A few years ago I was at a workshop and I participated in a church tradition of eating bread and having wine during one part of the service. Three lines had formed in the room and we were all waiting for our turn to be handed a piece of bread to dip into the wine cup. I was waiting in my line, watching the server break off piece after piece from the loaf in his hands, piece after piece to this person and the next… Each piece was so small, I noticed. I was hungry. It was a big loaf of bread with that crunchy crispy outside… As I stood there a couple thoughts floated through my mind. The first came along… “Hmm, I hope I get a really big piece...” My second thought was a reaction springing from the lies I used to believe: “I wonder if God is disappointed about me standing here only thinking about how big a piece of bread I’m going to get...” Thankfully, at that point in my journey, the guilt guards didn’t win those kinds of battles anymore… So I didn’t fight either thought and they were held suspended in my heart as I approached the man for my piece. I stood there, and as he made eye contact with me his elderly hands tore off the BIGGEST chunk of bread I had seen the whole time I was waiting in that line. Even he seemed surprised at the size! I felt deeply affirmed in that moment that it was okay to want more.
I am so familiar with that acute desire of wanting more, the feeling that something was missing or that there was something great that I needed to find. I imagined what it would feel like to find that “thing”… I searched and searched in every person I met and book I read and movie I watched to see who “had it” or where “it was”, that thing I was looking for. And I analyzed and tried to figure out exactly how a person got it. Had they always had it and I was just born missing it? Did they have to work really hard for it? Did it just happen one day? Did someone else need to give it to them? Many times I had also felt the message being said to me, “Why are you even searching? Can’t you just be happy with what you have? Look at the many people who have so much less…” which for me translated into “your heart is over-sensitive, selfish and unreasonable and your desire is just too much.”
My recent posts have been about how my Dad’s belief system so strongly impacted me. Passive withholding abuse is difficult to define or see. As adults it can feel overwhelming and scary to even try to see it in our pasts because there’s nothing really concrete to “pin point”, there are no solid markers along the way. It’s like… growing up believing that all there is to eat on the planet is potato soup. The same thing, every day, same quality (kind of watery…), same amount, not completely nourishing or delicious but enough to get us by. As children, the reality that this is all we’re served tells us that this is all there is. We feel disappointment but it doesn’t really make sense because it’s not like we had the better soup at one point to compare it to. As we grow older, we still feel something is missing, something doesn’t seem satisfying… But we don’t understand why. We struggle with depression and low self-esteem, guilt and anxiety. But in our reasoning, the potato soup was always there and seemed substantial enough, especially compared to those who were never served any soup or actually served toxic soup… Still, there’s this sense of… lacking soup. There’s this restless hunger that’s misunderstood. It is so painful to feel the hunger but not the validation that the hunger is worthy; for me, depression was one way of trying to make the hunger and the pain go away altogether. Darlene has shared about this kind of abuse as well in her post “Withholding Emotional Abuse“.
As I was putting the pieces of my past together and growing in the affirmation that my struggles had been caused by something, my intense hunger was an answer in itself; it was the “pin point” as well as the starting point on my quest to gain what was missing. I see now that it came from the very alive part of me, the part searching to find what I was born wanting… the “more” that we are all worthy and deserving of.