Asking for what I want or need

My dog Detroit is very good at letting me know when someone is at the door or the phone is ringing or there is a squirrel in the yard. Even though I assure her that I know these things and she does not need to bark, it does no good. She will bark incessantly until I answer the door or the phone—or let her out to chase the squirrel.affirmation-dog-vulnerabilityShe seems to think it is her job to warn me of these perceived threats.affirmation-dog-vulnerabilityBut in other situations, Detroit is likely to sit quietly and wait for me to intuit what she wants. Sometimes, I find her lying by the back door waiting to go out or sitting by the pantry that holds her treats. Then I say to her, “Use your words.”

It seems to me that she is good at telling me when she thinks I am in danger, but not so good about telling me what she needs or wants.

I wonder if she learned that from me. Has she watched me sit home waiting for someone to ask me to go out? Is she tired of being hugged because I am afraid to ask for a hug from anyone else?

Sometimes on Saturday mornings when I am cleaning the house, I turn on pop music and dance while I clean. If Detroit comes into the room, I might pick her up and dance with her. I can almost hear her say, Get a life.

I admit it: I am not good at using my words to ask for what I need or want.

What words do I use to let someone know I want a treat—whether it is something sweet or a hug or an affirmation? How do I ask to go out, to be with others and have some fun?affirmation-dog-vulnerabilitySince moving to Michigan four years ago, and leaving behind people who knew me very well, I have been even more challenged to ask for what I want or need. Admitting I need or want anything makes me feel vulnerable, and feeling vulnerable is one of my least favorite things.

After I was here for about two years, my spiritual director commented that it didn’t seem that I was initiating social contacts. She was right. My grief and sadness at all I had lost or left behind had incapacitated me from initiating. I just did not have the energy to risk rejection.

And I could see how harmful that was. I was spiraling deeper and deeper into myself; it was a grand pity party.affirmation-dog-vulnerabilitySince then, I have pushed myself to ask friends to go to concerts or out to dinner, and I do more things on my own, like visiting art galleries.

But, I know I have a ways to go in asking for what I need or want. Telling Detroit to use her words is a great prompt for me look at how well I am doing at using my words.


10 thoughts on “Asking for what I want or need

  1. revjgw

    Good words today! It’s easy to isolate, harder to get out there. An apt reminder for those of us who enjoy being alone a little too much!

    1. Madeline Bialecki Post author

      I have become quite accustomed to spending a lot of time alone (with my dog), and it can be difficult to discern if/when it is too much. I know, though, that when I say “no” too often, I am probably getting too comfortable being isolated. Thanks for you comment.

  2. Karen

    Love the pictures of Detroit! I am kind of in the same position, in the fact that I’m not sure when “having alone time” is too much. When I am off work for vacation, all I think about is taking care of “home” stuff (because who else is going to do it?). Don’t get me wrong, I love my alone time, but my biweekly Scrabble get-togethers and a few pizza dates with friends are adequate for me. We all take turns hosting Scrabble, so it does become something to look forward to; do you have any friends that would be interested in starting up? I highly suggest it! It doesn’t have to be Scrabble…maybe a card game? Take care, Madeline.

  3. Madeline Bialecki Post author

    Thanks Karen. This summer, I am planning to learn Euchre (a midwestern card game). We have monthly Euchre nights at work that seem like such fun. The idea of having something “set” is appealing because it takes the anxiety out of it–it is just something we do regularly. I will think more on what that might be for me. Say hi to your scrabble buddies for me.

  4. Jane banik

    Did you write this blog just for me? My usual solution is a walk into town and back . . . Alone. I!m not very good at admitting I need support.

    1. Madeline Bialecki Post author

      Ah, Jane, the curse of the Independent woman. I think we get positive feedback for being “strong” and then it is even more difficult to be vulnerable and ask for what we need or want. Pride gets in the way of admitting we need support or any king of help. Taking myself to that place where I admit my vulnerability, and sitting in the discomfort of it, is where I believe God invites me.

  5. Pazlo

    I seek to question assumptions about all this socialization advice.
    Who determined it is required that all people spend x amount of time lashed to others?
    Are there not many solitary animals in nature? Could there not be a solitary human?
    It’s not that I dislike humankind, mind you. I also don’t dislike rattle snakes or skunks or great white sharks or wolverines, but I don’t think close friendships are in the offing.
    To quote the great Samuel Clemens, “The more I know of people, the more I like dogs.”.
    Somehow I always come off sounding like some old misanthrope that hates the world.
    I have, in the course of my six decades, encountered a number of persons that have been treasures in my life. Everyday heroes like my mom. Mishu Yarkony, a man who lived and laughed and loved for many years after surviving a Nazi death camp. My late “Uncle Dick”, with a heart large enough to love all the world, including the misanthropes within.
    “To thine own self be true.” quoth the bard.
    I don’t think folks should impose their own viewpoints on others, but then, I do so.
    Lastly, I don’t trust stews that much. Soups are okay.
    But stews?

    Seek peace,



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