Chicks in Control - There IS more to me....

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09-16-2013, 12:51 PM
Well, after changing my relationship with food (and changing and changing), I'm starting to understand what people mean when they talk about the "empty feeling". I never realized exactly what it was because I was in such denial, ignoring it, trying to find ways to fill it up: with food, with work, with t.v., with having a baby...unbelievable. I've heard about it, and I suspected I had a problem with it, but the real cognition of it: not there. My life has been a series of events tied together by a tentative string, and the space between each event has been an absolute NOTHING.

Now that I've stopped running and hiding, I finally - FINALLY - turned around to face the period of time between activities, and now I see it like a big gaping canyon. My first reaction is, "What the **** is this???" and I want to turn and run again. But, I'm going to stand my ground this time. The pain is intense and I feel like crying.

How did I end up feeling so damn disconnected?

Has anyone else felt this (or noticed it), and what did you find out about it? I don't really know what it is. I will keep trying to face it, but it seems so elusive.

09-16-2013, 01:15 PM
I know exactly what you are talking about. Food filled that empty void in me. So, I just found something else to fill it :D

Now, I am an exercise junkie. When I first started, I HATED to exercise, but now, if I don't do it, I feel...empty. And since it can't make me unhealthy, I figure, might as well keep at it :)

09-16-2013, 02:13 PM
You know I'm kind of heading that way, too. I just got back from a walk. I've walked every day for the last few weeks at least twice per day, sometimes more. I'm mostly doing it to vent frustration, etc. I don't know, maybe I'm bordering on addicted.

Today, I started to get this calm sense, and now I feel a little better. If not for anything else, at least exercise relaxes the nerves.

09-16-2013, 03:22 PM
I guess that I'd call this feeling existential angst or the void of potential meaninglessness that yawns to one degree or another in almost every thinking person's life. Some find answers in religion, family, causes, hedonism.

I think it is more prone to happen in the young, after schooling is done, after the hubbub of day to day family living, when one their own and able to make life choices. People often rush to fill it with food, alcohol, substances, activities, career or busy-ness. I found that I eventually had to face the void and find meaning as I see it in my life.

It's not easy but the end result at least for me is joy. FWIW, I hear you.

09-16-2013, 04:15 PM
The sad thing is I'm 38, and you'd think I'd be over it by now...Not to mention, trying to find meaning in religion (didn't really work for me, even though I still consider myself "religious" - just not in the traditional sense).

I think part of the trouble is that I know what I really want to do with my work, but I'm stuck where I am for the time being. My job really sucks the daylights out of me. When I was on vacation 2 weeks ago, I was able to find meaning in the little moments taking care of my son, cleaning the house, doing things in the yard. It WAS joyful. It was when I got back to work that all of that was completely obliterated. And now I'm just annoyed. There's just too much to do at work, and too little time, and everyone is so demanding and rush-rush. I think I'm just really tired of it. And trying to find another job is really difficult. No one is hiring, so I just have to find what little joy I can where I am.

09-16-2013, 04:45 PM
I know exactly what you are talking about. Food filled that empty void in me. So, I just found something else to fill it :D

Now, I am an exercise junkie. When I first started, I HATED to exercise, but now, if I don't do it, I feel...empty. And since it can't make me unhealthy, I figure, might as well keep at it :)

Please do not delude yourself into thinking that an exercise addiction cannot make you unhealthy. I got to the point where I was calling off work to work out 6 or more hours a day, running until I passed out, and gave myself a heart attack. Any behavior that is or feels compulsive is dangerous. For me it was a new incarnation of my eating disorder pretending to be healthy behavior.

09-16-2013, 04:50 PM
Please do not delude yourself into thinking that an exercise addiction cannot make you unhealthy. I got to the point where I was calling off work to work out 6 or more hours a day, running until I passed out, and gave myself a heart attack. Any behavior that is or feels compulsive is dangerous. For me it was a new incarnation of my eating disorder pretending to be healthy behavior.

I suffer from OCD tendencies. But my addiction to exercise is a healthy addiction. I give myself between an hour and an hour and an half of exercise time. Given the fact I have severe asthma and ARDS, I have to keep a heart rate and O2 monitor on me. If my heart rate exceeds 145 or if my O2 drops below 90, I call it quits. I will NOT put my health at risk again. I almost died last year due to these lung issues and I know first hand how dangerous they can be. Whereas too much exercise can be dangerous, I have a healthy range that works fine for curbing my need and my wants.

