Loneliness is one of the side effects of divorce, and it can be devastating. You might be the one that feels loneliest in your empty bed at night or the one that feels most alone when you are in a crowd of people—it doesn’t matter. Loneliness can be debilitating, and it can be the thing that hangs with you the longest after your divorce. It doesn’t matter who you are, how you process things, or how many friends you have, if you’ve been divorced you’ve experienced loneliness.
It may be tempting to get sucked into that vortex of eternal darkness, where you keep telling yourself you’ll always be lonely and you’ll never feel part of anything again. But don’t let yourself go there. Loneliness is a natural response to what you are going through, and you will get through it.
It just takes time. In the meantime, here are some coping strategies.
Wait It Out
It may take a couple of years, or it may take several, but eventually that post-divorce loneliness is going to be gone. It will diminish over time.
There’s no set time, however. Just because it took your cousins ten years, doesn’t mean it will take that long for you. Just because your neighbor was back to normal in four years, doesn’t mean that you will be. Everyone is different; everyone has a unique experience.
When you are feeling lonely, remind yourself that it’s normal, and it will pass. Concentrate on the good things.
Stop Worrying about the Future
Do you worry that you will always be alone? Or that you’ll be doing the same things, feeling the same way, and dealing with the same loneliness when you’re 80?
Think back to when you were 17, and try to remember the things you were worried about as you contemplated the future. More than likely, those things never happened. Or if they did, they didn’t happen the way you thought they would. In the same way, your future is a mystery. It holds many things, both good and challenging. It’s unlikely that nothing will change.
Rather than worrying, why not make a bucket list? Write down ten things you’d like to do and then work toward accomplishing them.
Learn to Enjoy Being Alone
This is easier for some people than others. Introverts generally have an easier time because they need alone time anyway.
There are benefits to being alone, and you can learn to look at it as a positive thing rather than a negative one. Being alone allows you to get to know yourself. When we’re around others, we tend to become at least a little different. When we’re alone, there are no filters. Use your alone time to figure out what you really like, what you really want to watch on TV, what you really want to wear.
Take yourself to dinner, or a movie, or the library. Learn to revel in your freedom, to hear your inner voice in the silence, and to enjoy your own company.
You know, you can go out to dinner with someone without it being a potential relationship. Remember the days when you dated just because it was fun? The next time someone (who isn't a potential ax murderer) asks you out, why not go?
It doesn’t have to be something serious; it doesn’t have to turn into something serious later on—you can do it just for fun. If he pressures you for sex and you aren’t agreeable to it, then cross him off the list and move on. That’s what dating is about—having a good time, getting to know people, and enjoying your life.
Deal with What Makes You Afraid
Sometimes we are not as lonely as we think. Sometimes we are afraid. What if the toilet clogs up, what if the electrical system catches fire, or what if someone tries to break in?
The best way to deal with those things is to, first, figure out what you are most afraid of. Then make a list of these fears, and any potential solutions or comforts you can use to combat them. Then do what you need to do to overcome your fears.
- Take a self-defense class
- Get AAA membership, so you can easily get help if something happens while you are on the road
- Many home improvement centers offer simple repair classes on weekends. Check with yours and learn how to do basic home repairs.
- Take a class in personal finance if you need to learn how to handle money better
Whatever you need to do to conquer your fears and insecurities, it can be done. There are all kinds of ways.
Take Control of Your Life
This is your life. You’re moving on. The only person that can hold you back from the things you want is yourself.
That feeling of loneliness is temporary. Learn to fight it. Call a friend to talk or hit a last-minute movie. Get out of the house or invite someone over. Remind yourself that it’s normal, and it’s temporary.
If you need to talk about it, there are others who have dealt with the same thing. Join First Wives World and you’ll always have somewhere to turn when you need someone to talk to.
Image Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons, User : Gisela Giardino