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Even though I know my divorce was mostly for the best, there have been many days and nights when I deeply miss my ex. It has been a while now since he moved out, and I still miss our evenings together watching movies, dinners by the fire, and the morning conversations we used to have over coffee - he in his studio painting, and me curled up on the sofa, planning the day. While I do miss him specifically, I also miss simply having someone close. Divorce can be very lonely, especially if you don't have children at home, or even a pet (or maybe even if you do). In the summer months, I kept myself busy and out of the house as much as possible, but as the temperature plummets I find myself tucked inside most days and nights, the dreary New York winter isolating me more and more. Sometimes I imagine myself frozen inside a house of ice, waiting for the spring to come thaw out my world. Winter is definitely the hardest season of divorce, and with the holidays here, being alone feels especially hard.

I know not everyone minds living alone, and there are many things I enjoy about it, too. I like sleeping in  the middle of the bed, and having the closet to myself. I appreciate that as a single person, I don't have to answer to anyone, or account for my whereabouts. I value a certain amount of alone time, and I believe that alone time is healthy, whether single or married. After all, you have to be happy with yourself before you can share yourself with anyone. But after months of living alone, it can become depressing rather than liberating. Maybe if I lived in a large city things would be different, but in a small town, there isn't much of a social life to be had. And once you're in your thirties, you find that most of your friends are married, or at least partnered off, which makes social interaction a bit tricky. I have definitely struggled with loneliness quite a bit following my divorce, and I'm sure a lot of divorced people feel the same way. But like anything else in life, you have to take action if you want things to change. You may not be able to change being alone right now, but you can take small steps toward improving your situation, and your state of mind.

When You Need Someone To Talk To, Listen

Everyone needs someone to talk to, and a good listener is a rare find. How many times have you asked someone how they are, but not actually wanted to listen to an answer that isn't a simple, fine, thanks? If you're looking for a connection, be that person who actually cares enough to pay attention. It sounds so simple, but it's not that easy in practice. That's because we get so caught up in our own problems we forget that everyone else has a life, too. When you're already feeling lonely and sad, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that so do a lot of other people. But when you take the time to be there for someone else, whether it's a friend or just someone you met on the train, a few minutes of genuine listening can do wonders for your mood. Helping people gives us a sense of purpose, and when we feel needed, we naturally feel less alone in the world.

Learn to Accept Your Present

It may seem silly, but what has often bothered me about my loneliness is not even the lonely feeling itself, but the fear of more loneliness in the future. Sometimes when I am having a really bad day, I feel like lonely is the state I'll always exist in, and I  become anxious. I want to make new friends, find something fun, or fall in love again so desperately that I forget to live in the moment. And the moment is all we really have. I've learned to appreciate the little things, like the view from my bedroom window of doves on my neighbor's rooftop as I lie in bed in the mornings. Maybe one day someone will be there with me again, sharing that moment. But if not, I have to accept that, too. Worrying about whether I'll live the rest of my life alone isn't going to change anything. In fact, when we feel desperate and afraid, we repel what we want to bring into our lives instead of attracting it. But when we let go and simply accept the present, and recognize what we have, that's when change starts to happen. Time goes by so quickly, and today's isolation is not a promise of tomorrow. As I finally submit to winter's lonely tale, enjoying my new fireplace and the fresh snow, I know it isn't going to be forever. Spring is right around the corner.

 

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25 comments

  • Comment Link Christine Wednesday, 14 June 2017 05:30 posted by Christine

    It's my first birthday since being separated and discovering my husband's betrayal as well as the mind blowing extent of his betrayal. I'm so damn lonely. Friends and family are further isolating with their judgement and opinions. I'm just so lonely.

