Poverty is hard to hear. Chronic illness is terrible to face Nervous troubles are the very devil. But loneliness is the worst. Some of the worst loneliness is in a crowd though it probably reaches its most intolerable point when in fact there would be nobody to talk to even if you were dying. It is misery.
Some of my friends call extreme
loneliness a solitary confinement in a concentration camp. It is a very good
comparison but with one difference. Dr. Guntrip once told me about a person who
saw herself in a dream locked up in the dungeon of a castle. She complained to
the Jailor about her lonely plight. He replied: “But the key is on your side of
the door!” The tragedy of the lonely person is that the key is on the inside,
but he dares not unlock the door.
A great deal of research has gone into the problems
of loneliness. We have still a lot to learn, but we know more than before that
feelings of loneliness are only covers of deeper problems beneath.
What problems? Research shows that
the quandaries which face the truly lonely person are four in number. They are
four perils so devastating to the lonely person that he dares not face them.
Let us look them squarely in the face.
It means that as soon as you become involved with people, you feel that your neighbour is forcing his or her point of view upon you so that you can no longer be yourself. The neighbour’s slightest whim feels to be an incorrigible law. You feel trapped, imprisoned, suffocated, threatened by this big person who appears to dominate your life. This is engulfment. This is the reason why lonely people, thought they hate to be alone, dare not venture into the world of other men and women. They are afraid their frail personalities will be swallowed up or even massacred by the persons they meet.
2. Fear Of Implosion:
You know what an explosion is. It is
blowing up of something, a sudden break out causing noise, shock and perhaps
destruction. An implosion, on other hand, is destruction by collapse inwards.
One of the perils of the lonely person as he dares to mix with other people is
that he will fall to pieces and cave in. He will disintegrate. If someone
addresses. him, he fears his mind might go blank, or his functions will petrify
or he will go mad. He will be unable to react as an ordinary human being. This
is the second imagined peril.
3. The Year Of Denationalization:
If our emotions are intolerable to bear, we sometimes turn off like shutting a tap. We cut off all feeling, all enjoyment or pain. We walk about as though we were numb. A man once said: “Life is dead for me. I can neither taste or smell my food. It is as if I were living in a dream”. The truth was, he was so insecure, yet hungry for life, that the only way he could mix was to associate with people and yet not associate, by cutting off all feelings and emotions. This was a familiar happening in the wartime among persecuted people under domination of the dictators. They learnt to anesthetist their feelings and carry on as if they did not really exist.
4. Depressive Guilt:
When some lonely people try to meet
the world and their neighbours they are crushed by guilt feelings. They feel
their neighbours can see them for what they really are – murderers, animals,
unfit to live…. They panic and lock the door on themselves and their guilt
The real question is: How can you
encourage the real You to be born, to develop to become step by step more
mature? How can you become more spontaneous? Here are some tried ways which may
1. Learn To Take Love And Be Thankful For it:
“Nobody loves me” is the cry of the
rejected “baby” in you, so here is what you can do. If it is a find day, then
you can absorb love with the sunshine. Do not keep the sun away by wearing
glare glasses. Sit on a seat for a few minutes and let the sun’s goodness
saturate you. Take its benignity into you. If it’s cold rainy day, warm
yourself by the fire or wrap warm blankets around you. Be comfortable and feel
loved in its cosiness. Say to yourself: I am loved, supported, cherished and
treasured in this wonderful glow of warmth”.
As you practise
being accepted and enfolded in a warm environment you are helping yourself to
the kind of primitive baby – satisfaction which at present you sorely need.
2. Repeats Slowly To Yourself:
“I AM I” . Recognize your worth and
potential, and this contributes steadily to your new personhood. Deep within
you are the makings of a spontaneous and beautiful personality. Encourage their
birth. We live by what we feed on. If you feed on bitter thoughts you grow into
a bitter person. But if you feed on “I AM I” you grow these gifts and develop
into a warm, loving person.
Keep on practising these pointers.
Practise them when you feel like it. More important, practise them when you
don’t. For you are making possible your rebirth. With patience you will develop
a maturity that will make loneliness a thing of the past.