We can never be filled

Forty-three years ago, I was born in a Baltimore hospital. My grandmother told me the story of my birth every time we drove past the Black and Decker building where my father used to work. It wasn’t a particularly interesting story except that I arrived two weeks early and he had to rush from work to meet my mother at the hospital and made it just in time. Many years later I had daughters of my own and both arrived two weeks early (well, one only 13 days).  The women in my family are speedy incubators or else the babies too cramped in there. Either way, it speaks to a certain genetic impatience.

Impatience and control issues dead end at anxiety. I’ve been a high-strung laid back person my whole life and quickly learned to self-medicate through chronic daydreaming, compulsive chewing of gum and fingers, then smoking, reckless but recreational sex and drugs, and finally a more serious focus on drinking and, last but not least, dessert. I have only found relief in giving up these things. Still fiddling with the last one and may not get there, honestly.

Not-drinking was the hardest thing I’ve successfully done (or not done), at least at first. Before I quit, I tried not to think about what life without alcohol would look like because I could only imagine bleak and uninteresting. Things never turn out like we imagine.

The other day, someone dear to me who still drinks shared these lyrics from a Swans song:

Now show some pity, for the weak of will
Because when we’re drinking, we can never be filled
Show some understanding for a lonely fool
Because when I’m drinking, I am out of control
Well I was never young, nothing has transpired
And when I look in the mirror, I feel dead, I feel cold, I am blind

It kills me because I remember that pain and know what worked for me. Well, I don’t know how to be completely filled. I’m still human but that pain from drinking, at least, is gone. I’m no longer blind.

I see how the choices I make affect others. Even the little choices matter, sometimes the most. I know I am not in control beyond that, which helps with anxiety, though I still get it pretty bad at times. Seeing it for what it is helps. I know the ups and downs are like waves I get to ride. The more I actually ride the waves, the easier it gets. Sometimes one pulls me under and fills my bathing suit with sand, but even the biggest ones dissolve and return to something much bigger and we get to do that too.


scene from a mushroom farm diorama

36 thoughts on “We can never be filled

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  1. Gosh those lyrics really struck me at my core. Dead, cold and blind. Really toward the end that is what my drinking had become. I am starting to see how my choices affected my children and how they are just blossoming when they have a mother that is conscious and present. xx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I got sober for myself (hangovers, self-loathing, remorse) but my kids are the number one motivation to stay that way. I see now how drinking influences everything, never in a positive way. We take it away and slowly wake up.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes I couldn’t stop drinking for my kids even if I wanted to. That was just the lowest point for me. But I needed to get to that point where I had to do it for myself. My sanity and survival was at stake.I’m still waking up:)


  2. perfect.
    what an interesting way for your friend to reach out for help…
    to someone who knows that even tho you can never be filled, you’re clear on what can’t possibly fill you. Now we get to figure out what can help.


    Liked by 3 people

    1. This was shared with a larger audience than just me, but it struck how most people wouldn’t even have heard that part. Absolutely on finding what helps fill us. And I did most of the same things when I was drinking, but you take away that bottomless pit and it all starts to work better.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is amazing on so many levels. “High-strung laid back person” struck me. I was just telling Christy this morning what a great influence she has been on my adult life. I say the same (whole heartedly) about you, too. Happy Birthday, beautiful xoxoxo

    Liked by 3 people

  4. This post reads so crisp and confident Kristen, such conviction in your words and force in how you present it. And the title, killer: I know you’ve bemoaned coming up with good titles in the past, this one is sweet…and you’ve got guts to take on Swans lyrics, shit…thanks for sharing, good sentiments. Bill

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You influence many of the “new” things I try out here, hope you don’t mind! (imitation=flattery) Lyrics are always open, but when the other person shared, they clicked with me too. Thanks for the kind words!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Happy birthday 🎂! I can relate to so much of your post. Impatience and control issues equaling anxiety? Yes. High strung? Also yes.
    I most love your words on choices. I’ve had sand in my bathing suit plenty of times. Xo Joanne

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Happy belated birthday, K!

    I was just sharing with a friend, a week or so ago, that what if we aren’t meant to fill this space? What if we are like cereal boxes (items may have settled; box may not be completely full)? What if we are left with space so that sometimes we can expand and not burst? Or maybe the space is a reminder that we are already complete, just the way we are? Or even, to get way deep, maybe the space is a metaphor, a blank slate, a reminder that we hold both light and dark, capacity to both love and to hurt?
    Once we accept that we are already complete, seems to be when serenity can find us. We may not be able to fill the space, but maybe the trick is to make peace with the space. Because it is our space, it is us. Making peace with the space, makes peace with ourselves.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had the hardest time writing this post for whatever reason, and there were many, but just like that you put into words what I couldn’t. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with not being filled…LOVE the cereal box analogy, fun and feels true. And yes, we have light and dark and aren’t meant to be any other way. Just like we’re not supposed to be happy and at peace all the time. What a relief that is, though peace is something deeper and more meaningful than that, something to strive towards. xoxo

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh, yes…the Swans (and Joseph Arthur) were my go-to soundtracks when I was drinking. I have to tread carefully when it comes to choice in music now, as it can be a trigger for me. I, too, am still struggling with a sense of emptiness, as if something is missing and can be found if I travel far enough, or meet the right soulmate, or accomplish one of the million goals I have on my list… I always have a proverbial foot out the door. Someone once told me that the void or missing *whateveritis* isn’t so much a specific thing or person or experience, but it’s when you choose to fully commit yourself (to whatever)…that’s when life doesn’t feel so empty. Of course, this is why the founders of AA thought alcoholism to be a spiritual disease…even as an agnostic, I wonder if Bill and Bob were right. At least, it seems we all share the same feeling that something is missing… meaning/purpose/spirit?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I guess most people suffer these feelings. It’s a gift when we recognize it. Love the last bit of what you wrote re: meaning/purpose/spirit. Alcohol was a huge spirit blocker and I had no idea until I stopped drinking. Thought provoking comment -thanks!


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