Sunday, April 12, 2009


I've been waiting for something to strike me here for a couple of weeks, and nothing has. I don't know what to write about anymore.

I did have a rugby game today - a playoff game in fact, against Velox at Windsor Park in Oak Bay. But as a newbie, I only played a few minutes. No carries, one tackle. I hung out at the Castaway Wanderers clubhouse this evening, chatting - that was fun.

But overall, I don't know what to say anymore, and even though I feel that familiar awe as the earth comes back to life, and am having a great time with rugby, I feel a sort of emptiness inside, and it never quite goes away.

Perhaps seeking out religion is one way of coping with that for some people; but then, I always felt that emptiness as a devout religionist, too. Maybe it is something about me, some flaw which can never really be repaired.

I feel - and have felt for a very long time - as though there is a part of me which isn't really here, or doesn't really belong here (here being, wherever I am). And I drive around sometimes, like I used to do in White Rock, where I went to high school, realizing that while everything around seems familiar, everything feels foreign, too, in some way I can't describe. But I can never figure out why, and I never hear anyone else say such things, and I don't know what to make of it. It is as though I am always outside myself.


Darren said...

I know exactly what you mean. I enjoy life but I feel that emptiness too. I wish I had an answer for that.

That bit about driving around. Some of my friends and I have experienced the same thing. It is surreal.

I have experienced so much in life, and I don't really have anything to say either.

June said...

Feelings like yours most often come after a prolonged period of anxiety,either many months or even years.

Feeling outside yourself or as if you are living in a dream state are common after prolonued anxiety, or if you have suffered abuse of some kind and your mind wants to block it out.

Perhaps you have felt fear and anxiety since you were a child.If you were trying to be the perfect kid, Mormon or felt a strong sense of duty to be perfect because one or more parent expected it,you could easily have felt that you were not respected or really loved unless you were perfect.This kind of anxiety would certainly give you the symptoms you describe.

People under prolonged anxiety often can't feel it if they pinch themselves and I have known of people in this state who look in a mirror but can not see their reflection.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to my world. I agree with June that anxiety can cause this feeling.

Even when I'm hanging out with my best friends in the world, sharing inside jokes, and laughing, I feel separated from everything, like I don't belong where I am, and any time now I'm going to wake up and realize it was all a dream.

ginamarie said...

Hey Tal, not sure exactly what you were touching on in this post, but I can say that others can identify with it in various degrees, but no, it isn't something that is talked about much from my experience. I hesitate to even respond myself since I may go on totally unrelated boring tangents. I tend to write my thoughts best when I do it in free association style, not necessarily being in my head and sounding intelligent or on topic. ;)

Since you really didn't really elaborate when you used the word "empty", it is hard to know if you were referring to your own personal inner life or your life relative to the world/universe.
Most of my isolated, lonely feelings come from the latter. As a person who has always been seeking understanding, meaning, and looking for connection in things the result is often disappoinment. As a person who has had mystical experiences (for lack of a better word), the result is that you no longer trust "reality" as we define it, you tend to not be interested in material pursuits other than meeting your basic needs, nor care about the superficial things people want to discuss. Episodes of deja vu, phantom memories, dreams, imagination, can leave one feeling isolated and melancholic as you long for that undefinable something beyond our existence where the daily turmoil of our life is also full of deeper mysteries -where you can't help but think "something is just not right"!

I tend not to pathologize and think there needs be some cure. Not that I want to feel this way, but I think it's hopeless at this point to think we'll get answers. I'm kind of just resigned to my isolated feelings, and just feel fortunate that I have come to recognize that I am complex, and reflect so, as not to be cut off from myself due to splitting off aspects. That is how you can care for your own emptiness, the former "empty" that I mentioned, your own inner life.

You said you didn't know what to write, but I have to add that I am at a loss for words MOST of the time, so I kind of admire people with writing tendencies! Half the time I feel like I am in this "other" place where any regular language doesn't cut it...

I like your little picture.

Pali Mama said...

Hi Tal,
Bob McCue posted this and I thought of your "Estranged" post. Hope it gives you a lift.

June said...

You need to retrain the part of your brain called the Amygdala.A therapist can use taped sounds to distract the concious mind while retraining the Amygdala.

Also, if you have been under a lot of anxiety for some time, try and sleep for three days solid.This will help relax the constant hold that anxiety has on your brain.Do this every month and gradually your brain will calm and the Amygdala will reset itself.It does take time,so be patient.
Do things that calm you.Lie on the beach in the sunshine or the park on a quiet day.Feel the breeze,smell the smells in the air and similar things that you find calming.Over time this will help.If you can't stop anxious thoughts, don't beat your self up.What you focus on becomes stronger...including anxious thoughts.Its like telling someone "Don't think of an elephant".Look at your thoughts as a sushi restaurant where all the dishes come around on a conveyer belt.You select what you want and leave what you don't want on the conveyer belt.
Your mind and brain are over tired from constant anxiety but it can be healed over time.
I know what this state feels like as I had it for four solid years myself.It often starts after a difficult surgery,illness or other traumatic events in a person's life.

zalia said...

