The Hole
Need help? Call our 24/7 helpline. 855-933-3480

The Hole


Kristen Johnston addictionYou know that hole inside of you?

That cavernous pit where your soul should be?

The one you’ve desperately tried to fill with drugs, booze, food, shopping, kids, relationships, work, sex, and whatever else for as long as you can remember?

Yeah, that’s the one.

Those things work, for a while.
But one day we start to suspect that all these things we’d been buying & fucking & drinking & smoking & marrying & starving & eating & snorting all these years, so confident they were the answer were, in fact, only Febrezing the awful stink of reality:
They weren’t filling the pit at all.
In fact, they had only served to make it much, much bigger.
A bottomless crater the size of the world.

For me, recovery and happiness only began when I started the difficult process of understanding the hole.
Then and only then could I begin to figure out how to fill it.

The hardest part is the realization that it won’t instantly fill itself up just because you want it to. I remember being so utterly frustrated at how long it was taking‚ I mean I’d been sober a whole three months. But this thing took years to excavate. I’d been on a bender for 36 years, so I needed to be patient.

Besides, once I began, it felt so right, so liberating, so soothing, it became easier & easier to keep at it.

You know, this thought just occurred to me…perhaps the process of filling the hole is all life is really about.
Holy shit.
Now, how to fill that damn hole, once and for all?

Some fill it with religion, which didn’t work for me.
Some fill it with their recovery program, which actually helped me start to fill mine.
I struggled for a long time, and only then did it dawn on me that, as usual, I was making things much more complicated than they needed to be.

The shockingly simple truth was that the only thing that could fill up the hole was learning how to first tolerate, then like, then love myself.
I accomplished this by trying to become a better person.
Someone who puts myself first, but also does whatever I’m humanly capable of to help others.
This is why, when people babble about me being a good person, I shrug it off. I’m not being self-deprecating. (For once.)
It’s just that I know all of it’s really self-serving.
I’m just filling my hole.
Well, now it’s more like a ditch.

I’m not saying your hole will be filled the same way.
Each of us, in some way, can do something to help others in need.

Did you suffer from depression? Maybe volunteer once a week/month at a teen crisis center.
Do you love animals? Maybe volunteer at a rescue.
Are you in recovery? Maybe start just being open about it. You’d be stunned how many will say “You know, I’m kinda worried about my own drinking” or “I think my best friend might have a problem” etc…
Or just simple things, like donating to a cause that matters to you. Or running a marathon to raise $$ for something (but that’s only if you’re fucking nuts). Buy a homeless woman a sandwich.
Or just take 5 minutes to talk to her with kindness. Teach kids an art class. Visit sick kids in a hospital. I don’t know… the possibilities are endless.

One of the very best moments of my whole life was when I had this epiphany, maybe a year ago…it suddenly dawned on me that all those years I spent in the penitentiary of addiction, all those years I knew were gone forever, where I took up space & did nothing good for the world, all those years I wasted my life – weren’t, in fact, wasted at all.

They all  happened for a very important reason: They made me who I am today. Instead of  shame,  now I’m so happy & deeply grateful they happened.

This is why even if I have a shitty day, or I’m diagnosed with Lupus, or someone hurts me, or I screw up— deep down inside none of it matters.

Because I no longer have the hole.

A ditch? Please. Now THAT I can handle.

This post originally appeared on Kristen Johnston’s blog. Johnston was a (fabulous) guest on AfterPartyPod.

Photo courtesy of David Shankbone (David Shankbone) [CC BY 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons (resized and cropped)

Any Questions? Call Now To Speak to a Rehab Specialist
(855) 933-3480

About Author

Kristen Johnston is an Emmy Award-winning actress and best-selling author of Guts: The Endless Follies and Tiny Triumphs of a Giant Disaster who created the charity SLAM to help New York City build a recovery high school.