Defeating the Demon of Loneliness (with the help of Lao Tzu)

sad woman sitting alone in a empty room

At one point, I found myself without a community. Perhaps you have, or will, as well. It could be sudden, like any sort of abandonment or death. It could be subtle, like drifting away from your adolescent home. Here is my experience.

The demon of loneliness greets me. “Welcome to solitude,” he sneers.

“You’ve been rejected,” he whispers.

I agree, and push my memory of loss further, further, further into the back of my mind, shoving it as close to my cranium as it will go. The memory won’t escape, but at least it is out of sight. Some time passes, and it slips and falls to the back of my throat. I can’t help but voice my pain to those around me. They reject it (or me?), disgusted.

The ancient voice speaks truth: “He who conquers others is strong, but he who conquers himself is mighty.”

I surrender. “Yes, I have losses, and yes, I’ve failed.”

When I’m desperate for community, I think I can disguise this need by labeling myself as being ‘transparent.’ Still, it’s not attractive. It’s like living life as a leech – draining. Often, I label my efforts to force friendship as ‘being intentional.’ Yet what that creates is an unappealing relational contract. 

Perhaps true friendship is an unearned gift. If that is correct, I must wait.

“You must become isolated,” the demon commands me.

The pain is still there, but I force it down from my throat to behind my collarbone. It catches on my heart until gravity settles it in my stomach for a while. I know I mustn’t let it rot, but, I’m tired.

The ancient voice speaks truth: “Give evil nothing to oppose, and it will disappear by itself. To a mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.”

My experience secludes me. But what if I sourced my energy from within? Now it’s my only option, so I might as well make the most of it. Otherwise the pain will poison me. I enter the void within myself. I enter presence. Through trial, I learn the strength of thinking well. I learn to show compassion to myself.

The demon has nothing left to oppose and he has nothing left to say.

The ancient voice speaks truth: “The way to do is to be. By letting go, it all gets done.”

The demon is still with me, but he’s no longer my ruler. The pain in my gut dissolves into tiny particles and travels down, down, down: behind my navel, meandering through the rest of my abdomen, and begins to evaporate when it reaches my thighs. What’s left trickles down behind my knees, through my calves, and continues to evaporate off of my shins. The remainder settles at my ankles and begins to trickle out. The demon is crawling on the floor at my feet. He laps up as much of the pain as he can in order to sustain himself. He latches onto my feet and sinks his vampire teeth into my flesh to suck up the last of the bitter nectar. I let him. I know he will starve, because there’s nothing left. He strikes my heel, but I crush his skull, and he is defeated.

Karissa,

Daily Zen.

Author Bio – Karissa lives in Surrey, B.C., Canada with her husband and smartphone. Her interests include Jungian cognitive functions theory, meaning, minimalism, presence, philosophy, Hearthstone, swimming, sensory deprivation float tanks, listening to podcasts (e-sports, comedy, spirituality, history, arts, etc.), and writing. You can find her on twitter and at her website.

1 Comment

  • It doesn’t claim to be an easy read and it isn’t. Reader gets a clear sense of the struggle the writer expresses. The ending brings relief as writer triumphs over demon. Raw and real.

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