As I have written before, I spent almost 5 years in a nearly affectionless relationship. It wasn’t a complete drought. He would hug me when I forced it on him. Occasionally we would touch in our sleep. Sometimes he’d hold my hand – again, if I forced him to. But I can likely count the number of times we had sex on both hands … in 5 years.
When I read it on paper, I can’t believe I lived like that for so long but in many ways as I was going through it, it was more like death by a thousand cuts. At first, I barely noticed it. I mean, I knew we weren’t having sex. I knew that when I tried to initiate sex, it went nowhere, but I didn’t know just how much it was hurting me every day.
I would say that I became more and more aware of it about a year before our relationship ended. That was when I made the decision to stop forcing my husband to hug me. It started as a small experiment. If I stop touching him, how long will it be until he touches me? One day became 2, became a week, became a month and then I felt like I had my answer. I wasn’t making this up. This was actually the reality of our relationship. We were companions with a love of craft beer who lived in the same house but were not a romantic couple.
While much of what was going on between my ex-husband and me became obvious to me over time, what I didn’t notice until much later was the impact that this was having on all of my relationships. Some of which still ripples through today. I began to isolate myself from people. In the moments when I was so desperate for connection, I pulled away from people to whom I had been closest for years. I felt such deep shame about the state of my life that I believed no one could understand what I was going through. And since I had been so quiet about my unhappiness for so long, the few times I tried to let people in on the situation fell flat. I am sure they thought this was coming from left field, I was just having a bad day, when for me it was so deep and so bad that it had bubbled up to a point where I couldn’t keep quiet about it anymore. And every time I tried to share where I was and it fell flat, it confirmed what I believe to be true. I was really broken and at this point, unlovable. I had fallen into a self-perpetuating and vicious cycle that continued to reinforce itself thus isolating me even more.
For more days than not in 2013, I was angry when I woke up in the morning. Not because I was pissed at someone but because I was actually angry that I woke up. I wasn’t ready or willing to kill myself but if I had died by some other means, I would have felt intense relief. When I talked with people about how awful my 2013, many wrote off my pain and only saw the fact that I left my marriage and worked to make things better. While I made many positive steps, the pain that I went through to get there took such a profound toll on my spirit and soul that I know I will never be the same. Not necessarily better or worse but most certainly not the same person that I was before.
There was a lot of disconnection in our marriage but I feel like at the end of the day, our dysfunction and hence my pain came down to the simple lack of touch. Connection. Comfort. The power of touch. As I find myself in a newish relationship that is deeply rooted in affection and touch, I can see even more clearly now just how much damage years of isolation were for me. It’s just one of those things that is going to take me a while to heal from.
I'm a single lady living in the suburbs of Philadelphia with 2 cats named Leo and Toby (after characters on "The West Wing" - one day I will have the ability to recite the entire series by heart.That's a noble goal, yes?).
I've had a varied career doing a bunch of technical stuff that isn't that interesting to folks who aren't doing it but my real passion is writing.I also get the fabulous pleasure of coaching people from time to time and that brings me amazing joy and energy.
If you want to hang with me there are things you should know:I curse.A lot.I like hoppy beer.A lot.I like big and deep red wines. A lot. I adore my friends.A lot, a lot.I am passionate about politics (or a big geek about them - you choose).I'm an accidental but rather passionate Unitarian and few things make me happier than my dining room table surrounded by people I love.And picking paint colors, let's not forget that. Find me online here.