1. a completely empty space.
Long before the world of Pinterest and social media, people just had to guess what they felt like was missing in their lives.
It was only by picking up the latest magazine or comparing their lives to those on tv or maybe their neighbors that allowed them to identify what they felt like was a void. Social media reminds us of voids daily though but we don't always identify them.
What's crazy is that I really think it's just as the quote says, we truly only become aware of a void as we fill it.
In my case, awareness of a major void came in the form of a chance interaction with an older gentlemen I passed at a gas station somewhere in Idaho... you know the type that sells all the tacky belt buckles and 60 types of jerky and flavored popcorn...that you SWEAR no one buys, but they are always there so clearly they must be popular!
So there was me; driving from Seattle to Texas (not as adventurous as it sounds) after being told I really needed to get back down south so Drs could figure out what was going on in my body and brain.
I had spent days barely showering, hair in a bun... but most importantly, I had spent weeks in bed, avoiding all contact with any humans other than my kids and partner and the occasional ER staff. When I entered any store or public facility I felt invisible: almost alien like. Due to the massive amount of weight I had lost, depression and grief issues from the anniversary of my sister's passing and a complete decline in my disease, I had isolated myself into a black whole that seemed like it was going to close up before I could pull myself together and crawl out.
Enter the older gentlemen in the gas station... There I was, dirty hair, no makeup, some form of leggings, a t-shirt and boots and the worst case of body dismorphia I had ever had. I had just avoided looking at myself in the restroom; something I had been doing for weeks as my illness got worse and my face was gaunt and my clothing no longer fit.
As I sort of slid around the gas station staring at things I couldn't eat or drink or find any joy in, I found myself waddling down an aisle that looked like it had the promise of some form of fruit.
Walking down the aisle, again, I felt invisible to the ramblings of people around me. Those on road-trips, some getting coffee to help with a long day, others just grabbing a six-pack to forget the day and some chatting about plans for the next day...all kind of meshed together in my already challenged brain. A brain focused on pain and disorientation and worry.
Just as I find the fruit cups and choose some version I feel had the least amount of ability to kill me, I hear a gentle voice say "Well aren't you a cute young lady? What a cool purse." At first I did not look up. For weeks I had allowed myself to live in this space that no one saw me and I was invisible to anyone in public. And no, not the cool kind of invisible Harry Potter and his amazing cloak. The type of invisible where you feel that you are so repulsive, no one would be able to even stand look your way.
After a few seconds, I noticed no one else on our aisle. So I managed eye contact and the man said "Yes sweetheart. I was talking to you." And I just stalled. I stared at the man speechless (unbelievable I know) until I could force a "thank you sir."
He gave me a quick "You're welcome." And I just stood their staring at some pre-packaged eggs and the hot dogs twirling on the heater. I was completely zoned out as I finally came to realizing I had tears pouring down my face. I looked down and my shirt was soaked from however long I had sat their crying.
For a moment, I asked myself why I was so upset. Was it because I love gas station hot dogs and I couldn't have one? Nooo. I was used to that. Was it because I was in so much pain, the thought of another 24 hrs on the road was daunting? Nah. I had been there too.
It was only a few seconds before I realized they were tears of joy. It was my first moment of joy in weeks. The first time I felt visible. Real. Pretty. The first time I realized I had a void. How big it was and how important a role it was going to play in not only surviving, but thriving during this health journey I've been on. It was the first time I realized how alone and isolated I had allowed myself to become.
The void was real and it would only get bigger if I did not find something to fill it.
I knew it had to be healthy moral and sustainable and I vowed that I would focus on doing whatever work I needed to do to ensure it did not hinder my recovery and progress as soon as I got to Texas.
I'll explain more in depth of how I filled that void and started to see myself again, but no-one-cares-so-just-jump-to-it version is I started to fill that void with things that enriched my soul and spirit so that nothing superficial dictated if I felt beautiful. I wanted my beauty to shine from within... to feed the light so much so that it didn't matter what my weight or hair or face looked like, people would see me like that gentlemen in the gas station did...Cute. Or whatever else I wanted to feel. I knew it was up to me to fill all the other voids.
But first I had to accept that filling those voids would not come from people or success. Filling the voids had to come from me also accepting me, where I was on my journey and where I wanted to land.
My void filling including mirror work (I highly recommend the book "Mirror Mirror" by Louise Hay). It totally changed my life and allowed the filling to begin.
From their I got very conscious about got my attention and energy and only worked on relationships with those type of people who could be uplifting and inspiring and never less a human. Those whom's behavior said "I see you. I hear you. I believe you and I love you. Just as you are."
I also started to pick up things that helped me feel productive since I was on a hiatus from working. Things I could still be creative with if only in small ways.
