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You are enough.

That place inside you that feels empty, that often nags at you, that space you are constantly trying to fill… that place, it is supposed to be there. That place inside you is meant to stay empty and hollow. It is from that hollowness that your passion, fire, desire grows from. When your energy is spent trying to fill up, numb out and quiet that emptiness you are missing all of it.

I have spent much of my 36 years running away from the emptiness. As a child, I was so sensitive to the world. I remember days that I would just cry because the sadness around me was overwhelming. In retrospect, that was the most authentic and healthiest response I ever had. At some point the message was received that it was not safe to feel the emptiness, the sadness, the heaviness of the world. My little body could not manage all that it felt, and I turned it into headaches and stomachaches; it became irreconcilable anxiety and fear. I transformed the energy of the world into physical symptoms to be managed because that was all I knew to do.

No one said to me, Ann, let yourself feel those feelings. No one said, Ann, what you have is the gift of sensitivity. No one said, Ann, cherish it, listen to it, walk with it. Because no one knew themselves. Because most of us have been conditioned to tell that voice, that knowing, that energy to go away. Because most of us are not comfortable with the hollow space within. It feels scary, dark, forbidding… it feels empty and we are called to fill it.

I have spent the last 5-10 years or so battling with myself to undo the many ways I have chosen to numb out, to quiet the fear, to keep myself distracted. For so long, I wasn’t even aware of the ways I was distracting myself. I didn’t even know I was ignoring hard feelings, because I had become a master and keeping it all at bay. I imagine often the analogy of the onion, I had to slowly layer by layer peel things back to start to see what was going on beneath the surface.

Still, I find myself falling back into my many maladaptive coping mechanisms and it takes great effort to sit with myself and find out what is actually going on.

I think so much of this often transforms into lack of faith in our own “enough-ness”. That we believe the hollowness within must be telling us about our lack of worthiness. That if we were full, and enough, and worthy we wouldn’t feel the empty. This is simply not the case.

I have heard it argued that the hollow place within each of us, is meant to draw us together, to connect and unite us. Instead we use it as a reason to keep ourselves separate, isolated, disconnected.

It is not from a place of wholeness and perfection that we find meaning and authentic connection. It is from the place of vulnerability, the place of imperfection, the place of truth that we can authentically come together. (Thank you Brené Brown for helping so many of us better understand this truth.)

It is then and there that we can trust that we are indeed worthy, connected and valuable. It is when we are broken open, honest and connected to hollowness that we can create meaningful relationships, meaningful lives

My challenge for you, is the same as the challenge for myself, to walk towards the emptiness, to walk into the courage it takes to be vulnerable to look closely within, to shine a light into the darkness and trust that the space within, the hollowness is my greatest guide and teacher.

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