Dana was in tears. Once again, she had engaged in scheduling acrobatics to meet a new friend for a romantic getaway, only to find herself alone in a hotel room with unanswered text messages and her self-destructive history with men.
“I feel like I have a hole inside me,” she said, as we began her therapy session. “I’m broken.”
I sat with her a moment in compassionate silence, and then I replied. “You are not broken. The hole is just a wound. Embracing the hole can make you whole, and reconnect you to your holiness.”
This wasn’t a mere play on words. Throughout the years, many clients have described this kind of a hole; a lonely empty feeling that makes them believe there’s nothing there. Another client described it as an essential piece missing inside them.
These clients often seek help to climb out of the hole. Often, they are afraid to “go there,” using smoke and mirrors, and substances, to distract themselves and others from the void they believe makes them unworthy.
They’re usually surprised when I suggest that the path to healing doesn’t lie in climbing out of the hole, but rather, by climbing in. That’s because, as an Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapist, I know that the hole is not what it appears to be. Though it may look empty from the perimeter, something very alive lives there, usually the pain of childhood experiences that created the empty feeling and disconnection. And these experiences need to be lovingly witnessed and fully explored to release the sense of emptiness.