The first component of heartache: neediness. ‘ I need to see him (or her), to talk to him (or her), right now.’ The drug addict in need of a fix. The child separated from its mother.
Off all components, neediness is the one we experience most acutely on a physical level, not dissimilar to the withdrawal symptoms described by drug addicts deprived of their addictive substance. The area of neediness that concerns us refers to the temporary or permanent absence of the loved one whether physically or emotionally. This absence can lead to insomnia, anguish, changes in eating habits, loss of concentration – even in situations where full attention is essential – and on a more general level it prevents us from experience ant pleasure, even from activities we previously considered enjoyable. These dreadful effects of neediness can be momentarily alleviated by taking a range of substances (distilled or fermented alcohols, nicotine, tranquillisers, narcotics) or even by engaging in absorbing activities (prolonged hard work, television, physical exercise, sexual; relations with a new partner or with an ex-partner), but the more we push neediness away, the more violently comes back, like a wild animal retreating only to charge with greater force.
Conversely, particular places, people and encounters that evoke memories of the loved one can intensify these attacks of neediness: the park where we walked together, the restaurant we used to meet at, the friend who witnesses our love for one another, the sweet melody the loved one enjoyed humming when he or she was feeling happy. We can experience ever stronger emotions when we come across an object that the loved one has left behind. A bottle of make-up remover in the bathroom or a pair of old slippers at the back of a cupboard can move us greater heights of suffering and emotion that any great symphony, work of art or poem.
Neediness sometimes reaches peaks of suffering the intensity of which makes us fearful of the hours to come (‘How will I survive today? Tomorrow? The rest of my life?’). it also causes moments if abstraction when we are with other people, even people we like. It is generally accepted that confiding our feelings to a close friend or professional can bring real relief, although this is a generally short-lived.
Hector and the secrets of love - Francois Lelord