Why Do We Feel Lonely After Divorce? 3 Helpful Tips To Heal
We all have been through painful breakups, and we all know how lonely it is—how sad and devastating it can be. But let’s discuss a specific kind of breakup, the breakup from a long-term relationship, the breakup from your marriage.
Divorce can be lonely. Losing a partner or spouse with who you have been with for a long time can be a very difficult experience. There is no doubt that divorce and breakups can be an emotional rollercoaster. There are so many mixed feelings that we experience every day. And, these emotions are so abrupt and changing that we can even experience all of them in a single day. We can go from anger to despair, from depression into grief, or from guilt to loneliness. Today we will focus on that feeling of loneliness. Why does it feel so lonely after divorce? And, what steps can we take to overcome this feeling?
Why Do We Feel Lonely After Divorce?
Before we can learn how to cope with the feelings of loneliness, we must first understand where does these feelings stem from. In other words, we must understand why do we feel lonely after divorce. Let's start first with the most obvious reason.
Because we are all alone
Of course, the most obvious reason why we feel lonely is because we do not have a partner anymore and are all alone. But this is only one of many reasons why it feels so devastatingly and overwhelmingly lonely when we part ways. When we split up from a relationship, we abruptly find ourselves without a partner. But, we also find ourselves without the life that we had built with our partner. We miss our daily routines and jokes, the time we spent together; we simply miss our best friend. This was the person that knew everything about us. The person who we loved with all our heart and trusted with our eyes closed. So, it is only natural that it feels very lonely to go back home and have no one to share your day with.
Because we isolate ourselves
We can also feel lonely after divorce because we feel that no one can understand our pain. Even though we have friends, we tend to isolate ourselves from them. Not only because we feel that they will not understand, but also because we feel that we are a burden to them. They have heard our stories so many times that we fear we might lose them and that they will become sick and tired of listening to the same story again and again. So, in our attempt to protect our relationships, we detach ourselves from our friends. We also tend to isolate ourselves from our family for similar reasons. But sometimes also because we feel that they will not share the same ideas and beliefs, or that they will not understand the reasons behind the decision to divorce.
Because we lose people
After divorce, we not only lose our partners, we lose some close friends. After a breakup we might stop seeing some friends we used to have. Mainly those friends that we shared together with our partner. Maybe some of them do not want to choose a side or, perhaps, some have chosen a side. Whatever the reason might be, we can not longer be friends with them and that hurts. After divorce, we lose not only one, but many people from our life, so it is normal and understandable that you feel lonely.
Because we lose ourselves
There is also a reason that is more internal and can elicit intense feelings. This is the loneliness we feel with ourselves. After divorce, we do not recognize ourselves anymore and no longer feel connected with our inner selves.
One of the most common things that I hear when people join our divorce support group is "I want to find myself. I don't know who I am anymore. I don't like who I am anymore." It can be incredibly lonely to not be able to recognize yourself anymore. To not like and identify with part of yourself, or to even lose part of yourself in the divorce. Before the divorce, you used to have shared hobbies, activities or rituals that you liked to perform with your partner. But these things do not belong to you anymore, they belong to the couple, and they do not have a special place in your heart anymore. So, the search for a new identity is part of this internal and emotional loneliness.
Because we are ashamed
Another reason we might feel lonely after divorce is because we feel ashamed of our story. We might feel shame about our decision. We probably wanted to have a family, or to have a successful marriage and relationship, but then things did not go according to plan. And, we naturally do not feel good or proud about that. On the contrary, we feel ashamed of our story. And, even worse, we are ashamed of sharing these feelings with others. We feel that we need to hide our emotional experience, and this can be a very lonely place to be. Anything that we have to hide from other people makes us isolate even more, and can even make us hide from ourselves. That is why we might spend a lot of time working and trying to hide or avoid our feelings.
Because we are never present
The last reason is because during the first period of the divorce, we are not present. We are not in the here and now with ourselves, with our body. We are simply not in the present moment. We are either in the past ruminating over our mistakes, or we are in the future, thinking about how lonely, difficult or sad our life will be. So, we are everywhere except in the present and we are not paying attention to what is happening in the here and now. We stop working and caring about our own happiness, about our journey, about what matters to us right now.
So, it all makes sense now, right? It is completely understandable that we feel lonely after divorce. With this fresh information, we can now delve into how to overcome these feelings of loneliness and start our journey towards a fulfilling life.
Overcoming Loneliness After Divorce
A wise woman that was going through a divorce once said to me "besides sharing happiness, sharing grief is also a beautiful thing." I loved that. This short sentence delicately encapsulates how important it is that we seek support, that we share our pain. Sometimes we cannot avoid loneliness, but we can feel a little more safe when we are going through this difficult time in our lives.
1. Find your support network
As the woman above beautifully explained, it is crucial to find and surround yourself with people that are important to you, and that understand you. Share what you are going through with others. This can be your close friends, family members, or strangers online. You can try finding a support group that you can actually connect with. Surround yourself with people that have been through a similar experience and that will not be tired of listening to you. This is one of the most important things that you can do to alleviate some of the pain in this difficult period.
2. Focus on yourself
Another thing you can do is to shift the focus back unto you. What are your priorities? What are your needs at this moment? When I say focus on you, it does not mean to only practice self-care. It also means to focus on the present moment and on what you are going through.
Sometimes we tend to think about our ex. We wonder "what are they doing right now? Have they moved on? Are they already with a new partner?" We then become consumed with all these thoughts and can even begin an internal competition with our ex. So, I would like to invite you to gently bring your thoughts back into you. What about you? What is it that you want? I know that answering these questions can be difficult and scary. But, try to reflect on it, you can try to write your feelings or even start a conversation with a friend. Allow yourself to take time, allow yourself to focus on what is important for yourself.
3. Walk in baby steps
A final tip is to allow yourself to walk in baby steps. Tiny steps every single day. Perhaps the maximum time you do not think about your divorce is only five minutes a day, but that is good enough because after a couple of days, it will be 10. And then it will be a couple of hours. And eventually you will go days without thinking about your divorce. Everybody starts with small, tiny steps. So, allow yourself to go slow.
I hope this article helps you feel a little bit less lonely. If you want to learn more about how to heal after divorce, check this article. And, If you ever need a helping hand or a listening ear, here at AntiLoneliness we are always happy to help. Message us or join our divorce recovery programme. But, always remember, you are not alone, and there are many people around you that are ready to understand, support, and heal together with you. Take good care of yourself.
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