You can’t always get what you need

Thursday, April 25, 2013 Permalink

Carla at MizFitOnline last week wrote about the fact that she came across this image (below) and as a result, went about her new hometown asking people to take what they needed. 

take what you want


I loved the concept of these notes and Carla reported back that ‘Patience’ seemed to be popular.

In commenting on Carla’s blog post I realised: It’s sometimes hard to take, or get, what you need (it’s not always offered). Sometimes you have to ask for it.

Which, for me, is a problem.

I’m not great at asking for help. I’m a fantastic moaner and whiner, but find it hard to ask for  stuff. Generally it’s help around the house or something that comes as a result of living alone and being single (getting picked up after surgery or help carrying something). In the Debbish post I wonder if it’s because I see (asking for help) as a weakness; or whether I hate the notion of being indebted.

In commenting on Carla’s blog post I realised that I’m not only bad at asking for help but I’m bad at asking for anything.

I had my first massage 12-13 years ago when I went to a Health Retreat. I was scared shitless and had no idea what to expect. Even now, I still remember the therapist reassuring me. But the very-lovely massage came with a warning.

“Some people get really overcome or overwhelmed,” she said. Huh?!

She explained that she’s given massages to widowed or divorced women who have become used to going without ‘touch’. The art of being massaged and having someone touch you, she said, can be mightily powerful.

It was the first time I really thought about ‘touch’. As a single woman (who’s always been single) I was never touched much in my old life. Every few months I’d see my closest friends, my mother or my niece and get a hug – but that was it. I’ve never been a ‘touchy’ person. In fact, some people would probably say that I’m the opposite (and I possibly am) – particularly in my younger and post-anorexic years.

I’m not sure therefore, I ever thought much about not being touched or hugged until I was.


My current life, however is VERY different to the one I led before my move. I’m seeing my mother (at least) weekly. I’m seeing my aunt and uncle a lot and I’m spending time with new friends and socialising a lot more than I used to. And as I mentioned in my last post (which actually grew out of this one!) I’m getting regular hugs from my friend’s little boy. His unashamed joy from cuddles is addictive as his seemingly unconditional feelings of ‘like’ for me.

I realise I have something that was missing from my old life:


For me, with intimacy comes the ability to ask for whatever it is that you need.

Although I’m happier than I can almost-ever recall, I’ve been unwell of late and struggling a little with this new life. Twice in the last few weeks I’ve called my mother on the spur of the moment to say that I’m coming (to her place in a nearby town) for a sleep-over. Just to see her. Just to talk to someone who’ll listen without judgement (or with judgement but avoid sharing it with me!).

I know those with partners and kids envy my freedom but I also envy the intimacy they share. I’ve longed to have someone to talk to (with some intimacy and honesty) at the end of each day.

Very few of my old friends read my blogs, although one of my besties does from time to time. I suspect she and my other BFFs would tell me that they’re there for me and always have been. Again, however, it comes back to my inability to ‘ask’ for what I need. And given others’ busy lives and many commitments, it’s hard for them to chisel out time to notice how I’m tracking.

In her follow-up post Carla told how her daughter used the sign they’d made to tell her mother she needed ‘love’. My comment on the post was that perhaps – for those who have trouble TAKING what we need and who need to ASK for it – she should make a fridge magnet or a portable version allowing us to shyly hand the word or phrase to someone in times of need.

If you were taking a piece of Carla’s sign, what would you ‘take’?
Are you good at asking for what you need?
Do you ever have intimacy-envy?

PS. If you see me walking around with a chalkboard tied around my neck you’ll know why!

  • MizCarla
    April 25, 2013

    This is such an amazing post.
    I’m a toucher. A HUGGER. A woman who always asks for what she needs (intimacy and all) and has been stunned more than a few times when I laid it out and the other person still made the choice to walk away.
    I always forget that piece.

    some day we will meet in person. Beware. I’m. Hugging.

    • Debbish
      April 25, 2013

      I’m okay with hugging nowadays – and would welcome one from you MizCarla! (Also living in Africa in the 90s meant I had to become a double-kisser – even with complete strangers!)

