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Addiction: Filling the Void or Dulling the Too Full

Updated on January 19, 2015
The void within either feels too empty or too full of pain
The void within either feels too empty or too full of pain | Source

What is Wrong with Me?

From childhood on, many addicts have felt a sense that something was missing from them, that they were flawed and unloved. They just did not measure up to the expectations of their parents, siblings, teachers or friends.

They may have compared their abilities to siblings and came up short, even if they excelled in other areas.

Just as importantly, they did not feel good about themselves even when they did well at something. They may have heard negative messages about themselves, often for things like hair coloring or other physical aspects that they had no control over.

Conflicting Messages and Outside Influences

Childhood memories, riddled with conflicting messages, create doubt. Mothers and fathers, who professed their love of their children, chose drugs and alcohol over the needs of their children, fostering a belief for some that their needs were unimportant to their parents. As a result, many addicts felt rejected even by the people who said they loved them.

The times of feeling good about themselves were rare. Even before they started using drugs or alcohol, there was a longing for something or someone to help with the void or the pain inside. Many believed that something outside of them could ease the pain. How often has an addict thought, if only I had? Sometimes there was a focus on a particular thing; creating the illusion that if only the person had that, then things would be okay.

• A better bike

• A prettier hairdo

• Nicer clothes

• Parents like so-and-so

• Athletic abilities

• Better grades

• Faster cars

• Luxury homes

• More…

In some cases, a new bike was purchased, and nothing happened to the insides. There might have been momentary relief, but there was still emptiness, the void, or the pain, and they still felt less than or like something was missing.

Even on Top of the World, the Emptiness and Pain Followed

Even without a painful childhood, there was still a lack of feeling loved, wanted or valued. Just because there is love around us, it often doesn't penetrate the barriers that create distance. Just because we do well in school, make a sports team or excel as a cheerleader, these accomplishments only touch the void for a moment, and then there is the letdown, once again.

Sometimes the pain receded for a brief moment, only to return. That feeling of being flawed inside; like an imposter playing at football and cheering. There did not seem to be a balance.

Using Fills, the Void or Helps Us Forget It

Could some of us be trying to manufacture a feeling of completeness about ourselves by numbing the feelings of inferiority, inadequacy or incompleteness with drugs and alcohol? There is a concept that the experience in the womb; perfect for the most part, set some of us up for this sense of loss, hardship and dissatisfaction with life.

If you think about it, you did not have to worry about nourishment, it was automatic; no harsh sounds or lights and you just floated; connected to your mother via a life-sustaining cord. Then the reality of pain, noise and discomfort occurred at birth. Could some of us be trying to recreate that unequaled state of pre-birth bliss with drugs and alcohol?

In the West, feeling "empty" equates to an adverse condition. Psychologist Clive Hazell, for example, attributes feelings of emptiness to problematic family backgrounds with abusive relationships and mistreatment.

He claims that some people, who are facing a sense of emptiness, try to resolve their painful feelings by becoming addicted to a drug. Others use obsessive activity (be it compulsive sex, gambling or work) or engaging in "frenzied action" or violence.

In the West, feeling "empty" equates to a negative condition. Psychologist Clive Hazell, for example, attributes feelings of emptiness to problematic family backgrounds with abusive relationships and mistreatment.

He claims that some people who are facing a sense of emptiness try to resolve their painful feelings by becoming addicted to a drug or obsessive activity (be it compulsive sex, gambling or work) or engaging in "frenzied action" or violence.

Have you ever used drugs or alcohol to fill the void or dull the too full emotions?

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If It Is a Quart Low, I’ll Use a Gallon

More of something sounds like the right approach to the void. If we are feeling a quart low, use a gallon to correct the problem. On the surface, this makes sense to an addict. However, by using substances in the quantities that most of us did, we became addicted to them and in turn, they began to cause harm far exceeding the void we felt.

Has your recovery helped you fill the void or empty the too full

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Welcoming the Void: When We’re too Full of Feelings

For others, it is not about an empty place inside; it is about feeling too full. Someone that is too full of pain, guilt, shame, and anger and it overflows and emotions flood the individual’s system. Sometimes, these emotions are simply too much to handle.

It is a feeling of wanting to jump out of our skin, be somebody else for a day, or quiet the noise in our heads. There is just too much going on inside. Alcohol and drugs quiet the noise, dull and lessen the feelings.

The problem is that just as with the void, the use turns on us and fills us with even more regret, remorse and recriminations. We now believe we are worthless.

It is a feeling of wanting to jump out of our skin, be somebody else for a day, or quiet the noise in our heads. There is just too much going on inside. Alcohol and drugs quiet the noise, dull and lessen the feelings.

The problem is that just as with the void, the use turns on us and fills us with even more regret, remorse and recriminations. We now believe we are worthless.

Illusions about Others and Ourselves

Evaluating or assessing ourselves can help us to see that we are not less than, worthless, or better than, but simply us. We do not have to strive to be someone else, only the best us that we can be. How many meetings have you attended where people state, “And I’m okay with me, today.”

Most of us have created illusions about how okay, together, and capable everyone else is that there is no way to evaluate them accurately or ourselves. Some of our illusions about them and how to resolve the conflict:

  • They have more than I have: Ask them how they acquired something
  • They know more about something than I do: Ask them what to study to know more
  • They make life and recovery look easy: Ask them for advice
  • They make things look easy: Ask them to teach you how to do something
  • They process their feelings: Ask them how they learned to deal with feelings
  • They don’t get overwhelmed: Ask them for coping strategies

Calmly reflect on what is right with you.
Calmly reflect on what is right with you. | Source

We Have no Voids and We Can Manage the Too Full

When we can learn to be okay with ourselves, we do not see the void as the bottomless pit that needs filling with anything, anyone, or everything and everyone.

Nor do we succumb to the noises that would tell us that we are less than others. We are not imperfect and flawed; so damaged that no healing will occur and we need to continue using to dull and quiet these urges and thoughts.

We are okay with ourselves, for today.

© 2013 Marilyn L Davis

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    • MDavisatTIERS profile image
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      Marilyn L Davis 2 years ago from Georgia

      Good evening, teaches12345; thank you. My grandmother said start there when someone is kind. Some more famous than I stated that those who need the message will be drawn to it, it is up to the writer to write it. Yes, I hope that the message that recovery is possible does help someone struggling. Thanks for stopping by, reading and following. ~Marilyn

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 2 years ago

      I don't drink alcohol but know people who have suffered from addictions to it and other drugs. I can't imagine how hard it is to break such a habit. Your messages are important and I pray they reach the ears and hearts of those who need the encouragement.

    • MDavisatTIERS profile image
      Author

      Marilyn L Davis 2 years ago from Georgia

      Good evening EPBooks; I missed this somehow. Thank you for the comment.

    • MDavisatTIERS profile image
      Author

      Marilyn L Davis 4 years ago from Georgia

      Hi Billy. Thanks for the comment. What is more important is that you are proof that change is possible; congrats on the seven years. :)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Have I ever used alcohol to fill the void? LOL Only for about twenty-five years. :) Not necessary today; my 7th birthday is next month. :) Great information here.

    • MDavisatTIERS profile image
      Author

      Marilyn L Davis 4 years ago from Georgia

      Hi Elizabeth. Thank you for the comment.

      It took me a long time in my own recovery to understand that the void was not going to be filled externally, nor was the pain going to go away, but that I would have to change my perceptions of both.

      I hope that it reaches people who could benefit from healing.

    • epbooks profile image

      Elizabeth Parker 4 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Great hub- I feel for people who do have those voids. Very well-written and explained wonderfully.