  • Comment Link Lonely Man Friday, 28 April 2017 16:58 posted by Lonely Man

    Joelle, very nice article. Your sentence, "In fact, when we feel desperate and afraid, we repel what we want to bring into our lives instead of attracting it." really hit home to me. My wife left me almost 3 years ago now after 20 years of marriage, and my biggest issue is the incredible loneliness I still feel. I joined the choir, two bible studies, ride my bike like crazy, and am very involved in my 3 kid's lives and have really tried to keep as busy as possible just to feel tired. But, there are times when I actually seem to want to be alone, that if some beautiful lady came up to talk to me, I wouldn't want her too. In fact, when I get into one of these states, I have been known to cross the street to avoid people - and even some people that I know! And then I chastise myself saying "Man, why did you just to that? You are so lonely, and you just avoided someone because you didn't want he/she to talk to you! That's just stupid!" I really thought I was going a little crazy. But, now I know that perhaps that it is normal when I get in those desperately-afraid-believing-that-I-will-never-meet-anyone states. I really do hope I meet someone, but I agree that I need to be at peace with myself first. It is just so hard to reach that state. I need to stop blaming myself for making all those mistakes during our marriage because she made just as many even though she insisted that it was ALL my fault. I have to let go, accept where I am both in relationship and finances, and just know that tomorrow will be another day & a better one as time goes by.

  • Comment Link Bob Monday, 09 January 2017 22:32 posted by Bob

    It is not easy to accept such a big change in life. But as everyone tells me with change there is a new horizon. It all depends on what you do with he change. That's the dilemma.

  • Comment Link Lucy Friday, 25 November 2016 11:37 posted by Lucy

    I moved out of my marital home 1 week ago. not because I chose to, but because I was no longer wanted as a partner anymore.
    I'd never been left before, only the one who had done the leaving. it's a very different feeling.
    I don't have children, nor many friends. i'm 37 and most of them are married with families so although I know they are on the end of the phone if I need them, I don't get much opportunity to just spend time with them.
    I've always liked time to myself, but it's the classic situation of wanting time to myself because sometimes I don't get it. Now i've had it thrust upon me, even the things I liked to do on my own before aren't holding my interest.
    But it's early days...and I just wanted to say that your article has calmed me somewhat, so thank you very much. x

  • Comment Link MIKE Thursday, 25 August 2016 10:46 posted by MIKE

    TEN YEARS BEHIND A DIVORCE AND I HAVE THE SAME LOVE AND FEELING AND CANT LET GO ..AND IT MAKES IT HORRIBLE TO KNOW I CANT LET GO THREE CHILDREN ARE PART OF MY LIFE. I FEEL IF I LET GO .THEN IM A LIAR TO MYSELF MY BELIEFS AND MOSTLEY TO MY X .. I PROMISED I WOULD BE HERE AND UNTIL DEATH .. IF I LET GO DEATH WILL COME FOR ME. IN THIS WHAT CAN I DO ..NO PSYCHOLOGY OR EVEN SOMEONE AS BEAUTIFUL AS MY MATE RICHER NICER,ALL OF THE ABOVE CAN TOUCH WHAT THE HELL HAS ME UNDER THIS WHATEVER. CAN THIS BE POSSIABLE ? AM I CRAZY

  • Comment Link Sheena Thursday, 28 April 2016 21:51 posted by Sheena

    I have been divorced for 6 months after being married for 40 years. I am 62. My ex is now living with his girlfriend who is 25 years younger than us both, and the same age as my son. I have gone back to work two days and joined groups - a choir
    ( uplifting), wildlife conservation groups ( good for the soul being with nature), an amateur dramatics group as a stage hand and props maker, and a yoga class. I am busy most days and evenings, but still feel lonely late at night. I try to tire myself out, and only watch tv to occupy my mind. I am told it will get easier. Even making new friends doesn't stop me missing him every day. I believe that living for now is all we can do...who knows what or who is round the corner.

  • Comment Link Lizette Sunday, 24 April 2016 14:30 posted by Lizette

    Often I feel dreadfully lonely after divorsing my husband of 34 years. The family has crumbled. I don't know how to make friends. It would be nice just to have someone to talk with.

  • Comment Link Sarah stock Sunday, 31 January 2016 19:02 posted by Sarah stock

    That is a truly uplifting article. I thank you for it . So much. Honest and truthful and ... Just right ! Thank you .

  • Comment Link Steve Monday, 25 January 2016 23:01 posted by Steve

    Thanks so much for your words Joelle. It really helps to hear from others that have gone or are going through the same thing. The whole thing speaks to me profoundly.

