Flexing Our Muscles - Asking for What We Want
I tend to have a hard time asking for what I want. I’d like to trust other people to love and support me, but the mere thought of asking for help or support when I need it is generally met with crippling fear and anxiety.
This is true for all aspects of my life - from the mundane to the sexy.
“I want you to wash the dishes.” or “I want you to pull my hair and call me a dirty girl.”
Sometimes I don’t know what I want.
Sometimes I know, but don’t have the words to adequately describe it.
Sometimes I think it’s just easier to do it myself… whether it’s the dishes or the orgasm.
I am fiercely self-sufficient, almost to a fault. And I am working on that; have been working through that for some time now. But that is not the whole picture. The rest of the picture, probably the biggest part of the picture, is a belief that I held to be true.
I am not sure where the belief came from, but the reality is: I chose to believe that I don’t deserve what I want. I am not worthy, don’t deserve it, and can get by just fine without getting my needs met.
I don’t deserve a job that pays me a wage comparable to my skills.
I don’t deserve to receive strong, empathetic love from my friends.
I don’t deserve the romantic relationships of my dreams.
I don’t deserve to have an exceptional sex life.
The feeling like we don’t deserve these things, or can do just fine without them, trickles down from the “big stuff” to the smaller wants that can feel just as insurmountable.
I want you to put your phone down and connect with me.
I want someone to hold me while I cry.
I want to kiss you.
The big stuff IS the small stuff and we deserve it all.
* * * * *
During my Somatica training, my friend Brian and I shared a transformational experience for me around this very thing. We had 20 minute micro-session where Brian simply held space for me. (I say simply, but holding space is a nuanced and powerful skill.) We sat across from one another, breathing together, and sharing eye contact as I felt able. Just the act of sitting and being seen made my eyes tear up and my throat get hot.
At some point Brian asked me if there was anything that would feel good to me or helpful for me in the session. Without hesitation, I thought, “I want to lay my head in your lap and have you stroke my hair.”
Tears began to fall more heavily and the heat in my throat solidified into a knot. We sat there for what seemed like an eternity while I internally fought myself. It seemed so silly to ask for such tenderness, even with a person I knew cared about me, EVEN WHEN they were inviting me to ask.
I knew that if I could make it through the session, I would be able to steal away, have some chocolate and comfort myself. I was Jess, I was self-sufficient, I had chocolate! As I was planning my escape route, I suddenly realized how lonely and disconnected I felt. And tired. I was tired of feeling this way.
Ever so gently, another thought came into my head: “Maybe?”
Maybe Brian meant what he said. Maybe I could trust him to meet my need. Or at the very least offer a decent alternative if he couldn’t.
That maybe was monumental. Maybe I could ask Brian, with his gentle heart and his calming presence, to meet my need.
And then I sat there, for what seemed like the second eternity.
I started: “If you wouldn’t mind…” and stopped. Took a deep breath. “I want to lay may head in your lap while you stroke my hair. Can we do that?”
His response. “I’d love to.”
For that moment, I took ownership of what I wanted. I believed that I deserved to be nurtured and held. It felt like flinging myself off a cliff and asking Brian to catch me. And he did. Because in that moment, he wanted to and he was able.
I lay there, with my eyes closed as he gently stroked my hair, and wept. I wept with relief that I was able to cross that divide. I wept with grief, thinking about the countless times before where I could have asked, but didn’t. I wept because it felt so good to be held, in that way, in that moment.
* * * * *
I’d like to say that I am a professional asker. A woman who knows what she wants and asks for it every time.
But that isn’t the reality.
I am a woman who is flexing her asking muscles.
Sometimes I am able to ask in less time than I would have before.
Sometimes I don’t ask because I am still afraid to.
Sometimes I don’t know what I want and that’s okay.
The important thing is that my belief that I deserve what I want gets a little stronger every day and that the ease with which I express my needs to friends and coworkers and lovers gets a little stronger too.
What do YOU want?
Let’s flex our muscles together.