How You Can Break Through The Soul-Crushing Loneliness Of Divorce

Man facing the isolation resulting from the loneliness of divorce.

Leave the loneliness of divorce behind by doing things you love.

Being suddenly single may seem like a dream come true to those in an unhappy marriage, but to anyone who’s going through divorce being suddenly single is devastating.

The depth of the loneliness of divorce is almost beyond description. You exist in the world, but you don’t feel a part of it. You feel isolated. Somehow connection remains frustratingly beyond your reach because now you’re different from the rest of the world (at least the world you knew when you were married).

Despite the misery of your exile and the desperate loneliness of divorce you’re experiencing, it is self-imposed. And that’s a good thing!

At first you isolated yourself because of the extreme pain you were in as a result of your marriage ending. You played it safe and leaned on your existing friends – those people who knew you before. (It’s natural to protect yourself like this after divorce.)

But now you’re facing a different problem. Sure, the pain is still there, but instead of continuing to feel safe with these friends, you’re feeling separate and unlike them.

And the reason you’re feeling separate now is that is they’re married and you’re not. Now you don’t fit in as well as you used to – not necessarily because of anything they’ve done, but because you’re not the same. (Divorce does that to a person.)

You’re coming to grips with the fact that your life as a suddenly single person is different from the life of a married person. And you wonder desperately if there’s anyone else who could possibly understand the realities of your new life.

The answer is emphatically “YES!” There are lots of people who understand (and at a very deep level) what you’re experiencing. They’re other suddenly single people.

The good news is YOU are capable of ending your exile. It will just take a little bit of effort on your part.

So what’s really involved here? You get to get a bit uncomfortable and put yourself out there in a safe and easy way. And, no, I’m not talking about dating. I’m talking about making friends.

The first place to find new friends who will get what you’re going through as you struggle to emerge from the loneliness of divorce is a divorce support group. These groups exist to provide structure and support for anyone who’s ready to heal from their divorce. Some groups meet in person and others meet virtually.

You’ll be amazed at the friendships you can develop with the other group members! The friendships blossom in these groups because you’re each facing the same challenge. You each get it and there’s little to no fear of saying what you’re really going through. It’s this built-in acceptance that make divorce support groups such a great place to start meeting new people.

Another place to look for new friends is MeetUp.com. Now I’m not talking about heading to MeetUp.com to find singles groups. (Although there are plenty of those groups there.)

Instead, look for groups that do what you enjoy doing. Maybe you can find a single-parent’s group or a hiking group or a yoga group or a book club or a … I’m sure you get the idea. MeetUp.com has an amazing array of groups that get together to do fun things.

Then, after you’ve met some interesting people in your divorce support group and/or on MeetUp.com, put together a group event (think dinner, lunch, coffee, a movie). When you organize an event, you’ll naturally be seen as incredibly interesting and those who make it to the event will want to get to know you better too! It’s a sure-fire way to expand your group of friends.

Now I know this is simple to read, but that it takes effort (and time) to actually break through the loneliness of divorce and start building new friendships. All I can tell you is that you’re worth it and hope that you’ll put forth the effort and find the time.

The pay-off is that when you choose to stop living a half-life, you’ll be surprised by how full and fun your suddenly single life can actually be. And once you discover your new place in the world, you’ll quickly put the memories of your loneliness of divorce far behind you.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor helping people just like you who are ready to break through the loneliness of their divorce and start living their life to the fullest again. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. If you’re ready to take the first step toward working with me as your personal coach, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.

Looking for more help creating a meaningful life after divorce? You’ll find what you want in Life After Divorce.

 

Dealing With Divorce Loneliness? Hug Yourself Happy

Divorce loneliness can be overwhelming – but it doesn’t have to be crippling.

Your divorce will probably be one of the most intense emotional experiences you’ll ever face. It sure was for me. I had a full spectrum of extraordinarily strong emotions hit one after another in an often confusing and frightening way. Sound familiar?

