Reflection: Deep Neediness
By Jane Lee Wolfe
Most of us fall into deep neediness now and then. It can look different, person to person. Sometimes it goes unnoticed for years and years. Sometimes it presents early on. Sometimes it gets addressed, sometimes it never does. Sometimes it shows up daily, sometimes every once in a while. But it is always there. A dark shadowy empty mass on the x-ray of our soul.
We need help with our deep neediness. Soul sickness is a real affliction. Fortunately, in almost every case, it is manageable and that is great. Curable sometimes, manageable almost always. Manageable is enough. It’s the goal we have for the other parts of our lives – manageable body goals, manageable mental goals, so now manageable spiritual goals: managing deep neediness within.
Almost all of us self-medicate for soul sickness. Virtually all of us are unsuccessful in coming up with positively helpful attention to this dark need. We’ll drink away the darkness, eat it away, gamble it away, sleep it away, run it away, drug it away, busy it away, work it away, sex it away, spend it away, on and on. We confuse powerful diversions with powerful solutions.
Very often we become addicted to our diversions. The short-term numbing of the enormous soul pain caused by deep neediness is the only thing that works; if only for an instant, it is better than nothing. We continue to suffer. The need-diversion-need-diversion cycle does not help, even if we switch diversions now and then. The soul remains sick, hurt and unattended.
Generally, but not always, something inside us starts to listen to the pain and neediness, starts to realize that diversions have not helped. Sometimes this listening begins because we’ve been thrown into hospital, rehab or jail; sometimes it starts because we so badly want to stop hurting that we turn ourselves in to help groups like Alcoholics Anonymous. Sometimes a friend can help us.
Stopping the diversions that numb our deep neediness is the goal we think we want, but it is not our true goal: our true goal is for the deep neediness to disappear and our soul to recover; to have our soul x-ray look bright and clean and filled with life. Are we courageous enough to work with others in getting healthy? Do we know enough honest people who love and accept us for being human and failed?
Are we safe people? Are we honest about or own deep darkness? Are we able to share our dark selves with others and can we reach and ask for help expecting to receive it? Are we part of a safe community, a community of human beings with damaged souls seeking recovery? Can failures sit beside us and expect a friend? Recovering sex addicts, alcoholics, drug users, porno addicts and so on? People waiting to feed on our love as we wait to feed on theirs?
Do we live, move and have our being among broken people who fill us with joy and hope and peace? Are we willing to work hard to manage the life of love and joy and peace that heals our soul? Are we willing to let our friends work hard to help us as we help them? Are we able to be grateful that a holy life of manageable spiritual health and life is available and ready for us each day? Yes? Rejoice my soul!
Jane Lee Wolfe is a parishioner of St. James-Woodstock, Vt. and Director of Bog Chapel, Inc., an educational not-for-profit organization that focuses on the spiritual health and spiritual fitness of human beings, from youth through old age.