Have you ever felt all alone, with no one to share your dreams, achievements, worries and excitement with, even though you have a significant other? Have you ever slept on the same bed with someone you care greatly about and wondered how you could love someone and feel so distant from them? Have you ever cried yourself to sleep, tears running silently down your cheeks as you wondered if anything in your spouse’s world would change were you never to wake up? Have you sat across from your spouse and suddenly found out that you have nothing in common apart from your name? Have you carried on a conversation, smiled and acted as you normally would with your partner aware that they know nothing and are oblivious of the turmoil within you? Do you look back at the years and wonder how someone you once shared your days, moments and seconds with, is now a stranger?
If you have, then like so many others before and like you, you are suffering from the malaise of loneliness. Loneliness is a terrible thing and like most of us know, we can be in the midst of people, in a relationship where we love the other person and they love us also and we can still feel lonesome. There is a difference between being alone and being lonely, the difference being that of the absence and presence of other people. Being alone is when one is physically alone with no one with them whilst being lonely is an emotional state where one feels alone or disconnected from others even though they may or may not physically be alone.
When we are newly in love, we never would think that there would be a day when we would feel alone in our relationships but the truth is that at some point in every relationship, we would feel that void, that emptiness, that feeling of being alone.
The tell tale sign is that of not feeling a connection that was hitherto there, of missing the person even though you are not apart. It’s the feeling of being unappreciated, unheard, unseen, unvalued. It’s the feeling of wanting more than one has, that one doesn’t matter in the scheme of things, the feeling of being invisible and unimportant.
There was a time in my marriage that I felt so alone, so misunderstood, so unappreciated, so lonesome. I remember then, identifying with the lines of Barry White’s song “I’m blue and so are you too” which at a time was on replay on my playlist. In that song Barry sought to know from his lover “how they had come to this, a place where after all the love they had shared and known together, they were sitting together and yet were far apart, nothing feeling the same”. Like Barry I asked in bewilderment how we had come to the state of being disconnected in many ways. It took some time but I slowly came to the realisation that loneliness in a relationship can emanate from within and without and it can be felt by either parties both male and female both at the same time or at different times.
When it comes from within, it is normally as a result of our past-our upbringing, fears, hurts and betrayals which make us unwilling to be vulnerable with our partners. In such situations, we enter the relationship with the mindset of denying our partners entrance into certain parts of our lives, though unconsciously we expect them to allow us free entry into theirs and so, we stand at their thresholds expecting to be invited in instead of opening the door. In those instances, we take the gait of a child who was locked indoors on a sunny summer day looking at his neighbours playing. Because our loneliness comes from within, we tend to shun the initial invites by our loved ones to be active participants in their lives on the grounds that we don’t enjoy what makes them happy, do not agree with their lifestyles, are afraid of vulnerability, etc. By the time we understand that we have recreated our fears, it’s usually too late and we would have effectively driven our partners away for good.
When loneliness emanates from within, we unconsciously enter into our relationships expecting the person we are with, to curb that sense of feeling out of place and help us find fulfillment but sooner or later, we find that our emptiness can never be filled by anyone else and that we must learn to enjoy ourselves and find contentment in who we are. Also, we fail to understand that walls when built keep us locked in and our partners locked out.
When loneliness comes from our relationship and a partner who has locked us out of their lives even though we keep knocking at the door to be let in, we must enquire what has changed to create the distance we feel and if there was never a connection in the first place, we must be brave enough to admit our motives for entering into that relationship. Note that we all go into relationships for different reasons and understanding our motives will help us manage our expectations.
Loneliness may come in phases and most times it just means we have outgrown the phase of our lives that we and our partner were once comfortable with. Being lonely in our relationships does not necessarily mean that the relationship is doomed , it is just an indication that parties need to readjust their level of commitment, find new mutual ground and seek to understand one another better.
Whatever the reasons why we feel lonely even when in a relationship, it is important to note that no one will totally be there for us not even our partners, that the most important relationships we will have is that with ourselves and our maker, that we can still enjoy life even though we may feel unconnected in our relationships, that life is worth living and that to have an emotional connection we must be willing to be vulnerable with our partners even though we may be in danger of being hurt.
In my case, after dealing with my issues, I choose to be vulnerable about my need for an emotional connection with my spouse and discovered that I wasn’t the only one who craved that connection, we readjusted to accommodate one another and our new interests and rediscovered that connection that had been buried under our egos, pride, misgivings, hurts, the challenges of parenting, work and day to day living.
Life is too short to live a lonesome life especially when we still care for our partners and there is no shame in being vulnerable with the ones we love.