Going through a divorce can be an incredibly stressful event. According to the Life Change Index Scale divorce is ranked as the second most stressful event an individual can go through. It is ranked second only to the death of a spouse. Divorce can bring to the surface all sorts of unsettling feelings such as grief, anger, sadness, frustration, anxiety, fear, depression and loneliness.
The Loneliness of Divorce
Feeling isolated or lonely during a divorce is normal and it can be an extremely painful and unsettling feeling. For many people the loneliness or feelings of isolation from your partner may have started long before the divorce or separation began. Emotional distancing from someone you once loved or still love hurts, especially when the divorce was sudden or the result of broken trust or betrayal. During the process of divorce, you may feel lonely because your happily married friends don’t seem to understand the stress and pain that the divorce is causing you. If you enjoyed time with your friends as a married couple, you might begin to feel like a third wheel or feel uncomfortable socializing with them for a while. After the divorce, as you begin to accept and build your new life it is quite common for the loneliness to continue for some time.
After divorce it can be difficult and for many or scary to move on with your new life. But remember, like any major life changing event it is important to be kind to yourself and acknowledge and prioritize your feelings and your needs. As you begin a new chapter in your life, here are some tips to help you move forward at a time when you may be feeling stuck or unsure of what your future may hold.
1. Allow Yourself the Time and Space to Grieve: Remember grieving is a necessary step in the healing process. So, please give yourself permission to grieve. It may be painful. Your feelings may be messy. It is okay to cry. It is okay to be angry. Give yourself the time and the space to grieve. If you are having a hard time letting your emotions out try writing what you are feeling out. Try journaling as it can be an excellent way to process feelings and set them free.
2. Talk it Out: There are many benefits in starting therapy, individual or group, during or after your divorce. Individual therapy can help you unpack your emotions in a safe supportive space and a therapist can help you set goals for yourself to rebuild your life. Emotional support groups can be an excellent tool to connect with others going through a shared experience. Those who have joined a 7Chairs support group report that the shared experience has given them more hope and less feelings of loneliness moving forward.
3. Find Ways to Stay Connected: Finding ways to stay connected after divorce can be an essential component to your emotional well-being. If you do not have children or your children are grown you may be wondering what to do with the new found time on your hands. Start by making a list of the things you enjoy or new things you always wished you had time to do. If you are not sure where to start, perhaps start by volunteering your time where it might be needed in your community. Volunteering has many benefits that you might not be aware of. Research shows that the more we give to others, the happier we feel. By volunteering you will increase your sense of accomplishment and build a new identity moving forward.
Moving on may be a long winding path for you, with many detours and forks in the road along the way. Starting a new your life takes time, courage and conscious effort. Reach out to others for support along the way. Set goals for yourself and take the time to check in with yourself to see how you are doing. Remember true happiness is out there waiting for you – you just have to go out and find it.