Shackled to a Dead Marriage

I was left alone in our marriage. My husband didn’t know how to acknowledge my feelings or show me his support. After seven years of courtship and 13 years of marriage, we gradually become strangers — to the point where mutual understanding faded and there was hardly a trace of connection left between us.

I wanted him to hear me out, to show that he cared about how I felt and to notice what I was going through. But that wasn’t something he wanted to do. He was a “best friend” to others outside our home, but for many years I felt like I came in second place to everything. I was left thinking, I wish he wanted to be my friend. When I told him how I felt, he’d dismiss my feelings as if they weren’t even real. We became strangers, living under the same roof, hardly talking. On the rare occasions we did talk, it usually ended in arguments. We even slept in separate rooms because he didn't want to be near me.

When my husband was present, he was never really there for me and our daughter. He had moved on years before, but I wouldn’t let myself accept that fact. He spent so much time outside the house that I was basically raising my daughter alone. People loved him — he was their hero and needed his help. But that took him away from his own family. He ended up just being a provider, but I also needed him to be a co-parent.

My husband was an alcoholic and a workaholic. He needed his drinks daily before calling it a day and would stock cartons of alcohol in the house. He would often work on weekends. While I waited for him to come home in the evenings, he’d be in his office still working at something or spending his evenings out with friends. When he did come home, instead of being with me, he would start drinking endlessly and often stayed glued to his phone till the wee hours of the morning. We hardly even had meals together. Several days a week he would come home at one in the morning or later, telling me he’d already eaten and not to wait up for him.

To my shock, in the last few years of our marriage, I realized he’d found someone else.

He used to tell me he was emotionally, mentally, and physically done with me, but his statements never truly sank in. To my shock, in the last few years of our marriage, I realized he’d found someone else. I turned a blind eye to his adultery and continued living with him even though I knew he was emotionally and physically involved with another woman. I just didn’t want to let go of him. I was afraid of complete abandonment.

When it finally sunk in, I cocooned. I wanted to be alone because I had nothing more to give him. I battled with my mind and with our relationship. If I brought up his behavior, we would fight and then he'd get drunk. I went to the psychologist, thinking I was having a nervous breakdown. I started taking prescription medication for depression. It made me feel like I was hopelessly sick and alone.

He never saw what was happening to me because he was too busy or he was somewhere else. I was falling apart because he didn’t acknowledge his part in our dead marriage. He blamed it all on me. When I asked him to join me in couple's counselling, he refused. Because I continued to see my psychologist alone, he told family and friends I had a mental condition.

For years I had shut myself inside.

But I overcame my depression by starting to work on myself — just myself. I reached out to the family members and friends who accepted me as I was. I engaged in healthy communities, which helped to pull me out of the shackles of my dead marriage, which I had been told was my fault. I realized I should turn to God to receive the unconditional love and acceptance I needed.

For years I had shut myself inside. There was immense emotional damage, and by not sharing and allowing myself to renew, I had been carrying all the stress of life by myself. By letting go of a dead relationship, I was able to be healed and to become myself again, with a new beginning.

I feel I am well on my way to recovery. All I’ve been through has made me stronger than I thought I could ever be. I have lived my life in many colours — some cold and some warm hues. Whatever canvas I’ve painted so far, it has made me who I am today. I now believe there was purpose in my struggle.

If you are facing emotional abandonment today, I want you to know that you don't have to face it alone. Reaching out to talk about it was a huge part of my journey to healing. If you leave your email address and name below, one of our free and confidential mentors will connect with you soon to listen and to support you. You can leave your real name or a fake one. It's up to you.

Author's Name changed for privacy.
Photo Credit Clem Onojeghuo

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