I had an insane need to be loved. It was like hunger, but insatiable, I thought, and the void in me could never be filled except with boundless, endless, unconditional love.
I was starved for love like a little street urchin, all tangled hair and dirty knees.
You could blame my dad, who allegedly used to shove me away when I ran to him and threw my little chubby toddler arms around his knees. You could say I was intentionally starved for love. All I needed in this world was to be loved, and maybe it started there, but probably not.
And then I was loved and it wasn't enough. I found a new need when the void filled, a need to love. I needed to be crazy in love, to adore someone, to lose myself in the joy of loving someone else.
And then I fell into that like a song, and I learned that loving does not make us lovable. That sometimes we can throw ourselves wholeheartedly into a relationship, only to have the other person grimace and draw back, looking at us sort of like we'd look at something sticky we'd touched by accident. Oh dear, where did I put my hand sanitizer. Perhaps my chubby toddler arms were sticky?
Not literally, of course. But you get that, the drawing back, the hesitation, the terrifying and oddly hilarious feeling of having stuck your neck out at the EXACT WRONG TIME. The feeling of falling when falling stops feeling like flying.
I don't think I'm done. I'm not even sure I've learned anything, because I've thought I've learned things before, and all the facts I had carefully gathered didn't stop doubt and loneliness from creeping in and unsettling me, digging up second thoughts and tossing sour tastes around like vomit-flavored jelly beans dropped into a bag of regular jelly beans. I've thought I knew before, and I've been wrong. A normal person might have learned from that, but all I can say I've learned is not to think I know.
I did the right things. I did the things you're supposed to do to wind up happy. I took care of myself and I volunteered my time and I gave of my time and compassion. I worked on developing those inner resources I could not define but knew I would need.
I can't say I have them. It would be easier with defined parameters. I'd like a quest, but the princess is always in another castle, and when you get down to it, a princess is likely to be a pain in the ass anyway.
But I guess the stupid old movies have it right, really, as irritating as that is. It's when I stopped desperately seeking that I found what I had so desperately needed. Apparently desperate need has a foul odor and drives off whatever is desperately needed.
The interesting part is, once you stop desperately needing something, when it comes meandering along, you're thrilled and all, but you're not stupid over it like you would have been when you needed it so desperately. Which is both fantastic and a little sad. You don't get to sit down in the street with it like a big stupid baby, slobbering over it and naming it George. You take better care than all of that, and you still have to get up and go to work and take care of the house and check in with your friends and do the grocery shopping.
But I think it's normal to miss the madness a little.
And that, darling, is how babies are made.