In the day when buying a Coke was a treat within an allowance’s grasp, we drank from glass bottles. The contents never lasting as long as we wanted, we were left with empty bottles, which we soon turned into musical instruments by blowing air across the mouth of the bottle. I can hear the sound still.
I was reminded of this childhood memory when I was speaking with a group of recovering addicts. We share a program that describes us as people “with a hole in our soul through which the wind blows.” The first time I heard that description, I felt like someone had finally described the way I have felt all my life. For whatever reason or reasons, I have always felt incomplete. To use Shel Silverstein’s image, I felt like I had a missing piece. Like the Coke bottle, each time the wind blew I could hear a familiar refrain: “You are not good enough.”
It’s no surprise I looked for ways to fill the hole. Whether with work, achievements of one kind or another, friends, relationships, possessions, drugs or alcohol, the goal was to fill the hole and stop the song. The fix was temporary, and soon the hole returned seeming bigger than before, the refrain louder.
Fortunately, I entered a program that helped me understand my condition, a condition the Church has tried to describe for years. I have come to see that I have not only one hole, but many, and rather than strive to fill them all, I can live with them and let the winds of life blow as they will. Although mine is a journey of progress, not perfection, the miracle of my emerging acceptance is the song is changing. Instead of a refrain of shame, it’s becoming a melody of authenticity, and the music is inviting others to come along.