I fell into a hole last night. I was pulled in by an obsession which I can’t always fight.
I couldn’t climb out of the hole. I couldn’t distract myself from the unfilled need. I couldn’t sleep. I fought this obsession all night, but nothing would distract me from its grip. Exhausted and unsettled, I finally fell asleep about 7:30 a.m.
I don’t fall into this hole very often, but it’s always there — always reminding me it’s waiting. There’s something inside that calls to me like the sirens called the Greek heroes of legend.
I like to pretend the hole doesn’t exist. What else can I do? It’s like a giant sinkhole running through my life, but I don‘t want people to know it’s there. I don’t even want to believe it’s there. I’m like a scared man who walks very fast and whistles loudly as he’s forced to travel through a graveyard which frightens him.
Even on good days, I know the hole is there — just waiting to pull me inside if I let my guard down. And on bad days, I look over into the hole, wanting it to go away but mesmerized by the vain fantasy that something might be different this time.
The hole hasn’t always been there. How long? It’s hard to say, but it’s had an ongoing effect on my life for years now. When I ignore it, there’s still a pull that threatens to overwhelm me. Even if I feel strong and safe some days, I know in the back of my mind that the hole is there. I know it’s not finished with me yet.
When I try to fill the hole — naively confident that this time things will be different — I find the hole is bottomless. No amount of effort will fill it. I don’t have enough of anything to take it away. I shovel everything I have into it — my memories, my hopes, my fears, my anger — but the hole eats everything I can throw into it. The massive hole is still hungry for more — and it wants to pull me inside.
I can even try to cover the hole, ignoring the emptiness inside. I can just put wood and nails and flooring over the hole. Maybe it won’t threaten me then. Maybe it won’t pull me inside. Maybe I can stop being obsessed with this fear and need. It might work for a day or two. Maybe even a week or more at times. But the sirens in that hole eventually laugh and effortlessly pull apart whatever I’ve built.
I’m not the only one who’s faced this. I know that. But it still feels shameful and hopeless. It feels as though nothing can change as long as the hole is there.
The writer Edna St. Vincent Millay had a hole in her world, too. She would have understood my pain. In a letter, she expressed her agony:
“Where you used to be, there is a hole in the world, which I find myself constantly walking around in the daytime, and falling in at night. I miss you like hell.”
I walk around the hole in my life. I avoid it. I pretend it’s not there. I try to cover it. It’s exhausting.
And at night — the literal night at times and the metaphorical night at others — I fall into the hole. I spent all night in that hole last night. I’m exhausted, physically and emotionally.
But I have no idea how to make this huge hole in my life go away.