So much of our lives is spent trying to fill the voids in others, in turn expecting others to fill the voids within ourselves. At the end of the day, we feel exhausted, empty, lacking from holes that weren’t filled. The sad thing is that we cannot be all things to all people. In fact, we can’t even be all things to one person. No matter how hard we try, we will never be able to fill the voids that others have in their souls. And no one will ever be able to fill the voids in ours. Only we are capable of repairing our hearts, of healing our souls, of filling the voids and making ourselves whole. The problem is, the more time and energy we spend trying to fill others’ voids, the less we have available to fill our own. Eventually, we are empty, standing there will nothing left to give to anyone, let alone ourselves — and yet others still aren’t satisfied. No matter how many voids we fill, there will be new ones that arise, and the more we fill another person’s, the more they expect us to continue to fill those openings. The more other people fill our voids, the more we expect them to fill the new ones that arise. It sets up a vicious cycle of sucking the life out of other people in order to replace the life that has been sucked out of us,

What would happen if everyone filled their own voids first? What would happen if, for one brief period of time, everyone made themselves whole? So much more would be available to give to others without giving anything of ourselves. Think about it — fill the cup up, and anything after that can fill other cups without emptying the one that has just been filled. But if we are continuously emptying our glasses into other people’s, then no glasses will ever be full. I remember watching a rather cheesy teenage movie one day when nothing else was on and studying had lost interest after 6 straight hours — one line that I remembered above all others was this (paraphrased): “you can always make more love.” In other words, you can love a person without taking any love away from another. Yet we never apply this to ourselves. We believe ourselves unworthy of such love, or are made to feel guilty for even thinking about doing anything for ourselves when there are so many “more deserving” people who need us first. We are taught it is the moral, religious, spiritual, ethical thing to put others before ourselves, to consider another’s needs to be more important than our own. This does absolutely no good for anyone, for once we run out of ourselves to give, we realize that we can never meet the need of the world. So we are left broken, beaten, dejected, lonely, depressed, and all around just utterly hopeless as we succumb to the reality that we cannot do it all. And until we begin to put ourselves first, to repair the brokenness that is left at the end, we will never be able to give ourselves to anyone. We cannot give away what we do not possess.

We must learn to take care of ourselves. We must learn to listen to our hearts, to hear what is broken and empty, to fill it up ourselves, rather than trying to decipher what others expect us to fill for them. Once we are made whole, everything after that becomes extra that can be poured out into the world. We give to others without taking away from anyone, including ourselves, and we become able to do so much more than before.

Will I take my own advice? Probably not. It’s a hard cycle to break. It takes courage and strength to stand up and say, “I can no longer fill you.” It takes guts to tell someone that you will not put them ahead of yourself, to say that your needs come first, to say that you must heal yourself before you can reach out to heal others. You will be called selfish, lazy, worthless, slovenly, greedy, and many other horrible things as others try to make you feel guilty for wanting to be whole again. You will burn bridges, destroy relationships, lose social positions, and alienate yourself from those who do not understand. It can seriously affect your life, and it will be tempting to run back into the comforting arms of the known, even if it means losing your very soul to the people who will never be satisfied with what you give to them. And you may not be ready now. It may not be your time. He soul must be prepared to take such a leap, and even little steps to build it back up will prepare it for the ultimate test. Restoring the soul isn’t something that must be done all at once, nor is it a one-time fix. It is a constant process, for no matter how important it is to restore ourselves, we will never stop giving to others. At times, we will find ourselves giving more to others than we give to ourselves, and we must start to restore the balance. Still, it requires saying “no” to people who aren’t accustomed to hearing that, turning down things that we want to do for others, stepping back from the rigor of life to simply be still in the moment, to breathe in rejuvenating life back into our hearts. And every step, no matter how small, is important.

We can be healed. We deserve to be whole.