When is the experience of loneliness most challenging? Through which stage of the divorce?
Is it during the time when you or your ex decided on the divorce? Is it during the following transition, leaving the life you knew? Or is it later on, living the single divorcee life, day by day, month by month?
When asked this question, most women say loneliness gets worst during the actual post-divorce life (which can easily last years for some). This is true even if, as one expressed it, “The loneliness at all of those stages is profound. It's shocking at first, then it becomes the new normal.”
It makes sense. You lost your love and your heart, you lost your ex and your friends. And even if you do your best to live your new life, loneliness has become your everyday companion, the one that never leaves you for good.
It’s like, even if you learn to live that new normal life, in your heart of hearts you’re still lonely. And it doesn’t look like there’s any immediate solution to that. Which is why you try not to feel it at all but to numb it with food, or work perhaps.
But there is a solution! However, the solution is not what you may think it is.
Loneliness is not what most people think it is.
Loneliness is not the absence of a partner. Loneliness is not the absence of friends. Loneliness is not a result of social isolation as such.
Yes, these circumstances, and everything that the divorce brought along, certainly add to loneliness. But none of it is the real cause of loneliness. So what is it?
Loneliness is a yearning for love and support.
By does love mean being loved by a spouse or by friends or by family? Does not being loved by them mean that love has disappeared from your life? It surely feels like it. But is it true?
There is a secret to love that we all know yet keep forgetting.
Love is not something that you give and then have less of.
Love is not something that someone can give to you and then take back.
Rather, love is an energy. Love is like an endless flow.
Love can never dry out.
Love is right here, in your heart. Yes, it is still there. It has never left you.
When you fell in love, this is where you experienced it: in your heart. It was a mysterious experience. It looked like one moment love wasn’t there and the next moment, there it was, overflowing.
Just like, later, it turned the other way round. One moment it was filling your life and the next moment it disappeared.
But notice this:
No one has put that love in your heart to begin with and no one has ever removed it from your heart.
No one has that kind of power over your heart.
Rather, you (and I and almost everyone else on planet earth) have learned how to change our heart.
We arrived here with an open heart, and then we were hurt, like all children are. So we learned to close that vulnerable heart. And then open it again, sometimes, and then close it again.
When we fall in love, we open our heart. Or maybe we fall in love because we open our heart.
When we fall out of love, we close our heart. Or maybe we fall out of love because we close our heart.
But love as such does not move in and out of the heart. Love is love. It loves and it lives and it stays, in your heart.
Even if you cannot feel it right now, love is still there.
You know it’s true. Deep down, you know it.
And deep down you know that if you opened your heart – not necessarily towards your ex, or your friends, or those members of your family that have betrayed you… but just open your heart, for your own sake, to this present moment… you know that if you could do it you would find your love there.
But did you know this:
When we open our hearts for good, loneliness disappears.
Because loneliness is like darkness. And darkness is not a thing – it’s just what we experience when there is no or little light.
When light appears, darkness disappears. When love appears, loneliness disappears.
Of course, there needs to be a certain intensity of light before darkness is gone completely. It takes a sun, not just a lamp.
Similarly, there needs to be a certain intensity of love before loneliness is gone completely. It needs to be a love that shines for its own sake, powerfully.
Yet it doesn’t have to be a perfect. You don’t have to be an angel.
A steady open heart is enough.
When you allow your heart to open that way, you will experience not only that loneliness goes away but also that love sets you free.
You will no longer try to love another instead of yourself.
You will let love flow and it will embrace you as much as anyone else.
So the most important step out of loneliness is not meeting other people, or trying to find someone new to love you, but rather starting with yourself, opening your heart as such.
Like everything else in life…
It’s a learning process.
You need to learn how to open your heart gently and gradually, how to strengthen your connection with love and yourself. That inner work is absolutely necessary.
And then you can learn how you can reach out to others as well and create a new kind of relationship.
The more wholeness, love and joy you build and find within, the more wholeness, love and joy you will build in your relationships with other people.
It’s a journey for sure, and it doesn’t happen overnight, but it definitely can happen when you do that inner work, one step at a time. I’m here to support you along the way. Here's your first, simple step.
Halina Goldstein is the Loneliness To Love Mentor, working with women who feel deeply lonely after a divorce. Halina helps them effortlessly connect with people who will love, appreciate and support them. Halina is also the founder of Solo Souls, dedicated to turning loneliness to love and joy.