A “feeling” I often encounter on this journey to myself, is the void. Although, not a ‘feeling’ in the conventional sense, the void can manifest as truly as any feeling. Maybe best described as a lack of feeling; apathy, emptiness and flatness all suitable synonyms for it. The void can start small, a little niggle in the back of my mind – ‘I feel tired’, ‘I can’t be bothered to do anything today’. It begins with a seemingly harmless thought that I am going to ‘rest’ for a few hours, either through binging on food or a new Netflix drama. Once I am firmly in the midst of a session of checking out of myself, the void becomes more tangible. Thoughts turn to ‘what’s the point in doing anything for the rest of the day’, ‘what’s the point in doing anything at all’, ‘nobody cares’, ‘I’m all alone’, ‘I am empty’. This usual results in urges to act out and before I know it, I find myself on a full blown spree, whatever that may look like. It’s as though I found myself on a moving walkway at the airport with no way of jumping off. I look around and glimpse the door to the exit briefly but before I know it, the moving walkway has transported me miles away from it. There’s no hope of escape.
This void is something I have dealt with for much of my life thus far. As a teen, the void was escaped by pouring hours and hours into learning how to design websites and edit photos and it helped. A hobby of some sort always seems to keep the void at bay. The void is incapable of taking over when my attentions are focussed on an activity that eventually increases self-esteem. Learning and growing in any skill, from a language to embroidery, can be phenomenal for the self-esteem.
But what about the days when energy levels are low and I don’t have the mindset to engage with learning and growing – those are the days I feel particularly at risk of falling into the void. The void rarely feels like an option when faced with a day of plans and activities that I want to pour my energy into. The void seems a figment of my imagination on days where I am excited to participate in my life and I want to jump out of bed and get straight into my day. On days like those, the void seems an impossible existence, a distant whispering, an image I may have once dreamt that is now fussy when I try to recall it from the depths of my memory.
But today the void feels very real. The void has swallowed me up and it seems as though there is no escaping a truth that everything is pointless. So what now? This. Writing, sharing, opening my mouth gently. That’s all I can do to claw my way back out. I have found that the more punishing I am when I am teetering on the edge of the void’s precipice, the more likely I am to tumble in. Counting the small wins has been invaluable when addressing the void. I can only do my best on any given day but today my best looks very different than it did yesterday. Yesterday my best was waking up, going to a run, having my healthy smoothie before a day of activity and productivity. Today my best is waking up, spending some time writing this, being gentle with myself.
Being gentle with myself has never been on my radar. The fear that if I was too easy on myself, I would never achieve, was so real that being kind and loving towards oneself seemed a myth. But today that’s the only option I have. I can’t afford to be cruel and punishing with myself, I have gone down that path one too many time to know that it just does not work.
So today my mind is screaming at me that I am fat and lazy and have no friends and no body truly loves me. And that’s okay. Today I choose to be gentle with myself, in spite of the barrage of abuse. Today I choose to move my body gently because it deserves it, even if I don’t truly believe that. Today I choose to share my truth in this space, even though my mind is telling me that nobody cares. Today I choose to check-in, rather than check-out. Today I choose me, and I hope you choose you too.