Valentine’s Day

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Even as a single female I really like Valentine’s day. 

I don’t deny that it is commercialized and that is feeds America’s need for romance. It is definitely a holiday that tells men they need to do x, y, and z because they’ve left a huge, gigantic, gaping love-shaped hole in their partner and they need to scramble to fill it. It is a holiday of obligation, cards, and cliches. 

Yet I find Valentine’s day to be useful and awakening. It is a day that allows me to reflect on how I’ve been loving people all year round. Have I been doing a good job? Have I told people I love them, shown them that I care all throughout the year? Have I been a loving sister, daughter, aunt, and friend? Valentine’s day reminds me that love is an action, a reminder that I appreciate. 

Valentine’s day also gives me the chance to see hurting people come out of the woodwork. It is a day that provokes a lot of emotion and draws out people who have been hurt all year and finally have an appropriate day to voice their hurt. Maybe this reason isn’t great because it means people are feeling lonely because of a holiday, but it gives me a chance to see who needs more love. Who needs someone to get them coffee? Who needs to hear some encouraging words? 

Ideally I would be doing that sort of thing all year and I really do try to, but Valentine’s day reminds me to be on the lookout for people who need someone.

I also enjoy the fact that friends and family often love on me on Valentine’s day. I don’t need a romantic partner, I just need relationships. For a long while my best friend and I, when we were in the same state, would go out to a nice dinner and buy each other gifts because we chose to not let our singleness get us down. 

Tonight, I’ll spend my Valentine’s day with my niece (who turns two tomorrow – oh man) so that her parents can go and enjoy a night out unhindered by a baby and I am going to enjoy it. I get to show my niece love and in the process give my sister and her husband a break. 

Valentine’s day, as with any holiday, is all about what you make it out to be and I make it out to be about a love that serves. 

Happy Valentine’s day my dears! ❤

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The Power of Needs

I had a hard time figuring out what I wanted to write on this week. I half-wrote two other blogs but felt that they were not what I was supposed to post. Today, however, I realized what was really on my heart.

Needs.

If you pay any attention to humanistic psychology, you’ll probably recognize Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. If not, here is a visual:

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Essentially Maslow was making the point that everyone has needs, and if basic needs aren’t met then higher needs cannot be met. If someone is starving, odds are they are not particularly concerned with relationships (belonging needs). When belonging needs are not being met then odds are our self-esteem needs will not be met. In a lot of ways this holds true to my own life, and I’m sure this will resonate with some of you.

Due to my upbringing and other circumstances in my life, I became self-sufficient very early on. To me, needs indicated weakness and I did everything in my power not to appear weak. I ignored my needs to feel safe and stable, to be cared for and in relationship with others, and to feel respected or seen. Instead I tried my best to stay out of the limelight, to stay detached from people (therefore keeping myself safe), and focused on my basic needs which were more acceptable. After all, everyone needed food, water, and shelter.

Of course it was not all bad and please don’t take this as the situation always. The hierarchy is meant to be a fluid and dynamic thing. We move through the layers and sometimes we face relapse and fall back to a lower one, but we’re always changing and shifting. There were times where relationships were important and where I wanted to be known for my achievements. However, my fear of being needy still carries over into my life today and when I find myself irritable or upset, I just have to look at the pyramid and it can usually help my figure out why.

Typically I get stuck in the “belonging needs.” I have a very difficult time reaching out to people to fulfill my need for community and love. Even when I do reach out, I have trouble when it comes to voicing my needs, so I walk away feeling frustrated because a need was not met. Yet I have learned something from all this and it is as follows: If I am not willing to be my own advocate, people are not going to be able to read my mind and fulfill my needs.

In other words, I need to learn to voice my needs because that is going to be the only way they get met. If I keep waiting around for people to read my mind, my mood, or my actions and figure out from there how to fulfill my needs then I am going to be waiting a very long time to feel loved. Instead, I am learning that I have to reach out and make requests and let people know that I need them. Then my needs are fulfilled and I’m able to ascend the hierarchy and continue toward realization of the bigger picture.

Don’t wait around for people to become mind readers. It is okay to need things.  

Family Ties

I miss my family.

The fact that I can say those words and mean them is really a testament to how far I have come. Two years ago I don’t think I would have been able to honestly say that. When I first began my out of state college experience I was ready to be out of the house. I was ready to be away from the relationships that I had struggled in for a good portion of my life. I wanted to be away from the dysfunction, from the reminders of past hurts, and from the town I grew up in.

I was ready for a change and I do not regret taking the leap to get in my car and drive to Southern California to attend some little barely-heard-of Christian school.

Nearly two years after this journey, though, I’ve come to realize that I miss my family.

Relationships have been repaired and are at the best point they have been in recent memory. I enjoy my family. I enjoy late night conversations with my dad and going places with my mom. I enjoy eating dinner at my sister’s, having a beer with my brother, and playing with my unbelievably adorable niece.

Had you told me, as a recently graduated high school student, that there would be a time that I would miss my family I probably would have laughed at the thought. I was not in a place mentally, emotionally, or spiritually to understand the concept of missing my family. At the time I wanted to get as far away from them as possible, so why would I miss them if I had been able to get away?

Healing happened, though. God happened. People in my life happened. Suddenly I was dreading getting in my car and heading back to California for the fall. The moment I crossed over the Oregon/California border I felt tears in my eyes as I realized I really was leaving them again. After a summer of healing and rebuilding relationships I realized as I pulled up to the fruit check point in tears, trying to compose myself so that the fruit Nazis wouldn’t get suspicious, that I was going to miss my family.

The thought of not going home for Thanksgiving was unbearable, so I bought a plane ticket and left. It happened again over spring break when I realized that I wanted to surprise my parents and be with them, so I bought another plane ticket. I had changed from an angry, damaged, hurt young woman who wanted to get away from her family into someone who grew up and realized that repairing family relationships and getting over old hurt is worth the work.

As my 22nd birthday steadily approaches I’m once again realizing just how much I miss my family. I want to wake up to flowers on the table from my parents. I want to get to see my sister and get a hug from my niece. I want to share a beer with my brother and rejoice in another year of life completed. I want to be with my family because for so many years I took spending my birthday with them for granted and now that I can’t have it I realize just how much I have loved it.

That’s healing, and it is beautiful.