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Hope Forward: Surviving and Thriving through Emotional Pain: Great Gaping Holes

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Great Gaping Holes

Sometimes the hole is just oh so big. In 12 step programs, they call it a G-d shaped void. That vast emptiness inside. That feeling of being all alone. And hungry. Not physically. Maybe its a grief. I hear so much about this feeling when a relationship ends, or when someone close is gone. I hear about it when it seems like everyone is moving forward to great things, and it feels as if you are the only one who is spinning in circles with no end in sight. Or when you feel like just about everything and anything you do is a big waste. Or you are thinking that there is really no point. That the bigness of the ache could really be deadly.

Many times, it seems as if no one in the universe can understand that kind of pain. And certainly no one can get you out of it. The idea that "this too shall pass," is of little help. It's like trying to imagine not having a headache when you have a migraine. It feels like what is at any given moment is what will always be.

I think that one of the things that can trigger the vast empty feeling is when we think we have screwed up royally. Many people have such a loud demanding inner critic that they do not permit themselves any mistakes. They don't know how to forgive themselves. One of my pals always tells me that we are allowed five mistakes a day. Ten if its raining. She reminds me that "easy does it" is a much better mantra than " you f-ing idiot."

And some of us have leaky psyches. Even when we hear good things about ourselves, or have a good encounter, experience, or get a compliment, we are suspect. We hold it in for a short time, maybe, but then we forget. Oh, but a mistake, a criticism, a bad word...that we remember. That sticks.

What to do? Well, there is always analysis. Learning about how it came to be that your default setting is emptiness. But in the mean time, I think there are few good tricks. Keeping up on your gratitudes, giving yourself permission to acknowledge the things you do right, the character traits that you have that are good. (Small things count, like getting through the day, showing up at work, class, or for a friend. Eating. Driving safely. Brushing your teeth.) Pray. Breathe. Walk. Smile at yourself and one other person at least once a day. Random acts of kindness to others is a good way to go, too.

Great gaping holes don't get filled quickly usually. Especially if you are coping with addiction, eating issues, emotional pain, or grief. But you can fill up. I really do think so.

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