The world of divorce can feel like a tornado has come through your life and wiped away all that was familiar and safe. I thought of it as being tied up, blind-folded, and stuffed into the front seat of a runaway roller coaster. I never knew when I was going to be slammed to the left or right by a sharp turn, and I dreaded any slow upward movement, because I knew that at some point, I would drop down into depths I couldn’t imagine, be thrown into a loop-de-loop, or even get caught up in a corkscrew.

I’ll be honest with you: There were times back then when I thought I might be going insane.

What I’ve found out since my divorce in 2002 is that the emotions of divorce are intense and change rapidly for most people. These emotions often include everything from denial, fear, hope, anger, loss, guilt, confusion, rejection, and loneliness.

I think the loneliness was the hardest for me, and that’s why I’ve developed some very specific strategies for dealing with the loneliness of divorce. Below are the top two strategies that work best with my clients. I’m hoping you’ll find them helpful too.

I know this is going to sound simple, but sometimes the best solutions are really not complicated. One of the easiest things to do to help yourself when you’re feeling the loneliness of divorce is to give yourself a hug. Yes, I do mean wrapping your arms around your chest and placing your hands just below your shoulder joints. Hold this hug for a bit, and after a while you’ll notice that you’re taking deeper breaths. You’ll want to continue to hug yourself at least until you sigh. We forget how transformative the power of touch truly is.

There’s something especially comforting about hugs. I used to think that the only good kinds of hugs were with others—either human or animal, but I’ve found that hugging body pillows, and especially hugging myself can have fabulously calming and comforting results, too.

The second of my top two strategies for dealing with loneliness after divorce is also simple to express: it’s acceptance.

The only way to get through the loneliness is to accept that it’s a natural part of the healing process of divorce. Your life is changing in a pretty dramatic way, and it’s okay to feel lonely when the spouse with whom you shared your isn’t a daily part of it anymore. Acceptance is one of those things that can usually be helped by talking with people who love you (like your friends and adult family members), people who are also dealing with divorce (like those in a divorce support group) or people who have successfully healed from divorce themselves, like a divorce therapist, a clergy member, or a divorce coach. I’m being very specific about the people who are typically great at helping people who are going through divorce, because I’ve seen the repercussions of the mistakes people make when they try to rely on people other than the ones I’ve listed.

Unfortunately, many people seek another romantic relationship to avoid feeling lonely. This can have tragic results. When you enter into another relationship before allowing yourself to heal completely and become a whole person again, you run the risk of getting into a relationship with someone who’s just like your ex—or someone who’s the exact opposite. Usually this doesn’t work out so well, and I can tell you from personal experience that breaking up with a new honey before you’ve healed from your divorce is especially devastating. (I felt like a double loser when it happened to me.)

Even more detrimental, people deal with the loneliness of their divorce by talking with their kids about it. They’ll tell the kids their fears under the guise of being honest, but the truth is they just need someone to talk to, and the kids are an easy audience. Kids aren’t cut out to be an adult friend to either one of their parents during divorce, and the long-term effects on both the kids and the parent-child relationship are just too costly. Believe me, it’s worth finding someone else to talk with.

Loneliness is a normal part of divorce recovery for most people, and your Functional Divorce Assignment has some specific things you can do right now to help you get through your loneliness quickly.

Your Functional Divorce Assignment:
Give yourself a hug right now. I’m serious. Go ahead and try it right now. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how good it feels. Be sure and continue hugging yourself until you sigh—that’s how you’ll know you’re allowing yourself to relax and be comforted. (It’s OK if you start to cry on your way to sighing.)

Are you relying on the right person or people? Think about whom you’ve been relying on to support you through your loneliness and other emotional upheavals you’re experiencing. Based on the suggestions above, are you relying on the appropriate people? Do you need to look for another way to get the support you need?

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach helping people just like you who are dealing with the stress and pain of divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly adviceAnd, if you’re ready, you can take the first step toward working with me as your personal coach by scheduling a private consultation.

