We need to be needed, but neediness of others fuels our own neediness from others, but not being needed leaves us empty with no place to live out our purpose.....
Whew! hat was a mouthful. Pretty tough to type too....
Well hopefully I can clarify.
Being needed is a double edged sword.
We need to be needed. As a parents it is sort of a prerequisite to the job of parenting, meeting the needs expressed and unexpressed of our children. We feed them when they are hungry, clothe them to protect them from the elements, provide them shelter, love them unconditionally, cry with them and comfort them when they need support, cheer them when they need encouragement, discipline them when they are heading down the wrong path, and do all we can to ensure that they make it to the milestone of becoming an independent adult. In essence, our job of "parent" is based on the need of needing someone to meet another person's needs.
As a spouse we need to be needed too. We enter into a relationship and partnership with someone largely because of needs. We have a need for connection, a need for a place where we can mutually share life's burdens and support each other, and a need to have the stability and comfort of a "safe place" with them. There would no reason for a partnership of the people in the relationship did not need each other. In a healthy relationship each should express and feel need.
First side: Being needed acknowledges our purpose.
Being needed, in essence acknowledges us and gives us a sense of purpose - a place to live out who and what we are meant to be. Need and purpose are opposing tensions.... they need each other to exist. We all want to feel that someone needs us, that we do have a reason and a purpose in other peoples lives, and in our own lives. In the spirit of Michale J Hyde (a communication scholar) being needed feeds our purpose or "love of life." This is probably why the "empty nest" phase of life is so hard. We are not as needed on a day to day basis as our kids grow. It's probably a reason why relationships go south - when one or both people are not, or feel that they are not needed, a main purpose for the relationship is gone.
Second side: Being needed can drain us.
Conversely, being too needed can be draining and just as difficult as not being needed. When we are continually needed, we spend all of our efforts meeting the needs of others. Taking care of the need others, (although to some extent an obligation, responsibility and a purpose) saps our energy. We get weighed down and tired as our purpose gets lost in the task and duty of managing them. We need to have our needs met, but can't get them met because they are lost in the neediness (there's that tough thought again!) Again from Hyde, we experience a "suffocating embrace" of our existence. We feel called, lead and want to meet others needs, but the purpose begins to close in on us.
So what's the sheath?
For each of us, the sheath is going to be different.
It might be that we should evaluate why we need to be needed. It it masking another need? Is it our only purpose? We may simply strive to redefine what it truly means to us to be needed. Or in some cases we should re-evaluate relationships and whether the level of need is healthy and appropriate. In dealing with the neediness of others, what may be necessary is to see if our desire to fulfill their neediness is actually healthy and what they do "need," and is it healthy for us to fill it every time.
Whatever the sheath is for each of us, it is about balance. There is a necessity to be needed. Purpose and need exist together. However, if we move too far from either side center, we are going to feel the cut of the blade.