      My first experience with a ‘toucher’ was when I got to University and met one of the girls who is still a bestie. Sadly she lives in New Zealand now…

  • Char
    April 25, 2013

    Sometimes I read your posts and think ‘that’s the same as me.’ I can’t ask for what I want and I get cranky when those closest to me don’t read my mind and give it. I’m not a big touchy, feely person either. I’m pretty sure it stems from feeling weak a lot of the time but needing to appear strong so I’ve built this facade of strength which sees touching as a chink in the armour. Luckily I haven’t passed this trait on to my boys. I was a lot more touchy with them when they were young and this must have been enough because they’re not shy in coming up and asking for a hug when they need one. And I love that they do that.

    • Debbish
      April 25, 2013

      I’ve always adored kids so always been cuddly with them, less so adults though. But… I’m better than I was. I don’t know that I’m naturally touchy-feely though!

  • Jo Tracey
    April 25, 2013

    I was never that touchy- my parents weren’t the type. But my hubby likes to hold hands on the street & I love that. As a result I’m very huggy with my daughter. I want her to be comfortable with it, not overwhelmed as I once was. Intimacy & touch can’t be undervalued. Ever. Having said that- what would I choose? I’m torn between faith and confidence. Sending virtual hugs…

    • Debbish
      April 25, 2013

      Awww… thanks for the virtual hugs!

      My folks weren’t overly touchy when I was younger, but more so when I was older. I wonder if it was the era as well.

  • Jess
    April 25, 2013

    I am married with kids now, so I’m not in the same position as I was. But I remember when I first moved away from home and friends and family what I realised I missed the most was having someone to hug! It seemed strange at the time, but I really missed being able to hug someone. I dated a guy for awhile, bit of an idiot really, but when he broke up with me what I missed most was just having someone to hug (especially when I was upset about the end of the relationship).

    Having small children is wonderful for hugging but the older they get the more it becomes on their terms and the less they want to indulge my hugs! haha! So I’m taking full advantage while I can get away with it.

    I find it hard to ask for help even if I really need it, I always feel like I need to be able to do it myself or I have some how failed.

    Great post.

    • Debbish
      April 25, 2013

      I was telling mum about the post the other day (when I went off on the tangent about my friend’s son… explaining to mum how the thought process started). She said that she worried when I lived overseas, that I never had anyone to hug me.

      I think you actually get used to it. I think the reason the massage therapist said it was harder on divorced women and widows is because they were once used to it and ‘suddenly’ the affection / intimacy / hugs stopped.

  • Tiffany
    April 26, 2013

    If you are referring to me, I always read this one and I think I have finally worked out Debbish!! I love you blogs, they make me realise why I love you so much!!

    • Debbish
      April 27, 2013

      I was referring to you Tiff – knowing that you read my blogs. I don’t mind that other friends don’t (everyone has a lot of stuff on and are busy).

  • Satu
    April 26, 2013

    I love this post very much, Debbie!

    Like you know I’ve been single too for a very long time and I’m pretty accustomed to the lack of physical intimacy. I’m a very huggy person though and I love hugging my mother and my friends when we meet. And I used to love being at the receiving end of a good massage (I got lots of massages because I used to have lots of upper back and neck pains).

    And I know what you mean by being able to be with someone who does not judge you. That is why children are so special: they don’t judge you and they think you’re special just the way you are. That is priceless. (I’m going to see my little nieces next week. My sister Hanna says they wait for me like I’m a royalty. :-))

    The things I’d like to have most weren’t on Miz’s list. I had taken joy and energy.

    • Debbish
      April 27, 2013

      I’m much huggier now than I used to be – my mother stayed over last night and gets a goodnight hug etc. I think I’m more affectionate than I used to be.

      I still remember finding the words ‘The Ice Queen’ written on the notepad on my door at college when I was at Uni. I’ve always been a bit ‘funny’ with guys and affection (I did freak out once publicly at Uni when a male friend put his arm around me!). Perhaps that’s why I’m single.

      PS. Joy and energy are great ‘needs’.

I'd love to hear your thoughts