I have uninstalled the computer games. I have put pieces of paper over the clocks (including the one in the bottom right hand side of my computer screen). I’m a compulsive clock checker. This is why I don’t wear a watch except for running.
My brain wants to know the time, all the time. Because it’s trying to calculate if I have enough time to do something.
Is it 11:15 am? Don’t bother starting an audio now, husband will be home for lunch soon. Is it 4:30 pm? Catering due to be delivered at 7 pm so I have more time to sit around before I begin to pack up.
(Is it the right time to be sober? You have an event tomorrow so you want to wait until after. It’s christmas time so you want to wait. Yes, you feel terrible and want to be sober but you can’t start until you have 14 complete days of perfection, then you can be sober, not now.)
And when I remove the computer game and I remove the clock-checking, I find this: An Empty Space.
I’ve been running away from an empty space.
I’ve been boozing and running (literally) and stressing and worrying and detesting being bored MY WHOLE LIFE because of what?
Because of an empty space.
Cuz in this space, I get to create my life. My cool sober life. The one where stressing and worrying and angsting and fretting and feeling embarrassed have been just about completely removed.
There’s this cool empty space here. (It looks a lot like my living room.) I get to put in whatever I want.
Have I really been running from this? Running from the opportunity, the possibilities, of constructing a life I LOVE?
I’ve joined an amazing meditation place near my home. I’ve been doing some sort of meditation class every single day since thanksgiving. It seems like the theme they have been hitting (a bunch) in the last couple weeks has been how to feel good in empty spaces… to be still and mindful and present in the “now”. I’m more grateful for my sobriety at this time while I go on this journey. I think how on earth can someone even start to explore these things without being sober? Not always comfortable, but yeah… the world is my oyster now, I can manage and direct it the way that I want now and I don’t have to run away from boredom or empty spaces or even large emotions!
Great post for me today. Wolfie likes to time things for me. Like I would have the time to drink tonight. Kids will be gone. I won’t be needed for a few days so plenty of time to recuperate.
Sorry, not today wolfie. I want my empty space back. That’s were I find me and she’s pretty damn great!
Empty space and an awareness of it :mindfulness. I guess its like a visit to your true self without all the distractions. If I sit with it and just ‘watch’ it there is incredible peace but this is not easy for me:( I don’t feel peaceful at all when I am perusing Facebook or the news or watching TV. And I feel guilty because I think I should be DOING something productive. And then I judge myself about production all the TIME. And then there is the urge to reach for something else to distract me. Booze isn’t cutting it anymore, but trying to figure out how to fill this space is a challenge. I am doing it step by step, one day at a time:)
??? this is so true and inspiring! I will wake up in the middle of the night with a feeling of dread or overwhelm, and when I pin point the reason, it is usually something that shouldn’t be taking up my energy and almost always has to do with control. It is also almost always something that won’t matter in 5 years (or even 1) and something I actually cannot control, but I keep searching instead of accepting and dealing with it. I don’t understand why it is so hard to keep perspective on life, when the “good” and “what really matters” kinda stuff is all around us.
This is awesome, Belle. I feel relieved and not alone.
I’ve filled the space with a lovely life that’s really me. Working on being proud of it.
Yep, couldn’t sit with the nothingness for a long time. I’d get to 5pm and be itching to get out of my skin, to escape from me, my thoughts, my resistance to facing the often dark thoughts. Funny thing is, once you do the work, you sit with the shit and practice it, the empty space becomes a place of peace and relief. Relief from the incessant chatter, the internal brain hammer that alcohol drives.
I am so relieved to be free of that.
Ive always been busy being busy and now that I’m retired the days seem long and im drinking more….ah when will i stop being busy and start the life i dream about….
I’m just passed 180 days sober, and I’m finally getting used to empty space. I still fill a lot of it with sober audios and things like commenting on this post. Not ready for THAT much space. I used to have to fill all that space with physical things: walking, biking, painting the house, etc. I was always exhausted! Slowly I’ve been finding a balance. I now enjoy quiet time with my thoughts.
For me it’s the little things that perhaps went unnoticed that I am taking great delight in; for one just clarity when it comes to thinking and not relying on others to fill in the memories after a drunk stupor; and you know that people will exaggerate because that is human nature.
I have been enjoying getting to know me again, I think back to a time in my childhood where my life was alcohol free; and now understanding that it’s ok if the laundry piles up, it’s o.k. to do absolutely nothing and just enjoy the space and skin that you are in.
Of course I can’t be too negligent with household chores because of my teenager; but I am learning to tread lightly on myself.
Taking no excuses for drinking myself to death. I am happy that I have this online community where as before I felt the isolation of sobriety. I would rather be sober than to ride that suicidal plane of no return. I am so looking forward.
