We Offer the Medicine We Most Need

Andrea Scher is one of my absolute favorite bloggers, and I’ve been following her for over ten years now. I love her little updates and insights in my inbox, and this thought she had recently really struck me, and has been lingering ever since.

We offer the medicine we most need.

I have this theory.

The more I grow my emotional intelligence the more I notice that people’s traumas come out through what they’re passionate about. We spend time trying to right the wrongs that were done to us, even if they’re not the same wrongs. We try to add to the world what we were lacking at one point in time. We call out to others to see if there’s anyone like us out there, because it’s the nature of humanity to heal through connection.

It’s made me very conscious of what I try to give and grow externally, and what that says about what I need, and how I’m communicating those needs to others. It’s made me recognize why I feel the need to add a little bit of wisdom, especially about writing, to my blog, because for so long I muddled blind through both myself and my work.

My father told me a story once, about a man who was rescued after nearly starving to death after shipwrecking on an abandoned island. Even once he returned to civilization and got his old life back, even though he lived in middle class America and there was a wealth of food available around him, he was always hungry. He would go to all-you-can-eat restaurants and eat and eat and eat, then throw up in the bathroom, and eat and eat some more.

Even though his body was sated, he was still starving.

Let me give you another example. Chris and I watch a lot of reality documentaries in the background while we work or play computer games, and some of our favorites are Hoarders, My Strange Addiction, and Intervention. Over time we noticed a pattern… every single person suffering from mental illness or addiction had a huge trauma in their lives. Their compulsions or addictions were the best way they knew to cope with the pain that had brought them to their knees.

Maybe that’s not a surprise to you. But in a society where we blame people for their mental illnesses, and act like addiction is a bad choice that can be easily undone, it might come as a surprise to some. For hoarders the hurt tended to be abandonment or a sudden fall into poverty. For strange addicts the causes really varied, but the additions were inevitably some sort of method of coping with stress. For hard drug addicts, sexual abuse features in 90% of their shared back stories.

We treat addiction like a crime instead of an illness, and a cause of problems instead of a side effect. But one thing I read from a drug-crimes law activist, is that the opposite of addiction isn’t sobriety.

It’s connection.

Addicts aren’t addicts because they can’t stay sober. They’re addicts because the addiction is a side effect to the pain. And we exorcise pain through connection.

Taking that down from the very intense level we’ve just gone to, I think that all pain at every level requires connection to heal it. And then it goes back to what Andrea said: we offer the medicine we most need.

We hold our hands out and give what we would have loved to be given, because the act of someone taking it creates that connection we need. Therefore, you can tell what someone needs by what they’re offering. What they’re trying to connect with you about.

I’m still trying to vocalize what I need out of this blog. I suppose it’s what I always needed, what I was always searching for in school and couldn’t find, what I loved about reading author’s notes in the backs of books, and what I loved about being part of Let The Words Flow:

To not be alone. To be understood, especially as a writer, but also as a person a little different from other people.

To connect.

What do you need?

Some  happenings of late:

OK, last pics of Mexico :)

A photo posted by savannahjfoley (@savannahjfoley) on


Chris and I made it back to Mexico to celebrate our one-year anniversary. We went parasailing! Contrary to expectations it was so quiet and peaceful up there, suspended above the water. I spent the trip reading as many books as physically possible, and also brainstorming on code-name Shotgun Girl with the help of The Anatomy of Story.

Shotgun Girl has since decided it’s going to be my full-time project.

I know, I know, I swore to finish the Nameless first draft, but I’m not giving it up just yet, I promise. It’s just that Shotgun Girl is writing itself in my head, and if I don’t get it down I’ll lose it. I’m taking this ride as long as it’s still frantic and effortless (10k so far, gulp), and when things slow down I’ll go back to Nameless and try to finish that beast. It’s at 70k so we’re getting closer!

Chris decided he wanted to play more with filming so we did a just-for-fun documentary at my parent’s stables. Here’s one of my more artsy shots I’m proud of:

Tractor work #farmlife

A video posted by savannahjfoley (@savannahjfoley) on


Naturally I’ll share the link when it’s finished :-)

The end of my school semester is coming up, and I’m struggling to finish finals while also reading The Raven King :O You all know how much I admire Maggie Stiefvater, and I’m beside myself with glee and also terrified to end this series. SAVE GANSEY!



2 thoughts on “We Offer the Medicine We Most Need

  1. Corona says:

    I like your theory! I think there’s a lot of truth in what you’re saying.

    I know someone who uses drugs to forget and relax. Because otherwise life doesn’t let her/him forget.

    I have difficulty enjoying life when it is quiet. It often makes me feel guilty. But then I’m trapped in this circle that says “I need this free time, I want to enjoy it, I’m not going to do work right now.” And that’s what I do, but I don’t feel any better about it and I’m not really enjoying the free time. Even vacation gives me similar stress. I want to figure out why I feel this guilt. I want to be free from it!

    • Savannah Foley says:

      I know exactly what you mean. If I take some time in the evening to watch TV or play computer games I always feel vaguely guilty that I’m not maximizing my time to write or clean or do something ‘productive.’

      If you’ll allow me a moment to settle down into my Not a Psychiatrist Armchair, I would guess you feel this stress because your confidence and sense of self-value is tied to your work. When you’re not doing work you don’t have an easy way of evaluating if you are valuable or not.

      It’s hard, as artists, for us to detach who we are as people from who we are as artists. I know I helped blur the line in a recent blog post myself, lol. But that’s the risk of identifying so strongly with our work… when we’re not working, who are we? Do we have value? Do we matter? Life has an intrinsic value, but when you spend so much time judging yourself by the quality of your work, or the hours of your dedication, it’s hard to remember that.

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