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All I want is someone to hold me tight,
And tell me that it’s going to be alright.
All I want is for someone to hold my hand and walk me through.
Give me a little nudge to take that step,
When I’m too afraid to.
All I wish for is someone who would be my blanket on a cold, dark night
And my ray of sunshine when the day shines bright.
I want someone to be there for me,
Not just when the chips are down,
But even when everything is going right,
For every now and then,
This emptiness creeps on me and reminds me that something is missing
Then, all I want is this feeling to go away
And someone to hold me tight
And tell me that it’s going to be alright.
That’s how it creeps into our lives—this emptiness.
This void that refuses to be filled. Sometimes it shows up as a weird heartache or a lump in the throat. At times, it’s just a sinking feeling or a weird one in the pit of our stomach.
It will find its own way of letting us know that it’s there and that despite everything being right, something isn’t. We’re having a perfectly good day and suddenly, feelings of despair, sadness, and hopelessness start showing up and we are left wondering what just happened.
We try and look for plausible explanations but no wisdom comes from anywhere, and all we end up doing is wonder about why we are feeling this way.
No matter how hard we try to push it away, it just bounces back with greater force.
This feeling of emptiness often creates a disconnection with our sense of self and our life. It makes us numb, hopeless, and makes us question everything, including our own existence.
It’s a deep emotional void that we don’t know how to fill, and at times, nothing we do makes the slightest difference. It just sits there staring at us, making us uncomfortable.
And that’s all because this feeling is trying to tell us something. It’s telling us that we’ve been emotionally deprived for far too long and one or more parts of us are yearning for genuine love, connection, and nurturance from ourselves and the world outside.
It’s telling us that all the childlike parts of us that haven’t been attended to, cared for, and nurtured are screaming to be held with warmth and love.
Often, our first encounter with this feeling is during our childhood. In our formative years, if we don’t end up receiving the love, care, and nurturance that we need, want, and deserve, we grow up feeling emotionally deprived. This feeling of emptiness also grows within us. It’s a constant reminder of what we didn’t get, and we continue to feel as if a part of us is missing.
We grow up with a deep-rooted sense of dissatisfaction, unrest, and frustration with who we are that sticks to our core. No matter how much we keep telling ourselves that we must be “emotionally strong and independent,” the fact is that it is our vulnerability as human beings that builds bridges of genuine human connection that enable us to thrive.
As humans, we are primed for connection and are dependent on others for the fulfillment of our needs. Sadly, when we don’t receive that authentic connection and interdependence while growing up, we might end up becoming an incomplete, disconnected version of ourselves.
Conrad Bars and Dr. Anna Terruwe have written in their book, Healing the Unaffirmed, that to be accepted and approved by others constitutes a person’s second birth, i.e. psychic birth. Just as human beings are unable to give birth to themselves, they are not able to accept and love themselves without the prior love of others.
We build our identity around our primary relationships, and when love, acceptance, and nurturance are missing in our experience, emptiness finds its home.
Slowly, this emptiness that stems from emotional deprivation begins to look for some sense of fulfillment from actions and patterns of behaviors that end up making us feel emptier in the long run.
It often comes up as:
1. Feelings of uncertainty and insecurity. We constantly feel as if we’re on shaky grounds and lack a sense of safety and protection. It’s as if we’re walking on a tightrope and can fall off anytime. It makes it hard for us to deal with any kind of change and discomfort. We’re constantly looking for the presence of someone or something that we can hold onto to feel safe and secure.
2. Hesitation and indecisiveness. We’re unable to trust our own decisions. We’re easily swayed by others’ opinions and are afraid of making a mistake.
3. Oversensitivity. We become oversensitive to the opinions of others and tend to personalize things. Any criticism can feel like a direct rejection of our self. We constantly people-please so that we can stay in their good books.
4. Strong desire to please others. We’re constantly afraid of losing other people’s love and esteem. It makes it difficult for us to ask for what we want because we don’t want to be seen as a burden or liability.
5. Helplessness. Difficult people or circumstances can throw us off-balance and make us feel extremely helpless. It makes it extremely difficult for us to say no and set our own boundaries.
6. Feeling unloved. When we are emotionally deprived, it makes us believe that we are unworthy of love and affection. We seek constant reassurance from others that we are loved, and even when we get that, we try and look for reasons to justify that love. It makes us feel that we’re simply not enough.
7. Intellectual incompetence. A lack of appreciation and approval from our primary figures can often make us believe that we aren’t good enough or capable enough. It makes us want to avoid challenges and fear failure and new situations.
8. Fearfulness. We constantly grapple with some fear or the other.
9. Fatigue. Because we’re always grappling with this deep sense of deprivation and emptiness, it sucks up all our energy and drains us out.
So how do we begin to fill this void?
How do we make this emptiness go away?
Perhaps, the quest later on in life is not so much about making it go away—but embracing it as it is.
Letting it be a silent, and sometimes loud, annoying companion while we learn to reparent ourselves, i.e. find our own ways to nurture the parts of us that feel deprived and empty and move toward our own definition of wholeness.
“The attainment of wholeness requires one to stake one’s whole being. Nothing less will do; there can be no easier conditions, no substitutes, no compromises.” ~ Carl Jung