Hungry Heart

23 Mar 2011

Everybody has a hungry heart

“Everybody has a hungry heart,” according to Bruce Springsteen – and who’s going to argue with “The Boss”, poet of troubled relationships, failed hopes, and broken dreams?

Even more than most people, abused women have hungry hearts.

It was a hungry heart that took them into an abusive relationship in the first place.

In the course of the relationship, that heart became a whole lot hungrier.

You know that for yourself, of course; I don’t really need to tell you that.

You had a hungry heart because your family and/or caregivers were short on giving the care and attention you craved.

But, as you grew to womanhood, you discovered you actually could attract attention.  The problem being, it was all too easy to confuse attention with care, since you had never had your fill of either.

How could you possibly know the difference?

How could you possibly know what it felt like to truly matter to someone when you’d never had that experience?

How can you possibly imagine something you’ve never known?

When my wasband and I were first dating,  I was over the moon.  I can remember skipping down the road, singing that old Stevie Wonder song, “For once in my life”.*

Needless to say, that first flush of infatuation and happiness didn’t last long.  Skipping, singing, and laughing were all activities that soon disappeared from my life.  But then, with the benefit of hindsight, that probably shouldn’t have been too surprising.

The lyrics to “For once in my life” are, actually, a celebration of co-dependency. They state, in essence:  “Whoopee! Finally, I have someone who needs me.  I’ve been scared witless before, and thoroughly miserable, but I’m not alone now.  Because you need me, so you’ll never desert me.  That makes me feel strong.”


I believe being needed comes a very poor second to being loved, respected and appreciated.  (I need my washing machine, but I can’t, honestly, say I respect and love it.)

What kind of place is, “Whoopee!  I’m not a poor, loveless saddo, any more?” to conduct a relationship from?  And, indeed, to sell yourself from?

Because make no mistake, you have to present – that is ‘sell’ yourself – as a high value person – if you want to be treated as a high value person.

Conducting a relationship from a place of low worth, and personal inadequacy, more or less guarantees a lousy outcome.

Your old hurts, sorrows, and hang-ups have no place in a relationship.

Yes, you may well have a hungry heart – and have very good reasons to have a hungry heart – but a relationship is not therapy.

It’s not for your partner to heal you, or for you to heal your partner.

As Robert Holden writes: “Sometimes, in order to be happy in the present moment, you have to be willing to give up all hope for a better past.”

For as long as you hold on to your hope for a better past – for someone to make “it” (your life) all right for you – your heart will remain hungry.

So, how do you fill your hungry heart?

The first thing is to stop hoping for someone else to do it for you.

The second thing is to accept the reality.  It’s okay to have a hungry heart.  Sure, it might not feel great.  But you’re not alone, in that; a lot of people do have a hungry heart.

There is no shame in having a hungry heart.

It’s just where you are in your life right now.

The third thing is this: you really do have to start learning to love yourself first.  You don’t have to master the art of loving yourself 100%, but you do have to make a start; if you want others to love you, in a healthy way.

Not least because, as some wise, unknown person observed: “By accepting yourself and fully being what you are, your simple presence can make others happy.”

When you accept yourself and are fully who you are, your simple presence can make other people happy.

Think about it.

Surely that beats pouring all your love into another person in the hope of getting a pathetic trickle of love back.  And it beats doing back-flips trying to make another person happy.

How do you learn to love yourself?  How do you learn to value, respect, and cherish yourself, when you have never had that experience?

I believe that it is something you can learn far more easily than you might think.

That is the second stage of emotional abuse recovery.  It is the stage that ensures you will not fall for another abusive partner ever again.

It is a fundamental life skill; and it’s one that I teach, in some detail, through my teleclass programs, and my Inner Circle groups.

How will you know when you are ready to learn it?

When you dare to believe that, going forward, you choose how you want people to respond to you.

Because you matter.

You matter just as much as anyone you have ever loved, and anyone you will ever love.

Believe it.

*  In case you don’t remember those lyrics, here they are:

For once in my life I have someone who needs me
Someone I’ve needed so long
For once, unafraid, I can go where life leads me
And somehow I know I’ll be strong

For once I can touch what my heart used to dream of
Long before I knew
Someone warm like you
Would make my dreams come true

For once in my life I won’t let sorrow hurt me
Not like it’s hurt me before
For once, I have something I know won’t desert me
I’m not alone anymore

For once, I can say, this is mine, you can’t take it
As long as I know I have love, I can make it
For once in my life, I have someone who needs me.


Annie Kaszina, international Emotional Abuse Recovery specialist and award-winning author of 3 books designed to help women recognise and heal from toxic relationships so that they can build healthy, lasting relationships with the perfect partner for them, blogs about all aspects of abuse, understanding Narcissists and how to avoid them and building strong self-worth. To receive Annie’s blog direct to your Inbox just leave your details here.

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