The feelings of sadness and being depressed when one is single after a divorce is difficult to imagine. The effort it takes to break up a bad marriage usually involves feelings of anger, jealousy, and frustration, rage, lack of respect, or feelings of abuse and being victimized. The idea that coping with divorce a year later, two, three… years later, and being sad seems out of step with the person you thought you would be. Especially, if initially, you spent many months or years dating and having fun in reaction to an unhappy union. The same holds true for feeling isolated or still single a few years later. Coping with loneliness and feeling separated from happy couples or happy families haunts us and makes most divorcees question their decision of getting divorced.
I truly believe that divorce is a chance to recreate a life; to look ahead and become happy with yourself and what you’re doing. How to manage the intense roller coaster of emotions and make the courage necessary to rework a life in full swing is part of the healing process. To that end, here are 3 fundamental tips you need for healthy coping with the loneliness after your divorce.
1) You cannot do this alone. No one can.
Too often with divorce, the shame and stigma of a failed marriage have people pull in and hide. Sure, you may be at work, you may even be dating; you’re a parent at school and out and about at your gym. The problem is that there’s this piece of you that often feels unworthy of what ‘they have’ or frustrated with how to get it. You wonder how they’ve recreated their lives… you question your attractiveness, self-confidence; instead of dating, you may be at home on a Friday night afraid to be naked or to imagine making love to a new partner. These feelings are not unique to you. Every person going through divorce questions the future and how they’re going to show up in it. Every person wants to hide. And you can’t.
Find yourself some support: a church, a mentor, a community that will remind you of your beauty, kindness, and heart. You’re worthy of being loved and being out there. The fear and embarrassment, shame even are part and parcel of your healing. They are a call for help. As you heal and surround yourself with support, you will find yourself feeling less alone or stigmatized. Let me say it again… you are not alone and you can’t do this by yourself. No one can.
2) Growth is not linear and you’ll have to generate the enthusiasm and courage to be seen even when it’s not easy.
This means, if you’re hiding behind your work, your children, your weight, your familial responsibilities, it’s time to cry “uncle” and start taking some me time. In order to step out from behind your excuses and meet new people and generate feelings of love, you’re going to have to be seen. Which means, your lifestyle needs some tweaking! It may feel uncomfortable to join a gym, hire a trainer, get a new hairstyle, join a club or say “no” to your parents’ constant demands but you must in order to alter your feelings of being separate and disconnected to others your age and people with whom you could create new friendships.
Consider how you actually know what to do versus what you’re actually doing. This is a good time of year to recommit to yourself. This is the time to declare that you matter and to really do something about how you feel about yourself. Some courage (because it may feel awkward at first) and some enthusiasm (to help you get through that moment you want to give up) will be necessary and helpful. You can do it! You can be seen and when you are, when you feel as if you belong, you will feel less lonely and better able to cope with your divorce or separation.
3) Sometimes the feelings of loneliness make you question your decision to end your marriage (or your decision not to go along with what was needed to stay married).
Let’s take a look at this one! Everyone questions change. No one likes it. No one wants to fight or go through a battle over parenting plans and money. People who haven’t been working, don’t want to go back to work. Kids don’t want to go back and forth between parents’ homes. Parents don’t want to fight. No one wants to break up with a new lover shortly after or during separation and divorce. It’s a time in life when the desire to have things be easy rings paramount. So of course, questioning your decision to end your marriage will come up over and over again especially when you’re feeling alone and sad. It’s a natural response to the pain of separation. It’s part of the process.
Which doesn’t make your decision to grow into a new life wrong! You’re not wrong to want to end something that wasn’t working. You’re not wrong to declare you couldn’t continue living the way you were. If it was a happy, comfortable union and you felt seen, heard, respected and loved, you wouldn’t be where you are today. You wouldn’t be reading this particular article. Stay in the truth of your story – not the feelings you think are real. They’re just sensations that cause you to question what’s up. They aren’t the real you. And the real you is more than capable of creating a future apart from the way the past used to be. I know this with all my heart.
I also completely relate to feeling lonely, sad, depressed, scared and angry during and after my divorce(s). I know the amount of effort it takes to overcome those feelings. I remember and recall the daily courage it took to stop the fighting, stop the demanding, stop the blame. I spent many, many hours allowing the grief to go through me and my courage to take hold.
The healing process of divorce will be at times, quite a roller coaster. You will feel as if you’re out of control especially if you’re not one to usually experience and feel the range of feelings you’re capable of. But knowing this, expecting it and going through the range of feelings may feel anywhere from unpleasant to scary. You may want to disassociate, ask for anti-depressants, feel you can’t handle yourself. If that’s the case, seek support. Share this article with others you know who aren’t coping well with their decision and being single after divorce. Find a good mentor, one who understands the experience of going through a divorce and the healing it requires to complete it. You are capable of way more than you think.
Laura Bonarrigo is a Certified Life Coach and a Certified Divorce Coach at laurabonarrigo.com. Laura’s a writer, public speaker and the founder of doingDivorce School an online coaching program for those ready to shed the pain of divorce. For empowering and practical ways to lose the identity of your past, visit www.doingDivorceSchool.com and laurabonarrigo.com.