Dancing with the Void
It’s already almost April and my goal of writing or publishing a blog post at least every other week has seemingly gone by the wayside. I could rationalize this in any number of ways. My life has changed significantly since I had the idea of publishing this blog, but really I have about the same amount of time as I always had, maybe even more. I’ve been inspired in recent months to shift my life so that I spend more time doing what serves me, and less of what doesn’t serve me. Old habits have gone out of my life, and new people and activities have come in, many of which are – at least most of the time – gently and sweetly encouraging me to push my own boundaries, to be uncomfortable, to take risks. And in this process, along with the wonderment at all the fun new things I’m experiencing, I’ve come up against dark, shadowy places that have been scary and sometimes hard to manage.
One of the decision I made was to lessen my attempts to fill up my hours with activities of which their only purpose was to kill time. This is where I came up against the Void. The Void is what often fills the empty hours, usually riding in on the coattails of loneliness and making itself at home, like a pulsing, sucking, hungry, black hole of need and want, sitting right next to me, telling me that my life is meaningless, and pointing out the things other people seem to have that I don’t. The Void has been my companion for my whole life, so it’s not new, but it’s gotten more vicious recently, perhaps because it feels its grip lessening. The Void gets me sometimes, in a big way, especially at night if I don’t have something planned, and most especially in the middle of the night if I’m having trouble sleeping. But more often, the Void is like a little puppy dog that follows me around that I can basically acknowledge with compassion and ignore. Yes, it’s there, at my feet and a little off to the side, but it’s not really doing anything. It’s not chasing after me or making scary noises. It’s just sitting there, like a big, ugly mushroom. If I look into it, it’s like peering into a whirling vortex of deep space, like what you can imagine it would look like if a hatch to your spaceship blew off and you were left staring at a deep nothingness that wanted to suck you into it.
As much as I’ve been working recently to make friends with the Void, it makes it hard for me to be creative. Deep insecurity and self-doubt are its most potent weapons at the moment. And, as you can imagine, these things don’t help the creative process one bit. After wondering for several months now how in the hell to get out of the clutches of this thing to write about things that matter to me, friends suggested that I write about it: write about the Void and how it’s been to be sitting here with it, to be dancing with it. How obvious! Why didn’t I have that idea?
The Void tried to eat me last week. I felt as if I spent almost the whole week in a face-off with it. The turbulent fear – of what? I don’t know: not existing, not being worthwhile, not using this life the best way I can, not being loveable – kept sucking at my face, like a bad kisser. After that week, I was emotionally exhausted. I realized that part of what made me exhausted was that I never asked for help from anyone. I was almost universally stoic, pretending that everything was just fine. The minute I finally reached out to my community, on Thursday morning, I felt better. The Void stopped sucking at me and went off into a corner, to be replaced by connection with people I care about, who hadn’t known that the whole week, I had been in sore need of love.
So this week, I learned (or rather, re-learned) an important lesson when dealing with the Void: it thrives on my tendency to want to be independent and to not cause anybody any problems by asking for help or connection, to not take up any space in the world that I could be criticized for. Taking up space – reaching out, asking for what I want from loved ones – vanquishes the Void until my insecurity levels rise enough – and my quiet, I-can-do-it-all-by-myself temperament takes over long enough — for it to get its teeth in me again.
Of all the choices I’ve made recently to let go of certain things that don’t serve me, this is one of the hardest, this tendency to want to be no trouble to anyone, and hence not to show anyone that I’m hurting. The Void loves it when it can corner me in my own loneliness and latch on like some kind of large leech. But I’m on to it now (until and unless I forget again). When I’m feeling that sucking black hole at my feet, my assignment is to reach out to someone I care for who cares for me. The Void is no match for connection with another living creature.
How about you? is there a tendency that you have that doesn’t actually serve you? What can you do today to start shifting that tendency to something that’s healthier?
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