On a drive to a recent therapy session, I found myself thinking of several incidents where I realized just how needy I was. And still am.
1. In high school (or perhaps late middle school?), a popular and pretty girl signed my yearbook with what I realize now was generic hobgobble
a. You’re such a great guy!
b. It was awesome this year!
c. Stay sweet!
d. Keep in touch!
e. You’re so cool!
I latched onto those phrases and was all, “be still my beating heart”. As I fell into this memory, I felt embarrassed at how quickly and solidly I latched onto the attention I perceived at that time. My desire to be loved by females in particular was deeply rooted, but it was also due in part to my pubescence. Still, thinking about all these years later, I could see how heavily I jumped onto her generic writing. Here was this idol, I thought, and she’s writing to me, she knows me. How embarrassing.
2. Also in high school, I had a foreign language teacher, very exotic, whom I crushed on. In her class, I was goofy enough for her to know me, and know me she did. Herein was more of the attention was desperately craving that I didn’t realize I craved until many years later. The pinnacle of this occurred when I was helping her move textbooks from her class to a supply closet. It was pure joy. At one point, I had a stack of books in my arms, and when she went to take them from me to put on the shelves, she grazed my groin area. I think the world stopped for an instant. After, she pushed me back to her classroom in a rolling chair. I told only my closest friend at the time, and of course we high-fived.
But now, I’m looking at that incident and thinking, how embarrassing that an accidental graze could turn me upside down. How badly was I longing for attention that I wasn’t receiving from my mother (not romantic, but loving, caring attention) that I would explode a nothing incident to a ground-shaking firework display? And then of course, I carried that with me to present day, bringing that toxic thought and behavior to my marriage.
3. A third incident I thought of occurred in college. I believe there was a photo posted on Facebook that looked as if I was slapping the air. I captioned it with the main idea of it looked as if I was slapping “something”. A girl I knew posted a comment underneath responded with an obviously flirty, “yeah, my ass!”. Immediately after I tried getting closer to her, talking to her more, upping my flirting.
As I thought about this in my car, I became damn near mortified. How could I take something like her comment and run with it so much so that I thought there could be something there? I was embarrassed at my behavior and my feelings about her comment.
These incidents were testaments to how extensive the lack of love and caring was for me, that I so thoroughly latched on to these incidents, thinking that maybe there could be more attention for me. I didn’t realize I wasn’t getting it were I should have been getting it from, but now, it’s that much clearer to me.