Loneliness is one of the first most painful emotions to appear when you get divorced. Even if you were lonely in your marriage, it’s just somehow different when you are living alone. (Yes, this is true even if your children are living with you.)
The ways that people express loneliness are unique to each person. You might be like a hermit crab and withdraw into your shell, peering out at the rest of the world with a sad and dejected expression. Or maybe you avoid experiencing loneliness by being with someone, actually anyone either in person, by phone or even via social media, so you don’t have to be alone. Then again, you may experience loneliness by keeping busy – VERY busy – with work, or volunteer efforts, or with your kids and their activities. Or maybe you like the buffet approach and use a little hermit crab and keeping VERY busy with a touch of never allowing yourself to be alone.
What I want you to know is it’s natural to feel lonely when your relationship ends.
At some point you’ll start to realize the pain of loneliness can be an opportunity to rediscover the best of you and heal from the pain of your divorce. And once you reach this point, you’ll be able to move through the worst of the pain of divorce much more quickly and not get stuck in it.
The realization that you’re experiencing the pain of loneliness is usually accompanied with the question “When will I stop hurting so much?“ Every time you ask this question, you’ve got the chance to try some other way of moving past the pain and on to some other emotion. Even if the new emotion is discomfort, I can tell you that it’s LOTS better than being stuck in the pain and misery of loneliness. And every single time you choose to experience a less painful emotion, you’re closer and closer to being able to say “I’ve stopped hurting so much.”
For most of us who have been through divorce, our realization of the cessation of the pain isn’t immediate. It’s a gradual recognition of being able to enjoy things more, a desire to participate more in life again and a genuine willingness to be happy.
I wish I could tell you exactly when your pain of loneliness will stop, but the truth is I can’t and no one else can either. But, I can tell you some of the signs that you’re getting over your loneliness and have started becoming comfortable with alone-ness and being you. Sometimes knowing the indications that the worst is over can be incredibly comforting.
The signs you’re moving forward beyond the painful feelings of loneliness include:
- When you stop hiding out at home
- When you stop trying to find any other relationship to avoid being lonely
- When you stop being connected 24×7 with Facebook, your iPhone, and the virtual realities of computer and online games
- When you are content doing activities by yourself – going to the movies, going out to eat, etc.
- When you stop letting feelings of loneliness control your behavior
- When you start enjoying the new things you’re doing as part of your Functional Divorce
Your Functional Divorce Assignment:
The next time you’re hit with the pain of loneliness, take a moment, recognize that the pain will ease with time and know that you have some signs you can be on the lookout for to know that you’re heading past the worst of it.
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor helping people just like you who are dealing with the stress and pain of divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. And if you’re interested in taking the first step toward working with me, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.