I WAS SEARCHING FOR what I could eat that would satisfy my demanding taste buds. Nothing hit the spot, and my desperation was elevating with each empty bite. Was my body craving salt or sugar, I wondered? Had I developed a mineral deficiency that was making me ravenous? Something felt off. My body was begging for more, but more of what? I had no idea. Nothing I ate came even close to touching my hunger.
The Missing Piece of the Puzzle
I was scheduled to attend a birthday party on Sunday afternoon, and as I begrudgingly got in my car and pulled out of my garage, I was already thinking about what food might be awaiting me there. I was like an addict looking for my next fix of drugs or alcohol—only for me it was food. This was not the well-manicured and highly managed me.
I drove down Wissahickon Avenue in Philadelphia, the windshield wipers working to clear the rain. My mood was quiet and surrendered. A few minutes into my drive, it hit me, and I said out loud, “I’m hungry!” The words flowed out of my mouth like living water, and as my ears heard the truth with clarity and precision, I knew something had shifted. I pulled my car over to the side of the road, opened the notes section of my phone, and typed in all-caps: I’MHUNGRY.
I didn’t know at that moment that my life was about to change forever, but I did know that something big had just happened. I hadn’t yet put together that this was the missing piece of my puzzle—and the second half of my diagnosis. That knowing I was hungry would help me solve the ongoing mystery of dying to be me.
What I Was Truly Hungry For
The rest of the way to the birthday party I went through a litany of what I was truly hungry for in my life:
I’m hungry for real love—not crumbs I try to call a meal.
I’m hungry for relationships where respect is the cornerstone of the connection.
I’m hungry to be in relationships that don’t require me to dim my bright light in order to be offered a seat at the table.
I’m hungry to have my gift and talents truly appreciated by those I work with.
I’m hungry to not need to dumb myself down so that others feel smart.
I’m hungry to be beautiful and sexy and not a Barbie doll for a man.
I’m hungry to have a partner who doesn’t feel like a predator.
I’m hungry for passion and great sex that is worthy of my mind, body, and spirit.
I’m hungry to not have to play small when my spirit and dreams are big.
I’m hungry to be brave and not let fear drive my life. I’m hungry for an undivided self, soul, life, love, and relationship.
I am hungry to know I am loved and am irrevocably a child of God.
I’m hungry to be me.
My Turning Point – Living My Truth
Enraptured by my revelation, I prayed, “God, your child is hungry. I want more. I want the real thing, not fake, not airbrushed, not a wannabe. I’m hungry for a real life and a real me.”
That was my turning point. I love to share it, because it speaks truth to the lie that insatiable hunger should be hidden or disguised—that it is shameful, inappropriate, or a sign of weakness.
I began to notice with fresh eyes the gnawing discomfort of the people I encountered at speaking engagements, at parties, on planes, or street corners. I felt such empathy for their pain. I tuned into their hunger—the shame, the loss of self and identity, the feeling of not being enough, the inner brutalization going on in their lives. I could see that they were terrified of speaking their own difficult truths—like people at a party who, when asked how they’re doing, respond, “Great, great.” Or those at church who have the pat answer, “I’m blessed and highly favored.” There is no permission to say, “I’m blessed—and I feel like mess.” I always think those family holiday letters, the ones giving people the update on all that is good in life, do such a disservice. There is no voice given to the tender difficulties and the raw places that life demands we face. All the faking does nothing but make us more and more hungry, force-feeding illusions that only a photoshop program can create. Lies, pretending, and hiding make us even hungrier—and, ultimately, send us into a condition of starvation.
“All the faking does nothing but make us more and more hungry, force-feeding illusions that only a photoshop program can create.” – Dr. Robin L. Smith
I watched people accepting without question the big lie: In order to be worthwhile, we have to get with the program and let other people define our value. We have to fill our plates with delicacies that someone else chooses for us, and not complain if they aren’t to our liking. And we have to look perfect while doing it! What an impossible and soul-draining burden.
Dr. Robin L. Smith is a national television personality, best-selling author, ordained minister, keynote speaker, and licensed psychologist.