Everyone has needs. Some of us are better than others at getting those needs met. I myself am pretty awful at it.
Gratefully, I was not physically abused as a child. I certainly hesitate to ascribe the label to myself. I was emotionally abused, though. Abused and neglected as well.
I learned that others’ needs were more important than mine. I learned that my needs meant nothing in the grand scheme of things. I learned that I could express myself, but I could also go pissing in the wind, and the latter was more likely to have a positive outcome.
I learned that I didn’t matter.
Gratefully I have learned that I do, in fact, matter. This seemingly small shift has had a profound effect on my life, and some time later I will go into exactly how I think I made that shift.
Even though I say I’ve made that shift, though, I still have trouble asking for what I want — indeed, for what I need to have a sane living environment.
My roommate here at brain injury rehab is profoundly different from me. He’s very earthy, a lower-three-chakras kind of guy. I am intellectual and creative; I value wisdom and have my head in the clouds a lot of the time. He spends his free time smoking and watching sitcoms, while I write, read, meditate, and so on. There’s certainly no value judgement implied in that. He is what he is, just as I am what I am. It takes all kinds to make the world go around.
But when his TV is loud, and I am being particularly sensitive to noises, his laugh track is grating on my last nerve …
… I suck it up.
I have asked him to turn his TV down. He will do so. But when I ask his manner tells me that he is inconvenienced, put out, and none too happy to accommodate me. I have observed that this is his way, his manner. He is not actively rude to anyone. He’s just not polite, not particularly nice or compassionate.
In many ways he seems to have what is called a “flat affect.” He seems to be almost emotionless. I’m sure he does still have feelings, yet they simply do not come out on his face, which is yet another point of contrast with me: I wear my emotions on my sleeve.
This is hard for me to deal with. When I express a need to someone, I want them to make it a little easier for me to express that need, by saying something like “oh, I didn’t know my TV was too loud for you, let me turn that down.” Or by smiling at me. Or apologizing for the noise. Or some damn thing.
With my roommate I barely even get a grunt. I get what I wanted, yeah, but it’s like pulling teeth to do so. And I don’t want to do that.
It makes me profoundly uncomfortable to express a need of mine to my roommate, and I’m not sure what to do about it.
This is yet another growth opportunity, I’m sure of it. If things had gone easily, I wouldn’t be journaling about them.