Before sharing specifics, I need to bring Seasonal Affective Disorder to light. I suffer from this each year as fall approaches until early spring. Because of this, I feel what I describe as the “black hole” is much more prevalent in my life during that time frame. One of the dynamics of my healing journey is that idol time has proven to be a struggle for me. I have more idol time during the fall and winter months because I hate the cold, and can’t enjoy my number one escape, nature. When I’m trapped in the house, I experience a part of me that makes me feel guilty for resting, or when I’m not busy, a part of me feels dysfunctional. But, on the other hand, part of me always feels like I need to constantly be productive, active, doing something.
Another part of me flourishes in a unique aliveness and sweet natural essence. I can see beauty in everyday life, and I find happiness within myself and my surroundings. The sunshine fuels my passion to be alive, and I strive to be active and never miss a moment to make a memory. Sometimes I run off into nature alone, and sometimes I take friends or family.
And then, there is a part of me that is missing; it’s hallowed and empty in that space that I call the black hole.
The black hole wants to be filled up, but it has no ending and depths. It goes on forever and ever, hallow. Sometimes I don’t think about it being there, especially in the summer and spring months. Other times in the fall and winter months, it’s screaming for attention. I describe it as an itch or a void. I have identified it’s significantly different from the black cloud that used to follow me everywhere I went, from all the sorrow I felt from adoption.
I do my best to cover the defective parts and let happiness soar, but deep down, hidden from the world is a different story.
Sometimes it feels like something inside is broken that created the black hole, and no matter what I try to fill it with, it never fills up. I filled it with alcohol for 27 years, but 9.5 years ago, I stopped that habit. Drinking alcohol kept me from noticing the black hole most of the time. The black hole has been screaming to be filled ever since. Sometimes its scream is more potent than others.
How did this black hole come about?
It used to feel like the black hole was in my heart because my heart was deeply saddened and sorrowful from my adoption experience. I always thought I would die from a broken heart, but I have learned over the years that it was grief and loss that were trying to come out. The broken heart feeling hung on day in and day out, never leaving. I have spent 10+ years working towards healing, and my heart feels better most of the time.
Finally, around August of 2021, the sorrow and sadness I always carried deep down lifted, and I can’t quite explain it yet. Other than working towards healing for over 12 years, I freed myself from an awful and unhealthy 9-month toxic relation-shit in my life, which is possibly one of my best decisions for my emotional and mental well-being. After this fake connection was severed, I have felt exceptionally FREE because it just wasn’t a good fit.
I am finding a distinct difference between the broken heart feeling and the black hole feeling. It’s at the center of me, and it reaches the deepest parts of my mind, body, and soul. Most of the time, it doesn’t hurt. It’s just there, but it has a nagging and itching desire to be filled up.
It doesn’t want to be empty.
Can it ever be repaired?
I suspect the black hole was created when the natural bonding process with my biological mother was interrupted, and the separation from her has left a black hole that can never be repaired. Acceptance of this reality has been a KEY component of my healing.
Do all adoptees carry this?
I constantly find myself trying to fill it up, but the most significant thing has happened. I can identify when I’m trying to fill the unfillable black hole with unhealthy choices.
What are the unhealthy ways I try to fill the black hole up?
- Unhealthy food
- Overextending myself
- Trying to “save” others
- Wanting to move
- Starting a new job
- Not setting boundaries with people
- Creating a project adding more responsibility to my plate
- Finding something new to fill the hole.
- Buying material things I don’t need
- Temporary satisfaction with unhealthy things
- Making commitments, I don’t want to make
- People-pleasing aka fawning
- “Treating myself” with unnecessary things
- Creating a new “bad habit.”
- Being impulsive
- Filling the void with people, places and things
- Acting on other peoples ideas and plans for my life before I think thoroughly if that is something I want to do
- Being lazy, giving the black hole what it wants
- Acting on obsessive thoughts and feelings
- Not spending enough time to think about things before I act on them
- Avoidance from dealing with reality
One day I might try to fill the black hole with food where I overdose on sweets and food that I know isn’t good for me. One day I maybe have the itch to start a new project that I know I don’t have time for. Another day I might be searching for a new job I don’t need or a hobby that I like, that causes me to spend money I don’t need to spend. Another day, I might be trying to create something unique that no one has ever done before adding an unnecessary responsibility to my life.
I spent a lifetime trying to fill the black hole with Jesus, but that didn’t work permanently. It did work short-term, as long as I avoided the reality of the black hole. It only left me feeling like I was ashamed and defective even more because Jesus is supposed to cure it all. But I am the exception. I gave up on him, and I am glad. That was like running a never-ending rat race, always falling flat on my face in the end. Pretending that the hole didn’t exist or praying it away caused more harm than good. It was a constant war, and it was a game I decided I didn’t want to play anymore.
