Craving: I know all about it. In fact, I’d venture to say that most humans with a pulse – whether they choose to admit it or not – do, too. Even Nuns. I bet those birds crave a thing or two now and again, (and it’s been well documented that Priests do).
But suppose it’s not fair to speak on behalf of the population as a whole. In that case, maybe I am unique in my craving? Maybe no one else on Earth, past or present, has ever known what it feels like to desire something so strongly as to become almost possessed by it – certainly not the estimated 2.1 million members of Alcoholics Anonymous worldwide*.
Sticking to my personal experience, I’ll share that my sense of craving began in infancy. Not that I was capable of coherently identifying or understanding, that, what I was feeling was called a craving, but I certainly cried out for milk when I was craving food. And when I craved sleep, I let that be known through blood-curdling screams as well. As I developed, I began to comprehend that I most definitely craved safety. In fact, I feel comfortable identifying “safety” as my strongest need on Maslow’s hierarchy.
This craving for safety morphed into an uncontrollable anxiety that crippled me throughout my entire childhood – most likely perpetuated by my getting lost at Santa Anita racetrack when I was two. Anxiety wracked my being – the only thing that could quell my nerves was to know where my family was at all times, and the only way I could do that was through control. I began to crave control – which is a futile and exhausting effort. Later on down the road, I discovered the only other thing that could mitigate my fears – alcohol.
It didn’t take long before I began to crave that beast. Even when I had a drink in my hand, I was already nervously anticipating the next – I needed to make sure there was enough supply to medicate my dis-ease. Before I knew it, I couldn’t function without it. Sure, I had plenty of moments when I was dry, but I always felt more relaxed with booze coursing through my veins. The problem is: inevitably it stops working (quicker for some than others). And much to my dismay and benefit, alcohol stopped working for me around the time I was thirty. Suddenly I craved relief – relief and rest from the exhaustion trying to control a drinking problem creates. I craved it like I had never craved anything in my life, because I was at the end of my rope. It was now a matter of life or death, because I knew my soul was empty and it was only a matter of time before my brain caught up to the idea that death may be a more suitable option.
I got a taste of sobriety and hung on for dear life – I began to crave recovery. It gave me a new lease on life. I was surfing a “pink cloud” and I had never felt so good. Life got better fast, and before I knew it, life was actually good. I started to dream again, and as my dreams grew, so did my vision for my future. I had ambition! I started to crave achievement… success!
I dove, head first, back into the entertainment industry (my only constant love) with unadulterated enthusiasm and vigor. I put twenty thousand miles on my car in four months, driving back and forth between San Francisco and Los Angeles, until I finally cut the apron strings and made the move to live in La La Land amongst all the other transplants and dreamers. I landed in features, then television; and during the course of my employment on a procedural drama I would never be given the opportunity to write for, something even better happened: I met my future husband (in a rather roundabout way) through a co-worker.
We jumped into a relationship, and before I knew it we were engaged and I was pregnant, and that, in and of itself, introduced a whole new comprehension of craving (apart from FroYo at 10pm) – I had a craving for Life, and a deeply burning desire for the life growing inside of me to thrive and be healthy. Now I crave the knowledge and empathy necessary to make me a good parent – a parent equipped to raise a well-adjusted and capable child, one who can differentiate between right and wrong and who “makes good choices”, as my father once (and still does) badger me to do. I crave compassion. And lastly, I crave the power to stop cursing like a truck driver, cuz that’s really gonna fuck up my kids.