That kind of disconnect with things around you is also a symptom of Post Traumatic Stress. It is true that living with extreme repressed anxiety and coming through a shocking anxious period can be causes for this. However, I think being highly intelligent and a deep thinker lends itself to a sort of melancholy...and that would be true of you (in my opinion).

E said...

I doubt this feeling of emptiness that you're trying to describe is uncommon. In my (few) years on Earth so far, there has been just one time where I felt I was in the right place at exactly the right time. I hadn't felt that way before, and I haven't really felt that way since.

A few things to consider - or at least a couple that came to my mind:
*Unconditional love (do you feel it, can you give/share it?)
*Do you feel you're bettering something beyond yourself?
*Do you feel there is a purpose to life here on Earth.

Most of my lost-like feelings relate to the first two points, or to the simple fact that I'm currently not where I always thought I would be...

The question regarding our purpose (or lack of) here on Earth can also play into our feelings of emptiness. It's a question that's been pondered by the greatest minds. The scientific side of me says that we are nothing but a blip in the evolution of the universe, the result of a chemical reaction that occurred an unfathomable number of years ago. But there's also part of me that doesn't want to think that what I do now has absolutely no meaning beyond today. This is where faith in God or a higher power might come into play. It gives us a sense of something greater and beyond ourselves, while also making us feel special and with purpose.

I apologize for not knowing my exact point or how these incomplete thoughts relate to you - if they do. They are simply the thoughts of someone who has many ideas and even more questions. What I do know, is that although people don't say it, a lot of us feel a little alien and empty many times in our lives. And perhaps it is these feelings that keep pushing us forward and prevent us from becoming too stagnant.

Kris K said...

The feeling is more common than you think. People don't say it outloud out of fear, which is silly. If they did - they would find so many understand their thoughts.

As for you, I would imagine so much of it comes from living a life that never really belonged to you - from always being defined by something or someone. The perception of your life and who you were has been up for public comment since birth. That is a hard line for anyone, but especially difficult, I think, for a man.

First - and always - you were Randy Bachman's Son, and then you became this Super Mormon. Even in your solo career, so many taglines started, "... the son of Rock Legend..." And then you became this outspoken 'former Mormom'.

Maybe it is time to take a break from searching for the meaning of the universe, or trying to understand how we all got here. Maybe it is time you strip it all down and get back to the basics of who you are as a person, outside of all the other 'stuff'.

What is your favorite color? Favorite smell? What makes you happy? What makes you sad? Seemingly simple and silly details add up quickly, and give us a sense of who we really are.

Put the complicated and stressful topics on the shelf for a while and get back to the simple basics, and see yourself on your own terms for a change.

Take a vacation from trying to define - and just be.

JessicaS said...

Like other wrote here too...I think that feeling is not unusual.

A good advice I recieved was to write a list of 10 things I enjoyed doing and that made me feel good - can be anything, big or small. Then keep only 5 of those and try to focus on them.
Because maybe sometimes we tend to focus on too much that we may not really need...

Anonymous said...

I can relate. No wisdom to share, just wanted to say that I can relate.

Mike Woolsey said...

'Been reading "The Conflict of Religions in the Early Roman Empire" and it talks about a feeling like this in early Roman stoicism.

Rome had been postreligious.

Anonymous said...


Have you seen these lectures?

I'm curious about your thoughts. Do you agree with his views?


Kathy said...

I feel that way most of the time also. In fact, the only time I really feel alive, present, in the now is when I am mountain biking.
I just started mountain biking about 5 years ago and I was immediately hooked because when I am mountain biking I feel something I rarely feel; pure joy.
This, of course, makes life pretty miserable in the winter (I live in Utah). But I just wanted to tell you that I can relate. Hopefully you can find a way to re-unite with your inner self and find peace.

RayCee said...

I do not feel the way you do but but what has helped me is the following:
Once we have our basic needs met, ie clothing, food, shelter, nothing else we have materially adds anything. In fact they can clutter our lives and our mind.
We need to love and be loved unselfishly.
We need to feel understood.
We need a purpose in our life. Also a hope for the future, one beyond this life.

Julie said...

Hi Tal,
I really appreciated your interview with Drew Marshall where you told about how you got out of Mormonism. I wanted to ask if you've read Paul Young's book The Shack. It really touched my husband and I deeply with how incredible Papa's love really is for us. Thought you mignt connect with it.

Josh said...

I can identify with this post. I hate sitting down to write...or, rather, sitting down to think about the possibility of maybe writing. Often times, I feel as though I not only have nothing to say but no voice with which to say it. I'd like to think that that means that life is sound, calm, and pleasant. Nevertheless, I still think, "Wouldn't that mean I'd have sound, calm, and pleasant things to talk about?"

