I have never really pondered the meaning of the word. As a wordsmith, the various potential contexts for its use come to me almost like a whisper, sentences fusing together and flitting like smoke through my thoughts and my soul with no meaning, no context...just the joy of putting words together and making sounds that conduct emotion. A hobby of mine that I can do with pretty much any word or idea and am actively doing a great deal of my day whether I write them down or find inspiration in them or not. What connotation though, in conscious thought, does the word "hunger" really imply? A need to be fed perhaps. A desire for satisfaction. An ache that we want to be silent. Something we do when we want something. Something that happens to us when we need something. Pain.
As a woman who is actively trying to shed the unhealthy gain that happened over years of unhappy and challenging life, I feel hunger in the physical sense a great deal of the time. Its not pleasant. I don't like it. And I want it to stop at the earliest possibility. I have grown enough to shed many of the desires that I could categorize as "hunger" internally, now that I don't feel the need to feed or satisfy those desires, now that they don't cause me pain anymore. Now that I am learning to separate "want" from "need.
In my endeavor to become a person who eats in a reasonable and healthy fashion, I am swiftly determining that there is a difference between a craving for something and real, physical hunger. There is a difference between just wanting to eat, and a physical need for food. There is a boundary between being not hungry and being full. And I begin to recognize that my own ability to fantasize often influences the depth of my interpretation. I can be "starving" on the emotional scale, but nary a growl on the physical one. Conversely, when I am wrapped up in something requiring a great deal of attention and personal investment, I can have a stomach making noises so insistent that eventually it becomes painful and nauseating. True physical hunger.
As a fat chick, I have had difficulty distinguishing between the two. I think to some degree this has been subconscious, but to some degree it has simply been stubborn. I like to eat. I like to want. I enjoy the feeling of having a need (which is really a wish, but I want it to be a need, because then it MUST be taken care of) being met actively and thoroughly. Even upon satisfying a craving for something, it is not enough for my desire to have a taste. It must be stuffed with plenty. A sense that there is "enough" to meet my desire and then some. An affluence of spirit manifested in the easy procurement of food. I wonder how many of my food cravings I would still want if they were not readily available, or at least with the same blind drive to get them. If I had to grind the corn into meal myself to create corn chips. To grow the tomatoes, the peppers, the onions, the herbs, the spices, to pick and cut and mix and marinate until the salsa is just right. Every single time. Would I still then feel a driving desire to get chips and salsa in great quantities, right this minute? Or would the effort involved temper the desire back to a wistful wish, rather than a gluttonous drive?
How often are my other desires steeped in the same warped logic? I have spent so many years of my life angry and disappointed. Bitter. Dispassionate and derisive. Jealous. How much time I have spent fantasizing about things I wanted but could never have, or told myself I could not, because I was not willing to do the work required to get it? And then calling myself lazy, tearing myself down and something in me feeling threatened and hateful toward those who DID have that drive, who DID do the work. Somehow I can't see myself growing jealous over someone having salsa and chips and me not, nor really beating myself up because I don't particularly want to go to the effort of making my own. That would be ridiculous. Envious perhaps, even admiring, that they did have that drive, to want it enough to go to the trouble of getting it for themselves. But not to the point of making both of us into bad people because they did it and I did not. It is all about choices.
Life has taught me what choices are important to me. It has taught me I can do anything I put the effort toward and I am ever evolving in my decisions about where I desire to put my effort and energy. I only now come to know myself. Finding that the things I turned my eyes away from and closed my heart to because I did not WANT to be that woman are in fact the very things that bring me peace and joy. Finding out that hiding from trying anything can, in fact, rob me of everything. I got so hungry for something to feed my soul I could no longer feel what it was that I hungered for. I could not read the hunger. I wanted something. Anything. Just make that internal hurting, yearning, growling stop. And since it required no effort at all, only the exchange of little green slips of paper for easy products that spelled out "plenty" "enough" and "full", I ate instead of thought, consumed nonsense instead of real effort, work and self discovery. Until teh food gone and I didn't feel any better. Until I felt as bad physically as I did emotionally. Because what I fed was not where the hunger was really at. It satisfied nothing, and in fact, created more hunger, more yearning, more pain. And the seeking of some sense balance became unbalanced.
Hungry is starting to make sense to me now. I know when I feel want versus need on a physical level. And I am learning the emotional one, bit by bit. Perhaps the two are more hand-in-hand than I ever would have realized. Take care of the physical and the emotional shall follow. All I know is I feel better. Physcially and emotionally. And I no longer fear the pain. I trust I have the resources to take care of it. Physically and emotionally.