“Its not you, but…”
I recently had this said to me by three people that I care about in the context of them asking to have some time by themselves to figure out their issues.
I was able to give space much more easily for two of them compared to the third.
The reason being I was much closer to the other person he is my partner.
When we are very close to someone and they suddenly decide that they need space because they are going through something that they do not want to say even one word about, I have two words to describe that.
I felt betrayed how could my partner do this to me knowing how much it would hurt?
The night that it happened, I dreamt about him and in the dream I felt profoundly lonely because of something he did. I woke up with tears even though I could not recall what exactly happened in the dream.
I sought advice as I had not encountered this in my relationship before. In previous times, we had always needed space due to a quarrel but this time we had not quarreled.
I am thankful for friends who prayed for me and who empathised, saying that they understood why I was hurt.
I am especially thankful for one friend who texted me this: God gives me strength and courage in those lonely times. When it is not possible to connect, it can be best to love them like a brother in Christ, and to have your connection need met where God provides. In this you and I are connecting. Do not perceive his withdrawal as rejection, simply as a need for space.
This advice spoke to me because she had been married for a long time and I am guessing that she has gone through similar situations with her husband.
This friend is someone that I have only met less than 2 months ago at a church mental health seminar. We didnt speak much at the seminar, only traded contacts in case we wanted to have coffee.
We did decide on coffee and looking back I think it is a mini miracle that we were able to be comfortable with each other right away.
Truly God does provide other forms of connections when certain connections in our lives are temporarily disconnected. The emotions that accompany the disconnection are definitely real and can be devastating. From feeling betrayed, I started asking myself whether my partner felt he could not share with me his troubles because he felt I would judge or that I could not be trusted. The spiral of negative thoughts were definitely not helpful.
That is why I am grateful for the wise words of my friend in choosing to be thankful for the connections that I have, rather than those that I do not have.
There was a strong temptation on my part to withdraw from my partner, but I believe God gave me the strength to reach out and connect again with my partner after a few days.
When we started spending time with each other again, he told me that the issue that was troubling him was no longer affecting him but he did not wish to speak of it. I expressed my feelings about being shut out so suddenly and I suggested that we speak again of this matter.
The issue has not been fully resolved but I have found that I can set it aside until he is ready to talk. Learning to give space is not an easy lesson for me, but I am reminded of what I wrote a few months ago, about learning to ask for space.
I guess learning to give space is just the other side of the coin.