A common misconception amongst the general population is that single people are lonely, and married people are not. However, this could not be further from the truth, the reality is a large portion of people feel crippling loneliness when in a relationship, there is nothing more lonely than being with someone but not feeling loved or appreciated by them.
I can honestly say I never once felt ‘loved’ by the person I spent 14 years of my life with, not once. There were often times I questioned whether he was capable of love, or whether he was just going through the motions of life, doing what he thought he was supposed to. I think one of the reasons I stayed within the relationship for so long was because I felt so unloved, I thought no one else would love me, and I almost wanted to prove myself wrong. I was constantly waiting for the day he had an epiphany and realised I was actually a fun and good person to spend life with.
I am a very bouncy, bubbly person, I crack a lot of jokes and I grew up as the ‘class clown’. I remained this way throughout life but friends were quick to notice I was much more ‘toned down’ around my husband. The hyperactivity, the laughter, and the confidence would dissipate in his presence. When discussing our separation we discussed how we dampened parts of each other’s personality… he told me he felt as though he didn’t allow me to be so vibrant around him, and he told me I didn’t let him be as obsessive is regards to organisation.
Having to constantly change yourself when you’re around someone leaves you very isolated, you end up constantly worrying the mask will slip and your true self will come out. It was the fact I couldn’t be my true self around him that left me in such an identity crisis during the last 5 years, at least before then I would only become a subdued version of myself on the weekend and not have to do it all week. Each time that mask slipped, I could see it on his face, I was annoying him. One minute he would be moaning I was moody, the next minute he would complain I was too happy, or too hyper, especially if he had just come home from work, he would tell me conversation was too much, he needed to relax, I learnt to just keep my mouth shut in the evenings. I don’t think his family ever met the real me, they often believed I was shy, and quiet, they would be taken aback when I got the giggles or spoke up for myself, they thought I was acting out of the ordinary but it was those times I was just being myself.
There were often days I would sit and talk to my husband and not even get a response, I soon realised he didn’t listen to half of what I was saying. I lost count of the times I was speaking and he would speak over me about something totally different. He didn’t realise he was doing it because he never noticed I was speaking to him in the first place, he was entirely switched off from me. I wouldn’t carry on what I was telling him and he never noticed he never heard the end of the story.
There are many people who think getting into a relationship will make their loneliness disappear, but the only way to not feel alone, is to feel comfortable in your own company. Even when I was married, I absolutely loved being out of the house, I loved travelling alone and over the last few years did regular trips by myself. As soon as I stepped out of the house and away from my husband, I wasn’t alone anymore, I was with myself, the self I enjoyed being and the self I felt happiest with. I could take photos without being whined at, I could choose wherever I wanted to go for dinner, I could fall asleep at night happy in my own thoughts and not being made to feel stupid and ignored. As soon as I went home, and slept in our bed again, chronic loneliness would hit me like a ton of bricks, I was miserable.
I often dreamed of leaving, I would go to sleep at night making up scenarios in my head where I left and never came home, but I never had the balls to do it. When Baxter came into my life, I learnt what true love was, I learnt that with him by my side I would never be alone. The house suddenly became more bearable, until I noticed Baxter was getting ignored too.. I did everything for him, fed him, hugged him, played with him, walked him. Funnily enough, it wasn’t me who chose to have a dog, but it is me that became his rock. There were often times Baxter would be doing something, I would say ‘look at Baxter!’ and yet my husband’s eyes barely glanced up from his phone. I would ask him if he wanted me to wait for him to come home so we could walk Baxter together, the answer was often no. I remember just a few weeks before I left, I asked him if he wanted to play with Baxter outside, Baxter had just undergone major surgery and I was trying to occupy him in the garden. He never came outside or even glanced in our direction.
The feeling of being alone hit me once again, but this time, I realised it was just Baxter and I, and suddenly I realised I would do everything in my power to keep this four-legged creature happy, I swore I would never ignore him, I would always be there for him.
Since stepping out our home and never going back, the feeling of loneliness has slipped away. I go to sleep each night happy and content, I have even started sleeping through till morning, something that once seemed like an unattainable dream to me. I have no one to disappoint me, no one to let me down, I have no one that makes me feel silly. No one to tell me I’m being too loud, I’m laughing too much. I have no one telling me my outfit is crap, no one to ignore me when I have got dressed up.
Emotional abandonment is extremely hard to deal with in a marriage, it feels like climbing a mountain that can never be climbed, you try and try and try to break that person down and make them see you again, but it just never happens.
So, next time you feel alone and you think it’s because you’re single, just remember, it’s not. You can be alone inside or out of a relationship and the true fix is to learn to self-love, to find things that make you happy and to never feel like you need someone else to fulfil your emotional needs. When you learn to live alone, you will identify your hidden abilities and appreciate your strengths, and that is when you will find someone who will love you for you, and not for someone who wants to change you.