This article originally appeared on YourTango.

How To Deal With Loneliness Of Divorce

Lonely woman who wants to know how to deal with loneliness.

Your divorce will probably be one of the most intense emotional experiences you’ll ever face. It sure was for me. I had all these powerful emotions hit me one after another, often in a confusing and frightening way.

Sound familiar?

The world of divorce can feel like a tornado has come through your life and wiped away all that was familiar and safe. I thought of it as being tied up, blind-folded and stuffed into the front seat of a runaway roller coaster. I never knew when I was going to be slammed to the left or right by a sharp turn and I dreaded any slow upward movement because I knew that at some point I would drop down into depths I couldn’t imagine or be thrown into a loop-de-loop or even be caught up in a corkscrew.

I’ll be honest with you. There were times back then when I thought I might be going insane.

What I’ve found out since my divorce in 2002 is that the emotions of divorce are intense and change rapidly for most people. These emotions often include denial, fear, hope, anger, loss, guilt, confusion, rejection and loneliness.

I think the loneliness was the hardest for me and that’s why I’ve developed some very specific strategies for how to deal with loneliness of divorce. Below are the top two strategies that work best with my clients and I’m hoping you’ll find them helpful too.

My 3 Strategies For How To Deal With Loneliness During The Divorce Process

First, I know this is going to sound simple, but sometimes the best solutions are really simple. It’s easy to think that your grief and loneliness are so profound that they must need a complex answer to help soothe them. But the truth is, simple is often best because you can apply these solutions again and again and again.

And believe me, it can be a saving grace to know that progress is being made, even if it feels like the loneliness is still there. If you can remember to apply these techniques every time you struggle, it will be much easier to not feel disappointed that you’re not fully over your ex. Because getting over the past takes time. That’s just the reality of grief and loss. So let’s begin…

Solution #1: Hugs

One of the easiest things to do to help yourself when you’re feeling sad and lonely is to give yourself a hug. And yes, I do mean wrapping your arms around your chest, placing your hands just below your shoulder joints and squeezing. Hold this hug for a bit and after a while you’ll notice that you’re taking deeper breaths. Continue until you sigh and you can start to feel the tension, loneliness and pain leaving your body and being replaced by a sense of feeling supported and loved.

There’s something especially comforting about hugs. I used to think that the only good kinds of hugs were from others, either human or animal, but I’ve found that hugging body pillows and especially hugging myself can have fabulously calming and comforting results too.

Solution #2: Talking it out to find perspective

One of the most powerful techniques for how to heal from a divorce or breakup is to talk about what’s going on inside of you. And I don’t mean that you have to hire a therapist or coach (although they do serve their place), here I’m speaking about the power of talking to a trusted friend or loved one who is open to hearing you share. By talking about your feelings, you can release their hold on you. Memories are incredibly powerful and by keeping your thoughts locked away, you don’t get a chance to have a cathartic release which is meaningful in gaining perspective.

Let’s face it, sometimes, the feelings inside are not 100% real. Sure you feel lonely. Sure you miss your ex. And yes, you will mourn the future you’ll never have together. But if those memories or thoughts are locked inside, the only dose of reality on them is colored by your feelings. This can cause memories to be skewed or altered to fill some longing you have about your ex or the time you spent together.

When you share your feelings with someone you trust, you have the opportunity to hear back another person’s perspective on the event. Over time, you may find, as I did, that my memories were not always accurate. Often in moments of deep loneliness, I would forget mean things he said or ways he negated my feelings or ignored my needs. My loneliness told me to be sad that he was gone, but when I shared with my friend and she recalled her experience of my ex I could start to see a more realistic accounting of my him and our story.  In fact, he wasn’t the dreamboat I recalled.

My feelings of loneliness, of being abandoned, my fear that I would never find love again or that I was doomed to die alone, husbandless and lonely, had a direct effect on the stories I recalled in my mind when I was sad.

