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Meeting the Big Empty Place Within

I felt very connected to this little snail, which crawled so trustingly right onto a dry leaf I used to “rescue” it from my voracious shells, Malti and Bruce. It didn’t know me, didn’t realize it was in danger, and didn’t ask anything from me. I offered – out of the fullness within.

This is going to sound a little strange, given that I’m just about to turn 47.

But I just discovered there is this big empty place inside me that I think has been empty ever since, well, my birth.

You may be wondering how come I just noticed this now. How does a cavernous empty space manage to hide inside me for nearly 47 years, completely unnoticed?

Clearly it is a “black ops” agent.

Or perhaps not noticing it was easier than noticing it.

But I suspect the real reason I didn’t notice is because I kind of already knew it was there, and I had already realized that my chances of filling it and keeping it filled were slim to none.

By the way, I’m not sure this is making any sense. So let me try to explain further.

The empty space wants a sidekick. But not just any sidekick. It wants – and has always wanted – a BFF, a soulmate, an “even death will not drag me away from your side” life partner that is chomping at the bit to do everything “au deux.”

It also wants a sidekick that is happy just to be together, rather than always having to be doing things, accomplishing things, moving from one activity to the next, checking items off an ever-increasing list.

Now you are likely wondering what made me finally notice this big empty space after so many years?

I had a dream. Or at least I think it was a dream, since I was kind of awake and kind of still asleep. Anyway, in the dream, I was small and my mom was there. We were busy as usual.

And small-me was wishing we could stop the busy-ness and just be.

Small-me wanted us to just sit on the couch in each other’s presence. And maybe cuddle, or watch a cartoon, or nap, or do whatever little people and their parents do when they aren’t busy all the time.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I am sure my mom and I did do those things when I was as small as I was in the dream. But clearly I don’t remember those times. My first clear childhood memory is from when I was around age 2, I think, and that was precisely the moment when my Tazmanian devil of a little brother arrived.

He had lots of health and medical problems, and my childhood home, which I suspect was formerly rather peaceful and uneventful pre-brother, instantly transformed into one of nonstop noise and activity from that moment on.

So perhaps part of the big empty place within me is just a little girl who never quite finished processing why and how her life changed so quickly all those decades ago.

But it feels bigger than that too, in the sense that this is something that me-today also still wants. It still wants that opportunity, the right, really, to just STOP.

The space does seem to understand at this point that it is unlikely to find an other half, a total space-filler, that can fill it all the way up with simple soul-level compatible companionship.

But if that isn’t possible, now it wants to know what else it might fill itself with. It is tired of being empty all the time. If not “another,” then is it possible it can fill itself up? Somehow?

Me-today, me at almost-47, more than suspects this is possible.

After I woke up from the dream of small-me, I decided to listen to my favorite recording (by Brian Weiss – more on that in this post) to see if I could ease the sadness and longing the dream had woken up within me.

As I listened to Dr. Weiss’s soothing voice and slipped into that lovely there-but-not-there space his words always evoke inside me, I was able to have a face-to-face meeting with the big empty space.

I saw how it was quite needy, and had probably actually repelled a great many potential sidekicks and partners over the years with its insufficiently hidden longing for seamless, unbreakable connection.

It just wanted this so much, and even if I wasn’t always consciously aware of how my big empty space was continuously sizing up potential partners, vetting them if you will, those potential partners clearly were aware, since the average length of time for most of my relationships (save this current one I’m in now) has been impressively short.

But this constant series of endings didn’t stop the big empty space from wanting to get filled up. It just forced it to get much more creative about the “how to” part.

Meanwhile, as I continued to listen, I began to talk with the big empty space. I asked it if it thought there might be a way to fill it from within instead of from some outside source.

It liked this idea, and thought it sounded possible. And then I realized that probably most people have some type of empty space inside, even if maybe it isn’t as big as mine (or some people might have even bigger spaces – who knows?).

The possible presence of an interior empty space inside each being even has some factual basis evolutionarily, since homo sapiens is considered a social species. We evolved to live in small groups and collaborate rather than to stay by ourselves and meet all our needs on our own.

At this point, our evolution is written into our DNA, which means it is likely very few of us pop out thinking, “How fast can I get to the Himalayas to live in a cave by myself for the rest of my life?”

Rather, we come here with DNA that is hoping to connect, to make friends, to live in a loving family, to meet a life partner, to share our lives with others, whatever that may look like on a case-by-case basis.

But in this case, from a purely evolutionary standpoint, our empty inner spaces should be of a manageable size, and amenable to being filled with more of an easygoing type of connection, rather than an immense fill-me-now-or-I’ll-die kind of connection need.

That is the kind of need I detected within me.

And I think it was born of fear, and has just stayed fearful all these years, and has also resisted the very filling it craved because that kind of filling requires vulnerability and trust on the deepest levels, which wasn’t exactly its specialty, or mine.

So as the big empty space and I communed further, I realized its needs were essentially not fillable by an “other.” No other outside entity, be it human, non-human, something else, could ever fill up another entity and still have sufficient “filling” left for itself as well.

That kind of bottomless need speaks of lack, not of plenty.

Since this is the “Year of Sufficiency” for me, when all year long I have been studying and pursuing and doing my level best to experience sufficiency instead of scarcity, I have now learned that lack is a street sign that clearly indicates I should turn around and go the other way.

So I did. I turned around and headed within me. I looked around inside me (the big empty space joined me in this activity) and we looked and looked for times and places when I feel peaceful and content and “filled” in ways that don’t seem to require any outside input.

We both landed on “meditation” at about the same moment.

When I meditate with the intention to move beyond simply sensing my personal individual self and towards sensing my collective connection with other beings and all that is, I feel peaceful.

I feel…..filled.

The big empty space does too.

Today’s Takeaway: Have you ever had an experience of feeling like nothing, no matter how big, how un-ending, how trustworthy and reliable, how loving and committed, could EVER fill up an empty space inside you or anywhere in your life? What did that feel like? Do you still feel it, or were you able to find a way to resolve the emptiness? I’m kind of hoping I’m not the only one with this kind of issue, but then again (due to the general level of discomfort it can cause) I am also kind of hoping I am!

Meeting the Big Empty Place Within

Shannon Cutts

Freelance writer. Author. Cockatiel, redfoot tortoise & box turtle mama.

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APA Reference
Cutts, S. (2020). Meeting the Big Empty Place Within. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 27, 2020, from


Last updated: 30 Mar 2020
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