Hunger as desire + drive.
I can’t think of anything I’ve ever done that wasn’t somehow rooted in the desire to prove to my dad he was wrong about me.
Every job, every relationship, every choice I can think of somehow can be traced back to that one motivation, out of all of the factors that motivated me.
The gritty details of that relationship are unimportant, but the gist is that he was physically absent, emotionally unavailable. Pretty sure he wished I were a boy. When my parents divorce, he remarried, moved far away, and the geographic and emotional distance became even more broad.
In some effort to soften the divide, to take on my “fair” share of the responsibility, I used to say, “Well, I *was* a difficult kid.”
And, to be fair, I was. My childhood was punctuated by my deep sensitivity. Instead of being impressed when he pulled over to shoot quail in the road, I would cry uncontrollably until I hyperventilated. I didn’t want anything to die. Shocking no one I was an emo teen who bent more Sid Vicious than Garth Brooks, more Winona Ryder than Faith Hill. My twenties were spent living all over the country and partying, by thirty I was a single mother getting sentenced to prison. My choices across the board have all been very ridiculous and disappointing for him, proof that I was “crazy like my mother” and never going to succeed at anything.
All to say, my affect didn’t fit his narrow worldview.
But I know now that being difficult/ being myself isn’t an inherently unlovable quality.
And for the record, these life events of mine were also disappointing for ME. Good lord. Prison? I mean, DUH.
One might even wonder what my twenties would have looked like had an engaged and present father figure been a part of my early world. BUT WHAT’S THE POINT. The absent father story isn’t unique to me. What matters to this story is that I stopped feeling responsible for his lack of affection and support for me.
But what I didn’t do is completely stop using that impetus to drive me forward. Even after I recognized it as deluded.
Lord knows, the feelings about my dad weren’t just going to magically disappear the moment I realized they were there. So may as well put them to work. Let them trigger healthy action rather than self loathing.
Just because I finally got to the clarity of understanding, it may still take forever or never for the pit of those feelings to leave a heart, a body.
It’s simply al part of my psychology. It’s normal to seek the validation of our parents no matter how ill-equipped they are to provide it. NORMAL. There’s a whole narrative about how we need to “let go and move on”, but that’s easier said than done. That’s a long ass process and what are we supposed to do in the meantime when we’re still being haunted by these vestigial heart-prints?
So what the hell. I embraced the shit out of it and started using it as conscious motivation. When the insecure feelings would *inevitably* come up for me, or the fantasies of him finally realizing that I’m successful (these fantasies range from him seeing me on TV, running into my book in the bookstore, to me winning the Pulitzer Prize because what could possibly be GOOD ENOUGH?) I stopped trying to push them away and started laughing with them. Really. Making jokes. I could feel the pain and longing, but also I knew that before this hunger for his love was conscious in me, it really did motivate me to try and do better in many ways. And moreso when I was aware of the need, the hunger. .
Oversimplified example: Did you get the message that you were a selfish kid? Notice how you’ve overcompensated and are not probably insanely generous after years of trying so hard *not* to be selfish.
Once I could see this thing in me clearly, I was able to use it consciously, in ways that honored myself as a person who deserves love despite ubiquitous childhood fuckery, and carry on with the part that carried me.
We all have these hungers. Deep, driving needs that probably lead all the way back to early experiences. Often they are shameful feelings, feelings we don’t like to look at or admit to, stuff we *think* we’ve worked out sufficiently in therapy, but alas, only time (or death) will ever actually alleviate our grief.
So if the fact is that we are “stuck” with these drives, what if we were able to use them to our advantage?
What if living well (taking excellent, gentle, allowing care of yourself) really is the best revenge (ending the cycle of self depreciating bs)?
The parts of us that are our deepest, most primal needs, are some of the most important hungers to address and play out in all the areas of our life, including our literal plates of food.
But here are the facts: Your hungers are what lead you to the next meal, experience, intimate experience, relationship, job, vacation, etc… Your hungers are the raw data available to help you understand how to maintain your body and being in the most basic ways. Developing an allied relationship with your hungers, even and especially the deepest, can help you demystify what you really “should” be doing and why you aren’t doing it.
Hint: It might not be what you *should* be doing, or you are doing it for reasons that are out of alignment with your truth.
So here’s blanket permission to honor this hunger, to recognize your ability to digest, to consume and transform food, emotions, and information into new forms, new ideas, new life. You have the capacity to turn information into art, pain into healing, raw ingredients into beautiful meals.
You are a barometer of a culture, a filter of experience, and a machine of transformation.
You are not only what you eat, you are all that you consume.
Your power, intensity, volume, feelings, passion are NOT something to hide and be ashamed of. They are what make you outstanding.
Hold these hungers up to the light. Name them. Get curious. Get acquainted.
Let’s leave these damaging and limiting definitions and expectations behind. Let’s seek our freedom. Together.
What is your heart’s desire?
Here’s something you might or might not know about me:
Yes, I’m a health coach and I supposedly help people lose weight and blah blah blah. But I *actually* deal in the currency of humanity.
The humanity of hunger.
I help people develop a more allied, than adversarial, relationship with their bodies, their hungers, and ultimately, their satisfaction of life. My zone of genius is abstract and creative problem solving, and the maintenance of leak-free containers for you to do your deepest work.
Perhaps we should be working together. I have space in my practice and am happily accepting new clients.
Click here to schedule a 30 minute discovery session to see if we’re a good fit
Note: Although there is no commitment at all, this free call *is* specific to see if we’re a good fit for a deeper relationship. Thank you for your respect.
Looking so forward to all of it with you,
Image: by me