And lastly, I focused on allowing myself to socialize with strangers online. I became a part of support groups on facebook of uplifting women who were going through what I was going through and could share stories. And I became even more comfortable sharing mine. Even enlisting a personal coach to help me identify my voids and how to address them one by one.
Below are easy ways to fill different types of voids we may find are buried deep down ready to become a black hole if we let them.
You may only have one void but in my experience, that one is enough to lead to not only more, but also deeper and darker ones.
My go-to list for healthy void filling:
1. Books and Movies:
Books/movies can help fill many voids in our life. As a small child, they allowed me to use my imagination to fill the void of things I did not have; places I had not seen; people I could not yet be. To fill the void created from trauma, escaping family drama or the worry about the future. As an adult, they allowed me to use my imagination to do much the same. I loved being a stay-at-home mom in those early years, but there was always a feeling that something was missing. Books allowed me to escape to places, lives, personalities I could not yet experience.
Find my go-to favorites on Kimmie's Bookshelf and Kimmie's Must-Sees
2. Interactions with strangers:
When we are going through something that creates a void, sometimes the last thing we want to do is interact with others. But it's been my experience through travel alone, coffee shop hangs, a quick conversation with the cashier at the grocery has help me fill a void of feeling connected to others.
After a divorce, moving to a new area, grief, re-inventing ourselves, life can feel very isolating. And the void of personal connection can be painful and depressing.
Each time I'm moved to a new place, I've made a point to speak to strangers whether it be in restaurants, happy hours at a local bar or even just a neighbor out walking their dog.
Meetup groups are also a wonderful way to fill that personal connection void until you establish yourself and settle into your "place."
3. Social Media:
Social media can get a bad rap for creating comparison syndrome and make some people actually realize their voids. Whether it come by scrolling pinterest and comparing your home, parenting or personal style doesn't match up to others or seeing images on FB or IG that make us think we are missing some level of joy in our lives, from fulfillment in a job, living out our purpose or just lack of enthusiasm for our lives in general.
However, that same platform can provide a place for interaction and community.
I suggest making your pages more about socializing.
You can cover more "voids" than one:
- FB groups: Find a topic you enjoy (or create your own) and start to socialize with other's going through or interested in similar things as you. I personally filled a void by joining chronic illness support groups where I could read other's stories and knew everyone could relate. I also find many great resources in these groups... filling the void of knowledge and research.
- Creating a welcoming environment on your own pages: By asking questions and allowing people to interact, you are creating a place where people can feel they belong, share their stories and opinions and advice (careful to regulate hard topics) and you fill the void of feeling you are a part of causes and spreading awareness or at minimum making people happy and less alone themselves.
- Engagement: By commenting on other's pages, you can fill the void of feeling productive and supportive. You'll find that many times people are responsive to positive comments and support; making them more likely to do the same for you.
- Sharing your story or passion/art: By using your platform to showcase your work or story, you are making other's comfortable with sharing their stories, educating others on things they may not know or know how to do. This helps fill the void of sharing your gifts and talents and voice with the world.
There are many things in life that create that feeling of isolation. Not everyone needs a partner to share life's adventures with. After a divorce or bad experience, we can choose friends to take trips with, have dinner with, go to a movie or even have sleep overs.
After my divorce years ago, I had many slumber parties or even close friends going through similar things stay with me and we each helped fill a void for one another.
It wasn't anything major but at minimum we had support, companionship and someone to just be there so the lonely didn't feel so deep and never-ending.
Sometimes we forget the power to escape or go to a new place lies right within our own minds. So even without books or movies or friends, we can use meditation or visualization to fill any void we may have.
By visualizing we can picture what a new job, wardrobe, significant other, body, and experience can look like.
We can "imagine" what a better life could be like, "feel" what it would be like to experience new with something, somewhere, with someone we have never met or someone we love.
By escaping through visualization, we are able to fill a void and also help manifest permanent fillers to the voids.
While no person, thing or idea will ever be able to fully fill the voids within us, we can make like more bearable by taking things into our own hands and making those voids a little less painful by turning the loneliness into love.
Just like my moment in the gas station, I didn't know what I was missing until I was able to feel that connection from another human being.
So practicing these things will allow us to identify us to what we feel a void within us... feelings that sometimes go untouched or unrealized or even misplaced.
For more ideas on how bringing yourself up when you're down... also check out my blog: 5 Ways to pull yourself out of a Funk
If you have some ideas of how to fill voids in a healthy way, please drop them below. I'd love to share in my FB group.
And don't forget "Sharing is Caring" so if you feel there are people in your world with voids or struggling, share this to your social media to help them out!
Leading with Love,