From The Closest Love To The Most Crushing NeglectI posted the main part of this as a comment the first night I found this site, but after reading other people's stories I felt like I should be brave enough to do more than add a comment so this is my story. I hope it helps someone else, as I have been helped by reading other people's stories.
I fell in love seven years ago. We were in love with each other for years. We had sex all the time- I mean almost every day. We were crazy about each other. We never yelled or said mean things to each other, rarely even disagreed about anything important and when we did disagree we were respectful and could talk easily about anything.
We both thought we would be together for the rest of our lives, the first time either of us had thought that. (We were both over 40 and had lived with lovers as well as having had boyfriends/girlfriends.) I can't tell you how much joy we took in each others company.
We worked together until two years ago (He builds & restores houses- I paint & do interior finishing). He took time off to have knee surgery. I didn't get an outside job in time and he had to cover my rent as he is the one whose name is on the lease so if the rent comes up short it's his problem. (his words, not my attitude)
The first month he was angry that he had to dip into the money he'd set aside for six months of recovery after surgery. (Note: the money wasn't tight, it was "the principle of the thing".) He was uncharacteristically harsh but I knew he was feeling vulnerable and I felt guilty so I just swallowed my emotions. The second month he'd been short with me all all month but again, I thought "He's in pain", and I sympathized. At the end of the month he told me he felt so much anger the only way he could deal with it was to withdraw, but that he loved me, he just had to pull into himself...
I never saw my lover again. After two years of my sorrow, guilt, confusion and loneliness, he told me he had no more feelings for me, and he dumped me.
The shock and grief have been unbelievable. I spent two years pretending everything was alright while inside I grew more lonely and less self confident. We had sex four times- always when we were out of town and there were other people in the house (to 'witness' what a loving couple we were).
For the first time in my life I have insecurity and self esteem issues. Whenever anyone, even long term friends, have a problem expressing themselves to me, my mind immediately thinks they want me to leave and can't bring themselves to tell me. I am rarely able to sleep a night without some kind of unhappy or stressful dream, and I don't trust anyone for pretty much anything. Anytime I think about starting something that requires long-term effort, I feel myself slamming on the brakes, as if I won't be able to accomplish it.
I hate it that I can understand why this is happening but I still feel this way.
I will never trust myself to be right in thinking that I know who someone is. I have never in my life been so sure of anyone as I was of him, and I never would have believed it was possible for him to withdraw and stay withdrawn until our love was dead. I wouldn't have believed I would go so long under so much misery either, but it hadn't been a fling- we really had a relationship I thought was strong enough to overcome anything.
In retrospect I should have kicked and screamed, not quietly become incapacitated by grief. If nothing else, I would have saved myself the torture of trying harder and harder to work for something that was already gone.
I've been sad for so long it's normal for me now. I used to be strong and happy. Now I just want to survive this.
I completely agree that having a lover or spouse ask you to play the role without the sustenance provided by actually having a lover or spouse eats your mind and heart and soul.
We've talked a couple of times- both times I had to pretty much threaten to make a scene before he'd agree to see me. The first time he conceded that he may have been wrong to withhold sex and emotional closeness. The second time (more than six months later) he'd decided it had been wrong, and he acknowledged that he was sorry he hurt me. (WooHoo, right?) WTF happened to the man who used to say he loved how he could communicate with me about anything? I know that somewhere inside he doesn't want to face his grief, but that doesn't make it any less hard to be treated with near-hostility. In the time that's passed, I've gone from stunned to very, very angry. Not so much for his having made a tragic mistake- there's nothing that can be done once love is dead- (I didn't use to believe that but I know it now) but for his refusal to feel compassion for what it did to me.
The only advice I can offer from my experience is this- if your beloved withdraws, ACT on your feelings. Push it to a resolution. Don't let it become a way of life. Don't let what it used to be blind you to what it is now. If they are willing to be separated from you intimately, you can't count on them feeling the same desire you have to restore the closeness.
And from the bottom of my heart, if you are going through this, I feel for you. You may have believed in this person utterly, but if they won't give you the respect and love to resolve this, you have to love yourself enough to let go of your respect for their judgment and begin to see yourself without them. Your love can't be transferred into their heart.
Try to work it out but if they won't try too, they're not going in the same direction. It is hard to accept, but you only have one life. Devote yourself to putting all the beauty you can into the time you have.