Talking with someone you trust (especially someone who was in your life when you were married) can be an exceptionally good way to hold a realistic mirror up and look back on the truth. Not the filtered truth, the WHOLE truth.  And that can help you in moments when you’re feeling the most lost and lonely to keep it in perspective. Because you’re not really missing him, you’re missing the fairy tale version of him and that’s important to remember.

Solution #3: Acceptance

The only way to get through the loneliness is to accept that it’s a natural part of the healing process of divorce. Your life is changing in a pretty dramatic way and it’s OK to feel lonely when the spouse you shared your life with isn’t a daily part of it any more.

Acceptance means believing in your heart, mind and soul that the end is here. You can’t go back, you can only move forward. Part of that journey ahead means addressing your feelings, they are on this path with you. You can’t ignore your emotions, they have a funny way of making themselves known even if you don’t want to acknowledge them.

So here, in the world of accepting the truth about what happened means letting your emotions come up and greeting them when they arrive. If you’re sad, feel it. If you’re mad, let that in too. If you’re jealous or worried those too have a place in the healing process. And if you want to learn how to get past feeling lonely, you have to first feel your loneliness and then you can begin to interpret what it really means.

Acceptance is one of those things that can usually be helped by solution #2. In addition to talking with people who love you (like your friends and adult family members) it can also be quite wise to talk with people who are also dealing with divorce like those in a divorce support group, people who have successfully healed from divorce themselves and as you need it, a professional like a divorce therapist, a clergy member or a divorce coach. Each person on this list can help you gain both perspective and wisdom about what your future healing process holds

Here I’m being very specific about the people who are typically great at helping because I have seen firsthand the mistakes people make when they try to rely on people for counsel who are not vested in your healing.

Strategies That Are NOT Effective For Dealing With Loneliness

Unfortunately, many people think that the way to deal with their loneliness is to seek another relationship. This can have tragic results. When you enter into another relationship before allowing yourself to heal completely and become a whole person again, you run the risk of getting into a relationship with someone who is just like your ex or someone who is the exact opposite. Usually, this doesn’t work out so well and I can tell you from personal experience that breaking up with a new boyfriend before you’ve healed from your divorce can feel especially devastating. (I felt like a double loser when it happened to me.)

Even worse, people sometimes deal with the loneliness of their divorce by talking with their kids about it. They’ll tell the kids their fears under the guise of being honest, but the truth is they just need someone to talk to and the kids are an easy audience. Kids aren’t cut out to be an adult friend to either one of their parents during divorce and the long-term effects on both the kids and the parent-child relationship are just too costly. Believe me, it’s worth finding someone else to talk with.

Loneliness is a normal part of divorce recovery. If you’re ready to stop fighting this and embrace it as part of the natural progression everyone must go through, I have your assignment to help get through your loneliness quickly.

Your Assignment For How To Deal With Loneliness:

Give yourself a hug right now. I’m serious. Go ahead and try it right now. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how good it feels. Be sure and continue hugging yourself until you sigh – that’s how you’ll know you’re allowing yourself to relax and be comforted. (It’s OK if you start to cry on your way to sighing.)

Are you relying on the right person or people to talk to? Think about who you have been relying on to support you through your loneliness as well as the other emotional upheavals you’re experiencing? Are these people serving your needs? Are they helping? Hurting? Asking the right questions? Making you feel overall better or worse after you talk to them? Based on the suggestions above, can you say that you’re relying on the appropriate people to support you? Do you need to look for another way to get the support you need?

And I want you to know you don’t have to continue going through this alone. I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor, and I know what you’re going through because I’ve been through it too. I specialize in helping people heal from divorce and breakups and get on with their lives. If you’re interested in taking the first step toward working with me, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.

Here are two more articles to help you cope with loneliness:

Healing From Divorce: Overcoming Your Loneliness

How You Can Break Through The Soul-Crusting Loneliness Of Divorce