I do appreciate your concern, and I hate that you gave yourself a heart attack. :hug:

09-16-2013, 07:14 PM
silverfighter, can you share what compelled you to work out so much? Perhaps that can shed some light on what this "void" seems like something many of us have in common (that empty feeling). Were you addicted to the feeling of exercise, or to the idea that you were getting thinner, etc.?

I'm at home right now, and my husband just took my son for a walk because I'm too tired from walking earlier in the day and a tough day at work. I came on the computer to "do something." But, honestly, I could wander the house aimlessly for connection and just never find it. I could clean (and I feel I "ought to"), but what a bore - work, take care of my son, and then clean, clean, clean some more. There has to be more to life than one chore after another. How can I make peace with a messy house and love myself, too? I could just as easily be addicted to housework - because what else is there to do? I just want to feel connected and alive. And this isn't it.

09-16-2013, 07:48 PM
Have you considered perhaps volunteering for a cause outside yourself? Perhaps literacy, hunger, poverty, the environment, homeless animals? I find that while these things might not fill your void, it gets you engaged in life and it's beauty and struggle.

I understand about having a job that grinds away at your spirit but there has to be a way to rise above it. In the end I found humor and being present in the moment to help toward that end. I can't lie though, retirement was one of the best things to happen to me and my job was not pointless. I can't imagine data entry or some other God awful industrial boredom where every "emergency" is a manufactured construct of someone's man made deadline or impatience of an executive.

Try to find what beauty and joy in life that you can in your present condition. I would also suggest polishing up your resume to attempt to find something better for yourself. Perhaps counseling might help. My first bout with therapy in my 20s began when at a "New Age" workshop we were asked to stop, breathe and reach inward to find our human being, not our human "doing" which I had essentially been, a human doing. Just be-ing was not something that I had done since early childhood. Something about that exercise uncorked the bottled up things that I had no idea that I even had inside. I had to leave the workshop and made an appointment with a counselor. And so began the journey that eventually ended very well.

Your restless anxiety has a cause. Only you will be able to find it.

Best of luck to you.

09-16-2013, 08:10 PM
Mazzy - book recommendations between the closest of friends can often go awry, and we don't know each other -- so I'm not sure why I think offering you a title is a sound idea! But depending on your interest or tolerance in spirituality and New Age-y schools of thought, you might see if anything by Eckhart Tolle resonates for you. He is most famous for The Power of Now, but I found his later book - A New Earth - to be much, much better. A lot of the ideas feel radical at first.... but they are nestled against some uncanny prose that identifies and names a lot of the feelings you seem to allude to. It's really uncanny to have it named so aptly in print - that constant, low-level hum in the background of discontent and unease with life. He leans heavily on Buddhist thought but makes frequent references to how some core concepts seem to have resonated across religions throughout the ages. Anyway - it's impossible to know if it might speak to you. I wish I had read A New Earth much earlier, though.


09-16-2013, 08:23 PM
Me? I hated myself. I hated myself as early as 5 years old. I developed anorexia by 10, in treatment at 14. Bulimia at 16, bingeing without purging at 18. Bulimia again at 20, anorexia and exercise addiction from 21 to 26. I was 25 when I had my heart attack. Normal weight at the time.

The compulsion was about self-hate. All of them were for me. Until I came to accept that I was whole, acceptable, and good enough and that there truly was no void, I needed those behaviors. There was no emptiness inside, I just felt like there was. Feelings pass. I learned to be okay with me and tolerate my feelings. I have been in recovery 5 years now.

09-16-2013, 08:33 PM
Silverfighter if you are in your 30s now, how ahead of the game you are. I had to learn all of that slowly (glacially slow) and finally put it all to rest a few years ago. Well done.

09-16-2013, 08:59 PM
I'm sorry you feel that way :( I can totally relate though. For me because I work away from home for 4 weeks at a time I tend to get lonely because I miss my fmaiyl and friends, I guess I turned to food to cure the boredom in some way

09-17-2013, 02:23 PM
I'm slowly starting to grasp at the core problem, or rather, I should say "accept."

When I was about 15/16 years old, I knew a woman who had just gone through a nervous breakdown and come out of it. Her method for coping was something she called "manifestation" which I think is the same as The Secret. Essentially, she would imagine her desired goal and then "release it to the universe." It would eventually manifest in her life "with the highest good of all concerned." At the time, I had been going through a rough patch with my then-boyfriend, and she knew I was upset, so she shared some of these New Age coping strategies with me. I became hooked on visualization as a means to improving my life.

