Life's Seasons Speaks

Empty Enough

September 21, 2022 Tina Episode 80
Life's Seasons Speaks
Empty Enough
Show Notes Transcript

Empty Enough

Today we talk about the feeling of being empty.
You know the feeling.  It's like being depressed but not quite.  It feels like it includes sadness but it's more than that.  It's tired, yes, but not just in the way of needing rest.  There is no motivation, creativity, ideas, drive...  Nothing.  Just empty.

Join in with today's episode as Tina discusses this topic of being "empty" in a whole new light.  Is empty just a negative experience?  Or could it be a place from which something new can emerge.  Could this be the birth place of hope?  If this is possible, how does that work?  What does that look like?

Tune in and we'll find out.

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My son has struggled with alcohol for years now and has just recently put himself through detox.  He is newly sober, and, in a season, he has never been in before.  Now this is a whole episode in itself which I shall surely touch upon at some point – with his permission and blessing.  I’m 100 percent allowed to say what I say about my kids.  I check first.

But I mention this place today, where Shale found himself in the days just before and as he was leaving detox.  This place where I may have been full of hope and joy, but Shale, being so tired and worn out from the emotional and physical toll his body, heart and mind was experiencing… well he was feeling very EMPTY.

You know this word empty.  Sometimes we replace with other words that almost say what we mean.  We say tired, depressed, sad.  We say don’t have any cares left.  It’s sometimes called compassion fatigue or burn out.  

Empty happens for different reasons through different seasons.  It’s not weakness.  Even though it can feel that way and others can see it that way.  It’s not laziness.  It’s not indifference.  It’s not irresponsibility.  It’s EMPTY.

It’s void of anything you think it ought to be.

It’s not being able to shower when you know you need to.  You actually know it would probably help you feel a bit better.  But you still have nothing in you to get up and go turn on the water.

It’s calling into work again because you can’t fathom getting out of that bed.

It’s letting the kids run around crazy, making an even bigger mess, and then eating a bag of popcorn for supper.  NOT because you don’t care… but because you are empty of what it would take to deal with the kids and make them a meal.

And you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror and think deal with kids?  Make supper?  Clean the house?  I don’t even have it in me to care of what I look like.  I’m a mess.  And I don’t care.  I mean I do care.  I feel terrible.  But also at the same time… I just don’t care.

Oh yes, emptiness can bring feelings of guilt, shame, despair.  But they aren’t enough to fill you with anything close to what it will take to have what’s needed to do anything differently right now.

Empty is having your partner do the same thing AGAIN, that thing that drives you crazy, sends you right into orbit with annoyance.  That thing that you guys have argued about 100 times.  Had some good, heated arguments about it too… and this time – nothing.  You say nothing cause it would take too much energy and care to address it, and you have neither.  You are EMPTY.

You don’t have it in you.  You wish you did.  But you don’t.  Because you are just EMPTY.

I’m wondering if there is anyone listening today who has been feeling empty.

You can’t just say depressed.  You know it’s like that, but this is somehow not quite the same.  You’ve tried saying sad but that didn’t accurately describe it.  It’s tired yes.  But more than that.  This word today, it’s resonating.  This word EMPTY is feeling like it just might be it.

Your creativity, knowledge, passion, advice, drive, insight, ideas… all of it.  Gone.  You are EMPTY.

If this is describing what you are feeling and experiencing right now, if you would let me, I just want to say to you what I said to Shale in the days leading up to detox.

I’m sorry you feel this way.  I’m sorry if I seem excited in the face of everything you feel or don’t feel right now.  But this is the place where something new happens.

And even in his emptiness, of having pretty much nothing left to give, still in that place, something in him was able to say, “I know.  I know this is where something new can happen”.

So, I’m asking you today.  Can you search the depths of the void you are possibly reckoning with?  Is there something way deep down in there that can hear me say that this is the place from which something new can plant and grow and become… and can you say, “I know that.  I believe that.”

And you know what?  If your answer is, no?  If you can’t say you know and believe that this emptiness is just a blank canvas for what’s coming, can I just ask you to maybe consider saying, “I don’t know about that, but I hope so.  I’ll trust you on that” … or at least “I’ll just remain open to the possibility”.

