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hole in the soul

You can often hear people in AA talk about the hole in their soul.  They theorize that they’ve always had the hole and that their drinking was an attempt to fill it (as Lady Gaga sings “Aren’t you tired of trying to fill that void?”).  This explanation rings true to me.   At times I can actually feel my hole; it’s like an ache and a longing and an emptiness.  But in AA we look to healthier ways of filling it than drinking.  We have the fellowship of other like-minded people, we can pray and meditate, and we have our higher power.  Also we can be of service.  I think all of that helps but my void never goes away.  It’s only temporarily filled so I constantly have to work at it.  It’s a spiritual quest.  Is this just part of being human – do non-alcoholics/addicts have the void too?
The other night I had an ah-ha moment that the hole in my soul is grief and loss.  Is that true of other people’s holes or is everyone’s hole different?  I feel that at my core is an infinite space of incurable sadness and if I wasn’t on Prozac I’d be crying non-stop.   Even though I am medicated I still can’t bear to watch PETA or other animal rescue videos on FaceBook.  They tear me apart, including the ones with happy endings.  I am so scared to tap into this grief and loss, it is what I am most afraid of in the world.  My limbic brain thinks the feelings will kill me – literally.  So I live in a constant state of suppressed emotions and the fight or flight response.  Boy do I need to meditate!
I don’t want to get too philosophical here but I wonder was I born with this grief or was it a result of something that happened in my early childhood.  My 12-step program of Adult Children Of Alcoholics would probably say it’s about growing up with abandonment issues.  But I’m tired of blaming my parents for stuff and besides this feels like such an integral part of me, like I came into the world this way.  The metaphysical train of thought goes that our souls have a plan before birth of the lessons we want to learn or work out while here on earth.  Maybe it’s even karma-related, but supposedly we choose ahead of time the ways in which we need to grow.  Maybe my soul chose to be an alcoholic and have the journey with all that entails, both good and bad?
Considering my black hole of grief and loss, what is my dharma?  Is it my job to grieve for the world?  Because if I let myself think about it, I will.  The people in Syria, whales swallowing tons of plastic refuse and the wrecked condition of our mother earth.  Domestic abuse, school shootings, temple bombings, dog fighting, and our government that lacks a shred of humanity;  these things would consume me if I were to dwell on them for more than a minute.  It’s unbearable!  I try to block it all out and even though I don’t drink anymore I still sometimes stuff my feelings with food.
I also fear people dying.  I’m not scared of death for myself but I dread the thought of having to go on after losing a loved one, including all the dogs that I take care of.  I’m sure I’m not unique this way, I’m not trying to be special, but why do I have the immense grief as if it has already happened?  Or as if it is ongoing?
This is starting to be a bit of a downer so let’s get back to the possibility that the hole in my soul is there for spiritual reasons.  Like, it’s supposed to be there.  If I am on the right track it keeps me searching for God, so ultimately it connects me to God.  I’m sure there are plenty of writings about this, and various religions would have their say, but I come at it from a recovering alcoholic standpoint which is simple:  you are not alone.  We share about our voids and the recognition we see in each other closes the gap a little.   We alcoholics are searchers; we search in the bottom of the bottle if we are not aware, but if we are in recovery we search by working the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.  Over- eating, drinking, drugging, shopping, gambling, sexing can feel like a natural response to the hole in the soul but it only ever makes things worse.  We need to accept the void and feed it with self-love and spiritual matter.  Oftentimes that is easier said than done but we can always come back to it because, for some of us, it’ll always be there.


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