    Is anyone aware of an equivalent group for men going through divorce?

  • Comment Link Zena Tuesday, 19 January 2016 00:15 posted by Zena

    I am 61 years old. I have a grown daughter. I am getting a divorce after 35 years of marriage. I am so lonely. I don't know what to do with my time. I am retired. I jumped into a relationship right after seperation well that is not working either so now I am ending 2 relationships with men. what a mess I have made.

  • Comment Link Silent Man Saturday, 16 January 2016 01:44 posted by Silent Man

    Ladies, it isn't just you who deals with loneliness. My wife left me and either had her friend waiting in the wings, or they were already seeing it each. I lost it all in the divorce. It has been going on five years now and it still freezes me to the bone

  • Comment Link Ron Sunday, 29 November 2015 06:12 posted by Ron

    Thank you for sharing your experience. It helped me with remembering to embrace what you have, not what you're missing.

  • Comment Link Kristen Friday, 06 November 2015 07:53 posted by Kristen

    Mich1127
    I know how you feel. I am soon turning 40, have two kids and my husband left me in what is either a mid life crisis or something. It's been 7 months and some days it's just so lonely when the kids are off busy. I miss him terribly. He was my best friend.

  • Comment Link Jodie Monday, 02 November 2015 17:01 posted by Jodie

    I would like to know where in your story you are now? I so desperately need to hear a happy ending when I'm in the midst of a divorce with a man I'm still in love with, I feel so desperately lonely I struggle to think about anything else most days, and while trying to juggle a degree and two children aged 3 and 5 I dont know how to find the strength to get through xxx

  • Comment Link even Thursday, 03 September 2015 18:07 posted by even

    My husband has had a double life for the last 12 years .i found out about eight years ago he promised it was over but him working away and being a good lair he has continued to see her . Every holiday and special event has been spoilt because of this . I feel so weak for putting up with this but to the outside world we were the purfect family. We have been married for 25 years I am 55 and he is 60 . Over the years I have had horrible text and phone calls of her the worst been last week when she said she was having a miscarage with his baby. He has been traveling 2and half hours back and forward from our house to hers and working as well for the last week. I have cried for the last week . Today has been the last straw when we received some flowers from his work for him and his family . They went straight in the bin. He is with her now cos she has had a burial for the baby and I no its the end . We are on holiday next week I am dreading the loneliness and don't no what or how to tell my grown up children and my friends feel so needy lost and alone. Only work part time have a lot of time on my hands to think. Can anyone help please

  • Comment Link mich1127 Monday, 03 August 2015 22:19 posted by mich1127

    I can relate to her story, I been married for 12years and we got separated only this year due to our difference but actually I think it's because my ex husband is having a identity crisis. We have two kids which we need to talked about but he refuses to talk to me and even answer my call that's why I was forced to get a lawyer to make all things legal especially for our child custody.

    I'm turning 40 this year and it makes me feel sad and lonely that I will spending my 40th birthday as a single Mom. I don't know if I will be able to find love again and like her I was afraid also of being alone for quite sometime. I just hope right now that everything will pass and I would be able to move on.....

  • Comment Link Barbara Malagraph Saturday, 25 April 2015 10:17 posted by Barbara Malagraph

    Dear Joelle,

    This piece has spoken so eloquently and sincerely of the stark sense of loneliness I feel. It is as if my separation has disturbed the natural order of things. The most mundane rituals are gone and even though they were marked by severe problems, they are gone all the same. How does one reinvent an Easter Sunday ritual that took place for 25 years and replace it with something entirely new? I have a sense of not belonging to the grand facade of happy wife anymore. My cat is out of the bag and I am forevermore marked as alone. I feel adrift and all of this overcoming and rising above the pain is sometimes unbearable. I am only 9 weeks into this new state of being and my thoughts frequently come back to that one question....Why could you not accept happiness and know that essentially, you had the most wonderful wife and children.

  • Comment Link james Tuesday, 10 February 2015 05:08 posted by james

    I am a man, separated from my wife. I am 61, pretty good looking and in good shape. Anyone wanting to email me may do so.