I am an avid reader; but haven’t deeply connected to sources of thoughts because right now am getting use to the idea of being sober; and since alcohol is a disease of progression; it’s going to take time to be comfortable with abstinence.
Belle, once again you nailed it!!! This is me. I want to be sober so bad, but I’m afraid of failing at it again. I woke up today so desperately wanting to make this my day 1, but then I think, wait I have a Christmas party to go to on Friday and Sunday, and I’m hosting a Christmas dinner for 16 people, and then what about New Year’s? I can’t be sober now, even though I need to be, want to be. I have to wait until January 1, when there won’t be a chance of failing. Because I’m a perfectionist, the time for sober isn’t perfect, and I will fail. How stupid is that!!! I’ll never be my most perfect self when I drink 1+ bottle of wine per night. I will always be a failure. And the cycle and voices in my head continue.
Oh my gosh, this is me. I am living in fear of nothingness. If I’m not running around with my hair on fire, then I’m bored, then depressed, then want to drink to make the time pass. Anonymous, I feel ya. I bought myself a beautiful engraved necklace with January 1st, 2013 is the day life begins. I knew buying this necklace would be the shot in the arm I need. (I waited until the holidays were over). Well then I was sad because the holidays were over, everyone was gearing up for a new year, and then I drank because of that, and then the Super Bowl, and then my birthday, Valentines Day……so here I am at the end of 2016 and that expensive necklace has since been tossed away.
I used to worry about what the time was more. I had to get xyz done now – I had to get it done now as there is no time later, it can’t cut into my drinking time. Is it 5pm yet? It’s 5pm somewhere in the world, right? I checked the time because there was never enough time. Stopping drinking gave me back literally hours of my day! And sometimes, not too often, but sometimes I sit and think I am bored, but at least I’m not bored and hungover 🙂
In the empty space lives the demon of my past. When I drank I ran from it or drank to make it invisible. In the beginning of my fight for sobriety it sit on my shoulder, oozing it’s toxic filth in my ear. “You’re faulty you know? Think they’ll love you if they really knew? You better be perfect or they’ll get tired of you. You better keep it together. Here, just a few to relax. Its tough keeping it all going.”. LAIR! Without the booze the demon screamed and screamed, at first. By the end of week one it’d slithered to the corner and begged. No I see it huddled there. At first I’d trip on it’s trail of lies and it’d try to pin me down but now I keep a better eye out for it’s traps. I asked loved ones to keep an eye out to and with them around the demon hides and is usually pretty quiet. I’m filling the empty space with love, fun and new challenges until the demon gets pushed out or squished by the good things I am filling up on. Now it’s your turn to run you slime ball!
Read this and nodded (affirmatively) all the way through. Definitely been running from the empty space, the blank canvas that is me, someone I can begin to reconstruct all over again, somewhere I can dip into my childhood passions I left behind at age 13 in favour of the bottle…
Am getting better with the empty space, but I’ve resisted it to the point of crying and yelling at times, only because I realise I’d lost touch with who I was and what I liked to do. I’m learning to sit with it and not be afraid.
This is an ongoing problem for me. I constantly run from trying anything new because I might not do it well. If only I didn’t pay so much attention to Wolfie, I might have the guts to take that pottery class I’ve been wringing my hands over, wanting to fill the empty place sobriety leaves.
I love that quiet, peaceful space, it’s taken me a while to feel that way
Brilliant- I reached for the “like” button…. And there was an empty space. If we stop looking to like and be liked, either in the social networking world, or in real life, then what’s left? Just this, as it is. Is it enough? There’s the rub….
Haven’t got an Empty Space but certainly got to some Expanded Breathing Space yesterday. I could actually feel it expand. Been needing it badly, mind. I filled the space by going out for lunch and then watching the film Paddington. Also felt the Space contract today. So not so good.
Empty Space can be quite relaxing – if you try not to see it as a negative concept! It can actually sometimes lead to the Ah Haa moments! I watched this Christmas movie, ‘The Holiday’ with Kate Winslet this past Saturday night and there was line in it that made me think about my life since I have decided to live my days sans alcohol. In the movie Arthur who is an Oscar Winner says to Iris (Kate Winslet), “in the movies, we have leading ladies and we have the best friend. You, I can tell, are the leading lady, but for some reason, you’re behaving like the best friend.” Not that this quote has anything to do with drinking but rather relationships; however, I was not a leading lady in my life when I was drinking. I am not sure what I was, until now. That being said, before now, I did not even know what empty space was or how liberating it could be, but now that I have the time to be ok with empty space I have the time to learn about myself and all the fabulous things I can do each day – and be the ‘leading lady’ in my life!
I love time to do nothing, and knowing I have time to do nothing. I want more empty spaces that I can fill with just sitting and lounging about 🙂 I know that’s not aiming high in life but, I’d love to sleep until I wake up naturally (hasn’t happened in almost 5 years) then lay in bed reading…that’s a good empty space.