Cause what I want to point out is that before Shale decided to go to detox, before he decided to surrender in his emptiness, HE WAS FULL.

There was no room for any new possibility.  There was no room for thoughts of a different life.  There was no room for dreaming of anything being different.  There was no room for hope.

He was FULL.  He was full of fear and despair and heartache and illness and pain and suffering.  He had no room for anything that could possibly have him believing for anything better in life.

He was full of everything it took to survive the endless cycle of drinking to deal with the pain and pain from the drinking and then drinking to deal with the pain.

When you are full of everything it takes to survive… you have no room for what it’s like to live.

Oh, I don’t know if anyone heard that or caught that, but I think it deserves repeating – 

WHEN YOU ARE FULL OF WHAT IT TAKES TO SURVIVE… YOU HAVE NO ROOM FOR WHAT IT’S LIKE TO LIVE.

So, if you find yourself empty today, I am sorry you feel what you are feeling.  I’m sorry if I might seem a little excited for you.  I am not making little of your experience.  But I am excited because I can promise you, this is not life now.  This is not how it’s got to be now.  This is a season of making room for what’s coming.

I am not just asking if you feel empty today.  I am asking if you are empty enough.

You know, often when we find ourselves in the experience of emptiness, it’s a gift.  And like I’ve said a hundred times, and I’m going to say it again – this is not the same as being grateful for pain.  That’s not what I’m saying.  I’m not someone to shove that quote at you about being grateful for your terrible experiences cause they are just going to make you stronger – NO – they shouldn’t have happened and I’m sorry they did.  

But in this place of feeling empty, maybe you feel like all your energy or motivation or hope for the future has been stripped away from you.  But what’s really been stripped away is all the distractions.

What’s really been stripped away from you is the heaviness of what you’ve been carrying for a long time.  If you feel like you no longer care about so much in your life, this is the place where you have space again.  This is the place where there is finally room for all the energy, motivation, and HOPE that you have deserved to carry for so long now.

This is a new place full of space.

You get to decide here what we fill it back up with.

I’ll tell you one of the things that was stripped away from my son in those last days before he decided to call the hospital and ask for a bed in the detox unit.  It was options.

Shale was empty of options.  And that can be the scariest place to find yourself in.  I know that.  I’ve been there.  But my experience in that place will never compare to being a mother watching your child find themselves in that place.

My son, broken and weak and weeping was before me saying, “Mom, I’ve got nothing left.  I’m out of options.  I do this or I literally die”.

I cannot begin to tell you what that feels like, but I know that some people are listening right now saying that I don’t need to try to explain that.  You already know.  And you know because you too are a parent and have seen your child in that place.  Or you are that child.  Either by age and circumstance or by feeling like a child, helpless and out of options.

I cannot accurately describe those feelings to you.  But it was still a gift.  I wasn’t grateful to be there in that space, watching that I was watching or experiencing what we were experiencing.  

But it took that moment.  It took that feeling.  It took that emptiness of being all out of other options, to make room for what was and what is yet to come.

I’ve had years FULL of fear and anguish and anxiety and grief watching my son’s health in all elements of his life decline.

I was FULL.  

But in his emptiness of the moment, I saw that hope was trying to find its spot and so I had to become empty too, of all that had been so heavy, in order to make room for hope.

I wasn’t carrying the same heaviness as Shale was.  We all respectfully carry different memories, experiences, thoughts, feelings, and reactions.  We all have our own baggage full to bursting with all we have ever been through.  Our bags may not hold the same contents.  But they still all heavy. 

But in that place where we both found ourselves holding these bags that once carried so much, now feeling very empty – it was scary.  Because it was new.  Because we hadn’t been in that place before holding these empty bags.

But it was in that same moment of recognizing the emptiness, that those empty bags were able to start refilling.

Where your bag had been so full, with no room for anything else to possibly be shoved into them… in the emptiness, hope can find space.

Hope is the first thing looking for room in your life, in your bag that you carry around with you everywhere you go.

Hope is constantly trying to get into your baggage.  Hope is trying to find a place in your life.

Hope has a hard time finding a place in your life when you are already full.

