My daughter sucks on her fingers when she sleeps. We tried several things over the years to get her to stop but with no luck. We already know she will need braces, but the dentists said we have to first break her of the finger sucking habit. Yesterday they installed a device in her mouth that keeps her from being able to suck her fingers. Honestly I didn’t realize such things exist. It was exciting to her to get the device and she couldn’t wait to show it to me or to demonstrate how she talks a little funny now (kids get excited about the strangest things). However, last night was a different story when she was trying to go to sleep and she realized she couldn’t do something that she had done every night for the last 6 or so years. She was incredibly upset and it was very difficult to get her to calm down and go to sleep.
I’m sharing this story because it is a great example of what I call “fearing the void”. There’s no physical addiction here, it’s all mental. My daughter’s struggle last night was all about trying to figure out how to fall asleep without the thing that comforts her the most. Once we took that away from her there was a terrible void that she did not know how to fill.
As I thought about my daughter, I began to draw similarities in my life:
- I used to smoke as a way to get away from a stressful situation. Without cigarettes how would I deal with those situations? How would I socialize with my smoker friends if I didn’t have that thing in common anymore?
- I drink on weekends under the rationale that it’s my “grown-up” time with the Mrs. The truth is that it’s more likely that we drink on the weekends because we don’t have anything better to do and it gives us an excuse to eat junk food and be lazy the following day. We’ve been doing this for so long, If we don’t drink in the evening then what else are we going to do?
- We go out to eat out of shear boredom than anything else. These days nothing even appeals to me, but we still do it. What would we do with our time (and extra money) if we didn’t go out to eat all the time?
- Quite often I eat junk food as a coping mechanism for being depressed even if the act actually causes me to become more depressed afterward. We all feel down at times, how will I deal with those situations if I don’t have junk food?
It’s interesting; we do a lot bad things to ourselves to fill voids in our lives. We know they are bad for us yet we still do them because we fear those voids. Yesterday I mentioned that I didn’t realize how many demons I had to face on this journey. This is exactly what I was talking about, when you force yourself to look into those voids you start to surprise yourself with what stares back you. For example, I’ve now come to realize that I don’t deal with stress as well as I thought. Once I took away some of those unhealthy things I would do to relax, I started to see that I wasn’t so good at dealing with stressful situations in a constructive way. This is causing a lot of my ups and downs right now as I find ways to deal.
I’m beginning to understand why this type of journey is so hard for people. It forces you look in places you don’t want to look and see things about yourself that you don’t want to see. It’s like you spent your whole life looking through a mirror only to discover that it was one of those distorted mirrors you look at yourself through at the carnival. This is the part of the journey that is the most essential and has to come first if you want to succeed.