  • Comment Link Cackin Monday, 19 January 2015 02:33 posted by Cackin

    I m lonely. My soon to be ex is out of town celebrating his girlfriend's birthday and my kids are each in college or married and living far away. Everyone has someone but me. I can't move past this even to get out of the house or to craft, knit or read. I can't concentrate on anything at all. I know logically the wrong thing to do is to date right after getting divorced, but what do I do until then? I feel abandoned and forgotten. I was married 27 years. Are there even good men left for 50 year old women? I can't bear to be this lonely the rest of my life.

  • Comment Link alex55 Thursday, 16 October 2014 07:21 posted by alex55

    Linda, my husband and I are in the same situation as you. We have been married for,over 40 years. We both do as we please but I am so angry, hurt and sad by things he has done. I am 59, he is 68. In one way I am lucky because two of my adult children still live here as well as an 11 year old grandchild. I can't imagine how lonely it must be. Have you thought about volunteering or joining a Meetup group? My few friends are happily married so going out by myself scares me. That's why I joined Meetup so I can meet new people in a similar situation and make new friends. I hope this helps. I don't think I will ever forgive my husband, all I wanted was the truth but I never got it. Yes we live under the same roof, he has his own room and I don't cook or clean for him anymore and we don't talk.

  • Comment Link Linda Monday, 08 September 2014 22:56 posted by Linda

    I understand what you are describing..the lonliness. However, I am still married to may narcissist husband but he has become so repulsive to me that we pretty much live separate lives under the same roof. We have finally begun to sleep in different rooms which is wonderful to me. We barely speak to each other and that suits me fine. He comes and goes as he pretty much pleases (which he pretty much has always done that anyway) but now I do it too and I LIKE IT! I don't see other men but I have my job, my grown son, his girlfriend, the gym, but I admit there are times that I'd like a date to go out to dinner with or to a movie or maybe spend a Saturday at a festival or go for a walk on the beach but when I begin to feel that dark feeling creeping over me (that dark cloud) I just switch gears in my brain and tell myself I am not lonely, alone yes..but not lonely. I tell myself I can do anything I want, come and go as I please, shop, watch what I want on TV. Like you, my friends are married so female companionship is minimal but for now I am working on spending time alone, getting used to that feeling, and rather than fighting it, I am trying to embrace it. A change in our thought process can do wonders. Oh.. I am 54 and have been married for 30 years. Living like I am now I think is preparing me for the day when me and my husband finally part. I am hoping the transition will be easier since I pretty much do everything alone now...right down to fixing things around the house.

  • Comment Link jody Tuesday, 19 August 2014 02:27 posted by jody

    You hit it on the head. The fear of being alone in the future. It has been 14 months since the divorce was final, and 18 months since he moved out. I was married 23 years. I have two great kids and my ex and I are still friends. But loneliness sometimes overwhelm, and getting through the moment is all I can do. I want companionship. I just fear being alone for the rest of life. How do I come to terms with that possibility.

  • Comment Link Rachel Thursday, 14 August 2014 04:28 posted by Rachel

    Its been almost 2 years since my separation. Divorce process starts this October. I don't miss my ex at all. Im filled with deep regret "Why did I marry him. I wish I never married him". I fear the future. I fear being lonely. I don't have a social life. I had to go for an eye checkup. My dad took me. My thoughts wandered and I worry about who will look after me when I get older, if I have health issues. If Im in an emergency situation whom can I call. None of these thoughts bothered me in the past.

  • Comment Link mleon Monday, 16 June 2014 22:10 posted by mleon

    I see myself in what Joelle describes here. It has been 7 months since I left my ex. At first, there was too much to be busy with, divorce details, moving, settling into the apartment. However, now post-divorce loneliness is making me doubt my sanity. Mood swings and sadness visit me every day.

  • Comment Link Laurafazz Tuesday, 10 December 2013 18:34 posted by Laurafazz

    Joelle, you read my mind today! And I think you hit the nail on the head - the fear of being alone in the future (forever even?) causes anxiety today - and really does make it hard to live in the moment.