“We hunger to be known and understood. We hunger to be loved. We hunger to be at peace inside our own skins. We hunger not just to be loved but to love…
-Frederick Buechner, Secrets in the Dark: A Life in Sermons
People in recovery often talk about addiction as a disease of “More” – a nagging persistent hunger to fill a void. I can say from my own life, even long before addiction became a part of my story, I felt this hunger. Some call it the “God” hunger, others a byproduct of our addictive natures. Me, well, I’m not one to think that all the “more” I hunger for is either negative or dangerous.
I hunger for more of many things. I hunger for more of God and all that is sacred and divine to me. I hunger for a deeper connection between my work and my calling. I hunger for more community and intimacy as well – the place (community) and the space (intimacy) for being known as I truly am.
We live in a world that confuses intimacy with communication and isolation become the defiant denial. How can I be “isolated” when I have 600 “friends” on Facebook, while simultaneously saying “how can I be lonely when I have 600 friends on Facebook?”
I suffer from a brain disease that is also a disease (dis-ease) of extreme isolation and paradox. I got drunk and high to feel good – good enough about myself to be part of the crowd. Alcohol is called liquid courage for a reason – it gave me to courage to overcome my inner discomfort and instead gave me the illusion that I fit in, drunk.
I confused people at the bar knowing my name and my drug dealer being on speed dial with community and intimacy.
But I do believe that authentic community is the answer. We see it time and again that people who have found healing from disaster, disease, and despair have done so most often by finding others who have gone through similar experiences and found healing in some form of community.
Community is the answer; the answer to the disease of isolation and to living in a country that esteems rugged individualism as a zealous ideal for emulation.
Community is where I find healing and hope. But far from a utopian ideal, I know that life in community with wounded people is never easy or tidy; far from it. Community, like most of recovery, is messy. Community, like recovery, needs grace to seep into the broken and wounded cracks all of us carry.
In a world gone mad for the instant gratification of a digital economy, one where “attention” is as strong a currency as money, the road of intimacy and community is a path one can seek and hold to for roots.
Community is the place where we can be real. The digital world is an illusion of code, of ones and zeroes that are a mere fabrication of intoxicating glitter. Marx said that religion is the opiate of the masses but I believe our addiction to our phones and Facebook and Amazon prime are the new opiates running concurrent to the substance addiction epidemic.
But I still believe in the healing power of community as the space where I can hunger for more and in small ways and deep ways not only find my soul but find it sated as well.