The Nothing

Artwork created by Angie K. Millgate. Base image courtesy of and linked to original picture

Just a few short hours ago, all the treats had been eaten, all the party favors had been popped leaving their skinny and curly streamers strewn about the ground, all the champagne and Martinelli bottles lay empty in the garbage can, all the loved ones had been hugged and their faces kissed and I had lay down to rest for a few short hours before the light of the rising sun began to kiss the sky.

It is a new morning, a new day, a new year.

So much has happened in the last five years that has been so not what I had wanted for myself. A lot of situations that I had chosen into of my own free will, eventually, disintegrated by the will of others until I found myself standing in the middle of nowhere with a gaping, dark, bottomless crevasse on one side and an endless, vast desert of nothingness on the other.

 The Nothing is a familiar place for me. It is generally followed by significant shifts and, in the past, I have freaked out while in The Nothing. I have fought and screamed, kicked and wailed. I have wanted to run away and hide, but the emptiness didn’t accommodate that. All I had was myself, The Nothing, and the absolute, torturous discomfort of it all.

For several days now, I’ve known I’ve been in The Nothing again. It has been an interesting experience for me and even for my best friend who questioned me from afar about the sensations she was experiencing when she thought of me. I had been aware of a vague twinges bubbling within me, but when she questioned me about it, the presence of The Nothing snapped into clarity. Because I’ve been here before, in The Nothing, I now trust that it isn’t a permanent residence. I also recognize it for being a place of rest, rather than battle. The Nothing does not fight. The Nothing asks me to simply wait. And it is the waiting part with which I have battled in the past because, if I’m battling then I am doing something and, somehow, that seemed better.

This year, I had difficulty choosing any invitation I received for ringing in the New Year or if I wanted to just hide in my bedroom with the covers over my head. I recognized the “hide” as the standard response to The Nothing and as the first stages of my disappearing act. This disappearing act is the one pattern that I am consciously unwinding. Therefore, hiding was not a choice. So I took The Nothing with me and invited The Nothing out to play. I went into the New Year’s Eve celebration with the visceral sensation of The Nothing broiling within and surrounding me.

The Nothing is a solitary place and, usually, I disappear and people lose track of me, so I was curious about interacting with others while in The Nothing.  I noticed that I was irritated by everyone in the beginning. They were loud and gruff and seemingly out of place. Then I realized that it was me that was out of place. I had come out into the world while in The Nothing, therefore everything was topsy-turvy. Then my daughter mentioned that she was irritated, as well, and it felt like something had hit me in the gut. I brought The Nothing with me and trapped my daughter in here too. Well! That won’t do!

With that one realization, I gained understanding that I had the power to let people in – or out – of The Nothing. I also saw that I could set the tone and the atmosphere of The Nothing. And, if I could do that, I could bring in the Light of Love. So, I chose Love and watched The Nothing begin to glow. Suddenly the desert and the crevasse felt warm and comforting. Suddenly, The Nothing was inviting.

Even though I was in The Nothing, I had shifted my stance. I no longer was on the defense, braced to attack, standing in a wide stance, low to the ground with fists guarding my face. I was in The Nothing, but I was no longer a prisoner. In that moment, I was at choice in The Nothing and the weight of the space began lifting. By the time I made it to the party, The Nothing had become my friend.

I was able to experience the joy of reuniting with loved ones, holding new babies, hugging and kissing faces of children and friends. I tasted the flavors of treats, laughed heartily, reconnected, and realized that I felt welcome and wanted. Even though I was in The Nothing, these people wanted to be with me. And, because I had chosen Love to light the space of The Nothing, they were able to commune with me without feeling fear or disconnection. It was cause for celebration.

Then, I had an epiphany at midnight as I stood out in the street amongst the happy couples, noisy teens, crying babies, the pops of party favors, the honks of horns, and the explosions of fireworks in a myriad of spots scattered across the valley below us. I looked about me, feeling all of the emotions of 2013 coalesce into that one moment, and was suddenly overwhelmed and crying. What a year 2013 was! Although I had already acknowledged that for myself earlier yesterday as I did my yearend review, it was as if, in that moment, everything expanded and shrank and expanded again and then exploded within me. And I took a deep breath, feeling the tingling and sparking of pain and joy mingling with fear and anger and sadness and… what is this?


It was the longing that was my undoing.

All the celebration around me and, even, within me was a stark contrast to the ache of the realization that the spot beside me and within my embrace, lip-to-lip with me at the stroke of midnight… that spot has been a void for a very long time.

The Nothing contracted and expanded and then contracted closer about me, throbbing like a cartoon character whose thumb had been hit by a mallet. The celebratory exclamations and singing around me turned into an indecipherable wah-wah-wahhh. The dancers grew fuzzy and the air bit through to my bones. It was as if a thick film was covering my eyes and ears. The walls of The Nothing had closed in on me.

I was alone in The Nothing again.


I had a choice in that moment. And that choice required me to look a the real reason I was in The Nothing this time. WHY am I here?

In truth, I didn’t even need to look very deep or for very long to find that answer. I am in The Nothing because my heart is broken. Again.

Things didn’t go as expected. The hopeful “answer” that had seemed so imminent will not happen. The relief that I thought was on the near horizon has been pushed off the edge of the planet. The embrace that I was going to be easing into, breathing a sigh of home into, has been turned away from me. The dream that broke just a few days ago left me aching. I didn’t know how much I had been hoping to be held again until I discovered that there would be no lover holding me any time soon.

There, in the middle of the cacophony of New Year’s Eve revelry, I found myself alone in The Nothing.

Feeling tender, I followed my loved ones up the driveway, walking through the little puffs of clustered clouds our breath made on the air. My tears threatened to spill, but would not release. My heart squeezed. The Nothing vibrated and shimmered and I quietly said to the friend walking beside me, “I just realized that the last time I was kissed at midnight on New Year’s Eve was 1999.”

“Oh, honey! That is far too long!”

“Yes. Yes, it is.”

I know now that I can choose what happens while I’m in The Nothing. I know that The Nothing does not mean battle and can mean rest. And I also know now that The Nothing is the space where I go when I’m weary from all that I have been “trying” to do. The Nothing is my safe space.

And here, in The Nothing, it has become startlingly clear to me… I miss being part of a couple… the feeling of him beside me, holding me, kissing me. I miss being cuddled in his arms to ward off the biting midnight cold of the New Year’s Eve. I miss looking into his eyes and knowing that I chose him, he chose me. I miss witnessing the passion lighting up his eyes when I walk in a room. I miss laughing with him, crying with him. I miss being someone’s “person.”

14 years is a very long time to go without a midnight kiss on New Year’s Eve and I’d be very happy if last night was the end of that dry spell for a very long time to come.

Artwork created by Angie K. Millgate with base photo credit: nandadevieast via photopin cc


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2 Responses to New Day, New Year, and The Nothing

  1. […] I have spent my time here in The Nothing, I have learned a lot about myself and I have experienced myself with the sheer intensity of […]

  2. […] been packed to the brim with emotional expression and inner-exploration. Coming to understand that The Nothing is actually my friend and that I get to choose about how I experience it and how others experience […]

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