The Fear of Being Important to Someone

The other night, I said something that I didn’t fully understand at the time.  Do you ever do that?  Have the words come out before you really know what you’re saying, or why?  I was responding to something said to me, “That scares me.”

“What do you mean, what scares you?”

“Um, it scares me to be important to people.”

I couldn’t explain it at the time, and luckily wasn’t pressed to, but I’ve been thinking about it today trying to figure out what I meant.

Why does it scare me to be important to someone else?  Being important to someone tends to imply responsibility and expectations.  Not that I want to be a loner, not at all.  I love the people in my life, I want to be needed, that makes me feel good and gives my life much of its purpose.  I guess my problem is that I worry.  I worry about not being able to live up to the expectations people have of me.  I worry sometimes that I won’t be able to maintain relationships to the level I, and they, have come to expect.

Sometimes I want to run away, hide, to ‘turtle’ until my batteries are recharged, until I feel like I can manage all the expectations in my life again.  I’ve worked hard to be where I am, to have a family, a career, a very nice life but sometimes I want to run away from it.  That’s all kinds of fucked up, I suppose, but that’s how I feel sometimes.

I guess I probably sound ungrateful.  You might not have times like this yourself, where your accomplishments and the things you have actually feel like burdens.  Maybe I sound like a whiner, maybe I am.  What I know is that when I’m feeling this way, it’s frustrating and I get angry at myself.  I know I have a good life, I know it’s inconsiderate and ungrateful to feel this way, but this is my truth.  Sometimes I want to be anonymous, I want to make choices and do things and act in ways that I can’t anymore.  Because I have responsibilities, because people depend on me, because I’ve gotten what I wanted in life.

I’m ambitious and driven to do more and challenge myself.  I want to maintain and create new friendships and close relationships.  So this pattern continues and I’ll be here again, thrashing around like a hormonal teenager who doesn’t want to buckle down and do her homework or take out the trash.   It’ll happen and I’ll get over it and I’ll move on.

I don’t think it’s being important to people that scares me, exactly.  What’s really happening is that in these moments when I need to shirk my responsibilities to others, when I need to turtle and hide from the world, I’m afraid that I’ll hurt the people I love, the ones who are important to me.  I’m scared that they’ll need more than I can give them, and that I’ll try, but never quite fill the need, and in the end, I’ll lose them anyway.  I’m scared of not being enough.

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