I am sorry if you feel empty today.  And also sorry, not sorry if I sound excited while you feel empty.  I am not making light of your feeling.  But I also cannot, no matter how I try, make hope less exciting.

If you are finding yourself feeling so empty today that you just don’t care, about anything, then all the distractions have been stripped away from you.  All of the options have been stripped away from you.

You have all the room in the world.  For all the hope in the world.

But here’s the secret… It may not be an immediate swap.  If it was, you wouldn’t feel empty.  If it was all about pulling out the pain to plop hope right there in its spot, emptiness wouldn’t be a thing.

Emptiness can be a time to rest.  Emptiness can be a time to reflect.  Emptiness can be a time to lay it all down and leave it there and restore your weariness from the heaviness it had been.  

That’s ok.  It’s uncomfortable.  But that’s because it’s new.  But if we can see emptiness in this way, we are talking about it today… then we don’t have to focus on it as the new heaviness.  Because empty is not heavy.  And we don’t have to work to make it heavy but adding guilt and shame to that space.

Listen, I think being FULL of so much heaviness, is like being thirsty.  I googled what it’s like to die of thirst.  And it sounded accurate.  The destruction to your mind and devastation to your body when dying of thirst sounded a lot like what it is to carry baggage so heavy with trauma, bad memories, pain, guilt, and shame.  Because what those things do to your mind and your body are so damaging.

But we can be dying of thirst with all the water in the world at our disposal.  All we need is for a vessel to pour it into.  We are a vessel in need of water.  We are in need of hope.  Just like it is essential for water to live, so is hope.  

But we have to have room to pour it into.  We have to be empty enough to be poured into.  We have to have room for the hope that we need in order to live.

I’m not just asking today if you are empty.  I am asking if you are empty enough to hold what it will take to live.

I’m asking if you are willing to endure this emptiness for what it is coming.

If you aren’t empty, but you don’t feel like you have this hope.  If you are not empty but you are still thirsty, are you willing to become empty enough for the room that allows for hope to be poured in.

That might be about allowing yourself into the place where you have no more options.

It might be that you are in a place where it is time to surrender to the fact that you are out of options.

You need water or you will die.  You need hope or you will die.

Is it time that we need to make space for hope to find its place in your life?

Is it time to empty ourselves of the heavy burdens we have been carrying?

If you have just said yes, you might feel empty.  Uncomfortably empty.

But you’ve just made room for what it will take to open up a new season in your life.  You’ve made room for water.  For hope.

And I don’t know anything that is impossible when there is hope.

What does it look like to be out of options in your life and empty and in need of hope?  I don’t know.  Those possibilities are endless.  But so are the resources.  They can be hard to find and hard to access when you don’t know where to begin.

But one of the things my son said to me before detox was, “mom, how will I live with the hell of my memories, not drinking?”

Honest question.  Good question.

I said, “son, you don’t have one memory harder to deal with than the hell you are living trying to drown it out”.  And he agreed.

You may be envisioning how bad it is going to be to allow yourself in a place where you are empty and out of options.  But I can tell you that that place is temporary.  It will no doubt be hard.  But it won’t last.

The life you are trying to live right now, dragging heavy baggage with you everywhere you go?  That life has no end to it until we stop and empty the bags and allow for the emptiness.

If you are at the crossroads where one road is long and you can see the drag marks of all the people who have taken it and pulled their heavy baggage behind them, turn your head.  Look at the other road.  Hardly a scuff on it.  Because the people who took that road were empty.  Light as a feather.  With all the space for hope to pour in.

That road may start with detox.  Go.  It may start with calling a friend.  Call.  It might start by making an appointment with your doctor, counsellor or community agency or organization.  Make the appointment.  You may need to reach out for help, support, guidance.  Do it.  Reach out.

Anything that it’s going to take, you are worth.  And I cannot hide my excitement about that for you.  I want everything for you.  Are you empty enough for it?

I love you guys.  I can’t wait to meet back here with you again.  Please feel free to send me a message anytime.  I care.  I’ll read it.  I’ll respond.  Our contact info is in the show notes.

Until next time, this is Tina saying good-by for now… and we’ll speak again soon.