On loneliness

Loneliness was a huge underlying theme in my marriage.  Framed by hopelessness, and the withdrawal of emotional intimacy out of necessity to survive, it was a constant dull ache of existence from which there seemed, like the rest of the heavily obscured forest, no real escape.

It was something I learned to live with as though it were a normal part of me, an appendage, just a necessary territory that was part of that relationship. Co-existing, sharing the space with it, and never imagining anything else. With him it was a cancerous growth, an excess of loneliness within, our marriage was. To be rid of it required amputation from my life.

Without my abusive partner, loneliness takes on a different form, so much so I hardly recognize it for what it is. Suddenly, an unrelenting void demanding to be filled. Now there are possibilities, and I have seen and felt them and loneliness is an unwelcomed foreigner I want to refuse to admit on grounds there is no real reason for it. Look at the misery I came from. What could possibly compare?

This loneliness is defined by that which is touchable, yet withheld. That which is possible, not quite close enough to reach. That which is joy, unsustainable. It is keen to remind me the sweetness I have only recently tasted. It will not leave me to be alone. It haunts me in the dark hours like an abandoned house, empty and unguarded, looks for a person to belong to.

I suspect this is what drives a person back to an abusive relationship, one where you can feel filled, overflowing with loneliness rather than this empty yearning.  Where you can see your enemy rather than live in its ghostly haze, going through the motions and pretending it doesn’t exist but feeling its presence hot on your heels. Perhaps you cannot outrun either. Neither is truly escapable. But only one comes with any hope of a resolution.

Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Psalm 25:16


For my friend L, thank you for reaching into the silence of christmas eve, when only the stars could see me. and you heard.

About Lisette d. Johnson

Murder-Suicide Survivor, Mom, Writer, Speaker, Serial Volunteer in the Intimate Partner Violence and Sexual Assault Arena, Entrepreneur, &amp Friend. I survived, my kids survived, and I am here to tell the story.
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4 Responses to On loneliness

  1. Donna says:

    You are a very poetic writer. Thank you for sharing your experience. I too am a victim. I can’t yet call myself a survivor. I am working on it. I got PTSD from severe, viscious verbal abuse. He never laid a finger on me yet I am seriously and permanently disabled. Please take care and thank you for sharing your beautiful, poetic expressions of your own experience. I wish you well being and healing.

  2. Donna says:

    I know loneliness and desolation and emptiness in an abusive marriage intimately. I have not yet left. I do not know if I can with the disability and financial dependency. I am proud that you were able to find the courage to leave and I have thought of the fear of loneliness you spoke of if I did/do. I am glad you are safe. That is important.

  3. Lisette Johnson says:

    Donna, my heart goes out to you. Please know the loneliness I felt when I wrote this was after visiting a friend I have grown to love who had to move away. It is both beautiful and bittersweet to miss a person so much. Since that visit I have come to appreciate my capacity to love and be loved by someone who is kind and gentle, and the freedom to do so is an enormous gift. I never believed three years ago it was possible. Believe this gift is also available to you.

    I am a volunteer DV advocate and appreciate your disability may make you more vulnerable, but I encourage you to explore options. Sometimes just calling the hotline and having someone who can just listen without judgement can be a huge relief even if you decide you are best where you. God bless you and keep you. l.

  4. Donna says:

    I feel like I have met, albeit online, a kindred spirit. Thank you for sharing your story and allowing me to “meet” you. I wish there were local support groups where I live where I could meet other women who understand what I feel like, truly understand and empathize with what it is like to have PTSD. It so drastically changes a person and most people do not understand that at all partly because it is an invisible disability. I have searched and searched and come up empty, there are none.
    I would love to do what you have done and work to help other DV victims at some point, when I am ready, when I have worked through this more than I have been able to so far — got stuck and unable to resolve because my child became very ill. Everything else stopped in it’s tracks. I’m sorry your dear friend moved away and that left you feeling very lonely, but I am simultaneously grateful for your gifted writing of the experience. You have a god given gift and I am very touched by your heartfelt writing. Please take care. I wish you health and happiness and a life long journey of continued healing which leads you to a place of pure peace and well-being.

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