Ever been in a big crowd.. and felt very alone? It's not a good feeling. There may be dozens or even hundreds of people around you, but no one is there with you. You might as well not be there, that anyone takes notice of you.
This is how I've felt my entire marriage. In fact, most of my life. I may be surrounded by people. I have spent hours of time with someone. I have sat side by side, even holding hands.. and still felt like I could have been on the moon for all the notice I was given. Alone, yet not alone.
It's hard to describe the loneliness of a difficult marriage. Marriage is supposed to be about unity, a oneness-- not a singleness. It's supposed to be the ultimate expression of relationship, not separate-ness. So when you feel single and separate from the one you are married to, the pain of loneliness there is worse than if you were actually single and separate.
To be alone, yet not alone is agonizing. There are benefits to solitude, to being truely alone -- relaxation, silence, the ability to do and think for yourself. But when you're alone, yet with someone, you get none of the benefits of being alone, and none of the benefits of being with someone. You aren't alone, in that there is someone there -- you may even have conversation, or shared occupation, but at the same time, you have no connection.
Connection is what we crave, as human beings. It's what we were designed for. We were created for connection; connection with our God, and with our fellow humans. We were made for relationship, soul-deep, satisfying relationship. But a marriage without connection is lonely.
Now that I'm truely alone, I find it easier, less lonely. Not saying I don't get lonely, because believe me, I do, but the loneliness isn't as stark, as obvious. Nothing is worse than seeing the water behind impenetrable glass, when you're desperately thirsty, to highlight your thirst. You can't focus on anything else but the thirst you are suffering. And when you're alone in the one relationship that God designed to be the most intimate, connected relationship we can have this side of heaven -- all it does is highlight your loneliness.
My stbx is in a trial mode, where he is attempting to be "nice", gentle and kind and thoughtful.. and all the things he thinks a good husband and father should be. It's hard to endure, because there is still no desire for connection with me behind it. He's doing it because.. he wants to look good, he thinks he has to, he still wants control over the relationship (not let me determine when it's ended).. for whatever reason. It is difficult for me. In one sense, I feel guilted in to letting him attempt this, on the justification that repetition creates habits, and perhaps his actions may lead to the right motivations. In another, I feel violated, that my boundaries are being tested beyond what I want, and that I'm being pushed into something I have no desire for any longer. And ultimately, I feel less understood, more ignored and more disconnected from the one person I should have been most connected to. I feel more alone than ever.
It is times like these that I "lift my eyes up to the hills", as the psalmist said. I know my help comes from the Maker of Heaven and Earth, and that He is my refuge, my "strong tower". I remind myself of His promises, never to leave me nor forsake me. I treasure the passage that says that before I was formed in my mother's womb, He knew me, and again, that my name is written on the palms of His hands.
The song I listen to most right now, that is speaking to me most, is Blessed Redeemer by Casting Crowns.
Blessed Redeemer, Precious Redeemer
Seems now I see Him, on Calvary's tree
Wounded and bleeding, for sinners pleading, blind and unheeding
Dying for me
He wanted me so much, He gave up His life just for a chance, a hope of having a relationship with me. Not even for the sure thing, just the hope. I am awed and amazed. When I think of what He did, I feel cherished, desired. No one has ever wanted me that much. And I don't think I will ever settle for less again.