• Sarah M. Neal

Express Yourself: Giving Voice to Your Needs within Your Relationships

While it can be incredibly challenging to voice our needs, the consequences to Ourselves and our relationships can be detrimental if we don’t learn to speak.



Sometimes expressing my needs gets difficult. I don’t want to hurt the feelings of my

Beloveds. I don’t want to feel selfish. I don’t want to make anyone think that I feel my needs are more important than theirs. I don’t want to push away those who are well-meaning and trying to help. And, I don’t want to come off as a heartless, self-absorbed bitch.


Anyone else have similar trouble?


I thought so.


However, during this particular period of my personal growth I have learned just how important it is to actually put words to my needs and verbalize them.


Oh, how I have stumbled and fumbled. I have made gargantuan messes of things that should have been simple.


Fortunately, through those stumbles and messes, I have gotten a little better at expressing those needs.


I’ve learned that I have to communicate those needs differently to different people. That I have to speak in a language understood by both of us.


If I speak in that shared language, the frustration level of expressing my need and answering questions about my need goes down significantly.


The languages and needs vary depending on the situation and the Beloveds with whom I am trying to communicate.


When my father got really, really sick and the doctors were not confident about his recovery, I didn’t want to be around anyone but Freyr and Tyler. I didn’t want to speak with anyone else. I couldn’t speak with anyone else. I needed Their Strength


My best girl friends were chomping at the bit to do anything they could for me. They wanted to check on me or bring me food. They wanted to be with me and I wanted none of it.


It wasn’t because I didn’t love them or wasn’t grateful for them. It was because I had created a safe hole with Tyler and Freyr in which I could retreat for one weekend. They were who I needed to see me through that hellish weekend (read more about it in It Isn’t Juuust Sex).


My friends understood, knowing I would reach out for them when I was ready just as I knew they would be there as soon as I did.


When my head gets too noisy and there is too much going on around me, I don’t want to be around anyone. This can go on for a day or it can go on for five. I will fulfill my obligations with my kids and work, but other than that, I just want to retreat into music, books, writing or even trash television.


While Freyr has understood and accepted that about me for years, Tyler has had some difficulty with it. Keep in mind, Freyr has known me for almost 10 years and lives with me. Tyler has known me for four years and doesn’t live with me.


From Tyler’s point of view, it looks like I am pulling away from him and our relationship. Part of it is because of how he is wired, part of it is because of past relationships, and the bulk of it is because I didn’t communicate that need to him in a language that he understood.


After my last “everyone-shut-up-and-leave-me-the-hell-alone” period (which in all fairness lasted almost 2 weeks and was preluded by a hectic time period during which we did not get much time together), I realized how poorly I communicated that need to Tyler. I realized how poorly I communicated that my withdrawal had absolutely nothing to do with him and everything to do with me. I didn’t clearly explain to him that my feelings towards him never wavered, I just needed some quiet. At least not in a way that he understood.


The next time I was able to spend with him, I worked at speaking Our language as opposed to My language. We came up with a plan for the next time one of those moods hits. We literally have a code word. This code word lets Tyler know that all I need is some quiet from EVERYONE that he is not being singled out; that I am not pulling away from just him; that I am not pulling away from our relationship; that I just need to retreat.


As silly as a code word may sound, by establishing that language during a relaxed, loving moment I was better able to convey to Tyler my need of retreat. I was better able to soothe his concerns because I was not neck-deep in the need for retreat. It wasn’t heat of the moment “I love you this isn’t about you. I need space, now fuck off.” Which is basically what I want to say to everyone when I need isolation.


With the code word established between isolation periods, the next time I fall into one, I can simply relay the code word so Tyler’s heart can be at ease which then helps ease my heart. If I am worried about the hearts of my most precious Beloveds when I need self-care, then I stop focusing on the care that I need to take for myself.


Three days into the New Year, my grandmother crossed the Veil. She was 101.5 years old. She was ready to go. She was also the most wonderful woman I have ever known. Full of love and grace. She was my source of maternal affection; her unconditional love was never in question. She taught me how to shower my own children with affection and remind them daily how much they are loved no matter what.


While I knew she was ready to cross over, her Crossing absolutely broke my heart into a million pieces. I retreated. Hard. The only people I could stand to be around were my daughters.


A few short words to Tyler and other Beloveds that there was nothing they could do, that I just needed some time. That is what I needed. That is what I conveyed. That is what I blessedly received. Freyr and Tyler both gave me space. I would get the occasional hug and plead to “come back home” from Freyr. I would politely thank those who sent their condolences via text or social media. I would check in with my dad to make sure he was okay. But other than that, I didn’t want to speak or be around anyone.


That space was what I needed. That space allowed me the room I needed to go within and process the loss of my grandmother. I didn’t need to worry about making others around me feel good by trying to give me what THEY thought I should need or what they wanted to give me. I didn’t need to worry about putting on a “brave face” to make anyone feel better. I didn’t need to worry about comforting others by allowing them to comfort me in ways THEY need to be comforted.


Because I dared to speak my needs and because my most precious Beloveds dared to give me what I needed, I was able to focus on healing.

The Land of the Living and my most precious Beloveds were all waiting for me on the other side.


While it can be incredibly challenging to voice our needs, the consequences to Ourselves and our relationships can be detrimental if we don’t learn to speak.


When we dare to put voice to our needs, it allows our most precious Beloveds the opportunity to do what WE feel is best for US. It helps us all realize and understand that what may help comfort and heal us, may not help our most precious Beloveds. It provides the space and opportunity for our most precious Beloveds to express their needs. Your daring allows room for them to dare as well.


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