We all needed so many things; even before we could speak.
First there were physical needs – things like feeding and safety and warmth. Yep, from the first day of our life, someone knew what we needed and took care of us without us asking. They knew all kinds of things about us. Like when our last poop was, that we didn’t like bananas, or that we weren’t a good sleeper.
Someone was supposed to “track” what we needed and respond to those things. Luckily, most parents understand how to “attune to” or read these needs and take care of them.
After that phase, we all had emotional needs that someone was supposed to “track” for us. When we came home from school, someone was supposed to notice that we were sad or grumpy. Or maybe had a fight. Or didn’t understand math and felt frustrated.
Beyond that, we all have needs of our soul – needs for our pure essence to bloom.
We needed an environment where all these needs would be responded to without us telling another what we needed. As children, we couldn’t speak up about them because most of the time we didn’t know what the hell was going on inside us.
How could we have known? We were a child – totally absorbed in our own little world. There’s no way we could know or have awareness of our own needs, let alone communicate them to a caregiver. It was our parents’ job to recognize what was happening.
When we are very young, our parents mostly do a great job of tracking and knowing what we need. But as our needs become less purely physical and more complicated, oftentimes they don’t know how to read or respond to those needs.
What Happens When Your Childhood Needs Go Unmet
The problem is that it is a primitive need. And most folks continue to expect someone else – someone outside of us – to take care of us. After all, our adult caregivers should have identified it by being with us and attuning to us.
If this doesn’t happen, we grow up with gaping wounds that never quite heal. Just as problematic, the feeling of wanting someone else to take care of us remains.
For some, this morphs into expecting others to understand them without having to communicate their needs. It leaves others feeling paralyzed and victimized, unable to act on their own behalf. Still others express this need through anger at the people around them.
Getting Your Needs Met as an Adult
Once we grow up, we have already lost the one and only chance to have our needs be responded to by another without us having to communicate those needs. After childhood, all bets are off. No one will ever be able to read your needs without you communicating them. It becomes your responsibility.
As a grownup on a healing recovery journey, it’s your job to hear and respond to your own inner voices and murmurs. It’s your job to identify your needs, accept them, and work through them. To journal and write about them. To breathe through them so they can see the light of day.
Because it is only in giving our needs the attention they deserve that we will be able to meet them – and, in doing so, heal that gaping hole that we’ve been plastering over or filling with things that don’t really help.