I won’t lie; it’s not easy to soothe the black hole. When I think about things thoroughly, and I walk away from an unhealthy choice or sporadic decision that attempts to fill the black hole, it sometimes feels like walking away from a drug I have been strung out on for a very long time. Sometimes it feels like death. I recognize that giving into filling the black hole will fix the empty feeling it carries, but only temporarily. A little time passes, then I am faced with something new that will temporarily “fix” the black hole. But, of course, it never goes away, but I can soothe it by choosing healthy things, or I can take a hit of the unhealthy choice, and it also temporarily fixes it.
Everything changed when I started to look INSIDE MYSELF for the answers, instead of looking for things outside myself in other people, places and, things.
I’ve accepted that something is always going to be missing from my life, due to separation trauma compacted by adoption trauma.
The most amazing thing has happened in the last few months, but it’s not been easy to discover. Finally, I have IDENTIFIED when I have unhealthy feelings and thoughts that directly fill the black hole! Recognizing this is the first step, and I am thankful that I am at a healing space in my journey where I can acknowledge this and RECOGNIZE IT. Some people go to their graves, never making it to this point. While I had alcohol in my life almost daily for 27 years, it wasn’t possible to even identify this dynamic, let alone dissect it, acknowledge it and, work on it. Alcohol blocked me from tuning into my true self and stood in the way of me truly feeling my feelings.
Some people might say, “How do you know this is directly related to the separation from your birth mother?”
From deconditioning and coming out of the fog regarding my adoption experience, it has opened up 12+ years of research on the topic of adoption. In learning to navigate all of the emotions and feelings that I have stuffed my whole life, I have learned that the primal wound, aka the mother wound compacted by separation trauma and adoption trauma, can impact every area of an adopted person’s life. Sometimes it’s more intensified for each of us, and some adoptees seem to be more well adjusted and they don’t have very many issues.
Everyone responds to trauma differently. We must learn to recognize that mothers aren’t interchangeable. The void and trauma damage that happens from the separation of our biological mothers can and does leave lasting imprints on an adopted person that can last a lifetime.
For me, adoption has always bothered me to my core, and I have done everything under the sun imaginable to fill the void. However, I am now learning that the void adoption has left created a black hole that I keep trying to fill. Conclusion: The reality that I can not fill this hole has been life-changing for me. Now that I can distinguish this dynamic, I can ask myself, “Do I really want to do this, or am I just trying to fill the unfillable black hole?” I make a conscious choice to do my best to choose the healthiest option for me, but I fall short all the time and that’s okay. I am a work in progress like we all are.
What that looks like for me is making myself wait on making decisions and giving myself time to sit with them and process them thoroughly before I act. Sometimes this takes me a while, and people don’t always understand that. Why is she taking so long to process?
Well, that’s actually because I am PROCESSING trying to make the best decision possible for myself, instead of reacting and acting from a DYING place to fill the black hole. The most significant piece to the black hole is acknowledging it, learning more about it, and not running away from it. So I am opening up about it and having conversations about it. I recognize it’s not present all the time, although it is always there.
I suspect non-adopted people have this black hole feeling, but maybe they don’t describe it this way. I think the black holes can come from different traumatic events in life or things that have always been missing. Our mothers and fathers missing or absent would likely be at the top of the list for many people. I think abuse of any kind can provoke a black hole, as well as accidents or situations that spark C-PTSD and PTSD. Abandonment and rejection of any kind can spark a black hole feeling.
Self-awareness has been vital and learning to listen to my mind, body, and spirit when it comes to how I’m feeling. Tuning into how other people make me feel when I am around them and acknowledging how I feel by myself has been instrumental in my healing and growth journey. Even when others might pressure me to move faster or respond quicker, I take my time.
Today, I welcome the black hole, and I realize that it’s something that might be here for the rest of my life. I’m learning to replace it with positive aspects and to be easy on myself if I fail. I am not numbing it with substances; I’m not running from it. I do not deny it’s there. But, I’m learning to make friends with it, which helps us understand one another more profoundly. I am also celebrating the fact that today, I AM FEELING. So many people stuff these holes with drugs and alcohol, and I am doing none of that.
This alone is a cause to celebrate!
For my fellow adoptees – have you ever experienced a feeling that feels like a black hole?
Does it come and go?
How would you describe it, and where do you think it comes from?
How do you handle it and deal with it?
Biological mothers – Does losing your child feel like a black hole or would you describe it another way?
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Thank you for reading,
*The views and opinions expressed in this article are that of the author, Pamela A. Karanova. Reproduction of the material contained in this publication may be made only with the written permission of Pamela A. Karanova