I have yet to met a completely whole person.
Arms and legs, yes, people have those. But the construction that lies inside our hearts and minds - the bricks and scaffolding around who we are and what we want. I've never met anyone who was finished with that project.
I can't say this with absolute certainty, but I think everyone has a hole. Some have a smallish, gravelly pothole like "I miss my great grandmother's biscuits on Thanksgiving." Others have gigantic, crater-made holes like "I'm divorced." And others still have deeper holes - where you stand at the precipice and look down, throwing rocks into the dark waiting to hear them rattle at the bottom, but you never do. Those holes are "I never met my dad," or "my mother died when I was very young" or "I lost a child." These are things we didn't ask for or choose - we couldn't have stopped them with better planning or more caution. The meteor fell from space and it fell on our block. Now the hole is our hole. It's your hole. I'm sincerely sorry, by the way. Life sucks.
The only choice you have is to cope with the hole. Build around it. String up a net. Try not to fall in. Throw food in it. Booze. Maybe if you throw enough tequila in it you can make a tequila swimming pool and just fucking drown. There are days that sounds like a true relief, if I'm honest.
What I've always done, and what I'm assuming is quite common, is to try and fill the hole with love. That sounds nice, doesn't it? That sounds like my perfectly millenial answer to any of life's problems: fill it with love. Cover it with love. Drown in love.
Though I've come to find, in reality, that's hardly a solution at all.
Let's say, for today, that love is cement. Love is the quick-setting, stable substance that can patch holes large and small. Great, depending on the size of my hole. Unfortunately, if I'm self-assessing fairly, my hole's pretty big. I wouldn't say it's bottomless, but it's deep. It's a "rough childhood" sized hole. It's "broken family" size. When I yell down in to the abyss, it echoes back "Loneliness!" I've been surveying it for a while now, and I've tried lots of ways to fill it.
Falling in it feels miserable. It feels like I can't breathe for crying. Like nothing will ever be right with me because this hole is so, so wrong. It feels like nothing matters, no one can help, the world is broken, the ice caps are melting, life is a very mean prank and I want to lie in bed and wake up ten years from now.
Needless to say, I need to fill the hole with haste before I fall in again because NO.
Here comes the part where I scan my surroundings for anyone who might be able to bring me some (love) cement. Since I'm not a totally miserable, evil person I happen to have a smattering of friends. A mom, a brother. Yay, me. I won't ask the hole-creator to help, because screw that, but there's quite a few people around.
A well-meaning friend picks up a five-gallon bucket of cement and drags it over to my hole to help, only to be met with a deep expanse that requires so, so much more. How often have I rolled my eyes at this feeble attempt - or worse, not even noticed their contribution because I could barely see a difference?
My weary friends come back and forth as many times as they can in the few hours they have on break from their own emotional construction zones. They carry as many buckets as they can, but it's never enough. I need one of those giant trucks with the rotating cylinder, I think, but I don't know anyone who has one. A good friend would bring a truck. A good friend would have unlimited resources, unlimited time, good luck, good taste and a great sense of humor.
I lay on my back next to the hole, wailing for help and feeling sorry for myself. I go on a friend-making expedition to see if I can meet someone who happens to have a giant truck. I meet a lot of people who just sit and have coffee with me so we can talk and complain about how bothersome large holes are. We compare hole circumferences. They don't really have cement to spare and I really shouldn't ask them for any. It doesn't change anything, but we have something in common - I guess that's nice.
I meet a good man who wants to fill my hole more sincerely than anyone I've ever met, and I marry him. He is incredibly strong and truly dedicated - he carries many buckets of cement to the hole and I see the sweat dripping from his brow. But no, the hole is still much too deep for this to be working. Now, because he's dedicated so much time to this pursuit, when I see another strong-looking man approaching I have to send him away. What a shame. He may have had a giant truck, but I guess I'm not allowed to ask.
Eventually I'm embittered against the effort - mine and everyone else's. Everyone is tired. My friends and husband look to me with red faces and tired arms. I don't want to be this exhausting. I don't want to need this much work (especially if it's not even working). Fuck it. Everyone go home. I guess I'll fall in the hole and die or whatever. Maybe I'll stock up on tequila. Don't check on me. Bye.
Now, not only does my hole echo loneliness back to me, but my entire site is empty. Everyone has quit the job (or I fired them). My above-ground spaces reflect exactly what I was afraid to find underground. How did I find myself here?
Here's the thing. Maybe holes don't get filled with anything.
Instead of looking for strong friends with unlimited cement resources (good luck with that, by the way), I should spend a little time sitting by the hole and grieving. Cry a little. Eat a little. Maybe someone will walk over and sit next to me. Maybe that person will bring a bucket of cement and we'll say, "Forget this stupid hole - let's move over ten feet and use this cement to build something new up top. Let's build a fort. Let's build a house." Maybe a community of people will come with different things to offer: cement and lumber from the ones who care the most - flowers, wine and coasters from people who just want to say hey. This would have never been enough to fill the hole, but it makes my house look nice. I can appreciate that.
So we do the work that works. We build a beautiful little house next to a very large hole. We keep emergency rope in the laundry room in case someone falls in. We can't fill the hole but we can coexist with it. Sometimes I still go outside at night and sit by the hole. I still bring an appropriately-sized margarita and I still cry. I still grieve.
I tell new people, "Hey, you'll be looking for the blue house next to the gigantic sinkhole, probably park across the street and don't wear heels."
I won't fix this. But I have to accept it and move on. The biggest success will be working toward making my life above ground speak something other than Loneliness back to me, even if the hole always does.