We all have voids in our life that cause us to search for what we believe we are missing or what we did not get when we were young. Some of us didn’t get the attention, love, or support we were looking for as children and unfortunately if these voids are not addressed and healed we will try to fill them with a facade of positive emotions. Everyone’s voids are subjective, sometimes we understand and sometimes we don’t, but the chase is there for us all whether we see it in ourselves or not.
I have a longtime friend that came from a two parent household in a middle class neighborhood and blue ribbon schools. My friend, we will call her Rose, is even a preachers kid. Rose made good grades in school, attended youth bible study, didn’t have to endure any abuse, nor did her parents drink or have unrealistic expectations. As far as a normal childhood goes her childhood was almost picture perfect. However, Rose even into her thirties, is still searching for love and affection from the wrong people in the wrong ways.
Rose is a people pleaser who wants to be liked and accepted and always has been. She was somewhat overweight through school, and although she wasn’t bullied she did have a negative self image. Early on in our friendship there were obvious signs of low self esteem that seemed to be swept under the rug by her parents and siblings. She started college and failed out after her first semester because she hung out with her friends and her significant other rather than going to class. She was able to switch schools after some time off but was met with another set back when she was hospitalized for an accidental overdose because the drugs her boyfriend gave her were not what he said they were. Rose was released from the hospital, broke up with her boyfriend, and made it her mission to take better care of her self both physically and emotionally.
Fast forward to her first year in graduate school where Rose met her most recent ex. This ex was not like the others in the beginning; he was supportive, attentive, and drug free. However, once their relationship progressed to the point of them deciding to move in together things changed. Rose began to notice that when her ex got angry it became increasingly difficult for him to calm down. He began putting holes in the walls and breaking her belongings until it progressed to him hitting her. Recently, Rose, some of our mutual friends, and I were having dinner where Rose opened up about the abuse stating “you know me, I’m strong, I will take my hits”. I realized then that Rose was hiding her brokenness behind a false sense of strength.
What Rose and many others like her don’t realize is that the journey we are on is directly related to our desires and how we go about satisfying them. As conscious human beings we naturally gravitate toward things that model what we feel we lack. For example, if we feel we were lacking a father figure we may gravitate toward a male teacher in school that shows us positive attention. This gravitation on the surface seems to fill the void of not having a father, however, this teacher is not our father and is essentially just a pacifier to make us feel better about our situations. For Rose her lack of self esteem took her down a path that opened her up to being controlled, manipulated, and abused because she doesn’t know her worth. Rose will continue to live within her illusions until she makes the decision to address her voids and heal from them.
“Illusions commend themselves to us because they save us pain and allow us to enjoy pleasure instead.” – Sigmund Freud