God Sized Hole

Filling the God Sized Hole

For a lot of alcoholics, finding drugs and alcohol was a welcome relief. As a kid, I remember being keenly aware of a distance that existed between me, and everyone around me. It was like they all knew the punch line to some cosmic joke, and I was the only one in the room who wasn’t laughing. So, when I got high for the first time it was as if all the discomfort I felt in my own skin disappeared and for the first time I was no longer on the outside looking in. The problem was that getting high was a temporary solution to a permanent problem. The drugs would get harder and the frequency with which I used them increased, as I kept trying to recreate that initial feeling of release that I got the first time I used. At the end I was searching for an escape that didn’t exist anymore, trying to fill a God sized hole with drugs and alcohol that just weren’t doing the trick.

Alcoholics Anonymous and the 12 steps gave me back that same relief that I initially got from drugs. Through working the steps, I came to find out that external fixes would never fill that internal hole the way service, spirituality and living the right way would. Alcoholics are stubborn people though and sometimes those external fixes start to seem really attractive, even in sobriety.

Fixating on things like gambling, sex, food and money can be an easy pitfall for sober alcoholics to walk into. If the spiritual malady isn’t being treated through working a program, unhealthy living starts to seem like a good idea because of the instant but temporary gratification that it provides. It is not uncommon for someone who isn’t hitting meetings, working steps and working with sponsees to start to get caught up and lost in the high that compulsive gambling or irresponsible sexual behavior offers. These kinds of behaviors function the same way as the drugs and alcohol do in active addiction – a quick, impermanent high, coupled with progressively more unmanageability surrounding the behavior. In other words, a recipe for relapse.

If these kinds of behaviors are such a bad idea, why do people who have given up drugs and alcohol choose to engage in them? Ultimately, alcoholics have to fill that God sized hole with something. For someone active in his or her recovery that happens through meetings, healthy living, giving back to others, and following spiritual principles. When we are participating in our own sobriety, we feel good and our lives flourish. If an addict stops doing those things however, they start looking for quick fixes to feel better. For young people this can be difficult, especially when you see people around you doing this kind of stuff with seeming impunity.

Part of living in recovery is recognizing that the quick fixes don’t work in the long run. We have to learn to forego the instant gratification that these unhealthy behaviors provide for the long-term serenity that comes from working a program. As sober alcoholics we get to choose how comfortable or uncomfortable we want to be by the actions that we take. If we focus our energy on spiritual growth and program, rather than using assorted vices to fill the God sized hole, we get to experience the peace that comes from being comfortable in our own skin.

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5 Comments
  • Roberta Lerman
    Posted at 17:03h, 28 June Reply

    So right on, Howard! Thanks for the insight. I hope the guys in the house have the opportunity to read what you’ve written.

  • Celia Portilla
    Posted at 07:17h, 30 June Reply

    Thank you Howard for your thoughts and inspiration. It is true that an addiction can replace another if it is not stop before it develops I prayed that the house members learn this and put it in their brain inventory to see it when the it surfaces in their lives. Keep up the good work you and the rest of the members are doing with these men I pray that all of you get well and strong to fight this disease. God Bless

  • Whitney Stevens
    Posted at 17:17h, 24 July Reply

    Thank you for this article, you have given me much to think about personally about why my husband and I chose to drink every weekend, even when we don’t really fancy one. It is to fill the boredom that occurs when we don’t drink, so it looks like we need to deal with that before it gets bigger. Time to find a healthier hobby to do together I think!

    • Avi Satz
      Posted at 18:00h, 24 July Reply

      Hi Whitney,
      I’m glad you read the article and agree, whether someone is an addict or not, it’s great to reflect on why we do what we do and if there is something missing from our lives that spirituality to help us improve.

  • Matthew
    Posted at 09:23h, 30 August Reply

    This is like the best thing I’ve read. I feel a huge god-sized hole. And I try to fill it by being exemplary in sports or other activities. I’m not really working my program though. So I just feel empty. And sort of self-involved to a negative extent.

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