Today wasn’t any different than most days. He was gone. She was busy running kids to practices, ballgames, rehearsals and to the pool; squeezing in a jaunt to the grocery store every now and again when milk or toilet paper ran low. The kid’s friends came in and out of the house all afternoon and she’d smile a polite hello, and then return to the laundry or some other household chore. Occasionally she’d stop to get them all a snack and a juice box, steal a hug from one of her own as they ran by; then check email and take another gander at the ever-growing to-do list hanging over her head. All the while wondering if there was more to this existence than the day-in-day-out hum-drum of chores that kept her family functioning in life, and kept her from living it.
She used to be a master at forcing back tears, but now they flowed daily. She tried to conceal them until she was alone, in the shower, where she could sob and no one would hear; and for the most part, it worked. From a distance, others perceived her as someone who had it all, an outgoing, happy, well-adjusted woman; all of which couldn’t have been further from the truth. She was good at hiding from outsiders. Inwardly though, she was burdened with sadness and guilt. She felt inept, incomplete and unable to overcome the smallest of obstacles. She was a woman who could be surrounded by a crowd and still feel undeniably alone.
As she matched socks and folded pool towels, tears poured down her cheeks and dripped from her chin. She scolded herself as a reminder to be thankful for all the blessings in her life. After all, she had a beautiful home, healthy children, family and friends who loved her and a husband who, even in economically difficult times, had a wonderful job to support and provide for all of them. She was blessed in ways she knew she didn’t deserve. She prayed a prayer of thankfulness in the quiet of her mind, and asked God for the strength to get through another day…another hour….another minute. She sobbed out apologies to Heaven, feeling sorry for appearing ungrateful, sorry for ever complaining, sorry for wanting more. She mentally berated herself for being selfish and her heart ached.
No matter how many times she found her smile, loneliness stole it again; and she feared one day it would leave and never return.
“Lots of people travel for work,” he had said.
“And lots of marriages fall apart because of it,” she had answered.
“Lots don’t,” he rebutted, and she knew her message wasn’t getting through. He couldn’t see the pain she was in. He was blind to the withering effect of loneliness inside her.
“Do you think I like being away from you and the kids?” He said.
She shook her head no, and flushed with a realization that talking had become futile. Her words only put more pressure on him and that wasn’t what she wanted. Sharing her heart only made things worse and regret rushed over her. She knew he was working hard…he always worked hard. She knew he was doing it for her, for their kids, and for their family; but she feared if they stayed on this course there would be no family left. She worried about his health and the health of their marriage. But she didn’t know what to do…
Already they were disconnected to the point that obligation and guilt became more effective tools than communication and trust. Already her heart began to shut down, pull back and run away. Already she felt the strength of their union slipping, and she hated it.
Work consumed him night and day and the kid’s schedules took up every spare moment of time. When he was on the road, there was no time for lengthy phone calls, and texting became their main source of marital communication. An “I love you” in the morning and evening, and sometimes an “I miss you” posted on Facebook became the extent of their intimate conversing. When he was in town, by the time the kids were asleep, so was he. Exhaustion overrode desire. Their disconnect grew and depression gripped her.
She rolled over in bed every morning, dreading the reality of another day…another lonesome day of have-to’s and shoulds. Another day of functioning in life, but not really living.
She used to see divorced couples and wonder what went wrong, how did they get there? Now, she understood. They didn’t stop loving… they just stopped living together… and when you have to do life by yourself, it feels empty.
Everyone knows a lonely heart is more susceptible because it’s starving to feel loved…the trouble is… how do you share life with someone who’s constantly leaving? How do you find time together when he’s always packing and unpacking?
When the craving stops… will it ever start again? Or has the dagger of distance unleashed its final blow? Now, on her knees, armor failing, sword knocked from her grip… she hopes he will grab a weapon and fight for her, for their marriage, for their life together. ~