I know now that I have time to make a new sober life, I can’t seem to figure out what it should be. I am wasting way too much time playing computer games.
I know the empty space you’re talking about! It can be filled with guitar strumming, reading, crafting, blogging, photo taking, baking, nail painting, cuddling, singing, humming, and researching. ALL activities that are productive and conducive to a positie state of mind. A healthy self esteem. I want you to know that since Ive stumbled on your words and have been reading your emails I feel like I have a support that Ive been looking for. My whole life. Especially for the past 4 years. I have tried everything and found that I could not rely on people or things to get me sober. I could rely on myself and God alone. But do you know how frightening and difficult it is to be on the journey by myself? To travel the sober road alone? My bags are so heavy. But there is something safe in reading your words. I find a lot of comfort in being able to relate you. Because I have tried everything else. Writing and journaling…are proven to be the most theraputic and satisfying “things”. I appreciate you all being here for me during my healing process.
Oh my Gosh-me too- Support is HUGE!
I also thank-you all for the support. Words and stories I can relate to and recognize.
Trying to fill that empty space with positive thoughts and energy toward myself.
Feeling I’m worth it one day at time.
I started meditating 10 minutes a day. The calm it instills in amazing.
I can look at problems/situations more calmly and rationally.
Still a work in progress
The Spirituality of Imperfection … a new used book I bought, haven’t read anything but the title…
Many alcoholics struggle with perfection, it’s one of Wolfie’s best lies… if it’s not perfect, it’s not right, it’s bad, I’m bad …..bullshit Wolfie, that’s just bullshit!
Thanks for this blog and all the thoughts. So I am not alone :-). I came home today and I thought… fuck, I am gonna fetch some wine, being sober doesn’t help me to get rid of that lonely feeling. (Is maybe the same as an empty feeling? I guess so). I have nothing with video games but a lot with the clock. The clock makes me stressed, anxious. Didn’t realize till now that the clock is part of the problem. The other one is that I do not feel connected with the people I know in my real life (except my husband). That can drive me crazy and it did today. I read this blog and I thought: why now? what’s the message? And I realized again that I have to be alone for a while, to be with myself, to learn to like and love what I do etc, you know ;-). And that the no-connection feeling is a blessing, a warning; these people are not the right ones for me.
No wine (today) but my favorite tea.
Thanks to you all.
I had this exact experience! I’m still having it! It’s amazing the forms fear takes on, isn’t it? So sneaky.
Why do you think we are so afraid of this empty space?
I hear you on the perfectionism. I’m a regular clock-watcher too, and lots of times I think f*** it, I don’t have time to do it perfectly, so I’m not going to do it at all. Which means there are a lot of things I don’t do, and I wonder when I’m old, will I look back and go “Damn, wish I used my time better.”
It’s really never a *good* time to do anything, if you think about it, but it might be a *good enough* time.
SC, I totally relate to this! So many times I’ve sat down to do something (usually creative), and if I don’t get it perfect The First Time, I’d rather not do it. This way of being has caused me to avoid putting myself out there creatively my WHOLE life, which has caused the cycle of feeling unfulfilled, which caused the urge to drink to numb everything away, which caused the self deprecation, and so on and on and on in the elevator down to nowhere. It’s so good to know others feel the same. 🙂
I completely understand the boredom. I was filling the void with alcohol instead of things that really matter to me. I find that I have so much time to do other things now. I am thankful for soberness!
Straight from my own brain. That need to stay on top of everything, control and make sure it’s done properly, really can lead to overwhelm. Then there’s the happy times, less stressful…….must celebrate with drink! No logic.
Perfectionism: I always know what time it is. I don’t know why. Maybe because I have lived in the same place for so long. I am never late. People laugh at me because I live in a place where the clock is always a half hour give/or take. When say I will pick you up at 8:03, and I mean, 8:03 b/c I know exactly how long it takes to drive to your house at all hours. (see, I am reliable and I’m not a drunk crazy person).
Yesterday, I wanted to get my treat manicure, however, I didn’t have my same nail polish I have been wearing for the last 10 yrs. I always wear the same, very classic, color, (that says I’m not a drunk crazy person, I have my life together, huh?) It dries fast too.
I didn’t have it in my purse b/c I hadn’t planned to go after work. I thought of Belle, this issue of perfectionism. So, I didn’t stop at home to get it, (waste of time). I am wearing a slightly different color for like the 3rd time ever.
I like it. I’m so happy I got my nails done.
I don’t know so much about the empty space – it’s more like I’ve been running from myself all this time….obviously an impossible task as I turn around and there I am again. So, it’s time to make me someone I actually want to hang out with…sounds simple eh?
That’s me – running on empty and running from myself because I don’t feel worthy nor like myself ….
That’s exactly me…