I like to eat cookies to cope.

DiY said...

What makes some emotions “good” vs “bad”? Sometimes emptiness isn't there to be replaced, filled or fixed. It’s like the crack, “How can I miss you if you won’t go away?” except this would be, “How do you know you’re full if you never feel empty?” You know of Eastern philosophy to achieve the lack of self, to meld with all. Isn’t that a form of emptiness, of letting go?

Hope it doesn’t come off as preachy or cavalier; not my intent. It’s just that sometimes people freak out when they’re not experiencing some thing – downtime can be really healthy (until it gets clinical). And feeling separate or alone could be as powerfully enriching as the flipside, feeling connected.

Look into the blankness, what do you feel (all of the senses), do you want to stay there? Give it a chance, breathe, don’t run, don’t quit, don’t make a rash decision (if you’re somewhere safe). If I feel like changing, I try to keep an open mind and heart, and not to use blame. A “trick” for me is to forget myself – give unconditionally – pass along an inaudible breath of thanks to a smell on the wind. You'll find your own small mantra or tether that'll bring you back to yourself if you don't fight off contentment. (This is from a sometimes suicidal, cutting, bipolar, wonderful, loved and caring person.) I’ve definitely heard others’ despair, seen avoidance of it, and will always have the companionship of emptiness. It is what it is. Until the next second.

McBotz said...

If it's true that we are all from the center of a star, every atom in each of us from the center of a star, then we're all the same thing. Even a coke machine or a cigarette butt in the street in Buffalo, is made out of atoms that came from a star… they have all recycled thousands of times, as have you and I. And therefore, its only me out there, so what is there to be afraid of? What is there that needs solace seeking? Nothing. There is nothing to be afraid of because it's all us. The trouble is we have been separated by being born and given a name and an identity and being individuated. We have been separated from the oneness and that's what religion exploits… that people have this yearning to be part of the overall one again. So they exploit that. They call it god and they say he has rules… and I think that's cruel. I think you can do it absent religion.

see you in the song writing seminar in Terrace B.C. Kory botz

Susan said...

Does it make you feel strange to read that so many people claim to understand what you are feeling? I am genuinely curious. We feel our experiences are so unique - even these feelings of emptiness. To read that so many people have the same feelings - does it make us feel comforted or just ordinary. I don't know.

Thatsnews said...

You play Rugby? That's impressive.

Now, you must try Cricket. Then you'll always have something to talk about!

Anonymous said...

Hi Tal - boy does your post hit home for me, too. I've spent my whole mo-life feeling empty, lost, sinful, every negative thing a person could feel when I was ''supposed'' to be all happy to be a mo.

Leaving the morg was exhilarating at first because I stopped adding to the emptiness within... but then came the reality of the rebuilding all exmos go through.

Ultimately I am getting past the emptiness by healing me soul. My whole soul. As I become more whole, I'm feeling peace I never thought possible. It is absolutely amazing.

The stage I'm now at is one of simply accepting everything that I previously rejected and have spent my whole life trying to hold off. I accept that I make mistakes, sometimes big ones. I accept that my parents did a lousy job as parents *and* that's their fault, not mine. I accept that some days and weeks, everything overwhelms me. I accept that I get sick a lot because my parents stopped being as mean when I got sick.

There's a reason for every goofy thing we do in life. One key for me has been to accept all of me just as I am. To accept all the goofy things I do and the sad reasons behind them. To accept, but never condone the bad things done to me because accept and condone are two different words and actions.

I accept... and I'm no longer pushing away. I accept... and I'm no longer divided against myself. I accept... me... and in accepting me, I am healed, I am filled, I am whole and at peace.

Jesse said...

Sometimes I feel like I am just a half-aware spectator of my own life. When I am at a concert watching a great talent, or seeing a historic event like Obama's inauguration, I want to fix it in my mind, to experience it directly. But I always feel that the experience is indirect and imperfect.

I think it might be related to self-consciousness. I'd like to let go a bit more. Maybe I'll try marijuana.

Anonymous said...

You already know why you feel this way.

It seems that history continues to teach us: You can leave the Church, but you can’t leave it alone. The basic reason for this is simple... Once someone has received a witness of the Spirit and accepted it, he leaves neutral ground. One loses his testimony only by listening to the promptings of the evil one, and Satan’s goal is not complete when a person leaves the Church, but when he comes out in open rebellion against it.

Anon also said...

Well, "Anonymous", what a stunning breakthrough! Tal left the church, and now he feels empty! If he only had the Spirit, he'd be filled and whole again!

What you I think have failed to notice, Sigmund the Wonder Freud, is that Tal also felt this way when he was still a member of your church. Explain that, if you can. I for one would be very interested to hear that piece of Olympic-gymnastic-grade logic.