Staring back at the abyss — how to overcome the all consuming void

Living with an addictive personality is difficult, especially when the addictive personality is who you have to look at in the mirror everyday.

In my situation as a food addict, (and to other addicts in any form or fashion) I have become aware of my greatest enemy, but my greatest teacher: my ego/mind —and ultimately, the void.

In general, an addictive mind is constantly trying to find a way to escape itself, and I’ve realized my addiction with binge eating and being an impulsive shopper. It’s not the same addiction as alcohol or cigarettes — but it takes a hold of the brain in the same way.

When understanding different types of addictions, the substance itself will always be different and affect our individual lives differently — but our minds are the same.

This is where I consciously practice stoicism and existentialism, as it helps me overcome myself. I live in a state of constant growth, and everyday I want to continue growing and becoming conscious of who I am, and how to overcome my own mind.

It’s always been easier to feed the void and false hunger that I crave, than it’s been to face it head on.

That has changed this year.

I have been actively working on internally healing the wounds that cause me to revert back into self-sabotage with my own health and happiness.

I’m here to share my story and understanding about my greatest enemy and greatest teacher — the void.

The void — it’s a terrible place to be.

From experience, I’ve learned that the void is not a place; it’s a fleeting feeling that consumes you. It’s a part of us, but it does not define us.

It is an ugly deep hole at times… so much that when you are in it — it’s so hard to separate yourself from that feeling. It consumes you.

My favorite philosopher Nietzsche once said:

“He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster.

And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee.”

This quote has always made me realize just how deep the rabbit hole goes when we have to face the void. It’s easy to get lost and consumed in the feeling that we end up becoming that which we despise once we lose control of our emotions.

I just completed a two day water fast in an attempt to face my void and understand the root of where I need to begin healing.

In my experience, I chose a water fast to help me become more conscious and aware of my body and mind. I wanted to clear my head and let everything comes to me without food giving me that comfort.

It was two days of struggling but it enlightened me on a different level.

When you go hours without eating, you have nothing but time. It seems like your days just get longer because eating takes up a good portion of your day, and when your body is not eating, your mind starts to come into the picture and this is where we can go back into our addictive behavior — or face it head on.

On day two, I had my breakthrough.

I had a moment where I reacted to myself when I forgot something that happened last week, and I got upset at myself for forgetting because I wish I had a better memory.

In that moment — I didn’t see the void, I became consumed by it.

In that moment, I wanted something sweet to eat to make me forget about the pain I was causing myself internally for something so small like having an impaired memory.

I was not going to give into food to escape the void. I had to escape the void naturally.

In that moment I sat there and cried. I told myself that this is a feeling and it is not who I am.

I felt it consciously giving it an awareness so I could understand myself deeper.

I said to myself out-loud that this is a fleeting moment…and then I felt that dark feeling fade away.

It felt like I was drowning six feet under, but when I was consciously aware of that feeling and that it wasn’t me — I felt myself floating comfortably in that moment.

I was left to feel my own sadness and tears without the comfort of feeding my void. When I acknowledged that it was just a feeling that needed to be acknowledged, it disappeared.

I was proud that in that moment I could process everything. Fasting has helped me emotionally mature to understand that I need to FILL myself with love and not become the FEELINGS that were taking over.

I learned in this moment that self-love and positive affirmations for my life were absolutely needed to get through that short moment I had faced in the void.

I am complete and my addiction does not define me.

In the void, my mind was my greatest enemy, but once the feelings faded, my mind became my greatest teacher to help me become aware and conscious of what I needed to do next.

I learned the void that I have exists side by side in my life.

This void is a shadow aspect of who I am, but it is not what defines me — but it is a huge part of what makes me human.

I realized that if I could treat my void like a child who hasn’t had her basic needs met, it all made sense.

All I needed to do was stop and look at her for a minute, understand her pain, not try to change her in that moment, just let the emotions flow out of her, let her know it was okay to be in this moment, and at the end of her grief — give her love and security in a positive way. I didn’t buy her way out with food this time. I didn’t buy her way out with lavish gifts to distract her from feeling.

I let her FEEL.

And it was ugly to feel the pain that she held, but she transmuted it in that moment.

I transmuted my own pain.

And that’s how I’ve begun to heal that void inside.

Once you provide a child with her basic needs being met — security, stability, feeling loved, comforted, it will stop seeking those needs in that moment.

Yet, if you try to band-aid the basic needs with treats, or an escape, they will keep coming back until the issue has been resolved.

That is the void — an unhealed inner child looking for confirmation that it will all be alright.

The void can act out at times, until it gets their way.

But like Nietzsche said — if you look too long into the void, you have to be careful that it does not become you. We have the choice as human beings to become our worse enemy, or become the “ubermensch” — to rise above who we are as humans to become greater than we have ever imagined.

From my time fasting, I learned that the void comes up as a reminder to take care of ourselves.

You have to separate yourself from that void and understand what you need in that moment to heal, and this is where true healing takes place.

-Cecilia J. Sanders 5/27/19

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