Sunday, May 9, 2010

Lonely People -- The Abyss

Sometimes I fall into the abyss.

You would think that after more than 20 years of living absolutely alone, I’d be used to it. But I don’t think humans are psychologically – or perhaps even physiologically – designed to live alone.

Actually, I don’t live absolutely alone. I live with two cats, plus I belong to a congregation and a writers group and have an incredible network of friends and family.

But sometimes – not often – but nonetheless inexorably – I feel absolutely alone, very lonely. Depressed. It feels as if there is a column of emptiness in my very core.

Climbing out of the abyss – filling myself up/ restoring my soul — can be amazingly difficult.

I think success depends on ‘catching it’ – acknowledging it – early. I know the warning signs. The signals that indicate that solitude is eroding my psyche. I watch too much television, eat too much between dinner and bed, drink too much wine, and play countless – pointless – games of computer solitaire.

If I do catch it early – admit the loneliness and depression – I can pull myself back together with simple remedies: a massage, a walk in the sunshine, sitting by a gentle stream, or absorbing a funny movie or book. I seek connections with friends – preferably in person but at least by telephone (not email). Honest conversation – not necessarily about my dourness – can enliven me, bring me back.

Sometimes the antics of my cats put things into perspective. (They will be introduced in future blogs.)

When none of these work -- when I am still trapped in my terrible black cloud, overwhelmed – I ask for help, seek counseling. Psychiatrists, psychologists, and psychics can, and have, helped me out of the abyss.

Once, when the abyss was too deep and wide for words, I took antidepressants for a while. They helped enormously. And I would take them again if I should fall that far.

But I think/ hope that won’t be necessary. Paying attention to the state of my soul/ psyche/ mood has become part of who I am. My morning meditative ritual, cobbled from a variety of spiritual traditions, helps keep me centered. Paying attention to the needs of other people, and doing something for them, shifts my focus. Paying attention to beauty can bring me back.

And of course there is my writing. When I capture honest observations, focus on the awesome phenomena that pervade this planet, or share observed ironies, I can fly up again.

I can soar out of the abyss into wholeness.

May it be so for all of us.


  1. Sometimes the only company I can endure is my own.

  2. Solitude is often essential.

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