Divorce And Loneliness

When you are first divorced, one of the first things that you will experience is a great feeling of being alone and being lonely. You may have never felt so alone in all of your life.

Did you know that there is a huge difference between being alone and being lonely?

Being alone is a choice. Feeling lonely and loneliness is a state of mind. Does that make sense?

Sitting at home all by yourself, you are alone. Chances are you are feeling lonely too. But you don’t have to stay at home do you? There are thousands of things that you can do to “get out” of there and amongst people if you decide to.

I made a huge discovery two years after my divorce about to being alone and lonely and the difference between the two. It was one of the last nice weekends of the fall before winter arrived. As it turned out, I had a pretty full weekend that weekend.

Saturday morning I went on a trail run with a female friend from my masters program which took up most of the morning. Then on Saturday night I went on a pre-arranged date to a dinner theatre with friends and on Sunday, I was able to spend time with another friend. She and I didn’t do anything grand or special, we just went to the movies.

The first thing that I learned that weekend was that although I was no longer in a relationship with another individual, I was able to still have a great weekend and do all of the things that I enjoy. It was just shared with others instead of one romantic partner.

The second thing that I learned was that I made a choice that weekend not to be alone. I made the decision and the effort to get out there and as far as weekends went in my post-divorced/single life, looking back, it is probably one of my favorites.

Feeling lonely and loneliness is different as it is not so much of a choice like being alone might be.

Someone once told me in a divorce recovery class that the loneliest person my zip code was probably not even single. Think about that for a second. You don’t have to be alone and by yourself to feel a great sense of loneliness.

But the loneliness that you experience when a relationship or marriage ends can be more intense than anything that you have ever felt before. Everything feels empty and to make matters worse you feel disconnected from the world, even when others reach out towards you, as you feel as if nobody understands exactly what it is you are going through. This is when joining a divorce support group can be a great benefit as you are only surrounded by people who know exactly what you are going through.

I want to tell you there is an upside to all of this pain and discomfort. There really is. Learning how to be alone, and tackling your feelings of loneliness will prove to be your greatest strength down the road. You will learn to be independent, not needy, and to be able to stand on your own two feet and make your own decisions.

It sets you up for success in future relationships as you can enter the completely whole and without your happiness in the relationship being solely dependent on if the other person is present at the time or not. The extra bonus is that you ultimately learn to love and enjoy just spending time with yourself.

If you are struggling with being alone or being lonely, hang in there. You don’t have to be alone though. Make decisions to join groups, take classes, or just force yourself to go out with your friends. And don’t wait for them to invite you either, you are fully capable of making plans as well! Your loneliness with subside after if you decide to do that and you surround yourself with positive and supportive people.

A mentally strong and healthy person can find balance between being with others and being alone. Use this time to find the right balance for you. When you find yourself struggling just remind yourself that this is what you have to go through now to be stronger in the future and you will be more able to handle whatever comes your way.

* There is a second part of this article entitled Divorce And Loneliness II – Coping which you can read here.

Andy Wooten M.A. Counseling – Certified Life Coach – Aspen, Colorado