Once upon a time, Amanda Palmer did a fantastic cover of an already fantastic song, Momus’ I Want You, But I Don’t Need You (clip at the bottom, if you feel so inclined. I recommend letting it play while you read. And then listening to it again).
Now, I’m not one to choose between covers and originals. I’m a cover junkie. But GodDamn does Palmer’s pack a punch.
The first time I heard this version, I was still in college. My last semester, I had a private bedroom in the ultra-swanky senior village. I was in the midst of a (completely justified) Amanda Fucking Palmer (AFP from here on out) obsession, and searching for concert clips I hadn’t seen yet.
The song starts out cute, funny even. “I like you / And I like that you like that I like you / But I don’t need you…” It’s cheeky, with subsequent verses revolving around licking, fucking, and the like. Somewhere in the middle it takes an emotionally real turn that I wasn’t expecting. I start sobbing. And sobbing. And sobbing. I play the song roughly ten times in a row and sob some more.
The line that did it was, “So I’m gonna leave you / And I’d like you to leave me to leave you” followed a few lines down with, “All I wanted was to be wanted / But you’re drowning me deep in your need to be needed.”
I have a terribly tendency to try to make myself Everything to Everyone. Lacking a completely clear sense of who I really am, I adapt. At will, to the person (people) I’ve decided to care about most. It’s not intentional, mind you, it just sort of… happens, when I’m not looking.
I can (and will) be whatever you need. I’m great in a crisis, nonjudgmental, and have a self-recognized knack for making you feel, well, special. These sound like good things, I know, but not at the expense of my own thoughts and boundaries. You see, I don’t put up much of an opposition conversationally (not about anything that matters, at least) because I’d rather saw my arm off with a rusty nail file than deal with any sort of confrontation or discord.
What ends up happening is the other person (not knowing any better) starts to think we’re perfect. They’ve found their perfect match. Their fit. The Buttercup to their Westley. I’m not so narcissistic to think that it has much to do with me at all. It isn’t that I’m perfect, not by a long stretch, but I’ve gone out of my way to make myself perfect to someone else.
So this is the part where I go all self-aware and wax philosophical on the fact that it isn’t that I don’t have a clear identity, that somewhere deep down in me I’m afraid that who I truly am isn’t enough. That if anyone met me, they just wouldn’t like me or care about me anymore. Blah blah blah fear of rejection stemming from personal rejection of myself. Whatevs, right? Glad you agree. Moving on…
That is not a sustainable model for a relationship. Anyone can fake anything for a while. But over time, especially as the relationship grows and progresses, the cracks start to show. They usually become more pronounced as I become more resentful. Because that’s totally fair. Yes, dear denizens of this particular corner of the internet, I become resentful of people for caring about the Me that I chose to present them with. How dare they.
It isn’t their fault. They don’t even know any better. But as they start to care more and more, and that caring starts to border on needing, I drown. Every goddamn time. I spend the first half of each relationship I’m in desperately trying to make someone see that they need me so they don’t leave, and the second half wishing they would just go.
What if I didn’t need someone to need me in order to feel secure? Wouldn’t that be a trip? To stand on my own and be able to confidently say, “This is who I am, fuck off if that’s not doin’ it for ya.” To wait for someone to love the me that I am, and to be patient in the meantime. To not just decide that I’m going to love you and I won’t rest until you love me back! To let things happen on their own instead of micromanaging the fuck out of every single facet of my ridiculously unnecessarily self-induced overcomplicated life!
Right after pigs fly right up out of my ass.