Monday, February 8, 2010

Filling the void

I “held” a table for my friends as they played pool before the drag show. I sat alone for a long time, and that annoyed me. I had been reduced to a table saver so others could arrive whenever they felt like it. Once we assembled, the drama began: Who was flirting. Who was cute, a twink, a hoe, a butch, and who was nellie. Who was the latest internet boyfriend, what he looked like, and his measurements. This behavior had always annoyed me, but I now wondered if they would ever grow up. Then my friends announced they were leaving for another bar, to chase some ass that may be there. And . . . .they. . . . .left me there. . . . without a second thought. I could have followed to watch them flirt, text, and exchange numbers. But I would have felt just as alone there, in their presence, as I did by myself in this bar. So why waste expensive gas to feel lonely? Besides, I’m not going to be the fag hag who follows her gays to every location of their choosing, and try to consistently be their voice of reason. I'm tired of being the level headed one. Everyone had an agenda that night, and it has become a habit.

I sat alone and felt empty, but was determined to finish the show. I wondered, “What is wrong with me? Why am I sitting alone in a gay bar, when I am a single, straight female? Why do I surround myself with people who are desperate, when that behavior annoys me? How did I get here in life, and do I even want to stay here? What is wrong with me?”

There was a time when my group of friends was larger, diverse, and we gathered to have fun. We had our favorite bars, and we moved as a group. No one was left behind. As the group dwindled, we have become closer to each other, and our friendships are now deeper. But I am the only straight person left. And as the minority, I have followed the desires of the majority. Until now.

I left the bar feeling completely dissatisfied with myself, with my friends, with my life. I went directly to QT to get chocolate—as a salve for my soul. I sat in my car, chowing down when I heard a voice in my head, “You cannot fill this emptiness with food.” I was shocked. Then I thought of all the ways I have tried to fill or at least mask this emptiness—relationships, food, church, alcohol, smoking, food, working, and I can’t forget food. I was taught that God or church filled that emptiness, and I worked my ass off in church and in prayer, only to find myself still empty. I have put on 100 lbs since high school to fill the emptiness. I have been going out with friends and stayed as busy as possible to mask the emptiness. But it’s still there.

So the question of the year seems to be, how do I fill this emptiness, and with what? It comes from within, and I now know that. My friend Randall, who was not there that night, let me cry on his shoulder and express my frustration. He assured me I will find the answer, and it’s about loving yourself. He had actually alluded to my lack of self love a few times prior, and I blew him off. I guess my spirit wouldn't be ignored anymore.

I had a talk with one of my friends, and let him know that the drama and the agendas have worn me down, his behavior borders on desperation, and is immature. I let him know that I was hurt. He apologized, and I hope he truly heard what I was saying. Because it's all going to be different now.


luke said...

I still believe God can fill our voids, but my belief has been refined recently - it's not certain, it's not easy, it's certainly not something for which you "work your ass off," and sometimes it's barely noticeable. I think if fulfillment comes from within, it comes from somehow letting God in there with us. Not in some silly way of living up to some idealized form, but in a way where we really let Him change us on His terms and on His time.

If we don't feel Him doing anything extraordinary, we're better off appreciating *His* ordinary than chasing *our own* extraordinary fancies.

There will always be ups and downs when we're involved with other people, and especially a group. In every group there are times of conflict and trouble. Those moments that make us question our identity in the group, and the meaning and purpose of the group itself. Anthropologists would probably say it's part of every healthy group. I guess it comes down to deciding if the group is worth it? Not like, "Are there more ups than downs (for me)?" but more like, "Is the meaning of this group worth accepting the disagreements and conflicts?"

I know you're feeling done with church, but I'm intentionally drawing some parallels here. I'm subtle like that. ;)

Kristi said...

Wow, I almost missed the subtlety. ha! I'm not ending friendships over this situation, because these are people I love. But I can choose to listen to the banter or not. I also have responsibility in this situation, because I allowed being alone to affect me (and being independent, it bothered me that being alone bothered me at all). I think the situation brought a new reality of myself that I needed. Sometimes my biggest "Aha" moments occur at the most random times.