One of the things she taught me was that if something negative popped into my head, that I should say "cancel" and not think about it, to prevent it from manifesting.

It may be more than apparent to others that there is a problem with this. It was not apparent to me as a teenager. It was great stuff - so much hope and promise in the ability to affect my life so magically.

The problem is that there is no such thing as magic, and I don't have as much control as I'd like to believe. When things don't pan out to such a high expectation, there is a gap between what I want and what actually is, not to mention, because it is me "doing the controlling," I am also failing in that regard. It's a lot of pressure and misplaced power. Even if things don't pan out poorly, I have the feeling of too much power - I tell myself, "Don't think about that, or it will happen..." Too much responsibility.

The reason why I became entranced by her strategies is because my form of coping with the pain of life (such as cancer, death, lost loves, etc) was to imagine story-lines of these things happening to me or to the people close to me, and how others in my life would react. I thought, well, if I keep visualizing all these bad things, then I may be unconsciously creating a miserable life for myself.

It almost sounds rational when I write it out. But, I think my form of coping was just that - coping. I think if I had continued my childhood way of coping, I may have stayed connected and worked out the feelings I had. Like, maybe it was just a normal developmental phase? And her advice stunted it by encouraging me to shut down the ugly side of life, which, although seemingly ugly, is as real as anything else, and through which, much beauty and goodness is bred?

I think I continued to use her strategies, even after becoming a Christian, because it was reinforced. My life really was going well, in those areas anyway. I have not suffered loss of loved ones after all. Except, maybe myself. And she recovered from a nervous breakdown using the strategies she learned, so why wouldn't it work for me? Plus, positivism is reinforced socially in all areas, and visualization is used by athletes to improve performance, all just seems so rational...

Funny thing is that, after turning to Christianity, my prayers became manifestations as well. God, please give me this, God please protect this person or that person, heal them, etc.

I suppose I just need to see everything for what it is and give up this magical thinking. ??? Still, I'm afraid to do that. Like everything will just plain old fall apart. Talk about being self-centered, like Atlas holding up the world. Sheesh.

09-17-2013, 02:27 PM
I thank you all for your kind words and insights. I have taken in everything that you said to heart and am still chewing on all of it. (bad pun?) LOL

There's just so much thinking/writing going on right now, that I feel like I'm taking up all the text capacity on the internet.

vintage - I totally agree with your comments regarding doing vs. being. It's something I have worked on over the years, and definitely helps. I was able to "be" more when I was on my vacation. Having trouble at work just being as we're expected to do, do, do. Ugh. Anyway, you seem like quite an enlightened person and I really enjoy reading your posts.

silverfighter - you are a fighter that's for sure! That must have been so hard having a heart attack so young. I concur that it's amazing how much you have learned. Why is it so hard for us women to like ourselves?? Seems like it's everywhere.

desiderata - love your name, had a poster of desiderata in college: go placidly amid the noise and haste and remember what peace there may be in silence...awesome poem. I will look at that Eckhart Tolle book. I had read a synopsis of the first one and was worried it was too "out there," so never bought it. I always love book suggestions, keep them coming.


09-17-2013, 02:37 PM
:hug: again, Mazzy. And at the risk of sounding like a proseltyzing zealot :), I'll just say that the more you've shared (here, and in the great advice you have given to others on the forum), I think that book recommendation might be really, really apt. Tolle deals very much with we create so much suffering for ourselves with the mental chatter - our mind-made delusions, if you will. And even our attempts to get out it can be one more level of reinforced suffering -- because it is so very hard to break free of these mental patterns. While I'm not Christian, I found very moving and fascinating how he related so many concepts back to specific teachings of Jesus. Anyway -- wishing you inner peace. It is a struggle.

09-17-2013, 04:50 PM
Desiderata ... I just read the synopsis and overview of A New Earth on Wikipedia, and it does sound quite a lot like what I'm going through. I will definitely check it out more thoroughly on Amazon when I get some time to read more into it. Very much appreciate the suggestion and I'll let you know how it goes!

EDIT: I decided to purchase the Power of Now. It is definitely what I was looking for...So appreciative of your insight. Would send you a direct message if I could figure out