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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