I was told by my mother to pamper myself when I got out of surgery. She noted that I never take care of me, and I needed to start doing that. I also had Randall tell me similar things recently. And the reality is, I have become OK with myself, and I have learned to cope with who I am. But to truly love myself, I have not figured that one out.

luke said...

hmm ... coping is a bad word. coping implies some kind of ideal or standard to which aspirations fail and then we just have to "deal" with something *below* the standard? an important question is who is making the standard? our friends? our family? society? God? or maybe most dangerously - a phantom God we've constructed for ourselves?

I've struggled hard with sensing what God - the real God - wants in my life; compared to what I think God wants. Honestly, I think I've maybe actually sensed God at all only once or twice in my life. and even then it wasn't a striking epiphany - not really big "aha" moments - but more like some simple subtle clarity.

one thing I'm pretty clear about is that God loves us. not for any kind of perfection - of course we're not perfect. but we don't have to be perfect for love. we don't even have to love ourselves for God to love us.

maybe it's about loving ourselves the way God loves us - not to like nor hate *everything* about ourselves. I dunno. I do agree with your mom - pamper and take care of yourself. God would want you to do that at least, while you try to figure out this whole love thing. ;)

Naida Lee said...

maybe our voids can't fully be filled on earth... ? we want SO many things that we cant have.. we're all so needy that i don't think we can ever be satisfied in our present state. some things can HELP it.. but as soon as we fill it with one thing we swallow most of that and want something else.

luke said...

Yay! A flimsy pretext for more C.S. Lewis passages!

"Most people, if they had really learned to look into their own hearts, would know that they do want, and want acutely, something that cannot be had in this world. There are all sorts of things in this world that offer to give it to you, but they never quite keep their promise. The longings which arise in us when we first fall in love, or first think of some foreign country, or first take up some subject that excites us, are longings which no marriage, no travel, no learning, can really satisfy. I am not now speaking of what would ordinarily be called unsuccessful marriages, or holidays, or learned careers. I'm speaking of the best possible ones. There was something we grasped at, in that first moment of longing, which just fades away in the reality. I think everyone knows what I mean. The wife may be a good wife, and the hotels and scenery may have been excellent, and chemistry may be a very interesting job: but something has evaded us. Now there are two wrong ways of dealing with this fact, and one right one."

For the rest, check out the "Hope" chapter of Mere Christianity:

Kristi said...

You succeeded in having me read CS Lewis. :-)

Yes, Naida, there are so many things we want. The older I get, the more at peace I am with not having this or that. When there are material things I want, I can accept that I can't have them. But when it's an internal thing, it's a different story. I have erred and using the physical world to fill a spiritual void.

luke said...

I don't know if that's an error.

My depression was only partially physical. It was largely an existential crisis involving my mind, my faith, my emotions - "internal" stuff like that. But there's not so big a divide between internal and external stuff. As a result of my "internal" depression I couldn't sleep, couldn't eat, couldn't exercise, could barely move sometimes. I had to take care of the physical "external" stuff before I could even start to treat the internal. So I took sleeping medicine and forced myself to eat.

I don't think it's necessarily wrong to use the physical world to treat ourselves as well as we can physically. But I can see where there might be an extreme where we abuse that stuff to try to change our mind or emotions or whatever.

Go get a massage at least! Can you do that yet? :)

Kelsy said...

I have to agree Luke. My last professor that I had at OU said that we are made up of three parts;


I don't think you can really separate them. I know for me, when I get anxious about stomach will get upset. So, I think the same could be applied to depression. Things like breathing techniques, massages, even the act of touching skin can calm a person.

Have you ever heard of the kangaroo hold for infants? It's a technique where infants who have a low survivability are held against the bare skin of a caregiver. The very touch and warmth from the person is often successful in helping the infant to survive!