Recently in talking with friends this topic has come up about getting needs met in relationships. Whether these are intimate relationships, social, familial.. We have different needs depending on the relationship.
I have said this before and I still hold it as one of my personal truths: I do not believe a person can be sustained by just one relationship. That is a lot of pressure to put on another person, to meet every single one of your needs. I say this because I think sometimes there is this (unrealistic in my opinion) idea that when we partner off with whomever our “forever” person ends up being, they are supposed to do this for us; meet every single need. Or “complete” us.
That is not my truth.
My husband absolutely meets a lot of my needs but this sweet man cannot do it all and I would never want him to.
The conversation came up again today at internship between myself, another intern, and one of the social workers who I think I will probably stay personally connected with once I leave. We were exchanging numbers and agreeing to stay in touch. We were talking about how important it is that we (social workers) look out for each other. What was meant by this is that we keep in touch and get together from time to time to hold space for each other.
I do not discuss work with my husband. I might tell him Hey I got a great review or today was hard or my supervisor said this weird thing to me that I don’t get, but I do not talk about the actual work. Most of my clients have survived severe trauma. There stories are sacred. And more over, if my husband was able to hold space for this kind of work he would have become a social worker himself. My husband is not a social worker and he cannot hold space for this kind of work and I have no right to burden him. I do not discuss work with my husband, or my family, or my friends. They might get a two second snippit of something surface level but that is it and that is rare.
This is one example of how I do not expect my husband to meet all of my needs for me. The truth is sometimes I need to discuss social work, in a confidential/ethical way, and I have my social work people for that. This is how we look out for each other. They will not become annoyed if I needed to vent about the red tape that I am encountering that is getting in the way of me getting my client the services they need. They will nod along as I complain about silly things that happen during a therapy session like me not being able to control my body while someone is disclosing part of their trauma and suddenly I sneeze in the middle of their tears. Sometimes I show up in human ways and I need someone else to be like Oh gosh, that is the worst, listen to what I did..
This is true for me in other ways as well. I have always been a girl that needs girlfriends. I need female companionship. My girlfriends show up for me in a way my husband would be clueless to, and that is okay, I would never have this expectation of him.
Then there is my therapist. I would never expect my husband to try to hold any of my stuff for me. It is my stuff to work through, asking him to hold it would only complicate our relationship and blur important boundaries. My therapist is there to hold that space so I can hold my stuff and work through it in healthy ways.
I could keep listing examples of how all of these different relationships are so important and need to be separate. At the end of the day the only person I should ever be looking to take care of all of my needs is me. I am responsible for that, just me. And part of how I take care of me is by enlisting all these awesome people to hold a little space now and then, and as a thank you I return the favor for them.
I am looking out for me and we are all looking out for each other and it works.