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Loneliness & Possible Self-Absorption

downloadQuestion

I am single, 40 and very lonely. I feel invisible. I have no friends but enjoy making general small talk, especially with people I meet either at the supermarket or as I commute to work or at church. If anyone tries to get close or wants to visit my home I brush them off.

Since I was a child, particularly in my teenage years, I spent a lot of time talking to myself using a mirror. I still enjoy doing this although I would rather have another with whom to talk.

Were any of the saints lonely?  How can I handle being lonely as a Catholic without giving in to despair and suicidal thoughts?

Response

Despite suggestions to the contrary, it is not always unhealthy to talk to yourself. But if such behavior becomes excessive and/or replaces real human communication and relationships, then it would be regarded as wrong or even sinful. Self-absorption is not genuine spiritual growth in the Lord. I am told that mirrors present a particular issue because extended use for such purposes might signify schizophrenia or some other ailment of the mind. As believers, we should also avoid any undue preoccupation with perceived images, real or imagined. (Some become obsessed with faces in the leaves of trees or images in clouds… treating them as ghostly appearances or omens.) The fairy-tale of Snow White references the evil stepmother seeking secret knowledge about beauty in her bewitched mirror. The mirror was literally under demonic influence. The practice of scrying into mirrors, water or crystal balls is frowned upon by the Church.

At forty years of age there is no way to regain the years and opportunities that are lost. If you need to see a therapist, do so. If you want friends then you have to seek the courage to make them. Libraries have reading groups. Parishes have fellowship associations. The public sector also has activities and opportunities to pursue. You want more than faceless online associations. There are also other lonely people looking for friends with whom they can talk and have fun and with whom they can pray. Take the chance. It will also help your spiritual life. God wants us to love him, both directly and in our neighbor. Build a circle of friends. You may not agree about everything but that is okay. Unlike the face in your mirror, these faces will have hopes, dreams and experiences different from your own. There is a world to know and to share. Put down the mirror. Turn off the computer. Take the risk of meeting new people and having new experiences— be ready for surprises. God bless you.

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