Loneliness sucks. It’s a horrible feeling to think you have nobody in the world to turn to as you are trying to make sense of your divorce and your new identity.
But like all of these emotions we are dealing with, there are mindful strategies that you can use to help you start feeling better, even when you think you cannot be consoled. Let’s take a look!
Being alone does not mean being lonely.
When we are by ourselves after divorce, we make a false correlation in our minds. We think that being alone is negative and bad for us. We can’t stand the silence, we feel weird sleeping in a bed alone, and we are uneasy saying “I” instead of “we.‘’
But why is being alone a bad thing?
Being by yourself means you can now breathe and look out for yourself for a change. You are now given the opportunity to heal and start over on your terms—things that would be impossible to do if you were still with someone who wasn’t giving you the love and respect you deserve.
And what we seem to forget is that even when we are with someone in an unhealthy relationship, we can still be lonely. Do you remember all the times when you felt the sadness and silence when you were living in the same house with someone who was no longer healthy for you?
As counter-intuitive as it sounds, being in a house with a partner in a marriage that is no longer healthy and still feeling alone is much more damaging than being by yourself in a house and having the space to heal on your own terms.
See the difference?
Loneliness is just independence and liberation waiting for a spark of hope.
Many of us tend to view loneliness and a solitary confinement that we can’t break free from. But I’m here to tell you that you don’t have time for that.
Yes, you may feel like there is nobody to call or to be intimate with. And as we try to heal, you may sometimes feel self-conscious reaching out to friends and family members because you don’t want to appear like a burden. Feeling like you can’t reach out although you feel awful only doubles that awful feeling.
But, what if, instead, you turned that sense of being by yourself into something new?
Sure, you do not have people around you, but doesn’t that give you the opportunity to start doing things that you never though you could do before? Instead of staying at home, you now have an opportunity to channel that energy into attending that sculpture class, joining that book club, planning that trip in the mountains. There is now nobody to stop you or judge you, and you are now given the opportunity to do the things you’ve wanted to for the longest time. Take advantage of it!
Exercise: Kicking Loneliness to the Curb and Embracing the Love Mindset
The next time that wave of loneliness hits you, instead of bracing for that inevitable despair that you do not think you can bounce back from, think instead that you have the opportunity to employ the following get-better strategies. If you are unsure where to start, I have included some of my own examples that I used to help keep the Loneliness Monster at bay. You will see that whenever we show ourselves kindness and be proactive about taking back our lives, we are embracing the Love Mindset.
Ask yourself: When do I feel lonely? Are there certain events that trigger this emotion for me?
Do not spend too much time on this part of the exercise, however. The point is to merely acknowledge your triggers so then you can move on to the Love Mindset.
- Ugh, I get triggered whenever friends post photos of their engagement rings on Facebook. It just reminds me that now I have no one.
- I feel lonely whenever I see a little old couple holding hands walking in the park. I feel like that won’t be me.
Now comes the fun part…
Ask yourself: Who am I when I am the most happy? When am I at my best?
- The Love Mindset: I feel really happy when I am around my dogs. There is a soft spot in my heart for rescue dogs and I have always wanted to volunteer there.
- The Love Mindset: I feel that the true me comes out when I am traveling and exploring new things. I become a curious, happier person when I am exploring a museum with nobody there to distract me, or wandering through a new shop in a new neighborhood in a new city, where anything is possible.
- The Love Mindset: All my worries seem to disappear when I am working hard in yoga class. I love how it makes me feel and how it forces me to focus on breathing and listening to my body. At the end of the class, I always feel relieved and ready to take on the world.
Discovering what brings out the best in you and what makes you happy doesn’t have to cost money. It does, however, mean that you will have to be introspective and honest with yourself. It can be hard to dig deep, but I promise you that it is worth it because you feeling better and being happy is worth i
Okay, so now that you know what triggers your loneliness, and also what makes you feel happy and the best version of yourself, we need to bridge that gap with the final step.
Ask Yourself: What can I do right now to summon that amazing part of me? That part that will help me through those periods of loneliness?
- The Love Mindset: The next time I see another Facebook picture of an engagement ring, I am going to look up volunteering opportunities at the local animal shelter instead. My time and energy are better served helping those in need, and who on earth can feel lonely while they are taking care of pups and kitties who need a good home?
- The Love Mindset: The house feels so empty and I am starting to feel alone. But I remember there’s that new museum exhibit I’ve been wanting to see. Why don’t I check the hours and go tomorrow?
See how that exercise works?
Recognize that you deserve to be happy and understand that spending quality time by yourself and in a life that is rich with ideas and hobbies and things that excite and inspire you—and have absolutely nothing to do with having a partner—can heal you. Being open to all the wonderful things this word can offer—and fully acknowledging that you are in this world to explore them—is the antidote to loneliness. When you begin the love story with yourself, you always have someone at your side.
Martha Bodyfelt is a divorce recovery coach whose website “Surviving Your Split” shows divorced moms how to get their confidence back and move the hell on with their lives. For your Free Divorce Goddess Recovery Kit, stop by http://survivingyoursplit.com/ or drop Martha a line at [email protected].