Dealing with loneliness after divorce requires more than “just get back out there.”
There are many reasons some believe divorce is harder to get over than the death of a loved one. In addition to the pain of loss (as in death):
- positive memories are tainted with new knowledge of their feelings and grievances,
- new wounds can be triggered at any time by others’ stigma or
- you’re never quite finished with legalities, especially if you have kids,
- about the time you feel ready to move on you run into him or worse him and his new girlfriend
You get the idea.
You did the hard work of dealing with loneliness before divorce. You even managed to get through it while dealing with loneliness during divorce. So why, after all is said and done, do you pick your head up to face the bright, opportunity-filled future and instead turn into Punxsutawney Phil as you turn tail, retreating into your dark enclave after a mere glance at daylight?
Loneliness, yet again, takes on a new hue in this post-divorce phase. Yes, there’s the stuff you suddenly have to do alone: sleeping, chores, orgasms, raising kids (if you have them), and more. But, more profoundly, there’s a long-term effect of solitary living that can kind of sneak up on you. You’ve really dug deep to get through this. You’ve let some toxic people go and fostered true friendships, old and new.
Right about the time you feel like you’re in the swing of things, bopping along and feeling hopeful once again it dawns on you…today’s reality is that there’s no one, close up as a part of your daily life, to share this momentum with. You’re no longer asking, “what does reinventing yourself mean,” because you so naturally began to do it…but as far as your home life goes, you did it alone.No one building these memories with you. Or worse, you feel like you can’t heal without a new partner in the first place. Maybe a little of both!
You’ll have quite a lot of, “just get out there” advice and support. That’s helpful to the degree that it puts your desire for others’ company into action. If you need some ways to build up to that, though, then these strategies for dealing with loneliness after divorce should be exactly what you need.
One Remember you have a support group
Especially if you’re newly single your “head down, just get through habit” may have left your support system with the understanding that you’re fine and will reach out when you need to.
Reach out before you need to. If you’re already crying in the shower, make plans that allow you to process some of that with a trusted friend. Just saying a lot of it out loud will remind the brain that 1) you’re not, in fact, alone and 2) you open up some bandwidth you didn’t even know you had so you can heal.
Two Rediscover passion
It’d be great if that’s romantic passion but if you’re reading this, chances are good it’s not.
You have within you something you’ve always wanted to do with your life. What was it? Talk to your inner toddler, tween or teenager and see what they most wanted to do. Catch bugs? Play with makeup? Grab some friends and float down a river? Go do those things.
You’ll feel rejuvenated and playful again. You may even make some new friends!!
Three Fulfill your promises
Think back to all of the things you wanted to do but couldn’t because you were married. Review all of your old New Year’s resolutions, too. You’ve got desires to expand that simply will not show up in your day to day rut. Especially since divorce sent you deep into survival mode for awhile.
Get in touch with your Self and ask her what she sees for her future and start moving in that direction.
You’ll become your own best friend and broaden you horizons (and social circle) as a result.
Four Think “variety”
Not to impugn your current friends…or even your goals for a new romantic partner (if that’s on your radar)…but you’re reinventing your whole life and “same old, same old” isn’t going to nudge you along. If anything it will likely hold you back, albeit unintentionally.
While you’re out practicing Strategies 2 & 3, treat socializing like a scavenger hunt. Nerd. Poet. Doctor. Student. Non-romantic and romantic potential alike. Make a mental list and go hunting for them. You never know how new and different people will enrich this new chapter in your life.
Five Say “Yes”
One of the my most favorite things I do to stave off loneliness 6 years after my own divorce is say, “yes,” to invitations before I even really know what I’m committing to. I have met some fantastic friends, business connections and even some booty calls by just saying, “yes.”
When you agree to invitations you affirm to your consciousness that you do have friends, lovers and colleagues AND you create a sense of possibility as well. Nothing pulls you out of the doldrums like a sense of possibility.
Agree to your own wacky ideas as well!! Now is the time to rediscover you. Embrace experiences.
Six Get laid (safely)
When you have the opportunity and the guy isn’t a disease-riddled criminal…let him in your pants (with condom, of course). At least sometimes. Yeah, you’re looking for a partner, I get that. And, you’re probably touch deprived as well. Hooking up from time to time or having a FWB (friend with benefits) is a great way to remind yourself that you’ve still got it. And remind you how good it feels to be skin to skin with someone who is hungry for you.
You’ll also learn that men don’t care about how much pubic hair you have, that your thighs rub or your “O” face comes with a second smiley in the form of two chins. Let me repeat that. Men.Do.NOT.Care about what you perceive to be imperfections. They’re skin hungry too. All of which boosts your confidence and your overall health, too.
Seven Reintroduce yourself to YOU
You have a chance to do things differently this time. The “Outside In” approach, where you manhandle your life to fit what you think is meant for you, didn’t work. Experiment with an “Inside Out” approach.
Meditate, journal, get in touch with nature, redecorate a room or write a song. Whatever it takes for you to access all your inner voices, do it. There’s an “inner critic” that needs your attention before it will shut up. Your “inner child” aches to play again. The “Inner Joy” that’s excited about your future is a fantastic thinking partner and will change your perspective on life.
Tap into the adventurous side of you that aches to be free and you’ll go beyond dealing with loneliness after divorce and delve right into reinventing yourself after divorce!
You don’t have to employ these strategies in order or all at once.
Pick one that feels good to start with and go from there. Take your time with your healing. Watch for the bullshit stories pop up and process those with a trusted friend or life coach. Allow this whole “getting out there” business to be a process and not an end-goal. You will get there. I just know it.
I know getting back in touch with yourself like suggested sounds so simple when it’s really not. If you need help get your free copy of the “What Did I Do To Deserve This?! Journal and Ebook.” It’s a kitchy little way to process your shit privately. Need more help? I’ve got it for you.
Triffany is a certified professional life coach who helps strong women tame their inner hot mess. Start with the book F.A.I.L.* to Win: 4 Simple Principles to Get You Out of Your Own Way and follow up with a class. Everything you touch will get easier as you go.