Losing any relationship, and especially a marriage is one of the most challenging losses we all go through. You’ve lost not only a life partner, but dreams of the future, a sense of belonging, and your way of life.
Divorce often brings with it a sense of desolation. Of all the emotions that people experience in divorce, loneliness is the most universal. So learning how to deal with it is a normal, albeit difficult, part of the healing process. Good news: you can learn to manage loneliness, and even embrace it.
Feelings of loneliness are nearly inevitable when you move from sharing a life with your partner to living on your own. Such a loss, along with various other negative emotions, can cause you to self-isolate. To begin overcoming loneliness, consider the following steps.
Loneliness can make you feel ashamed to reach out. You may even push people away, isolating yourself further. One way to spring yourself from the trap of shame and self-pity is to reach out to family and friends. If the divorce has caused you to lose your normal support network, try reaching out to an acquaintance you’ve always wanted to get to know better or join a group activity you’ve been interested in trying. We get it. It’s not always easy to tell someone you’re dealing with loneliness, but most people understand and are more than willing to lend an ear or spend some time with you. These regular social interactions are a reminder that there are people who care for you.
Keep in touch with your kids
Being without your children while they are at your ex’s is an adjustment, to say the least. Having the whole house to yourself can feel lonely. So reach out. Use whatever channels work best for your kids. Text, FaceTime, or Zoom with the kids when it works for you and your ex to check in with them.
Find a local way to donate your time in a way that matches your interests. Volunteering for a cause you believe in is a great way to reduce feelings of loneliness. Helping other people or animals has a measurable and profound effect on how we feel about ourselves. You may even make a new friend or two.
Invite friends over
It doesn’t have to be a 12-course meal. Whether you cook dinner, have tea (or something stronger), or just hang out, being with friends can help reduce loneliness. Your friends are busy and may not know that you’re feeling lonely, so you may not have heard from them in a while. Reach out to them and let them know you could use some support. People want to help. Give them a chance. During safer at home orders due to Covid-19, host a zoom call party or a socially distanced walk.
If you find you can’t pull yourself out of this feeling of loneliness, seek out a professional therapist or support group. While feeling lonely is normal, feeling pathological loneliness that causes severe emotional strain should be addressed. Consider counseling to help you get through this transition time. A therapist can help you create a strategy for tackling those feelings of loneliness, and offer tools that can help.
Lonely vs alone
Being alone is not the same as being lonely. Loneliness is the isolation that results from a lack of connection. It can cause you to feel unseen or misunderstood. Everyone needs social connection in varying degrees. If you’re an introvert, you may be more comfortable being alone and may need less social connection than an extrovert. Whatever your personality, identify how much connection you need to feel healthy, happy, and fulfilled. Learning to be comfortable being alone after your divorce can also be empowering.
We’ve been there
If you’ve been through a divorce or separation and you’re feeling lonely, know that you’re not alone. Most people go through a period of loneliness when experiencing the loss of divorce. We’ve been there, which is why we’re here.