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I never thought I would feel the kind of loneliness that makes my heart ache

on 11 Oct 2017

There is a peculiar type of loneliness that blooms when you are married to someone who doesn’t love you.
This is not a periodic loneliness, it is not a loneliness that creeps up and puts a hand on your shoulder when you’re at a party without your spouse, and you suddenly miss them. This is not the type of loneliness that washes over you at night when you’re alone and your spouse is overseas on a weeks-long business trip. It’s not even the loneliness that manifests when your spouse dies, and you are left without their physical presence.
No. This is a constant loneliness that accompanies your every waking – and sleeping – hour. It is the loneliness that arrests the blood flowing to and from your heart when you share your deepest feelings, only to have them disregarded, disparaged or derided.
It is the loneliness that sees you craving physical contact so much that you scoop up the odd smile sent your direction, and try to turn it into a loving caress. Even if that’s only in your mind.
It is the loneliness that pervades your soul when you make yourself as vulnerable as you know how – taking a gamble and exposing your fears and hopes and dreams in equal measure – and your husband responds. Not, however, as you had hoped, with kindness and understanding; but with a story about how he wanted to bat for India but it never happened. And you bite your tongue so as not to remind him that he doesn’t actually play cricket.
It is the loneliness that sees you, at a dinner with several other people, playing your part: Artfully presenting yourself as half of a united, happy couple in the hope that life will imitate art. In the hope that your affectation of a connection will be rewarded with an actual connection.
It is the only type of loneliness that cannot be named for the shame it brings on you. Other types of loneliness are legitimate, but not this one. How, after all, can you be married and lonely?
It is the type of loneliness that, in order to combat it, you try to ignore it. You give away pieces of yourself in silent exchange for acceptance. If you can be less you and more something else, then you will be accepted and, therefore, less lonely.Until, one morning, you wake up and realise that you have given away so much that you are a shadow of the shell of the woman you once were.
And then you’re lonely for yourself. You want the old you back. You realise that the peculiar type of loneliness that blooms when you are married to someone who doesn’t love you has taken root inside you and choked you out of yourself.
The cure for this type of loneliness is to be alone.

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