May 30, 2019
The demons of loneliness
We often forget that loneliness is a major factor in illness. Thus, if we do not acknowledge it, it will create hidden pathologies which will not allow healing to fully take place.
In Chekov’s short story The Doctor’s Visit, Liza, the daughter of Madame Lyalikov, the owner of a factory, was bed ridden and silent for some time. Many doctors had come to visit her and examine her without any results. Her mother called a young doctor, Korolyov, to examine her. He examined her many times but was not able to make sense of her ailment. The sick girl remained silent. He finally begged her to talk to him and tell him what she felt was wrong. “What are you feeling, what is wrong?”
In response she answered: "I don't know. Everything here worries me," she answered, and pondered for a few minutes. "Everything worries me. I hear sympathy in your voice; it seemed to me as soon as I saw you that I could tell you all about it."
The doctor then begged her to talk to him.
"I want to tell you of my opinion. It seems to me that I have no illness, but that I am weary and frightened. It had been predetermined that I be so and cannot be otherwise. Even the healthiest person can't help being uneasy if, for instance, a robber is moving about under his window. I am constantly being doctored," she went on, looking at her knees, and she gave a shy smile. "I am very grateful, of course, and I do not deny that the treatment is a benefit; but I would like to talk, not with a doctor, but with some intimate friend who can understand me and can convince me if I was right or wrong."
"Have you no friends?" asked Korolyov.
"I am lonely. I have a mother; I love her, but, all the same, I am lonely. That's how it happens to be. . . . Lonely people read a great deal, but say little and hear little. Life for them is mysterious; they are mystics and often see the devil where he is not. “
When we recognize the way loneliness expresses itself in our life; when we express our loneliness to others; even more, when we transcend our loneliness and open ourselves to God’s grace, then the demons of loneliness will be shattered and we will be able to proclaim: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all of our sorrows, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1: 3-4).