashing down, to cope and survive you cocoon yourself by returning to the basics of life – living in the moment of waking, eating, walking, and the comfort and security of a warm bed at night. You are thrown into a survival mind-set of fulfilling basic needs because everything else is gone.
In the weeks after my husband’s announcement, I felt as if there was nothing left. I became overwhelmed by the intensity of the emotions I was feeling. Almost as if a hurricane had hit me, scrambling from underneath the rubble of my former life, I walked around in a daze going through the motions of life like a zombie. Soon I protected myself by reclaiming some order in my everyday life by reestablishing my immediate space and following a fairly regimented daily routine. There I was to remain for many months before I could slowly begin rebuilding my life from the ground up – physically, emotionally and financially.
I read that ‘divorce is an opportunity to explore your own needs, wants and likes’. In the early days I tried to write down my needs and it drew a blank. It was thirty weeks before I was able to list my basic need for order and routine. It was nearly a year before I could list any higher level need such as a need to do meaningful projects. Yet the ache remained.
One of the reasons I found it difficult to list my needs, was the fact that I felt that I had become the discarded consequence of another person’s supposed ‘needs’ having taken precedence over everything else: the family unit, past history, dreams for the future, shared children and grand-children, responsibility, values and beliefs.
I did not agree with the concept that because I had been forsaken, that I should abandon my own fundamental beliefs, values and responsibilities for an over-riding selfish ‘need’. I needed (yes that became one of my needs) to firstly re-affirm my own core values and beliefs; and choose positive attitudes and responses to my life situation. I believed those would then underpin my own needs and guide me towards my responsibilities, aims and goals.
For example; as I affirmed my values include trust, care, dependability, and integrity; then I do not ‘need’ a companion for the sake of companionship if those values are compromised. Those values underpin my needs. Similarly, if I remain an optimistic person with a ‘can-do’ attitude; then I do not ‘need’ to be provided for.
With a now affirmed inner core of values, beliefs and attitudes; and a layer of calm strengthening my resolve; I am set to move out to my external world. The first place I shall begin is with myself, and my own needs, which I shall explore over my next series of posts.
Gradually I will reclaim those needs, take control of my life back, fulfill my responsibilities, set my goals and plans, and march forward.
Image courtesy of [Grant Cochrane] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Congratulations on taking another brave step on your journey! To be able to identify and honor your own needs is as necessary for living as oxygen, because these needs will fuel your passions and desires and inform what direction you need to go next. Keep exploring, and I bet you will like what you discover!
Totally well said, Kristijojedlicki. This is exactly what I’d say.
When I resigned from my job in Perth, gave notice on where my son (then 13) & me lived, delivered most of our belongings to charities (unloaded) and headed 4,000km away to leave behind people who aggravated our opportunities for prosperity and wellbeing, a cousin said to me, “He who dares, wins.” REMEMBER THAT.
xx (sorry, I know I don’t know you, but reading this post has me feel emotion for you)
After reading your comment, I simply had to say how much I admire you for having the courage, strength, and determination to accept the dare to make such brave changes in your life. I am in awe, and given the changes that are on the horizon for me, I am emboldened and inspired. Thank you!
Well said, and I agree
Thank you, thank you, thank you for these positive words of encouragement.
I am motivated by the strength of courage that others, such as your self, have shown in making brave steps forward themselves. Thanks for the inspiration that you give to me.
Wise words spoken. Thanks.
I love this focus on “you first”. Too often we start down that path and then feel selfish for doing it. But it is fundamental that we do this. We must be happy with “me” before becoming part of any “we”. Another way to say this is if we don’t love ourselves then how can we expect to love others or have them love us?
Your words are so kind and true.
It is sometimes hard to admit a love for ourselves deep enough to give us the focus to ourselves that we need. However, it is the only way to become really strong enough to enable us to give back.
I think what you went through is a type of grief and when walking through grief you have to be sensitive to what it is that you need – not just to get through it, but to move forward and forge a new life. Nice post!
Absolutely. Well said. Thanks for your continued support.
I have no doubut that you are a lighthouse and beacon of hope for others who have experienced loss. I’m proud of you.
Thanks for your continued friendship and words of kindness. 🙂
you’re very welcome Elizabeth. ❤
and of course I meant doubt not doubut! 😉
You are an inspiration.
Thanks for your kind words.
I do not feel inspirational in simply trying to survive,
However, feel that I am progressing forward step by step.
Many people write about their pain, their journey and their shattered lives in a style that evokes “please feel sorry for me”. You, on the other hand, write about all of the above with dignity and courage that belies pity, but produces admiration on the part of the reader. Well, this reader for sure.
Thanks. I never thought of it from that viewpoint before. I am trying hard to remain focussed on a positive way forward, and I am touched that you have picked up on this. I am grateful for you taking the time to comment and this has boosted my esteem this morning.
Have a great day.
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